Monday, September 29, 2008

Banned Books Week, Sept. 27 through October 4

Lately, we’ve been displaying a Banned Book Week logo on the left side of our page. We got this from the Random House First Amendment Committee in honor of Banned Books Week, to help celebrate the freedom to read and help increase awareness of censorship issues.

Did you know, for instance, that the following children’s books have been at one time or another banned?

Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume
The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
The Giver, Lois Lowry
How to Eat Fried Worms, Thomas Rockwell
The Boy Who Lost His Face, Louis Sachar

We would also like to call your attention to Random House’s newly updated First Amendment site, which is full of valuable information (like a more complete list of banned books) and interesting thoughts on censorship from some of its authors.


We’re hoping everyone will make this year's Banned Books Week a time to celebrate the freedom to read ­ and to remember to remind others never to take that freedom for granted.

Tina and Kelly

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Congratulations to the winner of the Amanda Ashby book, YOU HAD ME AT HALO:


Who made me laugh with:

"So, I see you really like my new scent. Catnip #9."

And thanks to all our wonderful entrants, and see you here again soon for another Caption It! contest.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Caption It!

It’s time for another Friday Fresh Caption It! contest! This time we are featuring a hound dog and a kitten...

And as always, I’ll start the bidding (low) with one of my own:

“So what you’re telling me is, even at full grown, I’ll be no bigger than your nose?”
Please, start posting your captions now. I’ll close the contest at 6 pm PST on Sunday, September 29th, and announce the winner...who will receive a very special gift...

An autographed copy of YOU HAD ME AT HALO by Amanda Ashby, who is Kelly’s and my New Zealand friend, and a very talented author. Although this book is not classified Young Adult, I have read it and liked it so much that I passed it along to a couple teen readers in my neighborhood, so we are happy to endorse it as “YA friendly.”

Enter as often as you'd like...and good luck!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What's Fresh with Linda Gerber's Death by Latte

Hello Linda, great to have you back to chat. Please tell us about your latest novel DEATH BY LATTE.

Linda: DEATH BY LATTE, Puffin Books (September 18, 2008)

Aphra Connolly had been living a quiet existence on her father's secluded island resort, until Seth Mulo turns up and steals her heart… and provides information that leads her to find her mom in Seattle. But the reunion isn't quite what she expected. Aphra's mom, Natalie, doesn't seem happy to see Aphra, and Natalie's boyfriend, Joe, insists that Aphra go home. Even worse, Seth shows up, only to ask her to return the ring he had given her that summer. At least Natalie's good-looking neighbor is sympathetic. But when Joe is found dead at a nearby coffee shop, Aphra discovers her whole trip to Seattle has been based on a lie. And now someone just might be trying to kill her. . . .

Could you share a bit about the main characters of your book and what makes him/her unique?

Linda: Aphra Connolly has been living on a private island with her dad for the past four years. She's a quick thinker, which is a good thing since she keeps getting mixed up in dangerous situations.

Seth Mulo and his family defected from a sleeper cell so he has lived most of his life undercover. Under his false identity, he was in his senior year of high school, playing football and generally enjoying life - until his family was found and had to run again.

How did the idea for this novel come about?

Linda: A few years back, I had written a short story as an exercise for a writers' forum. I had so much fun with it that I decided to develop it a little more until eventually it grew to book length, though it was never intended for anyone's eyes but my own. Meanwhile, I had sold a couple of books to Puffin and - in a moment of utter insanity - I decided to take a chance and show my for-fun book to my editor. She liked it. DEATH BY LATTE is book two in a three-book contract I earned from that moment of insanity.

Great! What do you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?

Linda: A pleasant escape, a glimpse at mother/daughter relationships and an awww feeling from the romance.

Thanks for sharing, Linda! I wish the best with the series. Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

Linda: There are so many great books out there that I could go on for pages recommending them! I'll stick with a recent read - the Gemma Doyle trilogy (A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and A Sweet, Far Thing) by Libba Bray. I loved the tone, the setting, the characters, the mystery. It's definitely on my recommended reads list.

Linda recently returned to life in the Midwest after four years in Japan, where she served as the Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She currently lives and writes in Dublin, OH, blissfully ignoring her husband, four kids, and one very naughty puppy. Visit her website,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Teen Ink Mag!

Sounds really cool, so I thought I'd pass this along to Librarian visitors and Teen Writers!

Teen Ink Magazine is celebrating its 20th anniversary of publishing the best writing by teens and for teens with a special promotion for librarian subscribers. As part of their 20th anniversary celebration, Teen Ink is offering a 2-for-1 subscription package to any new YA library subscribers. If you have not seen the print magazine, feel free to email for a FREE copy, or request one at

Already love Teen Ink? Consider linking your teen page to A link means that with just one click, young adults who visit your site can:

-Submit their own work for Teen Ink publication
-Read over 28,000 pages of other teen work
-Read and write for the Teen Ink blogs
-Get Advice on writing, college, photography and much more from teen authors
-Check out hundreds of young adult book, movie and music reviews
-And so much more.

Linking is simple and all the instructions are provided online at If you link to on your website or YA page, Teen Ink will also put a link to your library at

Questions or comments, please feel free to email

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tina is on Facebook!

A month or so ago, at my editor’s suggestion, I joined Facebook. And even though I’m still learning my way through its complicated hallways, I have been thrilled with all the writer-friends, industry professionals and readers who have friended me.

So if you’re on Facebook, please find me under my name (Tina Ferraro) and friend me! (I tried to add a direct link, but for some reason, couldn't get it to work!)

See you there?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fun stuff!

I saw this on Barb Ferrer's and Megan Crane's and Jo Knowles's blogs and said what the hay!

Take a picture of yourself right now.
don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair...just take a picture.
post that picture with NO editing.
post these instructions with your picture.

Here I am, sans make-up and still drinking my morning cafe. :)

Now YOUR turn! Post a comment here if you participate!

(Here I am, Kelly...oh, wait, was I supposed to point the camera UP? ;) Tina)

On another fun note, check out Linda Gerber's Cyber Launch for her novel DEATH BY LATTE this week with 17 authors guest blogging and giving away books! Yay, books! :) :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First copies of INVISIBLE TOUCH have arrived!!!

I just wanted to take a moment to share on YA Fresh...

IT is here

I can't believe it is finally here. My second book. Ahh, basking in the glow of my vibrant cover. Basking...basking... *snicker* Yep, sometimes authors are silly like that over their books. :) :)

In case you didn't know there was a change of the release date for INVISIBLE TOUCH. Some booksellers may be receiving their books early due to the old release date. Some may keep them in back until October 14th, like in the case of my first book, some booksellers may put them out earlier.

So we must be on the lookout for INVISIBLE TOUCH from now until October 14th, because you just never know!!


Monday, September 15, 2008

Strike Up The Band!

Fall semester in high school doesn’t just mean new classes, new lockers and football games to also means the start of a new season of Marching Band!

Ask those who have joined the’s more than just making noise in the bleachers. It’s excitement, it’s camaraderie, it’s making the good times happen.

Take a look at some of the ultra-cool celebs who walked the astro-turf in band shoes:

Shania Twain (trumpet)
Brandon Routh (trumpet)
Julia Roberts (clarinet)
Eva Longoria (clarinet)
Rainn Wilson (clarinet)
Bill Clinton (sax)
Vince Carter (sax)
Gwen Stefani (flute)
Alanis Morisette (flute)

I have spent countless hours at high school football games, admiring the talents, musicianship, and teamwork of the Marching Bands. And who knows? Maybe today’s marchers will be tomorrow’s stars.

How about you? Are you a Marching Band fan? Or are you--or did you--participate in your school’s Marching Band?

Friday, September 12, 2008

What's Fresh with Diana Rodriguez Wallach's Amor and Summer Secrets

All She Never Wanted.

For fifteen-year-old Mariana Ruiz, it's not so much an unexpected vacation as a literal "guilt trip"-her father's way of atoning for ignoring his Puerto Rican roots. But freedom from her parents is little compensation for being forced to spend two months with complete strangers rather than with her best friends in Philadelphia.

Once on "vacation," her worst fears come true. The heat is merciless, the food is spicy, and her great aunt and uncle's mountain house teems with relatives, only one of whom-her distant cousin Lilly-speaks English. Bored, and hoping to make up for missing her best friend's star-studded Sweet 16, Mariana offers to help in the planning of Lilly's Quinceañera. Soon, despite herself, Mariana clicks with new friends who open doors to romance and long-hidden secrets. Suddenly the summer she dreaded is ending way too quickly. It might turn out that the last place she ever wanted to go is the one place she truly finds herself.

Funny, touching, and smart, Amore and Summer Secrets is a story about friendship, family, rivalry, secrets, and how much you can change over the course of one loco summer.

Hi Diana! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Diana: Prior to becoming an author, I spent several years working as a reporter for trade magazines in Manhattan. During that time I wrote lots and lots of copy very, very quickly. This actually laid the foundation for the speed in which I write my novels today (who knew those jobs would pay off?).

That said, I finished my first novel in the spring of 2005—not to sound strange, but I actually dreamt the entire concept for that book. And knowing nothing about the publishing industry, I Googled, “How to get your book published.” I started submitting my query letter in June 2005. Two weeks later, I got an agent — Jenoyne Adams, who responded to my e-query within five minutes and who offered me representation within 24 hours (how awesome is she?).

To date, that book has yet to sell (maybe I’ll release it on my website some day, stay tuned). However, I went on to write “Amor and Summer Secrets,” which we submitted to Kate Duffy at Kensington Publishing on a Thursday and by the following Tuesday, I got THE CALL.

It was Fat Tuesday. I was at Mardi Gras.

My husband, Jordan, and I had spent the morning catching beads from parade floats in New Orleans. We stopped in our hotel room to dump our bounty when my cell phone rang. It was my agent.

I was wearing a sequined mask with feathers and my favorite strings of gold, purple and green beads that I had caught during the trip (on my website, there is a photo of me on the phone with my agent during that exact moment: http://www. dianarodriguezwallach. com/amor_and_summer_secrets_story. html).

Let me just say that there is no better place on Earth to be when you get good news than Mardi Gras. There was actually a parade going on outside of my hotel room. I hung up the phone and spent the rest of the day dancing in the French Quarter with hundreds of costumed strangers and drinking hurricanes at Pat O’Briens—awesome!

Great story, Diana! Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

The hardest part of the writing process for me is the rough draft. When I’m working on something new, I try to bang out around 3,000 words per day. Sometimes they shoot out like lightening and I get to spend the rest of the day watching movies and daydreaming. Other days, I’m still cursing my computer at 11 o’clock at night.

After I have a draft complete, I usually let it sit for about two weeks then I begin editing. This is part of the process that I most enjoy. During the first round of edits, I probably go through about 20 pages per day. During later rounds, I can go through as many as 60-pages per day.

My husband is always my first reader, and he usually catches a lot of my plotting and grammatical problems. After I make these corrections, I send it to my agent—who has fabulous beta readers who offer editorial feedback within a week. I make those changes, then I send it back to my agent to read.

Please tell us about your latest novel Amor and Summer Secrets and what we can expect from your characters.

Diana: Amor and Summer Secrets, which is being released by Kensington Publishing in September 2008, is the first in a three-book series. The sequels to the series, Amigas and School Scandals and Adios to all the Drama, will be released in November 2008 and January 2009, respectively.

In Amor and Summer Secrets, 15-year-old Mariana Ruíz has her summer turned upside down. With total disregard to the high-glam Sweet 16 her best friend is hosting, Mariana’s father ships her off to a tiny mountain town in Puerto Rico to stay with family she’s never met. After spending her entire life sheltered in the affluent suburbs of Philadelphia, her new unair-conditioned living accommodations are not exactly her idea of a vacation. The heat is merciless, the food is spicy, and only one of her relatives—her distant cousin Lilly—speaks English. Her consolation prize is Lilly’s homespun Puerto Rican Quinceãnera. Only the unexpectedly festive party exposes Mariana to more than just the culture she’s always ignored. Soon, Mariana finds new friends, her first love, and a family dark secret that’s been buried on the island for more than 30 years.

Looking forward to reading it! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Diana: I’m currently editing a draft of a new YA novel. It’s a complete departure from what I’ve done in the past—lost of spies, suspense, fight scenes and, of course, a love triangle. I’m really excited about it. The character is all about girl power, and her dialogue is a blast to write. I hope to have it ready for the publishing world soon!

Thanks for sharing, Diana! Best of luck with your series. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Diana: Learn to take constructive criticism. When I first started out, I took feedback too personally. I couldn’t seem to separate myself from the work. But as I’ve grown through this process, I welcome editorial suggestions. It’s the only way to improve your writing.

Also, learn the fine art of patience. This business moves at the speed of a turtle. And trust me, after a few years even the most impatient people (i.e. ‘me’) can learn to sit back and wait. The faster you learn this virtue, the saner you’ll be.

Born to a Puerto Rican father and a Polish mother, I have experienced the cultures that my characters inhabit, and many of the multi-cultural themes expressed in my series are based on my personal background. I have a journalism degree from Boston University, and I have worked as a reporter and as an advocate for inner city public schools. I currently live in Philadelphia with my husband. For more information, visit

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And we are off to chat about embarrassing moments and participating in student government...

Micol Ostow has put together a cool cyber launch for her latest novel, POPULAR VOTE. She's gathered YA authors dishing the good stuff as well as giveaways this week.

Here's what POPULAR VOTE is about...

Erin Bright is pretty, polished, and popular--the perfect First Daughter. Her father is the mayor of their town, so photo shoots and Inauguration balls are a part of her life. In high school, Erin is politically involved as well; her handsome boyfriend has been student council president for the past two years. But THIS election season, things change. When Erin suddenly gets passionate about an environmental cause, she decides to run AGAINST her boyfriend...and to challenge what her dad stands for! Can Erin convince her friends, and herself, that she has what it takes to lead?

Sounds good, doesn't it??

Leave a comment for all the cool author giveaways @

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

First the book, and soon, the movie!

The authors of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, have both spoken at Los Angeles SCBWI conferences--Rachel Cohn, in fact, just this past summer, where she delivered a keynote speech about reconnecting to her inner teen.

Here she is signing for fans on the last day.

My conference roomie, Paddy, read Nick and Norah, and enjoyed it so much that she passed it on to me. Although I am on deadline and not officially reading anything but my own draft pages (a-hem), I have been sneaking in chapters...

It’s a fast, edgy story, told in two first-person narratives (Nick by David Levithan and Norah by Rachel Cohn), with sharp dialogue and realistic characters.

And I am very interested in how they are going to bring this to life on the screen, being that so much of the book is in, as I said, first-person narrative form.

I know some people have been lucky enough to see sneak previews. And many have surpassed me and actually finished the book. Fill us in on what you’ve heard and what you know. For the moment, this will be the unofficial Nick and Norah Headquarters!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Winner, winner, winnnner!

Another successful giveaway contest! You guys make giveaways so much fun here @ YA Fresh! And the winner of Shelley Adina's It's All About Us is...


Alea, please contact me through my website with your mailing address and I shall get the novel to you!!

Thanks again, and happy reading!! :)


Friday, September 05, 2008

Pics + a Giveaway!

A few weeks ago, YA author Shelley Adina, author of the All About Us series, asked me to join her book signing at Borders in San Jose, CA. You don't have to ask me twice! I agreed and we had a fun two hours attempting to gather customer attention. haha! We had some laughs as you might be able to tell from Shelley's photo. I tend to draw out the giggles from my author friends. :)

Here are a few pics...

Shell & Kel

Book Display

Shelley Adina

And since Shelley was so cool to hang out with I'm giving away a signed copy of Shelley's first book in the series, IT'S ALL ABOUT US!

Tall, blonde Lissa Mansfield is used to being one of the "in" crowd--but being accepted by the popular girls at posh SpencerAcademy boarding school in San Francisco is turning out to be harder than she thought. And then there's her New-York-loudmouth roommate, Gillian Chang, who's not just happy to be a Christian herself--she's determined to out Lissa, too! If Lissa can just keep her faith under wraps long enough to hook Callum McCloud, the hottest guy in school, she'll be golden.

But when Callum pressures her to go all the way with him, Lissa has to decide for herself how far is too far. How can she see that line when he's so gorgeous and popular and she's so dazzled? And besides, she's too busy shopping for a Valentino and booking the hottest celeb for the Benefactors Ball. Who knew finding a place at SpencerAcademy would be so complicated?

So you know the drill--leave a comment from now until Sunday night (September 7th) and the winner will be announced Monday morning!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

“There’s a hole in this cake!”

One of my favorite lines in one of my favorite movies, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, is when Mrs. Portokalos accepts the bundt cake from Mrs. Miller. After figuring out how to pronounce “bundt,” whispers conspiratorially to Aunt Frieda, “There’s a hole in this cake!”
For the longest time, that sort of summed up my feelings about bundt cakes, too. I thought their physical form was strange, plus, they were missing the absolute best part to me: the thick, butter cream icing.

But some years ago, I got introduced to a lemon bundt cake that was to die for.

Bouyed by that success, I tried a seven ingredient chocolate bundt cake--which turned out to be moist and delicious, and superb with ice cream or coffee. And then I started to see some clever theme cakes, such as the following Halloween bundt cake.

In fact, recently, wanting to send a little something to my editor and her colleagues at Random House, I went with a Miss Grace lemon bundt cake.

So yeah, suffice to say I have “eaten my hat” over dissing bundt cakes. Looks can be deceiving.

Anyone else have a let-them-eat-cake story?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

What's Fresh with Melissa Walker's Violet in Private

Violet Greenfield knows she's supposed to be a super-confident nineteen-year-old because she's done runway shows in New York and internationally. But now that she's finally headed to college, she's afraid she'll turn back into that girl who blended into the walls in high school. Vassar is just two hours away from New York City—her friends in fashion think she's crazy to stop modeling now. And her old friend Roger is there...but things have been weird ever since they kissed. The real question is if she's not going to be "Violet on the Runway" anymore...who is she?

Hello Melissa, great to chat with you again! Please tell us about your latest novel VIOLET IN PRIVATE.

Melissa: VIOLET IN PRIVATE, Berkley JAM, August 2008, is the third novel in the series by former magazine editor Melissa Walker about Violet— the wallflower who blooms into an international modeling star—until she realizes there may be more to life than the runway…

Could you share a bit about the main character of your book and what makes her unique?

Melissa: Violet is trying to find herself, which everyone is doing around 18, but she's also dealing with the pressures of the modeling world, which raises the stakes a little in her quest to figure out who she is and where she stands on certain things. Body image issues, drug use, the superficiality of fashionistas--she's dealing with a lot.

How did the idea for this novel come about?

Melissa: Peeking behind the scenes of the fashion world as a magazine editor, I knew it would be a fun and crazy place to set a book about a real girl struggling with her identity. The modeling world is both dark and glamorous--an intriguing combination!

I agree! What do you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?

Melissa: I hope they'll get some insight into fashion and magazines, but also that there will be a realization that every single girl struggles with figuring out who she is and what she stands for, and this is just one regular girl's story.

Thanks for sharing, Melissa. Best of luck with this series! Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

Melissa: Recently, I loved BOY MEETS BOY by David Levithan. It's full of rich characters and a classic teen love story in an idealized world that I hope to live in one day!

As a former editor at ELLEgirl and Seventeen magazines, Melissa Walker knows first-hand the ins and outs of the fashion world. She hails from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at, or at

Now It's All About The Winner!

Thanks so much for all the entries for C. Leigh Purtill's latest novel, ALL ABOUT VEE!! And a big thank you to Leigh for sharing with us and donating a copy. And the random pick is...


Congrats, Hope! Please contact me through my website with your mailing address and I'll forward the email to Leigh.

Thanks again and Happy Reading!!

~kelly :)