Friday, May 30, 2008

Win a Copy of How to Be Bad!

Okay, so I was driving down the street the other day, passing a local independent bookstore, when I caught sight of some very familiar names on sidewalk signs:




followed by the words, TODAY AT 3:30.

I braked. “Hey, I know those young adult authors. From writing loops. From Ya Fresh. From MySpace.” So after a quick check-in at home, in I went. To find them in a lively roundtable chat with a group of readers, discussing their new and collaborative release, HOW TO BE BAD, as well as asking and answering questions.

(Shown: Lauren, Emily & Sarah.)

I’ll admit I missed a lot of the conversation due to my seat outside the circle, but my favorite line was Emily explaining that after returning from a signing tour, she had been known to respond to her friends’ and family’s questions with fifteen minute answers. Ah, the occupational hazards of being a public speaker!

The very funny Lisa Yee sat at the end of the table with the YA department manager, Catherine Linka, who was kind enough to introduce me (and my book titles) to the crowd as well. honor of a spontaneous good time, I bought a copy of HOW TO BE BAD and got the authors to sign it. Leave a comment here on our blog about surprises or spontaneity or praise for any of the above listed authors and you will be entered to win the book. The contest closes at 6:00 pm EST on Sunday, June 1. Check back for the winner's name.

And hey, Emily, Lauren and Sarah...nice meeting you and hope you enjoy the rest of your tour!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's Fresh with Tera Lynn Childs's Oh. My. Gods.

A modern girl's comedic odyssey in a school filled with the descendants of Greek gods.

When Phoebe's mom returns from Greece with a new husband and moves them to an island in the Aegean, Phoebe's plans for her senior year and track season are ancient history. Now she must attend the uberexclusive academy, where admission depends on pedigree, namely, ancestry from Zeus, Hera, and other Greek gods. That's right, they're real, not myth, and their teen descendants are like the classical heroes-supersmart and superbeautiful with a few superpowers. And now they're on her track team! Armed only with her Nikes and the will to win, Phoebe races to find her place among the gods.

Hey Tera, great to have you here to chat! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Tera: I started out writing historical romance (my first reading love, thanks to Jane Austen) and actually finaled in RWA's prestigious Golden Heart contest with my first manuscript. Then I turned to chick lit--snarky, contemporary romantic comedies--before finally finding my niche in YA. I'd queried agents dozens of times with those first three manuscripts, including the agent I finally signed with, but I knew OH. MY. GODS. was different. Unique. When I got "the call" I was in Florida, driving to a movie and talking to my mom on the phone. A 212 (NYC) number buzzed in. I clicked over and my agent said, "Can you guess why I'm calling?" How torturous is that? Then, when she told me Dutton had made an offer, I said, "Hold on, I'll pull over." She said, "You're driving? Don't be driving!"

haha! 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.

Tera: I do all my writing work at my office (aka Starbucks). After checking email and blogs first thing, I drag myself out the door with my alphasmart (a genius little device that is perfect for first drafting) if I'm writing something new or my laptop if I'm revising. My perfect working conditions are: a delicious drink at my side, a comfy chair, and my iPod set to shuffle. Depending on how close I am to deadline, I'll work anywhere from two to six hours. (Any longer and my brain starts to melt!)

Please tell us about your novel, OH. MY. GODS. and what we can expect from your characters.

Tera: OH. MY. GODS. (my debut novel) released from Dutton Children's Books earlier this month. If Phoebe Castro can keep her grades up and have another stellar cross-country season, her dream of attending USC with her best friends is only a track scholarship away. Until her mom announces she’s marrying a mysterious stranger and moving them half-way around the world—to Greece. Now Phoebe’s stuck on a secret island in the Aegean attending the super-exclusive Academy, where her new stepfather is the headmaster and the kids are anything but your average students—they are descendants of the Greek gods, super powers included. Training and maintaining her grades will be grueling, even without a sabotaging stepsister from Hades and a gorgeous guy—what a god!—who just might be her Achilles heel. One thing is for sure—summoning the will to win and find her place among the gods could be Phoebe’s toughest course yet.

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

Tera: The sequel to OH. MY. GODS. (no, it still doesn't have a title, let's just call it That Book Which Shall Not Be Named) will come out next summer. Without giving away spoilers for book one, I'll just say it's more of Phoebe's adventures among the descendants of the gods and takes place the following summer with the same fun cast of characters. What's up after that? Well, I have something in the works, but nothing official yet. Hush hush.

Thanks again for sharing with us, Tera! I wish you the best with your debut. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Tera: Write. That's the hard part. Sitting down, butt in seat and hands on keyboard, getting words on a page. There are no shortcuts to this part, but you can make it more manageable. Instead of thinking, "Omigosh, I have to write 200 pages! That will take forever," break it down. Think in smaller steps. "I have to write one scene. A few pages." Then, after you've reached the end of that scene, focus on the next scene. After you've gone from scene to scene a few dozen times, suddenly you're at The End. Next time, you'll know from the start you can finish because you've done it before.

Though Tera Lynn Childs may pretend to be a goddess, she’s really just a normal person. Well, maybe not normal. She is a writer, after all. When not collaging her latest hero–can a girl have too many pictures of Nick Lachey?–she spends her time writing at Starbucks, blogging with the Buzz Girls, hunting down long-lost loves on MySpace, and convincing herself that watching America’s Next Top Model counts as research. Visit her website,

Monday, May 26, 2008

And the winners are...

The four winners of the Meg Cabot AIRHEAD t-shirts are:

Tic Tac
Golfing Librarian

Please contact me at or through my myspace at with a mailing address.

Congrats to the winners, and best of luck to the rest of you as we hold a new and different contest next Friday. Hope to see you back here!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Contest Extension!

Since it's a holiday weekend, let's make the deadline for the AIRHEAD t-shirt contest tomorrow, Monday, May 26 at 6 pm PST!

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Meg Cabot’s AIRHEAD: Review + Giveaway!

It’s AIRHEAD weekend at YA Fresh!

Not only am I going to dish about Meg Cabot’s newest release, but we’re doing a giveaway of four adorable AIRHEAD t-shirts! How cool is that?!?

The t-shirts are soft black cotton, fitted, with capped sleeves, and the word AIRHEAD blazed in gold. All are size medium. A teenage girl tried one on for me (she’s about 5’4” and 125 pounds) and it hugged her curves beautifully. So if this sounds right for you, please put “Enter me!” below in the comments, and you may be one of the four lucky winners!

Now, let’s talk about the book!

High school junior Em Watts is a tomboy, a video gamer, and secretly in love with her best friend, Christopher. Her younger sister, Frida, is a budding fashionista whose role model is teen supermodel Nikki Howard. At their mothers insistence, Em escorts Frida to a Nikki Howard store appearance, where Em is involved in a tragic accident...which results in the end of the life as she knows it. But there’s numerous adventures still in store for Em as she awakes in the body of Nikki Howard...

Original premise and eye-catching cover, huh? I thought so. And I enjoyed this book on a number of levels. As a reader, who smiled at the jokes and sighed at the kisses, and who delighted in the plot twists and leave-me-wanting-more ending. And also as a writer, who appreciated the carefully constructed storyline, and understood the difficulties of presenting Em and Nikki to the reader in multi-faceted, sympathetic ways, so that as the pages continued turning, their unlikely melding together almost seemed fateful.

A sequel, BEING NIKKI, will follow...and so, I am sure, will readers of AIRHEAD. In fact, if you can excuse a bad pun, AIRHEAD is a no-brainer for those who love YA, Meg Cabot, or fun, fast-paced story. Get yourself a copy.

And check back on Sunday night to see the list of t-shirt winners!

Monday, May 19, 2008

What's Fresh with Kim Flores's Gamma Glamma

With one fateful science project, Luz Santos risks losing her best friend, her crush, and her reputation on national TV . . .

Tres unpopular students plus . . .

My freshman year at Gamma High was totally going perfecto until I was summoned to enter the regional science competition, which is taking place the same weekend as the Homecoming Dance-the same dance where I was going to get Swen, the guy I'm hopelessly in love with, to notice me. This calls for major damage control. My plan? Devise a scientific experiment that will be so outrageous it'll knock me out of the competition and onto the dance floor.

Tres brilliant makeovers . . .

Enter Project Gamma Glamma to the rescue! My experiment will help three unknowns climb up the Gamma High popularity food chain by giving them the ultimate makeovers. But instead of eliminating me from the competition, my teacher actually loves mi loco idea.

Equals one recipe for disaster . . .

Gamma Glamma is a tragic hit, turning my closest amigos overnight into the most popular kids at school but making mi vida a toxic chemical reaction: my best friend is now too cool to talk to me; my biggest enemy is moving in for the social kill; and my reputation stands to be obliterated on TV's hottest reality show. Now I've got to set things right. But can I make the scientifically impossible happen twice?

Hello Kim, it's great to chat with you! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Kim: My background is a little unusual. I started making stories and films when I was ten. In high school, I did a lot of theater productions and wrote for things like the annual staff and newsletters for the clubs I was in.

After graduation, I attended college and I thought about pursuing a degree in theater and/journalism. But when I took my first film class, I was hooked.

I’ve worked in the film industry for quite a while and I’ve directed and written short films and even a feature film with my partner Mike. Today, we still direct commercials together and he’s also a brilliant director of photography.

Our feature film that we produced ourselves helped open all kinds of doors and opportunities for us. One of them was to pitch shows to television networks. Gamma Glamma was one such show but at the time, the network wanted to look at another show I had presented and passed on it.

At the same time, I met my brother’s friend who happened to be a literary agent in NYC. He asked me what I was doing in town and I told him about Gamma Glamma. He then asked me if I could turn my show into a book. Since I had written films before, I was like, why not? After six months, I had a novel. I had lived with all these characters for a year so I knew them very well. Plus, I used all my potential TV episodes and combined them to form a story.

I was very fortunate to generate interest and I sold my book to Kensington Books. Right now the plan is for Gamma Glamma to be a series of books.

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.

Kim: It’s funny, because I didn’t know what was expected of me when I started writing a book. I was quite green and I still consider myself a student of the literary world (and the rest of the world, come to think of it!)

I didn’t know how many pages you were supposed to write in a day and so I looked up an author that I liked and I Googled her. In an interview she said that she wrote 10-20 pages a day.

So, I was like, “Oh, I guess that’s how much normal people write”. So that’s what I did and still do. I write really fast because of my background in film, I see the story like a movie. And because I can’t Tivo my brain, I write fast so that I don’t forget anything.

Now, here comes the disclaimer - it doesn’t mean that all of my writing is fabulous at that point. But for me, I just have to spill the story out of my brain so I can look at the big picture and then go back and rewrite.

After the first 100 pages or so, I give it to Mike, my better half. He reads it and gives me brutal honesty. (His critiques are the equivalent of being broken up with times a million!) After I wake up from my coma/pity party, then I hit the keyboard again and start re-writing.

I usually write from home and make sure my office is all Feng Shui and light a candle (not because I’m strange and artsy but my three stinky dogs like to be in the room with me) - then I can start. But if I need a change of location, then I head to my nearest Border’s and nab my favorite section that houses an electrical outlet.

I am quite fond of this Borders because there are lots of medical students that study there and it feels like study hall (in a good way, that is - if you LIKE to study.)

When I am writing, I usually listen to music without lyrics. Sometimes if I am writing a tough scene, I will listen to songs that do have lyrics if it fits that scene. It’s the same as scoring music to a movie.

Other things I do which I don’t know if other writers do or not, is dress like some of my characters –but mostly my main ones. It could be a t-shirt, a ring, a hair thingy. This probably comes from my acting days.

However when I am rewriting, it’s a whole different world and experience. I stay at home and I read out loud at my desk or at my kitchen (where the acoustics are better). I supposed I could read aloud at Borders but the medical students would probably clobber me with their medical books. And they are HUGE and FAT. Not the medical students but their books.

haha! Please tell us about your novel GAMMA GLAMMA and what we can expect from your characters.

Kim: My first novel is GAMMA GLAMMA. It’s from Kensington Books and was released in February.

It’s about two girls - one named Luz Santos and her best friend Bridget Joiner. They have just started their first year at Gamma High - a magnet school with a special science cluster - because they’re both really gifted in science.

Trouble starts when Luz is summoned by her teacher to participate in a science competition that could take her to the regional contest.

Normally she would be flattered by this kind of attention, especially as a freshman, but she’s afraid that if she wins, she would have to attend Regionals - and she would miss the Homecoming dance which is the biggest social event of the year.

Then she discovers that Homecoming is going to be extra special this year as it’s now going to be televised nationally on a reality show called High School Rules.

Luz brainstorms what she thinks will be a ridiculous project to transform 3 social unknowns and propel them up the Gamma High popularity chain. And she’s certain that her science teacher won’t go through with it. But when he does, Luz now risks losing her best friend, crush, and reputation all on national tv.

Expect fashion, friction, friendship and fun with Gamma Glamma.

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

Kim: I am now working on rewrites on my second novel called American Twirl. It’s a much darker book because it explores some difficult teen issues that I dealt with myself. But like Gamma Glamma it always comes down to a focus on friends and family and the heart of what is most important to us in life.

Next I’ll start working on another Gamma Glamma book while working on some TV pitches for a May/June trip to NY with Mike.

Thanks so much for joining us, Kim! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Kim: There is no right way to write a book. You know yourself better than anyone. So, my tip is to make it fun. If all you write is a paragraph that day (and I have those days, too) then celebrate that paragraph by taking a walk or soaking in a bubble bath.

Don’t worry about getting stuck. Your subconscious mind can still be working on the story while you’re doing other things like cleaning your room, playing with your dog or whatever.

Learn to be your own cheerleader and always, and I mean ALWAYS carry a pad of paper and a pen with you. Because you never know when an idea is going to say, “Howdy” to you.

I carry a spiral and pens with purple ink. And stickers.

An award-winning filmmaker and producer, Kim Flores wrote and co-directed the film Vocessitas/Little Voices, which went on to win an ALMA (American Latino Media Arts Award) for best independent film and played in virtually every Latin film festival in the country. She directs commercials and projects for such companies as Nickelodeon, Time Warner, Dr. Pepper, Midway Games and Mountain Dew, and develops television shows through her production company. Kim and her and her lifelong crush Mike spend time between New York City and Dallas writing, pitching, taking pictures, crafting designer toys and hanging out with their rescued dogs, Rabbit, Shortie and Nelson AKA Waggles. Gamma Glamma is her first novel. Visit her at or

Friday, May 16, 2008

Cute Prom Invites!

Back when I was in high school, the words, “Will you go to the prom with me?” was music to a girl’s ears.

But these days, a guy is often expected to get a little creative. Flowers, notes on sidewalks, balloons, signs and public pronouncements have replaced the simple ask.

The plus side for the girl is obvious: what fun to be the recipient, huh? But you gotta feel for the guy, who not only has to come up with something cute and different, but if it’s not his girlfriend he’s asking, he has get up his nerve--and take a risk on a public rejection. I mean, what if the girl already has a date and has to say no?

Still, these cute prom asks make wonderful stories...

I heard of one guy who put a bag of M&M’s on a girl's desk and told her to count them. If there was an even amount, he’d ask her to prom. If there was an odd, he’d eat one, and then it would be even. ;)

I saw some cheerleaders hold up a banner at a basketball game, with the guy standing in front on bended knee.

And I know of one senior who arranged with a teacher to stage a “pop quiz” and make sure the girl he was asking got the quiz with the words “Will you go to the prom with me?”

For our Friday Fresh question this week, tell us what you think about cute prom invites. And spill any stories you’ve heard!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Party ovah here!!

My friend and YA author, Linda Gerber, is throwing a cyber party on her blog for the release of her YA mystery, DEATH BY BIKINI!! Woo!

She has a fun line-up of some friendly YA authors to celebrate the rest of the week away. Check out who...

Amanda Ashby
Heather Brewer
Teri Brown
Kate Coombs
KC Dyer
Marley Gibson
Sara Hantz
Paula Chase Hyman
Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Keri Mikulski
Alyson Noel
Micol Ostow
Kelly Parra
Wendy Toliver
Melissa Walker
Alexa Young

Show be sure to join the fun and the giveaways @, starting now! :) :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

New Author (To Me, Anyway!)

I went to the book store recently and there were too many awesome books to choose from! I could not decide which one I would pick up. There had to be at least five hardbacks recently released by some of my fave authors that I wanted to scoop up right then, but you know book budget... :)

So what did I do?

I picked up someone totally new to me.

The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven.

The cover caught my eye, then I skimmed the first few pages. Nice voice, creepy and intriguing story line involving demons. I scooped it up. I looove trying new authors just as much as returning to my faves.

How about you? What aspects draw you to a new YA author?

Friday, May 09, 2008

A Wickedly Great Read

Invisible fairies, a Summer King looking for his Queen, a wicked fairy, and a girl who could change their world as they know it.

Melissa Marr's WICKED LOVELY brought me into a new and captivating world.

Aislinn has a secret she's lived with all her life. She sees fairies, mischievous ones, and mean ones, and dangerous ones in all different odd shapes. And suddenly they are paying more attention to her, speaking with her, and she's scared. She only feels safe in the arms of her best friend, Seth. But she's so alone, if only she had someone to share her secret with...

According to her grandmother there are 3 rules she must follow, and soon she's breaking all the rules. The Summer King is trying to court her and she doesn't know why. In order to keep her freedom and Seth safe, she's determined to find out what he wants.

But can she before the fairies bring her into a world she wants no part of?

A wonderful tale of fantasy, true love, and facing fears, you don't want to miss this one. I'm looking forward to Melissa Marr's latest novel, INK EXCHANGE.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Screamin' Meme!

The lovely and talented Tera Lynn Childs, whose book, OH.MY.GODS, came out last week, tagged YA FRESH with a meme. Here’s what I had to do:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the person who tagged me.

Okay, so the nearest book to me? An advanced reader copy of AIRHEAD by Meg Cabot (which I will be reviewing here on YA FRESH in the near future).

Page 123, fifth sentence: “Do you have low blood sugar?”

The next three sentences: “Do you want some Tab energy drink or something? Brandon, go pour her a Tab.” “No,” I said weakly, refraining from pointing out to her that Tab is sugar-free, not really useful for hypoglycemics.

Five people I am tagging:

Heather Davis
Simone Elkeles
Stephanie Hale
Dona Sarkar
Wendy Toliver

Hope you ladies have fun with this...and hope the rest of you enjoy this very brief sneak preview of AIRHEAD!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Friday Fresh: Who Seals the Deal For You?

There are certain actors that I will watch in just about anything...simply because I like them. For one reason or another, their personalities and looks appeal to me, and therefore, I will risk a plot or theme that I might otherwise turn away from.

I’d like to say that I generally like their choices of roles, directors and films, too, but let’s strip away all pretenses: everyone makes a turkey or two in his or her career, so renting a DVD or going to the theater to see a particular star is still a gamble.

Who seals the deal for YOU at Netflix, the video store or movie theater?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bid For a Wonderful Cause!

Brenda Novak's Annual Diabetes Auction has begun!

The money from the auction will be split between the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and the The Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami. The auction runs from May 1 - 31st.

This year, Tina and I partnered up and donated our young adult novels and decided to offer a double critique. That means we'll each read a young adult or middle grade proposal, chaps and synopsis, and bestow our newbie knowledge. :)

Check out our donation for our books here, and our double critique riiiight here. :)

And there are always such fantastic opportunities for writers, readers, and everyone. Be sure to browse and bid!