Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Woo-hoo, it's that exciting night again, New Year's Eve! Last year I toasted in the new year with a fever and a medicine cup of Nyquil, so no question that this New Year's Eve is going to be better for me!

We'd love to hear any plans you have for celebrating the big night.

And Happy New Year to all our friends at YA Fresh!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Kelly Parra Shares Her Favorite Holiday Movie

For our final young adult author's favorite holiday movie, I put our own Kelly Parra in the hot seat. What say you, Kelly?

"My favorite Christmas movie," she tells us, "is none other than Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

"Why? Because it brings me back to my days as a kid, watching it every Christmas Holiday, and still it plays today! I was curious and did a little research...

Release date? 1964!

Before my time, definitely before my kids', and yet it's a heart-warming classic, with a cute reindeer embarrassed by his red nose, a jolly Santa, and a kind of awkward and unforgettable Abominable Snowman."

Definitely a personal favorite in our house, but I think I get a little more nostalgic about the movie than anyone else in my family."

I love that one, too, Kelly! And we'd love our readers to weigh in on Ruldolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or any other favorite holiday movies, as we come to the end of our (very fun) month of hearing some of the favorite movies of our favorite authors.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to our friends here at YA Fresh!

To all who celebrate Christmas, wishing you a safe and merry holiday! And if you find some new books among your Santa haul or in presents around the tree, please come back and share the news with us!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Kay Cassidy’s Favorite Holiday Movie

Today we are happy to feature Kay Cassidy, debut author of The Cinderella Society (to be released on April 13, 2010, but available for pre-orders now).

She wrote us up the following essay--and how cute is this?--called "Why ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas' is the best Christmas movie ever!”

Take it away, Kay...

I love holiday movies. LOVE. THEM. When I was younger, my mom always planned our tree trimming evening the day of a big Christmas special on TV. This was back in the day before they were available on video, so you only got to watch each one once a year (if you were lucky!). I will always equate those classic Christmas movies to decorating the tree, time spent with family, and my mom's egg nog. Mmmm.

Which movies do I adore? I love Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I chill to Frosty the Snowman. But my favorite classic of all? A Charlie Brown Christmas, hands down.

While there is much to love about this Peanuts classic, here are my favorite things:

** The scene with Lucy and Schroeder where Lucy is trying to get him to play the "real" Jingle Bells. The look on Schroeder's face when he finally gives up and does it her way makes me laugh every time.

** When Lucy instructs Charlie Brown to buy a Christmas tree... a "nice aluminum one". Commercialism to the extreme. As an ace shopping avoider, I can relate to how Charlie Brown feels.

** When Charlie Brown gives up on his poor little tree and the others finally come around to embrace it, decorating it up until it is beyond anything its tiny little branches could imagine? Gets me every time.

** And, of course, what would a Charlie Brown holiday special be without Linus as the voice of reason? His short and sweet vignette about the true meaning of Christmas is classic Linus in its simplicity and reverence. (Although in truth, my favorite Linus moment is in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving when he explains to Peppermint Patty and the gang what Thanksgiving is really about.)

So here's to holiday classics and time spent with family. No matter how you spend these last few days of December, I hope they find you happy, healthy, and filled with cheer!
Thank you, Kay, and we look forward to having you back here at YA Fresh next year, to learn more about your writing and The Cinderella Society!

In the meantime, we’d love to hear from our you remember the Charlie Brown Christmas movie as well and as fondly? I sure do...and often point out the small trees on the Christmas lots and try to get my family to indulge me in a Charlie Brown Christmas tree! Hasn't happened yet...but someday!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Keri Mikulski's Favorite Holiday Movie and Book

Today we are happy to host Keri Mikulski, author of Screwball, Change-Up, and the upcoming 2011 Pretty Tough series to talk about her holiday favorites.

"Ah.. The holidays," says Keri. " There is nothing better than snuggling up on the couch next to a sparkly tree and watching a movie or diving into an amazing book. Total bliss.

So, what’s my fave holiday movie? By far, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Even though I’ve seen it over a zillion times, I still come down with a serious case of the giggles each and every time I spend time with the Griswalds. Gotta love Grandma."

"And holiday books," continues Keri. "So many to choose from… Last year, I loved John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle’s Let it Snow. But, the holidays are my time to cuddle up with a cozy holiday-themed romance. My faves are the classic old lovers reunite during the holidays. A guy and a girl (went to the same high school, middle school, elementary school, knew each other from past, etc…) are stuck in their hometown for a White Christmas. They’re both seriously down on their luck and happen to run into each other at the grocery store on Christmas Eve. After chatting, heart flutters, and stomach swirls, they realize they’re soul mates and live happily ever after. Sigh.

Have a fabulous holiday, everyone! I cannot wait for 2010."

Thank you, Keri. And some of our YA Fresh readers might know that I consider Let It Snow to be my favorite holiday book, as well. In fact, I might just have to make a tradition of re-reading it each December!

We'd love to hear from readers about holiday books or holiday themes they enjoy reading!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Holly Cupala's Favorite Holiday Movie

Today we’re featuring debut young adult author Holly Cupala who I first met a couple years back as a reader here at YA Fresh. She won one of our giveaways, and when she passed me at a writing conference some months later, we both recognized each other’s names, and have been fast on-line friends ever since.

Holly’s first book, Tell Me a Secret releases on June 22, 2010 and has already received praise and wonderful blurbs from best-selling authors Ellen Hopkins and Deb Caletti!

So now tell us, Holly, what is your favorite holiday movie?

“Favorite holiday movie, you ask?” she says. “Well, there is really only one answer for me. In fact, it has to be sung (sounds of throat clearing, toe-tapping):

I'm Mr. White Christmas, I'm Mr. Snow...
I'm Mr. Icicle,
I'm Mr. 10 Below...

They call me SNOW MISER.
Whatever I touch...
Starts to freeze in my clutch!
I'm too much, da-dum dum dum, daaaa dum!

What, you've never heard of that one? Well, allow me to introduce you to THE
YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS, Christmas Special circa 1962 (long, looong
before I was born), in which two wayward elves and a heat-sick baby reindeer must make a bargain with Heat Miser and his icy brother, Snow Miser, to bring a blizzard to Southtown and convince the villagers that Santa does, in fact, exist. Hijinks and henchmen choruses ensue.

This is by far the best way I know to get my sister laughing uncontrollably and turning as red as her hair. Hmm, perhaps I've just found the perfect gift... Whee - you can buy the WHOLE CAST at Toymania. Then we'd never have a year without Santa ever again!”

I don’t know how I missed this one, Holly, but believe me, my eyes and ears are now open. Thank so much for sharing!

And please now, readers, tell us, do you know about the Snow Miser? Do you walk around singing that little ditty, too? Or maybe some other special holiday songs?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Gift of Series Books!

Hey YA Freshers!

I thought I'd make a list of recommended YA series books that you might consider giving for a gift this Holiday season or even trying out yourself during the holiday, maybe? Here are the first books in these awesome series.

Glass House - The Morganville Vampire Series. That's right, Morganville, Texas where Vampires really exist along with humans, and four teen best friends are just trying to keep each other out of danger.

I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have to Kill You - Spy Girl Series by Ally Carter! These are exceptional teen girls from Gallagher Academy who know how to take care of business.

Wake - by Lisa McMann. A girl who hops dreams like she hops classrooms. Fast-paced and suspenseful.

Deadly Little Secret - A Touch novel series by Laurie Faria Stolarz with mystery, suspense, and danger.

The Hunger Games - Set in a postapocalyptic world where kids have to fight for their lives. Intense and gripping.

Okay, these are my gift giving you have any other series suggestions for me?


Monday, December 14, 2009

Amanda Ashby's Favorite Holiday Movie

Today we're happy to chat with New Zealand young adult author Amanda Ashby to find out which film she tends to watch again and again each holiday season...

"This isn't a seasonal one," Amanda tells us, "but for some reason I always watch it at Christmas: Clueless."

"Which is of course the best movie that has ever been made! Even my husband, who shies away from anything remotely teen or girlie, loves it. Such a perfect movie and of course it was a twist on one of my favorite books, Emma by Jane Austen!!! I still listen to the soundtrack all the time as well. Oh yes, I will live to be a major embarassment to my kids!!!!"

I love that movie, too, and still find the phrase "As if!" racing through my brain now and then. Weigh in and tell us if you have any favorite lines from that movie...or if you have a non-holiday movie as your holiday favorite, too.

Thanks for sharing with us, Amanda!

The Winner...

The winner of an autographed copy of Stephanie Hale’s book,

chosen at random from comments left on her favorite holiday movie blog is...


Please e-mail me at and we'll get the book winging to you!

And thanks to everyone who entered!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stephanie Hale's Favorite Holiday Movie/Giveaway

Our good friend, Stephanie Hale, the author of the Aspen Brooks series, and the upcoming, The Alpha Bet, was kind enough to weigh in with us about her favorite holiday movie: The Family Stone.

“The movie I have found myself watching at Christmas the last few years is The Family Stone," says Steph. "It isn't really a 'holiday' movie but does take place at Christmas. Who doesn't look forward to spending the holidays with family only to have them driving you crazy five minutes later? It is my dream to write an adult novel someday that touches on the complexities of family so perfectly like this movie does. If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it!”

Steph has been kind enough to offer up a signed copy of the third in her Aspen Brooks series, Spring Breakup,

which is of course about a holiday, just not the season we’re presently in. In order to be entered in her contest, simply tell us your favorite holiday. The winner will be announced on Monday!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Santa Amazon Brings Me A Gift

I am excited to share with all of you something I learned this weekend: the fact that put The ABC's of Kissing Boys on their holiday "Great Gift Ideas for Teens" list!

Click HERE to see the whole list. The placement of books tends to shift with sales (I think), but you should find my book on there somewhere!

That sure gave my holidays a happy kickstart!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Wendy Toliver’s Favorite Holiday Movie

First up of our author-friends to share with us their favorite holiday-themed movie is the sweet and funny Wendy Toliver. Who tells us she has two favorite movies, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Elf.

“Because,” she tell is, “they are hysterical and movies the whole family, from babies to great-grandparents, can enjoy year after year.”

Sounds wonderful! I’m going to have to check them out. And at the same time, I encourage you to check out Wendy’s two latest books, Miss Match and Lifted, which comes out in June!

The Winner...

The winner of the $20 Barnes and Noble gift card (chosen at random from comments left on my favorite holiday movie blog) is...


and her answer of The Santa Clause!

Congrats to Meredith (who needs to e-mail me at with contact information) and thanks to all who entered!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Favorite Holiday Movies (& a Giveaway)

Kelly and I thought it would be fun to check in with some of our favorite YA Fresh author-friends this month and see what holiday films they’ll be watching (again) this year.

To kick things off, click here to see a trailer on the Turner Classic Movie station featuring my all-time favorite, Christmas in Connecticut.

Barbara Stanwyck stars as Elizabeth Lane who writes a Suzy Homemaker-type magazine column--even though she can’t boil water. The owner of the magazine invites a heroic sailor to spend his first Christmas back from World War II on the farm Elizabeth has invented for her column. She knows that her career is over if the truth comes out, and quickly has to invent a farm, a husband, a baby, cooking skills...and if that’s not bad enough, she and the soldier take one look at each other and hear bells...

Christmas in Connecticut is charming, funny, romantic...and a staple in the Ferraro household.

So now for the details on the giveaway! Share with us your favorite holiday movie and be entered to win a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card to use on purchasing that film...or whatever you’d like! Enter as often as you’d like (with a different title each time, please) and check back on Monday to see the name of the randomly selected winner! Good luck!

And remember to keep checking in here at YA Fresh this month to learn more about our author-friends' favorite movies, too!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

What's Fresh with Debbie Rigaud's Perfect Shot

Who doesn't want to be a cover girl?

London Abrams's first love is volleyball, so why does she enter an online modeling competition? Answer: superhottie Brent St. John. London spots Brent signing in contestants at a store, and she gets in line simply to say hi. But she never dreams she'll make it into the competition!

London's now up against fourteen hungry fashionistas willing to do whatever it takes to win. All she wants to win is Brent's heart...but the money prize couldn't hurt. If London plays this right, she can win the contest, the boy, and the cash. GAME ON!

Hello Debbie, welcome to YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Debbie: My background is in magazine journalism. I've climbed my way up the masthead working at different mags, including Seventeen, Twist and TV Guide's start-up Inside TV. It's been an amazing experience, and I connected with teen readers in the process. All the while, I knew very little about book publishing. Through a co-worker, I met Adrienne Ingrum, a former book editor for a major publisher. She's the person I contacted when I was researching how to get a book published. It turned out to be kismet because, at the same time, Adrienne was in search of clients for her new literary agency. My first sale was a novella titled Double Act featured in Kimani Tru's anthology HALLWAY DIARIES, a book Adrienne packaged.

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.

Debbie: I work from home full-time, so every day presents another opportunity for me to improve my daily writing routine. Through trial and error (and much to my chagrin), I've found that I'm at my most productive when a deadline is looming. On a typical day, I'm sitting in front of my laptop by 10am. After I return/send out emails, and check out my favorite YA blogs and news sites, the real work begins. I force myself to sit there and write until 5pm, whether I'm writing blog posts, a story synopsis, outlines, query letters, or a few pages of a book I'm working on. On occasion, I have freelance editing assignments to complete or school visits and writing workshops to prepare for. But only when I'm on deadline do I seem to churn out an impressive amount of pages a day.

Please tell us about your latest novel Perfect Shot and what we can expect from your characters.

Debbie: PERFECT SHOT (Simon Pulse, 12/1/09) follows what happens after a 15-year-old volleyball player London Abrams is struck with a crush attack. There's no telling when a crush attack will strike and how wacky we'll react to it. In London's case, she impulsively signs up for a modeling contest just to come face-to-face with cutie Brent, the photography intern collecting contest applications. But when London gets a call back from contest judges instead of Brent, she finds herself in a fierce modeling competition and it's all documented on Brent's camera. PERFECT SHOT is the first of the Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies to feature an African-American main character, so that's also exciting. The setting is a fictional metropolitan town in New Jersey's stone's throw from New York City, and the multicultural cast of characters is a reflection of that.

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

Debbie: I'm working on another romantic comedy as well as a paranormal book. Fingers crossed, I'll be able to share more details about them after the holiday season.

Thank you for sharing with us, Debbie! Best of luck with your writing. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Debbie: Let it flow. Sometimes when it comes to writing, it's best not to over think things. No matter how unpolished or incomplete the idea, write it down anyway. The process of writing helps bring more ideas to the surface and may creatively steer you in an exciting new direction.

Debbie Rigaud began her writing career covering news and entertainment for magazines—namely, Seventeen, Twist and CosmoGIRL!. She’s interviewed celebs, politicians and other social figures, but enjoyed interviewing “real” girls the most. A total Jersey girl at heart, Debbie lives in Bermuda with her husband. Visit her website,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rocking The House

I am going to admit something: when it comes to the video game, Rock Band, I completely forget my age. I have been known to sing and dance and jump--to channel my inner rock star. (When I think only loved ones are watching, of course.)

So when we had a 16-member Rock Band Throw-Down at a Ferraro Family Thanksgiving last weekend (4 teams, 4 players), I eagerly signed up. But when I got put on a team with an 8th grader, 10th grader and 11th grader, my head spun a bit, and I wondered if I should try to channel my inner 11th grader (like Parker of The ABC’s of Kissing Boys) to fit in.

But then I remembered: this was The Beatles version of Rock Band. I had a total advantage, and something I could bring to my team: I'd been singing Beatle songs pretty much every day my whole life. I was born for this!

So we went ahead, all four teams "performing" the same two songs. And over the course of the next hour or so, we saw some terrific stuff, some not-so-terrific stuff, and heard lots of applause and laughter. More important than which team won was the family camraderie, kids helping adults, adults helping kids...

There was tremendous cheering as the gift cards were handed out to the winners. I heard later that those gift cards could be used to download music to one's iPod, and what do you bet they'll be used for Beatle songs? Especially at my house since Beatles Rock Band is now on our Santa list!

So please tell us...have you played Guitar Hero and/or Rock Band? Do you find it to be good family fun, too?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy T-Day!!

To our Fresh Friends who gather with the ones who mean the most on this day to feast on some serious good eats and cherish who + what you are thankful for...

Happy Thanksgiving!!

~Kelly & Tina

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fallen (The Revolution) Web Series

We’ve enjoyed chatting with director/writer/producer/editor e.E. Charlton-Trujillo on a couple occasions here at YA Fresh, first in 2007 when we interviewed her about her Delacorte release, Feels Like Home, and more recently last week, when she participated in our Author Round-Up.

Today we’re excited to share with you something she’s got in the works, an exciting web series called Fallen (The Revolution).

The success of the show via the web has been overwhelming and now she and the collaborators of Pinata ~ Productions hope to take it to television producers in pitching season. She calls it a one in a million shot, but so, she was, was getting the project in the can!

You can watch the exclusive trailer here and visit the Fallen Official Site to watch the episodes.

Kelly and I enthusiastically support e.E. Charlton-Trujillo in this exciting project! We hope you will, too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's Fresh with Laurie Faria Stolarz's Deadly Little Lies!

Last fall, sixteen-year-old Camelia fell for Ben, the mysterious new boy at school who turned out to have a very mysterious gift—pyschometry, the ability to sense the future through touch. But just as Camelia and Ben's romance began to heat up, he abruptly left town. Brokenhearted, Camelia has spent the last few months studying everything she can about psychometry, and experiencing her own strange brushes with premonition. Camelia wonders if Ben's abilities have somehow rubbed off on her. Can the power of psychometry be transferred?

Even once Ben returns to school, Camelia can't get close enough to share her secret with him. Despite the romantic tension between them, Ben remains aloof, avoiding contact. Then when an unexpected kiss leads to a frightening argument, Camelia makes the painful decision to let Ben go and move on. Adam, the hot new guy at work, seems good for her in ways Ben wasn't. Adam is easygoing, and seems to really care about her.

But when Camelia and Adam start dating, a surprising love triangle results. A chilling sequence of events upturns secrets from Ben's past—and Adam's. Someone is lying, and it's up to Camelia to figure out who-before it's too late.

Hello Laurie, it is always a pleasure to have you visit us on YA Fresh! 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.

Laurie: It really depends on the day. I have two kids, 6 and 2, so I find myself often working at night. On the couple days when they’re both in school (the two-year-old goes to preschool a couple mornings a week; the six-year-old is in 1st Grade), I grab a cup of really strong, black coffee and get to work.

What was the most difficult part of writing this novel?

Laurie: I think the most difficult part of any suspense thriller is making sure you’re giving enough clues so the reader can potentially guess the guilty player, but not giving too many so that it’s obvious who it is. It’s a balancing act of sorts. I try to steer the reader into thinking it’s a number of different people, but that part is fun for me.

Could you please tell us your favorite lines from the book?

Laurie: “Your dad has man-boobs, cankles, and mama-hips…who’s he to talk about style?” – Kimmie (talking to her friend Wes, whose Dad wants him to dress more “manly”), Deadly Little Lies

“I mean, seriously, have you seen the way he fills out a pair of jeans? He puts the Chiquita in my banana.” – Kimmie (about her crush Todd McCaffrey), Deadly Little Lies

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

Laurie: I’m working on the edits of DEADLY LITTLE GAME, the third book in the TOUCH series.

Thanks again, Laurie! Best of luck with this awesome series! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Laurie: Sure, whenever I get stuck in a scene or don’t know what happens next, I get away from the computer, grab a notebook, and start taking notes on the “issue.” I’ll write down what I know works, and then work toward the tricky part, jotting down questions I have. I find working the problem out this way helps get me through the kink.

Laurie Faria Stolarz grew up in Salem, MA, attended Merrimack College, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston. She is currently working on a new series, also for young adults. Visit her on-line at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Author Round-up: Writing Around The Holidays

With the holidays approaching, Kelly and I decided to ask some of our recent YA Fresh author guests to weigh in about how the holidays affect their writing. Do they get more done, less done, the same???

Let’s see what our friends have to say!

e.E. Charlton-Trujillo: Writing... holiday... bring it! Whether I'm in Belgium celebrating St. Nicholas with my brother or in Texas tapping my toes to Feliz Navidad with friends, the spirit of the holidays rocks my creative world. There's something about the lights and aroma of pine needles that sends my imagination into super overdrive. I slate in between 2 to 4 hours to work on a novel, screenplay and/or stage play. I'm usually jumping between three to four projects at once. A cup of hot chocolate, a breakfast tacquito and I'm set to immerse myself in the world of words. Then time with family, friends and a few hours at a homeless shelter. The latter may seem like a downer but it really isn't. See, for me, stories are about the world I can imagine but also the world I see. Whether it's snazzy holiday displays or a conversation with someone down on their luck, I make time for both because it matters. Showing up on the page and in life matters. So I guess my holiday motto is be the change you want to see in the world and have a lot of fun doing it. As always, rock the word!

Tera Lynn Childs: The holidays are not my best time of year for writing. Since my deadlines always seem to fall on or around December 1st, I'm usually so wiped out afterward that I go on a rest-of-the-year writing break. That way I'm all refreshed and ready to start on something new for the New Year. Just in time for my revision letter to come in….

Heather Davis: The holidays definitely affect my writing - usually because I must entertain relatives with my answer to the question "What are you working on now?" It never fails that at any turkey dinner or family egg-nog fest, they ask this question. The problem is that the answer is never simple and somehow they expect it to be hilarious. ;) Ok, so really -- I am a creature of habit, so I will keep to my regular writing schedule (2 hours a day x 3 days + weekend time) as much as possible. It helps that I don't host any holiday shindigs, except for maybe Christmas Eve with my sister. I know that writing keeps me sane, so I'll try to do as much of it as possible, all through the season.

Stephanie Kuehnert: I think I’m in the unique position where the holiday season doesn’t effect my writing schedule too much--I just take the actual holidays off. I don’t have kids. My day job is actually a night job bartending so I still have to work. It will probably be a lot more chill this year than last though. I was on revision deadline then, which really sucked because I got engaged over the holidays and all I wanted to do was celebrate. Maybe Ill give myself the gift of extra free time this year to celebrate since I couldn’t last year!

Kelly McClymer: Holidays are a train wreck for my writing. For twelve years, I have had to get work done in between the marathon games of Wii or poker, or the neverending anecdotes that spill over from every conversational knot. I am, unfortunately, not able to write in the day long trip down or back. So I perch wherever (we visit more than one house, of course), trying to multi task: talk, cook, eat, work. Work tends to suffer in the short run, but in the end my work -- and I -- benefit from the holiday madness of feast and family.

Sydney Salter: I liken my writing routine during the holidays to trying to squeeze into my skinny jeans after eating Thanksgiving dinner. Not only are my kids home from school, my house has become the holiday gathering place so I have my toddler niece and preschool nephew whirl-winding around me. So I sneak away… the baristas at the bookstore café become my best pals. I exchange knowing glances with the other café regulars and I buckle down and write as fast as I can for an hour or two while sipping a peppermint mocha. Happy holiday writing!

Melissa Walker: I plan things so that I won't have to write AT ALL during the holidays--I'm too busy nibbling on cookies and drinking eggnog (and reading my friends' books)! It's a truly awesome break in my schedule.

Wonderful and enlightening answers! And now here's some feedback from us:

Tina Ferraro: When my children were smaller, I made a point of getting to a good stopping point in my writing projects by December 1. I dedicated the entire month to family and reading time. Now that they’re older and at once less demanding in their holiday needs and more helpful, I continue on pretty much as I do any time of year, working when time permits.

Kelly Parra: Writing during the holidays is extremely difficult for me. I had to write Invisible Touch during the holidays and I was distracted with my kiddos home on vacation and finishing up shopping. I am one of those writers who needs absolute concentration when I write or the muse suffers. I don't think I'd like to do it again unless I really had to! Luckily, I made it through without losing my holiday cheer.

We hope you've enjoyed these glimpses into our holiday writing routines. Please jump in and let us know how you handle the holidays--whether's it's about writing or work or just getting things done.

And feel free to ask questions of our guests, too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our Winner...

of the Barnes and Noble $20.00 gift certificate is:


Thank you, Cheryl, for recommending Alyson Noel's EVERMORE series to our YA Fresh guest, Rhyon Brown.

Cheryl, please send me your contract information at, and like Rhyon, you'll soon be doing some book shopping!

Thanks to all who read the interview, and all who entered!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Special Guest (and Giveaway)!

(photo courtesy of HeyGurl, Inc.)

Does this high school senior’s face look familiar to you? It’s because it belongs to the very talented Rhyon Brown--who plays Lizzie Sutton on ABC Family’s hit show, Lincoln Heights!

In addition to a busy acting career that spans back to her kindergarten days, Rhyon is a firm believer in giving back to the community. Actively involved with the Boys and Girls Club of America, she lends her celebrity to support the charity and has appeared at several events on their behalf. Here she is with supermodel/Project Runway executive producer and host, Heidi Klum:

(photo courtesy of FrontPage Communications)

In addition to work, school and volunteerism, guess what’s one of Rhyon's favorite pastimes? Uh-huh, reading novels! And that’s where Kelly and I come in! We jumped at the chance to chat with Rhyon, to find out more about her reading tastes and habits, and to share this interview with all of you.

Tina: Welcome to YA Fresh, Rhyon. Tell us, given your busy schedule, when do you find the most time to read?

Rhyon: It depends on the book. Sometimes I have a book that I just finished when I'm laying in my bed, getting ready to go to sleep. Other books I might read when I'm on set, or in the hair and make-up trailer. But, my absolute favorite books to read are those that you just CANNOT put down!

Once I was in Canada, shooting a film and my mom got me this book that I read walking, when we were in the car, when I was in hair and make-up, when we were just kicking it at the hotel, even sometimes when we were in conversation she would have to stop and say "HELLO????" are you even listening to me. That book was Broken China by Lori Aurelia Williams. It's definitely one of my favorites. It was like 265 pages long and I finished it in a day. Then I had the nerve to beg my mom to go back to the book store, at like 11pm, to see what other books were written by that author. It's really a good read!!! You should check it out!

Tina: We will--and believe me, the only thing we like as much as reading good books is getting recommendations for more! On that note, what are some of your favorite authors and books?

Rhyon: Wow.....I have quite a few authors and books that I have fallen in love with and some books that I have read more than once. But, I would have to say some of my favorite authors and books are:

New York Times Best Selling Author Sarah Dessen, This Lullaby, The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, and Dreamland.

Essence Best Selling Author Monica McKayhan, Trouble Follows, and The Pact.

Amazing Writer Lori Aurelia Williams, Broken China and Blind Faith.

Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

But my all-time favorite is New York Times Best Seller is The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. If you don't read anything else make sure you read The Kite Runner. It has an intriguing story-line and lots of lessons you can apply to life.

Tina: Any book you're hoping to get and read over the holidays?

Rhyon: I can't wait for the holidays to get here because that will mean I've submitted my college applications and I can finally read again for the enjoyment of reading instead of just reading text books and SAT course materials. So, I think I'm going to go to the bookstore and just peruse until I find something that looks inviting. I get three weeks off for Christmas break so I'm sure I'll need a few.

Tina: Sounds wonderful. Have fun with that! In fact, we’re going to encourage our readers to leave you book suggestions in our comments section, so please check back later in the weekend to see what they’ve said! Thanks Rhyon, and we’ll be seeing you on Lincoln Heights!

And now a note about our contest! As you just read, Rhyon is headed to a bookstore during the holidays to pick up some new books. Leave a young adult book suggestion for her in our comments section, and you’ll be entered to win a $20 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble for your own holiday reading! You can enter as often as you’d like. The winner will be announced on Monday.

Monday, November 09, 2009

What are you reading??

The temperatures are dropping, the holidays are approaching...

It's time to settle down with some good books. *rubbing hands together*

Right now, I'm reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater!

I'm in the mood for a romantic read and couldn't be happier settling into this tale of forbidden love and werewolves!

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Tell me, what fresh Young adult book are you reading right now?

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Evolution of School Lockers!

School lockers have made a total transformation since I went to school (okay, admittedly in the dark ages). Back then, they were nothing but a necessity--long, metal gray caves where you stored your stuff. And at the end of the year, where you found long-lost umbrellas, homework drafts and cupcakes.

Today, they're often as important as a student's clothing and walk...they reflect her style:

Or are billboards for notices and spirit:

One of the more clever decorations I've heard of was the techno-geek who rigged his locker to play music when he opened it.

How about you? Have you been or are you a locker decorator? What have you seen others do? Share with us--we'd love to hear!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

DVD Madness

I am not a big TV watcher. Not because I don't like it. I am just usually too busy, too tired, or too scattered to remember nights and times.

But I knew I was missing some great programs. So I was delighted, a few years ago, when shows started being released on DVD. Perfect for me! I can go all the way back to the program’s beginnings, move at my own rate (which is usually fast, once I get hooked), and the short duration between episodes helps my (crowded) brain to remember the details of the storyline and the characters.

And inevitably, if the program is still being aired, I “catch up” on the back episodes and at least attempt to become a live and weekly viewer. Commercials and all! And it makes me feel to be watching what everyone else is watching the very same week! And if I fall behind (again)? I know I can fall back on the DVD!

Here are some of the shows I’ve slid into this way:

How about you? Discovered any favorite shows through DVDs? Or are you a dedicated weekly TV show watcher? And have any other programs that you think I should try?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It's Time for Halloween!

I saw this image recently, and couldn't help put post it here, to show people what Trick or Treat bags looked like when I was little:

Moms would stuff them with homemade cookies, popcorn balls, Rice Krispie bars and small, unwrapped candies, and hand them out at the door. Unsealed. Yes, it was a different era!

My favorite dress-up character--I remember going with this at least twice--was a gypsy. It was great fun to dress up in my mom's big clothes, wear her long necklaces, and apply her lipstick!

Kelly and I were chatting earlier, and when I asked her what her favorite Halloween costume had been, she said: "My favorite costume as a kid was a gypsy! I used to love to dress in my mom's long skirts and scarves, draping myself with dangly jewelry, and piling on the make-up."

Okay--are we "twins separated at birth" or what?

And for those of you who tune into the TV show, Mad Men, a gypsy is what Don and Betty Draper's daughter dressed as this year, as well.

But there are SO MANY other options! What has been your favorite costume? Leave as a comment and tell us.

(Oh, and as a P.S., "only" three Halloween-sized candy bars were eaten during the writing of this blog.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

"Read Beyond Reality" Winner!

Thanks to you all for entering our "Read Beyond Reality" Giveaway in honor of Teen Read Week!

The Random winner is...

Meredith F. for Sphinx's Princess!!

Congrats Meredith!

Please email me through my website with your mailing address!

Thanks, Everyone!!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Randomly Fresh "Read Beyond Reality" Giveaway!

It's Random. It's Fresh. It's Read Beyond Reality. It's a Giveaway!

Hey YAFreshers, in honor of Teen Read Week, we wanted to surprise our visitors with another Randomly Fresh Giveaway!

Up this week are three titles that are--you guessed it--beyond our reality...

Since it is in honor of Teen Read Week, anyone can enter! Just leave a comment with one of the 3 books shown above that you are interested in reading, from now until Sunday evening, and one lucky winner will be chosen and announced on Monday, October 26th. :)

Thanks and happy random commenting!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Teen Read Week 2009!

Are you celebrating Teen Read Week?

"Teen Read Week 2009 is celebrated Oct. 18-24! This year's theme is Read Beyond Reality @ your library, which encourages teens to read something out of this world, just for the fun of it." Thanks to YALSA!

And the cool Readergirlz are celebrating--all week!

Every night this week, they'll be live chats with fresh YA authors at 6pm PST/9pm EST. Tonight's chat is with Holly Cupala (TELL ME A SECRET), Lisa McMann (WAKE), and Cynthia Leitich Smith (ETERNAL)!

And all day Friday (October 24, 2009), YA authors are sharing vlogs/blogs supporting Teen Read Week, and *ahem* I contributed a short and silly vlog, so stayed tuned! *smiles*


Monday, October 19, 2009

Confession Time...

Okay, so I have a fresh confession to make.

I'm over 30 and I'm an iCarly fan.

You see, it started off innocently, sitting with my children as they watched an episode or two.

I mean, Carly's a sweet girl. Sam's tough side is adorable. Freddie is too cute. And Spencer always cracks me up.

Who doesn't love Random Dancing?? Or shirtless Gibby?? And a web show that's fun all the time??

So I've confessed...I've watched episode after episode. Twice.

♥ Like when Freddie makes a bet with Sam and loses then has to have Sam tattooed on his body...
♥ Or when Carly starts dating a bad boy then discovers he loves Pee-Wee babies and isn't so bad after all...
♥ Or when Spencer thinks a girl only likes him when he's wearing his tuxedo and goes jogging with it on under his sweats??
♥ Or when Freddie and Sam share a first kiss--then in a later episode Carly finds out they never told her!

And still I LOL!

I don't care if it's aimed toward young kids, I shall forever be young at heart. :) name is Kelly. I watch iCarly, and I'm proud of it!

Friday, October 16, 2009

These Boots Are Made For Walkin'...

Last weekend, I took a trip back east. After what felt like years of hot and dry California days, the fun started the minute I started packing.

I went through my closet, pulling out my fall and winter clothing to create outfits for the events. But when it came to shoes, it was a no-brainer to reach for both pairs of my boots. Which happen to be a pair of soft Uggs, and high heeled black leather.

I quickly realized how much I'd missed wearing my boots, how they "snazz up" my wardrobe.

So I thought I'd find a few pairs of boots that are popular this fall--especially with teens--and present them here. And ask our readers to vote: (colors notwithstanding) which of these pairs of boots would you grab if you had the chance?

The slouchy boots:

The strappy boots:

Or the suede boots:

I'll go first: while I like all three, I think I'd go strappy because I love a good heel. Who's next?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Book Friday Teens!

Have you heard of this cool site?

Free Book Friday Teens is hosted by author Jessica Brody, and visitors get to read cool interviews by young adult authors and enter to win--you guessed it--free books!

What is FBF Teens?

It's simple. Every Friday, we give away free books!

That's right. Each week, we feature a new young adult author with an exclusive author interview podcast or written Q&A and host a drawing to win free signed copies of his/her book.

All you have to do to enter to win each week is sign up using the entry form on the left sidebar. Winners are chosen at random and posted on the site every Friday morning. Hence the name, "Free Book Friday!"

I'm being interview this week and giving away 3 copies of Invisible Touch to 3 lucky visitors! Winners TBA October 16th.

And don't forget to check back each week to see who is being interviewed next and what book might be up for grabs!



Monday, October 12, 2009

The Marla Frazee Giveaway Winner...

is Natasha Rath!

Natasha, contact me at with mailing information and we'll get the book in the mail to you.

Thanks to all who entered!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Marla Frazee Giveaway!

Caldecott Winner Marla Frazee spoke at Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada, California last weekend, and even though I had a very hectic schedule, I made sure to attend. Not only because she is a highly regarded children's book author and illustrator, but because I happen to be a big fan.

The Clementine series (written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee) is one of my favorite chapter book series.

The characters jump off the page with realism, the storylines are funny and offer clever twists, and the illustrations so endearing that I want to reach down and give little Clementine a big mom-like hug!

Marla was kind enough to answer my question, something I'd been dying to know about the author/illustrator relationship: who decides which scenes and elements to illustrate?

She told me that she does. That first she reads the whole manuscript through, then analyzes the story to see what she could contribute to the project. She mentioned illustrations being like a movie soundtrack that supports the story, and how like music, she looks to make the story "swell."

Wow, huh?

Afterwards, I bought a copy of Clementine's Letter, which she signed for me:

I am giving away another copy of Clementine's Letter, unsigned and hardcover, so that others can share in this wonderful series. All you have to do to be entered is leave a comment naming either a picture or chapter book with illustrations you admire...or an children's book illustrator's name.

Good luck! And this contest will run through the weekend, with the winner named on Monday.

Sunday, October 04, 2009


The winner of NEVER CRY WEREWOLF by Heather Davis is Heather H!

Which reminded me of that teen movie from the late '80's called HEATHERS. In any case, Heather H., please e-mail me (Tina) at with contact information so we can get the copy in the mail to you!

Thanks to all who entered!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Never Cry Werewolf Giveaway!

YA Fresh welcomes Heather Davis to our interview mic today, to talk about her recently released debut novel, Never Cry Werewolf, and her writer’s life.

Heather has been kind enough to offer up a signed copy of the book to one lucky commenter, so be sure to enter. (But sorry, cupcake not included!)

Hello, Heather! Thanks for joining us. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

I’ve always been a writer. When I was in elementary school I wrote plays and in high school, I wrote poetry and faithfully kept a journal. I went off to college as a film major. I had a weekly comic strip in the school newspaper and did a ton of writing related to film. After graduating, I fell in love and stayed in the Pacific Northwest for a boy. I turned back to comics and story boarding, until I went to a writers’ conference and the light switched on. I should be writing stories. After that epiphany, I started writing and submitting short fiction and made my first sale to Cricket Magazine in 1999. By the end of 2000, I’d completed my first adult novel and was attending a critique group in the small mountain town I’d moved to with my then husband. Flash forward to me a few years later substitute teaching elementary school, with five unpublished adult novels under my belt. Suddenly it occurred to me that I needed to be writing for my students – and a YA novelist was born.

Two years and many rejection slips after that, I had a fabulous agent, a manuscript that won the Golden Heart for best Young Adult Romance and was a single girl, once again. My agent sold Never Cry Werewolf that fall of 2006. Yep, it’s been a long, convoluted road. No one ever said you shouldn’t suffer for your art, right?

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.

I work a regular office job for a great company and it’s very demanding. At the end of that long workday day, I pack myself down to the coffee shop on the way home from the office – 3 days a week, usually. I sit there with my laptop (never asking for the Internet password!) for an average of two hours working on a new draft. When I’m revising, I’m more likely to be doing my normal two hour stint at home after work. I guess the energy and comfort required for revising and drafting are completely different for me.

On an average day on a new draft, I’ll spend a few minutes reading through what I wrote during my last session and making tiny adjustments. I’ll pore over the handwritten outline in my journal and make adjustments on that. Then, I just write, usually two scenes. Then, after my time is up, I’ll make a note in my journal on how long I wrote and what I accomplished. Sometimes I write on the weekends, too – it just depends on what else is going on in my life. Above all I know that if I haven’t accomplished the weeks pages, I will feel really, really guilty. Writing for me is a regular, disciplined process that I need to do regularly to sustain my happiness and well-being.

Please tell us about Never Cry Werewolf and what we can expect from this book.

This is a sweet, funny paranormal romance that is perfect for younger YA readers. This is not doom and gloom and suffering – it’s just for entertainment. There are a lot of paranormal books out there which fill the need to bring people down, but NCW is uplifting. It’s the tale of Shelby, an average girl sent to brat camp by an evil stepmother. At Camp Crescent, she meets Austin, a dark hero trying to keep his Lycan heritage under wraps. Shelby’s struggling to do the right thing, but her need to help people usually gets her into trouble, and once she meets irresistible Austin, she’s toast.

And allow me to add that I read Never Cry Werewolf--practically in one sitting because the pages just kept on turning. The woodsy setting of the Brat Camp, the full moons and the idea that Austin might go werewolf at any point kept me spellbound, and jumping at unexpected noises in the book and in my house! Plus, I loved the romance: Austin is totally dreamy, even with all those extra whiskers...

Next question: you have another project in the works?

Yes, The Clearing will be coming out this April from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It’s a dark, time-travel romance with an empowering theme. Amy, a girl recovering from an abusive relationship, moves to the country to escape her old life. There on her aunt’s farmland, she meets Henry, a boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944. They are two people, out of time, who need each other in different ways. It’s a very romantic, powerful story. It’s very different from NCW.

I'll be anxiously awaiting it. And would you like to close with a writing tip?

Just that if you’re trying to write you should be kind to yourself. By being kind, I mean that you shouldn’t judge yourself too harshly, or expect perfection. Let yourself be messy and terrible – whatever it takes to get that first draft down on paper. Later, you will go back and revise and clean everything up.

And, don’t compare yourself to other people. Your writing journey is your own – so whatever anyone else is doing has very little to do with you. Just write the best story you have inside of you. And if it’s not the best, revise it, learn from it, and then move on a write more. It takes zillions of hours of practice to master anything, even if you have “natural” talent. Okay, I guess there were a few tips in there. I hope at least one of them was helpful.

Great! Thanks, Heather!

And now, about the contest! Never Cry Werewolf has a dark, gruff but charming, British hero that readers seem to love. To win a copy of the book, in comments, post the qualities of a hero character you would love to create or read about. One winner will be chosen at random on Sunday evening to win an signed copy of Never Cry Werewolf. Good luck!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Books Week!

That's right YA Freshers, the last week of September is the time to celebrate Banned Books Week! Every year, literature is challenged in one form or another. Some are shouted from the hill tops and others not detected at all. So now is your week to celebrate your freedom to read.

Here is the Top 10 Banned Books in 2008 compiled by the American Library Association:

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group

His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence

TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence

Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group

Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Uncle Bobby's Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group

Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group

For more lists of frequently challenged books check out the ALA site here.

Happy Banned Reading!


Friday, September 25, 2009

Kitten Crazy!

As I write this, I have two 8 week-old kittens curled up, purring in their little cat bed. Happy, content, at home. Hard to believe that just 3 weeks ago, I didn’t even know they existed...

Flash back to the aftermath of the Station Fire. The one here in Los Angeles that evacuated me and 10,000 of my closest friends. We Ferraros were still busy reconnecting computers and putting the family pictures back on the walls when at about 9:00 one night, I got a call from my neighbor, Terri. (FYI, if you have read The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, she’s the “Terri” of the book’s dedication: “For Terri, ‘cause she’s cool like that!”)
She’d found a teeny, tiny kitten outside her back door, shivering in the darkness.

I ran over there and we cuddled and cooed over the poor little guy. All the while wondering where he came from, where his mother was, how he got into her backyard....if there was one out in the wild, were there more?

By the next day, the kitten (who would go on to be called Ranger) was settled in at Terri’s house. That night, my husband and I took our usual walk. But circumstances prevailed and we needed to head back the short way--something we never do--ending up on the street below Terri’s. Suddenly:

Tiny Voice in Ivy: “Peep!”
Me (stopping dead in tracks): “Did you hear that???”
Husband: (with resignation): “Yes..."
Me: “Peep!”
Voice in Ivy: “Peep!”
Me: “Peep!”
Voice in Ivy: “Peep!”
Husband: “Oh, great, another cat.”

The problem was, it was a holiday weekend and no one was home at any of the surrounding houses. And as my husband pointed out, I couldn’t take a pet from someone’s property just because I thought it might be a stray. (Darn him and his logic!)

So I went and got Terri (and kitten food) and we fed the kitty. And left her in the ivy. What could we do?

But bright and early the next morning, I returned with more food, only to have her scamper up to me, let me pick her up, and start purring. And more? The people were home! So I talked to them and they said a stray mother cat had had a litter of four...but all had been disappearing one by one...and at last count, only two kittens were left.

What didn’t need to be said was what had likely happened to the others. See, we live on the edge of a national forest. And even before the fires, with our hot, dry summer, the coyotes had been coming down looking for food. Since the fires, it was every animal for himself.

So Ruby (as she was soon to be called) moved in with Ranger in his cozy digs. And from the first moment they reconnected, they sniffed and nuzzled and purred...and curled up together. Melted Terri’s and my hearts! We like to believe that Ranger was the “Scout,” the one who went and found them safety and shelter, and that somehow he sent us back for her. But--you know--we're cool like that. ;)

Here they are that first weekend at Terri’s house:

Here they are two weeks later when they moved in with me:

Right now, we are continuing to raise them together. Long stretches at Terri’s, and then at mine, depending on schedules. In either location, they’re as happy as can be--purring and playing and cleaning each other. We’re planning to separate them when they are older, Ranger to live with her, Ruby with me, but we’re just going to play it by ear for now.

So tell us, have you ever rescued a pet or stepped in to help one who needed a home?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's Fresh with Paula Chase Hyman's Del Rio Bay Series!

It's junior year at Del Rio Bay High, and from near and far, the guys are taking center stage...

Now that Mina's boyfriend Brian is off to Duke University, life in Del Rio Bay is lonely. And Brian's busy schedule as a Duke baller isn't helping. As the season heats up and the phone calls get fewer, Mina's insecurity increases—and so does Brian's impatience with it. But he's not the only guy in the clique dealing with craziness.
Michael's passion for fashion has led to a chance to attend a special creative arts program in D.C. He knows he should jump on it, but leaving home is harder than he thought. He turns to his dancer friend Rob for support, but Rob's presence around the clique triggers star athlete JZ's feelings of homophobia. As JZ's discomfort simmers, his feelings get the best of him when he finds himself seriously attracted to Jacinta—and discovers she's on a different page.

With relationships in the balance and friendships at risk, Flipping the Script (Del Rio Bay Novels) challenges the guys to step up when the stakes are high.

Hello, Paula, it is a pleasure to have you back with us on YA Fresh for an interview about the entire Del Rio Bay series! Please tell us about your series and the latest novel in the set.

Paula: I think this is the first time I've had to summarize the entire series. Wow, big reality check that it's over. The Del Rio Bay series is about six friends and the trials their friendship endures as they mature from freshman to juniors. It's sort of like giving a middle school reader a chance to look in a crystal ball and see what high school could (probably will) do to their friendships. You go in thinking friendships, tastes, values are the same but they morph in high school big time.

The last book, Flipping The Script (Dafina, April '09) is the final Act and centers primarily on the male characters as one comes to grips with how his sexuality will impact the circle.

What was the most difficult part of writing this series?

Paula: Maybe it's easy to say this now, because it's over, but writing the series was easy. Maybe too easy because now that I've moved on I'm realizing how hard writing is. That's weird isn't it? I've written five books and now it's hard! But I got to dwell in the heads of these characters so long, thinking like them was second nature. Honestly, the hardest part was moving on and quieting their voices. I wanted to write a sixth book, but my publisher passed. But man, try telling the characters that the curtain has fallen. That was hard.

Could you tell us what type of promotion you or your publisher have done for your series?

Paula: You know how writers are always warning newbies that promo will not fall primarily in their laps? Well, I'm a prime example of that happening. Although my publisher paid for me to attend BEA, one year, and they secured several major reviews (Booklist, Publishers Weekly and Kirkus) I'd say 95% of the promo was initiated and implemented by me. My largest promo tool is my website and that's where I sunk a good portion of my marketing dollars. However, I also networked heavily in the kiddie lit community among gatekeepers to build good word-of-mouth for the series. I did a lot of library visits for the first three books and a few literary festivals. But now, my promo is primarily online - blog tours, guest blogging and ads on teen friendly sites like teensreadtoo and blackteensread2.

Please list one similarity and one difference between yourself and your main character.

Paula: Mina and I grew up in the exact same environment. The Woods, where she lives and DRB High, are both based on my own neighborhood and high school. But where we're different is Mina's strength. The things she endures, I think she handles way better than I would have at her age. I wanted her to be vulnerable, like many teens are when they're learning about the world around them, but I also wanted her to have this quirky sense of resiliency that I never truly possessed as a teen.

Thank you again for sharing, Paula! I wish you the best on your next writing project! Could you please tell us one of your favorite lines from one or each of the books?

Paula: So Not The Drama - Popularity is a drug. You get a taste of it and suddenly the looks you get from people, the way you get treated, the things you get away with…you need it. You honest to God, need it. (I love this line because it sets the tone for this book but not the entire series, like some people assume)

Don't Get It Twisted - Having him all up on her was like being snuggled inside a freshly washed sweatshirt. (Is it just me? I love the smell and feel of a newly washed hoodie!)

That's What's Up - Yes, I’m growing it out. Changing my style to go along with my new status as Cinny without Raheem, she thought silently in the quiet darkness. (The character is talking about changing her hair to reinforce that she's moving on as she contemplates breaking up with her BF. I love the simplicity of the thought that you can do one as easily as the other)

Who You Wit'?- And Jacinta still remembered her father watching Taquon walk down the street in a bikini top and bootie shorts, stretch marked stomach on
display, shaking his head wondering aloud where her parents had been while she’d been out having sex with a boyfriend who was fifteen but still only in seventh grade. (I love this line because even as adults we sometimes flash back to something our parents said to us and the flash is so strong it's like reliving it...even when what was said seems so throwaway at the time)

Paula Chase Hyman's Del Rio Bay series helped launch Kensington Books YA line in March 2007. Dedicated to working with teens, she co-founded the Committed Black Women in 1993, a high school mentoring group and coached a competitive squad for five years.

She recently co-founded The Brown Bookshelf with five author friends. The site is dedicated to honoring vanguard authors and showcasing the myriad of talented African American children’s lit authors and illustrators flying under-the-radar of librarians, parents and teachers. Visit her at and

Sunday, September 20, 2009

We Have A Winner!

Thanks to all who entered to win a signed copy of Sydney Salter's debut novel, My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters. We have a winner:


please e-mail me at with your contact information, and we'll get the book in the mail to you!

And a reminder to all our readers that we frequently have giveaways here at YA Fresh, so keep coming back!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Welcome Sydney Salter!

Two years ago, at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrator’s conference in Century City, California, I enjoyed meeting newly contracted author, Sydney Salter. At the conference this past summer, I was delighted to get to buy a copy of her (very funny) book, My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters.

Sydney has been kind enough to join us for an interview and a book giveaway here at YA Fresh. So enjoy her interview, and please, leave a comment, to be entered to win a a signed copy of My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters!

Hello, Sydney! And welcome. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Writing for me started with keeping a daily diary during high school. I certainly didn’t expand much beyond gossip, adventures with my friends, arguments with my mother, and endless paragraphs about my various crushes. But I do think that keeping a diary helped me develop my teen voice. I did kind of hope to someday, maybe, write a novel—but how could I do something like that?

I didn’t write any fiction until I’d graduated from college with a degree in English (I was too afraid of failing to even take a creative writing class). I wrote truly terrible short stories that rarely received praise from my teachers or classmates. Until I returned to that adolescent voice… Hmm. But I wanted to be a “real” writer.

I didn’t start writing for a younger audience until I had children. Pretty quickly, I realized that raising two daughters would be the most difficult thing I’d ever do—so I might as well try writing. I wrote truly terrible picture books that resulted in stacks of rejection letters. And then I returned to that adolescent voice and wrote Jungle Crossing. I was hooked on novels—and wrote two more. I still collected rejection letters, but some of them had nice comments and suggestions. I revised, revised, and revised. Needing to shake up my writing routine (and rid myself of the rejection blues), I wrote My Big Nose And Other Natural Disasters during National Novel Writing Month ( Realizing that it was my most commercial story, I submitted it only to agents. A few months—and some more revisions—later, I signed with Ted Malawer and he sold the book to Julie Tibbott at Harcourt.

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.

After I race my daughters off to school, I hurry home to make a cup of tea and dive into my writing. If I’m working on a first draft, I try to write a chapter a day. If I finish before school gets out, I’ll read someone else’s lovely edited and published novel or work on publicity tasks. If my girls are home, I’ll escape to a noisy café to write (where no one will ask me to help them find their blue shirt, or whatever).

When I’m revising a book, I’ll put in a full day, only stopping for lunch while watching a few minutes of Hot Topics on The View (I love bad television). I do try to stop working at the end of the school day.

Please tell us about My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters and what we can expect from this book.

The initial spark for the novel came from my worst-ever job experience—combined with the fact that I hated my nose in high school. Seventeen-year-old Jory Michaels gets a summer job to save money for a life-altering nose job. She wants to fit in with her “perfect” family, snag a boyfriend, and have an amazing senior year. Of course things go wrong (that’s the natural disasters part). The book is about learning to accept yourself, understanding your family, working things out with friends—and falling in love, of course!

Great, so what's up next? Do you have another project in the works?

My very first manuscript, Jungle Crossing, an upper middle-grade comes out this month (a testament to the power of revision!).

I also just finished copy-edits for Swoon At Your Own Risk, a teen novel about a girl with five ex-boyfriends who’s afraid to fall in love with again—but of course there’s this guy. Oh, and her grandma, a famous advice columnist has moved in for the summer. I hope to start another teen novel soon (I’m busy brainstorming ideas!).

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Don’t give up! If you really want to write, keep learning, keep writing, and keep revising. I remember being so intimidated by a confident writer I met at my first writing conference. She seemed to know so much—and her novels sounded so amazing. But she never finished it. Way too many writers give up too soon. Just buckle down, soothe your sorrows with long walks and chocolate (okay, maybe that’s just me) and keep writing!

Thanks, Sydney!

And to all our YA Fresh readers, the contest starts NOW and concludes Sunday night at 6 pm PST. Best of luck!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Living Your Five!

In case you guys haven't heard about Living Your Five, let me introduce you to this wonderful idea...

"Living Your Five is about making the world a better place, one person and one day at a time. It's about knowing what you care about and how you want to make a difference in your world."

This cool website was created by Young adult authors, Kay Cassidy, Alyson Noel, Tera Lynn Childs, and Becca Fitzpatrick.

Each week the authors share their five, how they or someone they know are trying to make a difference in our world, big or small. Every lit bit helps. And YOU can be an honorary fiver! Learn more about the details here!

So visit this awesome site and spread the joy of living your fives!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Did You See...

My latest teen DVD rentals have included Hannah Montana: The Movie and 17 Again.

I have to say, Miley Cyrus and Zach Efron are not my generation of teen entertainers. I was more of the age of Kids Incorporated! :) But I really enjoyed these talented actors in these films.

Hannah Montana: The Movie was fun, sweet, with music and dancing. The young starlet has to choose which life she will lead--the secret identity of the popular Hannah Montana or her real hometown girl persona as Miley, weaved in with a sweet, budding romance.

17 Again had a hip/modern slant with lots of humor. A former high school basketball star and unhappy adult is sent back to when he was 17 to relive his wonder years to see if he made the right decision 20 years ago. Mike may look 17 yet still with the wisdom of his adult life and sees his teen years in a whole new light. Will he make the same decision as he did all those years ago?

Out of the two, I have to say my favorite was Hannah Montana: The Movie!

Have you seen either of these movies yet? Which do you prefer best?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Winner(s)!

Thanks to all who entered our weekend giveaway. We got so many comments that I felt compelled to name not one, but two winners! Who are...


Cyndala and Jill, please contact me at and let me know which of my three books (as listed to the right of this blog entry, as well as at my website, you would like to receive!

Thanks, all!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Labor Day Weekend Giveaway!

Some of you know I had a very rough week...was under mandatory evacuation because my house was on the perimeter of the Los Angeles Station Fire!

But thanks to the smart and heroic efforts of my city's firefighters and police, the danger has passed. We returned to our home, and now it's back to life as usual!

So I am particularly happy and thankful this Labor Day Weekend, and plan to "celebrate" in low-key ways: attending a pre-season high school football game, home clean-up, and some BBQ'ing with friends and family.

Leave us a comment and tell us something interesting or fun or relaxing you are doing this weekend. On Monday night, I'll select one winner who can then choose which one of my three books (as noted in our right side column) he or she would like to receive.

Meanwhile, Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Monday, August 31, 2009

MC Spotlight #31: Shadow of the Dragon by Sherry Garland

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #31! 

And that ends the August YA Fresh Multicultural Spotlight!! *whew*
I hope you enjoyed the month long entries and enjoyed reading about these
 fantastic stories. Thanks, Everyone, and happy reading!

Shadow of the Dragon

Sixteen-year-old Danny Vo is caught between two cultures-the American world of his Houston high school and his Vietnamese home life. Life gets even more complicated when Danny’s cousin Sang Le comes to live with them after spending years in a reeducation camp in Vietnam. Failing school and unable to get a job, Sang Le joins a Vietnamese gang. Danny must also contend with another dangerous gang-the white supremacist skinheads that his new girlfriend’s brother belongs to.

“Excellent characterizations and a complex, believable plot are blended into a moving story of the immigrant experience.”—Booklist

SHERRY GARLAND is the author of many award-winning novels and picture books, including Indio and The Last Rainmaker. She lives in central Texas.