Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Whats Fresh with Linda Gerber's Death by Denim!

Linda Gerber's continuing her mysterious Aphra Connolly series with Death by Denim!

Aphra Connolly is being chased by some very dangerous people. She knows her survival depends upon staying far away from love interest Seth, and listening to her mom's lectures on the finer points of anonymity and survival. But how is a girl supposed to live under the radar and not think about her boyfriend when she's in Paris—the most romantic city in the world? When her mom's contact in Paris is found floating in the Seine with a deadly message stuffed in his mouth, Aphra realizes that she will never be able to stop running unless she confronts the situation head-on. Sneaking away from her mom, Aphra tracks down the criminal mastermind in Italy, only to unwittingly reveal Seth's location. And her mistake has just put them both in mortal danger...

Hi Linda, thanks for stopping in to chat about Death by Denim! What should we expect with the latest book in the series?

Linda: DEATH BY DENIM hits the shelves on May 14 – less than three weeks away! Both Aphra and Seth have to up their game in this one. Lots of action, drama, and some long-awaited smooching.

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

Linda: I’m switching gears a little bit on the next project – going paranormal. We haven’t found a title we love yet, but the book is about trance-writing sisters who have to learn to trust their gift – and each other. It will be released in 2010.

Awesome! Best of luck, Linda! And I hope everyone marks thier calenders for Linda's cyber launch party on May 14, 15 and 16 on her blog:!

Linda Gerber recently returned to life in the Midwest after four years in Japan, where she served as the Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. Her books include SASS: NOW AND ZEN, SASS: THE FINNISH LINE and the YA mysteries DEATH BY BIKINI, DEATH BY LATTE and DEATH BY DENIM. She currently lives and writes in Dublin, OH, blissfully ignoring her husband, kids, and one very naughty puppy. Visit Linda's website,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Thanks To All Who Entered...

the So Not Happening Contest! To be completely fair, I ran my handy-dandy random number generator and the winner of a signed copy of Jenny B. Jones' book is...

NORA !!!

Congrats, Nora, and since I see you included your e-mail in your comment, I will send you an e-mail right now so we can get the book winging to you as soon as possible.

We have at least two more giveaways happening in the next two weeks, so everybody, keep checking back!

Monday, April 27, 2009

So Not Happening Contest!

Please help me welcome author Jenny B. Jones to YA Fresh!

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

I’ve been writing forever. I was the nerd in first grade who would write a one-woman show and force my classmates to be my audience. And somehow I still kept friends and didn’t get beaten up on the playground. So I wanted to be a writer forever, right?

And then in 2005, I thought, wishing to be a writer has gotten me nowhere. I have yet to have the writer fairy land on my doorstep and hand me a finished novel with my name on it. So I decided to get proactive and do something about it. I found a fiction writer’s group, joined, and went to their yearly conference. Within six months, I had my first contract for The Katie Parker Production books. Of course then reality hits. Omigosh. I can’t write! They expect me to actually finish the book? Then I have to then come up with another book? And honestly, I still have that feeling for every book, but somehow if you keep your butt in the office chair (okay, or on my couch) long enough, it works out!

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.

Wake up at five a.m. Hit snooze until 6:15. Go to school. Teach ninth graders for a few hours. Some days I even brush my teeth before I get there. Impart wisdom, give detention, break up a girl-fight, drink heavily from whatever’s left in the Coke machine. Come home, fire up computer. Stare at the screen for three hours, with intermittent breaks of email checking, Facebooking, and YouTube watching. Eat snacks every 20 minutes to keep up my strength. Nine p.m. rolls around. Get in a really good panic. Start writing. Write one chapter or type until my eyes swell shut. Fall into bed. Some days I even brush my teeth before I get there. Wake up and do it all again. My goal this year is to pace myself a little better, but I keep forgetting to try it.

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

I’m so excited about So Not Happening, the first book in A Charmed Life series. Bella Kirkwood is a sixteen year old Manhattan princess who had it all: popularity at a prestigious private school, the latest fashions, and a life of privilege and luxury. Then her father, a plastic surgeon to the stars, decided to trade her mother in for a newer model.

When her mother starts over with her new husband, Bella is forced to pack up and leave all she knows to live with her new family in Oklahoma. But before her mother can even say, “I do,” Bella’s life becomes a major “don’t.”

When Bella’s feelings for the town go public, she goes from the top of the social food chain to being the girl everyone loves to ignore. Forced to work on the school newspaper, she meets one hot, but bossy editor, who wants nothing more than to chase her off with outrageous assignments. When Bella stumbles upon a campus mystery, no one believes her. . .so the new reporter must sniff out the details for herself. Bella must rely on her new-found talents, her chronic nosiness, and her faith to see her through.

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

Next up is book number two in the series, I’m So Sure, which will hit shelves in early November. Bella Kirkwood’s life becomes fodder for America as her family becomes the focus of a reality show. Now a serious reporter, Bella falls into a new mystery involving prom queen wannabes. Some girls will do anything for a tiara! Enlisting the help of Luke, her editor, Bella will have to solve the crime before she becomes the next target. Can prom be saved? Will Luke ever kiss her? Will she ever learn to love Target more than Bloomie’s? Stay tuned!

We will! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Don’t type with caramel on your fingers? (Learned this the hard way)

I think the most important thing I wish I had known, is you don’t have to have a complete story in your head before you start writing. I put off writing a book for years because I didn’t have this complete tale in my head. Wouldn’t a writer know how their own book was going to go? So I waited until a whole story popped in my head…and waited…and waited. Some of us just don’t work like that. It’s okay to just start writing and see what happens, where it leads. When I sit down to write for the day, I have no idea what’s going to happen. But I try. And the ideas will start to flow and lead me in a fun direction. And then it just spirals from there.

Another thing I believe in strongly is to just write like you. You know how you sound in your Facebook status or notes to your friends? Or maybe even your journal? That’s your unique voice. So don’t worry about sounding like Stephenie Meyer or Meg Cabot or Sarah Dressen. Your writing will be the best when it sounds like you. My writing is sarcastic and fluffy because that’s my tone in real life. I’m not a heavy, deep person, so I could never write this gut-wrenching novel. I like to have fun, laugh, and poke fun at life. And now my characters do too. Because that’s just me. So write like you. You’re the only one who can do your voice justice. And just have fun. Be willing to fearlessly sit at that computer or notebook and write some really awful stuff. We all do! And somehow, the good stuff comes out too. You can do it!

Thanks so much, YA Fresh, for letting me stop by. LOVE the site!

We're so glad, Jenny. Thank you!

To be entered to win a signed copy of So Not Happening, simply leave a comment below and tell us WHY you want to read it! The contest starts NOW and closes tomorrow night, Tuesday, April 28 at 6:00 PM PST. Hurry!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Ultimate Mary Hogan Booklist Winners!

It's Friday and time to announce the winners of The Ultimate Mary Hogan Booklist Giveaway!!

Two visitors will win copies of Mary's totally cool booklist:

Pretty Face
Perfect Girl
The Serious Kiss
Susanna Sees Stars
Susanna Hits Hollywood (2008 winner of NAPPA Gold Award)
Susanna Covers the Catwalk (British edition)

Thanks to everyone who entered this awesome contest, and many thanks to Mary for sharing books with YA Fresh visitors. Oh, this is so much fine...okay...

And the winners are...

Mandy and Danielle!!

Woo-hoo!! Congrats!!!!

Please send me an email and I will forward your mailing information to Mary!!

Happy Friday, Everyone!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jenny O'Connell is back!

We're back chatting a little with author Jenny O'Connell about the trade paperback publication of EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO LEARN ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME. I wanted to share about this release on YA Fresh because this one is for teen readers, fans of Judy Blume, and those of us still young at heart. :)

Here's what Publisher's Weekly had to say about the collection:

This collection of 24 essays edited by O'Connell (Plan B) pays tribute to the influence of Judy Blume and her work about coming-of-age as a girl in America. In each piece, the writer reveals what O'Connell calls her "Judy Blume moment," telling a heartfelt and revealing story that reflects the same social awkwardness and true-to-life experiences Blume conveys in her novels, from menstruation to childhood bullying to masturbation. In "Cry, Linda, Cry," Meg Cabot recalls how Blume's book Blubber taught her how to laugh at herself, while also giving her the courage to stand up to schoolgirl bullies. Likewise, Stephanie Lessing, in "The One That Got Away," reflects on Blume's It's Not the End of the World, explaining the solace she found in its understanding of what it's like when parents divorce. Readers who similarly found solace and support in Blume's work should relate easily to these writers through the Blumian characters and themes they evoke. Writing in the spirit of Blume, these women present their experiences as a series of personal truths: "girl moments. Woman moments, Human moments."
Hey Jenny, as always, great to have you with us! Please tell us about your latest release!

Jenny: EVERYTHING I NEEDED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING A GIRL I LEARNED FROM JUDY BLUME is a collection of non-fiction essays by women authors of YA and adult fiction. I was about to begin writing my first teen book, PLAN B, and I sat at the computer and thought to myself, “Everything I needed to know about being a girl I learned from Judy Blume.” And so the idea for the collection of essays was born. Because I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt like that. I started emailing my writer friends to see if they’d like to participate and everyone jumped at the chance. When other authors heard about it they started emailing me asking if they could join! I had to say no because I already had so many authors the book could have been twice as big!

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

Jenny: I’m working on a teen book (ok, “working on” is generous, I have one chapter).

haha! Thanks for stopping by, Jenny. Would you like to close with another writing tip?

Jenny: Read a lot. I get my inspiration from reading other people’s writing. It makes me want to write and to become a better writer.

Although she's written about a reality dating show, a prescient pastry chef, and a woman who inspired an 80's rock hit, Jennifer has not spent hours dissecting The Bachelor, she can barely follow the directions on the back of a Betty Crocker box, and she can only dream of a long-haired, guitar-thrashing rocker even giving her a second glance.

While she cringes at the thought of being called Jenny again after all these years, her first teen book PLAN B, was published under Jenny O'Connell by MTV Books (March 2006). Jenny's second teen book, THE BOOK OF LUKE, arrived in April 2007, and her Martha’s Vineyard Novels, LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS, were published in June 2008.

Her days as a high school senior may be long behind her, but Jennifer did receive her B.A. from Smith College and her M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. Visit her at

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

17 Again--Who’s Seen It?

I’m going to admit when I first heard about 17 Again, I mentally dismissed it. I mean, Zac Efron from High School Musical coupled with yet another back-to-high-school plot? I imagined food fights, bad dialogue and a totally predictable plot.

Then I saw the trailer. And I gotta tell you...Matthew Perry and his hound-dog face (and boyish grins) drew me in. I guess I’d forgotten how much I’d missed him from “Friends.”

And then Zac came on the screen, looking older and broader. And even (okay, I'll admit it), little bit hot.

My interest was piqued. So I paid attention to the headlines here in the L.A. papers, which read like, “Who Knew The Kid Could Act?” Not to mention the Facebook statuses of my friends, saying things like “Going to See ‘17 Again’ Again...Does This Make Me 34?”

And realized I'd been waaay too quick to judge. In fact, this movie might be one of those return-to-teen movies that I absolutely adore like 13 Going on 30 and Peggy Sue Got Married.

So I'm going to see it...soon.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts about movies you've been too quick to judge, and/or 17 Again. (But no plot spoilers, please!)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mondays: Yay or Yecch?

For the longest time, I’ve loved Mondays. My family--who of course, I adore, but sometimes enough is enough--goes back to work and school and I get to spend quality, uninterrupted time with my characters and my on-line friends.

I’ve always figured I was alone in this (insert The Bangles singing “Manic Monday” and The Mamas and the Papas harmonizing about how you “can’t trust that day”) until I started talking to an author friend or two.

So that spurred on to an Author Round-up with some of our favorite YA FRESH guests. And let’s see what they had to say.

So...Mondays: Yay or Yecch?

Simon Pulse author Wendy Toliver calls it a YAY because, she says, “I can get back into some semblance of a routine."

"My two oldest boys go to school," Wendy says, "and my youngest and I go to the gym. I like exercising and the other women have become good friends. I usually get to write (or do other authorly things) after lunch time and when my youngest naps. I love making nice dinners for my family, and my husband seems particularly thankful after a hard day at work (Mondays are almost always that).”

Debut author Deborah Pape Kerbel concurs. “I have a six year old son and a three year old daughter, both of whom I love more than life itself. But being 'high energy' children, they keep my husband and me so busy on the weekends, there's no chance to do anything for ourselves."

"When Monday morning rolls around," Deborah continues, "I breathe a sigh of relief, send them back to school with hugs and kisses, and then reclaim the silence of my home and the freedom to write.”

Two time RITA finalist Rosemary Clement-Moore is in the YAY camp, too.

“Since writing is my day job," Rosemary tells us, "when a book is really calling to me (or, ahem, on deadline), I work just as hard on the weekends as the weekdays. And on those times, as much as I love my family, I'm sort of glad when the house clears out and I have it to myself!”

The always funny Ben Esch offers us a different take.

“One of the cool parts about being a writer," says Ben, "is that the days of the week kind lose their significance pretty quick. So, Monday is pretty much the same as any other day of the week in that I get to sleep in until noon and eat cereal in my underwear until I feel like getting to work. I understand this arrangement might change should I ever get married and/or have kids. Anyway, I'm going to say Monday is a yecch mainly because there's nothing that good on TV that day, which really bums me out.

"But do you know what day gets a double big yay? Wednesday. That day is either South Park or Top Chef and for a few magical weeks, both South Park and Top Chef. God I miss Top Chef.”

Never having seen either show, I'll just have to take Ben's word on that!

The creator of the Aspen Brooks series, Stephanie Hale, remembers when she lived in the real world of 8-5, how she used to give Garfield a run for his money on hating Mondays.

“But now that I stay home,” Stephanie says, “it doesn't really matter. My hubby has weird days off that rotate every week, so usually his days off feel like the weekend anyway. Luckily I have a calendar in the kitchen so I can figure out what day it is. It is kind of a bummer to send my son back to school on Monday mornings though so I guess I'm still with the other yecch Mondayers. Yeah, I just made that word up. I can do that stuff cuz I'm a riter.”

PAY IT FORWARD author, Catherine Ryan Hyde is on the fence.

"The thing I love most about being a writer is the freedom to make my own schedule," Catherine tells us. " So if I want to work all day Sunday and kayak all day Monday, it just means less traffic on the water. The only slight downer about Monday is that the email (I "just say no" to the phone) starts up again. Over the weekend it's either delete-able junk or from friends. On weekdays I get slammed again, usually with requests from total strangers. Then again, I can answer it any day I want, so why fault Monday?”

All great answers. Thanks to our six fantastic visitors today. And now it's your turn-- jump in and now tell us your opinion! Monday: Yay or Yecch?

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Ultimate Mary Hogan Booklist Giveaway!

Yes, YA Freshers, generous author, Mary Hogan is offering up 2 full sets of Mary's booklist to 2 LUCKY YA Fresh visitors! Which makes Mary uber Fresh in my book. *grin*

Here's the list:

Pretty Face
Perfect Girl
The Serious Kiss
Susanna Sees Stars
Susanna Hits Hollywood (2008 winner of NAPPA Gold Award)
Susanna Covers the Catwalk (British edition)

The contest will run Friday to Friday (April 17th - April 24th, 2009) so you have plenty of time to enter by commenting on this post, but you must return next Friday for the winners. So let's get The Ultimate Mary Hogan Booklist Giveaway started.

Comment to enter...only 2 Fresh Friends will win!

Best of luck!! :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Visit to CSUMB

About two months ago, I was contacted by a Professor of Liberal Studies in the Liberal Studies Department at CSU Monterey Bay about 25 miles from my neck of the woods. He taught a Latina Reading group! Yes, a group he put together himself to encourage and support some CSUMB Latino students as undergrads who want to become teachers. As part of this process they were reading a series of picture books and YA novels. One of their proposed novels was Graffiti Girl. He had recently had a visit by another local author, Ann Jaramillo, author of La Linea.

Of course, I was flattered! And truthfully, I was a little nervous and not sure what to expect. These wouldn't be middle grade students, but adults reading my book, and I'm just a newbie author, who never attended a university...what could I bring to these students?

Well, I could bring chocolate! *grin* But this time I knew I wouldn't be throwing around candy to get the group to open up. But there was no need, once I arrived Professor Miguel was so welcoming. He joked that Miguel in Graffiti Girl was him! And the group was so friendly, it really was like they were a family of cousins with mostly woman and two men.

Latina Reading Crew

The only part that made me nervous was the video camera. *grin* But the professor assured me it was for studying purposes so they might revisit the meeting. We went around the table and introduced ourselves, and the students each told me of parts of the story that they related to, what scenes touched a personal cord with them, and the themes that they felt were important.

I had never been to a group where the readers had each taken time to read my book and them discussed it with me. I tried to share my feelings about each scene and character and what made me write them. It was a very honest, and enlightening, and humbling experience. I was incredibly honored.

Near the end, they each described what their "tag" name would be and how it would look painted. That was very fun and creative! I followed up by signing a few books and taking pics. One of the students baked cupcakes and I took some home. *grin*




Professor Miguel has since sent me photos, a writing prompt from one of his students about what it means to be Latino, and mentioned they have now changed their name to the Latina Reading Crew! I wish the best to this wonderful group of Latinos. And like I mentioned, it was an awesome experience I won't forget. :)


Monday, April 13, 2009

Donate My Dress!

Those of you who have read my first book, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress know I’m all about recycling prom dresses.

So I was really excited to come upon a new website called Donate The Dress. Established by Hearst Magazines, it’s a national network that connects charitable dress organizations to girls in need of special-occasion wear. Some organizations are strictly prom, some are year-round. They list them by state (and some in Canada, as well), with direct links.

The site also has fun contests, fashion ideas, prom safety tips, and other ideas for energetic teens to get involved in their communities.

And here’s a special offer just for our readers. If you DO donate a prom dress to ANY charity between now and June 30, 2009, get a receipt bearing the charity’s name and send it to me at:

Tina Ferraro
P.O. Box 299
Verdugo City, CA 91046

And as a personal thank you, I’ll send you a signed copy of Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress. And if you already have a copy--more the better! Then you’ll have one to donate to your local library!

In any case, check out Donate The Dress, and if you know a girl with a kindly used dress, or one who needs one, please, pass the link on...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Great Scavenger Hunt!

Are you ready for a scavenger hunt of the YA/MG variety??

If the answer is yes, then you are so in luck! Author Kay Cassidy has brainstormed the The Great Scavenger Hunt -- a new outreach program for teen and youth librarians in the U.S. and Canada -- with over 120 YA/MG authors participating, including me and Tina!! :) :)

Here are the deets from Kay's website:

If you’ve been looking for a way to get kids reading a variety of books, look no further. You’ll find nearly every kind of book you can imagine: fantasies, historicals, mysteries, romantic comedies, sweeping literary novels… you name it. The Great Scavenger Hunt Contest authors include many New York Times bestselling authors and winners or finalists of the Newbery Medal, Printz Award, National Book Award and Edgar Award. There truly is something for every reader.

To participate, readers (called hunters) simply read a scavenger hunt book, complete the scavenger hunt, and turn it in to you. If they get 8 out of 10 answers correct, you get to enter them in the monthly contest. Easy, right?

Every month, I’ll (Kay) choose one lucky hunter as the winner. The winning hunter will receive a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card (good in stores or online) to use for whatever their heart desires. Even better, when they win, YOU win too… a library prize tote filled with more terrific scavenger hunt books for your library collection.

Hey Librarians, get your library involved by following the steps here!

Big hugs and kudos to Kay for creating such an awesome reading (and hunting) contest and for all the authors for joining in!!


Monday, April 06, 2009

Leggo My Lego!

About ten years ago, a mom told me what it was like to have a “hottie” 8th grade son. She said he was like two people, Joe Cool in front of his friends, and then the boy she’d always known at home. She added that on weekends, his girlfriend often came over, and she’d see them snuggling on the sofa. Then the girl would leave--and he’d go to his room and play with his Legos.

What perfect coming-of-age imagery, huh?

That boy’s an adult now--confident, with an engineering degree and a lovely fiancée. And no surprise to me. Because back when he was torn between his boyhood stages, he found the time and expression for both his sides, which allowed him to mature as he needed.

What’s more, he was ahead of his time. For if he were in middle school today, he could playing Legos out in the open. Many middle schools now have Lego Robotics Clubs which teach engineering, physics, computer and math skills to students while having fun making robots.

In fact, regional Lego Robotics Competitions are springing up all over the country. Here’s a couple pictures from a recent New York City competition where schools got together to showcase and compete their robots:

More information can be found about Lego Robotics programs at US FIRST.

And if we needed further “proof” that Legos are chic, check this out: Lego jewelry!

I’m seeing necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings...the sky’s the limit. You can find them through internet searches, or check out your local Target.

Legos...who says they’re just for kids?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Three Times a Charm!

The only thing I like better than a great book is a great series. Because like with all luscious things, you just want more and more...

On that note, the lovely and talented Stephanie Hale celebrated the release of her third book in her Aspen Brooks’ series this month, Spring Breakup.

Steph is a friend, and has been a guest here at YA Fresh in the past, but personal and professional ties aside, I am one of her biggest fans.

Allow me to gush. Her three books,
Revenge of the Homecoming Queen,
Twisted Sisters and Spring Breakup are quirky and original young adult novels, featuring a heroine, Aspen Brooks, who is initially described as being “born to be Homecoming Queen.” The blurb goes on to say, “Naturally she's dating the most popular guy in school, and she's blessed with stunning good looks, excellent style, and mega brains. She's got the crown in the bag.”

In Stephanie Hale’s capable hands, Aspen quickly goes from “the girl you love to hate” to “the girl you love to read.” Because when things start to go wrong in her life (and boy, do they!), Aspen uses her sashay and her resources to not only save the day, but to better her own life and the lives of those around her.

Plus, I always feel just a little bit cooler after I’ve hung out with Aspen.

All three books have the added perk of being mysteries, with some characters who disappear and others who are not what they seem. Each time I was surprised by and impressed with the resolution.

I’m sorry that this terrific series has to come to an end (for the time being, at least), but look forward to reading what Stephanie Hale has for us next, The Alpha Bet from Flux Books, April 2010, featuring a 16 year-old college freshman and the 26 alphabetical tasks she must perform in order to become a full-fledged sorority sister (while keeping a secret and her helicopter mother off campus). Undoubtedly another great read from Steph Hale!