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?