Monday, March 30, 2009

What's Fresh with Liz Funk's Supergirls Speak Out!

Some girls seem to have it all...
The top grades
The best clothes
A great body
A cute boyfriend
But they may also have...
Eating disorders
Crippling insecurity

From grammar school girls to working women, the pressure to be perfect is spreading like a disease. These Supergirls feel the unrelenting need to succeed -- sometimes at the cost of their own happiness and sanity. A recovering Supergirl herself, Liz Funk exposes the dangerous consequences that can come from striving for perfection. By closely following five girls and interviewing nearly one hundred more, she takes us inside the Supergirl psyche, explaining the causes of this phenomenon and showing how Supergirls can let their (sleek and shiny) hair down and find some time to relax and enjoy life!
With practical advice, biting humor, and the sensitivity of someone who's been through it all, Funk's Supergirls Speak Out is the absolutely necessary companion for any girl who thinks 100 percent just isn't enough.

Hi Liz, it's great to have you here. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made the sale of your book?

Liz: Sure! And thanks so much for having me here to talk about “Supergirls Speak Out!” I was always writing novels and screenplays for fun in high school, but I turned writing into a career when I was seventeen and started writing freelance professionally. I began at publications for teens like Next Step magazine and smallish literary magazines, and I also wrote a blog for Albany’s daily newspaper the Times Union on Generation Y issues. I eventually moved up to writing opinion articles and features about Generation Y trends and young women’s issues for places like USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, CosmoGIRL!, Girls’ Life, and Newsday.

When I was eighteen, I moved to New York City for college and met a lot of cool, young writers in NYC who were writing book proposals and working on books, and a friend introduced me to my now-agent, who was really intrigued by the proposal I had written about the “Supergirls” (best $15 I ever spent: Getting Your Book Published for Dummies. It’s how I learned to write a book proposal!). My agent got a lot of interest in the book from the editors she knew, and I was lucky enough to get a great offer from my favorite editor I had met, at Touchstone/ Fireside (an imprint of Simon and Schuster).

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.

Liz: I usually wake up around 9am and chill out on my couch for an hour. I like to start my day by reading; I think it’s a really pleasant way to start the day, but also, I think it gets my brain into creativity mode. Then I like to check my e-mail and take care of any thing super-urgent for 20 minutes or whatever, and then I spend the rest of the morning writing—whether it’s an op-ed, an article pitch, or the novel I’m working on. I like to use music to get me in the mood to write (and honestly, sometimes I dance to get in the zone!), but I almost always write in silence. I take a break for lunch in the early afternoon and then I spend the rest of the afternoon responding to e-mails, pitching articles and corresponding with my editors, and working on school work (it’s my last semester of college and I’m taking online classes to accommodate my book tour!). Sometimes I like to write in the evening or late at night, but I’ve really been working to pursue a work/life balance lately; I haven’t been a night owl writer as much in recent months. It’s easy to become a workaholic when you’re a writer!

Please tell us about your release Supergirls Speak Out and what we can expect from your book.

Liz: “Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls” was published by Simon and Schuster’s Touchstone imprint on March 3rd. The book follows the lives of five young women during the summer and fall of 2007: a high school student at journalism camp at Syracuse University, a high school student on Long Island, a college freshman at the University of Albany, a college junior at the George Washington University, and an investment banker in her late twenties in New York City. Each chapter starts out with investigative reporting on these young women’s lives and the second half of each chapter includes interviews with girls from all around the country, psychologists, writers and media experts, parents, and teachers. The chapters in the book cover topics like the pressure on girls to get into a good college, the confusion girls feel over their sexuality and whether perfect girls should be virginal or very sexually available, how the media depicts girls and girls’ bodies, and the eight million different roles that young women have to play today. Despite that the book can be a little gloom-and-doom (it candidly discusses eating disorders, depression, plastic surgery, prescription drug popping, etc. etc.), I think girls will find it to be a relatable and hopefully inspiring book!

Sounds like you touch on all the important topics some girls are afraid to speak openly about! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Liz:: I do! My main thing right now is that I’m working a novel. I probably won’t finish it for another two years, but I’m totally in the thick of writing it right now. Last year, I started reading novels of social criticism—novels that make an argument about society or politics through the story—and I designed an independent study course in school last fall where I studied novels of social criticism by writers like Jonathan Franzen, Curtis Sittenfeld, Tom Wolfe, and so on. And because I read a lot of YA and a lot of fiction for young women, I’m fusing these two very different genres and am writing a novel of social criticism specifically for young women. My novel criticizes the very limiting roles for young women in today’s society and is semi-autobiographical. I think it’s important for writers who want to cross over from fiction to non-fiction (or vice versa) to have books of different genres that compliment one another and perhaps are similar in scope.

Thanks so much for joining us, Liz! Best of luck with this awesome book! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Liz: I think one of the most important things to do before starting a new writing project is conceptualizing it. I like to get a big pad of paper (like the ones that people put on their desks) and cover it with my ideas for the project (and maybe even make a big chapter outline). Not only have I gotten my ideas out of my brain onto my paper in a creative, high-energy way, but I also have this piece of paper to use as a reference! I think it’s also really good to make a playlist of music specifically to get you in the mood to write. Personally, I find Dave Matthews and the Spring Awakening soundtrack to be particularly inspiring. Finally, read! Read as much as you can, all the time! There is no better writing teacher than other authors when they’re at their best: in their books!

Liz Funk is the twenty year old author of “Supergirls Speak Out: Inside the Secret Crisis of Overachieving Girls,” a new non-fiction book for young women about the pressure to be perfect (Touchstone, March 2009). She is a journalist who covers Generation Y and is particularly interested in gender, education, and class issues: her writing has appeared in USA Today, Newsday, the Christian Science Monitor, the Huffington Post, CosmoGIRL!, Girls’ Life, New York magazine, and the Times Union (Albany, NY). She blogs at her web-site,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Exciting News!!!

The announcement for RWA's RITA and Golden Heart nominations have hit the cyber world today and the nominees for the RITA for Best Young Adult Romance are...

Hell Week by Rosemary Clement-Moore
Random House Group, Delacorte Press (ISBN: 978-0385734141)
Krista Marino, editor

How to Hook a Hottie by Tina Ferraro
Random House Group, Delacorte Press (ISBN: 978-0-385-73438-7)
Krista Marino, editor

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
Penguin Group USA, Dutton (ISBN: 978-0525479420)
Sarah Shumway, editor

YES!!! YA Fresh's Tina Ferraro is a 2009 RITA finalist!!!

Help me wish Tina a big CONGRATS!!!!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tina and Kelly Talk Kindle!

Many of you know that Amazon has released their own electronic book reader called a Kindle.

In recent months, we have both bought Kindles. Tina ordered hers last fall, and Kelly got hers up after the new year in what turned out to be the newer version, or Kindle 2.

We’ve been meaning to talk to about Kindles, their differences and similarities, and decided YA Fresh was *the place* for that convo (since YA Fresh is *the place* for everything YA book-related, huh?)

Tina: Hey, Kel!
Kelly: Hi Tina!

Tina: I’ve been aware of electronic books and electronic reading devices for years, have had several friends who have loved them, but never thought they’d be for me. Until I learned our books were being released on Kindle. And then it felt like a must-have.
Kelly: I had heard about e-book readers as well, but became really interested when my lit agent got her Kindle and was thrilled with it. I really wanted to check out e-book readers. So from there I went on my own e-reader search. The Kindle was high-priced, not to mention out of stock by the time I gathered the funds. I also checked out the Sony reader but it wasn’t compatible with my Mac! Ugh. The Kindle had that cool convenience of whispernet, straight to my Kindle whenever I wanted, instead of having to hook up to my Mac for download. But alas, I had to wait…

Tina: I ordered mine in early November. From what I heard, Amazon was inundated with orders, and had I waited another week, I wouldn’t have been able to get one for Christmas. I felt pretty lucky. And it was fun to open it on Christmas eve and go to the website and download my books.
Kelly: Yes, that’s so fun! I got mine the week they released the Kindle 2 in February. I’ve discovered the downside of owning a Kindle, you can pretty much only read Amazon-sold books on it, but I really like that I can also read docs and pdfs once I get them converted, which lets me read my author friends’ files!

Tina: Another thing I like about the Kindle is that I can change the font size--and I do, depending on how tired my eyes are. It helps keep the pages turning for me.

Kelly: I do like that feature, plus there is also experimental features on the Kindle2 such as internet access and an MP3 player!

Tina: My only complaint has been that the page turn bars run so long on each side on my Kindle that I sometimes accidentally turn pages.

I actually addressed this with their Customer Service, and was told it would be corrected in Kindle 2. I’ve looked at the picture on the website and see you’ve got more free hand space. So your wait was worth it!

Kelly: I think that would have irritated me too. I’m happy with the Kindle 2. I wonder what the “K3” will be like… :)

Tina: Who knows , I might end up buying one?

So, turning the discussion to our readers now. Do any of you have Kindles or want them or have thoughts or questions to share?

And for those of you interested in checking out our books in Kindle format, here are the links:

Graffiti Girl

Invisible Touch

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress

How to Hook a Hottie

The ABC’s of Kissing Boys

Monday, March 23, 2009

Randomly Fresh Winner!

The Randomly Fresh Giveaways are a way for Tina and I to say THANK YOU!!

For visiting us when you have a free moment in the day or week, for joining in on our author interviews, book gossip, or spontaneous (and sometimes humorous) thoughts.

So look for more Randomly Fresh Giveaways in the future. But you won't know when because you know--RANDOM! *grin*

Our first Randomly Fresh winner is....

Biblauragraphy of a copy of RETURN TO SENDER by Julia Alvarez!!

Congrats!! Please send me an email with your name and mailing info and I'll get RTS to you.

Thanks, Everyone!


Finally a RANDOMLY FRESH Giveaway!!

We've been having such generous authors giving away their books lately, that we hadn't had time for our First Random Giveaway listed on the left sidebar:


It's Random.
It's Fresh.
It's a Giveaway.
For visitors who comment on YA Fresh.
With a choice from 3 books.
Did I mention it's random?

Here's who can enter today...anyone who has commented from March 10th till today! (And you can't cheat and comment on an older post, then come and enter because I'll know! haha! *wink*)

So what can you win? The winner has a choice from these three titles:

PARTIES & POTIONS by Sarah Mlynowski
RETURN TO SENDER by Julia Alvarez
3 WILLOWS by Anne Brashares

List your choice in the comments and I'll pick a winner at 9 PM PST TONIGHT!!

Thanks! :) :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's Fresh with Jennifer Echols's Going Too Far


All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far...and almost doesn't make it back.

John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won't soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won't be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge — and over....

Hello Jennifer, it is great to have you back with us! Please tell us about your latest novel Going Too Far.

Jennifer: In Going Too Far, to avoid prosecution for a high school stunt, a teen spends her spring break on night patrol with the 19-year-old rookie cop who arrested her. It will be published by MTV Books on March 17.

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

Jennifer: Meg is an Alabamian with blue hair, for starters. John is a very young cop. But what really makes them unique is that opposites attract, and they try to make it work.

How did the idea for this novel come about?

Jennifer: I love the TV shows Cops and Reno 911. I set out to write a romantic comedy about a teen doing a ride-along with a cop, but the novel turned dark on me.

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

Jennifer: This is a romance, first and foremost. If you’re like me and you get a little bored with novels that don’t have a lot of girl/boy time, this one’s for you.

Thanks for sharing, Jennifer! Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

Jennifer: Marley Gibson’s Ghosthuntress series is coming out soon. I’ve been privileged enough to read the first drafts. You don’t want to miss these books.

Jennifer Echols is the author of the National Readers Choice Award-winning Major Crush, about a high school pageant queen turned band geek in a small southern town. Going Too Far, about a rebellious teen who is sentence to accompany a police officer on his night shift patrol—and falls for him, published by MTV Books. Growing up on beautiful Lake Martin in Alabama, Jennifer learned to water-ski when she was five (wakeboarding wasn't invented yet). She now lives high and dry with her husband and son in Birmingham. Visit her on the web at

Monday, March 16, 2009

Welcome, Ben Esch!

I had the pleasure of meeting debut author, Ben Esch, at my book signing last January, and enjoyed his sense of humor so much that I went on to pre-order his novel, Sophomore Undercover.

In the weeks that passed, it was fun to see him leave a comment or two here at YA Fresh--one in particular so funny that it won a Caption It! contest.

The day his book arrived, I read the cover blurbs, with the intention of adding it to my ridiculously large to-be-read pile. But I got stopped dead in my tracks by the author bio. (I know...the author bio?) Which I know from experience that authors usually write. It was so funny and so punchy and so clever that I couldn’t help myself from turning to page one.

And at that point, I was a goner. I loved his book. Loved it. I often read sections twice, once as a reader, and then once as a writer. I laughed out loud. I grimaced. And even before I finished it, I started telling everyone I know they HAD to buy this book.

So, with no further adieu, allow me to introduce the exceptionally funny and quite adorable Ben Esch!

Hey, Ben, could you tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

I messed around with some writing stuff when I was younger, but most of my mental energy was consumed with A) figuring out how to get a basketball scholarship despite being relatively stumpy and unathletic and B) elaborate and ultimately unsuccessful schemes to date girls, so that didn't really leave a lot of time for short stories. Or schoolwork for that matter. I was kind of a crappy student.

I started getting a lot more serious about writing when I was in college, and after I graduated, I decided that I wanted to take a shot at doing this for a living. Now, I'd like to say that this was because of my burning passion for literature, and that's kinda true, but it was mainly because as an English major the only other jobs I was qualified for was security guard and cart wrangler.

Don't get me wrong, those are both fine career paths, but I didn't really feel like either was my true calling. It took me about a year of writing and revising to get a draft of my book together that interested an agent, and then we worked together for another seven months or so before we sold it to Disney-Hyperion.

That was about a year and a half ago and the book just came out a couple weeks ago. It's still crazy to me how long this whole "making a book" thing takes. I kind of assumed that my book would be out in stores a couple of weeks after we signed the contract. So, the last year and a half has been pretty educational in that regard.

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 share your typical writing day schedule. know, I really wish I had more of a writing schedule. No two days are exactly the same, but when I'm really working well, my days tend to go a little something like this:

1. Wake up at the crack of 11. Get some cereal.

2. Peruse the internet. Drink coffee.

3. Sit down to work around noon. More coffee.

4. Break for some more cereal around two.

5. Continue writing. Switch from coffee to diet root beer so my hands will stop shaking.

6. Break for the day around five.

7. Cartoons.

I also try to fit in a couple of hours of reading in there somewhere between the coffee and cartoons as well. I have a really hard time writing if I don't read a lot.

Please tell us about Sophomore Undercover and what we can expect from your characters.

Sophomore Undercover is about a kid named Dixie Nguyen who is an adopted Vietnamese orphan, social outcast, and lead reporter for the school newspaper. He usually has to cover "fluff" pieces about the football team and the chemistry club, but one day he sees some of the jocks doing drugs in the locker room and he finally has the chance to write about something newsworthy as well as strike a blow against his tormentors at the school.

The rest of the story follows Dixie's investigation into the football team and his attempts to scoop the biggest drug scandal in the history of high school athletics with the help of a cheerleader turned goth named Brynn, his older brother and former football player, Brandon, a menopausal journalism teacher, and a hippy counselor named Huggy Bear.

Some of my biggest laughs from Sophomore Undercover came from Dixie’s germaphobia. I know as a writer I often “dig deepest” when a character is expressing some of my own personal traits. That said, do you carry “emergency” antibacterial wipes and stock up on pumice stones and Purel?

I'm actually not that much of a germaphobe. Don't get me wrong, I think carrying around Purel is a good idea and all, but I'm much more of the "five second rule" school of thought for germs and microbes. Intellectually, I know that's a bad idea, but if I drop a cookie on the floor...I mean, that's still a perfectly good cookie, right? The germaphobia thing just really clicked for Dixie, though.

What's up next? Do you have another project in the works?

I am under contract with Disney-Hyperion for another book that I think will come out sometime around Fall 2010. It's not going to be a sequel to Sophomore Undercover, but I'm having a lot of fun writing it and I'm really excited to get it out there.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Two things:

1. Write the story that you want to read.

2. Don't question the magic or it might go away.

For example, I fully believe that french vanilla coffeemate and flair tip pens make me write better, and I'm just going to keep on believing that until I don't anymore.

I have to admit to bit of a coffeemate addiction myself...but that's a blog for another time.

Thanks, Ben, for hanging out with us here, and best of luck with your book!

Friday, March 13, 2009


Click on this link:


It is apparently a high pitched buzz, like a mosquito, that at high volumes can be very annoying. But the catch is, only people under 25 can hear it.

I wouldn't know. I can't hear a thing. (Yep, the cat's out of the bag. I am over 25.)

Anyway, we've known for years that there are sounds that dogs can hear that people can't. But special sounds just for young humans? Interesting! And makes me wish I'd known about it "back when," because for me, it's too late.

How about you? Can you hear it? Leave us a comment and let us know, along with whether you are over 25 or under...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What's Fresh with Amanda Ashby's Zombie Queen of Newberry High!

Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. She is dating super hot football god Rob, and he actually likes her and asked her to prom! Enter Samantha-cheerleading goddess and miss popularity- who starts making a move for Rob. With prom in a few days, Mia needs to act fast. So she turns to her best friend, Candice, and decides to do a love spell on Rob. Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class, making herself their leader! At first she is flattered that everyone is treating her like a queen. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up, because in a few days, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. She's sure she and Chase can figure something out, but she suggests that no one wear white to prom, because things could get very messy.

Hi Amanda, it's awesome to have you here! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Amanda: I didn’t grow up wanting to be a writer since I didn’t for a minute think that it was something regular people could do. I was however an avid reader and then I went onto University to do Journalism and English. I hated the journalism side of it so much because it was all based on the truth (and between you and me, the truth is a bit depressing!). But I still didn’t click I wanted to be a writer until my late twenties. From there I joined RWNZ (Romance Writers of New Zealand) and really started to work towards publication. Unfortunately, despite winning some competitions and getting some promising editor/agent letters it still seemed impossible to breakthrough that magic line between published and unpublished.

Then when my dad died in 2005 I got the idea for what was to become my debut book YOU HAD ME AT HALO. It all stemmed from an imaginary conversation I had with him on the day of his funeral and I wouldn’t say that writing the book helped me deal with my grief, it definitely helped me try and explore what I felt about it, in a way I hadn’t expected. I signed with my agent three months after my dad died and she sold the book two and half weeks after putting it out on submission. We sold it to NAL who are part of Penguin US and it came out in 2007. And I can honestly say it was the most surreal experience of my life!!!

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.

Amanda: Things are so much easier now that my kids are in school because I actually feel like I can get some ‘office’ hours instead of just trying to squeeze the writing in around naps and stuff. These days I check my emails while I’m having breakfast and then after I take the kids to school, I go for a quick jog and then back home. I’d like to say that I get straight to work but normally I spend far too much time on the Internet before realizing that ‘argh’ I haven’t hit my word count for the day. Then I write like a demon until I get it done and then head off to get the kids. Normally I don’t get anymore free time until about eight at night and depending what’s on the TV, I’ll either do some editing or brainstorming before heading off to bed. Of course this is all subject to change at anytime…

I've already shared how much I enjoyed Zombies, but please tell us your take on your novel Zombie Queen of Newberry High and what we can expect from your characters.

Amanda: Zombie Queen of Newbury High was released last week by Puffin US and is the story of what happens when Mia Everett tries to do a love spell to stop herself from getting dumped before prom. However – as so often happens! – her love spell goes wrong and she ends up turning her entire senior year into zombies instead! She then has to work with zombie hunter hottie, Chase Miller to find a cure and turn them all back before Mia ends up as first course on the zombie’s new flesh-only diet.

I tried to really make Mia a regular girl and put her in a very irregular situation, so I’d like to think that her reactions are quite normal! Of course I do love me some quirky as well and trust me I got more than I bargained for with Mia’s best friend Candice who came out with the most outrageous things. I’d like to think I had a hand in inventing her, but I really don’t think I did. She just appeared and from the moment she opened her mouth she was trouble!!! As for Chase the hero, he’s the classic case of hidden depths and for ages Mia saw him without really knowing what he was like, but because I was feeling like a very kind sort of author, I gave her the chance to get to know him better and now she owes me. Big time!!!

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

Amanda: My next young adult book out with Puffin is about a girl who goes to a prestigious slaying school. She is determined to follow in her dead mom’s footsteps and be a dragon slayer. Unfortunately she gets stuck with four inch fairies who spend more time in the mall than they do out trying to hurt people. Not exactly the stuff that high destiny is made of. Then she suddenly starts to see another kind of fairy. Of the six foot, killer variety that no one has ever heard of before. However, due to a small misunderstanding, no one believes her and she is forced to fight the killer fairies on her, while at the same time trying to discover how her dead mom fits into it all.

Thanks so much, Amanda! Best of luck! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Amanda: Okay, I have one favorite writing tip and that is to. Submit. Your. Work.

Seriously, don’t hide it under the bed and hope that some agent with X-ray vision will find it, because they won’t. Actually, I guess I have a second tip as well. Make sure you finish your work so that you CAN submit it. Finishing manuscripts can be tricky business and you really need to use whatever form of bribery works for you.

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia and has spent the last ten years dividing her time between England and New Zealand. When she’s not moving countries, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to watch television, eat chocolate and sit around doing not much, but let's just keep that between ourselves, shall we?). She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two young children. Her debut adult book You Had Me at Halo has been nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award. This is her first book for young adults. Visit her on the web at

Sunday, March 08, 2009

We Have a Winner!
The randomly chosen winner of a copy of
Stephanie Hale's SPRING BREAK-UP is...
who told us her top favorite three things are:
1. books
2. grilled cheese
3. contests such as this one.
Congratulations, Katie!
Since you added your e-mail address,
we'll be contacting you shortly.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Great Things Come in Three’s!

I am believer that great things come in three’s:

The words “I love you.”
Buy-two-get-one-free sales.
The Back-To-The-Future movies.
Taco Supremes in Taco Bell’s value meal.
My kids.

Adding to this list of three-themed favorites is the Stephanie Hale’s terrific “Aspen Brooks” series, for this is the week the third book has been released! Called Spring Break-Up, I am sure it’s going to be every bit as clever and funny as Revenge of the Homecoming Queen and Twisted Sisters.

Here’s the blurb on Spring-Break-Up:

Aspen Brooks trades in sand between her toes for shopping on The Strip when she agrees to go to Las Vegas for spring break with her boyfriend, Rand, her bff, Angel, and Angel’s bf, Lucas. Their hotel is hosting the Miss Teen Queen Pageant and surgically enhanced beauty contestants are everywhere. But when Miss Illinois goes AWOL, it’s up to Aspen to represent her home state and find out what’s really going on. Even if it means putting down the suntan lotion and ignoring Angel’s meltdown over breaking up with Lucas…

I was lucky enough to get my hands on two copies, one for my own pleasure and library, and one to give away in a contest that starts NOW. All you have to do to be entered is to list three of your favorite things in the comments.

Good luck, and check back here at the end of the weekend to see the winner’s name. The contest closes Sunday, March 8th at 7pm EST.

Good luck!
Good luck!
Good luck!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What's Fresh with Carol Lynch Williams's The Chosen One

Hello Carol, thanks so much for joining us. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale ?

Carol: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was a little girl I wrote plays that my sister and I, or my cousins and I, would perform. Mostly Nana (my maternal grandmother) endured these plays (which once included borrowed music and us dancing around in her nylon nighties). Then, as I got into college, I began writing a collection of short stories. This was in my first creative writing class. Bruce Aufhammer was my teacher and I was a month away from turning 17 and excited to write. He gave me great encouragement.

Still, I didn’t believe in myself as a writer. After I married and began my family, I took a writing class offered by mail. My teacher was Louise Plummer ( a terrific YA writer whose titles include The Romantic Obsessions and Humiliations of Annie Sehlmier, A Dance for Three and Finding Daddy) and she encouraged me to find a publisher. I entered a contest at her suggestion, and four months later got a call from Dell. My first book did not win the contest, but Delacorte did publish it. Kelly and Me came out two years later.

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.

Carol: Hahahahaha! I wish I did something typical. It seems that time slips away so quickly. What I would love is to write four hours a day—producing every minute. What I do is awake before the rest of the family and try to write for an hour or two. Later in the day I try to get back to my computer. Just last night, however, I made a goal to write 750-1250 new words each day. I have a novel to rewrite and get back to my editor, so I want get that finished. Having goals that you work toward is a good idea. Remember, the only way to publish is to actually write.

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

Carol: I hope you’re excited to follow Kyra Leigh Carlson as she makes some pretty big decisions. She lives in a polygamist community where everything the prophet says is law. She has a secret boyfriend and she’s found books (any kind of reading material has been banned from the community).

When Kyra gets the news that she will be chosen to marry someone else, she decides to do something few in her sect have the courage to do: she stands up for herself.

The book is called The Chosen One and the publisher is St. Martin’s Press. It comes out any second (May 12, 2009, to be exact!).

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

Carol:I have another book coming out with St. Martin’s that I working on right now. It’s called Lost in Peace. This is the story of Lacey O’Rourke, her mother who is ill, and a dead grandfather who keeps peeking into the family and stirring things up.

Thanks for hanging out with us, Carol! Best of luck with your writing! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Carol: Hmmmm. One of a writers best teachers, I think, can be books themselves. So you need to read. A lot. All the time. See what’s good out there and study what makes the book good. Get cheap copies of novels you like at used bookstores and write in the margins. Dissect the books. How is the beginning? The rise in tension? Do you see it happening on the page? Make notes—study other successful writers, really think about what you’re reading. I’d also like to say that ‘ly’ words are not your friend. Words like happily, interestingly, funnily. If you’re using this kind of word, it means your verb is weak. So there.

Carol Lynch Williams is the author of more than 20 books for young readers. Her books have garnered several positives nods including being on the Quick Pick list, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, nominated for the PEN Award, winner of the Nebraska Golden Sower Award, IRA Teacher’s Choice book, Selected book for the Social Studies, Top Ten Romance Book for Booklist, Book for the Teen-Age New York Public Library List, Top Ten Barnes and Noble Book and Scholastic Book Pick for Humor.

The Chosen One is grabbing early attention. Here are what a few readers are saying about Williams’ newest novel:

Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked said, “Makes the heart race, the teeth grind, and the brow bead up in sweat.”
Meg Cabot, author of The Princess Diaries said, “A heartbreaking novel of love and hope.”
Terry Young said, “A modern day ‘Romeo and Juliet.’”
Michael Cart said, “Harrowing and hopeful. An important book.”

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Let's hear it for Zombies!

Wow, you guys are rockin' for entering Amanda Ashby's Zombie Queen of Newberry High ARC Giveaway! Thanks so much!

Okay, so the lucky reader is...

Erika Lynn

Congrats, Erika Lynn! Please email me through my website and provide me with your mailing address and I will get you the ARC.

Happy Reading!