Friday, February 26, 2010

What's Fresh with Justin Allen's Year of the Horse with a giveaway!!

A thrill-ride adventure novel capturing the adventure, mystery, legend, and lore of America

Year of the Horse is literary fantasy at its very best—a novel that delves into our myths, legends, hopes, and fears; a coming-of-age fable set in our fondly remembered (if often fictional) past—an adventure more than capable of setting your hair on end.

Year of the Horse tells the story of Yen Tzu-lu, a child of Chinese immigrants unwillingly pressed into service by a gang of roughnecks bent on stealing a gold mine from a shadowy villain deep in the western wilderness. With Tzu-lu as our guide, we experience a landscape of legend, stand toe-to-toe with those larger-than- life heroes and villains of our shared American mythos, and learn the inescapable facts that have both enriched and plagued our nation from its inception.

Resonating with echoes of Mark Twain, Larry McMurtry, and J. K. Rowling, this is a book of fabulous adventure and deep resonance. Allen gives readers a picture of how America sees itself, and in so doing he offers up both a heroic vision of the past and hope for the future.

Hi Justin, thanks so much for visiting with us on YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Justin: Fiction writing has been my primary focus since college. I attended Boise State University (Fiesta Bowl Champs, go Broncos!), where I majored in Philosophy and minored in Fiction Writing. But I always intended to chase a career in writing. My goal was, and still is, to create an archetypal character (just one!) - the kind that seems to exist beyond the bounds of the printed page. The best example I can think of is Sherlock Holmes. Otherwise intelligent, witty people have been known to go to 221B Baker Street, in London, to see the apartment of the famous detective of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels and stories. And most of those people KNOW that there never was a Sherlock Holmes. Heck, I’ve been tempted to go myself. Why? Well, because Sherlock FEELS real. Can you imagine the world WITHOUT Sherlock Holmes? I can’t. I often wonder if the whole world wasn’t just waiting for Sherlock to spring onto the scene. Maybe it was! So that’s the dream. To create a character that leaps from the page and into the hearts and souls of readers everywhere. Dang! That’s one tough dream, hunh?

Anyway, after college I figured the best way to learn how to create such a character was to go to writing school. So I went to Columbia University’s Writing Program. I suffered horribly at Columbia. I hated what I was writing, and I hated what everyone else was writing. It was all so subtle. Blech! Then one day I was talking to a classmate – the brilliant novelist Kelly Braffet as a matter of fact (name dropper!) – and she told me that she’d been working on a fantasy novel about some young people trapped in a castle. “Why don’t you bring any for us to read?” I wondered. As it turns out, she was wisely concerned about how she would be viewed by our other classmates (and instructors) if they knew she liked (gasp!) genre fiction. Being foolish and more than a bit rebellious myself, I sat down that very night and composed a story which would become the basis for my first novel, “Slaves of the Shinar.” It was unabashedly a heroic fantasy adventure – very much in the realm of Robert E Howard’s Conan the Barbarian. I showed it to everyone!

Did the other Columbians look down at me for writing a genre piece? I won’t lie to you, some did. But many more were surprised to be reading something that was written first and foremost for the sake of pure fun. Either way, I no longer cared. For the first time in a long while, I was excited by what I was writing.

It took me five more years to finish that novel, but I have never looked back. “Slaves of the Shinar” was published by The Overlook Press in 2007.

Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek at an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.

I don’t have a set schedule. I get up fairly early to make breakfast and pack lunch for my wife (she works at a middle-school in Brooklyn). I check up on all my correspondence (clear out the junk mail folder), and try to figure out what appointments I simply MUST keep that day (a ballet rehearsal at 11:30, dentist appointment, answer some questions for Kelly at YA Fresh, check up on the latest news on college football), and then get down to some serious writing. I usually have lunch around noon (woops, missed that rehearsal. I guess I was so into writing that new werewolf wedding scene that I lost track of time), and then get back to work. If I am writing well, I tend to look up again around four, realizing that I once-again missed the dentist (root-canal shmoot-canal, right?). Seriously though, I try to write passionately. If that means I get nothing done in a day, and instead roll on the floor and cry because it is all just SO HARD, and the stupid characters never seem to want to do what they are supposed to, so be it. If I write thirty-five pages in ten hours, great! But either way, it has to be done with passion and belief.

Well, I'm glad you kept our interview appointment. LOL! Please tell us about your latest novel Year of the Horst and what we can expect from your characters.

Justin: “Year of the Horse” came out this past October 23rd (my wife’s and my anniversary, as a matter of fact. Nice right?), again from Overlook. It tells the story of an American boy named Lu, the child of Chinese immigrants, who gets drafted into a troop of rough customers bent on crossing the continent and then stealing a gold mine from the devil. Yep, you read that right. They are going to try to steal a gold mine from THE DEVIL.

Lu’s companions on this journey are the famed gunfighter Jack Straw, a former slave and sharpshooter named Henry Jesus, a Californio outlaw who goes by the nickname ‘Chino,’ a southern gentleman by the name of John MacLemore, and his wild-child daughter Sadie. As they cross the continent they have to contend with violent cavalry soldiers, vengeful Native Americans, a murderous cult, the headless horseman, the ghost of Henry Hudson, a gang of fire demons, a were-coyote, and a whole town full of vicious racists. And if they survive all that, they still have to beat the devil.

Since you ask about the characters in particular, I want to tell you about the one closest to my heart - Sadie. I don’t know if she’s quite on the level of that archetypal character I was talking about earlier, but she sure does mean a lot to me. Sadie is a special girl. She’s rough and tough (swears with the best of them), capable (an expert rider at the age of sixteen), is marvelously brave and loyal, and not willing to take crap from anyone. She is also beautiful and sensitive (her feelings get hurt easily, though she tries not to show it), worries about her Dad, wishes she knew more about her mother (she died when Sadie was just a year old), feels out of place sometimes in a world dominated by men, and has huge, wonderful dreams that she wouldn’t give up for anyone or anything. I guess I am just awful proud of Sadie, and want everyone to like her (I feel like a Dad sending his daughter off on her first day at school!).

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

Justin: I have three projects, actually (You’re right if you’re thinking that may well be too many). I’m writing a science fiction book called “Tomorrowland,” a travelogue about the US National Parks, and, if you happen to be in New York later this summer, a ballet is being produced based on a story I wrote called “The Beatitudes.” They’re all really different projects, each taking up huge amounts of time. And I’m thinking about adding another book to the mix!

I’ve been thinking about writing a sequel to “Year of the Horse.” I have two ideas for sequels, as a matter of fact. One idea would have Sadie and Lu trying to convince Quetzalcoatl to help protect the United States from a clan of Chinese dragons being controlled by the British East India Company.

The other idea would have Jack Straw working with Al Capone and Eliot Ness to find and destroy a serial-killer and his vampire flunkies in Chicago in the 1930’s.

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

Justin: Tell you what, I’ll give you two! The second is lagniappe!

Tip one!

Subtlety is for real life, not writing. When you write, be bold! If you like fantasy or romance, action or mystery, horror or emotional drama, coming-of-age stories or stories about kids in serious trouble, I say embrace your passion. Think back on the books that you have enjoyed the most. I’ll bet that in nearly every case you are remembering a book that had huge seemingly earth-shattering themes, enormous swings of fear and trepidation followed by thrills of triumph and joy. Well, don’t hold back on the fun for your readers! If you want to write a horror novel about zombies then, for love of pete!, scare us ‘til we think we might wet our pants. If you want to write romance, make us love your ideal man and wish, oh how we want to wish, that he would be OUR ideal man as well. If you want to write about kids in trouble, don’t hesitate to keep letting them slide ever deeper into the pitchiest darkness (she’s a drug addict and pregnant at twelve? How in the world will she survive?). If you want to write fantasy, make your pages crackle with magic, so that we feel the wonder even in the most ordinary of things. As readers, we want to be thrilled. So thrill us, baby, thrill us!

Tip two!

No matter what sort of work you choose to write, eventually you will be faced with writing some form of action scene. It’s unavoidable. Your characters are going to have to DO THINGS. My advice to you is to keep their movements focused, simple, and revealing. You know how you can watch a movie nowadays where two guys are fighting, and the camera angles switch
around so fast that you have no idea what in the heck is going on? Well, that mistake gets amplified when it is made on the printed page. Let a single action speak volumes! One kiss can say more than a hundred kisses described in detail. One gunshot. One swing of a sword. One slap. One suicidal leap. Whatever it is, that one action can be oh so meaningful, just so long as you don’t hide it beneath a pile of other actions. In writing, action is almost always a result, not a cause. As readers we are really interested in WHY one character shoots another, one character kisses another, one character walks-out on another. If we know WHY they are doing whatever they are doing, then the action itself is nothing more than the fulfilling of a destiny a whole book in the making.

Great tips, Justin!! Okay, YA Freshers, leave a comment and be entered for a chance to win a copy of Justin's Year of the Horse!! Contest begins now and will end Sunday night, February, 28th. Winner will be announced Monday, March 1st! Happy commenting!!

Justin Allen is the author, most recently, of the all-ages fantasy-western, "Year of the Horse." The Colorado Springs Independent calls the book, “Charming and full of heart… like a secret discovery from the dusty back shelf of a library,” while the Philadelphia Weekly Press calls it “Lots of fun.”

Justin also has a passion for classical ballet, having performed with such companies as Dances Patrelle, Eidolon Ballet, and Idaho Dance Theatre. Justin is roughly six feet tall, weighs somewhere around 185 pounds (often more, to his chagrin), has dark-brown hair and eyes, and suffers from near-sightedness, motion-sickness, and a tendency to get angry at airport personnel. His wife, Day Mitchell, a licensed master social worker, is trying to help him overcome this last item, but finds the going hard. He can be contacted via his website:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The next best thing to reading a great book is talking about it. And while I promise no "spoilers" in this blog post, want to say that I fell madly in love with Carolyn Mackler’s latest young adult novel recently, TANGLED and am excited to share!

Here is the book blurb:

Paradise wasn't supposed to suck.

Not the state of being, but a resort in the Caribbean.

Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all there for different reasons, but at Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Paradise will change them all.

It will change Jena, whose first brush with romance takes her that much closer a life, and not just reading about those infinitely cooler and more exciting.

It will change Dakota, who needs the devastating truth about his past to make him realize that he doesn't have to be a jerk just because people think he's one.

It will change Skye, a heartbreakingly beautiful actress, who must come to terms with the fact that for once she has to stop playing a role or face the consequences.

And it will change Owen, who has never risked anything before and who will take the leap from his online life to a real one all because of a girl he met at Paradise...

From confused to confident and back again, one thing's certain: Four months after it all begins, none of them will ever be the same.

And here is just one of its glowing endorsements:

“Subtle then intense, hilarious yet heartbreaking. Tangled grabs you and doesn't let go,” Jay Asher, New York Times bestseller author of Thirteen Reasons Why.

From the onset (and from a writer’s point of view), I was curious to see how Carolyn was going to “tangle” these very different characters and storylines while continuing on the path of one central storyline. And (as a reader) I was hungry for another one of her so-real-I’m-practically-in-the-main-character’s skin tales.

And keeping to my promise above, I will say that she delivers both expertly, offering up just enough character detail and storyline to fascinate, but leaving of room for surprises and realizations that leave the reader thoroughly satisfied, and so sorry that the book has to end!

While I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting or chatting with Carolyn, I sent her a note telling her how much I loved this book and how I was going to review it here. And I ended it with a question--asking her what her initial inspiration was for the book--if she wasn’t too busy.

I was delighted to hear back from her:

Tangled inspiration....let's see. I was walking around the Reservoir in NYC and thought of a story with two guys and two girls who meet on a vacation. I knew right away there would be love, lust, betrayal and redemption, but I didn't know any details. Spent the next 18 months figuring that out!”

The fact it took so long to work out this beautifully tangled plot seems reasonable to my author’s brain. But the book seems so smooth and on-track, I had half-thought maybe she'd just had the idea, sat down and penned it.

Anyway, now it’s your turn to experience the magic. Get your hands on a copy of Carolyn Mackler’s newest and get TANGLED up!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Up on the Podium...

Thanks to all who entered this weekend's contest about your favorite (fantasy) Olympic sport. Kelly and I really enjoyed reading all the entries--and hope you did, too.

By random-number generator, the winner is:


Jessica, please contact me at with mailing information and I will get a signed copy of How to Hook a Hottie soaring through the air (okay, the mail) to you!

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Winter Games: What’s Your Pleasure? (and giveaway)

Like many people around the globe, I am enjoying watching the winter Olympics in Vancouver. The grace, the guts, the glory--and I especially like the little behind-the-scenes stories that help me “get to know” athletes.

As a teen, I was completely in love with ice skating, especially the women’s solo events. So no surprise, really, that the backdrop of my 2008 young adult novel, How to Hook a Hottie, is an ice skating rink.

But as the years have passed, I have developed a new love. A fantasy, actually, because the event I want to “compete” it does not even exist: Women’s Ski Jumping. And let's not overlook the fact that I haven’t skied in years, get dizzy at high altitudes, and won’t ride on a ski lift because, well, I’m afraid it’s going to stall out and leave me dangling for many hopeless and frostbit-laden hours. And that my age and degree of fitness puts me entirely out of Olympiad competition range.

So I’ve settled for being an armchair ski jumper. When the event comes on the screen, I sit forward in my chair, my “skis” perfectly aligned on the carpet. Then, I, too, take off...hunched down, speeding...until the time comes to take off....soaring, soaring, utter tranquility, just me and the sky...until the moment is JUST right for me touch down in a gentle, perfect, and of course, record-setting gold medal landing.


Okay, realistically, I know this is a super-challenging sport that requires years of hard work, training, and probably trips to the ER. But nothing of this is grounded in reality, so please, allow me to enjoy my fantasy. In fact, a few years ago, I visited the Innsbruck, Austria Olympic Ski Park.

And see that little speck walking toward the railing? That’s me! Assuredly, with ideas of grandeur running wild.

So now that I’ve dished, tell us. If you could enter one event--talent, conditioning and the like not at an issue--what would it be?

And as a bonus, leaving a comment will enter you in our giveaway, a signed copy of How to Hook a Hottie. Check back on Monday to see which random commenter will...well...staying in theme and at the risk of sounding immodest, "take gold."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What's Fresh with Suzanne Young's The Naughty List

As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn't enough responsibility! Tessa Crimson's the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn't be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa's own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa's sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?

Hi Suzanne, thank you for joining us on YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Suzanne: I actually started writing in the 7th grade. I wrote murder mysteries starring my friends—always involving an impossible twist. Really? The Pillsbury Dough Boy did it? Thankfully I got better. And I went to college and got a degree in Creative Writing. My book sale was a crazy roller coaster involving querying editors and agents reading my blog posts. But luckily, three offers later, I sold four books to Razorbill. The title was originally Smitten Kittens-later renamed The Naughty List.

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.

Suzanne: I’ll warn you—it’s not glamorous. I wake up, down a cup of coffee and get the kids to school. I then check my email obsessively, drink another cup of coffee, and open my manuscript. I zone out with my work—never getting up—until about one. Then I eat lunch, shower and pick up the kids. I work a little bit longer after that. The next day—I do it all over again. Revise. Rinse. Repeat.

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

Suzanne: My book is The Naughty List-Feb 4th, 2010 from Razorbill/Penguin. It’s about a group of cheerleaders who investigate cheating boyfriends. I like the fact that my girls are not the norm for cheerleaders in YA books. I hope readers are charmed by them.

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

I’m just finishing up the third book in the series: A Good Boy is Hard to Find. I’m also working on a non-Naughty List project that I hope to have news about soon.

It was great to chat with you, Suzanne! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Suzanne: I always tell people that it wasn’t my first book that sold. Or my second. Third. Fourth. It was my fifth novel. So my advice is always: Keep Writing!

Suzanne Young is a brilliant scientist. Not really. But she is a former middle school teacher turned zookeeper (mother). When Suzanne’s not fending off zombie squirrels or narrating her daughter’s Barbie soap operas, she can be found camping on the Oregon coast or writing obsessively. Suzanne is the author of The Naughty List series coming February 4th, 2010 from Razorbill/Penguin. The Naughty List is about a group of cheerleaders who investigate cheating boyfriends. Which Suzanne never did. Or at least, not that you can prove.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Sneak Peak at The Cinderella Society

Continuing our Fresh Teasers (featuring books we are looking forward to in the upcoming year) comes a debut release from our friend, Kay Cassidy.

What’s a girl to do when the glass slipper fits, but she doesn’t want to wear it anymore?

Sixteen-year-old Jess Parker has always been an outsider. So when she receives an invitation to join The Cinderella Society, a secret sisterhood of the most popular girls in school, it’s like something out of a fairy tale. Swept up by the Cindys’ magical world of makeovers, and catching the eye of her Prince Charming, Jess feels like she’s finally found her chance to fit in.

Then the Wickeds--led by Jess’s archenemy--begin targeting innocent girls in their high school war against the Cindys, and Jess discovers there’s more to being a Cindy than reinventing yourself on the outside. She has unknowingly become part of a centuries-old battle of good vs. evil, and now the Cindys in charge need Jess for a mission that could change everything.

Overwhelmed, Jess wonders if The Cinderella Society made a mistake in choosing her. Is it a coincidence that her new boyfriend doesn’t want to be seen with her? And is this glamorous, secret life even what she wants, or will she risk her own happy ending to live up to the expectations of her new sisters?

The Cinderella Society releases on April 13th, and to make sure you get your copy right away, click on Kay’s name above to skip over to Amazon and pre-order!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Writing for Guys"

My writer-friend, Paddy Lock, and I spent an informative and hilarious afternoon recently at the Flintridge Bookstore in La Canada, California, listening to authors Michael Reisman and Ben Esch talk about how to write middle grade and young adult novels for and about teenaged guys.

As you may know, Michael is the author of the middle grade novels, The Gravity Keeper and the soon-to-be-released The Octopus Effect, and Ben (a "repeat guest" here at YA Fresh) authored the young adult novel, Sophomore Undercover.

Both Michael and Ben say they write the kinds of books they wished they could have found as kids. (For what it's worth, this is also true for me.) While they both strive for realism and authenticity in their characters, Michael goes more for fantastic ideas like ways to defy physics, whereas Ben says he bases many characters and adventures on people/events from his past.

Ideas that they (and audience members) shared with us for writing for boys:

--whenever possible, listen in on teen boys' conversations, both in real life and reality TV shows;
--revisit your yearbooks and re-read what your guys friends wrote for deeper insight on what they might have been thinking or feeling;
--listen to kids' movies with your eyes closed, focusing on the patterns of the boys' speech.

Other interesting notes:

--action draws in boys more than emotional drama;
--guys don't discuss personal things face-to-face; maybe in the car, or painting a room or other side-by-side position;
--guys typically use fewer words and have shorter conversations, especially with girls or about relationships.

On the topic of teen romance (which of course, made my ears perk up), Michael told us that boys are even more confused and conflicted than girls. And while girls have the outlet of discussing their feelings with each other, guys can't bring themselves to even talk about it, so, he said, "We just hit each other." Which got a big laugh.

Other members of the audience, who shared insights from both literary perspectives and as mothers, were literary agent Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency and multi-published author Amy Goldman Koss.

Here's a picture of Michael, me, Amy, Ben taken during the book signing session:

Some seriously big smiles there, as you can see, remnant of good conversation and laughs.

So check out Ben, Michael's and Amy's books via the links I posted, and if you have any questions about what I've presented, or further questions on the topic of writing for boys, please leave them in the comments. And if I can't answer them, we'll invite Michael and Ben here to take over.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Winners of The Life of Glass

Thanks to everyone for giving Jillian a fresh welcome!!

Okay, so the 3 lucky winners of THE LIFE OF GLASS by Jillian Cantor are:





Please email me through my website with your mailing addresses so I may forward them to Jillian and she can send each of you your copies. Thank you again and happy reading!!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

What's Fresh with Jillian Cantor's The Life of Glass & a Giveaway!!

Before he died, Melissa’s father told her about stars. He told her that the brightest stars weren’t always the most beautiful—that if people took the time to look at the smaller stars, if they looked with a telescope at the true essence of the star, they would find real beauty. But even though Melissa knows that beauty isn’t only skin deep, the people around her don’t seem to feel that way. There’s her gorgeous sister Ashley who will barely acknowledge Melissa at school, there's her best friend Ryan, who may be falling in love with the sophisticated Courtney, and there’s Melissa’s mother who’s dating someone new, someone who Melissa knows will never be able to replace her father.

To make sure she doesn’t lose her father completely, Melissa spends her time trying to piece together the last of his secrets and completing a journal her father began—one about love and relationships and the remarkable ways people find one another. But when tragedy strikes, Melissa has to start living and loving in the present, as she realizes that being beautiful on the outside doesn't mean you can't be beautiful on the inside.

Hello Jillian, it is so great to have you with us. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Jillian: First, let me say, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog today!

When I started college, I majored in English and thought I wanted to be a journalist. The summer after my freshman year, I got a reporting internship with a small paper, and I realized that I actually did not like journalistic writing at all! When I went back to college that fall, I took my first creative writing class, and I immediately fell in love. After I graduated from college, I went to graduate school for creative writing and got my MFA in fiction. I left with a lot of knowledge of craft, a lot of short stories, and a novel, but virtually no knowledge of the publishing industry, and I was never able to sell any of what I wrote there.

My real journey to getting published started about seven years ago, after I’d been out of graduate school for a year. After I got laid off from my job, I wrote the first draft of what would eventually be my first novel, THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS. It took me about three years of revising and querying on and off to get an agent. I originally thought the book was an adult book, and my agent sent it out to some adult editors, with no success. Then she suggested that maybe it was really a young adult book, and she helped me revise it to fit the genre a bit more. She went out with the book again, this time to young adult editors and the book sold to Harperteen in an auction.

I just love THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS. 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.

Jillian: In addition to being a writer, I’m also a stay at home mom to two little boys, so I spend the majority of my day with my kids. I usually get to write for an hour or so in the afternoon if/when they’re napping, but I get most of my writing done after I put the kids to bed, between the hours of 8-11 PM. If I have a deadline for a project or a revision, then I might spend weekend mornings writing as well.

Please tell us about your latest novel, THE LIFE OF GLASS, and what we can expect from your characters.

Jillian: My latest novel is THE LIFE OF GLASS (Harperteen, February 9, 2010) is the story of a 14-year-old girl named Melissa, who learns about life, love, loss, and beauty during her freshman year of high school. It takes place a little over a year after her father’s death, as Melissa must come to terms with her mother’s return to dating, her beauty-pageant obsessed older sister, and her new feelings for her best friend Ryan.

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

Jillian: This coming fall my first book for adults, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS, will be released by Avon/HarperCollins. It’s the story of a woman who, after a fall from grace, begins dreaming things about her friends and family, only to learn that her dreams might actually be truth, and the truth she thought she knew might be a lie.

I just finished working on a new YA book, that is now out on submission with editors (so cross your fingers for me!). It’s about a girl who is sent to live with her grandmother in a small town on the US/Mexico border for the summer. The book recounts her summer, where she not only falls in love, but also learns that nothing on the border is what is seems.

Jillian, thank you so much for sharing with us! I wish you the best with all your fresh stories. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Jilliian: The best tip I could offer an aspiring writer is, if you want to be a writer, keep writing, no matter what! Writing can be a long process with a lot of revision and rejection and more revision and more rejection. But learn what you can from the rejection, revise, and move on. A creative writing professor of mine used to like to tell us “a writer writes.” It sounds like a silly thing to say, but I’ve definitely been in a place where I’ve let rejection get me down and have either stopped writing for a while (or wanted to). But I always came back to that idea that if I really wanted to be a writer I had to keep writing -- something. I still get rejection, and I still come back to that idea!

That's not all, YA Freshers! Jillian is donating THREE COPIES of THE LIFE OF GLASS to lucky visitors! If you would like to be entered, please leave a comment from now until Sunday evening, February 7th, 2010. The three winners will be announced Monday, February 8th. Happy commenting!!

Jillian Cantor has a BA in English from Penn State University. She received her MFA from The University of Arizona and was the recipient of the national Jacob K. Javits fellowship. Her first novel, THE SEPTEMBER SISTERS, was called "memorable" and "startlingly real" by Publishers Weekly and was nominated as a YALSA Best Book For Young Adults. Her second novel, THE LIFE OF GLASS, will be available from Harperteen in February 2010, and her debut novel for adults, THE TRANSFORMATION OF THINGS, will be available from Avon/HarperCollins in Fall 2010. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons. Visit her website,

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else!

Today we are taking a sneak peek at a touching debut novel from Erin McCahan, I Now Pronounce You Someone Else, releasing from Arthur A. Levine Books on June 1st.

Here Comes the Bride -- If She Can Pass Chemistry.

Eighteen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She's really Phoebe, the lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That's the only way to explain her image-obsessed mother; a kind but distant stepfather; and a brother with a small personality complex. Bronwen knows she must have been switched at birth, and she can't wait to get away from her "family" for good.

Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He's sweet, funny, everything she wants -- and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted too. She falls head over heels in love, and when he proposes marriage, she joyfully accepts. But is Jared truly what she needs? And if he's not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lilywhite do?

I was lucky enough to snag an advanced copy last fall from author Erin McCahan, and I read it pretty much in one sitting! Here’s the blurb I wrote up:

"Fresh, funny, with a hero to-die-for, and charmingly written in a best-friend conversational style, I Now Pronounce You Someone Else is the perfect beach read...or perfect read for any season. Debut author Erin McCahan is a newcomer to watch!"

So yes, put this one on your summer reading list!