Friday, October 29, 2010


For our YA Fresh Halloween celebration, we welcome debut author Cindy Callaghan to chat with us about her writer's life and her debut middle grade novel, Just Add Magic.

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

I've been writing forever. In third grade I wrote my first play. I was always into short stories, scenes and characters. Of course, lots of melodramatic poetry. Then, I put creative writing aside for college, grad school, early career days of clawing my way to the glass ceiling, and starting a family. About six years ago I saw an ad for a writing class. That catapulted me into my first novel, a fabulous suspense thriller for adults. The class became a critique group and one novel became another and another, and finally to JUST ADD MAGIC.

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

I prefer big chunks of time to write. So, I try to block a whole day, sometimes two. I go away over night sometimes. It is very hard for me to find a quiet place, so getting away to our mountain house alone or with a few writing friends works very well. The coffee shop is a good place for me to edit on paper. Also, I like to work early in the morning. If my creative juices are really flowing, like with a first draft, I can get up really early and write for hours. It feels like minutes.

Please tell us about your novel, Just Add Magic, and what we can expect from your characters.

When Kelly Quinn and her two BFFs discover a dusty old cookbook while cleaning out her attic, the girls decide to try a few of the mysterious recipes inside. But the ancient book bears an eerie warning, and it doesn't take long for the girls to realize that their dishes are linked to strange occurrences. The Keep 'Em Quiet Cobbler actually silences Kelly's pesky little brother and the Hexberry Tart brings an annoying curse to mean girl Charlotte Barney. And there is the Love Bug Juice, which seems to have quite the effect on those cute Rusamano boys...

Could these recipes really be magical? Who wrote them and where did they come from. And most importantly, what kind of trouble are the girls stirring up for themselves? Things are about to get just a little too hot in Kelly Quinn's kitchen.

Sounds terrific, Cindy. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

I'll borrow from the great philosopher, Nike.....Just Do It!

I love it! Okay--now YA Freshers, it's your turn to weigh in. To be entered to win a copy of Cindy's book, and keeping the Halloween holiday and yummy food in mind, merely leave us a comment telling us your favorite Halloween treat! Whether it's trick-or-treat candy, a cup of witch's brew punch over dry ice or maybe orange and black popcorn balls...whatever you like!

And be sure to check back on Monday to learn the winner.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's Fresh with Denise Jaden's Losing Faith

A terrible secret. A terrible fate.

When Brie's sister, Faith, dies suddenly, Brie's world falls apart. As she goes through the bizarre and devastating process of mourning the sister she never understood and barely even liked, everything in her life seems to spiral farther and farther off course. Her parents are a mess, her friends don’t know how to treat her, and her perfect boyfriend suddenly seems anything but.

As Brie settles into her new normal, she encounters more questions than closure: Certain facts about the way Faith died just don't line up. Brie soon uncovers a dark and twisted secret about Faith’s final night...a secret that puts her own life in danger.

Hello Denise, it's great to have you here! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how
you made your first sale including the title and publisher?

Denise: My first published novel is called Losing Faith and it was just released from Simon Pulse / Simon & Schuster in September. I've been writing for about seven years, and have several other novels in various stages of revision. I met my editor at a writers conference shortly after finishing Losing Faith and she was interested! After getting an agent, we sent my book on submission to the editor from the conference and she loved it. The rest is history!

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.

Denise: I write at least six days per week, usually for about an hour to an hour and a half per day. I'd love to write more, but at this point life doesn't allow. I homeschool my son in the mornings, then hit the gym. When we get
home, it's time for a quiet time for my son and a writing time for his mom.

Please tell us about your novel, Losing Faith, and what we can expect from your characters.

Denise: Losing Faith is the story of sixteen year old Brie, the black sheep of her religious family until her older sister Faith dies. Through the bizarre and devastating grieving process, Brie discovers that certain facts about Faith's final night just don't line up.

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

Denise: I'm working on another YA novel called Appetite For Beauty. It's about a cheeky and forthright girl who discovers a dangerous, self-destructive side in her sister, and has to decide between helping her sister and a powerful and unfamiliar desire to become appealing to a mysterious boy.

Thank you for sharing with us, Denise! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Denise: Write every day. It helps stimulate the creative juices and for me, I often start dreaming about my characters and stories when they're a regular part of my day.

Denise Jaden lives just outside Vancouver, Canada. When she’s not writing, she can often be found homeschooling her son or dancing with her Polynesian dance troupe. Losing Faith is her first novel. Find out more at

Monday, October 25, 2010


Thanks to all who entered our contest for a signed copy of Lauren Strasnick's HER AND ME AND YOU. And the winner (chosen by my random number generator) is:


So, Latishajean, if you'd kindly contact me at, I'll get that book winging its way to you!

Friday, October 22, 2010

The HER AND ME AND YOU Giveaway!

You might remember that a couple of weeks ago, we talked to author Lauren Strasnick about her latest book, HER AND ME AND YOU.

Prior to that, I got hang out with Lauren at the Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando, where we were both Rita finalists for Best Young Adult Romance. Here’s a photo of four of the finalists, (left to right): Lauren, Simone Elkeles (who won!), me and Ally Carter, at the afternoon reception.

A happy occasion, as you can see!

Lauren was nice enough to offer up a signed, hardcover copy of this newest release for a YA Fresh giveaway. Entering is easy-peasy: just leave a comment telling us you'd like to win the book. The winner will be chosen by my handy-dandy random number generator and announced next Monday morning.

Good luck!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Aloha From Hawaii

My husband and I are on Maui, celebrating our wedding anniversary! I thought it would be fun to post a picture here at YA Fresh, and had originally planned to put up something tropical...

But because life is always full of surprises, there was something completely unexpected on this trip that I realized I wanted to share. You see, one of my favorite things about traveling is checking out the covers on the books that the people around me are reading--in the airport, on planes, around the pool. But I have been vastly disappointed on this trip because it seems like 50% of people are reading on e-readers. Which means I can't snoop!

Now, don't get me wrong, I am all in favor of e-readers! Kelly and I both own one, and all of our books available in electronic format. I just wish people would put large print post-its on the back of them, letting us all know what they are reading. Because--gah--getting a pulse on what people are reading is part of my vacation fun!

So along these lines, I left my Kindle in the hotel room and brought the paperback I am reading on today's adventure, up to almost 10,000 feet to see the remains of the Haleakala Crater.

As you can see, I am holding an advanced reader copy of REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly (whose previous YA novel, A NORTHERN LIGHT, remains one of my all-time favorite books). Which is what I am currently reading. No secrets with me!

If you are so inclined to share with us what you are reading, shout it out! And I'll "see" you back home later this week!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Trance is here!

Look out paranormal fans, here comes a new story from Death by series author, Linda Gerber!

Almost everyone has wished that they could take a glimpse into the future—but what if such visions came unbidden, and they only foretold danger? Linda Gerber weaves this idea into a chilling and satisfying young adult novel with TRANCE (Speak; 9780142414156; October 14, 2010; Ages 12 up; $7.99). Perfect for fans of Wake, Gerber’s latest paranormal thriller is a dark but addictive tale of one girl’s curse to unwillingly foresee future tragedies, and the debilitating toll that it takes on her present life—until she realizes that her unwanted power may be more of a gift than a curse.

Ashlyn Greenfield has always known when bad things are going to happen. Each time that familiar tingling at the back of her neck begins, she knows what’s to come—a trance. She’s pulled in, blindsided, an unwilling witness to a horrible upcoming event. But she’s never been able to stop the event from actually occurring—not even when the vision was of her mother’s fatal car accident. When soulful Jake enters Ashlyn’s life, she begins having trances about another car accident. And as her trances escalate, one thing becomes clear: it’s up to her to save Jake from a near-certain death.

Combining romance and suspense, Linda Gerber delivers a paranormal thriller that is unique in its ability to appeal to sci-fi and chick lit fans alike.

Sounds like my kind of book! In stores now and ready for fresh reading!

Linda Gerber ( is the author of the popular Death by Bikini, Death by Latte, and Death by Denim as well as two books in the S.A.S.S. series. She lives with her family in Dublin, Ohio.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Apple of My Eye!

This fall, I have been noticing how many people I know, on the east coast as well as the west, have been going apple picking. And reporting that there’s absolutely no better taste than a first bit into a fresh-of-the-tree apple.

I have never gone myself, but it’s definitely on my to-do list. What I have enjoyed is the bounty of my friends’ apple picking adventures. I’ve found my kitchen filled with bags of the sweet smelling fruit. And the question then was: what to do with all the apples?

I have a rather odd response to that, a recipe I saw in a magazine many years ago that is definitely a hit at the Ferraro house. I have tweaked it a little, and share it here with you:

Apple Sundaes

Sliced red apples (with skin)
Caramel sauce
Chopped nuts
Whipped cream.

Not only is this a “healthy” alternative to an ice cream sundae, but you can use non-dairy topping to make this lactose-free. And of course, leave the nuts off for those who are allergic.

Have you gone apple picking? And what are some ways that you or your family like to serve up apples?

Friday, October 08, 2010

What's Fresh with Lauren Strasnick's HER AND ME AND YOU

First love, broken friendships, and heartache all play a part in this evocative, voice-driven novel about Alex, a girl whose world is ripped apart when her father’s affair splits her family in two.

Alex moves with her mess of a mother to a new town, where she is befriended by hot, enigmatic Fred–and alternately flirted with and cold-shouldered by Fred’s twin sister, Adina. Others warn Alex to steer clear of the twins, whose sibling relationship is considered abnormal at best, but there’s just something about Fred–and something about Adina–that draws Alex to them and makes her want to be part of their crazy world, no matter the consequences.

Hello, Lauren, thanks for sharing with YA Fresh! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Lauren: I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I thought for a while I wanted to write movies and television, so I moved to LA and worked in TV for several years. After some serious burnout and disillusionment, I went back to school and got my MFA in writing. I spent the year following graduation subbing my thesis, a YA novel, to agents. After a ton of rejection, I scrapped that book and started another, sending the completed MS to a few agents who had been encouraging the previous year. I signed with ABLA soon after that, and we sold my book, NOTHING LIKE YOU, to Simon Pulse/S&S a couple of months 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.

Lauren: I try try try to be all clean and fed by 10-ish, then I generally write until 6-ish, taking breaks throughout the day to answer emails, take care of promotional stuff, cook and eat things, pet the cat, and peruse style blogs.

Please tell us about your novel, HER AND ME AND YOU and what we can expect from your characters.

Lauren: HER AND ME AND YOU (out October 5th from Simon Pulse/S&S!) is about Alex, a girl who moves to a new town after her parent’s split. There she meets twins, Fred & Adina Bishop. They hang out incessantly. One twin behaves badly! Messiness ensues.

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

Lauren: I’m working on another book for Simon Pulse, DAKOTA WEBB IS MISSING. Mystery! Obsession! Rock & Roll! Should be out Spring 2012.

Sounds great! Thank you again, Lauren, for sharing. I wish you the best with your writing. Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Lauren: Read everything. No better way to learn.

Lauren Strasnick grew up in Connecticut, now lives in Los Angeles, and is a graduate of Emerson College and the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) MFA Writing Program. NOTHING LIKE YOU is her first book. Visit her website,

Monday, October 04, 2010

Swati Avasthi's Charity Auction!

Swati Avasthi, author of Split, who has visited with us here at YA Fresh, is running a month-long charity auction in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Over 40 authors, agents and editors have donated manuscript critiques, personalized books and more to an online auction that anyone--reader, writer, booklover--can bid on and buy, with all proceeds go to the Family Violence Prevention Fund.

In addition to the auction, Avasthi is donating $1/comment on her 26-stop, month-long blog tour, coordinated by Kari Olson at Teen Book Scene. If she reaches her goal and cap of $250, Swati will double the donation to the Family Violence Prevention Fund. Click here to follow her blog tour:

Blog Tour.

Among the donations, you’ll find a signed set of my books, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, How to Hook a Hottie, and The ABC’s of Kissing Boys. Be sure to check all the items out for this very worthy cause!