Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Deadly Little Voices

I'm thrilled to continue reading Laurie Stolarz's series with the latest novel Deadly Little Voices.

In case you haven't already snatched up your copy here's what's in store for this suspenseful series...

Camelia Hammond thought her powers of psychometry gave her only the ability to sense the future through touch. But now she has started to hear voices. Cruel voices. Berating her, telling her how ugly she is, that she has no talent, and that she'd be better off dead. Camelia is terrified for her mental stability, especially since her deranged aunt, who has a suicidal history, has just moved into the house. As if all of that weren't torturing enough, Camelia's ex-boyfriend, Ben, for whom she still harbors feelings and who has similar psychometric abilities, has started seeing someone else. Even her closest friends, Kimmie and Wes, are not sure how to handle her erratic behavior.

With the line between reality and dream consistently blurred, Camelia turns to pottery to get a grip on her emotions. She begins sculpting a figure skater, only to receive frightening premonitions that someone's in danger. But who is the intended victim? And how can Camelia help that person when she is on the brink of losing her own sanity?

Sounds soooo good!

Check out more about this chilling story on her website!

Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of Project 17 and Bleed, as well as the highly popular young adult novels Blue Is for Nightmares, White Is for Magic, Silver Is for Secrets, and Red Is for Remembrance. Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Stolarz attended Merrimack College and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston. For more information, please visit her Web site at

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Cocoa

Hot chocolate is a great beverage at any time of year, but there’s something about wrapping presents that always makes me want to brew up a mug.

I often have the just-add-water packets in my cupboard, but I admit to having a serious weakness for the “made from scratch” version, or basically, brewed with milk (or half-and-half) and sugar and scoops of semi-sweet cocoa. From there, it’s anybody’s guess where we’ll go!


Whipped cream?

Peppermint stick?

Holiday sprinkles?

Cinnamon dusting?

How about you? Do you like a nice cup of hot chocolate at this time of year, too? And how do you like to serve yours?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December Baby :)

That's right, many moons ago I was born on a chilly evening a week before the Christmas holiday. Some people have asked me, "Doesn't it suck to have your birthday so close to Christmas?" Actually, it's never really bothered me!

It's always been fun to see the Christmas decorations and everyone getting ready for the holiday while I anticipated my birthday. It's like getting Christmas early, then a week later visiting all my family members and enjoying a great, big feast, with much gift giving!

But I don't know, some December babies may not enjoy having their birthday in December. I cannot speak for them. All I know is that it has always been pretty cool for me.

Any YA Freshers with December birthdays? Happy Birthday month to you, and Happy Holidays!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Our Winner!

The winner of one of my favorite holiday books, LET IT SNOW, is...


So Megan, please contact me at, and I'll get the book in the mail to you!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and keep checking back for our other frequent and awesome giveaways!

Monday, December 05, 2011

The LET IT SNOW Giveaway

I was buying a copy of LET IT SNOW by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle for a favorite teen recently, when I had the idea to grab a second copy for a YA Fresh holiday giveaway!

As some of you may remember, I fell like a ton of bricks for that book three Decembers ago (see that blog post HERE). It continues to be a favorite winter-themed book, one that I recommend to friends and readers all year long.

All you have to do to enter is jump down to the comments and tell us a favorite holiday book or movie. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced next Monday, December 12th. Best of luck!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

'Tis the Season...

Many packages under the Ferraro family Christmas tree contain books. Mostly with the words "From Tina/Mom" on their tags because the only thing I love as much as getting books is giving them. It's the time of year I splurge on hardcovers, coffee table books, cookbooks, boxed sets...whatever strikes me.

I have also been known to buy a book I am dying to read and wrap it with a simple "For Tina" on the card. Not that I am kidding anybody about who it is from, but hey, I have to make sure I get my fair share, too!

And each December, my thoughts inevitably drift back to the young mother I met at a holiday party who told me she was asking everyone to give her a book for Christmas--one they had read and felt she'd love--with an attached card saying exactly why they chose it. She felt it would give her personal one-on-one reading experiences with the people in her life, as well as quality breaks when her small children were asleep. I loved that idea then, and still love it today.

How about you? Is the holiday time a big book buying time for you, too? And any book in particular you are hoping to receive?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Our Winner!

The winner of a signed copy of LITTLE WOMEN AND ME is...


Elizabeth, if you willcontact me at with your mailing address, we'll get that in the mail to you!

Thanks to all who entered and visit us again very soon!

Friday, November 25, 2011


We welcome today Lauren Baratz-Logsted to talk with us about her writing career and her latest young adult release, Little Women and Me.

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

Lauren: I'd been an independent bookseller for 11 years in 1994 when I decided to quit my day job to take a chance on myself as a writer. It took me nearly eight more years - during which I wrote seven books, went through three agents, and held down as many as four part-time jobs at once - before, on my own, I sold the sixth book I'd written to Red Dress Ink. That book was THE THIN PINK LINE, a dark comedy about a crazy Londoner who fakes an entire pregnancy. It was published in 10 countries, received a starred Kirkus review - the first at that time for any book from any Harlequin imprint - and was optioned for a film.

How exciting! Now, 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: In the years I was trying to get published, I used to get up and start writing between 2:30 and 4:30 in the morning. Now my schedule is more civilized. I start working when my daughter gets on the bus at 7 in the morning and work pretty much straight through until she comes home at 4.'

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

Lauren: It's about a 14-year-old contemporary teen named Emily March who gets sucked into the classic Louisa May Alcott novel. Once there, she discovers that the rest of the characters treat her as if she's been there all along - she becomes a fifth March sister - and she also realizes that if she ever wants to get back out again, she's going to have to change something pretty major about the book. The original characters from the Alcott book should be familiar to readers of Little Women although now they're seen through the prism of Emily's vision. As for Emily herself, well, she can be a little bit annoying! She starts out self-absorbed and boy-obsessed. But that's one of the fun things about writing fiction: creating difficult characters and watching them change and grow.

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

Lauren: The eighth book in THE SISTERS EIGHT series for young readers that I created with my husband and daughter recently came out, and next year the ninth and final book will be released.

Outside of that, I'm doing an adult ebook, THE BROMAGNET, about a 33-year-old man who's the ultimate man's man. He's also been best man at eight weddings but never the groom and what he really wants is true love. So when he meets a woman he thinks might be the one, he hides his usual sports-loving, beer-loving tendencies in the hopes of winning her heart.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Lauren: It's in every writer's best interest to adopt The Five-Minute Rule. What's that, you ask? It's the rule that states that no matter what happens - rejection, of which there can be a lot in a writer's life; poor reviews; rave reviews; you name it - you take five minutes to feel whatever you feel...and then you get back to work. It's the only way to keep focused on the most important thing - the writing - in what is always going to be a roller-coaster life if you've chosen to be a writer. Of course, if the good news is that you've sold a book, I'll let you take more than five minutes to celebrate.

That's great advice, Lauren, thank you!

So for our readers! Lauren has kindly offered to send a signed copy of LITTLE WOMEN AND ME to a commenter who lives inside the U.S. The winner will be chosen on Monday, November 28th and announced here. In order to be entered, simply leave us a comment telling us the name of any character in Louisa May Alcott's book, Little Women. (Hint: the March sisters are Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy) . Best of luck to all, and thanks again to Lauren for joining us!

--UPDATE--I am extending this contest to Tuesday, November 29th, so there's still time to enter!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Do you Like Your Turkey?

This year I will be cooking the big turkey for our family Thanksgiving meal. For many years, I traveled to other family homes to feast on their wonderful meals. This year, it is my turn to step up to the turkey plate!

Hmmm, to cook a turkey, to cook a turkey--that's right, I do not know HOW to cook the bird. But I will prevail with a little help from the internet! It seems there are some interesting ways to cook a turkey...

Brine turkey - soak the turkey with some salt and seasoning, then bake.

Fry a turkey - Dip the whole turkey into a deep fryer.

Roast a turkey - Roast it up in the oven!

Grill a turkey - Grill it on the BBQ.


Well, it will definitely be the oven, does anyone know how to season one? haha! Either way, I hope our friends in the US have a wonderful time with family and friends and eat some good turkey! *wink*

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


I am a longtime fan of Harlan Coben’s action/adventure novels, especially his Myron Bolitar series. So when I read he was coming out with a young adult novel, SHELTER, featuring Myron’s nephew, Mickey...well, count me in, right?

Here is the book blurb:

Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey's train-wreck of a life is finally improving - until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury - and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.

I just finished this book last night, and I have to say, it’s definitely a page-turner! With rapid-fire dialogue, laughs, action, intrigue, romance and heartfelt moments--it really had it all for me. I was delighted to hear that it’s the first in a series.

And it occurred to me that much the way James Patterson’s fast-paced young adult series appeals to some “reluctant readers," so too might this series. Which is always a bonus to me, because half the fun of discovering a great read is being able to share it with others who enjoy it, too.

Check it out!

Monday, November 14, 2011

And The Winner Is...

Thanks to everyone who entered this past weekend's giveaway of a copy of The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegen. Our randomly drawn winner is:


So Sunnynikki, if you'll e-mail me at, I will get that book winging its way to you. Congratulations!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Mephisto Covenant Giveaway!

Some months ago, I got an Advanced Reader Copy of The Mephisto Convenant, which my daughter promptly grabbed, read and adored. I blogged about it here, in which I mentioned the author, Trinity Faegan, visiting us once the book was widely available. The book's now out, and getting fabulous reviews, and here's Trinity to chat with us about it.

Hi, Trinity. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

I started writing when I was in high school, but didn’t attempt to become published until the mid-90s. My first sale was to Silhouette Bombshell in 2005 and they bought three more after that. Unfortunately, the fourth was never published because they folded the Bombshell line. But I got to keep the money, so it wasn’t all bad. Fast forward four years and I (finally) sold again – a YA paranormal romance. The process is very different than category romance, so I feel like a complete rube, but it’s been a journey like no other.

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 wish I had a schedule and stuck to it. In truth, I write in huge spurts of adrenaline and caffeine. The book I just turned in was written in three parts. The first part, I tweaked and rewrote until it was just how I wanted. The second part was written in tiny fits and starts during the summer while my daughters were home, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t concentrate long enough to get it finished. Which is why the last part was written in three weeks, working almost around the clock. I do keep trying to manage an 8-5 schedule, however. Someday…

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

Here’s a wee blurb I have handy:

A descendant of the daughter of Eve, born before Original Sin, falls in love with a son of the dark angel, Mephistopheles, then discovers she alone can save him from Hell, but only if she gives up mortality and her birthright of certain Heaven to join him and his brothers in a brutal war to save mankind’s free will.

There’s also a lot of kissing. And sex. On the page. This has gotten me some righteous dings in reviews, but even those who are shocked or offended admit it’s not gratuitous, and goes to the plot. This is romance, pure and simple, and I hope romance fans will enjoy it. Those who look for more literary, deep-thinking young adult fare may be disappointed. The Mephisto Covenant is commercial fiction all the way.

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

I turned in book 2 in this series a few weeks ago and am now awaiting edits. It will be released in Fall 2012, and centers around another Mephisto brother and his very rocky road to true love.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Write what you love to read, not what you see as ‘the market.’ You have to stay true to your own voice, because that’s all that separates us and makes us unique. Every book I’ve written that I had to force hasn’t sold. Stay the course and wish for luck, because as much as no one will admit it, luck plays a big part in selling your work. Just be sure you have a good project when luck comes calling.

Thank you to Tina, Kelly and YA Fresh for having me here!

Thanks to you, Trinity!

Now, for our readers--in order to be entered to win a copy of this book, simply leave us a comment telling us you'd like to read The Mephisto Covenant, and maybe why? The winner will be drawn randomly and announced on Monday, November 14!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Our SLAYERS Winner...

The winner of a signed copy of SLAYERS by C. J. Hill is...


So Mrs. Dix, if you will kindly e-mail me at, we'll get the book in the mail to you!

Thanks to all who entered. And check in again next weekend as we feature another cool giveaway!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Slayers: The Giveaway!

We are so pleased to welcome Janette Rallison back to YA Fresh, to talk about her latest release, SLAYERS (writing as C. J. Hill).

Please, tell us about your book in ten words or less.

Dragons are coming back. Slayers have superpowers to fight them.

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?

I'm going to have to go with Bess because she doesn't take anything too seriously--not even the fact that she's been conscripted into fighting dragons. Plus she has a good sense of humor. I love people like that.

Tell us something fun about SLAYERS. It can be a character detail, something that inspired the story, or a behind the scenes story from the writing process.

One of the inspiring incidents of this novel happened when I was fifth grade and had just moved to Silver Springs, Maryland. All the adults there were quite excited because this was the year that the cicadas would emerge from the ground after remaining dormant and hidden for 17 years. The next door neighbor happily explained to me that this was the cicadas’ way of avoiding predators. Since they only emerged every 17 years, predators couldn’t depend on them as a food source.

A brilliant adaptation, I might add, for an insect that isn’t smart enough to avoid accidentally flying into your hair.

I remember finding a lot of hollow cicada skins that summer, because cicada’s also shed their skin. Ahh, there’s nothing nicer to find hanging from your bedroom windowsill than a creepy, hollow bug skin.

But anyway, the point to all of this was that as a child I immediately picked up on what the adults seemed to have missed in the cicadas’ amazing return from the underworld. If bugs could (sort of) hibernate for nearly two decades in order to give themselves a natural advantage, why couldn’t other species do it too? Maybe there were animals with such long life cycles we just hadn’t caught them emerging yet.

I grew up on Godzilla movies and so had a strong and deep rooted fear that dinosaurs might one day show up and start smacking buildings around and eating screaming Japanese people—or worse yet: eat me.

No one knew what had caused the extinction of the dinosaurs and I was surprised that no one had come up with my theory. They weren’t really gone. They were just hibernating. Waiting until there were lots of yummy fifth grade girls around to chomp on. And there were probably some eggs buried under my house!!

The nice thing about childhood fears is that you can use them later in your novels. Nothing is ever wasted when you’re a writer. In Slayers, dragon eggs can hibernate for over a hundred years, and now they're coming back.

Great story, and love how you were able to bring it forward to your writing! What is a favorite comment you've ever received from a fan?

Sometimes kids tell me they they were reading my book in school--when they were supposed to be doing something else--and they got caught because they laughed out loud. You've got to love a kid who risks punishment to read.

Great! What are you working on now?

I have some revisions to do on a paranormal romance, and then I'll start writing the second book of Slayers.

Thanks so much, Janette!

Now, for our readers, in order to be entered to win a signed copy of Slayers, and playing off Janette's chat about cicadas flying into her hair and shedding their skins on her window sill, mention a bug that is less than thrilling to you in our comments. (I'll start: since I have a bee allergy, for me it's, well, bees!)

Best of luck, and be sure to check in on Monday to see the name of the randomly drawn winner!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Reality TV--Yes! case you didn't know, I love me some good reality TV. Every now and then I may skip a season but I'm pretty faithful. Big Brother---Yes! Real World---Yep! The Voice---Uh-huh! Dancing With the Stars---Totally! And I just finished Halloween Wars on The Food Network, that was fun.

Right now, I am totally hooked on Dancing with the Stars! It has drama, humor, and entertaining dances! Anybody else watching?

So the dancers in the lead are JR Martinez and Ricki Lake (Totally watched her show everyday after high school). Of course, I love them.

I have to say, the celebs I look forward to watching are Rob Kardashian and David Arquette. They've been improving each week and you never know what to expect from them.

Do I have some reality TV friends out there?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Our Halloween Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to all who shared their favorite candies with us this weekend in our Halloween Easy-Peasy Giveaway!

Our randomly chosen winner, with the answer of "anything chocolate" is:


So Elaine, if you would contact me at, I will make sure that $10 gift card to will get soaring to you on spooky bat wings to add a little something special to your Halloween holiday.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Our Halloween Easy-Peasy Giveaway

It’s been a few years since I’ve escorted trick-or-treaters through the darkened streets for goodies, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a fun time every October 31st. I’ve come to realize that being on the inside of the door is a great time, too, getting to see the costumes, hear the chatter and giggles...and of course, the collective: “Trick or Treat!”

Generally, I let the trick-or-treaters reach their hands into my candy bowl and pick a couple of their favorites, since I’m never really sure what kids like. Back in my day, we were all about the chocolate candy bars like Snickers and Almond Joys and Baby Ruths, but my kids were of the age, they loved the brightly colored candies like Sour Patch Kids and Skittles and Mike and Ike.

In anticipation of Halloween, I thought I’d give a $10 card to be used toward a costume, candy, or if you’re like me, a good book to keep you company in between doorbell rings. All you have to do to be entered is leave us a comment telling us a favorite candy. Like I said, easy-peasy! And check back on Monday to learn the winner’s name, which will be drawn at random.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Our Winner!

I used my random number generator again to pick the winner of this weekend's contest for a copy of MY SOUL TO STEAL by Rachel Vincent. And that winner is:


Congrats to Lieder Madchen, and thanks to all for the wonderful choices on which books you would love to be able to read again for the first time!

Lieder Madchen, please contact me at to get the book in the mail to you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Giveaway: To Re-Read For the First Time...

Every now and then as I am passing by my bookshelf, a title will leap out at me. Often it’s a favorite (which is why I kept it!) and often I find myself remembering what I’d loved so much about it...and wishing I could read it again for the first time. That I was back edge of my seat, spellbound, wondering What. Would. Happen. Next.

Like when I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Split by Swati Avashthi, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, and so many others.

How about you? Tell us in the comments the name of a favorite book you wish you could experience (again) for the first time, and be entered to win a copy of Rachel Vincent’s My Soul to Steal!

The winner will be drawn randomly and announced on Monday!

Monday, October 10, 2011

What's Fresh Kristina Springer's Just Your Average Princess

 Jamie Edwards has loved everything about growing up on a pumpkin patch, but ever since her cousin Milan Woods arrived, things have really stunk. Jamie can’t imagine it was easy for Milan to leave her life back in Los Angeles and move to Average, Illinois, population one thousand. But it’s kind of hard to feel sorry for her since (a) Milan’s drop-dead gorgeous; (b) she’s the daughter of two of Hollywood’s hottest film stars; (c) she’s captured the attention of everyone in town, including Danny, Jamie’s crush since forever; and (d) she’s about to steal the title of Pumpkin Princess right out from underneath Jamie!

Hello Kristina! It is great to have you back again on YA Fresh. Please tell us about your latest novel, Just Your Average Princess, and what we can expect from your characters.

Kristina: Just Your Average Princess (FSG, 10/11/11) is about a girl who has spent her life on her parent’s pumpkin patch, always dreaming of one day being the Pumpkin Princess at the town’s Fall festival. Her cousin from Hollywood, and daughter of two A-list movie stars, gets dropped off to spend pumpkin season with them and pretty much turns the main character’s world upside down.

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

Kristina: Right now my newest YA book, THE PAPARAZZI PROJECT, is on submission. This was a super fun book to write and I think any tabloid loving teen will love it.

Good luck with that! Thanks again for sharing, Kristina, have another Writing tip for our readers?

Kristina: Don’t give up.

Kristina Springer is the author of THE ESPRESSOLOGIST, MY FAKE BOYFRIEND IS BETTER THAN YOURS, and the forthcoming JUST YOUR AVERAGE PRINCESS (fall 2011). She has a Masters in Writing from DePaul University and she resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband and children. Visit her website

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Code Name Verity!

I recently came upon this blurb for a February 2012 Egmont young adult release, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein:

Only in wartime could a stalwart lass from Manchester rub shoulders with a Scottish aristocrat, one an Air Transport Auxiliary pilot, the other a wireless operator with the WAAF. Yet whenever their paths cross, they complement each other perfectly and before long become devoted friends.

But then a vital mission goes wrong, and one of the friends has to bail out of a faulty plane over France. Almost immediately she is arrested by the Gestapo, and it seems her mission may be over before it's even begun. The story begins in "Verity's" own words, as she writes her account for her captors...

I love a good action/adventure story, and admit to a real bias for British dramas about the 20th century, some of my favorite programming of late being The King’s Speech and the BBC series, Downton Abbey.

I believe some ARCs (advanced reader copies) are out and about. Has anyone read this or heard good things about it?

Or are there are any upcoming releases you are eagerly anticipating?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Enthralled Anthology!

Here's a a new paranormal anthology to sink your teeth into you! Our friend Jeri Smith-Ready wanted to let us know she is part of this great group of paranormal authors sharing their cool YA paranormal stories.

A journey may take hundreds of miles, or it may cover the distance between duty and desire.

Sixteen of today’s hottest writers of paranormal tales weave stories on a common theme of journeying. Authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Caine, and Melissa Marr return to the beloved worlds of their bestselling series, while others, like Claudia Gray, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl, create new land-scapes and characters. But whether they’re writing about vampires, faeries, angels, or other magical beings, each author explores the strength and resilience of the human heart.

Suspenseful, funny, or romantic, the stories in Enthralled will leave you moved.

And here's a sneak peek into Jeri's story "Bridge":

In the world of the SHADE novels, everyone seventeen and under can see and hear ghosts, but no one else can. So when Logan Keeley dies and his eighteen-year-old brother Mickey blames himself, they can’t ease each other’s pain or reconcile their rage. Over the course of SHADE and SHIFT, Mickey sinks into a near-suicidal depression over Logan’s death.

“Bridge” is the story, told in free verse, of how two brothers, with the help of a stranger, forge the chasm between them to find a lasting peace.

Sounds like another fantastic anthology! Be sure to check it out!

Jeri Smith-Ready has been writing fiction since the night she had her first double espresso. Her nine published books include two series for adults and the SHADE trilogy for teens, about a world of ghosts only the young can see, which concludes May 2012 with SHINE. Like many of her characters, Jeri enjoys music, movies, and staying up very, very late. Visit her at, or on Facebook ( or Twitter (, where she spends way too much time. Logan himself can be found on Twitter @keeley_logan, as can his rival/”brother-in-pulp,” Zachary Moore (@moore_zachary). The boys love to chat with each other and with their real-life fans.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It's Fall!

It's officially fall, which happens to be my favorite season. I love hauling the jeans and jackets out of the closets and my socks from the far reaches of the drawer. I adore seeing the leaves change and hearing them crunch under my feet as I cross them on sidewalks and in the street. And I usually cannot resist treating myself to pumpkin and chai lattes in ongoing celebration.

I hope all of our readers enjoy this glimpse of fall in my (southern California) neck of the woods. And tell us: do you like fall, too? If so, what are your favorite sights and sounds and tastes and scents of the season?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Banned Books Week!

YA Freshers, it's ALA's Banned Book Week!

Yes, YA Fresh supports ALA in the cause to read Banned Books.

And as we've done in previous years, here is ALA's list of top ten challenged books in 2010:

1) And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson;
2) The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie;
3) Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley;
4) Crank, by Ellen Hopkins;
5) The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins;
6) Lush, by Natasha Friend;
7) What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones;
8) Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich;
9) Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie;
10) Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dear Bully...

Dear Bully is here and this awesome collaboration is making waves! In case you haven't heard this is how Dear Bully all began...

"Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones formed the group YAAAB (Young Adult Authors Against Bullying) in April 2010 when they both coincidentally blogged about the Phoebe Prince case on the same day. Megan reached out to Carrie expressing her frustration with this case and the fact that bullying that seemed to be growing at a ridiculously fast rate. As a Massachusetts resident and having already spoken about bullying in schools, Megan was horrified after hearing about the bullying that took place in the Phoebe Prince case. While writing her books, SISTERS OF MISERY and THE LOST SISTER, she had to dig deep to make “mean girls as evil as she possibly could. When she heard about all the bullying and bullycide stories in the news, she felt like the bullies had jumped off the pages of her book and into real life. She was also disheartened by the numerous times she’d done book signings and would say to readers, “I hope you never meet girls as mean as the ones in my book.” Shockingly, they almost always said, “We already have.” Carrie Jones was also moved to do something, as she was the target of bullying as a young child due to a speech impediment. Together, they felt that they owed it to teen readers to discourage bullying -- to make it "uncool." Megan Kelley Hall started by creating a Facebook page that kicked off an entire "movement" to end bullying. This was the day that Megan, Carrie and other authors decided to use their platform as Young Adult authors to actually facilitate change and to be a voice for those kids who cannot speak out or are too afraid to be heard."

"Right away, a large number of authors jumped on board of this cause -- wanting to be involved in any way possible. The Facebook group jumped from 5 to 1500 members in one weekend and is now closing in on nearly 5,000 members. Carrie and Megan were thrilled when HarperTeen offered to put all of the stories into an anthology. The thought of having 70 authors – well-known, highly successful writers – sharing their personal bullying stories with their fans was something beyond what they had ever hoped for.

The stories in DEAR BULLY come from all angles: from the point of view of the victim, the mother, the friend, the sibling, the classmate – even a few from the actual bully. Some of the stories are light-hearted, while others are raw and emotional. All of them drive home the point that bullying is something that almost everyone has experienced. And while that is a sad fact, they want to prove that it's not a rite of passage. It doesn't make you stronger, wiser, or better. But it is something that can be overcome, something that can be changed, something that is relatable, and something that one should never be ashamed of. Through these stories, the authors want to show that they understand what teens are going through today. It is important to encourage bystanders to speak up and make bullying unacceptable. Parents and adults must get involved. Bullying is something that people no longer have to endure--at least, not by themselves.

Though quite a lofty mission, the goal of DEAR BULLY is to help just one person get through a difficult time, and hopefully make bullying a thing of the past."

Don't forget to join the Facebook page at, visit the website at, or follow DEAR BULLY on Twitter at

Monday, September 19, 2011

We Have a Winner...

Thanks to all who "talked snakes" and participated in this past weekend's giveaway of a signed copy of SWEET VENOM by Tera Lynn Childs!

Our winner is...


So, Pokadots1121, please contact me at and we'll get the book in the mail to you!

Thanks again to Tera Lynn Childs--TLC--for visiting with us and donating a copy of her book!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sweet Venom Giveaway!

We are happy to welcome Tera Lynn Childs back to YA Fresh, this time to talk about her newest release, Sweet Venom.

She's been kind enough to donate a signed copy of the book to one of our readers, so be sure to leave a comment below to be entered.

Hi, Tera! Tell us about your book in ten words or less.

Triplet monster-hunting descendants of Medusa reunite and embrace their fate.

Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?

I'd have to say enigmatic charmer Nick. He's cute (duh) and he knows how to push tough girl Gretchen's buttons like no other. I always love a guy who can take it as well as he can dish it out, and with Gretchen that's a necessary skill.

Tell us something fun about SWEET VENOM. It can be a character detail, something that inspired the story, or a behind the scenes story from the writing process.

The initial spark for what would become Sweet Venom came from a magazine spread on snake-themed accessories. I hate all things snaky, but I was intrigued and started brainstorming how to grow that into a novel. The snakes led to Medusa and the premise was born.

What is a favorite comment you've ever received from a fan?

My favorites are the ones from readers and/or their moms saying how mine was the first book they ever read. Especially when they say it made them want to read more books. You can't buy that feeling.

What are you working on now?

The second book in the trilogy, Sweet Shadows, is turned in and getting copyedits. My next official deadline isn't until next June, when I have to turn in the final book in the trilogy. So right now I have some free time to work on other fun projects.

Sounds great! Thanks, Tera!

And now for our readers! In order to be entered to win a signed copy of SWEET VENOM, please leave a comment that somehow has to do with snakes. It could be how you feel about them, one you've had as a pet, clothing you have or like from their skin, the sounds they make...whatever, uh, strikes out at you!

And be sure to check back on Monday, September 20th, to learn the winner's name!

Monday, September 12, 2011

YA Fresh's New Look!

If you haven't noticed, things have changed around here!

We decided to sparkle things up a bit at YA Fresh with a new layout and colors. Sadly our links were deleted so I'll be searching for our past link partners.

We're also brainstorming on a new monthly author feature that we'll announce once we iron out the details, but it will definitely feature a fresh monthly guest. :) :)

So thanks again for visiting us at YA Fresh and we hope you like the new look!

Thursday, September 08, 2011


I got a pleasant surprise the other day while browsing I discovered that the paperback edition of THE ABC'S OF KISSING BOYS is on sale for $3.42, which is less than half price!

Hurry if you are interested because I am not sure how long this sale will last!

Now, whenever I autograph a copy of this book, I almost always sign it "XOXO," being all alphabet-related and of course, X meaning kiss and O meaning hug. But I've often wondered WHY it means what it does, and the story behind it.

And then the other day, voila! Someone gave me this answer:

In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfill obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.

While I cannot, of course, attest to its validity, it was presented as authority, and sure works for me.

So how about you...going with this X-planation? Or do you know another story? And how about the O? Have any ideas how that came to be?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Our Winner!

The winner of a signed copy of POPULAR by Alissa Grasso...


So, Smilie Girlie, please contact me at and we'll get the book in the mail to you!

Thanks to all who entered, and Alissa for donating this prize!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

POPULAR Interview & Giveaway!

You know how people always say that word-of-mouth is the best advertising? Well, a month or so back, someone told me that Alissa Grosso’s debut novel, Popular, had a stunning twist, and I needed to check it out. So I did...

And I was so astonished by the book that I walked around talking to people about it for days! So I simply had to invite Alissa to visit us at YA Fresh for an interview! She was happy to join us, and to offer up a signed copy of POPULAR to one of our commenters!

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

I had written and even published a few short stories before, but POPULAR was the first decent novel I ever finished. I do, however, possess a very large collection of unfinished novels. POPULAR was a slush pile rescue. I submitted it directly to Flux back when they accepted unagented submissions.

You are one of the lucky ones who sold through the slush pile! Good for you!

Now, 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.

Ha! There is no such thing as a typical writing day. At least not in my life! I still have a day job. So, writing tends to get fit in when I can find the time. I do a lot of my writing at night because this tends to be my peak creativity time, and there tends to be less distractions at night. The phone doesn't ring. The UPS man doesn't ring the doorbell. Even the neighbors tend to be quieter at night.

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

This is always a bit tricky. I would have to say, expect the unexpected. It's a story that tells the downfall of a very unconventional high school clique, but there's a twist.

Indeed there is! So what’s up next? Do you have another project in the works?

My next book is called FEROCITY SUMMER. It tells the story of one summer in the life of a teenage girl trying to cope with her friend's drug addiction, her own legal troubles, an on again off again romantic relationship and an essay she is supposed to write on General Sherman and his infamous march to the sea. It's set in the New Jersey town where I spent my teen years and it's due out in 2012 from Flux.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Write a book that you would want to read, and if it is at all possible write only one book at a time. I've learned from experience that one finished book is worth a lot more than a hundred unfinished ones.

Great, and thank you, Alissa!

Okay, now to all our readers: Alissa tells us she mostly likes to write at night. In order to be entered in our contest to win a signed copy of POPULAR, tell us in the comments when you most like to read!

Check back on Tuesday, September 6th to see the winner’s name!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

TWISTED Tour Stop!

YA Fresh has been chosen to be one of the stops on Gena Showalter’s TWISTED tour! We’re delighted to participate, and to welcome new readers, who we hope will come back and visit us often!

If you're new to Gena's books, here's the 411 on TWISTED:

His vampire girlfriend might have brought him back to life, but he's never felt more out of control. There's a darkness within him, something taking over…changing him. Worse, because he was meant to die, death now stalks him at every turn. Any day could be his last.

Once upon a time, the three souls trapped inside his head could have helped him. He could have protected himself. But as the darkness grows stronger, the souls grow weaker—just like his girlfriend. The more vampire Aden becomes, the more human Victoria becomes, until everything they know and love is threatened.

Life couldn't get any worse. Could it?


How do you define the “Best Night Ever?” Does going on a mini shopping spree for a chic new outfit, dinner out with your bestie and seeing your favorite music act live in concert sound like it would do the trick? If so, read on!

To celebrate the release of, TWISTED, the third book in her Intertwined series featuring Aden Stone, Gena Showalter is rocking out with her author buds on The TWISTED Tour. The tour spans almost two weeks and 11 author websites, including this one, from August 22nd through September 2nd. The Grand Prize winner will be awarded all the essentials for a perfect night out, including:

- $250 Ticketmaster Gift Card
- $100 American Eagle Outfitters Gift Card
- $100 Visa Gift Card for Dinner
- Glam Urban Decay Makeup Gift Set

A Second Prize winner will receive an autographed set of Gena’s Intertwined series, including INTERTWINED, UNRAVELED and TWISTED.

HOW TO PLAY: Visit this page and check the tour schedule. Visit the sites of each author on their assigned tour date and locate the concert ticket image.

At the end of the tour, fill out the form on the aforementioned TWISTED Tour contest webpage by matching the images you found to the authors’ websites that they were located on before Sunday, September 4th at 11:59pm ET. The winners will be randomly drawn and notified on or around September 9th, 2011.

Good Luck and ROCK ON!

The topic of having the “Best Night Ever,” got me to thinking about what might have been my best teen night...

I finally settled on a dance under the stars the summer I was fourteen. There was a cute boy who I suddenly saw through different eyes as we danced the night away, but all these years later, that night is now less about him and more about me--how special I felt. In hindsight, I know the memories of that night got me through some of my “less-than-special” times to come...escalating it to my “Best Night Ever” in my teen years.

If you’d like to share a bit about your teenage “Best Night Ever,” please do in our comments!

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's Starting: The Twisted Tour

Have you heard about Gena Showalter’s TWISTED blog tour that is starting today? Not only will it be fun for readers to play and to learn more about Gena's newest release, but there's some great prizes involved!

Visit the Twisted Tour page to learn all about it, and to check the blog tour schedule. We here at YA Fresh are happy to be one of the blog tour hosts! Check it out--and be sure to visit us when it is our turn on Saturday!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What's Your Game?

As much as I love reading and writing, there are times when my brain needs a fun and pointless vacation...

Some years ago I got hooked on an on-line solitaire version of the ancient Chinese game Mahjong, where you match tiles. I still play occasionally. Here's what one board looks like:

My #1 on-line addiction, hands-down, is Scrabble, which I play against various friends on Facebook. In fact, I got our own Kelly Parra hooked in as a regular opponent, as well!

Recently, I've also found joy in on-line jigsaw puzzles, which come in numerous sizes and shapes, meaning I can pretty much find one that's right for my time constraints and moods.

So now it's your turn! Please share what games you like to we can check them out, too!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

And the Winner is...

Thank you, YA Freshers, for entering in our latest Randomly Fresh Giveaway!!

Remember, keep on commenting on blog entries and you'll have a chance to win our next RFG!

And the random winner is...


Congrats, Mrs. Obie, just contact me through my website with your mailing information and we'll ship your winning book to you!

Thanks and happy reading!

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's that RANDOM time again!

It's Random.
It's Fresh.
It's a Giveaway.
For visitors who comment on YA Fresh.
With a choice from 4 books.
Did I mention it's random?

So if you have commented during the months of July and August (2011 ;) ), feel free to leave a comment with your choice of book to be entered to win one of these FRESH books!

Your choices?

TORN by Erica O'Rourke
FALLEN ANGEL by Heather Terrell
TEXAS GOTHIC by Rosemary Clement-Moore
DASH & LILY'S BOOK OF DARES by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Ready, set, randomly comment to win!

A random winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, August 16th and announced at any random time on Tuesday. YA Freshers may comment with a book choice randomly from now until Monday evening in which they may randomly comment whenever they randomly feel like it. Okay, that's it, thanks!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

A Visit with YA Rising Stars!

This past weekend some writer-friends and I made a trek to "America's Oldest Children's Bookstore," Once Upon a Time in Montrose, California. A panel of YA authors called "YA Rising Stars" held the room spellbound, telling us about their current releases.

On her feet is Suzanne Young, who we recently chatted with here at YA Fresh about her novel, A Need So Beautiful. In addition to the stunning cover and great reviews, the audience really enjoyed the excerpt she read.

Beside Suzanne is Nova Ren Suma, whose debut novel,
Imaginary Girls, has received rave reviews from the Los Angeles Times.

Next to Nova is the effervescent Holly Goldberg Sloan, who is new to novels after many years of success as a screenwriter of such films such as "Angels in the Outfield" and "Made in America." She talked about her debut novel, I’ll Be There, which sounded delightful.

Far left, here is Cindy Pon, who discussed Fury of the Phoenix, the sequel to her popular novel, Silver Phoenix. Cindy has appeared here at YA Fresh before when we met at the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator's conference and posed for pictures!

Here is Cindy a little while later, delighting us with an excerpt from her book:

And here is a shot of Cindy, Suzanne and me, taken before the signing session, a photo I call "Hi, YA Freshers!" since we were all sending hello's to our readers. And take note of the cupcake pop in Suzanne's hand, just of many special treats made for the event.

On a final note, color me especially delighted to have won a book in their random event giveaway!

If any of our readers has heard good things or enjoyed reading any of these books, please tell us here. Or if you simply want to read them, well, jump on in, too!

Friday, August 05, 2011

My Summer Reads

Since Tina shared her summer YA reads, I thought I'd share my catch-up from this summer.

I started off with Sarah Dessen's Along for the Ride. Always a pleasure to read a summer Dessen novel, with down to earth characters who seem to jump off the page, and family drama that pulls you right in.

Then I moved on to a couple of my favorite paranormal series, such as Rachel Caine's Ghost Town. Once again awesome suspense and danger with the Glass House clan and those ancient, creepy Morganville vampires (minus Michael Glass, of course!)

And next was Cassandra Clare's City of Fallen Angels. Can you say intense? Clare creates a brilliant fantasy world of angels, demons and creatures that I love to explore in her Mortal Instruments series!

These reads are all highly recommended as fantastic YA reads!

Monday, August 01, 2011

Join Us on Facebook!

I was just updating the YA Fresh Facebook Page with interviews and chat on some of our favorite books, and I realized that some of our readers may not be aware that it exists...

So please, if you're on Facebook, use the link I provided to go over there and "like" the page to join. And if you come back here and tell us, well, not only will Kelly and I appreciate it, but it'll count as a comment toward our next Randomly Fresh Giveaway!

See you there?

Friday, July 29, 2011

What's Fresh with Jennifer Echols's Love Story!


For Erin Blackwell, majoring in creative writing at the New York City college of her dreams is more than a chance to fulfill her ambitions—it’s her ticket away from the tragic memories that shadow her family’s racehorse farm in Kentucky. But when she refuses to major in business and take over the farm herself someday, her grandmother gives Erin’s college tuition and promised inheritance to their maddeningly handsome stable boy, Hunter Allen. Now Erin has to win an internship and work late nights at a local coffee shop to make her own dreams a reality. She should despise Hunter . . . so why does he sneak into her thoughts as the hero of her latest writing assignment?

Then, on the day she’s sharing that assignment with her class, Hunter walks in. He’s joining her class. And after he reads about himself in her story, her private fantasies about him must be painfully clear. She only hopes to persuade him not to reveal her secret to everyone else. But Hunter devises his own creative revenge, writing sexy stories that drive the whole class wild with curiosity and fill Erin’s heart with longing. Now she’s not just imagining what might have been. She’s writing a whole new ending for her romance with Hunter . . . except this story could come true.

The awesome Jennifer Echols is back with us to share about her latest novel, Love Story! Thanks for joining us Jennifer! Tell us about your book in ten words or less. Okay, go!

Jennifer: Erin writes about her crush and he reads the story!

Haha, thanks! Other than your main character, who's a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?

Jennifer: I love Erin’s best friend and roommate, Summer. Sometimes I like to create tension between the heroine and her best girlfriend, but this time I had fun writing this girl who is wholly supportive of Erin and has a pure, innocent spirit.

Tell us something fun about your new book. It can be a character detail, something that inspired the story, or a behind the scenes story from the writing process.

Jennifer: I lived in Kentucky for seven years, and while I never owned a racehorse, I knew a wealthy family that had! It would have been impossible for me to enjoy that beautiful landscape so long and not have it emerge in a novel sooner or later.

What is your favorite comment you’ve received from a fan?

Jennifer: I’ve gotten several messages lately from people who have been sick and were able to forget their lives for a while and get through treatment by reading. That always touches me, especially when they have read my book GOING TOO FAR, which has a heroine who has been very sick.

Thanks again, Jennifer! Best of luck! Let's close with what are you working on now?

Jennifer: I’m writing a new romantic comedy that will be published by Simon Pulse in December. Then I’m finishing a new romantic drama, SUCH A RUSH, which will be my hardcover debut in July 2012.

Jennifer Echols is the author of romantic dramas for MTV and romantic comedies for Pulse. She currently lives in Birmingham. Visit her on the web at

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

We All Scream For Ice Cream

Summer = ice cream to me! Whether it’s Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry's, Cold Stone's and/or from the supermarket freezer, I am fan. In fact, last summer, some of you may remember, I posted a yummy recipe here for Mexican ice cream that was made with store-bought vanilla.

And while I’ve eaten that again this summer--and it’s just as good--these days, my mind has moved onto another kind of ice cream. Homemade.

When I was a kid, some family friends had the old-fashioned crank kind of ice cream maker. I remember they needed to use rock salt and that someone had to hand to crank continuously for hours. We'd take turns. Which was exhausting, but made the ultimate treat even sweeter!

These days, my family owns an electric ice cream maker, with the only real problem being that you have to put the bowl in the freezer overnight to get it to the right temperature--in other words, you need to plan it a day or so ahead of time.

So when I came upon a homemade ice cream recipe recently that could be made spontaneously, I thought, why not? And it turned out really, really well. In fact, those of who had been to In ‘N Out (a drive-thru burger place), thought it tasted like their chocolate shakes.

Here’s all you do. Beat together with a mixer:

• 2 cups heavy whipping cream
• 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
• 2/3 cup chocolate syrup
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

until soft peaks form. Then put it in a 9” square pan, cover with foil, put in the freezer for 4 hours. (But I will add that you’ll want to finish it in a day or so, because it will sort of harden with freezer burn if it sits too long.)

If you try it, please let us know how you liked it.

And in any case, help us all keep cool by telling us your favorite ice cream or flavor?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Finding the Time

Like most voracious readers, my “eyes are bigger than my stomach” when it comes to books. So many sound so good. I buy them, I download them, I borrow them--but with a limited amount of reading time, inevitably there are those that I never seem to get around to...

With that thought in mind, I decided to dedicate Summer 2011 to those books. And I can report not only great success, but that I’m having the time of my life.

First up, I started THE HUNGER GAMES, and loved it so much I read the whole trilogy.

Next I picked PROM DATES FROM HELL off my shelf, a collection of paranormal prom stories published a few years back, and discovered a new favorite writer, Michele Jaffe! So her book, BAD KITTY, is now in my pile to read soon, too.

And then in no particular order, I read Jessica Brody’s MY LIFE UNDECIDED, which we talked about here at YA Fresh, and I found cute and clever, a couple nonfiction books, and a few romances. Then I picked 13 REASONS WHY by Jay Asher--and can now officially jump on the band wagon about why it is such an important and popular book!

Here are some other YA novels I have stacked up and ready to read: ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, OSTRICH EYE (the winner of the 2002 Delacorte Press Contest for a First Young Adult Novel) by Beth Cooley and TORN by Erica O’Rourke.

See why I’m having so much fun?

Have any of you made a concerted effort to catch up on books you’ve been meaning to read? And can you recommend any of your favorites I should add to my list?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's Fresh with Melissa Walker's Small Town Sinners!

Lacey Anne Byer is a perennial good girl and lifelong member of the House of Enlightenment, the Evangelical church in her small town. With her driver's license in hand and the chance to try out for a lead role in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, Lacey's junior year is looking promising. But when a cute new stranger comes to town, something begins to stir inside her. Ty Davis doesn't know the sweet, shy Lacey Anne Byer everyone else does. With Ty, Lacey could reinvent herself. As her feelings for Ty make Lacey test her boundaries, events surrounding Hell House make her question her religion.

Melissa Walker has crafted the perfect balance of engrossing, thought-provoking topics and relatable, likable characters. Set against the backdrop of extreme religion, Small Town Sinners is foremost a universal story of first love and finding yourself, and it will stay with readers long after the last page.

Melissa has visited us many times before and we are always glad to have her back at YA Fresh! So Melissa, please tell us about your latest novel Small Town Sinners and what we can expect from your characters.

Melissa: Small Town Sinners, out July 19th from Bloomsbury, is the story of Lacey Anne Byers, a small town girl who is excited to star in Hell House, her church's annual haunted house of sin, until a childhood friend reappears and makes her question her faith. The story involves a very evangelical community dealing with the gray areas of life and "sin."

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

Melissa: My next book is called UNBREAK MY HEART--it's a love story, and it'll be out from Bloomsbury in summer 2012! I can't say more!

Good luck with Small Town Sinners, Melissa!! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Melissa: Sure! So that I don't get bogged down in "perfecting" a first draft, I only allow myself to review the previous day's 1000 words before I start on the new stuff. So I can't go back any further than what I wrote yesterday; that way, I don't get stuck "fixing" things and I can move forward with the story. Works for me!

And Melissa was also reviewed in the New York Times!! So excited for her!! Check out the review here.

Melissa has worked as ELLEgirl Features Editor and Seventeen Prom Editor. She is the author of the Violet on the Runway series as well as Lovestruck Summer. Melissa manages I Heart Daily, an e-newsletter and blogs for ReaderGirlz, an online community for teens.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our TORN Winner!

The winner of a copy of TORN by Erica O'Rourke (plus swag!) is


MD, please read Erica's comment at (or near) the end of yesterday's contest comments for contact information. She is going to mail it directly.

Thanks to all who entered, and to Erica for visiting with us and sharing about her cool debut novel!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The TORN Giveaway!

I am very excited to welcome Erica O'Rourke to YA Fresh, to talk about her writing and her debut novel, and to offer up a copy of the book (plus other TORN goodies) to one lucky commenter!

As a little backstory, a summer ago, while I was attending the Romance Writers of America conference in Orlando, Florida, I had the pleasure of meeting Erica, whose manuscript, TORN was a finalist for the YA Golden Heart award. Not only did Erica go on to win (and to deliver a delightful and poised speech) but she also sold the book...well, I'll let HER tell you that part!

Hello, Erica, thanks for visiting with us! Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?

Erica: I’ve always been a huge fan of young adult literature -- when I taught junior high and high school, I always had a classroom library of books available for my students to read. I tended to go for fantasy and science fiction, but I tried to stock a variety of genres. When I started writing seriously, it seemed like a natural fit.

My first sale was fairly atypical. I was lucky enough to be named a Golden Heart finalist, and one of the final round judges asked to see my full manuscript. A month later, she called and made an offer, and I quickly followed up with an agent who had my partial. She read the full over the weekend, offered representation, and handled everything from there. One year later (363 days, to be exact) Kensington published my first book as part of their new KTeen imprint. I’m still a little dazed, honestly.

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.

Erica: It’s summer vacation right now, which has thrown a wrench into things. But my typical schedule involves sending my kids off to school, including the baby. (At almost-three, she’s not actually a baby anymore, but she will always be MY baby.) Once they’ve all been dropped off, I sit down with the first of many cups of coffee and check email and twitter and my favorite blogs. The internet is a hugely addictive timesuck for me, so I try to limit myself to half an hour. Then I turn on MacFreedom, which blocks my internet access, and get down to the day’s writing or revising. There’s a lot of pacing and talking to myself and reciting dialogue out loud. It’s much easier to do this when no one else is home, I’ve found.

At some point, I take a shower, grab something easy for lunch, and get back online to check email. I’ll also return phone calls and make a half-hearted attempt to clean the house or do laundry. I drink more coffee, panic that the kids will be home so soon, and try to eke out another page or two.

Once my kids are home, there’s no point in trying to get work done, so I do mom stuff until the oldest one is in bed. My husband and I will watch The Daily Show and try to have a bit of grownup conversation, and then I go back to work, usually until about 1 am. I read for a little bit, think of a brilliant line for my story, tell myself it’s so brilliant, I will definitely remember it in the morning, and fall asleep.

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

Erica: TORN is the first of a trilogy about Mo Fitzgerald, who wants to avenge her best friend’s murder. Mo’s family is rumored to be connected to the Chicago Mob, and that her friend’s death is related. But she discovers her friend was fated to fulfill a magical prophecy, and in order to get justice, she’ll have to take over her friend’s destiny, despite having no powers of her own. At the same time, she inadvertently becomes a pawn in a Mob war.

Both worlds are dangerous, and both have cute boys -- Luc is a mysterious Southerner who knows more about the magical world than he’s telling, and Colin is the bodyguard Mo’s uncle hires to keep her safe. And ultimately, Mo has to choose which life she wants -- the one she’s fated for or the one she’s always wanted.

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

Erica: I just turned in the edits on TORN’s sequel, TANGLED, and now I’m working on the last book of the trilogy, BOUND, which will be released sometime in the fall of next year. Mo continues her dealings with both the magical world and the Mob, and copes with the fallout of her actions in TORN. There’s this notion that the truth will set you free, but in Mo’s case, the truth has a tendency to complicate things.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Erica: Revise. Revise, revise, revise. I firmly believe the best books are the product of a critical eye and a willingness to dig deeper. And I also think how you go about revising is entirely a matter of personal preference -- there are many roads to Oz, after all.

I know a lot of immensely successful writers who write a scene and then revise it before moving to the next one, and by the time they type “The End,” they’ve got a polished manuscript. And I know a lot of immensely successful writers who lay down an entire draft, start to finish, and then go back and take another pass. Both styles work -- neither one is superior to the other.

The one type of immensely successful writer I’ve NEVER met is the one who says, “I never revise. My books are so good I don’t need to.” Maybe that’s just coincidence, but I kind of doubt it.

LOL, well said, Erica!

And now on to our readers. In order to be entered in our random giveaway of a copy of TORN (plus swag, including a link to hidden content on her website!), all you need to do is leave a comment below, telling us either WHY you want to read it...or your favorite place to read. Or both!

Thanks again to Erica for joining us!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Latest from Suzanne Young . . .

Hey YA Freshers! Just wanted to let you know about author Suzanne Young's latest release, A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL...

We all want to be remembered. Charlotte’s destiny is to be Forgotten…Charlotte's best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she's cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what's really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become—her mark on this earth, her very existence—is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny—no matter how dark the consequences?

Sounds so intriguing, right?? Check out the praise and book trailer below!!


"A clever and well-written fantasy. Whether Charlotte is an angel or a being less freighted by religious tradition is left up to the reader, but the dilemma of how we can make a lasting impression is a very human concern. Young offers an elegant solution that is well worth consideration."

— Booklist, starred review

“A gripping supernatural romance… An imaginative twist on the timeless battle between dark and light.”

— Kirkus Review

Suzanne Young currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where she uses the rainy weather as an excuse to stay inside and write obsessively. After earning her degree in creative writing, Suzanne spent several years teaching middle school language arts. Now she can be found at home chasing after her two children and poorly behaved dog and writing novels for teens. You can visit her online at or follow her on Twitter @suzanne_young.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Disneyland Cats!

Many of our readers know that I'm a cat lady. I have two at the moment, know most of the cats in my neighborhood, have taken responsibility for strays, and I'm the go-to lady for vacation cat sitting.

So all that said, when I recently heard a story about 400 stray cats living at Disneyland, I was astonished! I make my home in southern California, and have been to Disneyland countless times and never seen a cat there. So I set out to find out if it was true!

First I did an internet search, and was surprised to find the same basic information over and over. Although sources differ about exactly how and why the cats arrived, most agreed that for about 50 years, they have roamed the Magic Kingdom for rodent/mice control. Some say Disney does the care and feeding, and that they keep them into the back areas where they are rarely seen. Some day they are looked after by caring employees and roam freely.

Huh! And that's when I remembered that I have an expert, a key witness, right in my family! Until recently, my cousin, Megan, was a Disneyland employee. So I sent her a message ("Do cats at Disneyland really exist?") and she responded with a big YES. She added:

“When I worked at Disneyland there were always feral cats roaming around backstage. I once heard a story that someone started dropping off the cats at Disneyland and they multiplied. I also heard that they used to be a part of Circle D, the Disney animal farm backstage where they house all the animals for the park, and they got loose and they couldn't control them. Either way, there are many cats who have established Disneyland as their home.

In Fantasyland, there was one particular cat who called the Small World break room his home. We named him Tigger. He was an orange and white tabby cat who always just wanted to be loved and petted."

In fact, here she is, holding Tigger:

She went on to share that there was a black cat that made Storybook Land his home. “We all called him Figgero like the cat from Pinocchio. He would roam through Cinderella's castle and it was quite funny when we would walk through the castle while the boat was going by and all the guests would say, ‘Look at the giant cat in front of the castle.’"

So now I know--the rumors are true! Next time I go to Disneyland, I'm keeping my eyes open for cats.

And now tell us, did you already know about this? Have you seen cats at the Happiest Place on Earth? Or is this a big surprise for you, too?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's Fresh with Elana Johnson's Possession!

Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.

But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed Zenn. Vi can’t leave Zenn in the Thinkers’ hands, but she’s wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous: everything Zenn’s not. Vi can’t quite trust Jag and can’t quite resist him, but she also can’t give up on Zenn.

This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.

Hello, Elana! 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?

Elana: I have no writing background. I started writing as a way to get the negative emotions out of my life. It quickly spiraled into a full-fledged hobby, and the next natural step was to figure out how to get my book published.

That took considerably longer. I queried one book for 8 months. No one wanted it. I tried again. For 8 more months. I finally got an agent to take a chance on me and my book. When we submitted POSSESSION to editors, it sold very fast to Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse).

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.

Elana: Oh, I don’t have a schedule. I do what I can when I can. That includes emailing myself a line or something I’ve seen on the side of the road. I’m not even kidding. However, when I’m drafting, I do try to write each night from 9 – 11 PM when my family is asleep.

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

Elana: My first novel is called POSSESSION, and it was released from Simon & Schuster (Simon Pulse) on June 7.

My main character, Violet, is a rule-breaking, don’t-boss-me kind of girl who isn’t afraid to get all up in your face. Most of the time. She does have a softer side too.

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

Elana: I do! S&S is interested in continuing the POSSESSION series, and a companion novel, FUGITIVE is scheduled for a June 2012 release.

Wonderful, Elana, good luck! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Elana: My best writing tip: Allow yourself to write badly. Practice never hurt anyone.

Elana's debut novel, POSSESSION, is available from Simon & Schuster now!

She wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy.

She is the author of From the Query to the Call, an ebook that every writer needs to read before they query.

She runs a personal blog on publishing and is a founding author of the QueryTracker blog. She blogs regularly at The League of Extraordinary Writers, co-organizes WriteOnCon, and is a member of SCBWI. Visit her website,

Monday, June 27, 2011

We Have a Winner!

Thank you to all of you who entered the PURPLE DAZE contest! We have a winner...


Janet, if you would please e-mail me at, we'll get that book in the mail to you!

To all, keep visiting us at YA Fresh for the latest on YA novels and lots of cool giveaways!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Purple Daze Giveaway!

We’re happy to welcome author Sherry Shahan to YA Fresh today. Sherry is the author of 30 children’s books, both fiction and nonfiction. Research has put her inside a dog sled for the first part of the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, paddling a kayak in a remote fjord, and on an exposed ridge in the Sierra Nevada during a deadly electrical storm.

Purple Daze is her first YA novel. Set in Los Angeles in 1965, it's a story about war, feminism, riots, love, racism, rock 'n' roll, and friendship.

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

Sherry: When my two daughters were young I began writing as a hobby. It was something to do to keep my brain from turning into applesauce. I thought it would be fun to submit short articles to local newspapers. I later graduated to more substantial articles for national magazines. Much later, I tried writing for children. By then my daughters were reading Judy Blume. I thought, These books are such fun! Why not?

Great! Please tell us about your novel, PURPLE DAZE, and what we can expect from your characters.

Sherry: While cleaning out my office one day, I found an old shoe box filled with letters. Most of them were written by a friend who was in Vietnam during the late 1960s. I’d kept his letters nearly 50 years. I spent hours rereading his gut-wrenching account of that living hell. I wrote character sketches about other high school friends. Once I began scribbling, memories triggered emotions that enveloped me twenty-four-seven.

Ultimately though, PURPLE DAZE is about six high school students, who share their intense personal experiences through journal entries, notes, letters, interconnected free verse and traditional poetry. These kids took part in America’s most volatile cultural revolution. I believe the story is as relevant today as it was almost 50 years ago.

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

Sherry: An Alaskan-based adventure novel called “Ice Island.” Several years ago I was in Nome for the end of the 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Afterward, I flew to a remote island in the Bering Sea. I was astounded to see native men repairing walrus-skin boats and polar bear hides drying on racks. I remember thinking, Someday I’ll use this setting in a story.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

When I’m stuck I take a paragraph from a novel and rewrite it in verse. I concentrate on metaphor, assonance, imagery and cadence. Shouldn’t all good writing contain these elements? Sure, but I find it easier to focus on “voice sounds” and “patterns of expression” when my writing looks poetry. Then, I go back to my manuscript and do the same with one of my paragraphs. By then, I’m ready to plow ahead.

Sage advice, and thank you so much for visiting with us!

Sherry is kindly donating a copy of PURPLE DAZE to one of our readers. To be entered, either tell us why you want to read this book, or name something in the color of purple! And check back on Monday to learn the winner’s name!