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, www.elanajohnson.com.

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 admin@tinaferraro.com, 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!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The 2011 Young Adult RITA Finalists

Each year Romance Writers of America honors the year’s best romantic fiction, both published and unpublished. The published award is called the Rita®, and here are this year’s Young Adult finalist:

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
The Clearing by Heather Davis
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles
The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

Kelly and I are sorry we are unable to attend the New York ceremony on July 1st, but send our best to all the nominees!

Friday, June 17, 2011

What's Fresh with Amanda Ashby's Fairy Bad Day

It’s going to be a fairy bad day...

First, my rightful designation of dragon slayer is STOLEN right out from under me by Curtis Green. Sure, he’s really cute, but that doesn’t give him an excuse.

On top of that, I am assigned to slay fairies. I know what you’re thinking—how hard could it be, right? Wrong! These menacing beasts with their tiny hipster clothes and mocking sarcasm love taunting me. And they won’t STOP!

But the thing that tops my list of stuff to ruin my day? That would be the GIANT KILLER FAIRY that I have to hunt down and slay because I am the only one who can see it. There is someone who can help me. Unfortunately…it’s Curtis

Hi Amanda, so great to have you with us again! Please tell us about your latest novel Fairy Bad Day and what we can expect from your characters.

Fairy Bad Day is published by Puffin/Speak and is out NOW (hahahaha—I love saying that!). It’s a pretty light-hearted book about a girl who longs to be follow in her mom’s footsteps and become a dragon slayer, but instead she get stuck with fairies. Not exactly the stuff that high destiny is made of!! Emma is a pretty stubborn, determined character though in my mind I can see why she acts like she does. It also has some troublesome urban fairies, some Skittles and some big swords!

Sounds great! So Amanda, how many drafts did you have to write for this book? Any horrific scenes that were cut from the original that you want to share?

Amanda: There were so many rewrites of this book that I’ve actually lost count. I did a load for myself then about two for my agent and then about three for my editor and while the basic premise stayed the same, there were a lot of changes. In fact by the end of it I was starting to feel more like a patchwork quilt maker than a writer. There were no horrific scenes that I lost but I did have to cut a lot of my wildly hilarious one-liners (I’m assuming it was because my editor didn’t think that they were quite as wildly hilarious as I did). Oh, and I’ve actually remembered that I did have to cut the love interest between two of my secondary characters Loni and Tyler, which was a bit sad (fortunately, they still hook up in my head so shhhhh, don’t tell my editor!!!!!!)

LOL! If you weren't an author- what job would you choose?

Amanda: I work part time as a teen librarian and I LOVE it because I basically get to talk to people all day about YA books and while I mainly encourage teens I’ve got more and more older customers who I’ve lured over with The Hunger Games and once I’ve hooked them they don’t tend to leave!!!!

Amanda, what other good books have you read lately?

Amanda: I’ve always got loads of books on the go but probably my favorite read of 2011 would have to be Eon by Alison Goodman. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get to this book, but I’m so happy that I finally picked it up. It’s an epic story about a girl disguised as a boy so that she can be a dragon warrior and it’s got a lot of Chinese and Japanese inspired mythology in it. Plus, the heroine totally kicks ass!!!!!

Thank you again for sharing, Amanda, best of luck with your writing! Do you have another project in the works?

Amanda: I’ve just done revisions on book one of my new mid-grade series called, SOPHIE’S MIXED-UP MAGIC. It’s about a girl who gets turned into a djinn the day before she starts sixth grade. The first book should be out next summer and it looks like book two and three will follow quite quickly.

Amanda Ashby was born in Australia, and has spent the last fifteen years dividing her time between England and New Zealand before finally deciding that to move home. When she's not moving country, she likes to write books (okay, she also likes to eat chocolate, watch television and sit around doing not much, but let's just keep that amongst ourselves, shall we?)
She has a degree in English and Journalism from the University of Queensland and is married with two children. As well as writing, she works part-time at the children/teen desk of her local library, which basically means that someone pays her to talk about books. Her debut book, You Had Me at Halo was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice award, and her first young adult book Zombie Queen of Newbury High was listed by the New York Public Library's Stuff for the Teen Age 2010. Visit her website, www.amandaashby.com.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2011 YA Golden Heart Finalists

Each year Romance Writers of America honors the year’s best romantic fiction, both published and unpublished. The unpublished award is called the Golden Heart, and here are this year’s Young Adult finalists:

• Irresistible by Suzanne Kaufman Kalb
• The Dead Guy Downstairs by Sheri Adkins
• The Lies that Bind by Shelley Coriell
• Maids of Honor by Jennifer Stark w/a Jennifer McGowan
• Piper's Kiss by Sheryl Carpenter
• Secret Life by Bria Quinlan
• Spark by Darcy Woods
• Underhanded by Shoshana Brown

The ceremony is being held in New York at the national conference on July 1st. Neither Kelly nor and I are able to attend, but we send our best to these nominees, and wishing them swift sales so we can read their books!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's Fresh with Jessica Brody's My Life Undecided


Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but I’m sorry, I’m feeling a bit melodramatic at the moment.

Here’s the deal. My name is Brooklyn Pierce, I’m fifteen years old, and I am decisionally challenged. Seriously, I can’t remember the last good decision I made. I can remember plenty of crappy ones though. Including that party I threw when my parents were out of town that accidentally burned down a model home. Yeah, not my finest moment, for sure.

But see, that’s why I started a blog. To enlist readers to make my decisions for me. That’s right. I’m gave up. Threw in the towel. I let someone else be the one to decide which book I read for English. Or whether or not I accepted an invitation to join the debate team from that cute-in-a-dorky-sort-of-way guy who gave me the Heimlich Maneuver in the cafeteria. (Note to self: Chew the melon before swallowing it.) I even let them decide who I dated!

Well, it turns out there are some things in life you simply can’t choose or have chosen for you—like who you fall in love with. And now everything’s more screwed up than ever.

But don’t take my word for it, read the book and decide for yourself. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream in frustration. Or maybe that’s just me. After all, it’s my life.

Hello Jessica, it's great to have you back on YA Fresh! So how did you get the idea for MY LIFE UNDECIDED?

Jessica: This book was definitely one of those “aha!” moments that I hear writers talk about. My husband and I were watching TV, an ad for a reality show came on and I said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a reality show where you could vote on what the characters did. As in, “who they went out with?” or “Whether or not they forgave their backstabbing best friend.” Like American Idol meets The Hills. We both agreed although it would be cool, it wouldn’t be practical from a production standpoint since they shoot those reality shows months before they air. I was not deterred though. I said, “Fine, I’ll write it as a book,” and then marched up the stairs and in ten short minutes, wrote a page-long synopsis for what would become MY LIFE UNDECIDED and sent it to my editor. She wrote back right away saying that she loved it and the book was born!

In MY LIFE UNDECIDED, your main character turns to a blog to enlist the help of others in her decision making. What inspired you to have her look for help in this type of format?

Jessica: I wanted to use a format that represented how teens interact with each other today. And so much interaction (between teens and adults!) these days is online. Kids are growing up on the internet. They’re having experiences there, meeting people there, sharing their live there. Our online “presence” has become part of who we are. In one way it can expose more of ourselves than we ever allowed to be exposed before, and yet in another way, it can make us more anonymous. I liked the contrast of this and I wanted to use it in the book. Brooklyn spills all her secrets to the world, and yet she does it anonymously. Her blog readers are practically living her life for her…without even knowing who she is. It was really fun to explore this in the story.

If you could travel back in time, what time and place would you choose? And if you could take only 3 things with you, what would they be?

Jessica: I would love to travel back to visit the court of Henry VIII. I’m obsessed with Tudor history (even before the TV show started!) I think it’d be fun. All the gossip and intrigue…and dresses! But my big, opinionated mouth would probably land me in the tower for some sort of treason. Which is why I’d probably bring my kindle to keep me entertained in the prison, my favorite pair of sweat pants to stay comfy, and a huge case of veggie sausage…cause they ate a LOT of meat back then and I’m a vegetarian!

Do you have any writing "don'ts" you'd like to share?

Jessica: Not really. I don’t believe there’s one way to do anything. What works for some people might not work for others and vice versa. I guess the only “don’ts” I can think of are: “Don’t stress. Don’t worry.” Failure is inevitable in a job like this. It comes with the territory. But I believe it’s only there to make the successes more meaningful. Remember everything happens for a reason and everything has an opportunity hidden in it somewhere. You just have to find it!

Thank you again for sharing with us, Jessica! I wish you the best with your writing! What’s up next for you?

Jessica: Ooh, I have TONS of fun stuff in the works! Some I can talk about and some I can’t…YET! My next book is called 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER. It will be released in Summer 2012. I just finished all the edits. I’m so excited about this one! It’s about a spoiled teen heiress, famous for her partygirl antics and tabloid headlines, who’s forced by her ever-absent mogul father to take on a different low-wage job every week for a year, if she wants any hope of receiving her trust fund. I had SO much fun writing that one. And it was recently optioned for film! So fingers crossed it actually gets made! How cool would that be?

And right now I’m working on the first book in a new sci-fi trilogy I just sold called UNREMEMBERED. It’s about a sixteen year old girl who wakes up amongst the wreckage of a devastating plane crash with no memories. She's forced to piece together her forgotten past with only one clue to her identity-- a mysterious boy who claims she's not from this time.

A few fun facts about Jessica Brody’s own life undecided:

• Jessica was born in Los Angeles, moved to Colorado when she was twelve, moved back to California after college and now indecisively splits her time between both states.
• Jessica graduated from Smith College in Massachusetts with majors in Economics and French because she was convinced she wanted to be an “important business woman.” After a brief stint as a strategic analyst for MGM Studios, she abandoned her business background to become a full-time writer. Now she uses her mad spreadsheet skills to build complicated outlines for her books.
• Appropriately, when writing this book, Jessica couldn’t decide on a title. So she polled 50 of her closest friends to finally come up with My Life Undecided.

Visit her online at: www.JessicaBrody.com. And coming soon: www.MyLifeUndecided.com, where you can post your own undecided questions, poll the community, and get some answers.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Head's Up on The Mephisto Covenant

I mentioned attending the Romantic Times’ Booklovers Convention in April, and bringing home a mighty haul of novels, many of them YA. Among them was an advanced reader copy of a book called The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Feagan.

Well...over this past weekend, my young adult daughter was browsing through my stack, found it, and disappeared into her room. The next morning she handed it back to me, saying she’d read it into the wee hours of the night because the plot was SO GOOD that she simply couldn’t put it down. She had to find out what was going to happen.

Writer/reviewer that I am, I prompted, “So what you’re saying is that it’s a page turner?” She smiled and said, “Yeah, that’s a great way to describe it!”

The next day I posted a note on the author’s Facebook page--Trinity and I had dinner together at the conference--and invited her to visit us here at YA Fresh for an interview/book giveaway. She heartily agreed. So, look for that visit as the date creeps closer to its September 27th release date. Meanwhile, here’s a peek at the gorgeous cover (and you can read and pre-order at Amazon by clicking on the link).

Monday, June 06, 2011

Our Winner Is...

Thanks to all who entered this weekend's contest to win a signed copy of Christina Mandelski's THE SWEETEST THING. Our randomly drawn winner is:


So Sarah, if you'll kindly e-mail me at admin@tinaferraro.com, we'll make sure THE SWEETEST THING is part of your summer reading!

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Sweetest Thing GIVEAWAY

We welcome author Christina Mandelski to YA Fresh today, to talk about her debut novel,The Sweetest Thing. And be sure to comment to be entered to win a signed copy!

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

Christina: I've wanted to be a published author since I was very young -- I can remember going to the library in third grade and going to the spot on the shelf where my books would someday sit. I was a big journalism geek in middle and high school and then ended up getting a degree in English/Creative Writing. After college it took about ten years before realizing that if I ever wanted a book on a shelf, I'd actually have to finish one. It took another decade to make it happen.

My first sale came about after finding a great agent. Nine months after signing with Upstart Crow Literary, Egmont USA made an offer on my manuscript. It really was a dream come true.

Wonderful! 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.

Christina: I like to start my day getting the busy work out of the way -- I answer emails and take care of any publicity projects that I'm working on. I also update The Sweetest Thing's Facebook page (and peek around to see what's going on -- though I really have to give myself a time limit!). After that, I write. Soon I'll start a brand new manuscript, which I hope to complete (first draft, anyway) by the end of the summer. I do have two daughters, both middle school age, but I still try to get in about 3-4 hours a day, if possible, then spend the rest of the day being a mom.

Please tell us about your novel, THE SWEETEST THING, and what we can expect from your characters.

Christina: The Sweetest Thing is about a 15 year old cake decorating prodigy named Sheridan Wells. Her mother deserted the family years earlier, and Sheridan's fondest wish is to get her mom back to decorate cakes with her in their quaint western Michigan town. Just as she's finding some solid clues about her mother, Sheridan's father, a celebrity chef, announces that he's been offered a reality cooking show and he wants the two of them to move to New York City. So this is Sheridan's attempt to fix her life, with bittersweet results.

I’m looking forward to reading it! What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.

Christina: I've been working on what I'd describe as a Cinderella story with a Faustian twist. Very fun stuff. And I've just had a new idea (that I mentioned above) that I'm hoping I can crank out this summer.

Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Christina: I get this question a lot and I always feel compelled to give the same answer -- the most useful writing advice I've ever gotten is from my mother. Whenever I'd call her complaining about a plot problem or whining about being stuck, she'd say "Oh, Chris, just finish it." It's true -- for years I'd start something and the minute it got hard, I'd quit. But think of it this way -- if you write a story, it may never be published, but if you never finish it, the results are guaranteed. Just. Finish. It. Words to live by. Thanks, Mom!

And now for the book giveaway! Simply leave a comment telling us “a sweet thing” you enjoy. Be it a cupcake flavor, a smile from someone special in your life, a candy bar, a purring kitten...

Check back on Monday to learn the winner!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The Latest from Elizabeth Scott

In case you didn't know, author Elizabeth Scott's latest release, BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER is at a book store near you!

And I can tell you now that the title invokes intrigue and something bittersweet.

Abby accepted that she can't measure up to her beautiful, magnetic sister Tess a long time ago, and knows exactly what she is: Second best. Invisible.

Until the accident.

Now Tess is in a coma, and Abby's life is on hold. It may have been hard living with Tess, but it's nothing compared to living without her.

She's got a plan to bring Tess back though, involving the gorgeous and mysterious Eli, but then Abby learns something about Tess, something that was always there, but that she'd never seen.

Abby is about to find out that truth isn't always what you think it is, and that life holds more than she ever thought it could...

Here's what others are saying about BETWEEN HERE AND FOREVER:

"Compulsively readable, this novel will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman."-- School Library Journal

"The result is an emotionally wrenching exploration of hope, acceptance, and pride, and Scott's messages--that it's quite possible to break your own heart and that everyone deserves love--will resonate strongly with teens navigating their own first romances." -- Booklist

"Scott weaves angst, tragedy, and romance to tell the story of 17-year-old Abby, whose older sister, Tess, is in a coma following a car accident. Depressed, grief-stricken, and self-hating, Abby desperately wants Tess to recover, in large part so that she can get on with her own life. Enter gorgeous hospital worker Eli. When Eli speaks, Abby sees Tess's eyes flutter, so she persuades Eli to visit and speak to Tess regularly...her growth comes across as natural and genuine, as she slowly begins to put her life in perspective. Readers will appreciate that Scott resists a too-perfect, too-neat ending." -- Publishers Weekly

Intrigued as much as I am? Read the first chapter here!