Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mugging for the Camera

Many of our readers known I'm a Facebook Scrabble fan.  Okay, maybe addict!  So how thrilled was I to get a Scrabble mug from my daughter for the holidays?  I have used it every morning since, and maybe best of all, when the cocoa/coffee/tea is finished, the empty mug reveals a triple word score!  

When clean, it now joins our assortment of other "signature mugs," like the ones that have pictures of our kids, our favorite college emblems, or apt little sayings.

I thought I'd shout it out to our YA Fresh readers!  Do you have any favorite mugs in your home, that represent your personality, friends/family, likes and dislikes?  If so, please share!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays!

To all of our celebrating YA Freshers:

Have a safe and happy holiday celebration!!

~Kelly and Tina

Monday, December 17, 2012


Thanks to all who commented on The Starter Boyfriend giveaway, naming characteristics that are important in a boyfriend--starter or otherwise.  We got some terrific feedback, including honesty, humor, loyalty, kindness, understanding...

Now time to shout out two winners!




If you two would contact me at, I will get paperback copies in the mail to you!


Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Starter Boyfriend Giveaway!

In some fun news, my latest release, THE STARTER BOYFRIEND, is now available in paperback, as well as e-book.  Just in time for the holidays!

The paperback version is not currently available in stores, but anyone interested can contact me at for purchase/mailing information.  

I invite all to enter to win one of the two paperback copies I am giving away!  All you need to do is leave a comment stating a characteristic you think is important in a boyfriend--starter or otherwise...

* * * * *

To kick off this celebration, the price of the e-book is now $1.99 (through the month of December only).  It can be purchased through these websites:

Barnes and Noble Nook

* * * * *

Good luck, and check back here Monday the 17th to learn the winners!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

YA Books as Holiday Gifts

One of the things I love most about the holiday season is buying books.  For friends, family--and even myself.  (Almost every year there’s a present at my house whose tag says “For Tina” in my own handwriting.)

I thought it would be fun to mention some great young adult book recommendations. I’ll start with what I consider a holiday classic:

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle:

Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks.

And I’ll add what I’ve already shared with our readers was my favorite YA book of the year:

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Oct. 11th, 1943—A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage and failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

So now it’s your turn.  What are some YA books you’d recommend to give as gifts this year?


Tuesday, December 04, 2012

What's Fresh with Eileen Cook's The Almost Truth

From the author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick, a smart, romantic novel about a teenage con artist who might be in over her head.

Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.

But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose...

Hi Eileen, great to have you back on YA Fresh! Please share with our readers what your YA novel is about.

Eileen: THE ALMOST TRUTH is about Sadie, a teen-age con artist. When she discovers she looks like the age enhanced photo on a missing child poster she decides to pull the ultimate con until she begins to suspect she might be the missing child.

What was the main inspiration for this book?

Eileen: Most often book ideas come to me as a collection of unrelated things. A bit of an idea here, another piece there, until it sticks together as one idea. This process can take months or years. This is one of the few books where I can remember the exact second I had the idea. I was on the ferry and saw a missing child poster. At the bottom there was an age-enhanced photo so you could see what the person might look like now. I had the thought "How weird would it be if I looked like the age enhanced photo?" In that instant the idea of the book dropped into my head. I ran back to my seat and wrote it down as fast as I could. I spent another week thinking over some different details, but I started writing almost right away.

What are you working on for us next?

Eileen: I am working on a new YA which is currently being called LOST TO BE FOUND, but stay tuned the title may change. It’s about a girl named Avery who decides to search for her birth mom as part of her senior project, but ends up finding out more about herself.

Please share your perfect writing day.

Eileen: The perfect writing day would mean writing in a house near the ocean. There’s something about water that I love. I’d write during the day without a single beating my head on the desk moment, and spend the evening reading by the fire.

Thanks again for sharing, Eileen, good luck with your writing! Let's close with what popular writing advice do you never follow?

Eileen: Write what you know. For me part of the fun is learning something I don’t already know.

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in six different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her latest release, Unraveling Isobel came out in Jan 2012. You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's Fresh with Iva-Marie Palmer!

We welcome Iva-Marie Palmer to YA Fresh today, to talk to us about writing and her young adult novel, The End of the World As We Know It.  

Hi, Iva-Marie!  Tell us about your novel!

The End of the World As We Know It is the story of four teenagers – not friends – who get locked in a basement together during the biggest party of the year. As if that’s not already ripe territory for a disastrous, anxiety-ridden evening, aliens attack their Midwestern suburb and they are the party’s only survivors – and the only people around for miles. They take it on themselves to find out what’s going on and maybe save the world.

Sounds great!  Now, please share your typical writing day schedule.

Nothing is as typical as I want it to be, because I’m balancing writing with a day job and a toddler and all the other fun facts of grown-up life.

But when I’m really cranking on a project, or am working toward a tight deadline, I have to make time in whatever parcels of the day are available to me. My most reliable habit is that I get up early, around 5:30 a.m. most days to write.  I love writing in the early morning, because everything is quiet. Not just the house and the world, but my mind. If I don’t get the morning writing in, then I go to work or go about my day and, by evening, there’s a good chance all of the day’s stressors and anxieties have worn me down or are crowding up the creative parts of my brain. So, I like getting something down at dawn.

Tell us about another project in the works.

I have a few things spinning in my crazy brain, and I know I need to pick one soon. I think what’s calling to me most is another humorous YA, in which a ‘90s-obsessed music store clerk has to fend off a corporate takeover of her beloved but dilapidated mall. I have a lot written but I’m reworking some aspects. Does “All’s fair in love and retail” work as a tagline?

Sure does!  In closing could you please share a writing tip?

Being a writer is writing. So write, already! I think there are some great things about the internet for writers, like so much research at your fingertips, not to mention all the book blogs (and being featured on them. Thank you, YA Fresh!), plus Facebook and Twitter, etc., for connecting with fans or potential readers. But I also think all this technology has made it harder to just write. 

Thanks for visiting with us, Iva-Marie, and we wish you wonderful things with your book!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shout Out Your E-Published YA Titles!

It's Black Friday at YA Fresh!  To celebrate all weekend, we’d like to encourage our author friends to share with us in the comments the title (and perhaps brief description and links) of young adult novels that they have had exclusively e-published, either through self-publishing or small, independent publishers.  

And for those of our readers doing some book shopping on-line this weekend, well, check them out! 

I will start...

For those of you who don’t know, I have a new release:  THE STARTER BOYFRIEND is about a 17 year-old girl who turns her attentions towards a tuxedo mannequin when real life--friends, family and a surfer boy--become too much to handle. 

It is available through Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Smashwords.

Okay, so who's next?

Monday, November 19, 2012

This Time of Year

It's nearly Thanksgiving in the US, and I can admit the fall and winter holidays are my favorite time of the year. The holidays brings up memories of family get-togethers, lots of good food, and tasty treats as a child.

Families change and grow in different ways. As of a couple of years ago, Thanksgiving has fallen upon me to host!

It does add a little pressure to make everything just right since I'm still pretty fresh in the hosting department! However, I've learned to take that extra breath when things get stressful and believing everything will turn out just fine. Maybe not perfect, but being together with your family, and enjoying the special day, and truly being thankful for all that you have are what matters most.

I hope for those of you who celebrate Thanksgiving that you have someone to share it with and are able to express what you are thankful for on Thursday's special day. And a special shout out to the families on the East Coast who are struggling with their loss of homes and more due to Sandy, YA Fresh is sending our best to you and your families.


Wednesday, November 07, 2012

New Release: The Starter Boyfriend

I am excited to announce my new young adult contemporary release in e-book!  

The Starter Boyfriend
a young adult contemporary
by Tina Ferraro

17 year-old Courtney is completely stressed. 
There's the rift with her softball teammates, homework, housework, 
her part-time job at the tux shop, her dad’s upcoming wedding...enough! 
Would it be too much to ask for someone special in her life, 
a boyfriend she could talk to, count on, even lean on a little?

The best she’s got is a blue-eyed surfer boy who seems to save his 
biggest moves for his board, 
and a “friend date” to Homecoming with a guy still in love with his ex. 
Oh, and then there’s the tuxedo mannequin in the shop window, 
who happens to be reliable and an amazing listener.

When the mannequin gets stolen in a senior prank, 
Courtney finds herself in a midnight pursuit along beach boulevards, 
trying to save more than the mannequin, but the job she’s come to love. 
After turning to the unlikeliest of people for help, and finding that surfer boy is 
as resourceful as he is good-looking, her load begins to lighten. 
In fact, she soon might find not only what she needs, 
but what she wants, too.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, including the critiquing "fairy dust" of our own Kelly Parra!  And special thanks to the readers who kept asking me when I'd have something new out! 

Check it out here at Amazon Kindle, and here at Smashwords. Also available at Barnes and Noble Nook.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Vote Today!

It's Election Day in the US, YA Freshers! 

 Your voice matters! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Strolling Down Memory Lane in an Unworn Prom Dress

Before I start my blog post today, I want to send out Kelly’s and my best 
to all on the east coast who are dealing with superstorm Sandy!    
Details of the devastation are still emerging, but
so glad the worst is over for some of you, and to the rest, keep safe!  

Back in December of 2008, Random House released the electronic version of my first book with them, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress. 

Here’s the cover and back blurb:

 Sophomore year, Nicolette Antonovich was dumped two days before prom 
by the hottest guy at school. As a result, she became the proud owner
 of one unworn, perfectly magical pink vintage dress. 
But Nic is determined to put that night behind her for good. 
She's a junior now— older, wiser, 
and completely overwhelmed by a new set of problems: 
(1) The bank's ready to foreclose on her childhood home. 
(2) Her father's too busy with his "replacement" daughter to care. 
(3) Her best friend's brother is an eternal thorn in her side. 
(4) Her best friend isn't exactly the rose attached to that thorn.
 (5) Rumors are flying around school that could get her 
kicked off the volleyball team, which would 
(6) ruin all chances of a college scholarship. 
(7) She still likes the boy who dumped her in the first place.
 (8) And what in the world do you do with an unworn prom dress, anyway? 
Strangely, it's getting to the bottom of this last dilemma 
that just might hold the answer to all Nic's problems.

Upon e-publication, I immediately bought a Kindle and downloaded the book--although I admit I didn’t actually read it.  I’d spent plenty of time writing it, revising it, and editing it for paper publication, and, well, I had other pressing interests.

But this past weekend, while getting ready to **spoiler alert** announce a brand new book about to be released in e-book form, I fired up my Kindle and went back to the fictional Thurman Oaks, California, to spend time with some of my favorite old friends. 

And what a surreal experience it was!  It was walk down memory lane for me not only with these characters, but from my real life, as well, as I remembered conversations and suggestions with my wonderful critique partner/blog partner, Kelly Parra, and fabulous editor, Krista Marino.  I was able to be more subjective about the story, to see why I had received such nice compliments about it being “compulsively re-readable” and the fan mail wanting to know if Nicolette and Jared stayed together forever.  (I don’t know for sure...but I really think they do!)

Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress is still available e-book form  (and to my delight, still being downloaded with regularity), so if you’re looking for a looking for a light young adult romance with “an interesting plot, funny dialogue and situations, and an engaging lead character” (Library School Journal), you can check it out here:

And be sure to check back early next month to learn all about my next release, The Starter Boyfriend!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hello from other sites!

Since publishing has began to change with digital books, not only have publishers, agents, and readers had to adjust, so have authors.

It was a little bit easier when you always had a physically book in your hand to offer to a reader or be able to sign a book. A couple of years ago I had my first ebook only release and I was sort of at a loss on how to share and promote!

One thing I hope to grow and continue is chatting with friends and readers on-line. So I just wanted to please invite our YA Fresh friends (who haven't already) to join our other on-line social sites. We'd love to connect with you in other ways as well as on the blog.

So feel free to check out our pages and say hello so we can chat!

Kelly on Facebook
Kelly on Twitter
Kelly on Goodreads

Tina on Facebook
Tina on Twitter
Tina on goodreads

Thanks and hope to "see you" around cyberspace!

Monday, October 15, 2012

What's Fresh with Foretold!

I mentioned previously that I loaded my Kindle with YA novels before leaving for my European trip...and then found myself so busy sightseeing and visiting that I didn’t get around to reading many. No harm--I’ll get to them all eventually.

I thought I’d share with our readers a book I did read and particularly liked, Foretold, a compilation of short stories written by fourteen noted YA authors (including Heather Brewer, Meg Cabot, Matt de la Pena, Simone Elkeles and Lisa McMann, all of whom have been featured here), and edited by Carrie Ryan. 

Have you ever been tempted to look into the future? 
To challenge predictions? To question fate?
It’s human nature to wonder about life’s twists and turns. 
But is the future already written—or do you have the power to alter it?
From fantastical prophecies to predictions of how the future will transpire, 
Foretold is a collection of stories about our universal fascination with life’s 
unknowns and of what is yet to come as interpreted
 by 14 of young adult fiction’s brightest stars.

The stories vary between world-building paranormals, fairy tales and contemporaries, and are all very good.  One that has stayed with me was “Improbable Futures” by Kami Garcia, about a young fortune teller in a traveling carnival who gets her kicks by casting bad fortunes...and then some start to come true.

Incidentally, it was with a nod to our own Kelly Parra that I downloaded this book, in that I so enjoyed the two paranormal YA anthologies that she’s contributed to, Something Wicked and Prom Dates to Die For, that I went looking for more.  Check them all out! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What's Fresh with Elena Perez's The Art of Disappearing

Delia can see the future…but can she change it?

All Delia wants is to be popular. She has the perfect plan: join the cheerleading squad with her best friend, Ava, and rule the school from the coolest table in the cafeteria. But everything changes the day she watches a boy die—before it actually happens.

After dreaming about a classmate’s demise, she’s shocked when she witnesses his last breath—just like she dreamt it. Ava insists Delia stop acting so strange, but Delia worries her abilities are beyond her control.

Torn between who she is and who she wants to be, Delia wishes she could simply disappear. She doesn’t get her wish, but when someone close to her vanishes, Delia must use her gift to solve the mystery, before it’s too late.

Hello Elena, thanks so much for sharing with YA Fresh! Please tell us about your novel The Art of Disappearing.

Elena: The Art of Disappearing tells the story of Delia Dark, a teenager whose plan to be the second most popular girl in school is derailed by a seemingly psychic event. As Delia struggles to understand whether or not she's psychic or just plain crazy, her relationships with her friends and family unravel. So, much of the story is about Delia rebuilding her life and figuring out who she wants to be. And the tension is heightened by a mysterious dream that suggests another terrible something is going to happen.

I was inspired by those real-life moments when you feel like you might have had a psychic experience but, of course, logic assures you otherwise so you tuck the moment away. I wanted to explore what happens when you absolutely can't tuck that moment away, and specifically for a teen who was already faced with the normal-but-overbearing challenges of finding herself. The result is a coming of age story with paranormal themes, mystery and lots of wonderful angst.

Launched this summer with Alloy Entertainment (Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants), The Art of Disappearing is currently available as an e-book for Kindle and Nook. It's my debut novel and the entire process has been so much fun.

Sounds terrific! 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.

Elena: I write best in the wee hours of the morning, because I'm one of those morning people you're heard about and because it's literally "found" time; when I'm up at 5:30am, the world (even the internet) is relatively quiet and it's easier for me to get into the zone. I do most of my writing on weekends because I also work full-time. Saturdays typically start out at my desk in my Lower East Side (NY) apartment, but eventually I stick my laptop in a bag and find other places to write - a local cafe, a park, another cafe, the library, another park. When I smash into a creative wall or find myself too easily distracted by my browser, a walk and a change of scenery usually gets me back on track.

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

Elena: Yes, there are projects in the works. Right now I'm focused on another young adult novel, this time with a slightly older protagonist. It's far too early for me to say very much, but I will share that it's delightfully creepy and will appeal to those who connected with the tone of The Art of Disappearing. I can't wait to tell you more.

Thanks again for visiting, Elena! Would you like to close with a writing tip?

Elena: Thank you for inviting me to YA Fresh! I'll close with the writing tip I give myself every time I hit the keyboard: Just.Keep.Writing. That's the fundamental difference between being a writer and not being a writer. Especially when your just starting a new project, it's imperative to get words down on paper (er, well, on screen). You can delete the weak stuff later, and you probably will, but if you're not putting words down then there's nothing to improve upon next time.

Elena Perez is the author of The Art of Disappearing, the eerily exciting debut novel about a teen whose life is turned upside down by a seemingly psychic event. Born and raised in New Jersey, Elena majored in English as an undergrad and was then awarded a graduate fellowship in Creative Writing from Temple University. Elena lives in NYC’s Lower East Side with her boyfriend and dog. She is currently at work on her next novel and welcomes distractions at @elenabooks. Learn more about Elena and find links to purchase The Art of Disappearing at

Sunday, October 07, 2012

I am back!

As many of our readers know, my husband and I slipped away to Europe for several weeks last month.  We got back a few days ago, and after several crazy nights where I kept waking up at 2 am, hungry and alert, I think I’ve settled back into a normal routine.

Thanks to Kelly for manning the YA Fresh fort on her own for so long!

I am sorry to report that I didn't get nearly as much reading time on my vacation as I expected.  But for good reasons--I was often too busy sightseeing, visiting with people, or hunting down WiFi in piazzas and trattatorias to check my e-mails and Facebook page...

I will be back later this week to talk about the YA novels I did read.  In the meantime, here’s a photo from the day my we spent in Venice.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

What's Fresh with Gretchen McNeil's TEN

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives—three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, which involve their school's most eligible bachelor, T. J. Fletcher, and look forward to three glorious days of boys, bonding, and fun-filled luxury. But what they expect is definitely not what they get, and what starts out as fun turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. Suddenly, people are dying, and with a storm raging outside, the teens are cut off from the rest of the world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn't scheduled to return for three days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

Hello, Gretchen, welcome to YA Fresh! Please give us one sentence describing your novel TEN:

Gretchen: TEN is an easy pitch: Ten teens trapped on an island with a serial killer.

What inspired you to write this book?

Gretchen: My publisher wanted another horror/suspense novel from me after POSSESS and I wanted to do a throwback to the old Christopher Pike and Agatha Christie novels I loved as a teen. Voila!

What’s been your favorite author moment so far in your career?

Gretchen: Christopher Pike read, loved and blurbed TEN, then called me on the phone the day TEN released. Yeah, it doesn't get any better than that!

Wow, awesome! What are you working on next?

Gretchen: My next book is called 3:59 and comes out Fall 2013. It's sci-fi horror about two girls who are the same girl in different dimensions, who discover that their worlds connect every twelve hours – at 3:59 – for one minute. When they decide to switch places for a day, all hell breaks loose. Literally.

After that I just sold a two book series, also to Balzer + Bray, for 2014 and 2015. GET EVEN and GET DIRTY are books one and two in the Don't Get Mad series about four very different girls who have formed a secret revenge society, getting back at bullies and mean girls who have terrorized their classmates, which all goes well until one of their targets turns up dead and the society is implicated in the death.

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing with us, Gretchen. Best of luck with your writing career!

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror POSSESS debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011. Her follow up TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – will be released September 18, 2012, and her third novel 3:59, sci fi doppelganger horror is scheduled for Fall 2013. Gretchen's new YA contemporary series Don't Get Mad (Revenge meets The Breakfast Club) begins Fall 2014 with GET EVEN, followed by the sequel GET DIRTY in 2015, also with Bazler + Bray. Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. Gretchen blogs with The Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as "Monday." Visit her website,

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Giveaway Alert!

Hey YA Freshers, just a heads up I'm giving away two YA anthologies on my blog! Head on over and post a comment to be entered to win PROM DATES TO DIE FOR and SOMETHING WICKED. Contest closes October 12th!!

Monday, October 01, 2012

The Something Wicked Blog Tour + Contests!

Hey YA Freshers! It's October 1st and it's time to get into gear for creepy, wicked short stories for Halloween! I'm excited to share with you a young adult paranormal anthology that is perfect to get you into a spooky mood.

"Mesmerizing and eerie. Tales to keep you reading late into the dark night." - Tara Hudson, author of HEREAFTER and ARISE

Sometimes, they aren't costumes. They’re baaaack.

More nightmares brought to you by the authors of Prom Dates to Die For...

Beware the Midnight Troll on your late-night stroll by Mari Hestekin. Swim at your own risk Under Loch and Cay by Jenny Peterson. A curse of spiders on campus means Arach War by Lena Brown.Through a Glass Darkly one could lose a soul by Heather Dearly. Supernatural Hunters turn to the sea in Mermania by Kelly Parra. Social media goes to the ghouls in Spectral Media by Aaron Smith.Paranormal fun for tween, teens and adults!

Snag your copy in print from Amazon or Buzz Books. Or your ebook copy from Amazon or B & N.

So let me tell you about all the good stuff you can enter to win! Buzz Books is offering up the ultimate SOMETHING WICKED PARTY PACK from 10/1 - 10/7. Here's what you have to do:

Purchase Something Wicked in paperback or ebook on Amazon, the Buzz store or B&N and send us the receipt and you’ll be registered to win a cool party pack that includes a Monster High Laguna Blue doll (two of our SW stories have to do with the water), BOOgo (it’s themed Bingo), pin the nose on the pumpkin, and more. And then you get EXTRA entries by commenting on our author blogs. Find out more about the contest on our official contest page.

Also the authors are rocking the Trick or Treat Blog Tour from 10/1 to 10/6. This is where the authors get to share a Trick or a Treat. Be sure to follow and find out what's in store for readers.

Here’s the schedule:

Monday: Heather Dearly blogging at Book End Babes
Tues: Kelly Parra
Wed: Mari Hestekin
Thurs. Jenny Peterson
Friday: Malena Lott (aka Lena Brown)
Saturday: Aaron Smith

But that's not all... Buzz Books will be continuing with the contests all month. Just keep tabs on the BB website.

Thanks and happy reading!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Great YA Lit Chat

Just a quick post to share an interesting YALITCHAT thread on twitter last night. The chat was on MEN/BOYS of Young adult and Middle Grade lit. The men who write the books, the boys who are in the books, and who are our fave male POV writers.

If you missed it you can search the hashtag #yalitchat and read the great conversation.

I had a great interest in it as my son is a middle grader and what I call a reluctant reader. I was looking for books he may be interested in and this thread was a great help.

Check it out when you have some free time!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Author Round-Up: What’s Cooking in the High School Caf?

I came upon a recipe recently that sounded suspiciously like the fantastic peanut butter cookie bars I used to buy in my high school cafeteria.  I ran out and bought all the ingredients and baked it up.  While the bars came out pretty tasty, they still weren’t “it.” Back to the lifelong drawing board...

But it got me to thinking about high school some, like my husband’s, were manned by local moms and provided memorable culinary experiences, or mine, your basic pre-fab offerings, with some gems still shining through all these years later.

I thought it would be fun to ask some of our YA Fresh author friends to share the memories of their high school cafeteria fare.  What say you, authors? 

Kelly Parra, author of Graffiti Girl and Invisible Touch:

High school food...I remember Domino's Pizza and Subway carts. Haha! My fave at school was the Subway cart for a turkey sub with chips. And of course, there were bagels and frozen burritos.

Josh  Berk, author of
Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator:

I had “first lunch” which began at 10:43. Hmm, do I remember the precise time all these years later because it was wonderful or traumatic? Mostly traumatic. Typically gross mystery-meat school lunch type stuff. But I did sure love the taco salad. Nothing nice a like taco salad at 10:43am. Mmmmm.

Stephanie Hale, author of The Alpha Bet and the Aspen Brooks series:

In high school I somehow survived on a little bag of BBQ chips and a carton of chocolate milk every SINGLE day. I'm not even kidding.

Trinity Faegan, author of The Manifesto Covenant:

It's been, uh, a few years since high school, but I remember...wait for it...corn dogs! They were sublime. I honestly think they made them from scratch - crispy and delicious. The number one very best thing they made, however, were rolls. I still remember sitting through morning classes with the scent of yeasty bread baking. They sold those fluffy, warm, amazing rolls for 5 cents each and a lot of us would buy 3-4 rolls and that's what we had for lunch. So healthy! Ha! The worst thing they made was chicken pot pie. That was some scary stuff on a crust.

Janie Emaus, author of Mercury in Retro Love:

I honestly can't remember ever eating in the cafeteria. I always brought my food.  Usually the same thing every day.  Salami on rye with mustard.   And would actually get jealous of those who did get to eat there.  I associated eating in the cafeteria with the  "popular girls."  I guess that's why I like to go out to eat these days! 

Amanda Ashby, author of the Sophie's Mixed Up Magic series:

I grew up in Australia and always got so jealous watching American movies and their cafeterias because at my school all we had was a tuck shop, which was a hole in the wall and it was run the PTA. It mainly sold sandwiches, rolls, meat pies and sausage rolls as well as things like chips, ice-blocks, cookies, cream buns and fruit. There were no vending machines and definitely nothing like chocolate or candy or sodas available.  One item that I really liked were the buttered pikelets (do you get pikelets in the US? If not, they are like a smaller version of a pancake). Though now I think about it, they always gave me indigestion but that didn't seem to stop me from buying them!

Thanks, authors, for your recollections!  And if any of our readers would like to jump in with memories of their high school caf experiences--or the ones they are still having today--we’d love to hear from you!  

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

What's Fresh with Ann Finnin's The Sorcerer of Saint Felice!

At the Romance Writers of America conference last month, I got the chance to chat with debut Flux author Ann Finnin.  She agreed to be in our "hot seat" today, to chat with us about her young adult novel and her writing career. 
Hello, Ann!  Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale? 

I started writing when I was eleven and I wrote all through high school and college.  When I had to drop out of graduate school, I knew that I had to make a decision about what I really wanted to do with my life.  The answer was: more than anything else in the world, I wanted to be an author. Easier said than done, of course.  I wrote novel after novel that almost sold but didn’t.  The years went by and still nothing.  I kept writing, submitting, getting rejected, rinse and repeat, over and over again. 

Then, the Harry Potter series came out.  I had written a manuscript that was basically a medieval version of Harry Potter.  My agent had tried to market it as a fantasy, but since the protagonist was only 15, it didn’t sell.  All of a sudden, everybody wanted teenage wizard stories.  So, I sent it to Flux.  

Again, nothing happened for six months.  Then, I talked to a friend who had recently become an agent.  I asked her if she knew anybody at Flux and if she could make a phone call or two to find out what had happened to my submission.  She found out that Flux had a new acquisitions editor that loved the premise and wanted it ASAP.  Two months later I signed the contract for The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice

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 really don’t have a “typical” writing day.  I have a full time job, so it all depends on what else is going on at work that day.  I’m a technical writer so work is sporadic.  I can usually write on a lunch hour.  But if it’s a slow day, I can work on a novel for an hour or two without too much of a problem.  

I’ve learned to write in small one-hour sessions.  If all of a sudden I have a couple of hours to kill before a meeting or review session, I take out my latest novel and work on it for awhile.  Sometimes, I’ll write in the evening or I’ll take a Saturday afternoon and go to Starbucks for a couple of hours.  Maybe one day I’ll actually be able to afford to write full time, but that day hasn’t happened yet.  So, this method works for the time being.
Please tell us about your novel, The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice, and what we can expect from your characters.

The Sorcerer of Sainte Felice takes place in the year 1480 in Orleans, France.  15 year-old Michael de Lorraine has run away from home in order to study magic.  However, he finds himself being burned at the stake for sorcery.  He thinks he’s a goner until he is rescued by the charismatic abbot of a nearby Benedictine monastery.  

Michael doesn’t want to stay at the monastery until he discovers that the abbot is actually a notorious sorcerer known as Seratois and that the five monks that inhabit the monastery are all alchemists, herbalists, astrologers and seers.  Michael eventually takes his vows as a Benedictine novice, becomes the abbot’s apprentice and learns the abbot’s secret method of conjuring angels. The monks make a wine using the alchemical process of distillation and mix in certain secret herbs that cures what ails you and cause angels to sing.  It becomes very popular among the local nobility.  But soon, the Grand Inquisitor comes to call.  He has discovered the abbot’s real identity and drags him from the monastery in chains.  Only Michael knows the abbot’s magical techniques.  But has he learned enough to save his mentor from being burned at the stake?

This is a classic sorcerer’s apprentice story, but with a twist.  I’ve set it in an actual time and place with a couple of historical characters (like the French king) thrown in for good measure.  All of the magic that the abbot and the other monks perform is historically accurate and documented.  In many cases, it’s the same magic that Rowling uses in her books.  I just put it back into the cultural context in which it was originally practiced.
It’s Harry Potter – only real.

What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
The next project is a teen witch book called Moon Spell.  It’s a contemporary story about a 16-year-old girl who is studying witchcraft with her best friend.  Her friend performs a love spell that goes horribly wrong, causing the hero to be trapped in the fairy realms until the heroine finds a way to free him.  But the story takes place in an ordinary suburban setting in an ordinary high school.  The heroine not only has to deal with the world of magic, she has to still study ordinary subjects in school and live with her geek father and born-again Christian mother.  Again, I’ve tried to set a magical story in a real world setting to show how a real wannabe wizard or witch has to ‘walk between the worlds’ and live in both the mundane world and the magical realms at the same time.  After all, not everybody can go to Hogwarts. 

Would you like to close with a writing tip?
Never give up.  Never, ever.  Believe in your story.  Today’s rejected manuscript sometimes becomes tomorrow’s best seller.  And don’t pay too much attention to the people who will tell you that such-and-such a story won’t sell.  Maybe it won’t sell today, but in a few years it could be the Next Big Thing.  I’ve ruined a lot of stories over the years by listening to people who are “in the know’”telling me that you can’t have certain things in a novel because editors won’t buy it.  Work on your craft (characterization, voice, pacing, plot, etc.) and tell a good story.  It will find a market eventually.  Hopefully, you won’t have to wait thirty years like I did. 

Your perseverance is inspiring, Ann, and your book sounds terrific!  Thanks for visiting with us!  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Quick cover peek!

Hey YA Freshers!

Just wanted to give you a sneak peek of the cover for a YA anthology coming up in October...six authors are sharing six creepy, spooky young adult short stories in Buzz Books's SOMETHING WICKED!

Cool cover, huh? I'm excited to have one of my stories included. So if you're a book reviewer, interested in book club party, or just love wicked stories, keep tabs on the Something Wicked page at BB or the facebook page for news and fun prizes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Help Me Load My Kindle!

I know it's not prudent to own up to an extended vacation on the internet, but since we're among friends here--and my house will be anything BUT empty and vulnerable--I feel free to admit it:  my husband and I are off to Europe for three weeks next month! 

I hope to post pictures, maybe during the trip, but certainly after. 

At this stage of planning, my mind is running to--what else?--young adult novels, and all the quality reading time I'll have for them.  I am bringing mostly e-reads for weight convenience, but have some paperbacks, too, targeted for electronically banned airplane moments and time on the Adriatic shore. 

Here's the YA paperback in my stash, a lovely book  I've had for ages and always meant to read:

And these three are sitting, ready-and-waiting on my Kindle:

I'm excited about all of them, and love to add one or two more to my e-reader.  Please call out any favorites you think I would enjoy!