Monday, January 30, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing?

As I have mentioned here, I've been reading a lot lately, and making an effort to vary my choices. In fact, last summer, I intentionally read books I would have normally passed by for one reason or another, just to "shake things up," and really reaped the benefits by discovering terrific books and new authors.

But the problem is I am finding that the more I read, the more I want to. Which means I keep picking up books and starting them--before I've finished the one(s) I am reading. Like right now, for instance, I am 3/4 of the way into a book of newspaper columnist's reflections, 1/4 into a fiction novel, and while they are both very captivating, yesterday I found myself reading the prologue to Libba Bray's BEAUTY QUEEN, and thinking "I'll just read a couple chapters" before going to back to the other books.

Sheesh! I am starting to think this is too much of a good thing...that I need to slow down and read one at a time!

So I thought I'd toss this out to our YA Fresh readers: do you find yourself reading multiple books, too, or are you a one-at-a-time reader?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Don't Breathe a Word: the Words Have Power video!

Have you heard about young adult author Holly Cupala's newest release, Don't Breathe a Word?

Here is the book blurb:

Joy Delamere is suffocating.

From asthma, from her parents, and from her boyfriend, Asher, who is smothering her from the inside out. She can take his cruel words, his tender words . . . until the night they go too far.

To escape, Joy sacrifices her suburban life to find the one who offered his help, a homeless boy called Creed. He introduces her to a world of fierce loyalty, to its rules of survival, and to love­a world she won’t easily let go.

Set against the backdrop of the streets of Seattle, Holly Cupala’s power­ful new novel explores the subtleties of abuse, the secrets we keep, and the ways to redemption. But above all, it is an unflinching story about the extraordinary lengths one girl will go to discover her own strength.

Holly put together a video to celebrate the power of words, and invited some young adult authors to make cameo appearances, including Justina Chen, Melissa Walker, Stephanie Kuehnert, Sarah Stevenson, Denise Jaden, Lish McBride, Lisa Schroeder, Cynthia Jaynes, Tara Kelly, Joelle Anthony, Stasia Ward Kehoe, Janet S. Fox, Tina Ferraro (yes, me), and Janet Lee Carey.

I hope you enjoy the video, and that you pick up your own copy of Don't Breathe a Word!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What's Fresh with Lucienne Diver's Fangtastic!

What do you wear to face down a cadre of killer kids?

Gina Covello would rather be working on her manicure than missions for the Feds’ paranormal unit to which she’s been recruited. That changes when a group of killer kids takes out a family in the sunshine state and disappearances begin to plague the lifestylers who only play at the kind of existence our fanged fashionista leads. She and her crew are sent undercover into the vampire clubs…which turn out to be run by real vampires. While Gina’s BFF Marcy hangs with the steampunk-styled Burgess Brigade that seems to have spawned the killer kids, Gina herself is supposed to get in good with the fanged fiends behind the scenes, even to the point of playing double-agent, offering to hand over her powerful boyfriend Bobby. Her playacting threatens to become a bit too real when she discovers things about her spy handlers that make her wonder whether she’s truly on the right side of the battle between Feds and fangs.

Hello Lucienne! Thank you for visiting us again on YA Fresh. How did you come up with the idea for Fangtastic? What kind of research did you have to do to bring Gina to life on the page?

Lucienne: The good thing about writing a heroine who’s an eighteen year old girl is that I was once an eighteen year old girl. (We won’t go into how long ago that was!) That’s pretty much where our similarities end. Gina is a fanged fashionista, who only “survived” her senior prom because of a make-out session with the surprise hottie of the evening…the class chess champed who’d recently been vamped himself. I can’t claim any firsthand knowledge of such things, but I have been to a few proms in my time.

My research mostly involves locations. Fangtastic is set in Florida, where I now live, but I made a fieldtrip to a club very similar to The Tower where the vampire lifestylers meet. I also interviewed a friend of mine who is an integral part of the New England vampire community to find out a lot of what I needed to know about the philosophy, beliefs and terminology. It was really fascinating! (My husband and I met working at a haunted house, so we have many friends in unusual fields to draw on. Some have appeared on shows like Face Off and Oddities.)

At age eight, what did you want to be when you grew up? And at age eighteen? And while you’re at it, what about at age twenty-eight?

Lucienne: I’m not sure what I wanted to be at eight. Did I still want to be a cryptozoologist? Yeah, I think I did. I wanted to discover some truth behind the Loch Ness Monster, chupacabra, big foot and all those legends. I wanted them to be real, for the world to be bigger than it seemed so that there were still secrets to be revealed. I don’t think that’s changed. At eighteen, I couldn’t quite believe in Nessie any more. I wanted to be an anthropologist, learning about ancient cultures, because piecing things together through artifacts and linguistics is like gathering clues to a mystery, like solving for secrets. I also wanted to be a writer, which is why my college degree shows double majors. And twenty-eight…you mean at my (*cough*) current age? Now I write books with elements of all of the above…magic and mystery, secrets and solutions. I describe my Vamped series as Legally Blond meets Buffy. You’ve got a snarky, fanged, fashion-conscious protagonist against sometimes pretty dark things that she’s got to get to the bottom of. I love the juxtaposition of light and dark.

What is your worst writing distraction/procrastination tool?

Lucienne: My puppy! I have an adorable apricot colored cockapoo (a cocker spaniel/poodle mix) who thinks that if anything is going to be in my lap, it should be him. He’s been known to push my notebook aside to settle in or to fall asleep on my Kindle to keep my attention focused where he thinks it should be. If it isn’t that, it’s that he must go for a walk or play fetch or…. Yeah, there’s a good reason I write on that dock. It’s the only way I can get anything done!

Please describe your perfect writing day.

Lucienne: I’m in one of the Adirondack chairs at the dock early in the day, when it’s still cool. (I live in Florida.) An iced latte is by my elbow, the breeze is blowing, though not too hard, and the pen in hand is smooth and full of ink. Heaven. It doesn’t take much.

Thank you again, Lucienne! Would you like to close with what you are working on now?

Lucienne: I’ve turned in the fourth novel in the Vamped series, Fangtabulous, which will be out in January 2013. I’m now working on Crazy in the Blood, which is the sequel to Bad Blood, the first novel in my Latter-Day Olympians urban fantasy series in which Tori Karacis, a private investigator, finds out that her family tales are true and that the Greek gods do still walk the earth (Apollo as a film star, Hephaestus as a special effects artist, etc.). Her family line may even trace back to them. Unlike her gorgon ancestress, she can’t quite turn men to stone, but as for stopping them in their tracks...

Lucienne Diver is the author of the popular Vamped series of young adult novels (think Clueless meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer). School Library Journal calls the first book, “a lighthearted, action-packed, vampire romance story following in the vein of Julie Kenner’s “Good Ghouls” (Berkley), Marlene Perez’s “Dead” (Harcourt), and Rachel Caine’s “The Morganville Vampires” (Signet) series.” VOYA has suggested that the books “will attract even reluctant readers.” Her short stories have been included in the Strip-Mauled and Fangs for the Mammaries anthologies edited by Esther Friesner (Baen Books), and one of her essays appears in the anthology Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen). Visit her website

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's Fresh with Eileen Cook's Unraveling Isobel

A darkly comic novel that blends paranormal mystery and romance with humor, from the author of The Eductation of Hailey Kendrick and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood.

Hello, Eileen! Great to have you back with us. Please tell us about your latest novel Unraveling Isobel and what we can expect from your characters.

Eileen: Unraveling Isobel comes out January 3, 2012 and is published by Simon Pulse.

Isobel’s life is falling apart. Her mom just married some guy she met on the internet only three months before, and is moving them to his sprawling, gothic mansion off the coast of nowhere. Goodbye, best friend. Goodbye, social life. Hello, icky new stepfather, crunchy granola town, and unbelievably good-looking, officially off-limits stepbrother.

But on her first night in her new home, Isobel starts to fear that it isn’t only her life that’s unraveling—her sanity might be giving way too. Because either Isobel is losing her mind, just like her artist father did before her, or she’s seeing ghosts. Either way, Isobel’s fast on her way to being the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.

What's up next for you?

Eileen: I am working on a book that we’re currently calling Shady Sadie (stay tuned I suspect the title will change!). It’s the story of Sadie, who is a teenage con artist. When she realizes that she looks like an age enhanced photo of a missing child she decides to pull the ultimate con… until she begins to suspect she may actually be the missing child.

Wow, that sounds terrific! Thanks again for sharing with us, Eileen, would you like to close with a writing tip?

Eileen: Read! I am a big believer that the best writing teacher is other books. If it’s a book you love, try figuring out how the author did it, what made the book so interesting for you? Even if it is a book you disliked, there’s still a lot to learn- why did you dislike it? How can you avoid doing that in your writing?

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, The Education of Hailey Kendrick came out in Jan 2011

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.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Our Winner...

The winner of our weekend giveaway prize, a signed copy of WHEREVER YOU GO by Heather Davis is...


Lisa, please contact me at so we can get the book in the mail to you!

Thanks to all who entered, and keep checking in for more awesome giveaways!

Friday, January 06, 2012

Wherever You Go, the Giveaway!

Today we welcome back author Heather Davis to talk about her newest young adult release, WHEREVER YOU GO!

Hey, Heather! Tell us about your book in ten words or less.

Heather: Okay, can't do it in ten! It's about Holly, a teen caring for a grandfather with Alzheimer's. As he loses touch with this world, he's able to see the ghost of Holly's boyfriend Rob, who died in a crash, and becomes the boy's spirit guide -- helping both Rob and Holly to the light of letting go and understanding the true nature of love.

Sounds wonderful. Wait--I happen to know it IS wonderful, as I am reading it right now! Okay, other than your main character, who is a favorite character of yours in your novel and why?

Heather: There are three points of view in the book: Holly, Rob the Ghost, and Rob's best friend Jason. I started out a fan of all three, but in the writing, I fell in love with Rob the ghost. He has the most to learn in the story.

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

Heather: I took sailing lessons three summers ago and I was able to use what I learned in writing the book. Jason's family has a sailboat, the Lucky Lucy, that they sail. My dad said, "That was a lot of sailing stuff," about that scene, which I took as a compliment.

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

Heather: There was a middle school fan who wrote to me that she loved my books because when school and her family were giving here a hard time, she could escape into the stories. That touched me because I used to escape into books as a kid, too -- and now I escape into the writing of them. When writing gets hard, I remember the important thing I am doing -- creating a safe place for a teen to escape. It's the best career I could ever have found.

What are you working on now?

Heather: I'm working on a middle-grade novel that blends a contemporary world with a bit of fantasy and paranormal. There are cats in it! I'm really loving writing something fanciful and mysterious. It's giving me a break from the deep emotional stories I tend to write in YA.

Thank you, Heather!

And now for all our readers, Heather has generously offered a signed copy of WHEREVER YOU GO! To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us the title of a book that you escaped into as teen (whether you are one now or not). Best of luck, and check back here on Monday, January 9th, to learn the name of the winner.