Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Someday Famous YA Author -- MICHELLE MADOW

Michelle Madow is a super-talented writer with a great agent. She is most definitely a Someday Famous YA Author, and here is her interview, Q&A style:

Q: How old were you when you began writing?

A: I've been writing forever! (It seems like most writers say that, but it's totally true). When I was seven I was the kid in second grade who wrote ten page stories on free-journal day and insisted on reading them to the class. In high school (when we had to start thinking of "real" career paths), I stopped writing for fun, although I always took two English courses each semester. I majored in English during college, and decided to take my writing to the next level by trying to complete a novel during my junior year.

Q: What prompted you?

A: In my junior year of college I signed up to take "Intro to Creative Writing." I rarely showed my creative pieces to anyone, but the first assignment in this class was to write something 1,000 words or shorter to share with the class. It could be anything--a poem, a short story, or the first chapter of a novel. I chose to write the first chapter of a novel I'd recently started to think about. Much to my surprise, my classmates and professor all loved it! They said they wanted to read more. That was when I realized that even though most people don't see wanting to be a novelist as a reasonable career goal, I would never be able to succeed if I didn't at least try.

Me: I totally believe that novelist is a WONDERFUL career goal:)

Q: How long did it take for you to finish your first novel?

A: About ten months. Six months to complete the first draft and four months to edit it. Editing took much longer than I'd anticipated!

Q: What genres do you write?

A: Young adult fiction. It's always been my favorite genre to read, so deciding to focus on YA was an easy decision for me.

Q: How many novels have you completed?

A: I have one completed, am working with my agent on final edits on a second, and have recently started a third. As of now some publishing houses are looking at my first novel, and my second novel should be going out in a few weeks to editors who requested to read it. I'm really hoping they'll like it!

Me: This is where an appropriate "squeeee" could be inserted because many people "squeeee" when excited. I tend to jump up and down with no noise escaping my mouth and clap my hands in a rapid fashion, which is hard to write. Here is my attempt to show excitement for Michelle, who has editors and important people reading her book and stuff: Boing, boing, boing, clap, clap, clap.  Hahahahaha, I'm so lame I crack myself up.

But really, that's awesome, Michelle!

Q: What is your writing routine like?

A: Before I start on the novel I do research, character bios, and a detailed outline. (My outline for the novel I'm currently working on is 8,400 words long). Then I set myself a daily word count goal. While I was in college my goal was 1,000 words a day, and now that I've graduated I've upped it to 1,500 words a day. I don't have a strict "routine,"--I just make sure that I find time to every day finish my daily words. The hardest part for me is sitting down and starting to focus, but once started I get on a roll and don't stop until I'm finished.

Q: Please tell us the story about how you obtained your agent.

A: I met my agent at the Writer's Digest Pitch Slam. Pitch slams are when a lot of agents gather in one room and authors walk around from one to the next, giving each a short pitch about their book. It's like agent speed-dating. When I sat down in front of Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency, the conversation flowed really well. I loved the excitement she showed for my novel, and when I emailed her the full manuscript I had a really great vibe. Then a few weeks later she called me and said she wanted to sign me! :)

Q: What do you do in the time you aren't writing?

A: I graduated Rollins College in May (I majored in English and graduated with honors), and recently started to work part-time as the social media coordinator at Florida Design Magazine. This means that I manage the company's social media accounts, like Twitter and Facebook.

Q: We met very briefly at the Willamette Writers Conference. While you visited Oregon and Washington, what did you enjoy most? Had you ever been here before that trip? What did you think of our beautiful state?

A: It was the first time I've traveled to the Northwest United States, and I loved it! The day after the conference I went on a hike and was amazed by how beautiful everything is up there. The mountains and waterfalls I got to see were spectacular, the cities of Portland and Seattle have a relaxed atmosphere that I really liked, and I even got to visit sites from the novel Twilight, which was super cool since I love the books so much.

Me: That's the best answer ever! Michelle's so rad!

Q: I've seen videos of you singing with your guitar. Do you write and perform music on a regular basis or is it a hobby?

A: I love music--some of my book ideas have been inspired by lyrics I hear in songs--but it's totally a hobby. I don't actually write my own songs (trust me, I'm much better at writing stories than songs), and I actually have stage-fright when it comes to performing music live. Singing and playing guitar is just something I do when I have extra time and want to relax.

Me: I HAVE STAGE FRIGHT, TOO!!!!! Similarities, rock. (I totally don't sing, though. Me singing = bad)

Q: Are there any other artistic talents you have?

A: I can do a little bit of Photoshop. I used to design MySpace layouts before Facebook became more popular. My link is www.myspace.com/michlayouts if you want to check them out. I was also a dancer in high school, doing everything from ballet to hip-hop.

Q: Is there anything you want to add or any personal information you'd like to discuss?

A: I can't think of any personal information, but the biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone who wants to be an author is that there's no reason not to start right now. In school I heard so many people say things along the lines of "once I graduate college, I'll start writing a book." I just wanted to grab them and be like "No! Why don't you start now?" If your mentality is to wait until the "right time" comes along to start your book, you're going to keep putting it off. So start writing today. Even if you can only set aside an hour a day to write, you'll be surprised at how far that will take you in a short amount of time.

Q: Do you have any advice for teenagers or a story you would like to share of how you may have struggled during your teen years?

A: Be true to yourself and learn from people around you. Everyone in high school is discovering who they are, which can make peer-pressure a strong thing. (It's this process of self-discovery that I find so interesting in young adult novels). So keep an open mind, and remember that you can learn something from every individual you meet. You can also learn from the characters you read about in books or watch on television shows and movies. Evaluate why you admire certain characters and then try to figure out how to use your understanding of them to make yourself a better person--no one is perfect, so there's always something about yourself that you can improve.

5 ESSENTIALS

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: I just finished Wired (the third book in the Skinned Trilogy by Robin Wasserman--I highly recommend it!) and am a few chapters into Maze Runner by James Dashner.

Me: Both on my list of books to be read! Awesome:)

Q: What is your all-time favorite YA novel and why?

A: I only read it recently, but Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has quickly become my all-time favorite YA novel. The main character, Katniss, is a very strong girl, and I admire the way she is willing to do anything for the people she loves. The concept is also very unique--a sick, dystopian spin on reality television. I couldn't put the book down!

Q: What's your all-time favorite movie?

A: Back to the Future or Moulin Rouge.

Me: Boing, boing, boing, clap, clap, clap!

Q: If you could be an object or another species, what would you be and why?

A: A witch in the world of Harry Potter. I could have gone to Hogwarts for high school, and that would have been totally awesome.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Pizza! Specifically Domino's Brooklyn style with pepperoni. I'm addicted to pizza. Like, I literally eat it almost every day.

Me: Whoa. Every day = love.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: Thank you for being the first person to invterview me! I hope everything's going well with your writing, and I can't wait to read your books once you're published:)

Me: **Blush**

Thank you, Michelle. I wish you all the best and look forward to buying your books from the shelves of bookstores soon!

Peace out.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Reminiscing about Tom Bosley and my high school drama days

Tom Bosley died today. You know, Howard Cunningham or Mr. C? Yeah, him. The fun loving dad from Happy Days. The guy who made us laugh from the year I was born until I turned eleven and then many years of re-runs afterward. You know who I'm talking about.

In 2003 my man-friend (now hubby) took me to New York City. It was the best trip ever! I'd always dreamed of seeing a Broadway Play and we saw two that trip. The first, "Cabaret", at Studio 54 was amazing. After the show we waited at the back door for the stars to leave. One of those stars was Tom Bosley. He was very friendly, signed our playbills, and allowed us to take a photo. It was AWESOME!

I went digging for that photo today when the news of his death hit the Internet. In my chest of memories I found the photo along with a journal from my sophomore theatre class at Mt. View High School. It's weird to look back at that stuff and realize how deep and thoughtful and analytical I was at that age. We read and outlined so many plays back then; plays I don't remember reading, but evidently did. Where do all those memories go if not for the fact they were written down or recorded in some fashion? They vanish with the passing of time.

One memory in the chest, in particular, is something that I got a laugh out of. Outside of the countless poems and dark, dramatic journal entries, this may be my first and only attempt at writing for the stage. It's a skit that a friend and I wrote to perform at the talent show. We auditioned, but for some reason never performed this.

This is hilarious and I can't believe I'm posting it. Remember--two teens wrote this:) Enjoy!

PEACE
By Angie Coon and Jess Brunelle
March 23, 1990

SCENE: Takes place in large dark space area. Two wooden chairs in center stage.

OPEN:
Character J. sitting in chair left center with blindfold on.
Character A. sitting in chair right center with gas mask on.

(sitting in silence)

J. (takes off blind fold) I don't think it's working.

A. (takes off gas mask) I don't think the point is getting across.

J. Maybe it isn't worth it. Everyone is just so unaware and blind. (looks at audience) Why can't you understand?

A. We have to make them understand.

J. Like they're really going to understand! Right after school today they're just going to a fast food place, eat all the food, and throw all the styrofoam and other garbage all over the earth.

A. We have to take this rationally, and let them know the facts.

J. It's amazing what you might see if you stop and take a look at the world. Maybe, I should just end it right here and now. How can we have peace in this world when we're only trying to destroy each other and our home?

A. STOP IT! There is hope, there are people out there who care. We just have to get them together. If you can't get it all together, to accomplish this thing called peace, do at least your part in your own life. That's where you can make a difference. Peace begins with you.

J. and A. (together) NOW!!!!!!!!!

SPEECH

A. Do you realize 49 million acres of rain forests are destroyed or degraded every year?

J. Ya! that's equivalent to one and half football fields each second.

A. and J. (together) One, one-thousand. Two, one-thousand. Three, one-thousand.

(fade -- heads down)

Lights up

A. Here's your shake, honey! Want some more fries?

J. Mommy, where does my cheeseburger come from?

A. Well, honey. Billions of cattle are being raised on the rain forest land in Central and South America. We're burning down all our rain forest to raise this cattle. So all the birds don't have a home for the winter. Without the birds all the insects will over populate. We're also losing over one-thousand species of plants and animals every year. But best of all, we won't have any more oxygen to breathe.

J. Then why are we eating this then?

(fade down)
(fade up)

A. In Africa, one-hundred and forty-three elephants are slaughtered a day by poachers.

J. Same thing happens to whales. It also takes twelve leopards, or large cats, to make one long fur coat. Is it worth it?

A. I wonder how easy it is to be a tuna fisherman and watch the dolphins get caught and die in their nets day after day?

J. Just untangle them, throw them back into the ocean to rot and catch more fish the next day. I know I wouldn't feel guilty.

(fade)
(J. = Earth, A. = Mankind)
(fade up)

A. (drinking out of a soda can. Looks for place to put can.) Oh well! (throws can at Earth)

J. OUCH!!!!

A. (looks around) What was that? I recognize that voice.

J. It's me, Earth. You used to care. Why are you destroying me? I try to be all that you need. I give you everything you need to live and survive. Why don't you be wise with the things I give you, so you can have them forever? You can use that can again, just recycle it. I'm trying to hang on, but pretty soon I'm not going to be able to do it without your help.

(fade)

CONCLUSION:

A. Mother Earth Day is April 22. Make a difference!

J. Are you part of the solution or the problem?

The End


hahahahahahaha! I knew you would get a laugh out of that. I wonder how far off those statistics are now. Remember back in the day when fast food burgers came in styrofoam boxes and nobody recycled? Crazy.


RIP Tom Bosley -- you will be remembered forever by the moments captured on screen and in the hearts of those who grew up watching you.

RIP sophomore year -- you will be remembered via journals and skits that should be burned immediately, but won't be.

Peace out, peeps.

Friday, October 15, 2010

FREEFALL BY MINDI SCOTT

Mindi Scott was born in and lives in the state of Washington. I was born in and live in the state of Washington. Mindi's debut YA novel, FREEFALL, is set in the state of Washington. My YA novel (yet to be published), DREAM SMASHERS, is set in the state of Washington. Mindi Scott is a vegetarian. Me too (except I don't eat dairy). She went to high school in Washington and likes the band Blind Melon. Me too! I had to read FREEFALL based on these similarities, because, well, I LOVE the state of Washington, and I love YA, and I love similarities.

Wow. Just wow. If ever you want to read a novel that captures your heart on the first page and holds you hostage until the very last page and for several days after, read FREEFALL. The realistic characters (If I could go back in time and invent a boyfriend, I'd totally invent Seth. Sigh.), beautiful and sometimes quirky writing, and the gritty emotions that ring true to real life will make you laugh and cry and cheer. For real. I think I'll marry this book.

Summary from the author's website:

"How do you come back from the point of no return?

Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up.

Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely.

Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he’s ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . ."

Gosh darn it, even the video gave me chills.


RATING: Why Don't You Marry It?

Peace out.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Someday Famous YA Author -- TONY GRAFF



Have you met Tony Graff yet? He's a someday famous YA author whose debut novel, JUNIPER CRESCENT, will be released this year by Blue Planet Publishing.

He's been so kind to take a few moments away from writing and creating awesome jewelery and crocheting (you read that correctly) to participate in the "Someday Famous YA Author" series.

Meet Tony Q&A style:

Q: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?

A: I've been writing novels for two years now. Originally I had intended to get into graphic novels, but my inability to draw the main character made me consider writing it as a novel. I think I always had a fascination with story-telling, in all its forms.

Q: IS "JUNIPER CRESCENT" YOUR FIRST NOVEL?

A: It's the first novel to succeed as far as it has.


Q: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE IT?


A: It took about eight months for the first draft to be completed, and since then there have been 2 complete rewrites.


Q: WHAT IS IT ABOUT?


A: It's about a girl named Oksanya (pronounced ox-on-ya), who suffers from muscular dystrophy until a miraculous operation gives her a new lease on life by replacing the genetic code for her disease with that of a cheetah. While she loves the ability to run a two minute mile, she has to deal with teaching herself not to hunt while she runs.


Q: HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE TITLE?


A: I'm still not entirely sure. I was throwing around words for about a week, trying to find something that sounded good. When Juniper and Crescent came together, it just fit, like I knew that was to be the title. While I did reference it later on in the novel, I can't really figure out why the title is significant.


Q: HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO FIND AN AGENT AND HOW DID YOU FIND HER?


A: Once I had the first draft completed, friends were talking to me and telling me to look into getting it published, which pretty much was like getting dropped into foreign country. I spent six months sending out manuscripts and getting rejected, until August of 2008, when Judyth Piazza responded positively to my inquiry. I found her through a database of agents and publishers who were interested in the work of new authors.


Q: HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FOUND HER AND SHE WANTED TO REPRESENT YOU?


A: When I got the email saying she would like to represent my work, it was cloud nine for me. There really hasn't been much to compare with how satisfied and amazing it feels.


Q: WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO WRITE THIS NOVEL AND WHY FOR YA? HAVE YOU ALWAYS WRITTEN YA?


A: Juniper Crescent started out as my attempt to draw a graphic novel. I had a few ideas that were going together, thanks to the Discovery Channel, but after a whole evening of drawing and not getting Oksanya to look right, I felt like a failure because I couldn't draw her the way I saw her. But I didn't want to just put all my work on the shelf, so I vented about it on Facebook. The next day, I had a lot of response requesting more information about the story, and the cheetah girl I couldn't draw. I mentioned what I wanted to happen, and people kept pushing me to actually write it out. So I did.


I've always wanted to write for Young Adults because it has the best pieces of children's literature and more mature novels. I've always loved to read, but a lot of the novels in the adult section seemed to have so much information on stuff that wasn't relevant to the story. Authors would throw in so much violence and sex that I wondered where they were going with it. Young Adult literature gets to focus on the story, and the characters, the most.


As a genre, I want to write YA novels. I love working with that kind of character, and that stage of life, where most people are solidifying themselves for themselves, independent of external influences.


Q: WHAT IS YOUR WRITING ROUTINE? ARE YOU WORKING ON ANY OTHER PROJECTS AT THE MOMENT?


A: Each night, I sit down with a notebook, and write out what I need to accomplish, and what I want to accomplish, and included in those lists is a goal for writing. I try and have regular scheduled time to write--when my job as a movie projectionist lets me--so that I have that time to focus.


As of right now, I'm working on the third book in the Juniper Crescent series.


Q: TELL US ABOUT THE JEWELERY YOU CREATE.


A: When writer's block sets in, I've found the quickest cure is going to another creative outlet. For me, it became crocheting and making jewelry. I've really fallen for the Stempunk culture, which is gaining popularity, and a big aspect of it is that it's home made. This gave me an avenue to not only tap into my creative potential, but also lent me an added ability to pay the bills till Juniper Crescent becomes a best-seller (lol). I really enjoy making earrings, as well as cuff links, which isn't exactly a common look, but I love the opportunity to express myself.


Q: AND THE CROCHETING. HOW DID YOU GET GREAT AT IT?


A: I started crocheting hats when I spent two years in Alberta, Canada as a full-time missionary for the LDS Church. Flat out, there were some days it so cold that it wasn't safe to go out and work, so we would need something to keep us from getting cabin fever. I made a dozen or so hats, and upon returning, my older brother showed me how to take what I knew and make stuffed animals out of it. It's what I do when I'm watching TV.


Q: I NOTICED A COMMENT ON YOUR FACEBOOK WALL AND WOULD LIKE YOU TO ELABORATE ON IT. WHAT'S UP WITH SCORPIONS?


A: I like to think I'm adventurous when it comes to food. More often than not, if I see something, I'm willing to try it, even if it's on the bizarre foods TV show.


Q: IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?


A: When I was in college, I had a professor who made a beautiful point. In his Art 101 class, he stopped his lecture on the Renaissance and said, "Imagine how many more Da Vincis and Michelangelos there could be if it weren't for online gaming." This really struck me when I considered how much time I spent where I didn't accomplish any of my goals, and how many days I could have written more, and didn't because watching House MD was more important to me.


Q: DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR TEENAGERS OR A STORY YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE OF HOW YOU MAY HAVE STRUGGLED DURING YOUR TEEN YEARS?


A: The most important struggle, in my experience, that a teen will go through is that of their own identity. Most other problems branch off of that. Most of my friends from high school don't take the time to talk to me, and looking back, I couldn't blame them. I didn't know who I was, or how cool I was, until I was about 21. If you don't know who you are, it will always feel like there are more problems. It is worth every effort.

5 ESSENTIALS:


Currently reading: UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld, CORALINE by Neil Gaiman, and BURNED by Ellen Hopkins.

All Time Favorite YA Novel and Why: My all time favorite novel I hadn't been introduced to until I was in college last year, and that's THE WEE FREE MEN by Terry Pratchett. Absolutely hilarious.

My all time favorite novel is the DIVINE COMEDY by Dante Aligheiri. In high school, we had to read selection from the "Inferno," and out of an entire class, I adored the book.

Favorite Movie: Ooh, that's a tough one. There have been so many movies that have special meaning to me, but I think my favorite is V FOR VENDETTA.

If you could be an object or another species, what would you be and why?

Another species, that sounds like a Juniper Crescent question. I love questions like this, it taps into my fascination with different perspectives. Right now I think I would like to be Facebook. That way everyone would talk to me, trust me, and tell me their secrets and let me be their friend.

Me: (hahahaha--I totally loved that answer)

Favorite Food: There really is a lot of food to enjoy. One of the best culinary experiences I had was with the green chili sauce at the Brewery Bar 3 in Denver. Their smothered burritos were something akin to inspiration to me.

Awesome! Thanks, Tony, for all the information. I look forward to reading your soon to be bestselling novel, JUNIPER CRESCENT.

And there you have it, peeps. A rad new author who is talented enough to crochet! I wish I could crochet.

Here's a photo of Oksanya, the main character in the soon to be released novel, JUNIPER CRESECENT.



Be sure to stop by Tony's blog: www.junipercrescent.blogspot.com

Peace out!




Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Conscience Choice

People ask me why I'm a vegetarian. Others don't ask anything, but just give me a plastic grin when they discover I don't eat animal flesh or their secretions. Funny. I should be the one giving the frown, but I don't, because that would be unkind.

Because vegetarians seem somewhat alien-like, some think we are shoving our beliefs down their throats whenever we request a veggie burger instead of a slab of cow or pig. I can't speak for all the aliens, but I never want to shove anything down any one's throat. I'll explain my reasons and some facts, and this may make some feel uneasy, but that's only their conscience kicking in, not me.

I haven't always been a vegetarian. Only six months ago did I make the change from allowing my body to be a grave for rotting flesh, to eating what I believe our bodies were created to consume: A plant based diet.

So? Why? The reason I even contemplated such a weird thing is because I had heard that animal flesh and secretions caused inflammation in the body. As a massage therapist and a writer with painful hands and joints and an heiress of all kinds of inflammatory diseases, I decided to research this rumor. Not only did I find this rumor to be fact, I also discovered reasons that rip my heart out and blacken my soul just thinking about them.

Reason 1: Compassion.

Animals want to live. Animals feel pain. Who am I to cause any living being pain and to end their life just so I can have a tasty meal that isn't good for me? Who am I to keep a cow constantly pregnant, living in a pen hooked up to machines to steal her baby's milk so that I can have cheese on my pizza, and then when her life is completely spent and she can no longer stand, haul her off to be slaughtered for my hamburger? Who am I to keep birds locked in tiny cages their entire life with three to five other birds and sear their beaks and talons off so they don't peck themselves to death just so I can have eggs for breakfast? Who am I to 'grow' cows on filthy feed lots to live in their own feces and never frolic in a field? Who am I to mass produce turkeys in inhumane conditions and allow cruel and painful killing techniques? Who am I? I am a human with the conscience and the mind to know right from wrong. I have been given this choice and I choose compassion.

Reason 2: Environment.

This is totally self explanatory. But, just in case it's not, here's a link: Vegan Outreach Environmental and another Vegan Peace Environment and another Vegan Quest and another Wikipedia

Basically, the United Nations says: Save the environment by going vegan.



People are going hungry in the world. Livestock is not. A bit backward, don't you think?

Reason 3: My Health

According to the American Dietetic Association:

"Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes."*

But wait, there's more.

Carnivores vs. Herbivores

Cancer thrives in acidic conditions. Eating animal products creates an acidic environment in our bodies. A plant based diet (especially raw and unprocessed) creates an alkaline environment in our bodies. Enough said.

Here is a cute little video I saw the other day. I don't necessarily like how they make man look un-smart, but still found it informative.




*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Veganism

Want more information?

Watch EARTHLINGS
Read Vegan Freak by Bob & Jenna Torres or The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Peace out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

10-10-10

On this dark Sunday morning filled with rain drop music, twittering songs and trees whispering their goodbyes, I try to work on my electronic box. But, noooooo. I'm evidently not allowed to get anything done today.







Friday, October 8, 2010

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY by JAY ASHER


If you haven't noticed, I only write reviews (which really aren't reviews, just recommendations) on YA books that I enjoyed reading. There is no reason to waste any more time than necessary on books that don't hit the sweet spot for me. So, I don't talk about those books. Besides, who am I to put negative energy into the world against someone's work? Writers spend hours and years perfecting their art and it's such a subjective thing to not like it. What I may not like, someone else will love.

I was fully prepared to NOT write a review for "TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY" by Jay Asher. Because my expectations were so high, I figured there was no way that it could live up to them. Well, after reading it and then thinking about it, I decided to write the review.

This is a debut novel and has been on the top sellers list for over a year. It won gobs of awards and praise from super-star authors and has a cool cover and all that jazz. It's a book I had picked up a billion times at the store to put back down out of fear of it being too depressing. Finally, I bought it at Powell's and then read it.

** SPOILER ALERT ** (sorta)

The reasons I hesitated to post this review don't add up to thirteen, but only one. I couldn't figure out the purpose or what the author intended the reader to gain from it. At times, it felt like the author wanted the reader to dislike the dead girl, Hannah. I'm a pretty compassionate person, but found myself yelling at Hannah to ask someone for help, to be blunt and not so coy about it. I was very disappointed with her at the end. So, I wondered what a reader was supposed to learn from this type of character.

I think this book is more for the Clays of the world. It creates awareness so all of us Clays can spot the Hannahs and show them compassion, understanding and friendship when they are trying to reach out and nobody else notices. Sometimes that's all it takes to save a life. Friendship and compassion.

It can be for the Hannahs, too, though. I don't want to spoil any more by saying what they may or may not get from this book; I just want to now say it may change their mind.

Rating: CHECK IT OUT

This is a good book written by an author who reads his emails and takes the time to answer them in detail. I think he's a bit rad.

SYNOPSIS from the website:
"Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay's dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers."
Peace out.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TEEN INTERVIEW SERIES: Meet Denim, age 13.

Hi Peeps!

I'm a guest blogger this week. Who woulda thunk that someone would want my words all over their blog? Well, someone did, and that someone is Fiction Flurry. It's this really cool blog about writing and stuff.

The thing that I've learned about guest blogging is: You can't change it once it's posted. So, I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors. **Blush** I tend to have those sometimes and edit like a mad woman when I find them.

Go check it out. You'll meet an ordinary, yet extraordinary, teen by the name of Denim.

FICTION FLURRY BLOG

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Someday Famous YA Author -- MICHELLE SUSSMAN


Today, we meet Michelle Sussman. This gal is someone you should watch out for. I've got a feeling...

A one sentence bio from her fabulous website:

"Michelle is a YA author, journalist, columnist and volunteer living in a Chicago suburb with her husband, two kids and their miniature schnauzer, Ace."

Not only is she all of that, but she grew up on a farm! Totally cool. I'd love to live on a farm. My farm would be a sanctuary for neglected animals. We'd house cows and chickens and horses and dogs and pigs and cats and kangaroos and... Okay, enough about me, this is about Michelle who lived on a farm with soybeans and corn.

Meet Michelle Sussman, a someday (probably sooner than later) famous YA author, Q&A style.

Q: How long have you been writing?

A: Does forever count? I remember completing my first novel when I was seven. It was seven pages long and about a unicorn. I remember thinking that seven pages was unbelievably long. Haha! If only it were that easy now.

Me: I need to interrupt here, peeps. A unicorn? I would have totally loved that seven-page book and if it were published now, it would fit right it with the trends. She was hip before her time.

Q: Tell us about your novels.

A: I have completed two YA novels. They are both trying to tempt agents as we speak. Fulls of both novels have been requested and are being reviewed. I hope to get a bite on one, but all I can do is wait and see.

ANATHEMA - Mina, gifted with powerful magic, is the focus of an ancient prophecy directing her to free her people from the oppressive conquering Malborn. Unfortunately she's a sheltered slave girl, surrounded by lies and manipulation, who doesn't know how to believe in her own destiny.

THE SLEEPERS - An adoptee raised in a foreign land, sixteen-year-old Lianne was content with her life as handmaiden to the queen until a latent spell cast on her at birth activated. Now she's filled with uncontrollable rage and access to magic she thought had been bled from her people years ago. When the kingdom threatens to tear itself apart due to the rumor surrounding the queen's alleged affair, who will Lianne protect and who will she destroy?

Me: Can I read them NOW? Please?

Q: What prompted you to write these novels? Why for YA? Have you always written YA?

A: All of my books start with a tiny spark of inspiration. ANATHEMA is based off a whimsical comment my then-five-year-old daughter made in the car on the drive to my parents' farm. THE SLEEPERS has adoption as a theme and my son is adopted (though the book isn't even remotely similar to his circumstances).

I write for kids because I absolutely adore children's literature, not because YA is hot. My mom has been an elementary school librarian since I was in 2nd grade and her influence definitely shaped my tastes in books. She's still in the same position after all these years and she still recommends books to me all the time.

Q: How did you come up with the titles?

A: ANATHEMA is one of my all-time favorite words and it's also a description of my main character. THE SLEEPERS is directly related to the content of the book. I guess with both, I'd have to say you need to read through to the end to understand both titles.

Me: I had to look up the favorite word on Dictionary.com.

Anathema (noun) 1. A person or thing detested or loathed. 2. A person or thing accursed or assigned to damnation or destruction. 3. A formal ecclesiastical curse involving excommunication.

Whoa.

Q: Do you have any tips on writing a winning query letter? I noticed yours has garnered attention.

A: Practice, practice, practice. I also think it helps to have other writers, who haven't yet read your book, go over your query for you. If they don't intimately know your work, then they are more objective when critiquing it. Don't feel like you have to take every suggestion and incorporate it, but when two or more people tell you the same thing isn't working I think that should set off alarms!

Me: So, uh, errr, hey there. You wanna, uh, read mine?

Q: You also write articles. Over 100, in fact! Wowza! How did you get started with articles? Do you enjoy writing them?

A: As an at-home mom I was bored silly so I decided to write for magazines. I read a couple books on the topic, sent out my first query and my article idea was accepted. It all snowballed from there.

Q: What is your blog about?

A: A little bit of this and a little bit of that, but it all relates to writing. It's my intention never to put anyone down or complain about the business. I want to be helpful, not hurtful.

Me: Awesome. I'm down with the positives. Check out the blog: Michelle's blog

Q: What is your writing routine?

A: I wish I had one! Since I'm an at-home mom with two kids, I'm constantly on the run. If you saw me around town, I'd probably be lugging my laptop or holding a pad of paper in my hand. I write when I can fit in the time around practices, school, PTA duties, you name it!

Me: You just exhausted me.

Q: Since my blog is about teen struggles, do you have any advice for teenagers or a story you would like to share of how you may have struggled during your teen years?

A: I absolutely struggled in my teens! I was a HUGE dork -- unruly red hair, too tall for the boys, freckles, gangly and I loved band. Like loved band more than I should have. I still miss marching band. And my personality, OMG, I was just a complete and total nerd. I still am.

But I survived by finding friends like me so we could revel in our dorkitude together. We didn't drink or smoke, instead we played board games and watched movies. If we didn't have dates to dances, we went out somewhere else instead. The teenage years are hard for so many reasons, but I survived simply by being true to myself. Did I care what everyone else thought? Sure, but I knew someday I'd grow up and high school wouldn't matter anymore.

Me: If I went to your high school, you would have been my idol. Serious. I always wanted to be tall and I always wanted red hair. I already had the freckles though, and I played the clarinet.

5 ESSENTIALS

Q: What are you currently reading?

A: Cassandra Clare's MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series.

Q: What is your all-time favorite YA novel and why?

A: I am, of course, a HUGE devotee of Suzanne Collins, but I have to admit the book I plowed through in six hours because I couldn't put it down was THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan. Wow, just, WOW!

Q: What is your all-time favorite move?

A: Ack! Better Off Dead! No, Runaway Bride! Wait, Flash Gordon (the cheesy 80s verson). Or maybe Labyrinth!? GAH!

Me: Okay...now even more reasons I would have idolized you.

Q: If you could be an object or another species, what would you be and why?

A: A bat because they are dark & misunderstood...

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Ben & Jerry's Fro Yo Half Baked (brownie & cookie dough) *drools*

Me: Typing that just made my tummy ache.

Thank you, Michelle, for participating in the SOMEDAY FAMOUS YA AUTHOR series. You are a rad gal and I can't wait to see your books on the shelves of the bookstore so I can say "I interviewed her when..."

Peace out!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

I'm attempting to spread the word about my blog and trying something new. Ever heard of Book Blogger Hop? Sounds like fun!

Book Blogger Hop

Question of the Week: How do you spread the word about your blog?

Answer: I'm fairly new to blogging. At the moment, I use Facebook and Twitter to announce any and all new posts.