Friday, November 30, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Well, my friends, tomorrow is December 1 and then the year ends.  Thank you so much for traveling through 2012 with me!  Thank you for your support and well wishes, for reading and for giving opinions.  And thank you, most of all, for all of your interest in the Friday Five authors.  They have all been fabulous to work with and so enthusiastic about writing, kids and good stories.

I wrapped up the Friday Five feature with Elizabeth Richards last week, and I'm looking into starting up again next year.  But for now, I'm going to sign off the Internet for a while.  I have a deadline looming, family matters to attend to, and the holidays to celebrate - as I'm sure you do, too.  So enjoy your Christmas, your Hanukkah, your Kwanzaa and any other days you want to make special.  You may occasionally see me on Twitter or Facebook, and I will be scheduling blog posts in advance for Tuesdays at the YA Muses blog, on the 13th at the Class of 2k12 blog and on the 17th at Corsets, Cutlasses and Candlesticks.  But for the most part - at least this is the plan - I will be writing my fourth novel (and drinking peppermint mochas).  Call it a late NaNoWriMo.  Good luck to you all!

 I will see you here again in 2013 - may it bring us all joy.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Five -- Elizabeth Richards

Today's Five features the author of The Black City, the gorgeously dark and lovely-sounding romance published by Putnam on the 13th.  Elizabeth is a journalist and world traveler and lives in England.  Her website bio states that she'd like to see ten volcanoes before she dies - I hope one day she makes it to California, because as the daughter of a geologist, I could show her a few...


1. What scares you most?

I’m petrified of spiders (specifically evil house spiders that like to leap on me in the shower, bleurgh) and ever since I was a kid I’ve had nightmares about being eaten by sharks. However, I have to say my biggest fear is losing my husband and family. I couldn’t function without them – they’re my strength, my heart, and I need them.

2. Who would play you in the film of your life?

Probably Thora Birch during her American Beauty years. We look quite alike (round faces, wide eyes and ghostly pale skin!), plus she gives off this weird, sullen vibe that matches my character.

3. What living person do you most admire and why?

Stephen Fry! He’s funny, intelligent, silly, gentlemanly, artistic, humble, sexy – the list goes on. I’ve been a fan of his work ever since I was a teenager. I just find him fascinating.

4. What other profession would you like to learn?

I’d love to learn to be an illustrator. I adore drawing and painting and whenever I get a free moment (which I admit isn’t very often these days), you can find me up in the study working on a new art project. It’s a very fulfilling and relaxing pastime and it would be a joy to do that for a profession, but I would never give up being an author!

5. What profession would you never, ever want to have?

I would never, ever want to be a politician. I’m too blunt.


In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable--they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash's long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they're caught, they'll be executed--but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.


You can find Elizabeth on her website.
On Twitter.
And on Facebook.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Books! Books! And More Books!

As you all know, I'm a proud member of the Class of 2k12.  We are a group of debut authors of young adult and middle grade books who came together as a marketing collective and through the course of the year became friends, confidantes, and - I hope - a lifelong support network.  These authors are great people.  And now you all get the chance to find out what great authors they are, too.  There is something for everyone here - middle grade verse, deep dark YA mayhem, faeries, astral projection, history, legend, elephants, war... Need I go on?

The Class is hosting a huge end-of-the-year giveaway on the class blog, and I'm doing my bit by spreading the news and giving you the chance to win here, too!  The giveaway closes on the 12th of December!  I regret to say, it's open to US and Canada only - our coffers can't spread to sending 21 books abroad.

Check out the Rafflecopter to find out which books will be coming your way if you win, and then enter!  You want these books....

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bonus!  I'm also posting over at the Corsets, Cutlasses and Candlesticks blog today - hop over and find out what a Tudor feast was like - and be thankful you don't have to cook (or eat) one yourself!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Five -- McCormick Templeman

This week's Five is with the author of THE LITTLE WOODS, published by Random House in July.  I only know her online, but McCormick Templeman is a delight to follow on Twitter.  She has a dry and unconventional sense of humor, and what seems to be an obsession with sharks.  One day, we will have to compare notes...


1. What is your guiltiest pleasure?  

Probably Survivor. I haven’t watched it in years, but there’s a reason for that.

2. What is the worst job you’ve done?

I worked for a very short while as a phone operator for a posh hotel. I am terrified of speaking on the phone, so this was not a good fit. It did not end well.

3. What keeps you awake at night?

My daughter. She scolds her brother in her sleep.

4. What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Getting a basically feral cat through a metal detector at an airport. The TSA agent was like, you gotta take that cat out of the carrier, and get it through. It had taken me half a day to get her inside. I tried to beg them to give me another option. I had an image of her escaping and killing like twelve people before starting an enormous fire, but in the end, we made it through, and she actually got back in her carrier. That was definitely the most proud I’ve ever been.

5. Who would play you in the film of your life?

Kate Winslet, but Kate Winslet trying to look frumpy. Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind except not so fancy.


Are the woods behind St. Bede's Academy really haunted, or does bad stuff just happen there? When Calista Wood, a new student, arrives midway through her junior year, St. Bede's feels like a normal school . . . until she discovers that a girl had disappeared a couple of months earlier. Some kids think she ran away, others think she was murdered, but it's only when Cally starts digging around that she finds the startling truth.

You can order THE LITTLE WOODS here!


You can find McCormick on her website.
And on Twitter.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It Gets Better

When I was in high school, I expected it to be like a movie.  I watched the greats - Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Dirty Dancing, Lucas (OK, maybe they're not up there with Citizen Kane) - and I thought high school would be like that.  I went through school thinking "If this were a movie, x, y and z would happen."  And it wouldn't.  It was mostly just boring and repetitive.  No one got dunked in a toilet.  The prom queen was exactly who you would have guessed would be prom queen back in Freshman year.  I wasn't plucked from the (rather frightful) school play by a scout to be the next star of Broadway.  It was high school.  But I did hone some of my story skills - I found foreshadowing everywhere and knew there had to be a payoff for poor behavior.

But I always wondered about everyone else's high school experience.  Were there people who lived like they were in a John Hughes film?  Did people really meet the boy of their dreams at the Homecoming Dance?  Did anyone get plucked from obscurity to be famous for what they did well? (remember, this was before reality television).

That's one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading the Dear Teen Me blog and now the anthology: Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves.  Comparison to my own letter.  To my experience.  But it rapidly became more than that.  Sure, I saw similarities: Tom Angleberger's Buckaroo Banzai obsession struck mysteriously close to home.  Miranda Kenneally's wish that she'd called the boy back.  Caridad Ferrer's struggle with shy Jekyll and competitive, spotlight-craving Hyde.

And I read lots of differences.  My high school was a relatively safe place.  My life was even safer.  Two parents with stable emotions and a dad with a good job.  A sister who was even more of a brainiac than I was.  Nothing like what some of these authors have gone through.  These are stories that completely change you, my friends, and I daren't even mention them here because you need to read them in the author's words.

But one thing that stands out in all of these letters is the same thing that was posted on my Facebook page by an old school friend when I asked the question, "What would you say to your teen self if you could?"

It gets better.

This is why I've seen so many reviews saying teens should read this book.  And why people say they wish they'd read it as a teenager.

Keep living.  Keep loving.  Keep dreaming.

It gets better.

Dear Teen Me is published by Zest Books, and available from Amazon, Indie Bound and Barnes&Noble

Want to know more?  Check out the Zest Books Dear Teen Me blog tour and check out the list of contributing authors.

And find out when Dear Teen Me will be near you - I'll be joining some of the authors in Corte Madera on Thursday the 15th and Berkeley on Friday the 16th.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday Five -- Ame Dyckman

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce this week's Friday Five interviewee, another picture book writer, Ame Dyckman, author of BOY + BOT.  Ame has a  wonderfully quirky sense of humor that comes through in all her writing - even her Twitter posts - and she is an active supporter of authors everywhere.  One day, I hope to meet her in person...


1.  What is your earliest memory?

I remember catching roly-poly bugs in the backyard and trying to give them a bath in the little plastic trophy cup that I won in a tot fishing contest when I insisted that I caught a fish and everyone said I didn’t but I pulled my line in anyway and there was The World’s Teeniest Minnow!  (I don’t remember the actual contest or why I thought the roly-polies needed a bath, though.)

2.  What would your superpower be?

Speaking of memory, I wish I had Super Photographic Reading Memory!  It would be fantastic to be able to remember every single bit of every book I ever read.  (Of course, then I wouldn’t be able to shout, “WOW! I forgot how AWESOME this book is!” during re-reads.  Hmmm…)

3.  What is your most unappealing habit?

When I write, I chew gum like a cow.  *SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK SMACK*  (Okay, it’s not just when I write.  It’s whenever I chew gum.  Don’t give me gum.)

4.  What is the worst thing anyone has said to you?

“You can’t.”  It was hard to hear.  (Until I did it.)

5.  If you could go back in time, where/when would you go?

OOH!  I’d go back to the morning of that day in 2nd grade when I split my pants on the playground IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY and had to wear The Ugly Pants From The Nurse’s Office for the rest of the day and I’d… well, I’d change SOMETHING in that equation!  And I’d go back to 1963 and buy a first printing of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE!  And I’d… um, you know, after I stopped wars and stuff.


One day, a boy and a robot meet in the woods. They play. They have fun.

But when Bot gets switched off, Boy thinks he's sick. The usual remedies—applesauce, reading a story—don't help, so Boy tucks the sick Bot in, then falls asleep.

Bot is worried when he powers on and finds his friend powered off. He takes Boy home with him and tries all his remedies: oil, reading an instruction manual. Nothing revives the malfunctioning Boy! Can the Inventor help fix him?

Using the perfect blend of sweetness and humor, this story of an adorable duo will win the hearts of the very youngest readers.

You can order BOY + BOT here!


You can find Ame on her website.
On Twitter.
And on Facebook.

Monday, November 5, 2012

GILT Paperback Cover Reveal!

I'm very excited to be able to share this!  And really, there's not much I can say, right?  Lush, sexy and

Because of my recent break from daily social networking, I missed the post on the Gilt Novels Facebook page (oops!), so if you already saw it there, you saw it first!

The paperback will be available in May.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Friday Five -- Kami Kinard

Today's interview is with the author of THE BOY PROJECT, published this year by Scholastic.  Kami Kinard has been writing all of her life (just check out the bio on her website!) but is also a teaching artist, which I think is just as cool as it sounds.  


1.  What single thing would improve the quality of your life? 

A cure for childhood illnesses.

2.  What is your guiltiest pleasure?  

The Chocolate Tree. Beaufort, SC.

3.  What do you consider your greatest achievement? 

A lot of moms probably say this, but I’d have to say my children. There is nothing else I’ve given up more for, and nothing else I love more.

4.  Who would play you in the film of your life? 

Meryl Streep. She can play anyone.

5.  Who are your real-life heroes? 

People who are willing to give back – to share. I admire people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who have acquired so much, but want to, and are willing to, share their assets and good fortune. I also admire people who give back in other ways. Good teachers are among my greatest heroes, as are caring physicians who use their brilliance to help others.


For anyone who's ever felt that boys were a different species.... 

Wildly creative seventh grader, Kara McAllister, just had her best idea yet. She's going to take notes on all of the boys in her grade (and a few elsewhere) in order to answer a seemingly simple question: How can she get a boyfriend? 

But Kara's project turns out to be a lot more complicated than she imagined. Soon there are secrets, lies, and an embarrassing incident in the boy's bathroom. Plus, Kara has to deal with mean girls, her slightly spacey BFF, and some surprising uses for duct tape. Still, if Kara's research leads her to the right boy, everything may just be worth it... 

You can order THE BOY PROJECT here!


You can find Kami on her website.
On Twitter.
And on Facebook.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Five -- L.B. Schulman

L.B. Schulman is another Apocalypsies author who lives in Northern California.  I met her several years ago, just after LEAGUE OF STRAYS sold and just before GILT did.  She is gracious, unassuming, welcoming and courageous, and I am delighted to be able to consider her one of my writer friends.  She also has an incredible talent for writing setting and character details that spark and pop and make every scene in STRAYS come alive.


1.  What keeps you awake at night?

My plots. I keep thinking of points I forgot to put into my work-in-progress. I am writing a very complex story right now, involving the Holocaust, and I wake up wondering what major details I’m missing.

2.  What is your most treasured possession?

My Nespresso machine. I go through three lattes a day. I adore the colorful pods, the no-clean-up hassle. I even polish it every day with stainless steel cleanser, lovingly.

3.  What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned since becoming a writer?

That people don’t always have patience for weak heroines who learn how to find their way; they prefer strong ones who grow stronger and solve problems. I tend to write realistic, every day characters, but I am finding that they’re not always the most likeable or commercial. This theory may change, but it’s how I feel right now.

4.  What intrigues you?

At the moment, controversy. But I’m afraid of it at the same time. I wish I had the guts to say what I mean, when I feel it, and not have to worry what others will think. I find controversy to be very exciting and thought-provoking.

5.  What annoys you?

As soon as people have to be by themselves in public, they pull out their cell phones. I get that it’s a way to look busy, but it’s eliminated the possibility of random communication. Twenty years ago, I met a really good friend in the DMV line. I’m not sure that would happen today.


This suspenseful debut follows a group of teenage misfits in their delicious quest for revenge on those who have wronged them at their high school. When a mysterious note appears in Charlotte’s mailbox inviting her to join the League of Strays, she’s hopeful it will lead to making friends. What she discovers is a motley crew of loners and an alluring, manipulative ringleader named Kade. Kade convinces the group that they need one another both for friendship and to get back at the classmates and teachers who have betrayed them. But Kade has a bigger agenda. In addition to vandalizing their school and causing fights between other students, Kade’s real intention is a dangerous plot that will threaten lives and force Charlotte to choose between her loyalty to the League and her own conscience.

You can order LEAGUE OF STRAYS here!


You can find Lisa on her website.
On Twitter.
And on the blog Emu's Debuts.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Taking a Break

As some of you may have noticed, I didn't post last Monday.  I've been going through a rough time, personally, which I wrote about on the YA Muses blog last week.  Between that, copyedits for TARNISH, finishing the first draft of Book 3, upcoming events and just life in general, I need to take a bit of a break from the blog.  So please, bear with me - I'm hoping November will be a bit less hectic.

I will continue to post the Friday Five, so please come back and meet more Apocalypsies authors every week!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Five -- Tamara Ireland Stone

I've had the incredible good fortune to meet the adorable Tamara Ireland Stone in person because she, too, lives in Northern California.  She is kind, enthusiastic, and passionate about writing and YA literature.  Her debut time-travel romance, TIME BETWEEN US, came out earlier this month.


1.  What would your super power be?

That's the question that prompted me to write a whole book! One evening, my husband and I got into a funny conversation about superpowers. He said he wished he could fly. I said I wished I could time travel. But then I clarified it, and said that I really just wanted to go back to the mid 90’s for a few hours and see Green Day when they were playing small clubs in Berkeley. He laughed and asked if I’d take him with me. Twenty-four hours later, I started writing Time Between Us.

2.  If you could go back (or forward!) in time, where/when would you go?

It's funny, but I have no interest in going forward in time. I guess I've always liked surprises. But like I said to my husband that night, I would love to go back and see concerts I missed when I was younger. I love live music, and while I don't have many regrets in life, I really wish I'd made it a priority earlier.

3.  What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

I wish I had the ability to travel more frequently. Not only do I enjoy the adventure of travel itself, I love the way the trip changes me when I get back home. It never lasts as long as I want it to, but for a few weeks, I see my own world a little differently. I don’t take the little things for granted. I naturally slow down and look around. I view my neighborhood and my garden and my living room with fresh eyes, like a visitor might see it. I like being in that post-travel, reflective haze.

4.  What is the worst job you’ve done?

I worked at Taco Bell for a summer. I’d come home smelling like beef and beans, my hair sticky and nasty from the tortilla steamer, and with pieces if cheese stuck under my fingernails. But honestly, I didn’t hate it. It was my first job and I was pretty happy to have one. The best part was that we didn't have a manager that summer. We got into a lot of fights with the sour cream guns after hours.

5.  What one word do you think describes you best?



Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett’s unique ability to travel through time and space brings him into Anna’s life, and with him, a new world of adventure and possibility. As their relationship deepens, they face the reality that time might knock Bennett back where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate—and what consequences they can bear in order to stay together.

Order a copy of TIME BETWEEN US here!


You can find Tamara on her website.
On Twitter.
And on Facebook.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Five -- Janci Patterson

This week's five features the author of CHASING THE SKIP, a contemporary YA novel published by Henry Holt on the 2nd.  Janci is a poet and an Apocalypsies author (though perhaps not an Apocalyptic Poet) and a self-proclaimed geek.  


1. If you could go back in time, where/when would you go?

This will show you the flavor of literary nerd that I am, but I would love to have been at the Six Gallery Reading on October 7, 1955 when Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl” was first performed.  That reading was going to change the world, and I’m sure nobody knew it.  

2. Who would play you in the film of your life?

The film of my life would be very boring, but if I was lucky, Kate Winslet.  We look nothing alike, but she can play anyone.

3. What one word do you think describes you best?


4. What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned since becoming a writer?

That the actual work of writing is only one tiny step toward a novel—the real work happens in revision.  This shouldn’t have been a surprise, but I was sure blindsided by it.

5. If you knew you would be stranded on a desert island, which book, piece of music, and snack food would you take with you?

Beyond the basics to survive?  CAKE’s Comfort Eagle, Pringles, and a Norton Anthology of British Literature.  It comes in two volumes—I’d bring the second half.


Ricki’s dad has never been there for her. He’s a bounty hunter who spends his time chasing parole evaders—also known as “skips”—all over the country. Ever since Ricki’s mom ran off, Ricki finds herself an unwilling passenger in a front-row seat to her father’s dangerous lifestyle. Ricki’s feelings get even more confused when her dad starts tracking seventeen-year-old Ian Burnham. She finds herself unavoidably attracted to the dark-eyed felon who seems eager to get acquainted. Ricki thinks she’s ever in control—the perfect accomplice, the Bonnie to his Clyde. Little does she know that Ian isn’t playing the game by her rules.

You can order CHASING THE SKIP here!


You can find Janci on her website.
On Twitter.
And on Facebook.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Anne Boleyn

As many of you know, a couple of weeks ago, Jaime Arnold over at Two Chicks on Books announced that Book 2 will be titled TARNISH and will be narrated by a young Anne Boleyn.  Jaime asks fabulous questions, so if you're interested in knowing a little more, please see the whole interview here.

One thing Jaime didn't ask was why?  Why Anne Boleyn?  If anything, I'm treading over already well-trodden ground with this character.  The number of biographies (by such greats as Eric Ives and Alison Weir) and historical novels (The Other Boleyn Girl, anyone? Not to mention the amazing Hilary Mantel) are daunting.  Plus innumerable extensive chapters in every history of Tudor times, from Starkey's Six Wives to books solely about Anne's daughter Elizabeth.  We know all of this already, don't we?

The decision was a daunting one.  Anne is iconic.  She fascinates - her charisma transcends 450 years.  It's not just the tragedy of her story that captures the imagination - not like Romeo and Juliet.  I believe it's her strength.  She was an opinionated, outspoken woman in a time when women were meant to be seen and not heard.  In a time when even queens (including Mary I) believed they should be ruled by their husbands, Anne Boleyn believed in telling her husband exactly what she thought - and sometimes disagreed with him when he did the same.  So not only would I be fictionalizing the life of a beloved figure, I had to be true to her spirit. (kind of like Michelle Williams playing Marilyn Monroe or Katie Holmes playing Jackie Kennedy).

I have to admit, I was afraid.  I never intended to write a book about Anne.  But on a long drive one day, a voice came to me.  Not a Joan of Arc, "the saints are speaking to me" kind of voice.  But a fictional voice.  A strong, opinionated, snarky, emotional, teenaged voice.  The voice of a girl who speaks without thinking - often ending in regrets.  A girl who can love, but is afraid of it.  A girl who doesn't fit in, who isn't well-liked, but is, ultimately, likable.  Even lovable.  And once I started thinking in that voice, it wouldn't let me go.

I wanted to write a book about a girl who could become the tragic, iconic, lovable-hatable figure history has handed us.  And in the process, I, too, fell under her spell.

I'm still afraid.  I hope I do Anne's character justice.  I hope the other Anne Boleyn fans out there agree with my portrayal.  I hope, above all things, that I get it right.  Because I think she deserves it.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Five -- Tiffany Strelitz Haber

Something new for the Friday Five this week - a picture book author!  Tiffany Strelitz Haber is the author of THE MONSTER WHO LOST HIS MEAN, which was published by MacMillan in July.  Tiffany is another avid traveler, albeit one who is a much more adventurous eater than I am (calf's brains ravioli, anyone?).


1. What would your super power be? 

Flying.  I realize there is an originality factor of zero with that answer, but I would lovvvvves me some wings.

2. What is the worst job you’ve done?

Hmmm…Imma roll with the job I’ve done the worst AT, if that’s ok.  And that would be: waiting tables at a super trendy, enormous, high-volume restaurant in the heart of Times Square.  Totally UN-qualified for the position, I wrangled the job by acing the pages long “food test” they gave applicants, and then creating an award winning (albeit fantastically falsified) resume of where I had waited tables in the past.  Holy.  Crabcakes.  Waitressing is no joke.

3. Who are your writing heroes?  

That’s an ever changing answer.  Currently, I am obsessed with Brian Selznick (WONDERSTRUCK) and also Robert Paul Weston (ZORGAMAZOO).  Nothing is cooler to me than authors that change the game in terms of format.

4. What annoys you?

When people drive up my a** when I am already going 8 over the speed limit in a 25 and there is a cop down the road handing out tickets like it’s his last day on earth.  DUDE.  I’m not driving this slowly for my health.  Promise.

5. What keeps you awake at night?  

A certain thumping sound…but I really can’t elaborate.


Everyone knows that the M in “monster” stands for MEAN. But what happens when a monster can’t be mean any more? Is he still a monster at all?  One young monster's attempts to live up to his name go hilariously awry as he discovers—with a little help from new friends—that it's not what you're called but who you are that counts.



You can find Tiffany on her website.
On Twitter.
And on Facebook.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My Favorite Banned Books

On my first day of Sophomore AP English, I brought home the extracurricular reading list.  I had chosen the “new” teacher – young, foreign, different.  She had big ideas.  Eccentric tastes.  Expansive theories.

My dad grew up in the deep South where politeness was everything and religion ruled all.   He took a long look at that list.  Graham Greene.  Ernest Hemingway.  Kurt Vonnegut.  John Steinbeck.  Ken Kesey.  William Golding. J.D. Salinger.  Anthony Burgess.  He sighed.

“I loved these books,” he said.  And showed me his favorites.

In honor of Banned Books week and in honor of my dad (on whose opinion I still pick up certain titles), I’d like to share a few of those books with you.   I read them in high school.  The “classics” were my books of choice.  They, and my parents, made me who I am.  The reader.  The writer.  The person.  All of these have been banned or challenged at one time or another.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway.  Burned by the Nazis.  Banned by the Italians for its accurate portrayal of the retreat from Caporetto.  Challenged for being a “sex novel”.  This was my favorite Hemingway.  A brilliant love story.  Tragic.  I may have thrown it across the room when I finished it, though.  I was a little volatile as a teenager.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey.  Banned and challenged for language, promoting criminal activity and “secular humanism”.  Quite possibly one of the most heart-wrenching books I’ve ever read (another one that hit the wall when I read the final page).  I read it on my dad’s solid recommendation.  Then we watched the movie together.  Jack Nicholson rocks.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  I seriously fell in love with Steinbeck and Hemingway in high school.  This book was banned and is still challenged for profanity (damn!), violence and being defamatory to women and differently-abled people.  It was also pulled from shelves in one community because Steinbeck was known to have an “anti-business” attitude and “questionable patriotism”.  You can’t question his technique, though.  George and Lenny live in my mind 20 years later.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  This book is consistently challenged for language (damn again!) and racial epithets.  Also for its portrayal of the treatment of blacks by racist whites in rural Alabama.  Huh.  I may have read it when I was sixteen, but wasn’t that kind of the point?  Lee wrote the book so eloquently she showed us what that community was like.  Her use of language fit the setting.  Those characters were unlikely to wander around calling blacks “African-Americans”.    My dad thought her portrayal of the South was acutely accurate.

This is a short list of  my favorite books when I was a teenager.  I still count them as such today.  (Yes, I was a nerd.  And a drama geek.  Double whammy). I can’t countenance removing them from the shelves of libraries and classrooms.  Or any other book that encourages a child or teenager to think, to question, to discuss.  To read.

The Long List (favorite banned books I read as a teenager):

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Animal Farm by George Orwell
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Sophie's Choice by William Styron
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Five -- Gretchen McNeil

Today's Friday Five is with the fabulous author of POSSESS (which scared me so much I had to stop reading it) and TEN (which I cannot wait to read - and finally can!).  She is a trained opera singer and still sings with the Cirque Berserk  in Los Angeles.  She vlogs with the YA Rebels.  She tours with Stages on Pages.  And on top of all that, she is just a charming person, and not at all scary in real life.


1.  What would your super power be?

I'm ALL about shape-shifting.  I think it's the actress in me – the idea of pretending to be someone else.  Mystique was always my favorite mutant.

2.  What is your most unappealing habit?

I'm a nail-biter.  Have been since I was a kid.  I do it unconsciously when I'm nervous: in a scary movie, watching my favorite sports team in a big game, reading an edit letter from my editor…

3.  What is the worst thing anyone has said to you?

When I was a senior in college (and already accepted to several graduate opera programs), the choir director at my undergrad university took me aside one day and told me I sang with an "ugly tone."  I looked him dead in the eye and replied, "Well, the graduate departments at three conservatories didn't think so."  He shut his trap and walked away.

4.  What is your guiltiest pleasure? 

Champagne.  I can't help myself.  I LOVE it.  Love.  Like it's my desert island "food."  Yeah, this probably isn't something I should be admitting in public…

5.  What song would you have played at your funeral?

"Monkey Gone To Heaven" by the Pixies.  :D


Rule #1: Do not show fear.
Rule #2: Do not show pity.
Rule #3: Do not engage.
Rule #4: Do not let your guard down.
Rule #5: They lie.

Fifteen-year-old Bridget Liu just wants to be left alone: by her mom, by the cute son of a local police sergeant, and by the eerie voices she can suddenly and inexplicably hear. Unfortunately for Bridget, it turns out the voices are demons – and Bridget has the rare ability to banish them back to whatever hell they came from.

Terrified to tell people about her new power, Bridget confides in a local priest who enlists her help in increasingly dangerous cases of demonic possession. But just as she is starting to come to terms with her new power, Bridget receives a startling message from one of the demons. Now Bridget must unlock the secret to the demons' plan before someone close to her winds up dead – or worse, the human vessel of a demon king.

You can order POSSESS here!


And their doom comes swiftly.

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, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine. 

Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two 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?

You can order TEN here!


You can find Gretchen on her website.
On Facebook.
And on Twitter.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Five -- Lynne Kelly

Lynne Kelly is a Class of 2k12 sibling, an active member of the Apocalypsies, an unstoppable Twitter-phile, an advocate of writers, published and pre-published everywhere.  And a darn good writer herself.  Her middle grade novel, CHAINED, came out in May and it stunned me with its vivid setting and fully-realized characters.  Not only that, but she's also just a lovely all-round person.  I'm delighted to introduce her to you.


1.  What do you love most about your main character?

That he does the right thing, even when he's afraid.

2.  What would your super power be?

Invisibility. Then I could listen to other people's conversations without looking creepy. Come to think of it, that answer is probably creepy.

3.  What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

I suppose “winning lottery ticket” would be too easy. But I did just discover the Post-It Note desk, which would make life much better.  And it would be in my own writing office, of course. 

4.  What song would you have played at your funeral?

I'd love for my funeral to turn out like the “All You Need Is Love” wedding scene from Love Actually.

5.  If you knew you would be stranded on a desert island, which book, piece of music, and snack food would you take with you?

Hmm, is it cheating to say a giant 7-volume book that includes the whole Harry Potter series? If so, then I guess I'd have to pick Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and then lie in the sand and replay the rest of the series in my head. For music I'd take “Under Pressure,” because it's one of the best songs ever and I never get tired of hearing it, and for snack food I'd take chocolate-covered strawberries, 'cause they're chocolate, of course, with the added bonus of scurvy protection.


After ten-year-old Hastin’s family borrows money to pay for his sister’s hospital bill, he leaves his village in northern India to take a job as an elephant keeper and work off the debt. He thinks it will be an adventure, but he isn’t prepared for the cruel circus owner. The crowds that come to the circus see a lively animal who plays soccer and balances on milk bottles, but Hastin sees Nandita, a sweet elephant and his best friend, who is chained when she’s not performing and punished until she learns tricks perfectly. Hastin protects Nandita as best as he can, knowing that the only way they will both survive is if he can find a way for them to escape.

You can order CHAINED here!


You can find Lynne on her website.
And on Twitter.  You definitely want to follow her on Twitter.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Blog!

I am joining up with some fabulous authors (J. Anderson Coats, Jessica Spotswood, and several authors of new and exciting 2013 debuts) of historical fiction to launch a brand new blog!  Corsets, Cutlasses and Candlesticks debuts today with an awesome giveaway (including a signed copy of GILT!)

Beginning in October, we'll be blogging Mondays and Wednesdays on all things historical, so come and check it out.  You won't regret it.

And of course, I'll still be blogging here, and doing the Friday Five feature!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Five -- Laurisa White Reyes

Today's Friday Five is a homeschooling mom with five kids and a full house, who says, "If I don't write, I'll go insane."  Laurisa White Reyes, author of  THE ROCK OF IVANORE (Tanglewood Press) is a fellow fan of musical theater and chocolate, too - and I hope one day to get a chance to meet her in person.


1.  What is your guiltiest pleasure?  

Chocolate. Well, specifically Godiva Mint Chocolate Truffle Bars, See’s Blueberry Truffles and Pepperidge Farm Milano Sweet Toffee Slices. I don’t have them often, but when I do, I don’t share.

2.  What keeps you awake at night?

I’m a pretty deep sleeper, but if my kids make even the slightest sound, I’m instantly awake. I have five kids, which means that for many years I never got a complete night’s rest. Only since my youngest child started sleeping through the night about two years ago have I been able to get enough sleep. Sometimes, when I’m really tired, I sleep with earplugs.

3. What living person do you most admire and why?

My mother. She is a survivor and a very strong individual. She also has a very positive attitude about life. She taught me that if someone else has done it, I could learn to do it, too. I’ve tried to teach that to my own kids, as well. Because of my mom, I’ve set some pretty high expectations for myself and I don’t quit. Getting my first book published was one of them.

4. What annoys you?

Lots of things. When my kids drop their dirty clothes on the floor right next to the hamper. Movies and books where the hero dies at the end for no good reason whatsoever. Finding an empty cereal box in the cupboard or empty ice cream carton in the freezer. And people who drive under the speed limit. That drives me crazy.

5.  What is your favorite writing motto/mantra?

Find Your Magic. In my book, Marcus is an enchanter’s apprentice but he’s not very good at it. In order to succeed in his quest, he must develop the courage and the skills he needs – he must find his magic. For a long time I didn’t think I could write novels. But over time and with experience, I eventually did it. I found my magic. I think everyone has something that they’d like to achieve or improve in their lives. When things get difficult they may want to give up. But those who are truly successful are those who keep going. They find that special something, that magic, that enables them to reach their goals and live their dreams.


The annual Great Quest is about to be announced in Quendel, a task that will determine the future of Marcus and the other boys from the village who are coming of age. The wizard Zyll commands them to find the Rock of Ivanore, but he doesn't tell them what the Rock is exactly or where it can be found. Marcus must reach deep within himself to develop new powers of magic and find the strength to survive the wild lands and fierce enemies he encounters as he searches for the illusive Rock. If he succeeds, he will live a life of honor; if he fails, he will live a life of menial labor in shame. With more twists and turns than a labyrinth, and a story in which nothing is as it seems, this tale of deception and discovery keeps readers in suspense until the end.



You can find Laurisa on her website.
On her blog.
On Goodreads.