Wednesday, July 29, 2009
(No cover yet)
Sophie Mercer thought being a teenage witch meant flying broomsticks, talking cats, and awesome spells. Instead, her mom still makes her ride the bus, she’s allergic to pet dander, and the one big spell she attempts at prom goes seriously bad-like, Carrie-levels of bad. As a result, Sophie is shipped off to Prentiss Academy, a boarding school for Witches, Shapeshifters, and Faeries. At Prentiss, Sophie discovers that the traumas of regular school have nothing on the goings-on at “Freak High,” what with the trio of Dark Witches who want Sophie to join their coven, her futile crush on Prentiss’s hottest Warlock, and her roommate, Jenna, who just happens to be Prentiss’s only Vampire. When members of Sophie’s coven are attacked, she finds herself trying to exonerate Jenna and solve the mystery, which might be more connected to Sophie than she ever could have guessed.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Summer's just about to end in a month already, can ya believe it? I can't. It feels like it should be at least June still.
But anyhow, the point of this post it to tell everyone that I will be leaving for San Francisco tomorrow morning for four days. And then this upcoming Sunday I'm going back home to Minnesota after more then two months in California with my grandparents. So I don't know when I'll post again. It might take a few days before I comfortable again but I hope to get going on my review books that have been piling up at home this summer. Along with the books that I bought this summer, which if you're wondering, as I know some of you are, I am shipping most of them in a big box that weighs 30 pounds and I have some in my luggage too. I just hope none of them get ruined.
What you can expect is two WoW posts that I already have scheduled and hopefully my T2T post for Ballads of Suburbia (GO BUY IT NOW!) if I can get it written. And if I don't: Don't hate me Yan!
Anyhow, I shall be back in a week at the latest! Thanks for hanging with me in this poorly posting summer on my blog.
Monday, July 27, 2009
When I first heard the concept for the cover of my book, Prophecy of the Sisters, I was so excited! The book is a Gothic fantasy set in 1890 and features very dark themes and a strong supernatural element. The original concept was to locate real, Victorian pins of different animals, and feature a different one on each of the three books in the Prophecy series. Book one would be a snake, book two something else, and so on.
My editor did a ton of legwork, researching gorgeous Victorian brooches and pins of various animals until she found a beautiful example. A photo shoot followed, and the designer added special effects such as a worn background, a shadow for the snake's tongue (especially cool because the actual pin doesn't have a snake's tongue, so it could only be seen in shadow), and a title treatment that was actually art, not stock font. When it was finished, the cover was striking and unusual - definitely different than every other YA title out there.
That part I loved!
But the overall effect felt a little... off to me, I guess. Maybe it was because I was accustomed to seeing spookier covers for YA fantasy or maybe it's because it just wasn't what I was expecting, but I didn't believe the cover captured the essence of the book or said anything important about its story. It seemed I was in the minority, though, because a lot of the people at the publishing house really loved it, so it was decided to send the ARCs out with the cover as-is and then consider the feedback from there.
I held my breath when the ARCs went out, in part because I *wanted* everyone to love the cover so we wouldn't have to start over and in part because, as hard as I tried, I just couldn't get 100% behind it even though I knew how hard everyone had worked on it and SO appreciated all the energy (a lot) and talent (considerable) that had gone into it.
In the end, the feedback was called "polarizing" - some people loved it and some people REALLY didn't "get it". There was enough of the latter, though that my publisher decided to rework the cover from the concept up. As funny as it sounds, I was a little sad, even though I'd had a feeling we might be better off with a different cover. The truth is, whatever your cover is and however you feel about it at first, your brain does this thing where it starts to point out all the good things about it in an effort to make it all okay, you know? So parts of the cover had grown on me, and I'd become kind of happy that it was white when so much of fantasy had a darker background. But deep down, I was happy (and a little nervous!) to be getting a new cover concept.
Little Brown worked fast to come up with a new cover, because we were getting really close to my pre-publication tour and they really wanted something solid to unveil to the booksellers and educators we would be meeting. And there's so much that goes into it. A cover has to tell you something about the story. It has to be different enough that it will stand out on the shelf. And it has to be beautiful, even when its scary, for the YA audience. Shortly before I left for tour, I got my new cover - the one you see now.
I have to say, it took me off guard at first! Again, it just wasn't what I was expecting. I think I kept expecting a Victorian girl in a fancy gown, even though I probably would have whined, "But everyone has one of thooooooose!" if that's what I'd gotten. (Sometimes I feel so sorry for editors and designers that they have to put up with us!) But the difference between this cover and the last one was that EVERYONE seemed to love this one. From the beginning, the feedback wasn't polarizing - it was more or less unanimous - this was THE cover. Featuring era-appropriate twin graveyard statues, it really spoke to the darker nature of the book and the conflict between sisters. The title font wasn't art this time, and although I hated to lose the "cool" factor associated with that, the new title font was cleaner and more Gothic. Definitely a better fit for the story itself.
I became an even bigger advocate of my cover after my pre-publication tour, because everywhere we went the booksellers and educators would say, "Is THAT the new cover?" And they loved it. Plus, when we went to Comic-COn NY with it, lots of people who came to my signing mentioned doing so strictly because of the cover. It has since been called creepy, scary, spooky, striking, intruiging, and my personal favorite, bad ass!
But it was a long road to get here and involved countless hours of work, energy, talent, and patience(!), on the part of my editor and designer. In the end, though, it was all worth it. I couldn't be happier, and I look forward to seeing how the concept will be carried forward with the next two books.
Now I get to wait for the fun part - seeing the cover in all of its final glory, special effects and all. I can't wait! I hope when you see it, you'll enjoy it even more knowing all that went into developing the perfect cover. Oh, and say a quiet thank you to editors and designers everywhere who work so hard to give us the stunning covers we sometimes take for granted.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
The winner of the ARC of Along For The Ride is:
Congratulations! Since I'm actually pretty busy this weekend and week, you have all have until Monday at midnight to email me your addresses, be sure to put which book you won in the subject line!
And, because I really want to, I'll share my answers to the questions I answered.
For Suite Scarlett I asked: What do you like better? Hardcover or Paperback? WHY?
I answer: I like hardcovers better mostly because paperbacks drive me crazy when I have to bend the cover on the paperbacks and they stay bent!
For Along For The Ride I asked: What is your dream car?
I have two dream cars. My first one is one I've had since I was in the 3rd grade, seriously. It's the new VW Beetles. I'd like it in a baby blue with a black convertible top like this one:Another car I would love to have too is the Audi TTS Roadster in red:
I think if I could afford it, I'd take the Audi over the Beetle because, well, the Audi is more luxurious and you don't see as many around as you do the Beetle. But, you never know. :)
P.S.: I know! I need to announce the contest winners. Keep holding still! I'll get to it when I can.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
(no cover yet)
After getting caught cheating on her U.S. History final, seventeen-year-old Jacey Lowell will not be spending three weeks in Europe with her friends. Instead, she's been sentenced to two weeks aboard the eXtreme Teen Tour charter bus, which offers "an unforgettable adventure at some of our nation's greatest historical landmarks". (Or so the brochure says.)
Jacey has no interest in bonding with her eXtreme Teen tour mates and even less interest (yes, it's possible) in seeing historical sites. But when the tour (and her luggage) leaves her behind in New York City, Jacey's boring bus ride turns into a cross-country adventure that takes her places she's never been before.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Stephanie Kuehnert is the author of two YA novels, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia which which is officially released tomorrow but I've heard it's in stock everywhere already! You can visit Stephanie here.
I came up with the “ballads” concept of the book in grad school when I took a class with the amazing author/teacher Joe Meno. He brought a boombox to class one day and played us a bunch of Johnny Cash songs, using them to illustrate the way songs told stories. Ballads, he pointed out, were one of the original forms of storytelling.
I scribbled down notes frantically, thinking of all the songs that I loved where the musicians laid their souls bare to tell either a personal story of how they came to be the person they were (like “Story of My Life” by Social Distortion and “The Young Crazed Peeling” by The Distillers) or an interesting story of another life that teaches a lesson in a way (like “Cocaine Blue” by Johnny Cash or pretty much any Johnny Cash song.)
At the time I was working on I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, but I had this other book on the back burner. It was something I wrote in six months when I first started college, but it was too much of a flimsy autobiography, which I really didn’t want to write. (If I choose to write about my life someday, I will call it a memoir.) But what I liked about it was the concept of shattering the illusion of the safe, peaceful suburbs. I grew up in the suburbs and it wasn’t all happy families. I witnessed a lot of the fallout of broken homes, broken dreams, and broken hearts. I saw secrets tearing people and friends and families apart. I realized everyone had a secret song, like the kind of songs I just mentioned, like the songs my main character Kara says, “tell the story of [someone’s] life in three minutes, reminding us of the numerous ways to screw up.”
The secret songs are the “ballads of suburbia.” That was the concept I built the book around, writing “ballads” for all of my characters, their deep dark stories to tell. The title is central to the book and I was relieved that it was catchy enough that the publisher let me keep it!
As for the cover, I’ve been really lucky with both of my books to get amazing covers. I was instantly in love with the I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone cover. This time the cover love didn’t happen instantly, only because Ballads of Suburbia is set in a real life place. Most of the action happens in Scoville Park, a park I spent almost every spring/summer/fall afternoon in as a teenager. So to see an image that was definitely not from my real park, it threw me off a bit. However, I immediately loved the ominous feeling that the cover exudes—the creepy duck, the lighting, the sky. I just wanted to see a touch of teenage presence. I asked my editor if they could add beer bottles or cigarette butts or graffiti or something. The beer bottles looked too photoshopped, but the graffiti on the slide was the perfect touch. And now I have to say I’m totally in love with the cover of this book!
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
When someone leaves three mystery flowers outside her dorm door, Laurel thinks that maybe the Avondale School isn't so awful after all -- until her own body starts to freak out. In the middle of her English presentation on the Victorian Language of Flowers, strange words pop into her head, and her body seems to tingle and hum. Impulsively, Laurel gives the love bouquet she made to demonstrate the language to her spinster English teacher. When that teacher unexpectedly and immediately finds romance, Laurel suspects that something -- something magical -- is up. With her new friend, Kate, she sets out to discover the origins and breadth of her powers by experimenting on herself and others. But she can't seem to find any living experts in the field of flower powers to guide her. And her bouquets don't always do her bidding, especially when it comes to her own crush, Justin. Rumors about Laurel and her flowers fly across campus, and she's soon besieged by requests from girls -- both friends and enemies -- who want their lives magically transformed -- just in time for prom.
Monday, July 13, 2009
Author: Jan Blazanin
Publisher: MTV Books
Reading Level: Young Adult, 12+
Publication Date: April 21, 2009
My Edition: ARC
Plot - 16/20
Characters - 15/20
Writing - 16/20
Originality - 18/20
Entertainment - 8/10
Recommendation - 7/10
If life were a fairy tale, Oribella Bettencourt would have a "happily ever after" kind of future ahead of her. A Hollywood producer has come to Des Moines in search of a perfectly modern Princess Rapunzel, and Ori -- a model, dancer, and star of the beauty pageant circuit -- lands the part. And why shouldn't she? With her hardworking, self-sacrifi cing mother guiding her career, Ori is stunning, dedicated, poised...and then there's her hair. Breathtakingly lustrous blond hair that sets her apart from all the other girls at school. So what if she doesn't have any friends her age, or anyone to talk to other than her mother? She's on the verge of having everything she's ever dreamed of.
But in this fairy tale, the beautiful princess wakes up to her worst nightmare -- when almost overnight, Ori begins to lose her hair....Review:
I know everyone has said this, but I haven't so I want to say it again. MTV novels that I read have all been good, so I was expecting something to come from this novel, and though it wasn't one of the best I've read, it was still really good.
I praise Jan for writing about a disease that probably has not been written fictitiously yet. It was interesting disease to read about and I learned a lot about it and what it could do to someone. So it was nice to read something different.
Though the writing and the characters were brilliant. The book was interesting and fun. The writing was a bit bland and the characters didn't seem fully developed, but the emotions by the fact that Ori was losing her hair were real. I felt those.
This novel was original, different and it was just a good read. I recommend it for a quick, nothing deep, and not to cheerful or sappy read.
Friday, July 10, 2009
I hope this note finds you well. I work with Anna Jarzab and Nicole Bruce and am writing about the Teenreads.com 2009 Reader Survey. The goal of the survey is to identify trends and topics that are of interest to readers of young adult literature, both teens and adults. Results will be shared with the media, publishers, authors, booksellers, librarians and educators in September 2009.
In addition to questions about Teenreads.com, a website from The Book Report Network, the survey addresses:
-How often they buy books and where they shop
-How often they visit the library and/or take out books
-What kinds of books they are interested in reading
-Who and what influence their reading selections
-How they feel about required summer reading
-What they think about eBooks and digital reading devices
-What their other media habits are
The survey can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.
We hope you will mention the survey on your site and encourage all of the teens you know --- and anyone else who loves young adult books or works with teens --- to take the survey.
We estimate that the survey will take about 15 minutes to complete. As a token of their appreciation for filling it out, respondents from the U.S. and Canada will be eligible to enter a random drawing to receive a copy of one of 27 titles, which are being provided by publishers. There will be 775 winners selected. See the full list of 27 titles at: http://teenreads.com/surveys/
The survey will close on August 31st so please visit http://www.
surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=uj_ 2bvfY4l2_2ftO2ZD6YvUazw_3d_3d to answer the survey now!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
(No Cover Yet)
Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants.
A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?
Monday, July 6, 2009
Kay Cassidy is the founder of the Great Scavenger Hunt Contest and her debut novel, The Cinderella Society, which sounds freaking awesome, will be puclished by EgmontUSA in 2010.
So check her out here.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
To honor today, I'm hosting a giveaway.
- One winner will randomly chosen to win a ARC edition of . . . . ALONG FOR THE RIDE by Sarah Dessen!
- US only! Sorry international readers!
- The contest will be from now until, ummm, let's say the same day as my other contest is ending, so (If I remember right!) July 17th!
- To enter, answer this question:
- Post about this on your blog, myspace, facebook, whatever and in a SEPARATE comment, give me a link for an extra entry.
- Follow me or tell me if you are following me for an extra entry in a SEPARATE comment, please.
- Have a way for me to contact you, I'm not going to be searching everywhere for an email address.
All extra entries MUST be in a SEPARATE comment to be counted.
Thanks! Have fun!
Thursday, July 2, 2009
On the left sidebar I have a new gadget that lists all the books that I have read since school ended for me. I'm updating it frequently, and I must say that I am doing very well. This past week alone I read more then I had the entire summer! But anyhow, if you want to keep track with me on the books I'm reading and stuff, then just view there every couple of times. *coughgooglereaderscough*
So far I've read 14 books. I'm on my 15th My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters by Sydney Salter. And just because I'll post the list of books that I have to read this summer. And keep in mind these are only the books that I have with me in CA, I have much more at home in MN. Some are abv. It might shrink as the summer progresses.
Forest of Hands and Teeth
Wherever Nina Lies
Braless in Wonderland (half read already)
Death by Denim
My Big Nose and Other Natural Disasters
What Would Emma Do?
Sisters in Sanity
Prada and Prejudice
Me My Elf and I
The Center of the Universe (Yep, that would be me)
Three Little Words
Two Way Street
Wanderlust (Half Read already)
The Naughty List
After a humiliating encounter with her long-term crush, ex-best friend, and a groundhog costume, fourteen-year-old Desi Bascomb finds herself in the back room of the pet shop where she works, staring into a fish tank. Her boss claims the tank is magical and Desi sure could use a little magic in her life right now.
That night as Desi soaks in the bath, Meredith Poofinski - a no-nonsense agent scouting substitutes for vacationing princesses - pops out of a bubble. Now Desi is about to learn first hand what it feels like to be royalty as she subs for princesses desperate to go AWOL. Soon Desi is dancing in an Amazonian tribal festival and dodging a prince with just a little too much ‘Eastern promise’. But nothing can prepare her for the magic of falling for a real prince - a prince who has no idea that back in Hicktown, Idaho, Desi is just a girl in a groundhog suit.
PS: Sorry it's late! I scheduled it for Friday instead of Wednesday!