Friday, October 31, 2008

Survey: Halloween/Birthday Contest


Haha, sorry, that was me being a dork.

So, having a nice Halloween yet? What are you doing this year? Trick or treating? Handing out candy? Going to a party?

Me? I'll be handing out candy this year, as with last year. Where I live, it's pretty cold on Halloween, heck, last year I was wearing my winter jacket handing out candy. I have no idea how all those little kids do it. But anyway, it's time for my Halloween/Birthday contest survey to win extra points for the contest ending on my birthday, November 17th.

Each question answered will be one (1) extra entry to the drawing on November 18th.

Email the answer to --- kels (dot) m (dot) 17 (at) gmail (dot) com --- with Contest Survey in the subject line with your name and email address also, so I know who to give the extra entries too. You will have until the end of the contest to get your answers in.

If you want more information on the contest, click here.

  1. What do you like most about my blog?
  2. What do you like least about my blog?
  3. What should I improve on with my blog?
  4. What should I tone down with my blog?
  5. Anything else you want to add about my blog?
So, remember, EMAIL me with the question and answers to before the contest ends on my birthday, November 17th at midnight.

Have fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Skin Deep by E. M. Crane

Title: Skin Deep
Author: E. M. Crane
Random House
Reading Level:
Young Adult

Summary (from
What’s underneath when you scratch the surface? If all the world’s a stage, Andrea Anderson is sitting in the audience. High school has its predictable heroes, heroines, villains, and plotlines, and Andrea has no problem guessing how each drama will turn out. She is, after all, a professional spectator. In the social hierarchy she is a Nothing, and at home her mother runs the show, All Andrea has to do is basically turn up every day, and life basically plays out as scripted. Then Andrea accepts a job. Honora Menapace, a reclusive neighbor, is sick. As in every other aspect of her life, Andrea’s role is clear: Honora’s garden must be taken care of and her pottery finished, and someone needs to feed her dog. But what starts out as a simple job yanks Andrea’s back row seat out from under her. Life is no longer predictable, and nothing is what it seems. Light is dark, villains are heroes, and what she once saw as ugly is too beautiful for words. Andrea must face the fact that life at first glance doesn’t even crack the surface.

Ah, I fell in love with this novel. It just has this soothing, calm, and sweet feeling to it. I knew when I first started this novel, it would be a soft, light, and easy to read novel. And, yes, it was. But it was also deep and heart warming. The style of the book, where it referenced a stage and acts, was sweet and just look at the cover. It's gorgeous and totally appealing. I thought the title was a pretty accurate title for the novel also.

Andrea Anderson has only had one friend in her life, and that was only for a few months before he moved. Andrea lives with her lonely mom, who likes her television shows more then socializing with her daughter. So, when Ashley, a cheerleader at school, starts talking to her and seem to want to be friends with her, and when she starts taking care of her sick neighbors dog and gets into her neighbors, Mrs. Menapace (Honora), life and her mom starts dating a huge guy the size of a Clydesdale, it seems as her life has turned around. And it has. Andrea's mind is beautiful (strange phrasing, I know. ), I loved seeing things through her mind, she was unsure of her self and of things and that brought a gorgeous, fresh look in the story, and it was amazing.

Ms. Crane's writing is striking, and magnificent. The plot of the story wasn't huge, no, but the writing and the characters were amazing. The ending was brilliantly put in words. I laughed, and I cried, this novel was bravura, exceptional, marvelous, and stupendous, and honestly, I could go on and on with adjectives to descibe this novel, but I think you get the picture. This novel is a great and soft, but meaningful read, that I think everyone should take a break to read. It's not on any big issues, and topics, so it was very refreshing and I highly recommend it. For the readers still unsure think of Beth Kephart and Joan Bauer, and you'd get E. M. Crane.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

C.K. Kelly Martin Interview

C.K. Kelly Martin is the debut author of the recently released I Know It's Over, my review here. Her second novel, One Lonely Degree is set to release May 2009 and her third book, The Lighter Side of Life and Death, is due out in May 2010 . I Know It's Over is nominated for ALA Teen Quick Picks List 2009. I highly enjoyed I Know It's Over, so please enjoy this interview!

  1. What was your road to getting I KNOW IT'S OVER published?

I got my first agent in 2002. They’d already sent my very first YA book a few places when I showed them I Know It’s Over in 2003. Unfortunately, they didn’t like it much and the fixes they had in mind weren’t what I wanted for the book. We were both firm in our opinions and decided to go our separate ways. While I was searching for a new agent I wrote another book and entered I Know It’s Over and One Lonely Degree in the Delacorte Press Contest. Rejections for both of them came in the mail on the same day at the end of April. That was a really, really bad time and I had so many doubts about whether I’d ever be able to get a book published but I kept working on yet another YA novel, The Lighter Side of Life and Death, and sending out query letters to agents.

An agent with Curtis Brown in England requested I Know It’s Over and then offered to represent me. She really loved the book and was totally determined to find a home for it. When she couldn’t secure a British publisher for it she teamed up with a U.S. agent to shop it in the States and that agent found I Know It’s Over the perfect home with Random House. My editor, agent and I were completely on the same wavelength when it came to I Know It’s Over and the experience showed me how much making the jump to publication depends on getting your book in front of the right pair of eyes. I’m so grateful to them both for taking on this book – given the subject matter it’s obviously not the easiest sell but they took a chance.

  1. How has I KNOW IT'S OVER changed from the first draft to the finished copy of the book?

It’s slightly less contemplative. There are still lots of scenes where Nick is ruminating on his situation but some of them were shortened to pick up the pace a little. I think Sasha’s more sympathetic in the finished version than she was initially – not that I ever intended for her to be unsympathetic, but initially I don’t think I went far enough in making her feelings for Nick and her fears about her situation clear. Overall I think it’s pretty similar to the first draft – none of the events changed – but everything my editor suggested made I Know It’s Over a stronger version of the book I’d wanted it to be.

  1. Why did you write from a male P.O.V.?

I enjoy writing from both male and female points of view, whatever the story calls for. Usually my ideas come with a character attached – in this case, it was Nick’s story from the start.

  1. Why do you write YA?

I’ve read some studies that show your brain chemistry as a teenager actually makes you experience things more intensely and that intensity, as well as the fact that you’re experiencing so many things for the first time and figuring out who you are, makes the teenage years a fascinating time. I don’t think I’d get anywhere near the same buzz from writing about adults. I don’t know…maybe my brain chemistry is stuck in a permanent state of adolescence.

  1. Where did the plot from I KNOW IT'S OVER come to you?

It was actually inspired by the Third Eye Blind song Ten Days Late about a guy finding out his girlfriend is pregnant. At the time there weren’t many novels dealing with that from a guy’s point of view and it occurred to me that it’d be even harder to deal with if it was your ex-girlfriend. Christmas Eve seemed like the worst possible time to hear the news. So in that first chapter I really piled on the drama and everything that happened after the initial revelation just seemed to evolve naturally from the characters themselves.

  1. The time leaps were an unusual touch to the novel, present-past-present. Why did you format the book like that?

Initially I wrote a short story called Happy Families, which became chapter one of I Know It’s Over. When I decided, after several months, to develop it into a novel I wanted to explore what had brought Nick and Sasha to that point and it just made sense to go back and fill the readers in before returning to the present.

  1. What are you reading right now? What YA book have you read recently that you really enjoyed?

I just took this nonfiction book called How To Hunt Ghosts out of the library but I haven’t started it yet. I love shows like Ghost Hunters and Most Haunted so this seems like it could be interesting. It breaks down the different types of ghosts and the type of equipment you need to detect them – although I’m not sure I’d ever actually go ghost hunting because I’d while I’m intrigued by the idea of ghosts I think I’d be scared to death if I ever saw one in real life!

I’ve read two amazing YA novels in the past few weeks – Boy Toy by Barry Lyga and Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers. Both were incredibly tense, powerful and impossible to put down and both of them deal with emotional healing after a trauma. I like light novels too but generally my favourite books are the ones that make a strong emotional impact.

  1. Besides writing, what other things are you really passionate about.

Human rights. Everyone should be able to feel at home in the world – safe and secure with their basic needs fulfilled and regarded as completely equal with every other person. We have to fight for that – vote for governments that will treat human rights as a priority and put pressure on them to address these issues and make our voices heard through organizations like Human Rights Watch, Make Poverty History, Amnesty International and Stop The Traffik. Sexual trafficking, people without access to clean water, girls denied education, people jailed and tortured for speaking against their governments – none of that can be allowed to stand.

I’m also really passionate about other art forms too – music, movies, theatre. They’re just as big an influence on my writing as other books are.

  1. Do you listen to music when you write? What are your favorite bands and artists?

I need quiet to concentrate when I’m writing but sometimes I listen to music before I start writing or during a break. There are certain songs I listened to/thought about a lot during the period when I was writing I Know It’s Over, stuff that fit in with Nick’s frame of mind – Ten Days Late, I’m With You (Avril Lavigne), Sometimes Wanna Die (Joydrop) and Times Like These (Foo Fighters).

My personal favourite bands and artists are Billy Bragg, Blue Rodeo, Our Lady Peace, The Frames, John Lennon and Leonard Cohen. I think two things they all have in common are sincerity and that they’re strongly poetic. I also really like Bloc Party, Aimee Mann, Sam Roberts, Sean Millar, Paddy Casey, Bob Dylan, The Pogues, The Magnetic Fields and Blondie. I started listening to The Airborne Toxic Event a couple of months ago and their CD is amazing – especially the song Innocence, which I haven’t been able to go more than a few days without listening to since I first heard it.

  1. Can you give us the story on the cover?

Initially the cover was going to be of two pairs of feet in bed, shot in such a way that you could sense a conflict between the people, and there were some good shots of the two models’ feet captured during the photo shoot but they just didn’t evoke the right feeling for the book. Shortly after the shoot my editor mentioned that the photographer had snapped a really cool spontaneous image of the girl walking away from the bed and when the original cover idea didn’t pan out the way it was planned I reminded her of that shot and the designer, Nicole de las Heras, was able to create an amazing cover from it. I love it so much that I had the cover blown up to poster size and framed. I was so happy when I found out Nicole was going to design the cover for my second book too.

  1. Can you tell us about your future books coming in the next few years?

My next book, One Lonely Degree, is coming out at the end of May. It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl named Finn who considers herself an outsider at school. Finn’s suffering emotional fallout from something that happened to her at a party several months earlier and that intensifies her feeling of alienation. She really doesn’t trust anybody aside from her best friend Audrey but then an old childhood friend moves back to town. She’s drawn to him but not ready to have those kinds of feelings so ultimately lets Audrey go out with him. He basically becomes a second best friend to her so when Audrey goes away for the summer and Finn is left watching her parents’ marriage fall apart and still struggling with her feelings about what happened at the party, she naturally leans on him. She still has those other feelings for him too, which complicates things even more.

The Lighter Side of Life and Death is due out in May, 2010 and is about a sixteen-year-old guy named Mason who in chapter one is having the most amazing night of his life. He’s just delivered an incredible performance in the school play and goes on to celebrate his accomplishment at the party of the year and lose his virginity to one of his best friends, who he’s had a crush on for years. He thinks that will mean such good things for them but when he sees Kat again she makes it clear that she regrets the incident and just wants to forget it. Their friendship begins to collapse, as does Mason’s friendship with his other best friend who also had a thing for Kat. Around about the same time Mason’s future stepmom moves into the house with her kids. One of them absolutely can’t stand him and he’s feeling really unpopular when his luck takes a turn for the better and he hits it off with a twenty-four year old woman at his stepmom’s engagement shower. She’s involved with someone else and Mason still has feelings for Kat but that doesn’t stop them from getting mixed up together.

  1. Anything else you want to add?

Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Kelsey!


Thanks C.K.!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin

Title: I Know It's Over
Author: C.K. Kelly Martin
Random House
Reading Level:
Young Adult

Summary (

Pure. Unplanned. Perfect. Those were Nick's summer plans before Sasha stepped into the picture. With the collateral damage from his parent's divorce still settling and Dani (his girl of the moment) up for nearly anything, complications are the last thing he needs.

All that changes, though, when Nick runs into Sasha at the beach in July. Suddenly he's neck-deep in a relationship and surprised to find he doesn't mind in the least. But Nick's world shifts again when Sasha breaks up with him. Then weeks later, while Nick's still reeling from the breakup, she turns up at his doorstep and tells him she's pregnant, and with his emotions and hopes crashing in around him, Nick finds himself struggling once more to understand the girl he can't stop caring for, the girl who insists that it's still over.

I Know It's Over starts out very exciting. The first chapter is in the present and the following dozen chapters are in the past leading up to what happened in the first chapter and then your in the present again. I thought that was a very nice touch to the novel, it pulls you in really quickly, then winds down for awhile and then quickly pulls you up again and keeps you there.

When reading this novel, the emotions from the characters, especially Nick's, was so strong. Nick was pulls the reader in with his emotions and the reader just can't bear to let go. One thing I thought Martin did wonderfully was write Sasha out through Nick's eyes. Martin grabbed Sasha's emotions and feelings through Nick so magnificently. The characters were proven fully equipped and very copiously thought out and divinely crafted.

Martin's writing was superbly done and the emotions she feeds from her characters and there thoughts were done so marvelously better then any books I have read recently. Hurrah! for you Miss Martin!

Now, the only reason I gave .5 points off was because of the ending. Now don't get me wrong, the ending was great, but it just kind of let me down because I knew where it was headed and I guess I just had hope for a different direction, but like I said. The ending was still amazing. It was just me who got let down just a tad because I had hope for something else. Nonetheless, this book is excellent and one you should definitely read.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yay! Guess What I Got Today?

Okay, I have to interrupt this moment to announce that I just got home from the library with PAPER TOWNS BY JOHN GREEN!

Yay! OMG! I started reading the prologue already and it was AH-some. I cannot WAIT to start reading it again!

So, there I was, in the library telling the kind librarian that I had a book requested from another library in the back room where they keep the requested books before the requester picks it up, so before she checks it out I tell her I'm going to look too see if there are any more books in that I want, and what do i see right away? PAPER TOWNS! So I quickly grab it up as if someone else where trying to get it but I got it first, when of course there wasn't. But anyway, today I came out of the library with Sister's of Misery by Megan Kelley Hall and Paper Towns by John Green. Am I not lucky?

But I also have a question. I thought every copy of PAPER TOWNS(!) had two covers to it? My copy from the library only had the one cover that I will show below and a big picture of John Green with some knowledge of the awards the were won by his two previous books on the back side. What's up with that?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

Title: Living Dead Girl
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5

Summary (B&N):
Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared.
Once upon a time, my name was not Alice.
Once upon a time, I didn't know how lucky I was.

When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends -- her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over.

Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her.

This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget.

I've heard a ton of good things about this book. About this terrible, horrific story that was so wonderfully told. My review will hardly do any justice for this amazing book. I read this book in about three hours, but while reading it, I found myself stopping and finding something for me to get distracted from. This book is so painful to read, it's a book where there will definitely be breaks from. Anyone who reads this novel from cover to cover without stopping is insane. The beginning is painful, the middle is haunting and the ending is excruciating. But the story is one that was begging to get told in YA, and I'm glad Elizabeth Scott was there to tell it.

Alice is a poignant character that I couldn't help but cry out for and she just broke my heart over and over again, Alice did. But it wasn't her fault. Ray. Ray was at fault and he is the worst character ever to be created, if finely crafted, just a terrible character. I couldn't stand him. I just wanted to rip the pages over and over when he sexually abused Alice.

Brava to Elizabeth Scott. Her writing style is this story was immaculate. Her writing overall was scintillating. There would be nothing I would change in this story. With impeccable writing, faultless characters, and a distressing ending, this is one book not to be missed.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


So, at first, I was going to participate because i haven't written in a few months and by imagination was just frozen, so i did think about me doing it. But last night, I just had this sudden erg to start writing again. So I did. I started all over, having no idea where it was going, and now I have almost 2000 words written and three pages. So, I'll keep going. And going, and going, and going. My goal is 50,000, of course, but my safety goal is 30,000 words. My plot with my cover, I'm calling it Wild Dreaming:

Olivia Andover has lived in the small farming community of Quince, Minnesota her whole life, never once venturing 50 miles away. When Olivia’s mom get’s ill and needs treatment and an indefinite residence at a hospital the Andover’s are forced to move to New Annan, a once bright and small farming community that has been taken over by fast food joints, departments stores and life that isn’t appreciated. Olivia leaves her old life behind and has to create a new one using sticks and stones.


So that's basically it (with the crappy cover i quickly made for it), but of course, it'll change throughout the month when I'm writing. I have no idea where it's going now, but that's what it came to know.

I'm registered on both the original and young adult writers site with the name KelseyBee, so find my and we can be writing buddies!

Are you participating? What's your goal?

Friday, October 24, 2008

New Sarah Dessen Cover!!!!

Okay, if you're a regular of my blog then you probably know that Sarah Dessen is my all time FAVORITE author. I seriously love her writing to death! So imagine how shocked I'd be when I log onto Facebook and see Sarah Dessen with a new profile picture or her new book ALONG FOR THE RIDE cover coming out next summer. I screamed with delight! So here it is:

Amazing, is it not. I think I'm in love. It's so intriguing, adventurous and flirty, right? With the classic red bicycle and the pink flowy polka-dot dress and the bare feet and the casual blue jeans a white T-shirt. I AM in love. I think this is one of my favorite now, unless it's just the fact that it's new.

And for anybody who doesn't know about the fantastic Sarah Dessen and her fabulous books, ALONG FOR THE RIDE will be her ninth book and will be released this upcoming summer in 2009. Her books are amazing so you'll want to check her out no matter what.

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Title: Prep
Authors: Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: Random House
Reading Level: Young Adult
Released: November 2005
Rating: 4/5

Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristine mowed athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel

As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of–and, ultimately, a participant in–their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time she’s a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered.

Ultimately, Lee’s experiences–complicated relationships with teachers; intense friendships with other girls; an all-consuming preoccupation with a classmate who is less than a boyfriend and more than a crush; conflicts with her parents, from whom Lee feels increasingly distant, coalesce into a singular portrait of the painful and thrilling adolescence universal to us all.

I've heard this book was one of those books where you either love it or hate it. Me? I was closer to loving it then hating it. Actually I pretty much LOVED it, except for a few things that bothered me, but I'll get to those later.

When I first started Prep, I really didn't know what to expect. So I was kind of surprised by what happened in the novel, and not necessarily in a bad way. Lee was one of those girls who always felt left out, who thought she wasn't ugly nor pretty, smart nor dumb. So when she came to boarding school, I, well, I pitied Lee as a character. She was always so negative and didn't know how lucky she were. She was, shall I say, clueless. It was a bit annoying, but when I thought about, I think that it was necessary for Lee to be annoying in her character to fit the part in this novel. If that makes sense.

Throughout Lee's time at Ault, she grew. She grew so much, it was crazy. Every time a new chapter started, which was not a lot of times considering there were eight chapters and 400 pages in the book, Lee had grown up immensely. And I loved to see Lee grow up, actually I loved to see any character grow up, like through a long period time, in any book. Which is probably why I love the Jessica Darling Series so much. Anyway, back to Prep.

Sittenfeld's writing was close to impeccable. I really enjoyed her style of writing. Her writing made me think and it made me curious. I had no idea what would happen next. Something that bothered me was the ending, I was hoping for a little more, Lee was telling us what happened since she left Ault about everybody she ran into, but I really didn't know what happened to her. Also there were times in the novel when I got so frustrated with Lee were I just wanted to rip out the pages. but nonetheless, this was an excellent read that I highly recommend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dream Factory by Brad Barkley & Heather Hepler

Title: Dream Factory
Authors: Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
Publisher: Dutton Books
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5/5

Summary (B&N):
When the character actors at Disney World go on strike, the teens hired as replacements learn that it isn't exactly the Happiest Place on Earth. Ella gets to be Cinderella, simply because the shoe fits. It should be a dream come true, but Ella no longer believes in dreams. Luke is a fur character, Dale the chipmunk. Chip is played by his girlfriend, Cassie, who is perfect in every way. Why, then, does Luke find himself more drawn to imperfect things like the theme park's Phantom? A team-building scavenger hunt brings Luke and Ella together. As they uncover the Magic Kingdom's treasures, they discover an undeniable magic between them.

Once again, Barkley and Hepler bring a calm, cute love story to the table. Through alternating chapters of Ella and Luke the story unravels. I first discovered this awesome duo of Barkley and Hepler this last June when I read Scrambled Eggs at Midnight, and you can see from my review, that I fell in love with it. Now, once again, here I am completely in love with their charming stories.

Dream Factory focuses on Ella and Luke, both of them destined to be together, both of them with a boyfriend (Ella) and girlfriend (Luke), so how does this work out? I started reading this one night, and the next thing I knew I was tired and it was late and I was more then half way done with the book in four hours. I got sucked up into Luke and Ella's story and I didn't stop until I was done.

Ella and Luke are a lot alike, which is strange when they were written by too different people. But having them alike is so different, nowadays, every love story has the good girl falls for the bad guy , etc. So, this one was very engaging to read about and a very delightful change. Hepler and Barkley are amazing writes that have a soft edge in the writing. Their combination of writing offers a striking and endearing romance story that is charismatic and unforgettable. This is a book you shouldn't miss out on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teen Tuesday: Edition-I-Still-Have-No-Idea

Hello! This will be quick because I need to go take a shower before I hit the sack and I want to go to bed earlier tonight since I didn't sleep last night, so the books I've read this week are:

  • I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert
  • Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
  • Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Can you believe I read four books this week? I can't, well, I guess I can since I had a four-day-weekend. They were all really good and the reviews for the last three should all be up before this weekends over. I was actualyl surprised when I got Living Dead Girl in the mail today, and finished it in three hours, because I had no idea I signed up for it or anything..but BookDivas had sent it to me, so I was all for it. I was REALLY excited and read it straight away.

So, this week I hope to get to....Hmm....I Know It's Over by CK Kelly Martin, Skin Deep by EM Crane, and maybe The Blonde of The Joke by Bennett Madison. But that's about it.

Also, don't forget to check out my Halloween/Birthday contest on my blog, click here to direct you to the info about it.

Until next week....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ben Furman Guest Blog: Pump Up Your Book Promotion Book Tour

Ben Furman is the author of Sam's Quest: The Royal Trident, the new YA fantasy adventure book and the secong book int the series. This is the next stop in Ben's Pump Up Your Book Promotion book tour. So, stop here and enjoy Ben's guest blog!


It’s a given: Writers argue about everything from the sublime to the ridiculous. Get a bunch of them together and the scrapping begins. Quickly the fiction writers bring up the topic of character development. When that happens I do my best to fade into the shadows and keep my mouth zipped. Because I write young adult fantasy adventures I’m eventually pulled into the mix.

“Hey, buddy, quit hiding in the shadows and come over here. You make up characters all the time. How do you do it?” That’s generally the way it starts. I bob-and-weave a lot and say little, don’t share with the competition you know, but I’ll let you in on my secret if you don’t tell anyone else. I have a conversation with them. Well, not me. I enlist the help of another character. I figure out a suitable location, the setting, what’s happening in and around the character of interest, and then listen to what’s said. This helps me gain insight into the character’s inner and outer workings, the fears, insecurities, unanswered questions, likes, dislikes, happy, not happy, etc. Here’s what I mean.

“You seem awfully quiet Miss Samantha,” Patch said as he trotted back with the stick he’d fetched. “Do you feel okay?” (Yes, in Sam’s world dogs can talk, and quite well thank you!)

Sam didn’t say anything at first and continued staring at the small rhythmic ripples as they crossed the smooth surface of the pond to the far side. When Patch plopped beside her she said, “Yes, but thanks for asking. I was just thinking about my friends in New York.”

The shadows cast by the tall pines told her it was getting late. Just a bit longer in the most peaceful place on earth, then she and Patch would follow the wooded path back to grandpa’s farm. She scooted on her rear to the pond’s edge and splashed the water with her bare toes one last time.

“Do you miss living New York City, Miss Samantha?” Patch asked. “I know that’s where you grew up.”

“Sometimes, but mostly I miss my friends, especially my soccer team mates, and all the fun things we did in the big city, like go to movies, play video games, and eat hot dogs after a game. For some reason the hot dogs always tasted better when we won. I can’t do any of that here. I’m so far away from the nearest town and it’s so tiny. There’s not much to do except see a movie, no kids my age -- it’s like a retirement place for old people.

“The friends I hung out with everyday have made other friends since I’ve been gone, and when I returned to help grandpa pack up my belongings to move to the farm, I realized I’ve changed and so have they. Grandpa says that’s part of growing up. Why adults say that I don’t know, but they do all the time.”

“How do you feel about the changes?” Patch asked.

“I’m not sure. Sometimes my feelings get hurt and I’m sad, then other times everything’s okay and I’m happy. Megan’s my best friend but except for a few text messages I don’t hear from her or anyone else for months. Megan has a lot of friends and she sees them all the time. Now they’re talking about new kids and about going places that I’ve never heard of. I really don’t fit there anymore. My parents are dead and I have to live with grandpa in North Carolina. I just don’t know where I belong, but it’s not in New York or the farm. I know there’s a special place for me and I will find it!”

This short conversation with Patch points out Sam’s continuing struggle to cope with circumstances not in her control. Because of the tragic deaths of her parents Sam is forced to leave the friends she has known all her life and her home in New York. It’s a monumental task for anyone, let alone an eleven-year-old girl. Like all of us, she is fearful about her future and her place in the world, and at times she is totally overwhelmed. But this adversity helps define Sam, and when all of her complex personality parts are merged there will be a person (character) to really care about. So try my secret method when you decide to do some writing, have a conversation with your main character and see what happens. You’ll be surprised. Happy reading and writing!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Don't Worry, I'm Just Updating.

I'm just messing around with the template and the widths and such, but hey! I got a 3rd column! Like?

Okay, how does it look? I have a wide screen monitor, so it might be too big. But I think I got it proportioned right. Also, do you like that I just did a color background without the pattern? Any other suggestions?

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert

Title: I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone

Author: Stephanie Kuehnert

Rating: 5/5

Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find the tune that will bring her mother home. Because if Louisa really is following the music, shouldn't it lead her right back to Emily?

Wow. Just wow. I was blown away by this novel, these characters, this writing. It was amazing. Stephanie wrote a story of hope, sorrow, crush, and burns. But hope, mainly hope. Emily Black was a girl, growing up in the late 80's and 90's. Wishing and hoping for her mother to come back to her. This book was 340 pages long, but really, it was 23 years long. From the day when Louisa left Emily and her dad's life, to the end of the book was a very long and strong story I have never once read and I doubt I will ever read again.

Emily's coming-of-age story is raw, real, and completely honest. Her story is irresistible, addictive and entertaining. The intensity and gritty emotions from the characters will keep you glued to the pages of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone from the beginning to the very last word and will keep you begging for more even with a satisfying ending. I, who knows very little about punk music, rock n' roll, and the 80's and 90's, loved the book so much that I almost reread it after finishing it. So much happens in this book. It was so unpredictable, I couldn't figure out what would happen, until it did.

There is not a bad flaw in this perfectly flawed book. I didn't want it too end. Anybody who loves music, coming-of-age, powerful novel will no doubt devour this up. Even people who aren't into the rock music, and the hard, edgy books, well, I have complete confidence with them loving it.

Read this now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Halloween/Birthday Contest!

Well, its time for my big, huge, awesome, fantastical, amazing contest I've been waiting for! And trust me when I mean big, huge, awesome, fantastical, amazing, I mean it. A ton of authors helped out with a couple of the prizes also! So thanks to those amazing, hardworking, gifted, generous authors! (I know, too many adjectives, right? I'm just SO excited!)

The contest will end midnight, November 17th on my birthday, and I should have the winners announced the next day sometime.

Okay, now on to how to enter. Comment with your name and EMAIL ADDRESS, if you don't have a email address in the comment, you will not get entered. Also, please only comment ONCE so it's easier for me. If you already commented and need to add a link or something, delete the original comment and put it all together in one comment. I'm expecting a bunch of comments, so this will make is easier and faster when the time comes for me to pick winners.

BUT, for the extra entries, there are about two ways you can get extra entries:

  1. Tell people about it! On your blog! On your MySpace! Twitter! Facebook! Bebo! Whatever. Just make sure I can see it. My links to all these things are on my sidebar, and friend me, if you don't I probably won't be able to see it and you wont get the extra entry. You get one extra entry for each.
  2. I will be having a survey on Halloween, answer those questions when it's posted, get an extra entry for each. So be on the look out for that on Halloween when I post the questions!
  3. If you find another way to enter, just comment (In a new comment if you already commented!) below, and we'll work it out.

Okay, now I bet you want to know what I'm offering right? I thought so! Okay the books I'm offering are:

  • Signed copy of Wake by Lisa McMann
  • Personalized copy of Sleepless by Terri Clark
  • Your choice of book by John Marco.
  • Boxed collection of the Blue is for Nightmares series by Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
  • Switch by Carol Snow

I might even add a book to it or not. But anyway, look at all those books! Awesome right? I thought I go for a paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi theme.

Between all the people who enter, one person will be randomly chosen to win one of those books or the one collection of books. If you were chosen for a book that you've already read, you can choose to give it to another randomly chosen person.

Sorry, this contest is only open to US residents!

I hope I didn't forget anything . . . Well, have fun and good luck!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Model: A Memoir by Cheryl Diamond

Title: Model: A Memoir

Author: Cheryl Diamond

Rating: 5/5

Every year, hundreds of the most beautiful people in the world come to New York to become models. At age fourteen, Cheryl Diamond was one of them. Living on her own in a run-down apartment, Cheryl spent her days on go-sees, runways, and shoots, surviving hand-to-mouth, while taking in everything she could about the tough and sleazy modeling industry. She watched other girls make mistakes, and swore she wouldn't be a victim...until a career-altering event changed her life and nearly ruined her shot at her dream. This is the riveting, true account of Cheryl's triumphant rise, disastrous fall, and phoenix-like comeback in one of the hottest and most demanding industries in the world.

I love reading memoirs. And this has to be my favorite one yet. The opening lines catches the reader in and keeps them until the story is told. I really devoured this one up quickly and I don't think I put it down unless I had too.

Cheryl Diamond is the type of model every model should be. She's a role model to the highest power, and I really respect her for the courage to get up and publish this book and show everybody what the modeling world is like. Cheryl had so many hardships, dealing with living in New York City at sixteen, alone. Having nobody to trust. Going from casting, to runways shows, to shoots. Cheryl did it all. From the highs and lows of modeling, we learn Cheryl's story from Cheryl herself.

Without being succumbed into the temptations of being a model (drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, clubbing) Cheryl dives through this world at sixteen, and miraculously survives. Cheryl's writing is addicting, with her witty and snarky style. The characters all have a unique vibe, shall I say, to them. Cheryl's writing is flawed in the perfect places. I never felt bored through her story. Her writing is passionate, her characters are strong, and Cheryl is genuine. This is one book you don't want to miss.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Jennifer Ziegler Interview!

Jennifer Ziegler is the author of Alpha Dog and How Not To Be Popular. To find my review of Alpha Dog, click here. For my review of How Not To Be Popular, click here. Jennifer is an awesome YA author, I loved her books and I look forward to any future books of hers, she's also a very nice and hilarious person.

1. Why do you write for Young Adults?

For many reasons. First of all, I grew up reading great YA writers like Judy Blume, Paula Danziger, Paul Zindel, and S.E. Hinton, and their writing had a significant impact on me. Plus, the teen years are so powerful. Everything is heady and dramatic. You're experiencing these new, raw emotions and everything you go through seems to etch permanent grooves. As a writer, I enjoy exploring those early experiences that mold our identities.

2. What was your inspiration for Alpha Dog? For How Not To Be Popular?

Alpha Dog was inspired in large part by my late great doggie, Cutter. He was a stray I took in when I was in college—and could barely look after myself. It was the beginning of big responsibilities for me. I was finishing up my degrees and deciding on a career path, and I couldn't continue the self-absorbed college lifestyle anymore. This dog depended on me for his survival, and caring for him made it easier for me to share myself, and my space, with others later on. I wanted to explore this learning curve in story form. The book is about a girl who is very passive and lets other people run her life for her. Later, she adopts a dog from the animal shelter only to discover that she cannot control him. As she learns to take charge of Seamus (her dog), she also learns to take charge of her own life.

How Not to be Popular was inspired by my oldest, dearest friend, Christy. In the fall of 2005 she called from California to say she was getting married, so of course that triggered a whole series of lengthy long-distance chats. Christy, like Maggie, moved around quite a bit when she was younger. (I had always envied her worldliness, but later, when we were grown, she confessed that it could be tough.) Well, I guess she was on my mind a lot, because one day I got a clear vision in my head of a teenage girl walking to school in a crazy outfit. The girl wasn't Christy, but she was in a similar predicament: she was sick and tired of getting uprooted all the time, so she was purposefully trying to drive people away. I found myself so intrigued I had to investigate this person and her world. What did she think would happen? What would happen? Who would she affect along the way?

3. If your books were turned into movies, who would you like to play your characters?

Hmm. That's a tough one. If Milo Ventimiglia were younger, he'd make a great Jack. So would a young James McAvoy. For Maggie, I'm not sure there's anyone out there who matches the visions in my head – at least not physically. She would have to be someone who has her natural spark and can pull off looking cool in wacky outfits. Fans who write to me tend to suggest Emma Roberts, whom I think would be great. Penny is out there, I'm sure. We all know a Penny. But no one's name comes to mind right now.

4. Do you have a dog now? Tell us a funny dog story.

I do have a new doggie named Betty. She is half Labrador and half terrier (of some sort), and she's about two years old.

There is one very odd thing about Betty. She loves other dogs – except for Pugs. I'm not sure why she dislikes that breed and no other, but she does. One day we took her to the dog park (normally her favorite place in the world) and a Pug club was meeting there. She went crazy! She kept jumping backwards and spinning around so that they couldn't sniff her. Normally she's very sweet, but on that day she kept baring her fangs and sna

rling. We couldn't understand it. I wonder if she had a bad experience in her past. My husband thinks it's because she doesn't recognize Pugs as dogs – which makes some sense. They are rather squat and wheezy, but in an endearing way! (I want to make that absolutely clear that Betty did not get this prejudice from me. I love Pugs. I think they are adorable in their homeliness – the Steve Buscemis of the canine world.) My son thinks maybe it's like high school; that Betty's the cute cheerleader and when all the nerdy Pugs come up to her going "I like you. You're pretty. Wanna go out?" she snarls "Eeew! I don't think so!"

So apparently I have a snotty, intolerant, and possibly bigoted dog. But I love her.

5. Have you ever done something as crazy as Maggie has in HNTBP?

Not like Maggie. In high school I didn't feel comfortable enough to let loose, but in college I seemed to relax and come into myself. That's when I tried dying my hair (bright red was as crazy as I got) and discovered vintage clothes. My pals and I also got pretty creative whenever we were bored. Once we covered the interior of a friend's car with scotch tape. Don't ask me why. It just seemed like a good idea at the time.

6. What should we expect from you next?

I'm not sure. I'm working on something – two things, actually. But I can't really say when they'll enter the world. I'm not very comfortable discussing works in progress. Part of it is because so much can change at any given moment: titles, characters, plot points, release dates. Part of it is superstition. The early part of writing is so personal, so special. It just feels wrong to share at that point. But as soon as I have some hard-and-fast specifics I'll let you know!

7. What was your road to publishing?

Highly irregular and full of many hairpin curves. When I took a break from teaching in order to have a baby, I decided to also use the time to write down a novel that had been rolling around in my head for years. It was just something I had to do. I had hopes for it, but no set expectations. When I finished the draft I showed it to a friend who was a published author. He was very encouraging and put me in touch with an editor at Bantam. They were not interested in an original work at the time, but they were developing several paperback series for teen readers and decided to take a chance on me. The editor gave me a condensed, half-page plot of a book they wanted for one of their series. I worked up an outline and two sample chapters. To my pleasant surprise, she liked it and hired me. That work led to other series work, all of which were written under a pseudonym. When I was ready to get my own story idea published, I went through the connections I had made as a work-for-hiire writer and … ta da! You know the rest.

8. Do you think you would ever write a sequel to your books? Or maybe write a new series?

I don't have any plans for a sequel – or at least not right now. I typically don't think up ideas for stories, they seem to come to me. So you never know. Maggie or Katie might pop back into my head with another adventure for me to tell. I hope so!

As for a series … I do have ideas, but they wouldn't involve the HNTBP or Alpha Dog universes. Right now I'm writing story by story. If one turns into something more, great! If not, that's fine, too. I'm just happy if the stories keep coming.

9. Besides writing, what else are you passionate about?

Mainly my kids. When I'm not author-woman, I'm a mild-mannered, slightly frazzled, usually ketchup-stained mother of two, and I really enjoy spending time with my son and daughter. We go to the library, swim, sing on our karaoke machine, play checkers, watch cartoons, etc. Of course, I'm also crazy about books. Ironically I had more time to read before I became a writer, but I still try to work it in every day. In addition, my husband and I are huge music fans, so we try to keep up with the latest good stuff and catch a show whenever we can.

  1. Anything else you want to add?

Just this: Thanks, Kelsey, for being a friend to reading, and for all that you do to promote good books! I really enjoyed this!


Thanks for stopping by Jennifer!