The MTV Books Blog will close on October 31. Follow us to our new home at YA Outside the Lines on November 1!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm on Martha's Vineyard this week, with an event at Edgartown Books on Friday, 8/1 @4:00. This is my first time on the island since I started writing LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS and it's made me look at everything a little differently. Not only to make sure I got it right, but also to see it the way readers will see it when reading the book.

My mom recently finished LOCAL GIRLS and she asked if the places in the book are real. And many are and many aren't. There really isn't a Willow Inn, but there is a bed and breakfast that I thought of when describing the Willow. But there are places that are called by their real names because I wanted readers who knew the island to be able to recognize and relate to them.

What about other authors? When you're writing about a real place do you "ficationalize" everything or reference real live places to give readers a point of reference? What are the pros and cons of each? And if you're a reader, do you like reading about places you recognize?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Most Rockin' Part of My Book Tour!

So, I missed my usual blogging day because I was out on tour promoting I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. I got home late Thursday night/early Friday morning and have been scrambling to catch up every since. But it is time to blog about my adventures. You can read about most of my adventures in L.A. here and I will be talking about Monterey (where I met the fabulous Kelly Parra!), San Francisco, and Seattle on my blog over the next few days, but I saved the tales from the most rockin' part of my tour ROCK 'N' READ for the place where I first started blabbing about doing the event.

I thought you guys would be excited to know that Alexa Young and I *actually* pulled this thing off with the contribution of some excellent rockers and readers and a very lovely woman at Virgin Megastore named April!

Since I spent most of my day at RNR too overwhelmed to really thing and analyze the whole thing (and I was overwhelmed in that crap-I'm-running-an-event way and in that wow-these-authors-and-bands-are-so-awesome way!), I'm going to recap it in photos and videos mostly!

Here's the location right in the center of Hollywood. They actually had the event listed on the scrolling thing outside, but our camera didn't seem to work fast enough to get a picture of it:

Here was the pretty book display at the front of Virgin Megastore:

So the day kicked off with the band Moth Eaten, which is fronted by amazing girl named Susana who I met on MySpace. Her songs are beautiful and inspiring. She also gave me an awesome handmade t-shirt at the end which I wore with pride at an event in San Francisco.

Our first reader was Kim Culbertson, who came all the way down from Northern California and read from Songs For A Teenage Nomad (which you can win in my latest contest by the way). It was totally my kind of story, thick with music and emotion:

Next up, Cherry Cheva, author of She's So Money. Cherry was just so damn cute (which I totally forgot to tell her) and her reading was really high energy and fun:

Speaking of high energy, the band Dirty Spanglish took the stage next. They came all the way down from Bakersfield for the event along with another band and author. I first heard them on MySpace, too and thought they sounded like so much fun. They definitely were. They reminded me of my high school friends' band the Slackjaws, which is a pretty damn huge compliment. You can hear some of their song "Tuesday" on the recap video I'll give you at the end. (I know what a tease!):

Next up was Megan Crane reading from Names My Sisters Call Me. It was a section where the main character goes to her sister's art opening and realizes that her sister has displayed photos of her hoo-hah as I like to call it (vay-jay-jay to some of you or there are a million others). You could just feel the humiliation ooze off the page. Such a great story!

Next was N.L. Belardes, our only male reader and the man who coordinated all of the Bakersfield acts and put together an amazing recap of the event, which you can read here. I really encourage you to check that out because it includes more pics, the video I will post at the end and most important part of the piece he performed. And it was a real performance, something I would have expected from a Beat poet so that was simply amazing:

Then it was time for another band, Norfolk, also from Bakersfield. James of Norfolk also acted as our sound guy (thank you!!!!). They rocked. Seriously rocked. Shoppers were walking by holding their ears. And the audience demanded an encore, they were that good. Seriously someone should sign this band fast!!!!

Rebecca Woolf read after Norfolk and even though they were a tough act to follow, she nailed it with her chapter from her memoir Rockabye: From Wild to Child, which documents her journey of finding out she was pregnant when she was a party girl to having her son. The chapter she read about finding out she was pregnant was both hilarious and powerfully emotional. Now she is pregnant with her second child and yet still dresses in clothes that totally make me jealous:

Alyson Noel is a YA author I really admire and I know many others do as well, so we were completely honored to have her read a great section of Cruel Summer. This book sounds like the perfect summer read!

Our next performer was Noah Stone, an incredible acoustic musician who Alexa found. His songs were absolutely gorgeous:

Then Alexa read from Frenemies and though you can't see it here (but can in the recap video!), she had an awesome hand drawn Frenemies "tattoo" on her arm. I can't say enough good things about Alexa because I really couldn't have done the event without her and she and her book are so much fun!

I stole a picture from Alexa's blog of me reading my section of IWBYJR. I read the part where Emily and Regan climb in through Tom's window and invite him to join the band:

You can actually hear some bits of my reading in that video that N.L. Belardes put together of the whole day which I keep mentioning and I guess I'll just post because I only have one more act to cover and I'm providing a video for them, too!

After I read we did our great big giveaway. These bags were HUGE and filled with books and CDs and other swag. My friend Annika won one. It wasn't fixed, I swear! But she had dupes of three of the books, mine, Alexa's, and Rebecca's and is doing a contest for them on her blog!!! Go check it out and enter. You may also want to see some of her photos from the event, which include her absolutely adorable son, Sam!

The last band of the evening and the one I was most eagerly anticipating was Lucid Nation. I've been listening to their music and corresponding with Tamra, the singer, since I was 16. I was so honored they came to play the event. They did a really rousing protest song which Susy from Moth Eaten sang along with. Here is the video:

So that was my long-awaited ROCK 'N' READ! I hope you enjoyed the recap and it makes you wish you were there!!! I know, I'm so evil. But once I get my strength back, planning for a Chicago RNR will commence! I'll keep you updated!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Grist for the Mill

People think that because I'm a writer, I must be the most observant person they know. My wife will be the first to tell you that is *far* from the truth. She'll see someone on an airplane, as she did recently, and recognize them as someone with whom she went to school twenty-five years ago and hasn't seen since. I'm not talking a classmate, either, or a friend. Just someone who walked the same halls. Meanwhile, I'm *terrible* with matching faces to names. The truth is, I've met all of my kids' teachers over the years and some of them I can't match face to name now. It's gone from my head. I generally need a few exposures to someone, actual engaged conversations, before I'm able to log them in for the long term. It's always been that way.

Sniegoski is fantastic with faces. We'll be at a convention and someone will come up to have him sign something and he'll go, "didn't you have me sign something at a show in (name it, Chicago, Philly, Baltimore)," and sure enough, that's the guy.

Meanwhile, I am TERRIBLE. We must just all have different ways that we file information in our brains. My filing system isn't just a face, but a name, and information, some kind of connection. Often this can be awkward. An editor of mine, whom I had met once, came up to my table unexpectedly while I was signing and for at least twenty seconds, I had no idea who she was. Then she spoke, and it all clicked in.

Am I observant? Hmm. Maybe not. I don't notice what people are wearing, and I'm terrible with dates and remembering how long ago things happened. I remember events, but not their WHEN. On the other hand, I can recall people I worked with or went to school with and events from work and school with clarity that some people might find unsettling. Yep. I'll remember all the stuff you'd least want me to. But also the good stuff. The moments that made me feel something.

Maybe we're getting somewhere now. Maybe for me, I observe through what I feel rather than through what I see. That's why I have trouble remembering people until they've made a mark on me, for better or worse, and why I couldn't tell you, even right now, what my wife is wearing today, though she's in the next room.

As a writer, I can easily invent what people are wearing, or what they look like, where they're from, that sort of thing. So perhaps I'm not observant in the traditional sense. What I *am*, however, is curious. I'd like to think that's even more valuable. I read the name tags of people who wait on me in stores and, if I find them interesting, I ask about their names. Where do they come from? What do they mean? Sanguedolce, which Sniegoski and I used in our MENAGERIE series, was the last name of a beautiful sales clerk in Filene's (when Filene's still existed) in Salem, NH. The name means "Sweetblood." A woman who waited on me in a mall book store in Danvers, MA had the first name "Keomany," which led to Keomany Shaw, the earthwitch in my novel THE GATHERING DARK.

A couple of days ago, I spent seven hours in the Emergency Room of a local hospital. I'm fine, by the way. Or I will be. Nothing a bottle of antibiotics big enough to choke a horse won't cure. But everything that happened in that seven hours is filtered through my writer's brain. The hideously disgusting, nearly vomit inducing dye-monade I had to drink (three huge cups, spread out over 2.5 hours), the CAT-scan machine, the way those ER beds are constructed to make even a blob of jelly uncomfortable. And I asked questions, but writer questions, not patient questions. Why does the CAT-scan machine have an English accent? (Answer from Mark, the CAT-tech: "I don't know. Weird. German machine, English accent.) What does the word "occult" mean in the context of this test? (Answer from the Dr.: "Hidden." Of course I should have known that. She says "occult" is frequently used in the manner in medicine.)

So...observant? Maybe not. But...curious? Always. Writers are like ravens...when we see the glint of something interesting, perhaps hidden, we have to swoop down to check it out. You never know what bits of treasure you'll come away with.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tackling Writer’s Block

What is writer’s block? A roadblock in the creative process? Halted production on the assembly line of ideas? Brain fog? Whatever it is, everybody has their own cure to get rid of it. Like heartburn, some people are more prone to flare-ups than others. Some, like me, even prepare to avoid it all costs before there is ample cause for concern.
For instance, I’m in the revision process of my current novel, Indigo Blues. It should be finished in a few weeks and I don’t want to suddenly develop writer’s block as I venture into a new project. But in the event that I experience early onset, I must be fully prepared. That means an emergency supply of chocolate and red wine (okay, it doesn’t have to be an emergency for me to be stocked up), maintaining a clutter-free office, peace and quiet and plenty of internet surfing time to catch up on ridiculous Hollywood headlines. Often my head is flooded with ideas late at night, so it’s always good to keep a notebook handy next to my bed. Taking an early morning walk gets the blood pumping to my brain and if I’m lucky, I’ll remember to write everything down when I get home. And no matter what, I’m always inspired by music. So when I start a new novel, I crank up the tunes that I think my main characters would listen to.
If that doesn’t work, reading a great, passionate novel is sure to spark the creativity inside of me. Right before I began writing Shrinking Violet, I read White Oleander by Janet Fitch. I devoured the book, word by word, marveling at how seamlessly she made the story of Astrid come to life. By the end I couldn’t wait to get started on my own novel. It was a nice way to fuel my writer’s engine and I don’t need to remind you how expensive gasoline is these days!
I’d love to hear what works for you when you’re stuck in a writer’s jam, whether it’s a cold shower or a tax-deductible Caribbean vacation! Write on…!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ups and Downs and OMG Conference is right around the corner!

It's been a pretty wild month since I last posted (and I apologize for not responding to the comments in my last post-- clearly, I suck). But the first half of this summer has been full of ups and downs and best-laid plans turning upside down.

But the turbulence seems to have settled down-- it better have, because I'm really right tired of it. But I just came back from a very pleasant, if hectic week, with the Diva (AKA my daughter) in New York as she attended Camp Broadway and I had various editor and agent meetings and lunches and saw shows and all that fabulous New York City stuff. Seriously, if you're a writer-- get thee to New York at least once (although maybe not in July). The energy is so different and it's almost indescribable, the charge I get out of being in the city and meeting with publishing people there, as opposed to conferences. Has a completely separate vibe.

However, conferences have their own special appeal too and right now, I'm in the midst of doing laundry and repacking my suitcases in order to get ready for the Romance Writers of America's National Conference which this year is being held in quite possibly my favorite city in the entire world: San Francisco. Seriously, I've been looking forward to this particular Nationals since I first joined RWA something like six years ago. And after several previous National conferences, I'm looking forward to it, simply because it's my favorite conference to attend. The energy, the being able to be with my tribe, speaking our language without the funny looks--or heaven forfend, the well-meaning relatives who lean in during the odd holiday dinner and say, "Well, I've got a great story idea. What if I tell it to you, you write it, and we'll split the royalties, fifty/fifty?"

This year, I also get to present at the RITA Awards (our equivalent of the SAG or Oscar awards) which brings with it its own pleasure. I get to dress up and enjoy the festivities without the stress of being a nominee. (Okay, okay, so I wouldn't have minded being a nominee again, but still, this is going to be heap big fun.) And it's going to be a blast cheering on our own double-nominated Kelly Parra.

Yeah, Nationals is exhausting, especially for someone like me, who's very happy being an introvert about ninety percent of the time-- I return very happy to crawl back into my cave. But I also return full of creative energy and ready to tackle the keyboard again. Sort of like going to New York, I think most everyone, if they can handle being around crowds of people, should try to go to a writing conference at least once a year. It's a fabulous experience that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Especially since this year, I get San Francisco in the bargain.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cover story

I spent the week of the 4th at the same beach where my characters go on a road trip in my book Going Too Far, which is coming out in March. One night I drove into town with my husband and son to see Wall-E. I stood in line with my son so we could get a good seat as soon as the doors opened, and stared around at the larger-than-life posters and cardboard cutouts of upcoming films. I swear I was wondering how Going Too Far would be marketed when my cell phone beeped with an e-mail from my editor.

Subject: GOING TOO FAR--cover

With an attachment!

Of course I couldn’t actually open the e-mail or the attachment. I couldn’t get a good signal through the thick hurricane-proof walls. I had to wait (patiently!) for my husband to get back with the popcorn and take over the child and our place in line before I could wander into the lobby, looking for a signal. Finally I opened my cover.

Now, a lot of readers don’t understand that writers generally have no say in what their covers look like. We can make suggestions, but the publisher is under no obligation to take them. This is for the best because most writers are not experts in art or marketing. But it’s also unnerving to leave something so important completely in the hands of strangers.

Because a cover can make or break sales of a book. Print magazine published a fascinating article in their April 2008 issue about how the covers of YA novels are redesigned to appeal to generation after generation. (You can read the article here--and many thanks to Smart Bitch Sarah for finding the link online.) YA editor and author Marc Aronson is quoted as saying, “[The book] has to sit comfortably next to all the other objects in the reader’s world, their magazines and clothes and music. It’s all about a sense of coolness and intelligence. It’s a style--it’s saying, ‘We are exactly who you are. This is the world you’ll feel comfortable with. Nothing about this book is going to make you feel awkward to carry it and wear it. It’s a sleek and cool and as with-it as you are.'”

That’s a tall order for a cover, but imho it has to do something more. Aronson is probably right that for teens, the book is “an accessory.” For everyone, teens and adults alike, it’s also a marker of what the reader will find inside. Readers like certain types of stories more than others, and the cover helps them find the types of stories they enjoy out of the thousands upon thousands of choices in the bookstore, all screaming at them, “Pick me up!” So I needed the cover of Going Too Far to be the coolest thing ever, and indicate that there is an edgy teen romantic drama inside.

My thoughts as I stood in the lobby of the movie theater, viewing my cover for the first time:

1. The Art Department loves me.

2. I wonder how long I can hide this from my mother.

After staring at it for another fifteen minutes or so, I found my husband and son in the theater, watching previews. I handed the phone to my husband.

Husband: “That cover’s going to get you some attention... Wow... The look on her face is perfect... Wow... You should be really happy with this... Wow... Should her eyebrow piercing be a little further to one side?”

So I e-mailed my editor back: “GOD that is gorgeous. Should her eyebrow piercing be a little further to one side?”

Editor: “Good. No.”

I love the beach and I was going to have a fantastic time with my husband and my son no matter what, but this episode on Monday really made my week, and I can’t wait to show you this cover when it’s done. Over the course of the holiday I read wonderful books by Kate Harmon and Jeri Smith-Ready and our own Jenny O’Connell’s Local Girls, all of which had beautiful covers that gave readers a lot of accurate information about what they would find inside.

What are some of your favorite covers? And have you picked up a book lately because of the cover, only to find something completely different inside than what you were expecting?

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Birthday Girl

Those of you who read “The Pursuit of Happiness” might remember that Betsy and James work together at the end of the book to create silhouettes of figures made out of wood, which are then placed in the garden maze at the colonial village where Betsy works. I’ve never encountered free-standing wooden silhouettes in real life but was excited to come very very close when I read about this art project in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, a stone’s throw from where I live.

A guy made a wooden figure of his girlfriend and put it in Greenpoint, where his girlfriend used to live, so that people could snap photos with the her for her birthday. Cute, right? Read a little bit more about it here.

In the time since Pursuit was published, the question I’m most often asked about it is how I came up with the idea for Betsy to be a budding silhouette artist. It was basically because silhouettes of my family, made at Disney when I was kid, hung in our home for many years. I guess they made an impression. Somewhere along the way, I realized that silhouette art was really a colonial art form and since I was writing a book set in a colonial village...well, it just made sense. My Googling introduced me to the work of Kara Walker, the most (and possibly only?) famous contemporary silhouette artist and so Betsy’s passion was born.

And, no, I never actually tried to cut silhouettes while writing Pursuit. That’s the other question I get asked all the time. I was afraid I’d be really bad at it and that it would ruin the writing of the book for me. Sometimes things are better left to the imagination anyway...


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Coming soon!


by Kelly Parra

Do you believe in fate?

Kara Martinez has been trying to be "normal" ever since the accident that took her father's life when she was eleven years old. She's buried the caliente side of her Mexican heritage with her father and tried to be the girl her rigid mother wants her to be--compliant and dressed in pink, and certainly not acting out like her older brother Jason. Not even Danielle, her best friend at Valdez High, has seen the real Kara; only those who read her anonymous blog know the deepest secrets of the sign seer.

Because Kara has a gift--one that often feels like a curse. She sees signs, visions that are clues to a person's fate, if she can put together the pieces of the puzzle in time. So far, she's been able to solve the clues and avert disaster for those she's been warned about--until she sees the flash of a gun on a fellow classmate, and the stakes are raised higher than ever before. Kara does her best to follow the signs, but it's her heart that wanders into new territory when she falls for a mysterious guy from the wrong side of town, taking her closer to answers she may not be able to handle. Will her forbidden romance help her solve the deadly puzzle before it's too late...or lead her even further into danger?


by Christopher Golden

Times Square, New York City: The first ever mass séance is broadcasting live on the Sunrise morning show. If it works, all the spirits of the departed on the other side will have a brief window—just a few minutes—to send a final message to their grieving loved ones.

Clasping hands in an impenetrable grip, three mediums call to their spirit guides as the audience looks on in breathless anticipation. Then the mediums slump over, slack-jawed—catatonic. And in cemeteries surrounding Manhattan, fragments of old corpses dig themselves out of the ground. . . .

The spirits have returned. The dead are walking. They will seek out those who loved them in life, those they left behind . . . but they are savage and they are hungry. They are no longer your mother or father, your brother or sister, your best friend or lover.

They are soulless.

The horror spreads quickly, droves of the ravenous dead seeking out those they left behind—shredding flesh from bone, feeding. But a disparate group of unlikely heroes—two headstrong college rivals, a troubled gang member, a teenage pop star and her bodyguard—is making its way to the center of the nightmare, fighting to protect their loved ones, fighting for their lives, and fighting to end the madness.


by Sabrina Bryan and Julia DeVillers

Who knows better than Sabrina Bryan of The Cheetah Girls what it’s really like to be famous? In this addictive new novel, Sabrina teams up with popular author Julia DeVillers to tell the story of an ordinary girl with an extraordinary secret. . . .

Life in southern California is not at all like Avery expected. She feels invisible at her new high school, her parents are always working, and her only friends are on MySpace. If only her life was like the celebrities she reads about online. . . .

When she’s mistaken on MySpace for a rising pop star’s assistant, Avery scores an invite to a glamorous Hollywood party and snaps a photo of a young starlet with her secret new beau. Eager to share her juicy scoop, Avery starts a blog, the Princess of Gossip, and the next thing she knows, she’s the new gossip girl to watch. Suddenly she’s getting the inside scoop on celebrity sightings, and designers are sending her their hottest clothes and accessories in the hopes of scoring a mention on her blog. When Avery shows up at school in her exclusive fashion swag, even Cecilia, the most popular girl in their class, takes notice.

Then celebutante playboy Beckett Howard sees Avery wearing one of his father’s designs and asks her out. The Princess of Gossip’s true identity is still a secret, but when the paparazzi catch Avery and Beckett on a date, Cecilia gets jealous. There’s only room for one it girl at school. Can the Princess of Gossip hold onto her crown?

Gotta have now!

by Stephanie Kuehnert

A raw, edgy, emotional novel about growing up punk and living to tell.

The Clash. Social Distortion. Dead Kennedys. Patti Smith. The Ramones. 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?

by Jenny O'Connell

Kendra and Mona are best friends, local girls who spend their summers catering to rich tourists and the rest of the year chafing against small-town life. Then Mona's mom marries one of the island's rich summer visitors, and Mona joins the world of the Boston elite, leaving Kendra and Martha's Vineyard behind. When Mona returns the following summer, everything is different. Now Mona spends her days sunbathing with her private school friends, while Kendra works at The Willow Inn--a job she and Mona once hoped to do together.

Unlike his sister, Mona's twin brother Henry hasn't changed. He's spending his summer the way he always has: with long, quiet hours fishing. Early mornings before work become special for Kendra as she starts sharing them with Henry, hoping he can help her figure Mona out. Then Kendra hatches a plan to prove she's Mona's one true friend: uncover the identity of the twins' birth father, a question that has always obsessed Mona. And so she begins to unravel the seventeen-year-old mystery of the summer boy who charmed Mona's mother. But it may prove to be a puzzle better left unsolved--as what she is about to discover will change their lives forever...

by Jenny O'Connell

For seventeen-year-old Winnie, summer can't arrive fast enough--anything to get out of the house and escape the cold war brewing between her parents. With her older sister Shelby spending the summer in Boston, Winnie's left to deal with the situation all by herself. Which is why she's happy to spend all day away from home at a cushy job--camp counselor at the prestigious Oceanview Inn.

When the Barclays, a wealthy summer family, offer Winnie an additional babysitting job in the evenings after work, she jumps at the opportunity. Little Cassie Barclay is fun to take care of, and hanging out in the gorgeous Barclay mansion overlooking the harbor is far more pleasant than being on the front lines of the battle between her parents.

Then Cassie's older and devastatingly attractive stepbrother Jay arrives on the island after a disastrous first year at college, and he seems to want nothing more than to wreak havoc for his stepmother and the rest of his family. Winnie soon discovers that life in the Barclay home isn't so perfect after all, and what was supposed to be a carefree summer escapade is quickly becoming more complicated than she ever thought possible...

by Tara Altebrando

We were going to see the world together, Lindsay and I. We were going to eat it up, whole. But it didn't happen that way.It didn't happen that way at all...

When Chloe's parents decide to take her to Europe the summer before senior year of high school, she’s ecstatic... she only wishes her best friend, Lindsay, could come too. Living in Las Vegas, they have long imagined the world through casinos inspired by great cities and have vowed to travel the globe together someday. Unfortunately, Lindsay’s parents won't agree to send her along.

So Chloe goes to Europe and sends postcards to Lindsay every day. But when she comes home, she must cope with shocking news that rips her family—and Lindsay's—apart. And as she tries to uncover the truth about what happened, Chloe soon begins to feel that Lindsay's brother, Noah, is the one person alive for whom she'd go to the ends of the earth...

From the acclaimed author of The Pursuit of Happiness this is a stunning new novel of friendship, love, and loss set against the dazzling dual backdrops of Europe and Las Vegas.

by Cara Lockwood

The third book in the Bard Academy series, which centers around teens at a boarding school where the teachers are ghosts of literary heroes. This book picks up where THE SCARLET LETTERMAN left off.

Home for the summer, Miranda is blamed when her sister Lindsay takes a bad turn to get attention from her neglectful parents and is sent off to Bard Academy for her freshman year. Miranda not only has to deal with the embarrassment of having a geeky younger sister trailing her around while she tries to fit in at her junior year at Bard, she also has to figure out how to keep the mysteries of the school a secret from her nosey sis. To make matters worse, Miranda's nemesis Parker takes an unusual interest in Lindsay, and takes her under her wing for a “make-over” converting her sister to a Parker clone.

When Lindsay goes missing after Parker sends her into the woods to search for Whale Cove, which is rumored to be the hiding place of a sunken pirate’s ship, Miranda, Ryan and Heathcliff search for her. While exploring the island, they find an old native American Indian shrine that hints that the island and the purgatory has been there a lot longer than they first imagined. People from their group start disappearing one by one, they get the feeling that they’re not alone in the woods.

It turns out that Whale Cove isn’t the home of a pirate ship at all, but of the Peaquod the ship from Moby Dick, and the kidnapper is none other than Ahab, the ship’s peg-legged and revenge-obsessed captain, who has been kidnapping Miranda’s friends and other students from the school, in order to get his ship in sailing condition and once again hunt for Moby Dick.

by Laura Wiess

Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you'll have to understand why. You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence.

You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damaged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see.

You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?

Oblivion Road
by Alex McAulay

Five stranded teenagers must battle for their lives against a group of escaped convicts, and each other, in this shocking survival thriller from the author of Bad Girls and Lost Summer.

Courtney Stanton thinks she's on just another ski trip with her friends -- until a horrific car accident strands them all on an isolated Colorado road during a blizzard. Frightened but alive, Courtney and her companions discover an abandoned vehicle nearby, and seek help. But the vehicle turns out to be a prison van, with the inmates missing, and the guard's dead body in the front seat.

Soon after, a stumbling figure emerges from the snow, a handcuffed refugee from the van. He says he's been in prison for selling meth, but that he once served in the army. Dare they trust him? He pleads innocence about the guard's murder, warns them about the other fugitives, and promises he will help guide them out of the wilderness. But as the group begins a nightmare trek across the frozen landscape, they start to get the feeling he hasn't told them the entire truth, and someone -- or something -- is secretly watching their every move.

by Justine Musk

Kelly Ruland's world fell apart when her brother Jasper walked away the sole survivor of a car accident...and kept walking right out of town. She doesn't want to believe that Jasper was at fault - but then why did he run away? How could he abandon Kelly and her parents? Now, former star student and athlete Kelly struggles to care about anything anymore, sleepwalking through school and experimenting with dangerous behavior as she tries to fill the void inside her.

Then one night, Jaspers returns...but he's not alone. Someone has followed him home. Someone who hides in the space behind the truth, who hovers in the shadows between the known and the unknown. His name is Archie, and he is the stranger they never asked to know, the guest they never invited . And he's about to challenge Kelly and Jasper to a game that demands a price they may not be willing to pay...

It's Not About the Accent
by Caridad Ferrer

Sporting a new name and an exotic new Latina flair, she's ready for her college debut. But is the luscious Carolina really better than plain-Jane Caroline?

Sick and tired of her life in small-town Ohio -- completely boring with a side of dull -- college-bound Caroline Darcy is determined to start fresh...as a new person. And that means following in the footsteps of her late Nana Ellie -- her witty and vibrant Cuban great-grandmother with a glamorous, well-traveled past. Donning a seriously caliente new wardrobe and a vivacious persona to match, she becomes Carolina, a half-Cuban aspiring actress ready for adventure.

Once at school, everything goes according to plan. Putting her primo acting skills to use, she flirts up Erik, a smooth-talking frat guy with gorgeous baby blues -- who can't get enough of her "exotic" charm. The only person who doesn't seem impressed by her Latina facade is Peter, a quiet, sweet Cuban guy from Miami. But when "Carolina" gets in over her head and finds herself in a dangerous situation, it's Peter who comes to her rescue -- and leads her on a real adventure to discover the truth about Nana Ellie and her family. It turns out that being boring old Caroline is way more exciting than she ever could have imagined.

by Gena Showalter

Alien hunting can get a girl killed. It can also get her a date.

High school senior Camille Robins and her best friend are determined to snag the attention of their crushes before graduation next month. Armed with red-hot outfits and killer hair, they sneak into the hottest nightclub in town -- which caters to the rich and famous, both human and alien. They end up following Erik (who is human) and Silver (who isn't) through a guarded door and are soon separated and under attack...and not the good kind.

Bad boy Erik spares Camille's life, but the two are soon being chased by gun-toting Alien Investigation and Removal agents. Camille's more confused than ever because Erik's finally showing real interest in her, but the agents are accusing him of dealing Onadyn -- a drug that ruins human lives. Suddenly, with the heat of his kiss lingering on her lips, Camille has to decide whose side she's on...and whether she's willing to put her life on the line to save Erik's.

Red Handed
by Gena Showalter

Phoenix Germaine has been trying to earn back her mother's trust after going into rehab and kicking Onadyn -- the drug of choice for New Chicago teens. But when a party in the woods turns into an all-out battle with the most ferocious aliens Phoenix has never seen, she's brought home in what appears to be an Onadyn-induced state. Hello, reform school.

Except, what her mother doesn't know is that Phoenix has just been recruited to join the elite Alien Investigation and Removal agency, where she'll learn to fight dirty, track hard, and destroy the enemy. Her professional training will be rigorous and dangerous, and the fact that one of her instructors is Ryan Stone -- the drop-dead gorgeous, nineteen-year-old agent she met in the woods that night -- doesn't make things any easier. Especially when dating him is totally against the rules....

Wildly imaginative, action-packed, and thrilling, Red Handed launches Gena Showalter's stunning new alien huntress series.

Graffiti Girl
by Kelly Parra

Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble...

Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos -- a senior track star and Angel's secret crush -- taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin -- from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte -- opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.

The Book of Luke
by Jenny O'Connell

From the bestselling author of Plan B comes a funny and touching new novel about a girl, a boy, and a notebook that could ruin everything.

Emily Abbott has always been considered the Girl Most Likely to Be Nice -- but lately being nice hasn't done her any good. Her parents have decided to move the family from Chicago back to their hometown of Boston in the middle of Emily's senior year. Only Emily's first real boyfriend, Sean, is in Chicago, and so is her shot at class valedictorian and early admission to the Ivy League. What's a nice girl to do?

Then Sean dumps Emily on moving day and her father announces he's staying behind in Chicago "to tie up loose ends," and Emily decides that what a nice girl needs to do is to stop being nice.

She reconnects with her best friends in Boston, Josie and Lucy, only to discover that they too have been on the receiving end of some glaring Guy Don'ts. So when the girls have to come up with something to put in the senior class time capsule, they know exactly what to do. They'll create a not-so-nice reference guide for future generations of guys -- an instruction book that teaches them the right way to treat girls.

But when her friends draft Emily to test out their tips on Luke Preston -- the hottest, most popular guy in school, who just broke up with Josie by email -- Emily soon finds that Luke is the trickiest of test subjects . . . and that even a nice girl like Emily has a few things to learn about love.

Boy Trouble
by Beth Killian

Beth Killian's 310 series heats up as rising "It girl" Eva Cordes lands her first starring role -- and a notorious Hollywood bad boy!

What do you get when you mix broken hearts and superstar egos? Drama, drama, and more drama. With her family in chaos, her roommates at each other's throats, and her ex-boyfriend Danny refusing to return her calls, good girl Eva Cordes is desperate for her luck to turn around. So when she snags a role in Westchester County, TV's hottest new primetime hit, she's thrilled. But the casting directors must have made a mistake -- she's been cast as a vampy vixen? Talk about playing against type.

Being the star of the show is more than Eva bargained for -- she has kissing scenes with both her aunt's actor boyfriend (ick!) and smoldering Aussie heartthrob Teague Archer, plus the show is filming on the UCLA campus -- home to the ex-boyfriend she hasn't quite gotten over. And when she's not dealing with boy trouble on the set, she's trying to get to know the older brother she just found out she had (nice going, Mom!). Eva is ready to give up on boys forever, but Teague Archer -- the guy every girl wants -- has decided he wants Eva. This good girl is no match for his bad boy ways...or is she? Eva just might surprise everyone -- including herself.

Such a Pretty Girl
by Laura Wiess

They promised Meredith nine years of safety, but only gave her three.

Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.

Today her time has run out.

The Scarlet Letterman
by Cara Lockwood

Miranda Tate and her closest friends have been let in on a powerful secret: their teachers are famous dead writers.

After a heroic first semester, Miranda's got Bard Academy's ghost faculty in her debt, a new boyfriend in hot basketball player Ryan Kent, and she's just turned in a paper about The Scarlet Letter that she's sure is A material. But when the Bard Queen Bee, Parker Rodham, claims she's attacked in the woods, Ryan is all too happy to play bodyguard. Then teachers start disappearing and the campus is abuzz with news of the Hooded Sweatshirt Stalker -- not to mention sightings of a monster in the woods. But it's Miranda who feels like a moving target when she is accused not only of plagiarism but of suspicious involvement in the attacks!

Meanwhile, rumors are flying about what it really means that Miranda's wearing Ryan's varsity letterman jacket. And she just can't shake her nagging feelings for Heathcliff, who entrusted her with the locket that keeps him in the "real" world even though every one else thinks he's back where he belongs, in the pages of Wuthering Heights. Is he the campus stalker? Does she like him more than she likes Ryan? And how is that possible if he's only a character from a book?

Beautiful Disaster
by Kylie Adams

Senior year is cooling down, student scandals are heating up, and in sexy South Beach, one teen's wicked dirty trouble is another teen's good clean fun. Until the last killer party becomes exactly that -- a party that kills.

Everyone wants to be just like them: Vanity, the gorgeous celebutante; Dante, the hip-hop dreamer; Max, the second-generation Hollywood bad boy; Christina, the just-out-of-the-closet Latina; and Pippa, the British hottie. They're the fabulous five of the Miami Academy for Performing Arts, and they've got everything and more. But for the unluckiest one of all, that includes a violent death at seventeen...on the night before graduation.

Hot romance, dangerous games, platinum dreams, and deadly choices. For some people, it's an impossible life. For Miami's most infamous clique, it's just another day at the beach...and for one of them, it's going to be the last.

Lost Summer
by Alex McAulay

When Caitlin Ross's mother takes her and her brother to an island in the remote Outer Banks for the summer, Caitlin is furious. She was planning on spending the summer hanging out by the pool, partying, shopping, and singing backup in her boyfriend's band, Box of Flowers. North Carolina isn't anything like California, and Caitlin doesn't fit in. But her troubled mother is too busy popping pills and trying to win back her creepy ex-boyfriend to care.

At first, the only friend Caitlin makes on the desolate island is a local misfit named Danielle. but things start to improve when she meets a bunch of visiting prep school boys and gets swept up in their exciting world. Then, one dark night, she witnesses a murder and begins to suspect that her new friends aren't really her friends at all. With a powerful hurricane approaching, and the island cut off from the outside world, Caitlin has no one to turn to but herself...and whether she'll live to see another summer is the biggest mystery of all.

Everything She Wants
by Beth Killian

In the second book of Beth Killian's juicy 310 series, Hollywood newcomer Eva Cordes starts to unravel her family's dark secrets -- and creates some scandals of her own.

Aspiring actress Eva feels like she's finally on her way to the big time -- she's got new friends, a new life, and a starring role in a hot new commercial. And with Valentine's Day fast approaching, she's determined to finally "seal the deal" with her new boyfriend, Danny. But all her plans turn inside out when someone from her past shows up at her doorstep -- with an engagement ring!?!

Eva swears the only guy she wants to be with is Danny, but he's starting to have doubts. So when she finds out the shocking truth about her father's identity, she has no one to turn to -- the guys are at each other's throats and her roommates are having a major catfight of their own.

Eva is about to make some tough choices...and if she's not careful, she may make the biggest mistake of her life.

Bling Addiction
by Kylie Adams

After a hot summer of partying in sexy South Beach, the fabulous five of the Miami Academy for Creative and Performing Arts are back in school but no less scandalous!

You met them in Cruel Summer: Vanity, the gorgeous celebutante; Dante, the hip-hop dreamer; Max, the second-generation Hollywood bad boy; Christina, the anime-obsessed Latina; and Pippa, the British hottie. Now, with a sex tape looming overhead and a very adult career happening in secret, you're about to get to know them better than ever.

But as out-of-control parties rage and dangerous connections form, the cool kids who thought they'd be friends forever are about to face the cold hard fact that they won't...because one of them will be dead by graduation day.

Wuthering High
by Cara Lockwood

Welcome to Bard Academy, where a group of supposedly troubled teens are about to get scared straight.

When Miranda, a slightly spoiled but spirited fifteen-year-old from Chicago, smashes up her father's car and goes to town with her stepmother's credit cards, she's shipped off to Bard Academy, a boarding school where she's supposed to learn to behave. Gothic and boring and strict, it's everything you'd expect of a reform school. But all is not what it seems at Bard....

For starters, Miranda's having horrific nightmares and the nearby woods are eerily impossible to navigate. The students' lives also start to mirror the classics they're reading -- tragic novels like Dracula, Wuthering Heights, and Jane Eyre. So Miranda begins to suspect that Bard is haunted -- by famous writers who took their own lives -- and she senses that not all of them are happy. Complicating things even more is the fact that Ryan Kent -- a cute, smart, funny basketball player who went to Miranda's old high school -- landed himself in Bard, too. And the attention he's showing Miranda is making some of the other girls white as ghosts. Something ghoulish is definitely brewing at Bard, and Miranda seems to be at the center of ominous events, but whether it's typical high school b.s. or otherworldly danger remains to be seen.

Adios to My Old Life
by Caridad Ferrer

Does a seventeen-year-old from Miami have what it takes to be the next big Latin superstar? And does she really want it?

As a talented singer-guitarist with a dream of going pro, Alegría Montero is getting fed up with the endless, boring parade of quinceañeras and other family party gigs. She's longing for something bigger. And Oye Mi Canto -- a new reality TV show that's searching for the next Latin superstar -- is definitely that. Ali figures she'll never make the cut, but auditioning seems like a good way to get her overprotective father to take her ambitions seriously.

To Ali's complete shock, she passes her audition. Next thing she knows, she's dealing with wardrobe fittings, cameras, reporters, vocal coaches, and websites designed by lovestruck fanboys. She's also dealing with jealousy, malice, and sabotage among the contestants, all of which has her wondering: Is it really time to shoot for the stars and try to win the whole competition, or is it time to say "Cut!" and become a normal teenager again?

Oh My Goth
by Gena Showalter

A fiercely individualist Goth girl wakes up to discover that the whole world has gone Goth and she's actually -- gag -- popular.

Jade Leigh is a nonconformist who values individuality above all else. She has a small group of like-minded Goth friends who wear black, dabble in the dark arts, and thrive outside the norm. They're considered the "freaks" of their high school. But when Jade's smart mouth lands her in trouble -- again -- her principal decides to teach her a lesson she'll never forget.

Taken to a remote location where she is strapped down and sedated, Jade wakes up in an alternate universe where she rules the school. But her best friends won't talk to her, and the people she used to hate are all Goth. Only Clarik, the mysterious new boy in town, operates outside all the cliques. And only Mercedes, the Barbie clone Jade loathes, believes that Jade's stuck in a virtual reality game -- because she's stuck there, too, now living the life of a "freak." Together, they realize they might never get back to reality...and that even if they do, things might never be the same.

The Pursuit of Happiness
by Tara Altebrando

These are the real five stages of grief: agitation, intoxication, experimentation, resignation, and reinvigoration.

Betsy knows that her summer job at a colonial village is going to ruin whatever slim chance she has of ever being popular. To make matters worse, Liza Henske, only the biggest freak from school -- piercings, tattoos, you name it -- works at the village, too. But when Betsy's mother dies, playing farm girl starts to feel like a great escape...from her shattered family, from the boyfriend who dumps her, from the friend group that goes poof.

Fortunately, Liza turns out not to be such a freak after all. And James -- a lanky surfer who works at the village -- has started carving Betsy things out of wood. Being with him is the only thing that makes her feel normal these days. That, and cutting images out of black paper like colonial silhouette artists did, which she knows must seem strange, but life seems very black and white lately...except for things with James, which are a million shades of gray.

Plan B
by Jenny O'Connell

Coast through senior year. Graduate. Travel around Europe. Join boyfriend out East for college.

That's the plan. Then the phone rings.

Vanessa has the next year of her life pretty much figured out. Sure, there's some parental convincing to do but she and her celebrity-obsessed gal pal Taylor pretty much think their plan is airtight.

Then Vanessa's parents get a mysterious phone call and drop a bombshell on her that she never could have imagined. She has a half brother. And he's coming to live with them.

If that wasn't bad enough, this half brother is none other than Hollywood bad boy Reed Vaughn. He's famous. He's going to be a senior, too. And he's going to ruin Vanessa's life for sure....

Life as a Poser
by Beth Killian

A new cell with the right area code. A sky's-the-limit credit card. A chance at becoming a Hollywood It Girl. What else could Eva possibly want?

Caught in the middle of senior year's juiciest scandal, Eva Cordes graduates early and moves to L.A. to live with her aunt -- the top talent agent for teens -- who plans to make her a star.

Eva has another reason for heading to Hollywood: it's time for her to get to know her mother -- a once-famous model who left Eva to be raised by her grandparents.

But when she gets stuck rooming with a bunch of outrageous teen starlets, and her mom doesn't want to admit she even has a daughter, Eva's life is one big tabloid story after another.

Smoking-hot Hollywood insider Danny wants to be her leading man, but he's officially off-limits. With all these complications, how can Eva ever make it down the red carpet without falling flat on her face?

Cruel Summer
by Kylie Adams

One gorgeous celebutante. One hip-hop dreamer. One second-generation Hollywood badboy. One anime-obsessed Latina. One British hottie....

They're five friends living the highlife in sexy South Beach, Miami. And one of them won't make it to graduation alive.

Life is fast and furious for these A-listers and their friends: the hottest bars, the hippest clubs, the coolest, most exclusive parties.

But not everybody loves this fabulous five from the Miami Academy for Creative and Performing Arts...and if they think they're untouchable, they're about to find out that they're wrong.

Dead wrong.

Bad Girls
by Alex McAulay

Thick with suspense and simmering with adolescent turmoil, Bad Girls is an action-adventure survival story that pits a group of troubled teens against a forbidding tropical landscape, an elusive enemy, and, worst of all, each other. It's Mean Girls meets Lord of the Flies, and it marks the debut of an innovative new voice in fiction.

Anna Wheeler's parents have had it up to here. They can't seem to control their daughter anymore and so, one night, Anna's yanked from her bed and carted off to Camp Archstone — bootcamp for troubled teen girls. There, on a vast, remote, sparsely populated island, Anna will be expected to change her ways and repent for the sins her religious father just can't seem to forgive. Here's a hint: There's a boy involved. No, a man.

Life at Camp Archstone is Anna's worst nightmare. Every minute of the day is scheduled, the counselors are hardcore, and one girl is crueler than the next. But when a grueling hike into the forest goes horribly wrong, things go from bad to worse. Stalked by an unknown foe and left to fend for themselves, the girls band together to try to find their way back to civilization — and that's when the real trouble begins.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"For Steph's Debut"

I was invited to guest blog @ Shooting Star Magazine to help celebrate our Steph Kuehnert's debut release I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, and I thought it would be great to share here since it's just a few more days for Steph's official release.

Like books music tells a story. It’s powerful. Sad. Vibrant. Angry. Wild. Like books, music makes us feel.

And I’m thrilled Stephanie Kuehnert wrote a novel to show us just how much music lives and breathes for her main character, Emily Black.

I grew up in the ‘80s where Madonna and Michael Jackson had me dancing around the living room floor imitating dance moves that would make others laugh. I didn’t dare believe I could write or play music, but it couldn’t stop me from dancing with an audience all the way until junior high.

What happened in high school? I moved away, and wasn’t as comfortable with these new kids around me. I couldn’t be myself. Oh, I still continued to dance to rap and techno that exploded in the ‘90s, but it was when I was alone, that I would draw and paint, and even write a little to the sorrowful words of REM and White Lion.

You see, I never favored only one type of genre of music. I loved it all and still do, and that’s why I began to collect movie soundtracks filled with various artists. I didn’t have enough money to buy all the artists I wanted, but I could buy a soundtrack filled with some of my favorite songs. Music from the ‘60s to the ‘90s, songs that made my heart squeeze and some that made me want to get up and dance alone in my room. :)

Even now, my iPod nano is filled with old songs that I still recall the words today as well as the new artists that can lift my mood with a few beats.

Like books, I don’t think we could live without the power of music. And kudos to Stephanie for bringing these two elements together in her awesome debut, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE. :)

Here’s to Stephanie. :)

In celebration of Stephanie’s release, I’m giving away a $10 iTunes gift certificate. Leave a comment on my post @ Shooting Star Magazine and you’ll be entered.

Contest ends: Sunday, Midnight EST to win the $10 iTunes gift card. :)