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Friday, September 26, 2008

Sadly, I received an email today from one Ms. Sara Miller, a nationalised Briton by birth and a business merchant based in the United Kingdom. She has been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer and only has a few months to live. But lest I feel a tear come on, there is something positive coming out of this - she's chosen me, of all people, to receive $20,500,000 for safe keeping!!!!! Yep, that's 20 million dollars. And to think I don't even know her!

For some reason I've been getting tons of these generous offers:

- Mrs. Rita Wings has a client interested in pursuing a business arrangement with me which will yield me 5% of his fortune for doing absolutely nothing!!!!

- Quanzhou Machinery & Autoparts Co., Ltd., located in Xiamen city, Fujian Province of China, has decided that my "area of specialization or occupation" make me ideally suited to receive 10% commission for receiving funds on their behalf as their agent.

- Minister Jin Renqing also wants me to recieve money on his behalf - and I don't even have to be his agent!!! Take that Quanzhou Machinery & Autoparts Co., Ltd.

- Mrs Maria Elena Fernandez from the Philippines urgently awaits my response. She is also sick (just like our poor British Sara Miller), and wants to give me $7 million she has concealed in a trunk box.

Mrs. Fernandez obviously doesn't realize the offer I have on the table from Sara Miller - and Sara won't even make me hunt down a smelly old trunk to retrieve it!

And, finally, I just heard word from Mr. Patrick Chan that he has a very profitable business proposal of ($30,000,000.00) and just wants me to send him an email to his Yahoo account and we can go over the details.

Well, $30 million. I think Mr. Chan has extended the best offer of the day.

What's all this talk about financial collapse? Banking ruin? Investment peril? I've got people forking it over left and right over here.
Beats a 401k anyday.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sacred Bean

Who would’ve thought South Florida was home to twenty-four published authors and counting, all hailing from one critique group? I’m eternally thankful to be a part of this coveted group run by my mentor, Joyce Sweeney (pictured on right), author/poet to over ten amazing MG and YA books.
In over twelve years, out of Joyce’s critique group, one author after another has honed their craft and sold their novels. Back in 1997, Joyce decided she needed to bestow each published author with a special gift. She thought maybe seashells or stones, but when one of her students, Heidi, returned from Costa Rica and gave her some really cool seed pods from the Guanacaste Tree, Joyce opened one of the pods and found twenty seeds inside, making the perfect gift. If she could ever help that many students get published, Joyce thought that would be a truly amazing feat. Well, she did better than that and had to open another pod a couple of years ago.
To honor each achievement, every student has a special bean ceremony. I was so excited when I received my bean back in March. I keep mine in a small handmade jewelry box on my dresser, just fit for a bean (bean pictured on left in my hand). So this Friday, Joyce will be holding the twenty-fourth bean ceremony for middle grade author of the Red Umbrella, Christina Gonzalez. And there are so many more beans to be given away because the amount of talent in Joyce’s group and Joyce’s kindness is unstoppable!

Did you receive anything special when you sold your book? Or at any other monumental moment in your life?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

IWBYJR Tattoo!

Since I was 17 years old, I've been commemorating things with tattoos. I've got tattoos that honor my mom, my best friend, my favorite band and my cat. It only made sense that I should celebrate my first novel being published with ink, right?

So back in June, I began the process.... Well, actually technically I began the process when I was 17 because I added the IWBYJR tattoo to my first tattoo. There is a longer story about my first tattoo and why I decided to add the IWBYJR stuff to it here on my blog, but basically I went through some very tough times toward the end of high school and the main thing that helped get me through it was Riot Grrrl, a punk rock feminist movement. On my 17th birthday, I decided to get female symbols tattooed on my arm as my way of declared Grrrl Power! Several years later when I'd processed the things I'd been through even more and really considered myself a survivor, I added the title of my favorite Hole album, "Live Through This" to the tattoo along with a Hole logo I really like because Hole was one of the bands that really got me through my hard times. I put the words in Polish because my mother's side of the family is Polish, so again, a tribute of sorts to women. This is what the tattoo looked like then:
So this summary, I decided that IWBYJR was the book that I had ultimately lived through the rough times in my life to get to writing and it was a tribute to my female punk rock heros, so might as well add that to the tattoo. I knew I wanted the music to the song, "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone" by Sleater-Kinney and my friend Jenny transcribed it for me. I also wanted the guitar picks from the cover of the book. I did the tattoo in three sittings.

First my tattoo artist added the music staff:
Then he added the notes and the shading and the guitar picks and colored in my Hole logo heart the color of the Live Through This CD. At first I didn't want the guitar picks outlined in back because they aren't on the book cover. But when it healed, the yellow guitar pick just looked like a bruise. So I went back a third time to get them outlined. Here is the final tattoo. I had my boyfriend take pics from both sides of my arm so you can see all the guitar picks. I also have music going around the back of my arm a little bit.

So, I'm done with this tattoo for now, but I do plan to continue my writing/music theme though and eventually get my "muse" (a fairy-like creature with a book in her lap and headphones on) added to my right forearm. My next tattoo will be something I'm getting with my best friend in a couple months.

What about you? Do you have any tattoos and what do they mean to you? Or if you were to get a tattoo what would it be?


Friday, September 19, 2008

How to let go of a manuscript

1. Receive copyedit of Going Too Far from editor at MTV Books. She has also included a green pencil to make changes with, so your marks will be differentiated from her blue marks and the copyeditor's red marks. There is also a note from her that says, "This is your last chance to make substantive changes so DON'T SCREW THIS UP OMG!!!" Actually that is not exactly what it says, but that is how you read it.

2. Read through copyedit. Add some things and take out some things with your trusty green pencil until the manuscript is perfect. Both the copyeditor and the editor have used a very light hand. There are no problems. There is nothing to worry about.

3. Worry.

4. Read through copyedit again. Add a few last things and take out a few last things with the green pencil that you have now been gripping tightly for seven days. Wonder if you really wrote this manuscript, because it's great, and the person who wrote it is obviously a lot smarter and a much better writer than you are.

5. Realize you are going insane. Vow to get rid of this thing tomorrow morning.

6. Now it is tomorrow morning. Drop off child at school. Go to UPS Store to make copy of manuscript. Think of one last change you want to make. Realize you do not have the green pencil.

7. Drive home. Look for green pencil. Green pencil has disappeared. Realize that no one REALLY cares whether you use green pencil. Tear house apart looking for green pencil. Look suspiciously at kitten. Steal green pencil from child's Future Car Designer Kit and make change.

8. Drive back to UPS Store. You are going to be very angry if the UPS Store is full of green pencils, but it isn't. Make copy of manuscript. Count manuscript pages to make sure they are all there. Examine copy. It is not dark enough. Make another copy of manuscript. Count manuscript pages again. Check copy machine carefully for lost pages.

9. Return to car. Throw copies into the floorboard, on top of Chris Baty's No Plot? No Problem! A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. Laugh at irony.

10. Drive to FedEx box. Check manuscript one more time. Manuscript is dirty, wrinkled, and tired. It looks like it has been run over by a train. Hope your editor understands that coffee and chocolate cupcake stains are a sign of your dedication and professionalism. Slip manuscript into envelope and seal. Check mailing label. FROM: Jennifer Echols. TO: Jennifer Heddle. FROM: Jennifer Echols. TO: Jennifer Heddle. This is right. Right? One time when you were querying publishers, you sent a query letter to a publisher who said they sometimes took a year to answer. When you received their reply after only a few days, you were sure it was an acceptance letter! In fact you had mistakenly addressed the query letter to yourself. FROM: Jennifer Echols. TO: Jennifer Heddle. Right.

11. What else can you do to stall?

12. Come on now. You are 3/4 finished with writing a new novel for Simon Pulse. You need to get back to that today. Let go.

13. Consider keeping the manuscript for the weekend. It isn't due until Tuesday. You could FedEx it on Monday. You could spend the weekend taking a comma out and putting it back in, taking it out, putting it back in. Consider the likelihood of your husband divorcing you.

14. Use phone to take photo of FedEx box.

15. Realize the men at the lawnmower repair shop across the street are watching you.

16. Realize the radio is playing Fall Out Boy's version of Michael Jackson's "Beat It." Beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it, no one wants to be defeated! Just beat it beat it beat it beat it beat it beat it--OKAY! Dump package into FedEx box.

17. Open FedEx box again to make sure package has gone down, like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

18. Drive to jogging trail. Run three miles. Get head out of Going Too Far. Get head back into new book for Simon Pulse. Take deep breaths. Let go.

19. Approach car cautiously, deathly afraid you will find stray manuscript pages lying on the seat.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Who are you?

No, not just the Who song of the same name, but an honest question I find myself fielding a lot with respect to writing and fielding the equally curious looks when I respond with "I'm just a writer." People desperately want to know what kind of writer I am and while it should be an easy thing to answer, for me, it's really not. See, it's a curious thing, having fallen into this YA writing world without ever having intended it. And I can't deny that it's played a large part in my outward identity as a writer, since it's a path that's brought me a lot of success and it's currently the only genre in which I've been published.

However, I've never made any secret of the fact that I've always intended to write for the adult market. That it's still my goal, to land a publishing contract for one of my adult novels. However, that doesn't mean that I don't have a healthy respect for young adult. If there's anything guaranteed to raise my hackles, it's to see adult writers who think they can write YA because it's "easy" or that they can dumb down the same stories for a younger market. 'Scuse me while I snort with laughter, but since that's a whole other rant, that's what I'll limit myself to. Besides, they'll learn. Maybe.

Anyhow, my point, and I do have one, is that there are times I find it difficult to define my writer identity. I mean, I write YA, but I never really considered myself a "YA Writer," the way so many others do. That's all they write, that's all they ever wanted to write, that's where they feel most comfortable, and they're absolutely fantastic at it. Admittedly, I sometimes do feel like a little kid, standing outside the soda shop window, watching them having malts and fries, completely secure in that particular identity but honestly, I know that's not where I belong. At least, it's not the only place. I know I want more. So I continue to plug away at my adult works which run from contemporary romance to women's fiction, to my latest work which has everyone who's read it saying, "Yeah, this is definitely a lot more mainstream than anything you've ever done before."

Whatever that means.

See, in the end, I'm not much for labels. I'm a storyteller and I have the ability to translate those stories to the page. Who they appeal to? Well, in an ideal world, they appeal across a broad spectrum. Just because a book is labeled a YA because that's the age of the protagonist or it's the group that a bunch of suits in marketing think it's going to appeal to, doesn't mean that it can't or shouldn't appeal to a larger group overall. (Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series comes to mind here, for example.)

For me, just because a book has a love story, doesn't mean it's just a romance or just because the main character is a woman, doesn't mean it's just meant for female readers.

You know, it's a lot like music (for me everything's like music, it's a thing). Anyhow, in music, people have this deep need to categorize and compartmentalize, in order to make sense of the huge variety that's out there, but in their zeal to do so, there's so much they're potentially missing out on. Personally, my favorite musicians are the ones who defy description and who refuse to allow themselves to be slotted neatly into an easy-to-define category. When they're asked what kinds of musicians they are or what kind of music they produce, they're perfectly happy saying, "I do what I like—I'm just a musician."

Kind of like I'm just a writer.

So, who are you?

Monday, September 15, 2008

:) bday 2 me

I've received some of the nicest birthday cards from my favorite people today. From my son:

In case you can't tell, this is the Empire State Building. It looks a bit more like the Chrysler Building to me, but let's not split hairs. It's not every day that I get to take Manhattan, much less have it handed to me in a beautiful card.

And from my parents, who have been trying to get me to explain text messaging to them ever since my niece got a cell phone:

They are so cute. Clueless, but cute. In a few minutes I expect their weekly phone call to ask me how to get their digital photos from their camera onto their computer, or how to cut and paste text in Word.

What's the best birthday present you ever received?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Can Do It. We Can Make It Take A Very Long Time.

I have become an absolute bore! It’s true. My life for the past thirteen weeks has been completely consumed with the ongoing renovation of my house. I have turned into a complete lunatic about things like tiles and flooring and millwork! (My greatest wish for all whom I hold dear is that they may live their entire lives and never need millwork!)

But it is almost over. Almost. I say that because right now there is a big hole in my house where there used to be a wall and some stairs. Did I mention that my daughter started walking a few months ago? So yeah. I’m not sure exactly where we’re sleeping tonight.

So that explains my scarcity on the blog. Because I could not bear to bore you with the drama. (The floods! The pests! The rest!)

Now that I am back, I dearly wish I had more exciting things to tell you but I see that the excitement is happening right here. Because how awesome does the upcoming crop of books sound? I am particularly excited for Alex’s historical novel.

And for fall. Good ole fall. I’ll have a birthday. I’ll get to dress my daughter in awesome new fall clothes. I’ll have an office in what will feel like a new house. Hopefully then the focus of my life can come back a bit to WRITING. Remember writing? It’s what I DO, when I’m not RENOVATING.

Sorry, folks. I promise to be more relevant/interesting/writerly/something next time.

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?


by Alex McAulay

A teenage girl discovers that evil comes in many forms, when she and a group of friends run away from boarding school in this stunning novel of suspense and survival from the author of BAD GIRLS.

Maggie Leigh just wants to be a normal teenager, but when German bombs tear apart London during World War II, her ultra-religious mother sees the destruction as divine punishment. She sends Maggie to a remote boarding school in coastal Wales, supposedly to keep her safe, but also to keep her in line. The school is creepy, the headmistress is a lunatic, and the students range from spoiled rich girls to speechless trauma victims. But when a tragic accident happens on the beach, Maggie and three friends are forced to flee the school, plunging into the nightmarish world of Europe during wartime. Now every decision Maggie makes is fraught with danger, and living to see another day depends on how quickly she can think and act... and how far she's willing to go.



by Jan Blazanin

Oribella Bettencourt is living a teenage girl’s dream. At fifteen, she’s a beauty queen, a model, and a breath away from her life-long goal of being a movie actress. She and her mother are more than partners; they’re best friends. When Oribella is diagnosed with alopecia, she believes that losing her hair means the end of her career. While she struggles to cope with that loss, the strain shatters the special bond she and her mother share. Without friends, family, or direction, Ori feels like a discarded doll until an unexpected ally helps her learn to value friendship and teamwork. And, in time, she and her mother form a new relationship based on love and trust.

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.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Girl on the Blog

I've always been a late bloomer. The last girl in eighth grade to wear a bra--needing one was an entirely different matter. I didn't reach my full height until age 19, and I still only made it to 5'6". And I didn't settle on a teaching career until my late 20s. So it's not out of character for me to have been writing for 16 years before my first book was sold. 

Don't misunderstand me. I wrote Fairest of Them All in 2 years--not 16, and my agent sold my story shortly after I finished it. But the 7 novel manuscripts before FOTA were the result of lots and lots of writing trial and error. During those dry years, I'd  hear a story at a writing conference from someone who'd dashed out his or her first manuscript in a month, popped it into the mail, and--isn't it wonderful--had it plucked out of the slush pile and rushed into publication by the end of the year. After each overnight success story I was torn between pelting the lucky writer with the remains of my breakfast muffin or slinking back to my motel room and curling into the fetal position for the rest of the weekend.

This is the place for me to say how much sweeter success is when it's been years in the making. With no means for comparison, I can't say whether it is or isn't. But next April when I see someone holding a copy of Fairest of Them All, it's going to taste sweeter than a pound of dark chocolate.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Color Me a Career

I discovered the Color Career Counselor the other day and thought it was so cool. Figure out the career you're best suited to by picking favorite colors. So I tried it. Amazingly, the results were perfectly right.

I still have a 'real job' and everyone always asks why I don't just write. The thing is, I love to write but I can't imagine just writing. I love spreadsheets and figuring out how to sell products to customers and learning what customers want to buy and I love client meetings (I'm in marketing).

So when the results said that I am a Creator (Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional) suited to a career such as.....wait...author, it was right on.

But it also said I am an organizer (Self-Control, Practical, Self-Contained, Orderly, Systematic, Precise, and Accurate) who would enjoy writing business reports and making charts and graphs.

It sounds like the two different career paths are diametrically opposed to one another, which is how I feel all the time. I love wearing a suit and running a meeting and I love sitting in a big chair in sweatpants and a t-shirt and writing by myself. I love making up stories and not knowing where they'll take me and I love being able to figure out problems that have concrete answers.
The summer after I graduated from college I was out with a friend and she asked me what I wanted to do. I told her write. She said, "You can't just sit in a room by yourself all day and write." And she was right. I can't. But I can do it half the time and still have a lot of fun.
So what do the colors tell you? Take the quiz and see what you're meant to do.