Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Marley and Me: The Collegiate Perspective
I can't review a book that's been made into a movie. It's impossible. But I told myself that I would not cry during this book and found myself devastating the one Kleenex box I packed. John's story of his home life, his kids, his writing and above all his dog was just too heart-breaking for this first-year, however free from homesickness.
When in South Florida, John Grogan missed trees and hills and beautiful places. I have trees and hills and beautiful places, but I miss dogs and kids. Not even my dogs and kids. I miss seeing little runny noses and "MOM! I WANT THAT!" and dogs urinating on city property and running up with the most intelligent looks on their faces. There is a world outside of eighteen-year-old scholars; I think I've read about it.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I had my last day of high school today. :S
Also, my "Dollar Store Designers" article was featured in this summer issue of Kiki.
Just so you know. :)
Saturday, May 16, 2009
In this debut novel, Jory has a nose comparable to those on Mount Rushmore and an inferiority complex to match. Determined to change her face (and therefore her life), she gets a summer job to pay for a nose job. Yet through a crazy series of events-- finding love, losing it, finding it, making friends, losing friends, discovering jewelry-- Jory has to rethink her life and what the problems in it really are.
The book was cute. There were many positive messages about body image and relationships, which I appreciated and thought were cool. Gideon was absolutely droll and you just wanted to snatch him right out of the book. Jory's incessant self-centeredness, though, was annoying for the first three-quarters. I had the feeling that if Jory was real, I wouldn't be friends with her, and that made reading her story harder. From a writing perspective, Salter had a decently developed point of view and there were few signs of the self-aware style of new writers in the book.
Overall: good beach read with positive messages.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
This alternative vamp tale is told through Nina, a permanent 15-year-old whose funny, snarky view of life is clouded by the fact that she doesn't enjoy being a vampire. She has weekly meetings with other Australian down-under hidden-cover bloodeaters in the Reformed Vampire Support Group, but when one of their own is killed with a silver bullet, it's a race to figure out who the killer is, how to save their undead lives and maybe uncover secrets at the same time.
I loved Nina, I loved the supporting cast, I loved the whole story. I can't say this enough. Catherine Jinks is a genius (previous novel: Evil Genius) and I worship at her feet. If you're looking for witty, funny, sarcastic vampire tales with a dash of unusual romance and lots of adventure... heck, if you like great books, run out and get this one right now. Or Nina will come and suck your blood.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
SC: Before I started writing books, I always thought that coming up with titles would be the easiest part. I was wrong. It’s much easier for me to write a book than come up with a good title. At least, that was the case with these three books. I knew the title of my fourth book, Something Like Fate, in the early stages of writing it.
The other significant thing that happened when I was 12 was realizing I wanted to be a science teacher. I was a teacher for almost ten years. But I still carried that dream of becoming an author in my heart. While I was in grad school at New York University, I started writing some early pages of When It Happens. I kept writing and soon I had a manuscript. It was rejected by several publishers, but Viking Children’s Books saw something there and wanted to work with me. Now my books sit on my bookshelf next to The Outsiders, all of them with the Viking imprint on the spine. That dream I kept alive for so long has finally become reality.
SC: Well, I love the scene in When It Happens with Sara and Tobey where he’s in the car and she’s outside his window and they press their hands together, separated by glass. I always thought that would make an excellent movie moment. I also love the iPod dancing scene on the pier from Take Me There. There’s something about being surrounded by the city lights and energy and night that makes the scene an emotionally powerful one for me.
INN: Any advice for teen writers?
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
What I admire about the writing is that although this is a debut, Esch has managed to avoid writing cliched sentences. 90-95% of the sentences are Dixie Nguyenisms, unique to his character and perfectly situated. Beyond that, this is outright funny. I wouldn't recommend it for those who only do family-wholesome humor but for any high schooler, it's a riot. I look forward to reading Esch's next work, and meanwhile comment to win a copy of Sophomore Undercover!
Sunday, March 29, 2009
INN: Absolutely Maybe features a cross-country road trip, crazy charm school mothers and Hollywood quests for unknown dads. Where did you find the idea for this novel-- or multiple ideas?
LY: The original title was CHARM SCHOOL DROPOUT and it was a much different book--lighter and for a much younger crowd. Then I started writing and even though I worked from an outline, the characters sort of hijacked the story. I always write my endings first, so at least I knew where we were headed. But some of the side trips surprised me.
Initally, I planned for the book to take place in thirds. The first being in Kissimmee, FL where a goth girl grows up with a ex-beauty pageant queen mom. I thought a road trip would be fun because I once drove across country with my best friend Henry. And then I wanted Maybelline (she calls herself Maybe) to land in Hollywood, the way Dorothy landed in Oz. Only, as I began to write, the LA/Hollywood part sort of took over, and I cut way back on the other two parts.
My struggle with writing is never lack of ideas, but having too many. In the deleted many subplots because it made Maybe's story meander. (However, I've saved them and they may appear in another book!)
INN: If Maybe had her own TV show, what would it be called and what would it be about?
LY: Oooh, great question! Hmmm . . . I know! It would be called TIPS 'n' TACOS WITH MAYBE. She would help people solve their problems. Plus, Maybe would figure out what kind of taco would make them feel better, and cook it for them.
INN: You've written very successfully for middle grade/middle school readers with Millicent Min, Girl Genius and the sequels with Stanford Wong and Emily Ebers: what was the transition to writing YA like?
LY: It was heaven. With YA there are no constraints either with topic or language. I felt a freedom writing Maybe's story that I hadn't felt before. I loved every minute of it.
INN: I'm a huge American Girl fan: can you talk about writing Good Luck, Ivy?
LY: American Girl approached me about writing a historical fiction. At first I said no, because I don't really write that sort of thing. But when I found out it was set in 1974, I was shocked! To me, that doesn't seem so long ago because I was alive then. Finally, I agreed to do it and had a great time. The story is set in San Francisco, so they sent me there to research. I said, "I really think there needs to be a scene that takes place at the Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory." And they said, "Well then, you should go there." And I thought, "Oh yeah!"
It was really weird/cool seeing the Ivy Ling doll. And the book and doll were on Oprah, so that was tres exciting.
INN: What's up next?
LY: I have a chapter book series that will debut in September. The first book is called BOBBY VS. GIRLS (ACCIDENTALLY) and the illustrator is the talented Dan Santat. He has a Disney Channel cartoon called THE REPLACEMENTS.
INN: Any advice for teen writers?
LY: Read, read, write, read, write and read some more. Every book you read is like getting a free writing class. If you love a book, reread it for style, pacing, plot, etc. And write all the time. It doesn't have to be stories, e-mails, journals, letters, they all count. Also, don't just write what you know, but write what you want to know. Explore. Have fun.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Commit to an earlier date. If your deadline is April 1st, email your editor and let her know you will be done the article by March 25th. Sound insane? It probably is, but it means you will be in the editor's good graces and not emailing the article at 11:59pm on April 1.
Use your query as an outline. I love copying and pasting the original query to keep myself on track, and remember what I promised to deliver to my editor. It keeps any unexpected tangents from taking over the piece.
Put your dates in your normal agenda. I have little reminders about this article next to my Calculus homework and weekend plans. It's one way to keep it together in the midst of a crazy senior semester, twelve days from college decisions...
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
1. Live in the United States of America
2. Comment and tell me what your thoughts on Sophomores are
3. Do so by April 8th, 2009
Have fun and comment!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
I apologize. If you're a second semester senior in a competitive school with acceptances and rejections flying about your ears, you will understand but it's no excuse.
Lisa Yee will be coming in 2 weeks.
The review of Sophomore Undercover will come this week along with details on our 2 upcoming giveaways.
I will be uploading some more posts on publishing. :) And enjoy, hopefully, a less insane seven days.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Orb28, the lovely ladies' blog I've been guesting at for several months, is sadly closing due to the turn of events that are turning many people's lives at the moment. Go over to www.orb28.blogspot.com until March 14 to say your goodbyes.
Ben Esch's "Sophomore Undercover" was hilarious and I will be posting a review of it this Saturday. I have a copy to give away as well as a copy of Lord of Misrule because I can't finish the darn book. Details on Friday.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
INN: You have written many books for teens, spanning diverse topics: from high school politics in Popular Vote to the Simon Pulse romantic comedies like Crush du Jour and 30 Guys in 30 Days and even ethnic heritage in Emily Goldberg Learns to Salsa. What inspires you to write about such different scenarios?
MO: Hmm...when you put it that way--maybe I just have a short attention span! Ha! Seriously, though, I have always had a broad range of interests and I love to read all kinds of books-- from chick lit, to thrillers, to literary fiction, and I think my writing reflects that. I'm very, very lucky that I have editors who encourage me to stretch and explore all of my areas of interest. And each project teaches me something new about myself. "Emily" was heavily based on my own experiences getting to know my Puerto Rican family, and I think it was a story that I always had inside of me. My graphic novel project due out this summer, "So Punk Rock," talks about life in a Jewish day school.
MO: The best advice--and what seemed to work for me--is to read everything you can get your hands on, and to keep writing. Writing isn't about being published (though that's always fun too)--it's about sitting your butt in your chair and *writing.* It's harder than it sounds, but it's worth it!... THANKS!
Monday, February 23, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
INN: Dixie uncovers a drug scandal involving high school athletes. How did you approach this topic-- through research, asking teens, memories of your own high school experience or something else?
INN: If Dixie had his own game show, what celebrity would he choose to be the Vanna White and why?
BE: That's a good question...I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and I think he'd probably go with one of the cute but somewhat nerdy girls from that G4 channel (I'm all about that Ninja Warrior show, by the way) so let's go with Kristin Holt, maybe? Of course, I'm guessing that Dixie would spent most of his time staring at his feet and stammering if he was around anyone that pretty, so that would probably hurt the game show a bit...
The second step was finding an agent. There's a lot of stuff on the internet on how to go about doing this, so I won't get into the more boring details about how all that works.
INN: What's up next in your writing career?
1. Try to remember this time in your life. The stuff that you are going to be obsessed with for the rest of your life (for better or worse) is going to happen during your teenage years, and like it or not, this is the stuff that you're probably going to end up writing about. There's just way too much exciting stuff happening in your life right now for you to not remember it and use for creative fodder down the line. Keep a journal, hold onto your yearbooks, make a scrapbook...just make sure you remember it.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Also: look for In My Mailbox tomorrow, slightly tweaked to What Books I Have Been Given Recently. And Benjamin Esch will be joining us on V-Day!
Monday, February 9, 2009
This was written a month ago, but this essay about teen reading by Michelle Slatalla is excellent as well as entertaining.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
This means I can finally get back to writing. I've put off working on my novel in favor of studying, and missed my January deadlines for sending out queries. February and early March will therefore be spent revising, with 10 queries being sent out by March 20th. Freelancing? That too. It was fun to have a magazine email me after 1.5 years to see if the article I queried was still available.
Career Week will be coming up, as well as some truly AWESOME interviews coming up with some spectacular authors. I'm looking to work with other bloggers to coordinate different Spring events, celebrating Spring Break and then finally graduation.
So: rest assured, I will be back and blogging well. My column for February is up at www.kidmagwriters.com/workday/fresh-ideas.htm for those who are interested in finding inspiration in your old clips.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
4 college interviews had so far
$30,000 offered in scholarship money
3 exams taken
3 exams to go
2 more days until I don't have to care about school any more and can watch American Idol-- I mean, Mad Men-- without feeling guilty
1 second before I return to massive studying
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Exploring a New Market. Travel is something I'm interested in writing about, so I'm hunting for travel zines or travel columns regardless of whether they pay. Once I've earned my stripes, I'll go after the heavy-hitting (and big buck-giving) travel zines (Geez, what's with the participles?).
Establishing a Reputation. Columns or guest positions are fantastic because now you can say, "I'm a columnist for Angelina Jolie Live Always and Everywhere." If you're offered a column position, take it. Your reputation will benefit if you do a good job (Hint: always keep track of your deadlines!)
Giving Back. Sometimes I write for free when I like the magazine editor and she's helped me out before. Write if you believe in a cause and want to support it. If there's a "giving" aspect, think about writing. Your art is not meant for pure profit.
The Prestige of the Prestige. If a big name approaches you about doing a piece for no cash, think about the name. In the bio part of your query letters, you don't put how much you were paid for an article, but you do note what the name of the magazine was.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I don't always have the time to read during school, or on the bus or waiting for a lesson; but I often do. Reading in between classes is a fantastic use of time, but it also serves a metaphysical purpose. Plugging in numbers or running from activity to activity means I'm not writing most of the time, not doing what I love most. It's easy to forget why you love what you do.
So my challenge to you, as writing teenagers and people who support writing teenagers, is to carry a book in your pocket or backpack or purse. It's good for those in-between moments when the teacher gives you 20 minutes to work on a project you finished last week. It's good to just search for your lip gloss and find your fingers on The Conde Nast Traveler's Guide or Cracked Up to Be, and remember for a moment that books exist, good books are possible and that one day you will write one.
Some of Tina’s favorite things include reading, drinking lattes, hanging with her family, watching the TV shows "The Office" and “Lost,” and chatting with her readers through her website, www.tinaferraro.com.
And I have to say, I put in several mentions of something called a Steam Kiss, which I did not research, so when my characters tried it, (obviously) they couldn’t get it to work. I’m looking for someone to try it for real and report back to me!
Friday, January 16, 2009
Watch for weird clauses. Know what rights you're giving up, and weigh them against what you're being paid or the prestige of the magazine. There are shady zines that will steal your words for no payment, so watch out.
Photo releases. Sometimes big magazines will want your photo in the bio line, and will ask for a photo release. Make sure these are photos that you or your family took and are not copyrighted photos with a professional photographer. Senior portraits won't qualify most of the time. Choose a good pic of yourself!
Always know your goals. The best situation is when you allow a magazine to publish your story with First North American Rights or minimal rights given, for a large sum of money or prestigious publication. However, you usually have to decide what's most important: getting published, being published again, payment and prestige. Don't be in such a hurry to get published that you make the mistake of selling your work for little profit.
If your story is publishable, you are worth being paid well. Read carefully and keep copies of all your contracts. It's good practice for later life, or so my parents tell me.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
The PUSH imprint contest, for unpublished novels written by teens, is open until March. If you have 30-50 pages of a novel, run over to the Scholastic page and see if you're interested in submitting. Please pay attention to the rights you give up for the contest; know what you're doing!
You can find me today over at www.orb28.blogspot.com, and my Fresh Ideas column at KidMagWriters.com has been published. Go read my life-altering words of wisdom-- or gently entertaining writing thoughts-- over at http://kidmagwriters.com/workday/fresh-ideas.htm.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Contracts. Contracts state that you are giving up certain rights (such as North American
Negotiating prices. You receive your contract and the payment is $25 less than you thought it would be. Do you email the editor and complain? This depends on how bureaucratic the magazine is. If the editor always responds within 24 hours to your emails and seems eager to work with you, you can bring up the price. However, this is best done before a contract is brought up. These are almost impossible to change if you're working with a major mag.
Negotiating rights. If you're unhappy with the rights you're supposed to be giving away, talk to the editor. Be prepared to wait, be prepared to be frustrated, make sure you know what is important and why it is important. That said, I relax my rights-worries when dealing with big name companies and magazines with good reputations. Be worried when dealing with Small Zine Nobody's Heard Of, and comb that dang contract.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Debate Team. Lincoln-Douglas, or LD, Debate uses both prepared cases and on-your-feet thinking to let students argue about moral issues of the day. The current resolution is about the United States joining an international crimes court. If you're interested in writing about ethics, see if there's an LD Debate team at your school.
Literary Magazine. This is a traditional way to be involved with literariness at school. Join your Lit-Mag and see how teen writing is different for "school" than it is for "publication." What can you learn? Loads. Most of these magazines focus on poetry rather than prose.
Destination Imagination. This of-the-coolest EC is designed to make you solve problems creatively. Many of the Challenges can be met with a script: quite an opportunity for budding playwrights. It's a neat chance to use the arts, science and technology in a competitive environment... with PEOPLE!
Newspaper. If journalism is your cup of tea, it only makes sense to start writing for your school paper. If your school paper stinks (it happens), ask the journalism teacher to give you the names of your local paper's community-friendly editors. Then get in touch with them about writing.
School Newsletter. Many schools publish a monthly or quarterly newsletter for parents, to let them know about events and experiences at the school. Talk to your school secretary about writing a piece on a landmark activity for this, and see your writing in the hands of all your friends' parents. It's usually a good thing.
Underground Blogging. If you're super rebellious, start an anonymous blog called The Secret Life of a ____ Student and write snarky reports about teachers and students and homework. Print out flyers and mysteriously spread them over the school. You could get suspended (minus) or super famous and never get caught (plus.) Just saying.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I have five.
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr. This book was scathing and delicate and heartbreaking all at the same time. Last week I read one of Sara's essays in an anthology about weight loss; more and more, I think she's the YA author to watch.
A Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger. This one is responsible for my current obsession with old movies and the reason I love Lauren Bacall so much. It's the story of three unusual teenagers in Boston, and how baseball, musical theater and growing up make for a definitive year in Brookline. I read it three times in a week.
Undone by Brooke Taylor. This debut novel didn't cut any corners and cut straight to the core of teenage experience. Serena's relationship with her best friend was staggeringly real to what I see in my own hallways, and the devastation she felt once Kori left... I was so impressed by the writing and by the story that Taylor wrought, and can't wait to see what she writes next.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I am so proud of the fact that I loved this book the moment I read it, and that The Powers That Be agreed with me in making it a finalist for the National Book Award (and WHO did an interview with E. Lockhart earlier this year?) This book makes you laugh, cry, question female roles and the importance of the Ivy League and rejoice because life is life and P.G. Wodehouse exists.
Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I am a picky fantasy reader-- I mean picky. So it is with great joy that I announce that Graceling is by far the best fantasy I've read this year. It's beautifully depicted with strong characters and story, scary in its evil and gorgeous in its good. Although it was a long book, I didn't want the story of Po and Katsa and Bitterblue to end. Nighttime may find me drifting in the shadows of a Lienid city.
That's what I think. Thanks to all the authors and publicists who sent me novels and did interviews. We'll be reflecting in the next month and looking ahead to the fabulousness that awaits-- for after all, this is senior year.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Living Dead Girl was one of those stories. I woke up the night of April 5, 2007, from a disturbing dream. I write all my dreams down, and usually they're pretty nonsensical, but this one was different. I wrote:
I wrote Living Dead Girl because it demanded to be told, and I hope it speaks to you as strongly as it did to me.
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Lord of Misrule by Rachel Caine was sent to me by Penguin (thank you!) and I started this one on the flight over. So far, not in love, but I've got 200 pages to go.
Dramarama by E. Lockhart is the only E. Lockhart YA I have not read. It's in paperback and impossible to find in school, so on to the virtual shopping cart it went. (Weird. You buy books... without touching them. Strange.)