Students Want to Know Jessica Love, author of In Real Life / Blog Tour + Giveaway

Students Want to Know

Jessica Love

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jessica Love is a high school English teacher in Los Angeles, California, where she met her husband and her two tiny dogs online. She is the co-writer of Push Girl with Chelsie Hill.

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When I was offered the opportunity to interview Jessica Love about her novel In Real Life, I jumped at the opportunity because I knew my students would love it. I decided to take it one step further and get them even more excited about her book by having them come up with the interview questions. They immediately asked me if I would be buying a copy for them to read; of course I will!

In Real LifeABOUT THE BOOK (Goodreads):

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, Skype all the time, regularly send each other presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem…Hannah and Nick have never actually met.  

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker at school, she decides to finally break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, with her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-a-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention to Hannah for the past three months.  And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about.  Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

PRAISE:

“A sweet, honest story that begins as so many of our relationships do: online.” —Emery Lord, author of Open Road Summer

“Love expertly creates a timely and entertaining story set on the glamorous Vegas strip, complete with rock and roll, gambling, love, and drama.  Readers will relate to the characters in this book and their effortless use of technology to support relationships.” —School Library Journal

“[A] sweet story ideal for contemporary teens whose lives play out in similar computer-and-text-message-related ways.” —Booklist

“The story manages to find its heart when it focuses on Hannah and Nick’s relationship. The warmth and intimacy of their friendship is convincing, and readers sighing over their long history will root for their relationship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“As Hannah and Nick work out the kinks of having to interact in person, they discover the advantages of taking things to the next level in this sweet, straightforward romance.” —Publishers Weekly
“A witty and entertaining story of friendship and secrets with a sparkly Vegas backdrop.  Jessica Love knows love!” —Kristin Rae, author of Wish You Were Italian

 

Here’s what my students wanted to know about Jessica Love and her book:

  1. Does Hannah consider the idea that Nick may be “catfishing” her?
    She doesn’t really, because she’s very trusting. They have known each other for so long and have really grown up together, so since they have shared so many things, this doesn’t really cross her mind. They have video chatted, so she knows he is the person from his pictures, and they met because their older siblings (who have met in person) introduced them online, so she feels pretty confident that he’s the real deal.
  1. Jessica, what’s your favorite roadtrip music?
    Cold War Kids. They have a bunch of albums and every single one of their songs is so fantastic. I can just put all their albums on shuffle and I’ll have fantastic driving music for hours and hours and hours.
  1. Do Hannah’s parents know about her relationship with Nick? Are they supportive of the relationship?
    They know she has an online friend she texts a lot, but she insists they’re just friends, so her parents don’t worry too much about it. They trust Hannah…it’s her older sister Grace they don’t trust.
  1. Now that we’re in the year 2016, do you think online relationships have become less taboo than in years past? Is that how you came up with the idea to writeIn Real Life?
    Oh yeah. I met my husband online in 1998, and it was super taboo back then. It was so weird that we actually made up a fake story about how we met because we didn’t want to admit the truth. Now it’s no big deal at all, and we finally let everyone know the truth.I decided to write this book in part because I have so many great friendships with people I’ve met online! I like to show people that real connections can happen with people you’ve never met in person.
  2.  Do you know anyone who has gone through a similar situation as Hannah or has it happened to you?
    No, this has definitely not happened to me. Not with a romance, anyway. I have traveled to meet people I only knew online, but they were just friends, and it was all very drama-free. I was inspired to write In Real Life by some people I saw on a reality show – they had been talking on the phone for five years and had never met in person. I loved that idea and I thought it would make a cool book.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Tyranny of Petticoats edited by Jessica Spotswood

I’m so happy to be part of this blog tour for a historical fiction, kickass book! A Tyranny of Petticoats: 15 Stories of Belles, Bank Robbers, and Other Badass Girls was edited by Jessica Spotswood and includes short stories from a variety of female YA authors. Three questions were asked of all contributing authors; today I’m featuring answers from Leslye Walton, Elizabeth Wein, and Jessica Spotswood.

A Tyranny of Petticoats

Also available as an e-book and in audio

Summary (From the publisher): Crisscross America, on dogsleds and ships, stagecoaches and trains, from pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago. Join fifteen of today’s most talented writers of young adult literature on a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own courses. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos. They’re making their own ways in often-hostile lands, using every weapon in their arsenals, facing down murderers and marriage proposals. And they all have a story to tell.

Our authors are as diverse as their characters. To give readers a better sense of their diverse processes and experiences writing for this anthology, we asked three questions of each contributor:

  1. What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
  2. What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
  3. Who is your favorite woman in history and why?

Here are their answers:

Jessica Spotswood is the author of the Cahill Witch Chronicles, a historical­ fantasy trilogy, as well as the contemporary novel Wild Swans. She grew up near the Gettysburg battlefield but now lives in Washington, D.C., where she works for the D.C. Public Library system as a children’s library associate.
Twitter: @jessica_shea, Facebook, Instagram

Jessica_Spotswood credit C.Stanley Photography (1)

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
I’ve been fascinated with New Orleans since my first visit when I was twelve. The city was French, then Spanish, then French again briefly, was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase, seceded to join the Confederacy, then became part of the United States again. The architecture, food, and music all reflect this unique history as well as Creole, Cajun, and Haitian influences. By 1826, there was a large number (according to the census, perhaps as many as twelve thousand recorded in a city of forty-six thousand) of gens de couleur libre, or free people of color, which made New Orleans unique among antebellum Southern cities. Most free blacks were mixed-race; some were descended from slave mothers and white fathers, and others emigrated from Haiti after the revolution. They were educated property owners, a thriving middle class of businessmen, shop owners, and tradesmen who went to mass at Saint Louis Cathedral, attended the theater and the French opera, and sometimes had slaves of their own.

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
In 1786 Governor Miró passed the tignon laws, which required women of African descent — slave or free — to cover their hair and refrain from excessive attention to their dress. In response, women of color began to wrap their hair in beautiful, colorful scarves called tignons and were still as beautiful and eye-catching as ever. The law was basically to preserve racial and class distinctions, because some free women of color were so light-skinned and richly dressed that they were mistaken for white.

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
I’m fascinated by Nellie Bly, who was an intrepid lady reporter. She wrote about the problems of poor working girls and called for the reform of divorce laws. She was a foreign correspondent in Mexico, but the editor of her Pittsburgh paper kept assigning her stories for their women’s section about fashion and flower shows, so she resigned and moved to New York. Most famously, she feigned madness while working undercover to write a series on the abuse of institutionalized women at the asylum at Blackwell’s Island. In 1888, she also tried to recreate Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days and filed dispatches to her paper via telegraph. She only took seventy-two days, like the boss she was.

 

Leslye Walton is the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, which was a 2015 Pacific Northwest Book Award winner, as well as a 2015 YALSA William C. Morris YA Debut Award finalist. She lives in the Pacific Northwest but has recently been finding her dreams filled with vast desert skies and the gorgeous pink flowers of the prickly pear cactus. Her short story is the result of those dreams.
Twitter: @LeslyeWalton, Facebook

Leslye_Walton

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
I was interested in exploring the juxtaposition of power and limitation, a blurred line that has defined the lives of women throughout history. I wondered what it might have been like to live as a young teenage girl during a time of upheaval and change in American history, while also capturing a time and place where cultural and national identities felt at odds. I suppose these thoughts wove themselves together, because suddenly I had Valeria, Rosa, and Maria Elena, three immortals sent down to live as Mexican-American sisters during the years after the Texas Annexation.

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
I loved learning all the intricate details about the family ranchos of that time and the lush Rio Grande landscape of yucca plants, honey mesquite trees, and prickly pear cacti.

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
Oh, this is an impossible question! There are so many admirable women in our world’s history, all with incredible and oft times terrible stories; it’s virtually impossible to pick a favorite. I suppose, though, if I had to choose one, I’d have to admit that I am currently infatuated with Petra Herrera, a revolutionary war hero who led over four hundred female soldiers during the Mexican Revolution, if only for the sole reason that she proved that women could be just as effective as men in the art of combat.

 

Elizabeth Wein is the New York Times best­selling author of Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, and, most recently, Black Dove, White Raven. All three feature women as pilots in the early twentieth century — such rare birds in their own right that a black woman among them is a veritable phoenix. “The Color of the Sky” is a closer look at one of the real pilots whose life inspired a character in Black Dove, White Raven.
Twitter @EWein2412

Elizabeth Wein_credit David Ho

What inspired you to write about this particular time and place?
Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to become a licensed pilot, inspired me!

I earned a private pilot’s license late in 2003. That year also happened to be the one hundredth anniversary of the Wright brothers’ historic first powered “heavier than air” flight. I took part in a worldwide celebratory fly-out on December 17, the exact anniversary. But I was also the only female student pilot on the airfield where I learned to fly, so I became interested in flight, the history of aviation, and women in aviation all at the same time.

Bessie Coleman is one of the most amazing early female aviators. She got her international pilot’s license in 1921, and she was not only the first black woman to do so, she was the first American to do so — male or female, black or white. No one — of any color — would teach her to fly in the United States, because she was black and/or because she was a woman; so she took some French classes, found some sponsorship, and went to France to learn to fly. I am in awe of her initiative, her positive outlook, and her determination.

Though she died young, and tragically, in a flying accident (which is what my story in A Tyranny of Petticoats is about), Coleman was committed to opening a flying school that would allow young people of all races and sexes to learn to fly. Until her early death she traveled around the United States giving lectures and film presentations in schools to encourage young people to learn more about aviation, as well as fund-raising for her flight school dream.

The time and place of my story was dictated by the focus on Bessie Coleman — but to make it authentic, I ended up finding out quite a bit about Jacksonville, Florida, in the 1920s — its schools, churches, neighborhoods, and transportation systems!

What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while writing your story?
It was undoubtedly the amazing real historical characters I discovered as I was peopling my fictional tale. I want to write stories — books, even! — about all of them.

Except for my main character Antonia and her family, most of the named characters in “The Color of the Sky” are based on real people. In addition to the obvious — Bessie Coleman herself — I also had to find out more about the lives of Myrtle and Henry Wade Vencill, Louis Manning, William Wills, Robert Abbott, and John Thomas Betsch. I desperately hope I’ve been respectful of their historical counterparts — especially Betsch, who is in jail when my story ends!

The week following Bessie Coleman’s death in April 1925 must have been a heartbreaking time in John Thomas Betsch’s young life. He was only twenty-one at the time. College-educated, Betsch was the publicity chairman of Jacksonville’s Negro Welfare League and an aviation enthusiast; he was also a strong advocate for racial and sexual equality in Florida and continued to be so throughout the first half of the twentieth century. His legacy is evident in the lives of his children: MaVynee Betsch, who graduated from Oberlin College with a double major in voice and piano in 1955, sang with the German State Opera, and then devoted her later life to conservation; Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, who became the first female president of Spelman College, president of Bennett College for Women, and co-author of Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities; and John Thomas Betsch, Jr., a jazz musician who has lived in Europe for the past thirty years. It makes me happy to know what a better world John Betsch helped to create for his own children and for generations to come. I’d never have known about these people if I hadn’t been digging for information about the circumstances surrounding Bessie Coleman’s fatal accident.

Another fascinating woman I learned more about while writing “The Color of the Sky” is Willa Brown. I’d known about her because she turned up in the research I did for my novel Black Dove, White Raven, and I like to think that the life of my original character Antonia will closely follow that of Willa Brown. Brown graduated from Indiana State Teachers College in 1927 and went on to help establish the Coffey School of Aeronautics in Chicago. Willa Brown was the first African-American woman to earn a private pilot’s license (which had not been established when Bessie Coleman earned her international license). During World War II, in addition to training black pilots and flight instructors, she joined the Civil Air Patrol and became its first African-American officer. Throughout most of the twentieth century, Willa Brown was a tireless activist for racial and sexual equality, both on the ground and in the air.

I would love to go on — every single one of the characters who appear in “The Color of the Sky” has a fascinating history — but perhaps these brief portraits will inspire readers to do some digging for themselves!

Who is your favorite woman in history and why?
This isn’t a question I’ve thought about before — I don’t have a tried and tested answer that I give. I have many favorites, for different reasons at different times in history and at different times in my own life. If you’d only asked me to name “my favorite woman of all time,” I’d have said my grandmother, Betty Flocken.

But I’m going to go with Anne Morrow Lindbergh (1906–2001), because her voice as a writer and a pilot sings to my soul. I knew and read her written work long before I became a pilot myself. Her inspirational Gift from the Sea, which has never been out of print since it was first published in 1955, has been my guide throughout my adult life — as it was to my grandmother fifty years ago. Indeed, it was my wonderful grandmother who introduced me to Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s writing.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the wife of Charles A. Lindbergh, the early aviator who’s best known for his pioneering flight across the Atlantic in 1927. As a couple they skyrocketed into the media in 1932 when their infant son was kidnapped and murdered. Charles Lindbergh bordered on being a Nazi sympathizer in the years leading to World War II and, though he flew fifty combat missions in the Pacific for the United States and finished his life as an environmental activist in 1974, his image never entirely recovered in the public eye. Anne Morrow Lindbergh soared to fame on her own as a gifted diarist and travel writer, managing to transcend the brightness and shadow that her husband cast. Her clear-sighted and lyrical voice is one of the most prolific and honest of the twentieth century.

She was the first American woman to earn a glider pilot’s license and accompanied Lindbergh on early global exploration flights as his radio operator as they attempted to discover the best long-distance routes for future commercial airlines to places like South America and eastern Asia. She was a friend and deep admirer of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, another of my pilot-writer heroes (and author of The Little Prince). Despite the tragic loss of her first baby, she went on to raise five children, a free-thinking collection of writers and aviators in their own rights.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh was a quiet, private, shy, and privileged woman and didn’t have to do the kind of groundbreaking work that Bessie Coleman had to do. But her dedication to her craft, her prolific life’s work, and her ability to recover and forgive make me strive to be like her.

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Don’t forget to visit the other blogs on the tour so you can learn more about each author!

 

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Students Want to Know Katie M. Stout, Author of Hello, I Love You

Katie M. Stout’s debut Hello, I Love You has been on my radar for a while now, so I was overjoyed when St. Martin’s Griffin asked me to join her blog tour. The cover, the concept, and the setting drew my students in right away when I asked them if they wanted to participate in an interview with Katie.

Also, how cool is it that Katie created a Spotify playlist for Hello, I Love You?!

Stout, Katie_CREDIT Brenna B Photography

Katie’s Social Media

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Hello, I Love YouAbout The Book (From the publisher)

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can’t stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can’t deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she’ll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

Student Questions:

Ashley asks:

Why did you choose Korea as a setting and not another country? Is Korea significant to you?
I chose Korea because I wanted to write about Korean pop music. That seemed the obvious choice. :)

What are some of your favorite YA novels?
I’ve got a ton of favorites, but I’d have to say some of my all-time favorites are…
1.  Lunar Chronicles series, by Marissa Meyer
2. The 5th Wave series, by Rick Yancey
3. Shatter Me series, by Tahereh Mafi
4. Curse Workers series, by Holly Black
5. River of Time series, by Lisa T. Bergren

 Hannah asks:

How long did you have the idea for Hello, I Love You before you started writing it?
Considering I wrote the rough draft of the book nearly four years ago, this is going to be a guess…

But I remember thinking about it a while. I was working on another project at the time, a YA paranormal (it was hot at the time), but I got too distracted by this new idea. Glad I let myself switch to the new idea!

How long did it take to write this and get it published?
I think I just answered that. Hah! It was a long journey, with many rounds of edits. I was told many times by many people that YA wasn’t ready for a book about KPOP. I had one particularly lovely agent say she loved the book and wanted to offer representation, but she had no idea how to sell it and therefore had to pass. I’m still really grateful for both my agent and my editor, who took a chance on the book!

About The Author

Katie M. Stout is from Atlanta, Georgia, and works for an international charity that sends her to fun places like Spain and Singapore. When she’s not writing, you can find her drinking an unhealthy amount of chai tea and listening to Girls’ Generation, Teen Top, and all her other favorite K-pop tunes.

Buy Links

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Giveaway Details:

One copy available for US & Canada entrants only
Giveaway provided by the publisher
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Only one comment per entrant
Giveaway open until 6/17/15
Winner will be emailed/tweeted
Feel free to spread the giveaway love! :)

Students Want to Know Jennifer Banash, author of Silent Alarm

Jennifer Banash is the author of The Elite, White Lines, and the recently published novel Silent Alarm. Thanks to Jennifer and Penguin, some of my students were afforded the opportunity to read ARCs of Silent Alarm and ask Jennifer questions about the book.


Jennifer Banash 2

 

Jennifer Banash’s website
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Silent AlarmSummary (From Goodreads):
Alys’s whole world was comprised of the history project that was due, her upcoming violin audition, being held tightly in the arms of her boyfriend, Ben, and laughing with her best friend, Delilah. At least it was—until she found herself on the wrong end of a shotgun in the school library. Her suburban high school had become one of those places you hear about on the news—a place where some disaffected youth decided to end it all and take as many of his teachers and classmates with him as he could. Except, in this story, that youth was Alys’s own brother, Luke. He killed fifteen others and himself, but spared her—though she’ll never know why.
 
Alys’s downward spiral begins instantly, and there seems to be no bottom. A heartbreaking and beautifully told story.

 

 

My students Hannah and Rachel asked the following questions:

 

What inspired you to write a book revolving around a school shooting?
Well, I’m a high school teacher, and while school shootings aren’t something I’ve experienced first hand, thank goodness, they are something I think about more and more these days as they’re happening much more frequently. I’d also been reading news articles about shootings at the time I had the idea to write the book, and one of them mentioned that the shooter in that particular case had a younger sister. I started imagining what things were like for her, and Silent Alarm was born!

 

Why did you decide to write about the sister’s recovery instead of the events of the shooting?
I felt that so many books and films had already covered shootings themselves, so I wasn’t particularly interested in exploring them further or telling the story from the gunman’s perspective. I wanted to write about the people who are also victims in these kinds of events–the families who are left behind to clean up the mess.

 

Would you consider writing a book about the events leading up to and including the shooting in the perspective of Luke? 
Actually, I wouldn’t. It’s Alys’ book, and I feel like by the end of the novel, both she–and Luke–achieve some kind of closure, or are on their way towards it. To me, at least, I feel like the story is finished, The point of the book is that sometimes there are no concrete answers when tragedies like these happen–there are no easy answers at all. And going back in time and retracing Luke’s last days wouldn’t really provide them either. What happens to Luke occurs over the course of many years–not days.

Blog Tour: The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle Read Alikes

I’m happy to be part of Rebecca Serle’s blog tour for her sophomore release, The Edge of Falling. I love a good contemp and love it even more that Rebecca agreed to compile a list of read alikes for her newest book. I’m halfway through her book right now and I’m already thinking of students who will enjoy this.

The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle releases on March 18th and is published by Simon Pulse. I’m including the summary so you can learn a little more about it before reading  Rebecca’s list of read alikes.

The Edge of FallingSummary (From Goodreads):

Growing up in privileged, Manhattan social circles, Caggie’s life should be perfect, and it almost was until the day that her younger sister drowned when Caggie was supposed to be watching her. Stricken by grief, Caggie pulls away from her friends and family, only to have everyone misinterpret a crucial moment when she supposedly saves a fellow classmate from suicide. Now she’s famous for something she didn’t do and everyone lauds her as a hero. But inside she still blames herself for the death of her sister and continues to pull away from everything in her life, best friend and perfect boyfriend included. Then Caggie meets Astor, the new boy at school, about whom rumours are swirling and known facts are few. In Astor she finds someone who just might understand her pain, because he has an inner pain of his own. But the more Caggie pulls away from her former life to be with Astor, the more she realises that his pain might be darker, and deeper, than anything she’s ever felt. His pain might be enough to end his life…and Caggie’s as well.

List of Comps for The Edge of Falling 

So, you’ve just finished reading The Edge of Falling, and you want to know what to read next? Or maybe you want to know what books are similar to The Edge of Falling so you’ll know if it’s your type of book? No worries, I’ve got you covered! Some of these books are in a similar genre, some deal with issues like grief or hidden secrets, and some actually inspired ME to write The Edge of Falling! So let’s jump in:

  1. Speak– Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak is a beautiful book about Melinda, a girl who is alienated from her friends and suffering the burden of a huge secret. Caggie still has her voice in The Edge of Falling, but her journey is similar to Melinda’s because she is plagued by the things she can’t say out loud: her grief about the role she played in her sister’s death; the separation she feels from her family; and the one big secret that, if revealed, would cause everyone to call her a liar instead of a hero. I highly recommend Speak if you’re looking for a book about family, grief, and overcoming silence.

2. Gossip Girl- Cecily Von Ziegar

Yep, you read right- the Gossip Girl books! These books (and the TV show, of course) inspired the world of The Edge of Falling. I wanted to write about the privileged elite of the Upper East Side, and their complex relationships with their finances and their feelings. Caggie comes from a privileged family as well, but sometimes instead of opening doors, privilege closes them: the doors of communication and intimacy, the doors of honesty and forgiveness. Caggie seeks these things from her family, but in their time of grief they depend more on material things than on each other. The characters in Gossip Girl go through their fair share of grieving as well, but beneath the lens of the paparazzi and the public eye, even their private suffering becomes public scandal.

3. This Song Will Save Your Life- Leila Sales

Ok, so, full disclosure: this next book was written by my BFF Leila Sales. But I am not remotely alone in thinking it is one of the best YA books not just of last year, but of all time. This Song Will Save Your Life tells the story of Elise, a girl who just wants to have friends, and feel loved, but who is bullied mercilessly in her school. After she self-harms and ends up in the hospital, Elise feels more trapped than ever: but now by uber-watchful parents who don’t trust her. Everything changes the night she discovers  START, an underground disco club, and ends up in the DJ booth. Elise finds her place making people dance—and meets a pretty cute boy along the way. Caggie and Elise come from two very different worlds, but they both discover that loving yourself gives all other kinds of love meaning. Plus Leila and I wrote This Song Will Save Your Life and The Edge of Falling sitting across from each other—true story!

4. We Were Liars-E Lockhart

Okay, I confess: this book hasn’t even come out yet. But I read it and loved it, so I’m putting it on my list! We Were Liars is the story of a girl who comes from a prestigious, wealthy family (like Caggie’s) and the life-changing events that happen to her on the private island where her family spends every summer. It’s a literary, dark, poetic book about first love, the bonds of family, and the fragility of secrets. I was told to lie about the ending, so…I will just keep quiet J

5. The Catcher in The Rye– JD Salinger

I’m closing out my list with this classic novel, because not only is Caggie descended from the Caulfield family, which JD Salinger famously fictionalized, but because Holden and Caggie have more in common than their last name. Holden’s journey in The Catcher in the Rye is a coming-of-age story: he is disillusioned by wealth, jaded by the inconsistent and seemingly false bonds of family, and feels uncomfortable in his own skin. He, like Caggie, lost a sibling, and spends time reflecting on the cruelty of his world changing and progressing so much over time, while his lost loved one never will.  The Catcher in the Rye is one of the books that inspired me to write The Edge of Falling and I would definitely recommend you read it, if not re-visit it after you read Edge.

Rebecca Serle has a fantastic blog tour set up (with some of my favorite blogs!), so make sure to check out these upcoming posts to learn more about Rebecca, The Edge of Falling, and much more!

March 11- Fangirlish
March 17- Forever YA
March 20- Cuddlebuggery

Author Love: Trish Doller

Author Love

I’m very excited to feature Trish Doller in today’s Author Love post!

Trish Doller

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Reasons I love Trish Doller…

  • She writes about important/tough issues without writing “issue” or preachy books.
  • Her characters drive the stories. It’s been over a year since I’ve read Something Like Normal and months since I’ve read Where the Stars Still Shine, yet I am still thinking about Travis and Callie.
  • Even though Travis and Callie are struggling with conflicts that many of my students aren’t struggling with, my students are pulled into their stories and end up truly caring about Travis and Callie. Whenever they finish one of the books they return it and ask if there’s going to be a sequel to either Something Like Normal or Where the Stars Still Shine. They don’t want to leave the characters.
  • Trish Doller creates beautiful settings and engaging minor characters. I saw everything and everyone perfectly when I read each book. It’s one of the reasons I’m so involved in the stories. And just like with Travis and Callie, I still think about and picture Harper and Alex and each characters’ family.

My question for Trish (and all Author Love authors): “Why do you love writing for teens?”

“I love writing for teens because I think teenagers are so interesting. Their inner lives are so much richer than we give them credit for. They feel all the things adults feel, but they’re still learning to process them and I think young adult fiction lets them know that they’re not alone.”

Trish Doller’s Books:

Something Like NormalTitle: Something Like Normal (My review)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: June 19th, 2012 (available in paperback)
Summary (From Goodreads):

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

 

Where the Stars Still ShineTitle: Where the Stars Still Shine (My review)
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Chidlrens
Release Date: September 24th, 2013
Summary (From Goodreads):

Stolen as a child from her large and loving family, and on the run with her mom for more than ten years, Callie has only the barest idea of what normal life might be like. She’s never had a home, never gone to school, and has gotten most of her meals from laundromat vending machines. Her dreams are haunted by memories she’d like to forget completely. But when Callie’s mom is finally arrested for kidnapping her, and Callie’s real dad whisks her back to what would have been her life, in a small town in Florida, Callie must find a way to leave the past behind. She must learn to be part of a family. And she must believe that love–even with someone who seems an improbable choice–is more than just a possibility.

Trish Doller writes incredibly real teens, and this searing story of love, betrayal, and how not to lose your mind will resonate with readers who want their stories gritty and utterly true.

News about Trish’s upcoming book:

“My next project is coming from Bloomsbury in April 2015 and is currently called Arcadia Falls, but that title will be changed. It’s the story of Arcadia “Cadie” Wells, a teenage girl who lives in northern Florida whose life since her mother died, has been nothing but school, working in her family’s market, and raising her little brother. Cadie longs to see the world, but feels trapped. So when she goes to a campfire party at the local state park and a couple of good-looking guys ask her if she wants to road trip with them, she impulsively says yes. Except one of the boys is not what he seems and the trip goes tragically wrong.”

To read about more fabulous authors, check out Jillian’s Author Spotlight on… feature on her blog, Heise Reads & Recommends.

Author Love: Shawn Goodman

I’m kicking off a new feature on my blog called Author Love which I created to spotlight authors I love and think others will love as well. I have some great authors lined up for this feature! This will be a way for me to discuss each author’s group of titles, link to my reviews, feature a quote from each other, etc.

Author Love

I’m excited to feature Shawn Goodman in my very first Author Love post!

Author Photo

Reasons I love Shawn Goodman…

  • He writes about troubled characters while still offering glimmers of hope.
  • He’s a school psychologist who actively works to enhance student literacy.
  • His characters are unique, well-developed, and ones I care about long after finishing their story.
  • My reluctant readers gravitate to his books and ask for more when they finish.
  • His books are engaging, quick reads that are hard to put down.

My question for Shawn (and all Author Love authors): “Why do you love writing for teens?”

“I love writing for teens because they don’t care who I am, or where I come from. They care about whether or not it’s a good story, and if it makes them think and feel. I think teens are able to let themselves go into a story without a whole lot of judgment or preconceived ideas. And when a book works, there’s this amazing, powerful relationship between two complete strangers: the reader, and the writer.”

Shawn Goodman’s Books:

Something Like HopeTitle: Something Like Hope (My review)
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: December 28th, 2010
Summary (From Goodreads):

17-year-old Shavonne has been in juvenile detention since the seventh grade. Mr Delpopolo is the first counselor to treat her as an equal, and he helps her get to the bottom of her self-destructive behavior, her guilt about past actions, and her fears about leaving the Center when she turns 18. Shavonne tells him the truth about her crack-addicted mother, the child she had (and gave up to foster care) at fifteen, and the secret shame she feels about what she did to her younger brother after her mother abandoned them.

Meanwhile, Shavonne’s mentally unstable roommate Cinda makes a rash move, and Shavonne’s quick thinking saves her life—and gives her the opportunity to get out of the Center if she behaves well. But Shavonne’s faith is tested when her new roommate, mentally retarded and pregnant Mary, is targeted by a guard as a means to get revenge on Shavonne. As freedom begins to look more and more likely, Shavonne begins to believe that maybe she, like the goslings recently hatched on the Center’s property, could have a future somewhere else—and she begins to feel something like hope.

This is a brutally honest, but hopeful story of finding yourself and moving beyond your past.

Kindness for WeaknessTitle: Kindness for Weakness (My review)
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 14th, 2013
Summary (From the publisher):

“In the spirit of [Walter Dean Myers’s] Monster meeting  The Catcher in the Rye, Goodman’s masterful story will remain with the reader long after the last page, echoing the raw truth that perhaps a real man is one who is both brave and scared.” —Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Gray

In an environment where kindness equals weakness, how do those who care survive?

Shawn Goodman will capture your heart with this gritty, honest, and moving story about a boy struggling to learn about friendship, brotherhood, and manhood in a society where violence is the answer to every problem.

 

 

To read about more fabulous authors, check out Jillian’s Author Spotlight on… feature on her blog, Heise Reads & Recommends.

Students Want to Know Terra Elan McVoy

Photo Credit: Jamie Allen

Photo Credit: Jamie Allen

My students and I love contemporary realistic fiction, especially when authors of this genre write both verse and prose novels.  When Terra Elan McVoy approached me about an interview, I knew my students would be thrilled to interview her.  I have a copy of her book Being Friends With Boys in my class library, and as we came up with questions for the interview, we discovered more of her books that we’re excited to read. :)  Thank you for answering my students’ questions, Terra!

Ayla:

  • What is your favorite YA novel? This is so hard to choose, but I think my very favorite YA novel is GIRL by Blake Nelson, just because it has taught me so much about voice, and the genre in general.

  • At any point did you ever want to quit and begin a different career?
    This is so funny, because it was only this fall that I really tired to approach novel writing as a career at all! I have always had other full-time jobs while writing my books, largely because though the advances are nice, they are not enough for me to live off of just yet!  (And they really aren’t for most people.) Even now, I am working part-time at an independent children’s bookstore, as well as doing as many workshops and teaching engagements as I can, to supplement my novel-writing income. To answer your question though, even when I’ve had other jobs, of course I’ve felt like quitting, because being a writer is HARD!!

 

  •  Did any of your close family/friends tell you not to become an author? If so, why?
    No, no one ever told me not to do this, except for myself. My family and teachers, friends, my husband, have all been extremely encouraging of my writing. I just never thought it was possible for me to make a living at it, because doing so is so difficult and requires so much work. (Work I wasn’t sure I wanted to do. I just wanted to write because I loved it and had fun with it, and didn’t want to worry about the money part). Sometimes I still think it is indulgent, and a crazy thing to try, but for now it seems to be working out all right.

Tristan:

 

  •  What is your favorite and least favorite genre?
    The stuff I love to read most is realistic fiction, because I’m so enraptured by the drama of daily life, and interested in how writers articulate this real-life human experience. My second favorite genre though is magical realism (books like The Night Circus, and Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin), because I love it when magic gets worked into real life, too. There isn’t any genre I dislike really, because I think it’s important for there to be a book out there for every kind of reader. I’ll say that I don’t often read a lot of high fantasy or paranormal stuff, though, just because I don’t need a dragon or a vampire to keep me interested in the characters and the plot, so long as the writing is good!

 

  •  Do your characters reflect yourself?
    Of course they do, but not necessarily on purpose. I’ve heard several times that every person in your dream is really some reflection of your own self (for example: if you have a dream about your best friend, he or she in your dream is really a manifestation of how you see your friend’s energy/personality operating in yourself), and I tend to think that’s how characters are. There are qualities in all of my main characters that I can look at and say, “This is similar to how I am,” but it’s not  intentionally like “Oh I’m going to write a character about me in this situation now.”

 

  •  Will you ever write another book in verse?
    That is a good question, and the answer is, “I don’t know.” It’s hard for me to imagine how I might do that successfully, since I poured so much of my poetic self into AFTER THE KISS. It’s hard to picture how I could do so without having the poems sound just like Becca’s, or Camille’s vignettes. However,  more than one person has asked about it, so it’s definitely somewhere in there in my mind. Not in the plans right now, but you never know!

Breanna:

 

  •  What was your favorite book growing up?
    Oh gosh, I had SO many favorite books growing up, and different favorites at different stages in my life. One that really sticks out is Kabumpo in Oz. My mom read all the Oz books to us, and this one is one not many people know about, but it is so good. I was also obsessed with Fridays by Patricia Lee Gauch. I think I checked it out of the library about ten times when I was in 4th and 5th grade.

 

  •  Do you plan on writing any books in a different genre? (Other than contemporary)
    It’s only very recently that I’ve started to ask myself this question. I didn’t really “set out” to become a contemporary author, or even a YA author–it’s just the way the stories have been coming to me, and for now it’s how they seem to continue to. However, I have had some curiosity about what it might look like if I wrote, say, a horror story. Or maybe something epic and futuristic, since I liked those things a lot when I was in high school. Lots of people ask me about writing adult, too. I guess you’ll just have to stay posted on those! Or tell me what you’d like to see me do next!

***About Terra Elan McVoy***

Terra Elan McVoy has been reading and writing since she first learned how to, and her whole life has been motivated by her passion for those two things. She received her BA in English at St. Andrews Presbyterian College, and an MA in Creative Writing from Florida State University. She has worked as an event coordinator at a major chain bookstore; an editorial assistant at an NYC publisher; as manager of an independent children’s bookstore; and as Program Director of the AJC Decatur Book Festival. She is the author of Pure, After the Kiss, The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, Being Friends with Boys, and Criminal. To learn more about Terra and her books, visit http://terraelan.com.

Special Edition Cover & Author Guest Post: While He Was Away by Karen Schreck

While He Was Away is a popular book in my classroom, so I was really excited to be part of the new cover reveal.  I really like the original cover, and this new cover definitely appeals to a whole new audience.  What do you think?  Which cover do you prefer?

Summary (From Goodreads):

One year–he’ll be gone for one year and then we’ll be together again and everything will be back to the way it should be.

The day David left, I felt like my heart was breaking. Sure, any long-distance relationship is tough, but David was going to war–to fight, to protect, to put his life in danger. We can get through this, though. We’ll talk, we’ll email, we won’t let anything come between us.

I can be an army girlfriend for one year. But will my sweet, soulful, funny David be the same person when he comes home? Will I? And what if he doesn’t come home at all?…

“A tender and honest examination of love, longing, and loyalty in the face of modern war.”–Laura Ruby, author of Bad Apple

“While He Was Away is a wonderful love story with writing that is skillful and true.”–Amy Timberlake, author of That Girl Lucy Moon.

While He Was Away Special Edition Cover

***

While He Was Away Walmart-Exclusive Cover Reveal

and My Top Tips for Writing

Even When the Writing Gets Tough

By Karen Schreck

 

My birthday falls in January, just a few days after New Year’s Day.  This January, I received an incredible gift from my publisher, Sourcebooks Fire.  My young adult novel, While He Was Away, is being released nation-wide into Walmart with a brand new cover!

When my editor at Sourcebooks, Leah Hultenschmidt, graciously asked if I’d be open to this possibility last fall, I blinked, breathed deep, confirmed I wasn’t dreaming, and said, “Yes!”  I held on to the possibility until it became a reality.  Then, and only then, did I celebrate.

I won’t speak for all writers, but for me, writing is an act of faith.  I love the work deeply, or I wouldn’t do it.  I’ve generated a lot of pages that have never seen the light of day, written multiple novels that I’ve relegated to folders on my laptop.  Keeping the faith in anything, especially writing, can be hard.

The fact that Sourcebooks believed enough in While He Was Away to bring it to life the first time felt like a much-needed confirmation of years of hard work.  The fact that they are standing behind my book again in this way . . . well, it feels like a miracle.  I’m truly grateful.

 

Without further ado, here are my Top Writing Tips (they’ve help me a lot; I hope they help you in some way):

  1. Read a lot. Read voraciously. Read like a writer. Read some more. Read people who write in your genre or in a style that is similar to yours and take note of how they do what they do.  Read people who write in a completely different way to keep your head clear and give you new ideas.  Just. Keep.  Reading.
  2. Develop a ritual for your writing.  I wouldn’t think of telling you what to do.  You need to find what works for you, and sometimes that changes with your circumstances.  This year, I’ve been working at an ad agency in the city.  My ritual is to hunker down in the quiet car on the train and GET A LOT DONE.  Previously I’ve written in the very same quiet corner of my local library.  In basements.  On couches.  In bed.  By candlelight.  I’ve found that consistency and ritual can trigger my creativity.  Ring the bell and I’ll salivate.  Kind of like that.
  3. Don’t be afraid to be messy in your work.  Don’t be afraid to push forward even though it isn’t perfect.   Nothing is perfect!  Embrace that reality, and be kind to yourself.  And forgiving of the words on the page.
  4. Fall in love with revision.  “I’m not a writer,” I once heard a writer say.  “I am a re-writer.”  I LOVE that.  I love the word revision.  Re-vision.  Seeing again, anew, as if for the first time.  Revision gives great perspective.  And I think it’s where the real work gets done.
  5. Never give up.  Keep the faith.  Years may pass.  But the more you write, the more the very act of writing becomes rewarding.  Writing is soul-work; it lends meaning to life.  That’s what I believe, and that’s what sees me through.  Publication—well, that a wonderful thing.  But the writing—that’s where it’s at.

***

Students Wants to Know Beck McDowell

Photo courtesy of media kitMy students and I are happy to be part of Beck McDowell’s blog tour for her debut novel This Is Not a Drill.  Many of my students are fans of realistic fiction and aspiring authors, so they always appreciate the opportunity to interview an author.  Thank you so much, Beck, for asking us to be part of your tour!

Summary of This Is Not a Drill (From Goodreads):

Two teens try to save a class of first-graders from a gun-wielding soldier suffering from PTSD

When high school seniors Emery and Jake are taken hostage in the classroom where they tutor, they must work together to calm both the terrified children and the gunman threatening them–a task made even more difficult by their recent break-up. Brian Stutts, a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, uses deadly force when he’s denied access to his son because of a custody battle. The children’s fate is in the hands of the two teens, each recovering from great loss, who now must reestablish trust in a relationship damaged by betrayal. Told through Emery and Jake’s alternating viewpoints, this gripping novel features characters teens will identify with and explores the often-hidden damages of war.

Links!

** Check out the rest of the tour stops **
** Follow Beck on Twitter **
** Beck’s Website **
** This Is Not a Drill released on October 25th **

Felicia:

  • What made you choose this title for the book?
    You’re the first person who’s asked that. Good question, Felicia. I really don’t think I’m very good at titles, but in this case – we do SO many drills at schools, we always assume it’s another drill when the alarms (especially fire alarms) go off. So the words, “this is not a drill” kinda sent chills through me – like you’re lulled into a sense of false security by all the boring PRACTICES and then – bam – you realize THIS is the REAL thing and your life is in danger.

Trista:

  • Do you know someone with PTSD?
    Yes, a few who were diagnosed and lots who were undiagnosed. I’ve talked with many students who still suffer from a traumatic event from the past.  I’ve seen how keeping a secret, especially in the case of physical or sexual abuse, can keep you from living a full, happy life – until you’ve said it out loud and dealt with it. And post-traumatic stress can follow a car accident, a serious injury, a natural disaster, the death of a loved one – lots of things other than fighting in a war. What makes it so scary with military victims is that they are reluctant to get help – for fear it will damage their careers in a field where physical and mental toughness are perceived as critical traits for success. And when it goes untreated, it often manifests itself in dangerous ways.

    Right now a lot of my former students are having nightmares and other symptoms of PTSD after surviving the tornadoes that killed a number of University of Alabama students in Tuscaloosa last year. I just want to encourage ANYONE who’s suffering to look up the symptoms and treatment options online and seek out a professional in your community. You are NOT alone and there IS help for you!

April:

  • How long did it take for you to write the book and get it published?
    THIS IS NOT A DRILL took about a year, and then there was a year of revision with my wonderful editor, Nancy Paulsen, at Penguin. I was really lucky to find a terrific agent (Jill Corcoran) and a top-notch publisher within just a few days of sending out the manuscript, but that followed a long process of rejection with my first book and a run of bad luck with my second, a non-fiction called LAST BUS OUT, which I eventually published as an e-book and then a paperback. There’s more information about that process on my blog at www.beckmcdowell.com if anyone’s interested in the details.

Allison:

  • Why was his son taken away?
    When there’s a divorce, there’s often a custody battle – one parent who doesn’t want the other to see the kids. In this case it’s obvious that Patrick’s mother has good reason to fear that Patrick won’t be safe with his dad; he’s so emotionally troubled that she assumes he can’t properly care for their son. School administrators are usually alerted when this happens, and they’re generally very careful to make sure any parent who checks out a child has the legal authority to do so. When Stutts goes directly to the classroom, we can assume that he knows the office won’t allow him to take Patrick out of the building. And Patrick’s behavior shows that he’s suffering from his father’s problems and the conflict he’s caused at home – as we see how withdrawn he is in class.

Jared:

  • How long did you research information on this subject?
    I always take LOTS of notes and do a ton of research before starting a book. Some topics are easy to look up online and, because my next book (now in edits with Penguin) features a New Orleans cemetery, I’ve spent a lot of time at the Williams Research Center in the French Quarter. Since I’m an English major/Journalism minor, research is fun for me (especially right now because I’m researching voo-doo practices!)  Jared, your question made me realize that, in addition to the specific research for each book, writers are ALWAYS researching EVERYTHING. Every conversation, every visit to another place, every book we read is full of ideas that might spark another book or part of a book. It’s a fun way to approach life!

Noah:

  • Did you find it easier to write from a guy’s point of view or a girl’s?
    It’s very odd, but I actually prefer writing in guy voice. Maybe it’s because of a natural tendency writers have to tune in more to people who are different from us so we can learn more. I love guy humor and in teaching, I found that high school guys are more likely to be brutally honest  – which I prefer to trying to figure out what someone really thinks. No offense to girls. I will be the first to admit I do the “silent-treatment” girl thing now and then of “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” I try not to generalize, but there are some key differences in the way we’re put together – emotionally as well as physically. To be honest, I might not like that kind of truthfulness in my girlfriends (“Does this dress make my butt look big?” “Yes.”) that I find so charming in guys!
  •  Do you feel that dialogue is important to your character’s development throughout the book?
    Great question! I LOVE writing dialogue. You’ll notice that it’ a BIG part of the book. I just learn more through listening to what people say than through hearing or reading descriptions of their lives and characteristics. I’ve been told my style is a cross between screenplay-writer and news reporter – and I’m fairly happy with that assessment. I think readers would rather “listen” to a character than read about him. Do you agree?

Whole Class:

  • Why did you decide to write about this topic?
    I never worried about violence in my classroom when I taught, but I had nightmares about it several times, so I knew it was a topic my subconscious needed to address – that fear of how I’d react in a crisis and whether I’d be able to keep my students safe. Also, when my nephew was in second grade, he told me the teacher said if they were in the bathroom and heard a “lockdown” over the intercom, they should lock the stall door, sit on the toilet, and pull their feet up so if a bad man came in, he wouldn’t know they were there. It was so heartbreaking, thinking about him – or any little kid – hiding there, alone and terrified. But I knew it was probably a good thing to tell them. It makes me sad to think that now we have to tell kids to drop to the floor and cover their heads if gunfire erupts in a school or a mall or a movie theater. But the reality is that the more we do to prepare them for the kinds of terrible things that we know can happen any day in our crazy world, the safer they are.
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