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

Trish’s website
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Trish’s Facebook page

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.

Chat With Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl!

I’m a BIG fan of the Beautiful Creatures series, so I was just  *tad* excited when I was told about Little, Brown’s “Live at the Lounge” series.  Little, Brown is arranging a series of author chats which will allow readers to ask the authors questions about their books and chat with them live.  The series is kicking off with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl who will be discussing their Beautiful Creatures series.  I hope they get to talk about the upcoming movie!

The live chat starts Tuesday, October 30th at 8pm EST/ 5pm PST.  Click here so you can RSVP online. You can also check out the other authors who are participating in the series.

Exciting, right?!

Students Want to Know Carrie Arcos

Carrie Arcos’ debut novel, Out of Reach, released on October 16th.  My students and I love contemporary realistic fiction, especially ones dealing with addiction, so I was really excited when Carrie agreed to be interviewed by my students.  They can’t wait to read Carrie’s answers and get their hands on Out of Reach!

Thank you, Carrie! :)

Summary (From Goodreads): How do you find someone who doesn’t want to be found? A girl searches for her missing addict brother while confronting her own secrets in this darkly lyrical novel.

Rachel has always idolized her older brother Micah. He struggles with addiction, but she tells herself that he’s in control. And she almost believes it. Until the night that Micah doesn’t come home.

Rachel’s terrified—and she can’t help but feel responsible. She should have listened when Micah tried to confide in her. And she only feels more guilt when she receives an anonymous note telling her that Micah is nearby and in danger.

With nothing more to go on than hope and a slim lead, Rachel and Micah’s best friend, Tyler, begin the search. Along the way, Rachel will be forced to confront her own dark secrets, her growing attraction to Tyler…and the possibility that Micah may never come home.

** Carrie Arcos’ Website **
** Follow Carrie Arcos on Twitter **
** “Like” Carrie Arcos on Facebook **
** P.S. Did you know that Out of Reach is a National Book Award finalist?! **

Marisa:

  • Do you ever have a hard time coming up with ideas like names, setting, plot, or just an overall story?
    When thinking of a story, I usually begin with a character and setting and something that the character wants or is struggling with. It’s not fully formed, but I have a general sense. So you could say I know the direction. What’s difficult sometimes is the middle. How is character going to get to where I think he or she should?  What obstacles come her way?

    Names can be tricky because I don’t want to use names of people I know or maybe they’ll think I’m writing about them. And names can mean something intentionally or not.

    I love setting in a story. For me it’s almost like another character.

Morgan F:

  • Why did you decide to use the name Micah?
    I once had a student named Micah who was just awesome. I’ve loved the name ever since. I’ve wanted to name every kid of mine Micah at some point, but my husband vetoed it. So naming one of my characters Micah was a given. I finally got my way!

Morgan T:

  • Why did you become an author when you were a teacher?
    I’ve always wanted to write, even before I became a teacher, but I think I was too chicken to try and get it out there. I taught HS for a number of years and wrote here and there. When I started having kids, I decided not to teach full time. I ended up taking my writing a little more seriously. I began teaching on the college level because I could do it on a more part time basis. Honestly, I love both. I miss teaching HS, some of my best memories are with former students, but at this point in my life it would be difficult for me to be a good one with three kids and a writing career.

Hallie:          

  • What does it mean that your novel is lyrical?
    Lyrical refers to the style of the prose. I suppose it could also be called poetic or literary. My publisher came up with that phrase. It’s not a novel in verse.
  • How long has Micah had his addiction?
    About three years.

 Emma:

  • Are your characters based on real life people you have met?
    Yes and no.
  • What inspired you to write this novel and to write about someone with addiction?
    The book is inspired by some true events. I have family members who have struggled with addition. I have actually gone looking for someone as well. I thought that might make a good premise for a novel, so I kind of went with it. I also liked looking at addiction from the perspective of a sibling since most books I’ve seen that deal with addiction follow the addict. The story is not so much Micah’s story or a story of addiction, as much as it’s a story about how we deal with the pain that comes when those we love leave or make choices we can’t control. It’s a love story of sorts from a sister to a brother.

    Since I’ve gone through the pain of walking along side someone with addiction, I feel the novel contains emotional truth. The novel isn’t a true story, however, I did take something that happened from my freshman year of high school. When you get to the part about the substitute and the game Risk, yes that really did happen.

Home Run Blog Tour + Giveaway

I’m am super excited to be part of the Home Run Blog Tour for Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally!  I read Kenneally’s debut, Catching Jordan, in one sitting and did the same thing with her newest release, Stealing Parker.  My students are a big fan of her books as well.

I hope you enjoy Miranda’s guest post.  Make sure to enter to win a copy of Stealing Parker!

Summary (From Goodreads):

Red-hot author Miranda Kenneally hits one out of the park in this return to Catching Jordan’s Hundred Oaks High.

After her family’s scandal rocks their conservative small town, 17-year-old Parker Shelton goes overboard trying to prove that she won’t turn out like her mother: a lesbian. The all-star third-baseman quits the softball team, drops 20 pounds and starts making out with guys–a lot. But hitting on the hot new assistant baseball coach might be taking it a step too far…especially when he starts flirting back.

Peanut Gallery:  Where does Miranda get her inspiration?  Find out as Miranda speaks about her idea origins. As a bonus, Miranda shares the best advice that she ever got about being a writer.

Geez, this is a pretty hard question. I get my inspiration from all over the place. From conversations I have with friends and people at work. From inside jokes with my husband. I read lots of books, and see how my favorite authors write plot arcs and characterization, and then I set out to do that too, but with my own edge. I often look through my junior and high school yearbooks to remind myself of how I felt when I was younger. I also like to read my old diaries. One time I got a book idea from a true fact under a Snapple lid. Another time I got a book idea because somebody had broken into my car!

I got the idea for the “Jerry Rice fake baby home ec” project in Catching Jordan because I remembered this time I was out on the football field in junior high, and a football player was pushing another player around in a stroller.

The best advice I ever got as a writer?

  • An editor told me my strongest skill as an author is writing groups of teens goofing off and talking about nothing, so now I try to have my characters bantering while doing lots of wild and wacky things while trying to move the plot forward. And I have a great time doing it! I try to write silly scenes that I hope people will enjoy reading.

Giveaway Guidelines

Giveaway is sponsored by Sourcebooks Fire and open to residents of the US & Canada.
Must be at least 13 years old to enter.
One entry per person.
Only one winner.
Winner will be contacted via email & announced on Twitter.
Giveaway ends Friday, November 2nd, 2012 @ 11:59 EST.

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler: Kiss N’ Tell Blog Tour + Giveaway

Who I Kissed is very much a character-driven novel, so I’m excited to feature Janet Gurtler’s guest post about the main character, Sam.

Thank you, Janet, for stopping by today! :)

Summary (From Goodreads):

She never thought a kiss could kill…
Samantha didn’t mean to hurt anyone. She was just trying to fit in…and she wanted to make Zee a little jealous after he completely ditched her for a prettier girl. So she kissed Alex. And then he died—right in her arms.
Was she really the only person in the entire school who didn’t know about his peanut allergy? Or that eating a peanut butter sandwich and then kissing him would be deadly? Overnight Sam turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she’ll have to find a way to forgive herself before anyone else will.

Author Body-Swapping:  As a YA writer, Janet Gurtler often has to embody the lives and emotions of her character.  This time, we’re asking her to channel Sam and tell us some of the character insight we’re dying to know – first crush, most embarrassing moment, favorite books, music, & more!  And Janet reveals a little of how she creates such realistic teen characters.

***

“Sam, Sam, Sam. What are we going to do with you?”  

If you can’t tell, I’m using my mother voice. Also I’m talking to a fictitious character.  But we’ll ignore that part. When I write teen characters I have to turn my mother voice off.  (And embrace the crazy.)  Truth be known, I am able to remove my mother voice pretty easily and I find it kind of natural to slip inside the head of a teenager.  

I had a tough time when I was a teenager. I had a lot of internal struggles. I majored in insecurity and angst. And I remember many of those feelings really well. Really, really well.    

So, getting inside the head of a teenager isn’t as hard for me as if should be. Of course, my characters aren’t me.  I give them different challenges and different personality quirks. And then I have to try to think the way they would think. I have to slip into their shoes.

Fortunately, I enjoy imagining getting inside a character’s head. I like to go deep inside and look at things people sometimes try to hide. From themselves and from the world. I like to go there. To places that are uncomfortable. Especially with the challenges of today’s world around them. Technology. Expectations. Social media.

I took Samantha to some uncomfortable places in Who I Kissed. Imagine feeling responsible for the death of someone else. How horrifying would that be?  How would you possibly get over it? Especially when you’re dealing with your own issues.  Sam had some things to overcome even before the accident, but the accident brought them to the surface with a rush.  Ultimately, Sam has to learn to let other people in.  And that’s not always an easy thing to do.  To me she’s a fully formed person with a history and built in likes and dislikes. So let’s take a deeper look at Sam. Let me slide back into her skin for a moment and tell you some of her secrets.

Favorite Book- The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time  Indian by Sherman Alexie.   

Favorite Song- Tonight Tonight by Hot Chelle Rae

Favorite Movie- The Avengers

Favorite Food- Jelly Bellies of course! But as far as real food goes, she likes Mexican.  Bean Burritos.  Even though they give her gas.  She probably wouldn’t eat them on a date.

First serious crush. Zee.  First heart aches. Zee.  Best kiss ever. Zee.

Celebrity Crush-   Corbin Bleu. She is waiting for his acting career to extend beyond High school Musical

Personal Hero-  Missy Franklin  

Secret Talent- Sam loves to dance. She practices in her room with her iPod. At some point, she’s going to try to convince her swim team to record a dance dare (dancing behind people without them knowing) for the Ellen show. She knows every dance step to Party Rockin by LMFAO.  

Most Embarrassing Moment- When her bathing suit split down the butt at a swim meet and she had to finish her race, which was thankfully backstroke.

***

Giveaway Details!

Thank you, Sourcebooks Fire, for the giveaway opportunity!
One winner will be chosen.
You must be from the US or Canada to enter.
You must be 13 years of age or older to enter.
Only one entry per person.
Giveaway ends Tuesday, October 30th at 11:59 EST.
The winner will be contacted via email and/or tweeted.
No extra entries are required, but tweeting/Facebooking this post is appreciated!

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