Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year, Hello 2010!

Happy New Year everyone! Wow, 2010. To be honest, parts of me feel like 2000 was forever ago, and other parts (maybe my fingers and toes?) feels like it was just yesterday. So much happened for me in the first decade of the 2000's. Some good (I graduated college, got engaged and married, bought a house, started taking writing seriously and my two nieces were born) and some bad (but we won't go into those).

As promised in my last post, I'm going to give my New Year resolutions like I did last year. Also promised in my post last week, I said I would tell you what I loved about each of my favorite books of 2009, but that will have to wait next week.

Before I get into my resolutions, I have exciting news! We hit 30 followers on YAedge this week. As promised, I am going to give a FREE book away to a random person who follows us every time we pass a new increment of 30. So, if you aren't the lucky random winner this time, we just need to get to 60 and you'll have another chance to win!

The book in play this time is:

I will pick the random winner Wednesday, January 7. Check back then to see if you are the lucky one! If you aren't following us yet, be sure to start now! I won't be picking the winner until Wednesday morning so you still have a chance.

Back to my New Year resolutions.
  1. Like everyone else seems to say, I need to get back in shape. But this time, I'm not joking. Seriously, I need to lose my vacation and holiday weight.
  2. Last year I read 71 books and hoped to read more in 2009. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. I think it didn't help that in 2009 I worked full time throughout the whole year. My grand total for 2009: 56. I will say it again: in 2010 I hope to read more than I did in 2009.
  3. Last year I wanted to finish my WIP, Lost and Found. I did finish, as well as edit it. I even shopped it around, getting some interest. In fact, right now, I have a full out to an agency! This year, I'm going to say the same. I want to finish my current WIP (I currently have about 53,000 words and am close to the end), edit it and get it ready to send out to agents. Maybe 2010 will be the year I get an agent! One can hope, right?
  4. Be less stressed. I think we can all try and do that with our daily lives. I need to be like a duck in water. Just let everything roll off my back. I hope to be less serious and let more happiness into my life. This is easier said than done, but it can happen. I hope next year, in my year end post, I can say that number 4 from 2010 was accomplished.
  5. Save money. This past year (2009), I tried to put a little money away with each paycheck. The way the economy is in the US and even the world, you never know when you will be laid off or your company will faulter. I hope to do the same in 2010.
What are your New Year resolutions?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

YAedge Author Feature: Bonnie J. Doerr

Time to feature another wonderful Class of 2k10 author! Bonnie J. Doerr is an author with a mission. Her love of our vast earth shines through her writing and is reflected in the themes she chooses to tackle. Without further ado - here's Bonnie and her January 6, 2010 YA release, Island Sting:

Kenzie didn’t expect her first summer in the Florida Keys to be murder. Cute guys, awesome boats, endangered species, gun-toting thugs. When city girl Kenzie Ryan moves to a Florida wildlife refuge, she plunges straight into an eco-mystery. Kenzie trades New York streets for Keys pollution cleanup, and now, instead of hailing cabs, she’s tracking down a poacher of endangered Key deer.

Her new home does have some benefits—mainly Angelo, an island native, who teams up with her to nab the culprit. But will they both survive when the killer turns from stalking deer to hunting humans?

Island Sting includes notes on the endangered Florida Key deer and the National Key Deer Refuge.

Author Bio:
Bonnie J. Doerr has always played with words, ideas, and nature. To be separated from nature—to be containerized—would slowly suck the breath from her. For years this therapeutic pursuit manifested itself in poetry. In recent years her play resulted in stories and novels for young adults. A lifetime educator, she has taught students from kindergarten to college in eight states. Degrees in reading education, combined with a brief post as a science teacher, led her to write ecological mysteries.

Years of teaching and living in the Florida Keys provided irresistible material. Her novels celebrate caring, involved, “green” teens who take action with attitude and a touch of romance. Her children’s book Kenzie’s Key was honored by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) with a grant for its use in environmental education. Her work has been included in Milkweed Editions literary field guides. When not at home with her heart in the Florida Keys, she lives in a log cabin in North Carolina.

And now for the questions:

Island Sting features the Key Deer, a species of deer that evolved in isolation and is much smaller than its mainland cousins. What compelled you to write about this particular protected species?

The Florida Key deer do manage to be major characters in Island Sting don’t they? I didn’t set out to write about them, but I lived in their environment for quite a few years so it was difficult to ignore them. Since Angelo and Kenzie were badgering me to get their outrage over environmental damage to their island on the page, the tiny deer seemed the perfect focal point for the teens’ tale. People are often a serious threat to these deer, but people also saved them from extinction. This endangered species story (perhaps soon to be listed as a threatened species) is a manifestation of the best and the worst ways we humans interact with Mother Nature. The Key deer’s survival demonstrates hope. When Kenzie, a new island resident, joins Angelo’s efforts to clean up the island environment and catch the deer poacher, I believe it is this hope that fuels her action.

On your website and through your blog, it's obvious you aim to foster environmental awareness and spark activism in your readers. Besides the Key Deer, do you have any other environmental issues you'd like to tackle in your writing and bring to your readers attention?

It’s a challenge to answer this question. Earth is under assault on so many fronts it becomes overwhelming if one thinks about it too deeply. In the face of it all, the tendency is to feel we can do nothing. Air and water pollution, deforestation, global warming… It’s all interconnected, and a major answer is conservation in all respects. But honestly, I don’t think about one particular issue when I write. I think about respect for the gifts Earth has given us, and I hope that more people will learn to appreciate and understand how those gifts sustain us body and soul. Without that comprehension we will be lost.

I believe that we need to get outside more. Enjoy undeveloped spaces no matter how small. We need to reconnect with nature to understand our physical life source. So I write about places where the land is not covered with concrete, where people are not stuck inside four walls staring out windows at other walls. I write hoping that readers, like my characters, will search out one small place on Earth where they can make a difference—plant a few trees or care for a community garden. Like Kenzie, I’m simply tossing a pebble while praying it will make many ripples.

What authors have inspired your work?

I have been greatly inspired by Carl Hiassen, Randy Wayne White, and Jean Craighead George. Carl’s love for the Florida Keys and his indignation over environmental destruction form the backbone of his work. He does it with a sharp wit so mesmerizing that the issues can sneak up on you—the first time you read him. After that you can’t wait to see how the next dimwit eco-destroyers will be outsmarted by the eco-avengers. I’d give anything to have an ounce of his sense of humor.

Randy Wayne White’s knowledge of marine biology, his waterman’s wisdom, and his mastery of the mystery demonstrate an unequaled force. I love reading his work, and though I’m not sure how it has influenced my writing, I want to believe I’ve learned something from him by spending hours and hours holding his books (including his cookbook) and diving into his world. Talent can seep into your fingers from contact with the printed page, right?

Oh the body of work Jean Craighead George has produced in praise of, and fear for, Earth! Her studies, combined with her sense of adventure, have thrilled readers for years. She made me believe there are readers out there who admire characters who take a stand for Earth. She gave me courage to write my stories.

If you could return an animal from extinction, what would it be?

The Pheonix! No, wait, unicorns. Oh, you’re serious. Okay. Let me think…

The dodo. I wish it would return to show us there’s no shame to being a Dodo! In a way I’m getting my wish. Tim Burton is bringing it back to life in Alice in Wonderland! That still wasn’t a very serious answer was it?

Okay, I would like the Baiji river dolphin to return. Dolphins are such sweet, intelligent, playful creatures. And when they’re in trouble, humans rush to save them. It’s painful to accept that any one of their family could have been wiped out by industrialization. But it’s true. If China could clean up pollution to the degree that the Baiji river dolphin somehow returned and thrived…well, that would be indescribable bliss.

What's your favorite time/location to write?

I write best in the morning before my brain gets overloaded with daily chores and responsibilities. I must have three mugs of coffee though or even that plan won’t work. I also don’t do well without a mouse so I write at my desk if I’m using my computer. (I only have a laptop.) But this can be distracting because my desk sits in front of a large window overlooking gardens, woods and birdfeeders. You wouldn’t believe the entertaining activity that goes on out there. Right now, on a skim of ice topping six inches of snow, three squirrels are battling a feisty bluejay over some cheese grits.

Do you have any events coming up that you’d like to mention?

Oh yes! I invite everyone to come to Key West for the second week in February. You know you want to. Key West is where I’ll launch Island Sting. (Now the squirrels are chasing each other. Gotta say it’s easier to look at snow and ice when I’m thinking Key West.)

Here’s the schedule:

• February 5th—Friday evening—I’ll be at the Walk on Winn Dixie on Big Pine Key.
• February 7th—Sunday afternoon—I’ll be at the Key West Wildlife Center.
• February 9th—Tuesday at 5:30—I’ll be at Florida Keys Community College in Key West.
• February 11th—Thursday morning—I’ll be at the Key West Public library.
• And I plan on showing up for Green Drinks (eco-green, not creme de menthe) in the Keys all month long.

Come on down!

Thanks for asking me some questions I haven’t thought about before. I enjoyed being with you, and I wish you much success with your exciting new release, Under My Skin.

No, thank YOU for hanging with us here at YAedge. ;) Learn more about Bonnie at her website:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Top Books of 2009

Last year I mentioned my favorite books of 2008 and I thought I would do the same thing again. Although I will write my New Year post next week, I thought I would post about my favorite books in '09. What are your favorites of 2009? Please share with us in the comments section!

Unfortunately, I ran out of time to give my impressions of each, so I will do that next week! So, in no particular order, here are my favorite books of 2009 (I was going to only do five but there were so many out there that I loved!):

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
Kara hasn't been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad-boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park....Amid the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
In Mary's world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Can Cameron find what he’s looking for?

All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets. Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape—and to survive.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, Mia's story will stay with you for a long, long time.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2K10 Author Feature: Alexandra Diaz

The Class of 2k10 is a collective of 23 debut YA and MG authors who pool resources to cross promote their books. The Class program was founded in 2007 by Greg Fishbone. It will continue into 2011 and hopefully beyond. I'll be featuring my fellow classmates as their release dates approach. You'll learn all about these brave new authors right here on YAedge! Here we go....

When a rumor starts circulating that Tara’s boyfriend has been with one of the guy cheerleaders, the innuendo doesn’t just hurt Tara. It marks the beginning of the end for three lifelong friends.

Tara’s training for a marathon, but also running from her fear of abandonment from her father.

Whitney Blaire seems to have everything, but an empty mansion and absentee parents leave her looking for her own value in the wrong places.

And Pinkie has a compulsive need to mother everyone to make up for the mama she’s never stopped missing.
Then the new girl arrives in school and Tara starts to feel things she’s never felt for before for a girl. Can the girls’ friendship survive when all the rules have changed?

Of All the Stupid Things is a brilliant read. I just finished the ARC. Thanks for sharing it with the members of the Class of 2k10, Alexandra. ;) I was so very impressed with how you handled the story’s heavy issues and I loved how your characters’ lives bled into each other.

It will be available in stores December 22! Now for the questions.
1. Your accent is lovely – you should definitely do some podcasts on your awesome website (hint, hint!) – and your bio says you’ve travelled the world. Can you tell us a bit about your globetrotting?

I’m glad you found my accent lovely; I hate the sound of my own voice when I hear it on recordings! I guess my accent is different since Spanish is my first language (though I speak English better) and after living in England, I do have a slight British tinge. Growing up, my family moved quite a bit between Puerto Rico and the US. Once my mom settled in Santa Fe, NM, I felt the traveling bug never left me. I kept looking for different ways to explore the world which led to living in Austria for 3 months and England for 3 ½ years. One of my goals is going to 25 countries and all seven continents (including Antarctica) before I’m 50. Any excuse to travel is a good thing.

2. Scholastic recently took a lot of flack for their decision to remove a title from their book fair selection which featured a main character with same sex parents. Scholastic subsequently reversed their stance and the book will be on book fair shelves. Are you concerned that Of All the Stupid Things may be challenged for its gay/lesbian content?

Although I was very keen and excited to write the story that came to me, I was initially hesitant to tell people about the lesbian relationship because I didn’t know how that would reflect on me. Now I take my book’s content as a matter of fact and let people think what they want. I know it’s not for everyone, but it’s still the book I had to write and I’m proud of it. If it attracts enough attention to get “banned”, I’m not too worried; the only thing banning ever accomplishes is more interest!

3. Of All the Stupid Things is told through the voices of three characters. Was it difficult to decide when to shine the spotlight on a specific character? And which of the three girls was the most fun to write?

The original idea was that they would go in consecutive order throughout the book, but was quickly abandoned to help the flow better. Depending what needed to happen next, that’s who narrated it; I didn’t think about it too much, just whoever seemed right for the next scene. I did a bit of shuffling around of the scenes, but that happens anyway even with single POV novels.
Pinkie was always the easiest one to write, Tara the most intriguing, and Whitney Blaire the one who challenged me. In terms of “fun”, they each had their moments, including making fun of me.

4. Your website has the tagline “Writing: to experience life in someone else’s shoes”. If you could walk a mile in the shoes of anyone living today or an historical figure - whose shoes would you wear?

Ooh, I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to be fictional people, not real people.
And even if I had a chance to “be” someone real, I still think I’d prefer observing instead. That way, I can still image what it’s like to “be” that person without their own personal conflicts. More entertaining that way.

5. In addition to following your dream of becoming a writer and getting a fabulous education, you’ve worked as a film extra, website designer, nanny, teacher…and more. That’s quite the diverse resume. ;) If you had the opportunity to work as an extra in any movie since the dawn of silent pictures (I’m kinda fixated on the film extra job…lol…) what would it be?

Bend it Like Beckham as one of the Hounslow Harriers or a wedding guest, I’m not picky! They just seemed to have such a good time filming and I always wanted to play “football”.

6. The cover for Of All the Stupid Things is clean, cute, and colourful - and loaded with sexual connotations. I’d have snapped it off the shelves right away…lol… Is there a story to the cover? Did you have input?

The cover was done entirely at my publisher’s end. Apparently there were predecessors, but I never saw them because they weren’t “right”. When they fell in love with this one, that’s when they asked for my approval which I was happy to give.

Thanks so much for hanging with us at YAedge! Have an amazing year with the Class of 2k10 and we wish you many devoted readers. Check out Alexandra's website for more details.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Paper or Plastic?

Hello from the world of ebooks. As of today, I have ventured into the slightly scary world of plastic and not paper. That is, I am now a proud owner of Barnes and Noble's nook (as you can see from the picture to the left which I took with my iPhone).

I have to admit, I have been against ebooks up until now. I am old fashion. Give me oil paint on canvas over digital painting. I always thought the same with books. I love the feel, smell and experience of a real book. I love to go to the bookstore and browse the shelves. I love used bookstores.

That was until I looked around and realized I have close to 1,000 books stored between my house and my parent's house. To move all of those books at some point would be a pain and put a pretty large dent in my wallet.

That doesn't mean I won't buy real books anymore. I will buy my favorite authors in hardback/paperback and will reserve my ereader for books that I don't plan to get signed or collect. I liken it to my cd collection. I used to buy way too many cds and found them bulky. Where to store all the jewel cases? Even if you recycle those, you need folders and folders to keep the actual disk. Since iPods (or mp3 players that is), I only buy the artists that I love. I enjoy looking at the cd jacket and having the physical cd. The rest of my music collection? I either buy used or download when they're released.

As far as buying nook, there were many reasons I chose it over the Kindle. I won't get into that now (maybe a later post), but I hope that nook lives up to my expectations. They are low, I must admit. This is my first venture into an ereader, so just having book digitally and being able to download/buy them at a touch of a button is huge. Sitting at work, I purchased two books and within 30 seconds I had them on the device to read.

I leave for vacation in a few days, and I must say, I'm excited to put nook to the test. I hope that my choice of plastic over paper pays off.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

2010 Debut Author Challenge

The Story SirenKristi at The Story Siren has started a blogging phenomenon called the 2010 Debut Author Challenge. Bloggers, reviewers and YA and MG book readers register on her blog and sign up to read at least 12 (up to as many as you wish) novels by new authors.

It's amazing to see how many challenge participants have already selected titles from the Class of 2k10! I see Under My Skin is popping up on a few! I'll be donating an ARC, as well as a bit of SWAG, for the challenge. ;)

If you're a YA/MG fiction junkie, check out the challenge and get ready for a year of amazing, hip, funny, freaky, historic, romantic, beastly and NEW voices. This is such a cool way to promote reading, new authors, and the love of a good story. There's no deadline to joining, so check it out!

Friday, December 4, 2009

I Won...I Need a Vacation!

If you feel like I do, you are happy you finished NaNoWrimo but are a little tired. After writing 50,000+ words in the month of November, the last thing you want to do is write some more. Here's the catch. If you want to be a published author one day, or already are, you know that you can't just stop. Sure, breaks are healthy and much needed but when the book is fresh in your mind, now is the time to finish it!

Think of NaNoWrimo as draft zero. Draft zero you ask? Why not draft one? Well, if you go back and read what you wrote during those 30 days, you will understand. At least, for me this is the case. NaNoWrimo is such a marathon, it's hard to get 50,000 words that are useful out of it. The way I look at it, I now have a great block to build on. My draft zero will make my first draft all that much easier!

Through the last month, I have realized what will work and what won't from my original idea and synposis. I've learned what my characters are all about, the good and the bad. The picture is clearer, my characters can now stand alone with pride, personality and a voice.

Despite throwing away a lot of words from November, in the end, it will make my novel better. I hope you all feel the same.

For those who didn't hit 50,000, don't worry. It isn't so much about the amount of words, it's that NaNoWrimo got you to put your butt in the seat and write SOMETHING. Even if you wrote a few thousand words, perhaps that is a few thousand more than you would have. If it helped you with your story, than it was worth it!

So, congrats to everyone! Take a few days off and rest, but back to the grindstone before you lose your momentum! Oh, and for the record, I wrote 50,109 words (or 50,112 in Word) and a few chapters away from finishing draft zero! :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Class of 2k10 set to launch!

I can't believe it's almost that time, but December 1st doth approach and the Class of 2k10 has some awesome stuff planned. Our beautiful website is live and waiting for you to discover 23 debut YA and MG authors with amazing stories to dig into for 2010.

Check out the author bios, book blurbs, covers, reader guides and trailers. The site is packed with literary goodness. I'll also be featuring 2k10 authors here on YAedge...I promise, you'll get insider information on this new crop of must read titles. ;)

2k10 will be hosting a month long Grad Party for the Class of 2k9 authors - watch for book giveaways and swag contests!

The class is planning to do some high profile author panels during Book Expo America in New York (May 2010) - if you're in the area, we'd love to have you hang with us. Watch out 2010, here we come!

Friday, November 27, 2009

NaNoWrimo Week 4- The Home Stretch

Wow, NaNoWrimo went fast this year! I can't believe it is the last weekend of November. I hope all of our US readers had a safe and fabulous Thanksgiving yesterday. I know I did. :)

Week 4 is a breeze, regardless of where you are in your word count. You know where you stand and you know what is ahead of you. Your word count is staring you in the face, challenging you to find a way to get to the end with 50,000 words. It's all about buckling down, opening up Write or Die and cranking the rest out. I know that's what I have to do this weekend.

Speaking of my story, I've come to realize I have just that, a story. It may not be written great and there might be slow moving points that need to see the chopping block before they make it into another draft, but it's nice to have something. So far, I have 42,180 words and probably only a few thousand are worth anything. That's okay, it's not like I thought I would have a beautifully crafted novel after 30 days of writing like a madwoman. Instead, I have learned so much about my plot and characters. It was nice to have a synopsis to fall back on, but I let my characters lead the way, regardless if it was in my original plot breakdown. It's freeing, yet nice to have that crutch.

I must now buckle down with the rest of you and write my heart out. I have a little less than 8,000 words to write in the remaining 4 days. Easy, right?

Good luck to everyone out there! I know you can all do it. For those of you who won't be hitting 50,000 no matter how hard you try, don't worry. If NaNoWrimo got you to put you butt in the seat and write even a few words, it was worth it!

Next week, I'll wrap up November with NaNoWrimo. Can't wait to hear all of your journeys this month.

Don't forget, we give a YA book to a random follower once we hit 30 followers to the blog. Just click the follow button in the side bar for your chance to win!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Wild World of Author Visits

With my book launching in a few months I’ll all keen to get out in the world and do some presentations as a debut YA author. Earlier this year I did a few low key school visits, a public library teen book club visit and an online chat with teen readers at TeenRC. Those first dips in the author circuit pool will hopefully come in handy. But the thing is – I don’t want to be one of those authors.

If you’ve ever sat in on an author visit that’s going south – you know the ones I’m talking about - the author who never quite connects with his/her audience (however small or large). There’s a distance, a pretension that comes through loud and clear and no amount of high wattage smiles or scripted jokes can mask it.

Working in school and public libraries, I’ve been on the organizational side of an author visit – I know the value of a grounded author, one who is approachable, stays generally on topic and can put the crowd at ease with the appropriate level of goofiness or dramatic intensity as the occasion warrants.

I’ve seen authors choke at school visits (not physically, but you know what I mean) – they’re just too afraid to be silly, to be kid-friendly, to make mistakes. And then I’ve witnessed a whole gym full of kids from kindergarten to grade six absolutely enthralled at the retelling of childhood foibles that later became the basis of a writer's work. (I’m speaking here of Canadian author, Sigmund Brouwer, who wowed students and staff during an hour-long presentation we’ll not soon forget - if you ever get the chance to hear him speak....jump on it!).

So here’s to a debut year of author bookings, a year of goofing around, accidentally offending people (I tend to do that), of getting a few things right and a whole bunch of stuff wrong. If any of you have tips for the newbie, I’m all ears.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NaNoWrimo- Week 3...already?

See below on how to win a free YA book, but first we discuss NaNoWrimo!

I can't believe it's week three of NaNoWrimo already. Does that scare anyone else? I'm practically shaking in my boots...or Converse actually.

All in all, week three has been a success so far. I have yet to write today (today being Thursday afternoon) and I'm at 30,291. I was able to fill gaps and grow my characters while writing like a madwoman. I hope to come close to 35,000 today since I won't be able to write Friday-Sunday. At this point, I'm happy with my progress, despite realizing that I will have to rewrite the whole thing over again. That's what NaNo is for, right? Developing your ideas and characters before making the next draft pretty. Make sure to share how you're doing in the comments section.

Our frequent visitors may have noticed that we've placed a YAedge Follower widget in the sidebar. If you aren't following us already, please do so! Once we hit 30 followers, I will be giving away one YA book* to one lucky random follower. For every 30 followers, a new book will be available to win (one free book at 30, then 60 and so on)!

I hope everyone has a great weekend and hits their NaNoWrimo goals!

*I have yet to decide what book that will be, but will keep you updated.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Class of 2K10: Book Your Getaway

Take a break from NaNo, just a teeny one, and check out this update on the progress of the Class of 2K10.

In less than a month, the Class of 2K10 website and plan for world domination will unfold! The site has a fun passport theme with vintage images/tones – I just know you’re gonna likes it. ;) If you want to get ahead of the launch, we have a blog, Facebook page and Twitter profile - come and hang with us. You won’t want to miss our December long “Grad Party” sending the Class of 2K9 off in style.

We have several titles to launch in January, so we’re coming out of our corner swinging. In the meantime, here’s the promo trailer that the fabulous, amazing, stellar Madison at M2 Productions created for us. Enjoy the sneak peek at 23 must reads debuting in 2010!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crawling Through Week 2

Happy Friday the 13th!

Week two ofNanowrimo is almost over and it hasn't been as kind to me as week 1 was. I've struggled due to work taking over, whether good or bad. Although not an excuse, I've been drained once home and have barely been able to open my laptop to start. The situation at work seems to be looking up, so here's to week 3!

This year for NaNoWrimo is interesting for me as far as my story is concerned. I'm writing a story I had previously started (but threw everything away from the first start, so I started from scratch) and had a complete synopsis for. I generally knew my characters, but not enough to really feel them, if that makes sense. Their words don't flow through my head, their action not obvious. I struggle each time they open their mouths.

Yesterday, instead of writing actual words, I decided to look through what I had written so far and use my plotting excel chart to see where the holes need to be filled. This helped a ton (despite the file now being corrupt) and I hope that it will speed up the writing process a bit. I won't be sending precious minutes trying to figure out what to write next.

Despite all of this, I'm not too far behind. I'm writing this at 3:30pm on Thursday, having yet written a single word for NaNoWrimo today. I hope to finish this post and get right to it, if work doesn't interrupt. My total as of right now is: 16,849

I will admit, every year I've done NaNo, I've had the hardest time in the middle of week 2 and the beginning of week 3. Hopefully that will happen this year and I will pull into the winner circle just in time.

That being said, I want to hear how all of you are doing! Please post your totals in the comments. I hope to have a contest soon, maybe next week. I just need to decide what YA books I have to use as contest giveaways, so stay tuned!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Book Fair Buys

There was a Chapters book fair at the local high school, so I dropped in to nab a few titles. While browsing, I chatted with my favourite Chapters manager, Bryan, and his lovely assistant, Megan - who, on a side note, pointed me in the direction of a publicist looking for clients. Books and a possible marketing guru connection! The trip was well worth the drive in the icky sleet.

I purchased a few titles I’ve been dying to get my hands on:

hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick – sure, there was a lot of hype for this release, and "angels might be the new vampires..." as Megan said - but still – I read this one in a night and will be waiting for the next book.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray – my twitter friends had me itching for this title, they said it was hilarious and I don’t doubt it. A kid with mad cow disease, a punk angel, a dwarf and a yard gnome go on a warped journey as they search for a cure. There’s a combination I couldn’t resist.

For my hubbie and love of my life (which is handy, being that we’re hitched and all), I purchased Tim Hamilton’s graphic novel adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s, Fahrenheit 451. He might get to read it….but only when I’m finished.

Bryan and Megan recommended I try Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. If you can read the back cover blurb without buying the book, you’re no fiend of mine. ;) They also suggested The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade. Canadian author and young adult steampunk thriller?! All too quickly, that gem joined my stack of finds.

And that was my little book shopping expedition at the high school book fair. Not too shabby. What have you picked up lately?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nanowrimo- Week 1

How many of you are doing NaNoWrimo? Raise your hands! How many of you have started actually writing your NaNo novel? Raise your hands! If you have your hand raised, great job! Even putting down a few words each day is a huge accomplishment. There are too many distractions in our world today for most people to spend the small amount of free time they have, working on something fun, inspiring and creative. Just starting NaNoWrimo means you deserve a pat on the back.

Now comes the hard part. How many of you are on pace to finish on time? Raise your hands! I'm sure a few of you have had to put your hands down at this point, but don't fret! There is still plenty of time to catch up. The weekend is almost upon us, that is the great news. It's a great time to sit down with no other worries, throw dinner in a crock pot, tell your family it's time to write and just do it (now I sound like a Nike ad from the 90's).

So, congrats to all the NaNoWrimo participants out there. Feel good about yourself for taking this mighty task upon yourself. And for those who have yet to get started, there is still time. You can still sign up at and catch up to everyone. It seems like there are two different NaNo'ers. The ones who start strong, giving themselves a head start, but slow down in the end or those who have a slow start and have a marathon ending. Both work (trust me, I've done both-this is my 4th year participating), so don't worry if you're behind.

For those of you who are looking for a writing buddy, feel free to link up with me here. I'm always happy to have more word counts to stare at as mine stays in place.

So, for what you've all been waiting for, my word count! As I type this (on Thursday evening), I'm at 10,040. I've had some marathon of word wars to help my count! Thanks to everyone's participation in that!

Good luck on week 2 everyone! I'd love to see how all of you are doing in the comments section!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Winner of the Halloween YA Book bundle is...


Congrats Llehn, you're the winner of the Halloween YA Book bundle. Please be sure to email us at YAedge AT yahoo DOT com. If you email us your address by Friday, I'll try and make a trip to the post office this weekend.

The winner was picked using a random number generator based on the numbering of the comments from the original post.

For all of the loyal blog commenters who didn't win, stay tuned for more giveaways in November!

Also, each Friday in the month of November, I'll be posting about my progress with NaNoWrimo. You can watch my daily progress and become my writing buddy here!

Have a great day everyone!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

NaNoWriMo Begins

While I'm unable to participate with NaNo this year, I'm looking forward to reading about Tami's (and any YAedgers!) experiences this November. It's amazing what you can accomplish in 30 days. An entire first draft. Whoot! I know you can do it.

Don't forget to post comments to win Tami's tripple threat of YA reads in celebration of Halloween. Tonight's the last night!

And if you're in the mood for another contest, my publisher, Leap Books, has a badge contest going - you could win swag - maybe even an ARC of Under My Skin. Check it out:

Good luck, my NaNo friends....let the writing begin!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

To End the Month of Halloween: A Contest!!

To end the Halloween spirit on a high note, we're giving away free books! To enter, just comment in this post for a chance at not one book, but THREE! That's right, I've bundled three books that I loved and would be happy to pass on. I've tried to pick books with the Halloween-type theme. Good luck to all! Please comment by Sunday, November 1 at 10:00pm PST. I will post the one winner on Wednesday, November 4.

Please have a safe and fun Halloween! Eat tons of candy and watch your favorite spooky movie! Want a tip on a few classic horror films? Check out my post from a few weeks ago here.

On another note, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night, as we are moving back to Standard time (or at least those of you who live in an area that changes their clock for daylight savings.

We gain an hour, which is great news for all participating in NaNoWrimo this year. I'll be posting about my trip through NaNoWrimo this year here at YAedge. Stay tuned! If you need a NaNo buddy or just want to follow my progress, search for me under username Seeker4! The more the merrier.

Now, what you have all been waiting for...the list of free books!

Eighth Grade Bites by Heather Brewer (Paperback)

From Amazon: Thirteen-year-old Vladimir Tod really hates junior high. Bullies harass him, the principal is dogging him, and the girl he likes prefers his best friend. Oh, and Vlad has a secret: His mother was human, but his father was a vampire. With no idea of the extent of his powers, Vlad struggles daily with his blood cravings and his enlarged fangs. When a substitute teacher begins to question him a little too closely, Vlad worries that his cover is about to be blown. But then he faces a much bigger problem: He’s being hunted by a vampire killer.

Spirit by J.P. Hightman (ARC)

From Now, ages later, in the cold, dark heart of the Victorian era—an age of black clothes and black moods—one train is bound for Blackthorne, near Salem, where a winter carnival awaits. The cars are full of the promise of fireworks, sleigh rides, and skating. But for Tess and Tobias Goodraven, this train will take them to a place much darker than they imagined.

Even a seasoned pair of ghost hunters like Tess and Tobias didn't expect a witch like Old Mother Malgore—a witch who stalks the forests, silent as snowfall, hunting, hungering. When the train derails and the casualties climb, the Goodravens must bridge the gap between past and present tragedies if they have any chance of quieting the souls of the living, the dead, and the haunted.

In J. P. Hightman's richly woven story of ghosts and witchcraft, the simple is sinister, the dead stalk the living, and the only real weapon is love.

I heart you, You haunt me by Lisa Schroeder (paperback)

From Amazon:

Girl meets boy.

Girl loses boy.

Girl gets boy back...

...sort of.

Ava can't see him or touch him, unless she's dreaming. She can't hear hisvoice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she'scrazy, but she knows he's here.

Jackson. The boy Ava thought she'd spend the rest of her life with. He's back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Leap Books Halloween Exclusive Reads

My publisher is having a cool promotion that blends Teen Read Week with Halloween. Enjoy two free reads by YA paranormal authors, Kitty Keswick - and me, under my pen name, Judith Graves.

They're spooky, fun, romantic reads, just for you!

My story, Old Flames Die Hard, features characters that also appear in my debut novel, Under My Skin (March 27, 2010). It's kind of cool to know a smidge about the paranormal activity in the small town of Redgrave - before you really get dumped in it when you ready UMS. Cause you're gonna read it, right? ;)

Anyway, here's the official press release: