Saturday, August 30, 2008


to Amanda Morgan!

Amanda, you are the winner of WAKE, so send us your address (author2author at gmail dot com) and we'll get that in the mail to you.

Thanks to everyone who entered our school days giveaway this week! 

Friday, August 29, 2008

Last Day of A2A School Days Giveway!!

Tip of the Day: Have a great Labor Day weekend - hopefully no labor is really involved!

Congratulations to the winner of yesterday's book, Chelsea!! You get your very own copy of REVENGE OF THE HOMECOMING QUEEN! Please e-mail author2author at gmail dot com with your mailing address!

Nooooo! I don’t want summer vacation to end! Neither do my kids. But, I guess it always does, doesn’t it? It’s interesting having boys – the whole first day of school and clothes drama is pretty much non-existent. When I was in school, I’d worry for a week about what I was going to wear the first day! I remember more than once going to school in a pretty new sweater on the first day, and it’d be 85 degrees out and I’d be sweating up a storm. But still, I looked *good* and that was the important thing.

My boys start school on Tuesday and since the weather is still pretty nice, they’ll probably wear a pair of shorts they’ve worn all summer long and a t-shirt. They’ve been wearing their new shoes for awhile now, so even those won’t really be “new.” Hey, maybe I’ll go back-to-school shopping and get myself a few things!

Now, for the contest! I’ve selected the book WAKE, by Lisa McMann, as my giveaway book. Getting sucked into people’s dreams isn’t fun for Janie, and it’s even less fun when it happens at school, which it does occasionally when people fall asleep in class or the library. And when it happens on a field trip? Oh no! Fortunately, there’s someone there who helps her out. Who? Well, I’m not going to tell you. You’ll just have to win the book and read it to find out!

To enter, just leave a comment here by midnight (EST). That’s it! Sorry, US residents only. Check back on Saturday where the winner will be announced.

Good luck!

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A2A’s School Days Giveaways: Day 4

Tip of the Day: Check out the super cool group blog of the author’s who's book I’m giving away—Books, Boyz, Buzz.

*Congrats brooke!!! You are the winner of Deena’s giveaway! Please email us your mailing address (author2author DOT blog AT gmail DOT com).*

I was never homecoming queen (I know, I know, I’m shocked too! Hee hee) but I always loved the homecoming season. I never did like football but there was something super special about that homecoming football game, the parade, and the dance. It was all so thrilling. Maybe that’s why this book, Revenge of the Homecoming Queen, by Stephanie Hale caught my eye.

After I saw the super adorable cover, I flipped it over and found that it was about this girl, Aspen Brooks, who is so completely stunning and flawless and has it ALL that she just knows she will be the homecoming queen. Only something strange happens—it’s given to a skanky girl named Angel instead. Other bizarre things happen and there is a mystery to be solved. This book is incredibly cute and clever and I just know one of you lucky readers will love it.

Thinking about how perfect and put together Aspen is in the book leads me to my back to school memory which involves back to school clothes shopping. When I was in junior high the big thing was Guess Jeans. Anyone remember this little patch?

Well, really they could have just sold the patch because that is all anyone cared about—the patch on your butt had to be viewable at all times. I equate it to the Cs on today’s Coach purses. If everyone can’t tell your purse is a Coach well then there is no reason to carry it right? :-) Anyway, I wanted a pair of Guess Jeans SO bad but my mom wouldn’t let me get them. She was a super duper bargain shopper back then (still is) and would always find me something like whatever the fad was but in an off color or something. So I finally did get a pair of Guess Jeans (at a deep discount I’m sure!) but oh were they not cute. I wish I had a picture to share but you’ll have to use your imagination. Know the Mom jean look?

High waisted and pleats in front so you can’t tell if you’re coming or going? Uh, yeah. That was the style of jeans she bought me. And of course they weren’t denim color. No, they were peach! And the topper? No triangle on the butt! I was pretty ticked let me tell you (but I love you mom and I forgive you!). This pair had a little rectangle that said Guess way up by the belt. Completely defeating the purpose right?!

This may seem more tragic back to school memory to you then favorite back to school memory but it really isn’t to me. It actually makes me laugh thinking about my old must have back to school items over the years and comparing them to what I actually got. I wonder what Aspen Brooks would have said about me? Never mind, I don’t want to know! :-)

Don’t forget to comment to this entry by midnight EST (two entries if you blog about the contest and tell us) for a chance to win Revenge of the Homecoming Queen and learn more about the fabulous Aspen. (US only) Lisa will post the winner tomorrow.

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A2A's School Days Giveaway, Day 3 (or She's So Popular*)

*With apologies to Peter Gabriel and his often misheard "Games Without Frontiers".

Tip of the Day: Set out your First Day of School Outfit the night before. Not to save time, but to know that you'll look hot on Day #1!

*Carly! You are the winner of Emily's giveaway! Please email us your mailing address (author2author DOT blog AT gmail DOT com). CONGRATS!*

I was never the boy crazy teen that some of my girlfriends were, but there was one distinct boy I was totally psyched about seeing every year in junior high -- not that I told anyone at the time and risked public humiliation/rejection! We were school acquaintances only, but that didn't stop me from fantasizing that we'd see each other after a summer of no contact and he'd instantly ask me out. I saw it all so clearly in my head. Why didn't it ever happen?

Maybe because I didn't have an old book called HOW TO BE POPULAR. Or Meg Cabot's book HOW TO BE POPULAR in which Steph finds an old book with the same name that she's sure will escalate her into the It Crowd in no time -- as long as she follows the rules.

This year at school will be different for sure -- Steph just knows it!

Win this book and learn the rules that I never had as a teen! Leave a comment by midnight EST for one chance to win. Link to this contest in your blog and let us know for two chances to win. Tina will announce the winner on Thursday. (We can only mail prizes to U.S. addresses.)

Were you popular in high school? If so, how did YOU get to the upper echelon?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A2As School Days Giveaways: Day 2

Yesterday's winner: congratulations to TAMMI who won yesterday's book Fly on the Wall. Tammi please email us your mailing address at: author2author (dot) blog (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize. Everyone else, leave a comment today by midnight to be eligible to win today's School Days Giveaway.

The book I'm giving away today is: I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You.

The reason I choose this book is because there's no way you could take the school out of this book and it would be the same.

In it the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women becomes a character itself. From it's hidden entrance and identity as a school for spies to its classes and staff that make it unique. The school really makes the book.

So if you'd like to win this book about Cammie Morgan's sophomore year at spy school, just leave a comment!!

As for my own school, I didn't have as fancy a school as the one in the book (at least I don't think my school was an undercover spy school. Circus school, maybe, but not spy). I went to a pretty normal, small high school in which 90 percent of the people I had known since kindergarten. Despite my familiarity with the school and my classmates, my clearest memory of the first day of school was being incredibly nervous every year. I remember I could never sleep well the night before the first day, because I was anxious about my classes and general change. I was nervous my friends would suddenly forget my name, despite the fact I had seen them all summer. I was worried the teachers would give us homework on the first day, or that I would forget my pencil in my locker and I wouldn't be able to take notes. And tons of other thoughts that really weren't that big of a deal as I look back now.

I have no idea why I was so nervous every first day of school. Because nothing ever went wrong, and usually the first day was mildly fun getting to see people (aka boys) you hadn't seen all summer.

What about you? Were you nervous the first day of school or were you one of those cool and collected people that start everything new without a single butterfly in your stomach?

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, August 25, 2008

A2A's School Days Giveaways, Day 1

Tip of the Day: Here are the giveaway rules--enter a comment before midnight to win. We'll pick a comment and announce the winner tomorrow. Sorry, United States mailing addresses only. Remember, we're giving away a new book with a school theme every day this week!

Can you believe school starts again in a week and a half? Of course, down south, school's already in session, but here in New York, school starts after Labor Day. I spent the weekend buying school supplies and going back to school clothes shopping with my kids. That was definitely my favorite part of returning to school as a teenager: the clothes sales!

No, I take that back. My favorite part was looking forward to seeing the boys I hadn't seen all summer.

One of my funnest high school memories is the very first day. I was dreading seeing the boy who had followed me around for most of eighth grade, so not eager for another year of being pestered by the twerp. Surprise! Ninth grade started and the former twerp had lost the braces and shot up six inches over the summer. Wow! He could follow me around any time!

Today I'm giving away Fly on the Wall by e. lockhart. The main character, Gretchen, hates her school and doesn't fit in. The boys there confuse her to the point of obsession. If only she could follow them around school unseen ...

Win my book and you can find out how Gretchen gets her wish. Just enter a comment. Plus! You get a bonus, second entry if you link to our blog from yours! Just let us know where you've linked us in your comment. Emily will announce the winner tomorrow and kick off her own book giveaway. Good luck!

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, August 22, 2008

Do Rejections Fuel You or Paralyze You?

Tip of the Day: Don’t forget to check back next week! We’ll be giving away books all week long.

As you probably know, this weekend, the Olympics wrap up. Many of us watched Michael Phelps (MP), in awe of his talent and, at times, amazing luck (he won by 1/100th of a second in one of the races).

Bob Costas made an interesting comment to MP during an interview at the end of his races. Bob said something like, you remind me of Michael Jordan in the way you take what people say and use that as inspiration and push yourself harder. And MP admitted it was true. He said, (I’m paraphrasing here), Yeah, I welcome comments because when I hear someone say something about me, that I can’t do it or whatever, it does push me to work harder.

It made me think about the drawer full of rejections I have and if I ever felt that way after getting one. And I don’t know that I thought it consciously like, “By gosh, I’ll show you, you high-and-mighty editor who wouldn’t know a good story if it hit you along side of your face.” But in some ways, I do think those letters fueled me on. Like the more I got, the more I felt the need to prove myself. Maybe I wanted to show the world it wasn’t impossible, if I just kept working hard and kept on trying.

I’ve heard of some writers being paralyzed after getting a rejection letter. And I understand, sometimes they sting. But I think Michael Phelps can teach us writers a thing or two. Don’t like what someone has to say about your writing? Dig in, dig deep, and do better!

What do you think? Easier said than done? Or can those rejection letters be used in a positive way?

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I’m Pubbed

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sequels Talk (or it’s so hard to say good bye)

Tip of the Day: Make sure to get your author photo done early enough so that when your editor e-mails you for it you are prepared.

What’s your opinion on sequels and series? Love them or hate them? Is it like movies where the second one + is never as good as the first? For example, this past weekend ABC aired both Legally Blonde and the sequel Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde.

I was totally excited as I’d never seen the second one. But you know, it was pretty eh. Just eh. Yeah, Elle is still adorable and fun but the big huge problem of the movie was her trying to pass a bill to stop animal testing (called Bruiser’s bill after her Chihuahua Bruiser. There was a lab testing on dogs, one of which was Bruiser’s mom). I mean, I even have a dog and I was bored by this movie. It just didn’t do it as a follow-up for me. The first one was far better. That’s how I tend to feel about lots of movie sequels. But are books different?

I seem to have a hard time letting my characters go and have synopsis worked up for follow up books on all my books. It feels like I just get a hold of a main character and love him or her (well, I haven’t tried a him yet) so much that I won’t let her go. I haven’t written all of these sequels or anything, I just want to be prepared in case my editor ever comes to me and says MUST HAVE ANOTHER BOOK!

But then writing a follow-up book/series also makes me nervous. Look at the rockingly awesome YA author Stephanie Meyer and all the fans furious over her last book in the Twilight series. I haven’t read it and I’m not entirely sure why everyone is so upset but it seems she didn’t complete the series as they had hoped.

So what’s the verdict—do you like sequels and series? Do you write or plan to write a sequel or series?

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's Your Passion? (or Whatcha Whatcha Whatcha Want?)

Tip of the Day: Spend a day writing to the same schedule that an Olympian trains for a competition -- how could you not improve and flex your writing muscles?

My friend just called to tell me she's engaged! (Yay Nicki and Eric!) I am so happy for them -- and not at all envious. Sure, we've had similar relationship experiences (both been with our manpanions for over 5+ years, for example), but even though engagement is something that could potentially be in my reach, I have no feelings of Why not me?

Some friends and coworkers are getting pregnant and having babies (Yay Mindy!) Again, I am so happy for them and not at all envious. Sure, I might want a baby some day, but not now so I have no feelings of Why not me?

Meanwhile, other friends can't wait to get engaged then married. Some couples are trying so hard to have babies and it's not happening for them. So the events I described above make them yearn for those things. Make them envious. It's something they really want.

What gets me feeling like, "Man, I TOTALLY WANT THAT"?

Reading Publishers Marketplace's New Deals, of course!

I am so happy for those who have made their first kidlit sales and when I read about them, I'm like, "I can't wait for that to be me, too!"

These realizations have led me to create a highly scientific discovery:

Achievement x (Envy x Amount) = Passion

Before February when I got my YA Librarian job, I had a similar feeling:

(When someone else got a YA Librarian job) x (Envy x LOTS) = My passion was without a doubt to become a YA Librarian

Now that I've acheived that, my equation has switched to:

(When someone gets an MG/YA debut book deal) x (Envy x LOTS) = My passion is to publish a MG/YA book

By using this scientific equation, one can prove that they are not crazy for continuously trying for and yearning for some sort of achievement; they are simply PASSIONATE -- it is what they are SUPPOSED to do.

Fill in the equation -- what is YOUR passion?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympics and Sport Books

Tip of the Day: If you aren't watching the Olympics right now, you really should be.

Apparently I have so much Olympic fever I forgot today was Tuesday and my post day.

The Olympics are just that captivating.

I personally love the gymnastics, diving, and volleyball. But I'm not that picky and usually watch anything. It's also interesting to see unusual sporting events like table tennis, hand ball, and trampoline.

I often wonder during Olympic time if agents get an influx of sports-influenced books. Personally, I don't think you'd know it by the little I've found on my library shelves. We have an Olympic display and 2/3 of the books for it came from one series. And we were being generous with including anything sports related.

You just don't find sports books that often. Or at least I don't.

So if you have a favorite sport book to recommend, please share.

I'll start, even though I haven't read hardly any sports books. The only book I remember having a sports presence is the soccer aspect of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and since I love that series that's my pick.

Your turn...

Monday, August 18, 2008

THIS + THIS = I have no idea

Tip of the Day: Next week is our A2A School Days Giveaways! Five books about school, five chances to win them!

I got a hot tip from a friend who attended the recent Los Angeles SCBWI conference: a well-known agent suggested adding a tag line to your query letter comparing your novel to something else, giving it that high-concept hook. Like “This novel is CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY meets LORD OF THE FLIES.” I had heard this from an editor at a big house at my last local SCBWI conference. I guess this is the latest litmus test of “is your novel commercial enough and high-concept enough to sell easily?”

I can sort of see the appeal. For example, I recently read The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, and I could describe that accurately as DYNASTY meets SWEET VALLEY HIGH meets Jane Austen. Who wouldn’t want to read that hybrid?

But when it comes to describing my own books like that, well, I start having lots of insecurities.

Would I be ruled out for picking the wrong book? I understand agents and editors saying not to compare your work to Twilight or Harry Potter. I suspect they get a lot of queries like: “This is just like TWILIGHT, except with horses instead of vampires. And it takes place in 1874 Colorado. And it’s not so heavy on the romance.”

The classics are off-limits too. I loved Anne of Green Gables but I wouldn’t want to read something that resembles Anne of Green Gables. But besides that, what if I pick the wrong thing? What if I compare my novel to High School Musical? Will I be the seventh query that day comparing my novel to High School Musical? Will the agent reading my query think “If I see one more query letter comparing a novel to High School Musical, I’m going to shred it with a cleaver”? But what’s the point of comparing my novel to something obscure and unpopular?

Will this expose me as not being widely read? What if I compare my novel to High School Musical but it’s really more like the well loved novel High School Danceoff. Only I didn’t read High School Danceoff. And the agent or editor who reads my query “This is HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL meets THE SHINING” thinks “Duh, that’s High School Danceoff. What makes this different than High School Danceoff?”

Because that’s what I’m challenged to do—find the exact right novel for comparison. And I haven’t read everything there is to read yet! Talk about aiming for a writer’s insecurities.

What if I really, really can’t think of anything witty? I have one novel in progress that I think of as an older, scarier Time Warp Trio. But I can’t think of anything for the novel I’m working on now. It’s sort of Disney Channel-ish, but isn’t that just saying it’s a commercial tween novel?

So I think I’ll have to skip the comparisons on this novel. But in the meantime, I’m having fun playing pretend agent and judging pretend queries. “FRIDAY THE 13TH meets LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE?” I’ll pass. "THE FLY meets GOSSIP GIRLS"? Ooooh, I'd see pages.

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, August 15, 2008

Speak Up - It's Part of an Author's Job

Tip of the Day: Have you heard of the web site It's this cool web site that tracks Amazon rankings over the course of time. If you're curious how one title compares to another, you can pull up both and see what the 7-day, 30-day, and lifetime averages are of those books. It's really cool!

In the next couple of months, I’m honored to be doing not one, but TWO presentations at some wonderful conferences right in my own backyard. I’ll be speaking with four other members of the Class of 2k8 at the Pacific NW Bookseller’s Association on group marketing. And in October I’ll be speaking with one other member from the Class of 2k8 at the Oregon/Washington School Library Conference about books for reluctant readers.

A lot of people hate the idea of public speaking. Many writers, especially, struggle with it because we aren’t the stand-up-and-be-loud types. We are the sit-there-quietly-talking-to-our-characters-inside-our-heads types.

And I mean, it is scary getting up and talking in front of people. What if you forget what you want to say? What if you’re so boring people would rather go home and watch a documentary on how broccoli grows than continue listening to you? Or what if NO ONE shows up to hear you in the first place?
Or maybe you're thinking, that wouldn't be so terrible!

Over the years, I’ve had the chance to do presentations for my day job. The first ones, early in my career, were really, REALLY bad. I learned quickly that I needed to find a good role model and watch, listen, and learn. And so I did.

Here are a few things I’ve learned:

Don’t talk too fast. And remember to BREATHE as you talk. I know, you're going, um, that's obvious Lisa. But seriously, you can get into trouble quickly if you aren’t taking breaths in as you talk, then you’re out of breath, and your voice starts shaking because you’re trying to catch your breath, and it just goes down hill from there.

Use audience participation to your advantage. If you need a minute to catch your breath, or figure out where you’re at in your presentation, ask the audience a question. Who here has... or What do you think about... Something that takes the pressure off YOU for a minute. Besides, audience participation is a good thing. It keeps things interesting!

The more you can make people laugh, the better. Now, I’m far from a stand-up comic. I wish I was! But just a few things sprinkled throughout that will make your audience laugh will make everyone feel more relaxed. If you can’t think of anything funny to SAY, look for comics or quotes or something you can pop into your slide show for a little comic relief that way.

Once a book is published, promoting is part of our job. Speaking at conferences is a great way to get your name and book title out to a lot of people. Although I have a lot of work to prepare for these presentations in the next couple of months, overall, I'm looking forward to them.

What about you? Do you like this part of being an author? Why or why not? Any tips you'd like to share?

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Writing Process

Tip of the Day: If you haven’t yet seen author Jackson Pearce’s vlog on how she imagined the writing process you MUST check it out. FUNNY STUFF.

What’s your favorite part of the writing process? Getting the idea for a book? Brainstorming? Outlining? Writing the first draft? Revising? Editing? (Did I miss anything?)

I think I’ve figured out recently that my very favorite part is sitting down and writing something new. The time when I don’t have to care about how anything sounds really and can just write. Where each time I open the document I don’t know what I’m going to write about and I can just make up whatever I want.

Lately I’ve been revising. Revising, revising, revising. I’ve been going from one book to the next in this sort or rotation and by the time I get done with the last book I’m back to revising the first one again. It’s kinda like being stuck on one of these things:

Where you’re torn between it being fun and wanting to keep going and feeling dizzy and wanting to get off.

It’s not that I dislike revising but I’m itching to get time to work on something new. I just looked at the date on the last new book I was working on and it’s 3/26/08. Almost 5 months. That’s kinda depressing. And I know I won’t be able to stop revising and get back to it until probably late fall. Which, right now, seems pretty far away.

Maybe I’m just not as patient of a person as I could be.

I would love to write something and have it be perfect the first time. But of course that never happens. Some books I’ve revised half a dozen times at least. Probably more—I don’t keep track of that too closely. What is the most you’ve guy revised a book?

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Name! That! Character! (or Hollywood Schmollywood)

Tip of the Day: When you're feeling the burn of the writing world, watch the Olympics. Those athletes didn't build those muscles overnight -- success takes time, patience, and practice!

Often, blogging authors will discuss which actors they would pick to play their characters. Many of them seem to know the *perfect* actor to play everyone in their books, and say they picture so-and-so being Just Like their character. And then they pose the question: Who would play the characters in YOUR book?

And honestly, I don't know!!!

Is that weird???

I feel like EVERYone knows who would play their MC but me!

OK, I know part of my problem is I don't retain names well at all, including the names of actors. So that makes the task a bit more difficult. But even if I were to describe the movies/TV shows the actors were in, I'd STILL be at a loss.

Because my characters are just themselves. They are not characters to be played. That'd be like asking me who would play my boyfriend or best friend in the movie adaptation of my life. Yeah, yeah, yeah, so that would bomb in the box office on opening night, but that aside, I couldn't picture ANYONE but the ppl themselves playing themselves.

Am I totally posessive of my characters? I don't know, bc if Hollywood came knocking and offered me some cash to make my book into a movie, I'd sure as hell say, "Hell yeah!" But if Hollywood asked for my input on who to play whom (as if), I'd say, "Uh, that...blond...chick?"

OK, let me take some deep breaths here and just try to think. Who would play Joanie, the MC in SOMETHING STRANGE ON STAFF ROAD? She has brown hair, brown eyes, is 13, wears saddle shoes, has a ponytail.... THAT COULD BE LIKE ANYONE!

Maybe Abigail Breslin? (And for the record, I only know her name bc I looked up LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE in imdb.) She is a good actor.
Phew. That exhausted me. I'm done. Does anyone else have this problem?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

P.S. Make sure to check back the last week of the month for A2A's School Days Giveaways!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A2A Chats with Alexa Young

Tip of the Day: As if the Olympics and Alexa Young being here today aren’t exciting enough, I have it on good authority that there might be a week of prize giveaways happening on this very blog in the not-to-distant future.

We have a special treat today here at A2A. I was fortunate enough to win a copy of Alexa Young’s debut novel Frenemies on another blog, and I knew I would love it from the book’s description alone. It involves two friends who obviously are doubting their friendship, a fashion feud, hilarious cyberzine entries from the Style Snarks, laugh-out-loud one-liners, witty chapter headings, and much more. Tweens and teens are sure to love this book! I was alittle iffy, since I tend not to like third-person books as much as first-person. But I quickly got over that, since the funny story sucked me in.

So I’m so happy Alexa agreed to our Author2Author Chat.

A2A: Where do you most of your writing? (and if you have a picture you can share, feel free to do so).

Alexa: I do pretty much all of my writing in my home office—which, as you’ll see from the stroller and chalk board and child-sized table and chairs, also doubles as my two-year-old son’s office. :o) (If only I could blame him for what a complete MESS it is. Oy!)

Emily: this is too cute! But Alexa, apparently your definition of messy is completely different than mine. I only wish my messes were this clean!

A2A: Are you a plotter or a plunger?

Alexa: Complete Type-A, control-freak, organized-to-a-fault plotter. I actually work really closely with my editor(s) to develop the story and we hammer out a pretty extensive chapter outline. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee it’s going to work, though. The first draft of FRENEMIES wound up completely sucking, even though it was totally true to the chapter outline. So we scrapped the whole thing and did a brand-new outline. Even then, I had to revise a good third of the second draft—but it wound up being SO worth it. With the second book in the series (FAKETASTIC, out January 2009!), we spent about three months developing the plot and chapter outline. The story for that one was pretty tricky, so we really wanted to get it right before I dove in and wrote it. There were still quite a few revisions, but I know there would have been a ton more if we hadn’t spent so much time plotting first.

Emily: I don’t know why, but this was really reassuring to hear such a successful author has to go through sucky first drafts just like all the rest of us. Thanks for sharing this, Alexa, and making us all feel alittle better.

A2A: What do you do when you get discouraged?

Alexa: Cry. Freak out. Curl up in a ball on my bed. Turn into a raving mad psycho-woman from hell. Make my husband’s life miserable. Then I usually call or email someone who can cheer me up—usually a fellow writer or editor who will point out that it’s time for a little perspective. My husband usually tries to help me with that too, but sometimes I just need him to be my whipping-boy. :o)

A2A: What are you working on next?

Alexa: I’m about to put the finishing touches on FAKETASTIC. It’s been less than two weeks since I handed in the last draft, but it feels like forever. I actually can’t wait to get rolling on book three! I’ve sent a bunch of title suggestions and plot ideas to my editor, but I won’t get her feedback on that until FAKETASTIC is all wrapped up.

A2A: What's your favorite thing about writing?

Alexa: It’s the best excuse I have for my completely regr

essive child-like behavior! I can play make-believe, using my imagination to create new people and worlds. Plus, I get to re-live and re-write my own experiences with more interesting details and outcomes. There are so many other great things about writing, but the being-a-kid one definitely tops the list. Does that make me pathetic?

Emily: absolutely not. You’ve come to the right place, I think all of us here like to delve into our inner-teen as well!!!


Fashion-obsessed BFFs Halley Brandon and Avalon Greene have always agreed on everything.

But after spending a summer apart, they’ve changed—physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually. As they begin eighth grade pursuing other interests, people, and modes of self-expression, personalities clash, tensions mount, and barb-slinging catfights and hilarity (punctuated by poignancy) ensue. Can this friendship be saved?


ALEXA YOUNG spent the first several years of her professional life working in the music industry—for the legendary Capitol Records and the irreverent trade rag HITS. She subsequently worked as an editor for the now-defunct teen magazine JUMP, as well as for the #1 women’s fitness magazine in the country, SHAPE. As a freelance writer, she’s contributed to a number of national consumer magazines, including Marie Claire, O: The Oprah Magazine and Family Circle. She holds a bachelor's degree in Literature/Writing from the University of California, San Diego, and lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband, son and dog. FRENEMIES is her first novel. The second book in the series, FAKETASTIC, is scheduled for a January 2009 release.

Thanks so much for stopping by Alexa and I can’t wait till Faketastic comes out (love, love, love the title!!!!)

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, August 11, 2008

Don't Give Up: Do the Math

Tip of the Day: Barnes and Noble is changing their return policy. Be sure to ask for gift receipts.

I’ve been reading The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow. Yes, a nonfiction book on math. I’ve really been reading it, although I’ve been skimming over the math big time. The concept of the book is fascinating—the idea is that more of our lives consist of random events than our brains can accept. We’re configured to see patterns in things even when they don’t exist. For example, when rats and humans are shown a random series of flashing red and green lights and are asked to predict which color will flash next, rats score better, simply by “guessing” the same color every time. Humans try to figure out what comes next, refusing to believe that they can’t.

What does this have to do with writing? A lot. To quote the book:

“There exists a vast gulf of randomness and uncertainty between the creation of a great novel—or piece of jewelry or chocolate-chip cookie—and the presence of huge stacks of that novel—or jewelry or bags of cookies—at the front of thousands of retail outlets. That’s why successful people in every field are almost universally members of a certain set—the set of people who don’t give up.”

Mlodinow tells the story of two physicists, each working on obscure theories. One poured his career into developing string theory, the other toiled away on S-matrix theory. After a decade, the first physicist made a technical breakthrough, and now string theory is universally accepted. The second physicist did not make a similar breakthough, and nobody’s ever heard of S-matrix theory. Does that mean the second physicist was less brilliant or talented than the first? Mlodinow explains this well, I think:
“The cord that tethers ability to success is both loose and elastic. It is easy to see fine qualities in successful books or to see unpublished manuscripts … or people struggling in any field as somehow lacking. … But ability does not guarantee achievement, nor is achievement proportional to ability. And so it is
important to always keep in mind the other term in the equation—the role of chance.”

Since chance and probability are mathematical, there’s only one way to deal with them: mathematically. We can’t guess the pattern in randomness by not sending query letters in December, for instance. What we can do to increase our chances of success is, well, increase our chances.

From the book: “ … since chance does play a role, one important factor in success is under our control: the number of at bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized. For even a coin weighted toward failure will sometimes land on success. Or as the IBM pioneer Thomas Watson said, ‘If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.’”

So if you’ve heard “Don’t give up” so many times it no longer has meaning to you, I recommend you read this book. The cold, hard numbers prove that it’s the number of at-bats that determines success. It’s the part of your career you have the most control over. Now get to your keyboard and increase your chances!

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, August 8, 2008

A2A: The Teen Years - Berries + Soap Operas = Lucky

Tip of the Day: Check out the Class of 2k8's blog. This week we've interviewed Printz winners and award winners and it's a great read!

Wow, you people have had some interesting jobs! And cool. And even fun! Man, I had *nothing* even close to cool or fun.

I basically had three jobs to pick from as far as jobs I had as a teen. 1) The occasional babysitting I did (I babysat a LOT as a tween). I didn’t mind the work, but boy the pay sucked. I remember this one lady across the street had four kids and only paid me $1.00/hour. Now, granted, this was, ahem, many years ago, but I can promise you that $1.00/hour for FOUR kids was not even close to fair. I guess that shows you how desperate I was for money. 2) I picked strawberries the summer of my freshman year. 3) A clerk/receptionist at an insurance agency during my junior and senior years.

The clerk/receptionist was a GREAT job because I left school at like 2:00 and worked there for 3 hours every weekday. I had my evenings and weekends free. During summer vacation, I worked full-time. The people were nice, the work was fairly interesting, and the pay was more than minimum wage!

But, I’m gonna tell you why I loved that strawberry picking job the most. Okay, at the time, I'm pretty sure I thought it sucked. It was REALLY hard work. But now, looking back, I have fond memories of my dear grandma driving me to the field every morning and coming back at lunch time to pick me up. I didn't want to work the whole day, and she didn't make me. We’d go back to her house, have lunch, and then she and I would sit and watch soap operas together. Because of me, she totally got hooked on General Hospital.

For those three to four weeks of berry picking, I made about $80.00. Uh, yeah. So I didn’t break the bank with that job. But I was trying to earn money to buy myself a purebred cocker spaniel. My grandparents ended up matching the amount I earned, so I then had enough to buy a puppy from a breeder.

My dog, Lucky, soon became the love of my life, thanks to that berry picking job.

That's why Berries + Soap Operas = Lucky! :)

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I’m Pubbed

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My Fave Teen Job

Tip of the Day: If your kid eats a Silica gel packet, don’t panic and race to the ER. Make them drink lots of water.

I’m just loving this week on A2A and reading about everyone’s jobs! It really does give lots of ideas for future books. I had a number of teen jobs (I started working at 14! Crazy me.) So it was hard to choose just one favorite. There was one job that I liked a lot—because of the people and all the fun and gossip and boys. That was my gig at the local grocery store. It has provided me with endless material for books—I even have one in mind to write one day with this setting. The work itself though? Eh—not as interesting as you may think. Don’t crush the bread or drop the eggs. Don’t push more than 10 carts in at a time unless you have help. 4011 is the key code for bananas. Thrilling stuff I tell ya.

Want to know the absolute BEST teen job ever though? I’ll give you three hints.


Plus this:

Plus this:


Pool attendant. Yup. I was a pool attendant.

What is a pool attendant you wonder? Good question. I often wondered that myself and I did the job. From what I gathered, it is a person that sorta kinda attends to a pool(s). Let me explain—when I was 15, I worked at an apartment complex that my friend’s dad was the manager at. There were two NICE pools on either side of the complex, like a block or so apart. Every day during the summer my mom would drop me off at the complex in the morning and pick me up in the evening. My job was to open both pools, look around to see if anyone left any garbage or glass anywhere, test the chlorine every once in a awhile, and on the occasion that I saw someone bring a glass bottle in the area—say, “hey, you throw that out.” That was it. The rest of the day I was to divide my time laying out, reading, and swimming at each pool until it was time to lock it up again. We’re talking about 15 solid minutes of work a day. And they paid me. Dream job right? Add to that, I was able to hang out with friends while doing it and flirt with as many boys as I wished. It was the BEST JOB EVER. (Hmmmmm. I wonder if they are still hiring?)

Alas, I only worked there one summer. For some reason I wasn’t the greatest at the job. Crazy huh? I had the laying out/swimming part nailed. But I botched up the chlorine tests a couple of times and they had to shut down the pool once. Whoops. It doesn’t matter though—I’ll always have the memories.

Did you have a dream teen job that you think tops mine? If you did, I gotta know.

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A2A: The Teen Years (or A Page About A Page)

Tip of the Day: Be extra nice to working teens. Remember when that was you serving up coffees and checking out groceries to grouchy grown-ups.

Part of me wishes I had some wacky job in high school, like my girlfriends who bussed tables at the Old Country Buffet and had to dress up like the Buffet Bee and wave to kids. Sure, it incited some screams, but now I would cherish those memories (right Nicki and Manina? Are you cherishing?)

But no, I was a Library Page. Makes me sound like I lived in a book. Maybe I pretty much did! I shelved books here:

There were pluses and minuses to working at the Parma Public Library in high school.

1) Close to home and the high school
2) Could wear jeans
3) No uniform
4) No smell of grease
5) Got to help with children's summer programs and story hours
6) Erased all my late fines
7) Worked with my mom

1) Crappy pay
2) Could get boring
3) The library was a good, innocent place for stalkers to hang out
4) The library attracted every burnout in town
5) No other teens worked with me
6) Finding food, chewed gum, used kleenex, and unwrapped condoms in the shelves
7) Worked with my mom

My novel #4 (currently shelved) had an MC who was a Page in a law library. While I liked that book and the MC's job, it wasn't as good as it could've been if she worked at a public library. There's so much great fodder! Creepy old men asking where the books on changing bodies are located, the Churchy People challenging the library's collection of "racy" (aka PG-13) movies and mentioning it in their Sunday sermons, impossible reference questions relating to the makeup of Jesus's DNA.... I mean, those could each be a novel in themselves!

I think I might try to use my high school occupation again in a book, and now I'll base in on my experiences AND what I witness happening with the teens I now supervise in my library. (Though in all honesty, the patrons require more supervision than the teen workers.)

Any other library Pages out there?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My favorite job as a teen

Tip of the day: if you find yourself having to waterproof your outfit for your job due to a teen event, try to remember the golden rule that white and water never mix. Or really any light color.

Unfortunately, I never had as glamorous a teen job as Kate did. There were slim pickings for my favorite job choice. First, there was the brief stint working in a golf club snack bar where I learned that me and food service employment didn't mix, so I skipped out on the typical fast food employment or even the grocery store clerk position most of my friends had. There was the computer lab job in college, which had the perk of allowing me to do homework on the job. But that didn't make up for the constant yelling from students and faculty blaming me for loosing their computer files when they didn't even know what floppy disk they saved it on to begin with. And then there were the two data entry summer jobs that were pretty much Boring City with a capital "B". There I also learned that me and monotonous work got along as well as Lauren and Heidi from The Hills.

So it wasn't that hard of a pick to choose the one job I actually liked in my teens: daycare worker.

Every day after high school beginning my junior year, I walked to a local daycare and helped out in the school-age room. Twenty screaming kids that exploded in energy after sitting upright in their desks at school all day. They liked to pick their noses, thought it was funny to put the class pet rat on the girls' heads, loved to throw the mulch on the playground, and took about twenty minutes to calm down before storytime or movietime. But I have to admit I loved the little girls and guys. And with being with the same group for a few years, I still often wonder what type of teenagers and in some cases now adults, these kids have become. They were a hand full, but they were incredibly intelligent, inquisitive kids. And we had so much fun during carnivals, craft times, when reading books, games, or just goofing off.

It's probably why I still work with kids in my day job now. But at the same time, it might also be why my husband and I are still undecided on if we want kids of our own.

Well that's about it. What are some of your worst teen jobs? What about the good ones?

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fave Teen Jobs at A2A

Tip of the Day: Swirling soft ice cream is really difficult. I was fired from Carvel for not being able to do it. Since then, I've made friends with 2 other people after finding out they share my disability. There's a whole subset of the community out there fired from Carvel for swirling impairment.

Welcome to A2A: The Teen Years! This week, the five of us are discussing our favorite teen jobs. Do you fondly remember those years of minimum wage slavitude? I have sort of fond memories. The pay sucked but I didn't have much responsibility, other than the responsibility to flirt with male customers and co-workers, which I took very seriously, let me tell you.

Teen jobs are great hooks for books, so let's go beyond fast food and talk about the interesting jobs. (Although for a while, being diva of the Burger King drive-thru was interesting.) My favorite job as a teen had to be *drumroll*:

Roadside flower stand girl!

This was a great job. The stand was on the highway, and it was enclosed, although it didn't contain much more than a walk-in fridge, a counter with rolls of bouquet wrap, and supplies. I started my shift loading up the fridge with the loose flower deliveries, and spent the rest of the shift making them into bouquets and selling them for $5 a pop. And talking on the phone to my friends and making up stories about the customers.

Unfortunately, this wasn't a good flirting job, because most of the customers were men looking for a way to impress another woman. Sometimes I'd get the odd customer who'd hit on me while in the middle of buying flowers for his girlfriend, but ick. It was still a great job because I was always there by myself. There wasn't room for two people to work in the tiny stand, so I was completely unsupervised. Not that any hijinks went on; I was a very responsible bouquet girl. My boss came by at the beginning of my shift to drop off the flowers and at the end of my shift to pick up the money. The only other person who worked there was my best friend Meredith. We alternated shifts. Also, it was within easy walking distance of my house so I never had to worry about transportation. And, of course, the place smelled great. It was a pretty awesome setup, but eventually I started college and had to move on to other, lousier jobs.

Now I'm not sure I could come up with a good story about a character working as a roadside bouquet girl. It seems ripe with possibility, though, so maybe someday it will find its way into a story. Now it's time to share your favorite teen jobs in the comments and inspire us! Yay character building!

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, August 1, 2008

A perfect explanation of why it takes time to get a YES

Tip of the Day: Do not carry fresh fruit around in your briefcase for more than a few hours.

I’m back in the waiting room at the moment. Oh how I have come to despise the waiting room. I try to keep myself busy by reading and writing and doing fun things with the family (which is easy this time of year). Still, the waiting room, for the most part, really stinks.

Most of you authors reading this know the room well. It doesn’t really change once you become published. Well, I suppose for big-name authors, it changes, because they are probably in and out in a matter of minutes. But for me, it’s pretty much the same as it always has been. I sit around, day in and day out, waiting and wishing for my phone to ring. I’m still waiting for a call from the 212 area code, even if it is the number of my agent rather than an editor, like it was in the earlier days.

And I imagine all kinds of crazy scenarios happening in that far away place called Please Publish Me Land. Here is one:

An editor takes my manuscript and tucks it in her briefcase to read on the subway on the way home. When she pulls it out later, she realizes she forgot about the nectarine that’s been in her briefcase for the past two weeks. “Oh great,” she says to herself. “Just what I wanted to read. A manuscript covered in moldy, sticky nectarine juice. Gawd, do I have to read this? Really? I mean, her agent told me it’s good. Still. I have a hundred more back at the office. And none of them are covered in moldy, sticky nectarine juice.” She looks around, making sure said agent doesn’t happen to be on the subway at precisely that same moment, and slips the moldy, sticky, stinky manuscript inside a newspaper sitting next to her. Weeks go by, and one day, she eats a nectarine, and remembers the manuscript. “Oh my gosh,” she says. “I need to get back to that agent. Tell her the manuscript wasn’t quite to my taste.”

Across town, on the subway, a bum discovers an old newspaper and picks it up. A manuscript falls out, and it doesn’t even phase him that it’s covered in moldy, sticky nectarine juice. Starving, he’s thankful for a couple of licks that remind him of being a kid, sitting on the front porch, eating a fresh nectarine right off the tree. Happy, he begins to read. “Dang,” he says to himself, “this is really good. I wonder why someone hasn’t published it?”

Yes, I’m quite sure there hasn’t been a "yes" yet because of all that fresh fruit editors are carrying around in their briefcases these days. Well, do you have a better explanation? Please, do share!

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I’m Pubbed