Friday, October 31, 2008

The Wimpy Author Weighs in on Scary Books

Tip of the day: Happy Halloween - be safe out there!

Okay, confession time. I am a total and complete wimp. I do not like scary. At all.

When I was younger, I watched my share of scary movies. You know the ones. Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I found when I was home alone I would be totally FREAKED OUT and somewhere along the way, I decided no more. Because it is really no fun AT ALL to be home alone and to be freaked out.

So it's actually kind-of weird that I wrote a book about a girl being haunted by a ghost. Except, you know, he's a fairly nice ghost as far as ghosts go. However, the book I'm working on now has TWO ghosts. And one of them ain't quite so nice. EEK! What the heck am I doing?

Anyway, we're supposed to be talking about books we've read, not books we're writing.

This one, CARRIE, by Stephen King, totally freaked me out when I was a teen. Come on, we have to mention it. It's a classic!

And the movie!? Did Sissy Spacek do an amazing job in that movie or what? If I was into watching scary movies on Halloween, I'd totally rent that one. But no, when I'm done handing out candy, I'll go up to my room, crawl into my comfy bed, curl up with the book I'm reading now (GIRL HERO, by Carrie Jones) and do everything possible to NOT think about anything scary. Because I'm old and tired and I need my sleep.

I recently read an ARC of a great book coming out in Spring, 2009. I wasn't sure how I'd do with it, but it was really good and even though there were a couple of scary parts, I managed to make my way through and at the end, I could honestly say I really enjoyed it. Maybe you've heard of it? THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan.

It's got zombies in it! (Although they are called the Unconsecrated in the book). And they want the humans in a really bad way. I know a lot of people are going to love this book.

Hey, maybe in a month or so we can talk about our favorite Christmas books! I'm planning on picking this one up next time I'm at the bookstore. John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle, all in one book!? Can't wait! Yeah, pretty wrapped packages and nicely decorated sugar cookies I can get into. Blood and guts? Not so much.

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Drippy Drippy BLOOD

Tip of the Day: If you have lots of mini-snickers (say 11-ish) left after trick-or-treating, you can make Candy Bar Apple Salad by making a box of vanilla pudding, stirring in a container of cool whip, and folding in 4 chopped green apples and 11 chopped mini-snickers. It’s yummy. Keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve.

I love, love, LOVE scary books and movies. I always have. One of my favorite Halloween traditions is to rent a bunch of scary movies while we carve pumpkins and make pumpkin seeds in the oven. I even tried to write a horror book once (and I’m not even going to link back to the post on that—too embarrassing) before I decided that young adult fiction was my calling. And I haven’t come across any YA horror yet. Until now that is. Guess what I got for my birthday from a super cool friend?

Yes!! My favorite YA author wrote a scary book!!!

Ok, let’s start with the feel/look of this book. Seriously, you can’t wait until it’s out in paper back. It is just too cool as a hardcover. It’s a hefty size (444 pages) and it has THE most amazing cover. The word BLISS is written in raised up letters (blood) on the front. You can run your fingers over it and feel it. So cool. And there are blood splatters on the inside too.

Now for what the book is about.

Bliss is a girl who moves to the town of Mayberry to start a new life at Crestview Academy. She’s hoping to make new friends but is hearing a voice talk about horrible, horrible things (including blood). The school has dark secrets—like the girl who threw herself out of a third-story window long ago. And Bliss’s new friend, a girl obsessed with having people worship her, puts Bliss in the path of danger. As the cover says, “it’s a spine-tingling, unforgettable story of friendship gone very, very wrong.”

Ok, who doesn’t want to read that?!

So new Halloween tradition—every Halloween from here on out I’ll take the kids trick-or-treating, put them in bed, and then it’s a scary YA book for me!

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Devil's Footsteps (or Books That Make Me Draw the Blinds)

Tip of the Day: Read and analyze some short horror stories for a primer in how to create creepy atmosphere in 20 pages or less. I recommend Stephen King's "The Man in the Black Suit". I was afraid to look out my window after reading that one.

Happy Halloween Week, Blog Readers! I love Halloween. Costumes are fun, candy is cheap, pumpkins are great to hack into with a sharp knife, and scary is in.

The scariest YA novel I think I've ever read is this one:

Kids are disappearing in the woods. Adults don't hear the Dark Man coming for the children, but teen Bryan knows that's who took his little brother. And the Devil's Footsteps sing-song rhyme is not just a twisted poem.

I'm not sure what makes a book scare me like this one did, but if I think of the movies and short stories that creep me out, what I can pinpoint is this: When the MC's own fear of the situation is extremely well written, then I take on his/her fear and am definitely scared by the writing. The "danger" could be anything mild or murderous, but I won't be scared unless I truly believe the fear of the MC.

Another thing that scares me is when the "danger" is not clear and the MC's not sure what exactly he/she is afraid of. Then my imagination takes over and comes up with the creepiest things possible.

Good stuff! I love being scared! Usually.

What types of scary stories scare you the most?

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tales from Books that Scare

Tip of the Day: make sure to take a break from all the scary books to enjoy some scary movies for Halloween. And if you don't know what to watch, try some of my favorites ones from High School: Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Watching scary movies from high school always reminds me of the first time I saw the movie and I instantly get in the YA mood.

I have to agree with Kate. In that, one person's scary book is another's "meh, I wasn't scared." When thinking about scary books to post for this week, several crossed my mind: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (real life murderers, what's more scary than that?), Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (because looking at how our society could kill itself off is super scary), and Life As We Knew It (because reading it was scary for me during a blackout).

But those aren't as even remotely scary to me as the topic of the book I chose.


And not the friendly white variety.

I've been scared by ghost stories for as long as I can remember. Nothing scares me more than the unknown. And walking around, living your life, unsure if a ghost is watching you, is pretty freakin' scary.

In high school one of my teachers took a day where people shared real life ghost stories, and I almost had to leave the classroom. Tales of people awaking at night to find a shadow at the foot of the bed, being held down by some force not letting them get up, or hearing rocking noises from the attic and then finding an old woman in the chair.

Seriously, if that happened to you, how would you defend yourself? Especially if it was holding you down? Would you throw something at it? Or kick it? Only to have your foot move through air, not making contact.

Most of the people didn't believe many of the stories. But I didn't even want to think about the stories in my own home town long enough to debate whether they were true or not. That's how much thinking about ghosts scares me.

Which is why I don't watch ghost movies and why I refuse to watch Sylvia Browne when she's on Montel.

And it's why initially I didn't want to read The Mediator series by Meg Cabot. Despite the fact some blog readers might remember Meg is one of my favorite authors.

For those of you that have read The Mediator series or those who know Meg's work you might be saying: "it's Meg Cabot she does fun and funny, that's not remotely scary?"

True. But it happens to be the only ghost book I've ever read (after months of deliberating whether to read it or not). So it's the only one I can recommend in this blog.

But I'm glad I gave in, because I have to tell you The Mediator is one of my favorite Cabot series. The book series (starting with Shadowland) centers around Suze, whose a mediator that helps ghosts cross over to the "other world." When Suze moves to California, she encounters several ghosts that need saving, including one that accupies her bedroom: Jesse.

Jesse almost made me give up my fear of ghosts, because he's one of my favorite book characters of all time.

However, the Mediator still remains the only ghost books I've ever read. But I am looking forward to finding more ghost stories in the future that are funny enough to make me read them and forget about the fact ghosts are between the pages.

Any suggestions?

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, October 27, 2008

Books That Scare Me

Tip of the Day: If you're interested in writing something scary, I recommend the book How to Write Horror Fiction by William F. Nolan (Writer’s Digest Genre Writing Series).

Happy Halloween! This week at A2A we’re all about scary, spooky, creepy books. Of course, one person’s horror book is another person’s “meh, I wasn’t scared” book. Let me tell you about the book I’m too scared to read … {drumroll} …

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer. That’s right, I actually can’t read this book. I checked it out of the library once and it sat on my bedside table, taunting me, until I returned it unread. To give you some background, the novel takes place in New York City after an asteroid has smashed the moon into a new orbit much closer to Earth. This causes catastrophic disasters: tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanoes and volcano ash winter, which blocks sunlight leading to massive crop failures. And that means no food. No food source in New York City. What are people going to eat? Well, I’ve seen that Charlton Heston movie, thank you.

Soylent Green is people!!

I love scary stories and I’ve read everything by Stephen King, but at cannibalism, even just potential cannibalism, I draw the line. I can’t even listen to documentaries on the Donner Party without having nightmares for a week. I blame it on watching The Hills Have Eyes when I was in grade school, sleeping over a friend’s house. We were camped in the den and she fell asleep with the TV on. And now I am traumatized for life. Or maybe I was eaten in a past life. If so, I don’t want to know about it.

So I don’t think I can read The Dead and the Gone, unless an edition comes out with a big label on the cover that states Nobody in this Story Contemplates Eating Anything They Shouldn’t to Stay Alive. Because that’s what I find scary. Giant spiders? Bring ‘em on. Characters stuck in a situation where they need to eat the spiders? I’d be staring into my refrigerator for an hour taking inventory to calm myself down.

However, I hear it’s a great book. Feel free to warn me about other books I might not be able to handle. I’m scared of Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, too. But I loved Soylent Green, probably because Charlton Heston was so appropriately outraged.

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, October 24, 2008

I've Been Around the Block (or at least Around the Internet)

Tip of the day: Do not buy Halloween candy until it's HALLOWEEN. It's cheap because they know you'll eat it and come back for more.

There are so many places for an author to be on-line these days, it can be overwhelming trying to prioritize and figure out how to make the most out of all the various sites. Today I thought I'd break it down for you and give you my opinion of what's worth your time and what isn't.

There's facebook, myspace, twitter, goodreads, livejournal/blogger, amazon, youtube, and probably many more I don't even know about. Here's a quick and dirty rundown of the ones I have experience with and what I think of each one.

Facebook - This is really designed to be more about connecting with people you actually KNOW than connecting with people in a promotional way. I know some authors or fans of authors have set up groups, like FANS OF SARAH DESSEN or FANS OF THE XYZ book. I think that works when you're a really well known author, but I'm not sure it works for authors like me still trying to get my name out there. Mostly I use Facebook to play Wordtwist with friends. 'Nuff said.

Myspace - I think some people feel like myspace is on its way out but let me tell you, there are still a lot of teens who are active over there. I have found it to be a great way to connect with my readers. It doesn't take a lot to maintain a page. Once you get it set up, it's simply a matter of logging in every few days, accepting/denying friend requests, approving messages, etc. Once a week I go and wish people happy birthday, because it's a good way to get my name and book in front of them on their page. If you're really going to get the most out of myspace, you have to put some work into friending people. I will go to other author's pages who have books similar to mine and send out friend requests to teens and in my message say something like - "Hi from one book lover to another." Now that I have a large group of "friends" I can send bulletins that go to everyone I'm friends with - news about an upcoming book, contests, whatever.

Twitter - So far, I don't twitter. Twitter is a "micro-blogging" site. It allows you to tell people who follow you what you're doing (called tweets) in 140 characters or less. Since I don't do it, I can't say if it's effective for authors or not. If you're an author and Twittering and think it's a good thing to do for you and your book, please, in the comments, let me know why! I'd love to hear about it.

Goodreads - Goodreads is a site that allows you to keep track of what books you've read, want to read, and are reading now. You set up a profile page and you can connect with other readers, which you call "friends." Authors also have pages so readers can look you up if they want to and learn more about you. I really like goodreads. It's easy to friend people, you can comment on reviews people leave for books, including your own if you're comfortable with that, and you can send a message to all your friends. I haven't sent any messages yet, but I plan to when it gets closer to December 23rd, the NEW release date of FAR FROM YOU (do you like how I slipped that in). Sometimes weird people do friend you (like someone who has 1,239 friends and has only read 1 book) but you can easily block people, so it's not a big deal. As an author, you have to be okay with reading reviews that will be less than favorable, and resist the urge to comment on those kind of reviews.

Livejournal/Blogger - There are already a million blogs, why should you have one too? When you're a brand new author, I'm not sure you should unless you make a conscious effort to read and comment on other people's blogs. Okay, unless you're an agent like Nathan Bransford or Kristin Nelson or a big name author like Meg Cabot. Blogging is all about networking. Every time you go and visit a blog and converse with the blogger about the content, it's like you're leaving a little business card behind, because they can then click on your name and go and read YOUR blog and find out about you. But please, don't make your comments about YOU and YOUR book. That's icky. Network on blogs with other people you want to get to know and you have an interest in - not simply because you want them to read your book.

Amazon - I have yet to use Amazon's blogging feature, but next week I'm going to try and figure it out and do one for the first time. I do read what authors put there when I'm clicking around looking at books, so I think it can be an effective tool.

Youtube - Okay, so you're not John Green and you don't want to be. That's fine. It's worked well for him, but it's certainly not going to be something that will work for all of us. However, I do think it's worthwhile to have SOME content about your book up there, whether it's a book trailer or you reading from your book or whatever. Over 1,000 people have viewed my book trailer and over 700 people have viewed the video I posted on the release date of I HEART YOU where I read a little bit from the book. People have even left comments there, and it's been fun for me to see those and respond. If you're not comfortable with doing anything here, no worries, but if you ARE, I think it can be worthwhile.

What do you think? Anything you want to add? Would love to hear your thoughts!

~Lisa, Miss Pinch Me I'm Pubbed

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Just What EVERY Writer Needs on the Wall

Tip of the Day: If you’ve been trying forever to get in the Oprah audience, check here periodically to see posts for last-minute reservations. Guess who’s going tomorrow? :-)

Prepare to reach for your glue gun-- it’s Arts & Crafts day here at A2A.

Ever have one of those days where you just felt craptacular about your writing? You just received a rejection, you’re majorly stuck on a revision that is coming up on overdue, or you read a review that compared you to cow poop? Well then you NEED this craft.

I’m calling it-- I AM a Rockin’ Writer

Here’s what you need to do:

1) Purchase a really cute happy piece of paper from your local craft store.

2) Find a nice picture of yourself (go ahead and photoshop out any blemishes—we need you at your best here).

3) Go through old notes and e-mails and gather all the nice things other authors, agents, and editors etc. have said about you and your writing.

4) Pick out the BEST things people have said and then format them into the kind of blurbs you see on a book cover.

5) Glue all this stuff onto a piece of paper.

6) Hang on your office wall.

And wah la!

Next time you’re feeling like you suck as a writer, look at your creation and say “Ah….yes. I AM a Rockin’ Writer.

Kristina, Miss Soon-to-Pub

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Readers Wait (or Sittin' in the Waiting Room*)

*With apologies to Fugazi

Tip of the Day: Step away from the bags of Halloween candy. Step away!

All writers seeking publication are familiar with waiting. Once you are Recently Repped, it doesn't get any easier -- especially when you know you're waiting for EDITORS to get back to your agent about your book. (Can you tell I'm feeling this just a little bit right now? ;))

But guess who else waits? Readers! And those are the best kind of waiters for us writers! How many of you take a book in your bag when you head off to the doctor's office, knowing you'll be a the mercy of the old selection of magazines otherwise? When the appointments get backed up before you, aren't you almost glad when you're immersed in a good novel?

I also take to spying on what other waiters are reading -- it's excellent market research! Personally, I tend to bring whatever book in my TBR pile is a paperback. Better yet if there's a mass market size book in there. Perfect travel size! What books do you see others reading while waiting?

Here's a challenge for all you published writers out there: Bring copies of your book with you everywhere and casually drop them in waiting rooms. Do those waiting for their oil change/dentist appointment/doctor visit/DMV attendant pick it up? Or are they too engrossed in the book they brought with them? Or do they go for the magazines on the coffee table?

How bored will someone have to be to pick up my first published novel off the waiting room table? :)

Waiting's not ALL bad....

Deena, Miss Recently Repped

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

High School—10 years later

Tip of the Day: If you need high school character ideas, pick up your yearbook and flip through the pages.

This weekend I traveled south to attend my 10-year High School reunion, and from what I observed, not much about High School changes in 10 years:

  • Walking into the reunion room is just as scary as the first day of school. And just like the first day, you quickly learn it isn’t as bad as you anticipated.
  • Everyone ate at the similar table—with their same friends—as they did in the lunchroom in high school, except now the food was slightly nicer.
  • Cliques still exist. Despite the fact you really, really want to know what everyone’s been up to over the past 10-years, a part of you is too chicken to ask or mingle.
  • Everyone looks pretty much the same, except with newer hairstyles and clothes.
  • We still care about our appearance too much. Wondering if we look fatter in this outfit or that one, and in case of the pregnant woman in the room: “I hope this outfit makes me look pregnant and not just fat.”
  • The most popular question is “what do you do” or “do you have kids,” instead of “what do you want to be when you grow up” or “are you dating anyone”

Despite the fact so much changes when we are adults, much remains the same.

I think this is why so many of us write for high school. Instead of firsts, you have tons of seconds and thirds. But it’s easy to slip back into the memories of one of the most awkward, fun, and interesting times of our lives. And you never loose many of the thoughts and feelings you experienced when you were a teen.

--Emily, Miss Awaiting an Agent

Monday, October 20, 2008

Good vs. Evil, YA Style

Tip of the Day: When you teach a kindergartener how to crack an egg into a bowl, you might want to tell him not to finish the job by tossing the shells on top of the yolk in triumph at his accomplishment.

So I’m reading like a million YA novels for the Cybils awards panel ( (You can check out my previous post on this at One thing I’m learning about all this reading is what separates a YA book from an adult or middle grade novel. Part of it is identity. In YA, the main characters are struggling to figure out who they are. But I’m also seeing a common thread in how YA books deal with moral dilemmas.

In middle grade novels, good and evil can be labeled. We know what side we want to be on. We don’t want to be Death Eaters. We want to be in the Order of Phoenix. The main characters have moral dilemmas where they struggle to keep on the side of good, but we’re usually pretty clear on what the side of good is. In YA novels, trying to figure out who the good guys are can be a large theme. Take some of the books I’ve read this week:

4In The Patron Saint of Butterflies by Cecilia Galante, the main characters struggle with their oppressive Christian commune’s rules and mores. Can you be a good Christian while breaking a few rules? What if you’re not sure if the rules are part of your religion or part of your commune’s cult? How do you separate them?
4In Child of Dandelions by Shenaaz Nanji, Idi Amin’s brutal regime in Uganda expels Indians from the country in the cruelest possible way. But the main character watches Ugandan Africans, unaware of Amin’s worst actions, suffering from exploitation and prejudice from an Indian economic upper class. Should the working class support the dictator?
4In Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne, the main character knows a boy later accused of murder. She’s sure that he’s guilty, but does that justify his execution? If it doesn’t, should she answer his letters? Speak to him? If he deserves to live, does that mean he deserves to be treated as we’ve been taught to treat other human beings?

I didn’t want to give away any of the plots of these great books so you can enjoy them spoiler-free, but hopefully you can see how I’m enjoying these explorations of the gray areas. I can be glad that the main characters’ moral dilemmas aren’t mine, but as I read, I find myself struggling to make the right decision alongside the characters. And that’s powerful.

If you’re writing a YA novel, how do good and evil play out in your novel? Do your readers get a chance to think about it and make decisions, or is the decision made for them?

-- Kate, Miss Apprentice Writer

Friday, October 17, 2008

A2A Chat: Interview with Heather Duffy Stone

Tip of the Day: Our guest today blogs here.

Happy Teen Read week! It's been a fun week here at Author2Author, meeting five new authors who will have books coming out the first part of 2009. It looks like it's shaping up to be a fantastic year for young adult fiction!

Today we get to meet Heather Duffy Stone, author of THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO TELL YOU, March 1, 2009, Flux.

The book begins with these lines: "The stories people tell are always about the things we left behind, and the things we wish we could do again. The real story isn't about what you know; it's about what you wish you knew then..."

A2A: Can you tell us how you got the idea for this book? How long did it take you to go from idea to completed manuscript?

Heather: In the spring of 2001 I moved to Los Angeles. I’d been out of school for about two years and I’d been working in publishing, first for a teen magazine and then for a literary agent , in NYC. I was struggling with trying to be a writer and trying to pay my bills. So I quit publishing and packed up my stuff and moved to L.A., where, I was somehow convinced, I could be a writer… this is another story. But I moved to L.A. and I started waiting tables and writing vigorously. I wrote this story about a woman named Lace. She was a single mother who had six year old twins. The twins were a product of her one great love affair with an Italian boy she’d met at her family’s lake camp when she was 18. He disappeared but she could never get over him. When this story began she had a third child, a baby named Bella, and a boyfriend named Toby, who was very salt-of-the-earth, very caring, very good to her and her family. But she was in love with this man who’d become a ghost… and so. I finished the story and then I got an amazing job developing creative writing programs for high schools and my life sort of changed. I started to focus on different things. On teaching. And suddenly I was writing very little. 

Fast forward six years and I moved to Italy to teach in an international school. I worked with this incredible group of students. I was such a bad teacher—it was my first year as an English teacher, I only knew how to teach Creative Writing then and I was such a pushover—but I adored them and they taught me so much. I was struck by how hard it was to find books for them. Books that asked them to look at narrative style and movements in literature and also spoke directly to their lives. And in all of this I stumbled across this story I’d written about a mother and her Italian lover. Suddenly, the twins grew up. They were sixteen and the story was about them. 

I fell into their story. I started writing for my students, and then for the twins, and then the story just took off. I wrote notes about them. I knew this was the story it was supposed to be. And then about a year later I wrote an essay about this very personal experience, this sort of re-acquaintance with someone I used to know. And in reading over that essay, I realized I hadn’t told the truth exactly, but I’d made up a character. And he belonged in the story. Once all of these things came together (and I’d just moved back to New York) I enrolled in a writing workshop. And I wrote the whole thing in about four months. It became THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO TELL YOU.

[Lisa:  So we should never throw away those stories that never go anywhere, right? Who knows where they might lead us in the future!]

A2A: What was your publishing journey like - a pretty straight road or did you have lots of detours?

Heather: Publishing this book has been so surreal. I finished the manuscript (sort of. It definitely had holes) over Christmas vacation last year. And I was sitting in my apartment on New Years Day and I said, I turn 31 this year. And I was supposed to publish a novel by 30. I have to do this. So literally on New Years Day, I sent my manuscript out to two editors. One of them was Andrew Karre at Flux, who I’d been hearing a lot about. Andrew wrote back within a week and asked to see the manuscript. I was so floored. When we spoke, I was so blown away. He GOT my book. A big thing for me was that I don’t use quotation marks in dialogue in this project. This is really important to me. I wanted the line between thinking and speaking to be very intentionally blurred. I knew this was going to be a hard sell. But Andrew knew too. He said, this is going to make some people nervous, but I see why it needs to be. He sent me an offer letter within a month. When I got it, I think I stopped breathing. And then I turned off my computer and went into the kitchen and started to make dinner. I think it was a few hours before I told anyone. I was in total shock… at this point I got an agent and my agent, Jenoyne Adams, has been so wonderfully supportive through this whole process and she so gets my work. We had all of these connections—people we knew and writers we’d studied under. It was just very fortuitous. That part was kind of backwards I guess, because the agent came after the offer. But it has all worked out… 

[Lisa: I've heard great things about Andrew Karre. I know a lot of people who are sad about him leaving Flux.]

A2A: I was reading your blog and see that you work in a high school as a counselor and an English teacher. As a fellow YA author I have to say, wow, how cool! It seems teens have so much going on these days, I'm amazed they can find any time to pick up a book just for fun. But they are! What do you think makes a teen pick up a book - the cover, a friend's recommendation, a librarian's recommendation, etc? Any interesting observations you've made about teens and reading you'd like to share?

Heather: You know it’s funny. I was working at a high school last year and my students were a little bit older than I think my reading audience will be. They had a lot of demands on them. Many of them worked and went to school and helped support family members. They had so much going on. They are really incredible, inspiring kids. One of them, a poet, was one of the first people to whom I showed my cover. I was so nervous about it. But I was like, I have to see what kind of reaction it gets. And he was really honest. He talked about it for a while, why it would jump out, what story he thought was behind it (he even sent me an email later with another idea for the cover, an image he really thought would work). I was so impressed. He was very analytical about the whole thing—the story, the cover, the marketing. He thought about this book and what makes a story appealing and what makes a book sell, he thought about all of this in a way that was so sharp and so critical (and I mean that in a very positive way) I finally asked him:
“Do you go into bookstores? Would you ever go pick up a novel and buy it?”
“Nah,” he said. “I never buy books.”
This experience was so telling for me. Because the audience I think I wrote this book for, is the one who wouldn’t necessarily pick up a novel. Those who don’t have time, or don’t think it will be relevant to them. Yet they are such great critics. Such great readers. It poses an interesting dilemma though.
I’m afraid I might not have answered your question at all…

[Lisa: Yeah, kids are so busy these days, I do wonder how they find time to read for pleasure at all! But the way the YA section at the bookstores is growing, they must be doing it somehow!] 

A2A: Is there anything you're especially nervous about as you move from the status of unpublished to published author?

Heather: Well, I guess my biggest fear is that no one will read my book. I mean, it’s kind of a quiet little book in a world where there are a lot of BIG books and BIG stories and mostly, I just want it to reach readers. I’m also really proud of this story, I’m really close to it. And I suppose there is always the fear that I won’t ever feel as close to another project.

[Lisa: Those were my biggest fears, too!]

A2A: What YA books have you read lately? What's in your TBR pile now?

Heather: Oh this is embarrassing. Because once I start teaching I am only reading what I’m teaching. Right now I’m re-reading Frederick Douglass’s Narrative because I start teaching it next month… but let’s see. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist is one of my favorites. I’m very scared about the movie because that story is SO narrative-driven. I just love their voices. But I’m excited too. Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my all-time favorite. In my pile right now… mostly I can’t WAIT to read the ARCs of all of my fellow Debs ( especially Neesha Meminger’s Shine, Coconut Moon and Cheryl Renee Herbsman’s Breathing. But really, all of them…

[Lisa: Yeah, you're so lucky to get to read all those ARCs - I'm envious. :) ]

Thanks for chatting with us, Heather, and good luck with your book! I look forward to reading it!!