readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thank you, Maureen Johnson!

Here's a big merci to the awesome Maureen Johnson for joining us at readergirlz this month!

We loved hearing more about the Martin family's antics and schemes in the Scarlett series.

Some highlights:

The Live Twitter Chat!

Maureen wonders if she got "siblings" right... you did!

Maureen on the "boy lit crisis."

We've so loved hosting you this month. Thank you, MJ!

September: Roundup of Discussions

Did you miss any chit chat with Maureen and rgz this month? Check out these links if so!

Story Secrets: FREEFALL by Mindi Scott + Giveaway!

It is my pleasure to get to introduce you to Mindi Scott, fellow 2010 debut author of FREEFALL, which comes out in just a few days! In the meantime, Mindi has generously promised a copy of FREEFALL to one lucky reader (see below for details).

I'd heard about Mindi and was so excited to find out she's a hometown Seattle girl! We met at the SCBWI Western Washington Conference last spring - in fact, you can meet Mindi in my TMAS author secrets video:

Welcome, Mindi!


FREEFALL is the tale of sixteen-year-old boy, Seth McCoy, who was the last person to see his best friend alive and the first to find him dead. The story begins about two months after that event when some of the numbness is starting to wear off and Seth has to decide how to move forward with his life.

Holly Cupala: so what is the story behind the story?

Mindi Scott: My husband has been in various bands since he was in high school, so a lot of the dynamics and band details are from my observations being around musicians all the time.

Also, I have certainly experienced loss, grief, and pain. None of the character backstories in Freefall match my life, but I found it very easy to relate to some of them...

Click here to learn more about Mindi's secrets and to enter to win FREEFALL!

~Holly Cupala

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Books Week: i heart daily

Does everyone know our beloved i heart daily? Diva Melissa Walker and Anne Ichikawa send fabulous daily newsletters about heartable things in style and entertainment, as well as beauty and news. Check the website out if you haven't.

Today they posted about Banned Books Week. They call for you to "put on our civil liberties hat" and pick up a banned book.

"Here are the The Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009 from the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). The list includes some books about a vampire, a wereworld and some girl. Maybe you've read them."

Thanks, Anne and Melissa! We heart you and banned books daily!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Help build the rgz playlist: Mika, Big Girl

Is this not the cutest video from Mika? Which reminds me, that I'm looking for the ultimate songs to represent rgz. Can you give me suggestions in the comments? This will be for our everlasting rgz playlist. Well, at least one that represents for awhile. :~) So what do you suggest? Sing it out! (It has to be supported at playlist.com, btw. Thanks!)

And let's hear it for the Big Girls! Woot!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Cover Stories: Losing Faith by Denise Jaden

losing faith.jpg
Last week on The Contemps, there was a spotlight on Denise Jaden's new novel, Losing Faith. Her cover is pretty unique, in that it doesn't have a model or one single iconic image on it.

Here she is to tell us how it came about:

"I had a few ideas in mind for my cover after it had sold. I didn't really think about the artwork until then. Usually what I envisioned included a cliff of some kind and a girl with arms outstretched, but I admit, I'm not much of a visionary in this area.

"My editor let me know a few days before they would have a finalized cover design for Losing Faith. To be honest, I expected there would be more of a conversation about their plans or my expectations, but that's not how it went in my case.

"I was so incredibly impatient waiting to see my cover art for the first time. As soon as I knew it was coming, I didn't leave my computer all day! Then, would you believe, when the email did come, for some reason the attachment didn't come through. My agent wrote me immediately, wanting to know what I thought of the cover, and my reply was something like, 'What I think is that I want to see the flippin' thing. RIGHT NOW!' She emailed another copy off to me, and when it arrived, it was a very small jpg copy of the art, and because it was white, on the white background of my screen, it really was not very impressive at first. In fact, it kind of just looked like a smudge on my screen..."

Read the rest of Denise's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Monday, September 27, 2010

September: Lola's choice

Maureen says, "Lola makes a very big decision at the end of Scarlett Fever. Do you think this was a good or bad move?"

(Avoid the comments in case of spoilers if you haven't read it yet!)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cover Stories: The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan

When I saw the cover for L.K. Madigan's October release, The Mermaid's Mirror, I had to find out how such a windswept, atmospheric image came about.

Here's L.K. to tell the tale:

"Sadly, I have no eye for design. I can envision scene after scene in my mind as I write them ... but I can't
come up with an iconic image to represent the book.

"Since the book is about a girl surfer who finds a mermaid, I thought the cover might show ... um, a girl surfer... or a mermaid.


"Which is why I'm a writer, not a designer. The first cover design my publisher sent me was very pretty (right). I loved the girl's hair, and the water droplets effect, but the blue graphic
didn't really convey anything about the story. Only the word 'mermaid' in the title hinted that it might be a fantasy. My agent and I talked about it, and decided to ask the art director to consider incorporating the ocean into the design..."

Read the rest of L.K.'s Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Acting for Young Actors by Mary Lou Belli and Dinah Lenney
Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate by Lesley M.M. Blume, illustrated by David Foote
Yes You Can: Your Guide to Becoming an Activist by Jane Drake and Ann Love
Jacob's Ladder by F. Scott Fitzgerald
You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz

This Month's Spotlighted Titles
Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

Friday, September 24, 2010

September: Dogs who tinkle

Maureen says, "How do you stop a little dog from getting the tinkles?" (Totally relevant to Suite Scarlett, in case you haven't read it... Ha!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Story Secrets: THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE by Liz Gallagher + giveaway!

Liz Gallagher - author, readergirlz diva, Through the Tollbooth blogger, VCFA grad and all around awesome friend is here to chat with us about her debut book, THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE and the companion novel, MY NOT-SO-STILL LIFE (coming in May 2011!).

Thanks, Liz, for stopping by to tell us your secrets!


THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE is about Alice, a Seattle girl learning the difference between a crush and love and love and best-friendship as she’s caught between her always-been-there boy best friend and a crush who starts noticing her. It’s also about art and confidence, and it’s set at Halloween because I love that time of year.

MY NOT-SO-STILL LIFE is a companion to OPPOSITE. It tells the story, set a few months later, of another Seattle girl’s struggle to keep from growing up too fast as she’s caught between her innocent old friends and a group of not-so-innocent older coworkers at an art shop. The girl in the companion is Vanessa, Alice's rival in OPPOSITE.

Holly Cupala: I love the Seattle in OPPOSITE, almost a character in itself. What was your inspiration?

Liz Gallagher: OPPOSITE was inspired by the fall and the Seattle neighborhood of Fremont, where it’s set. I was walking through Fremont one near-Halloween day, and I got the idea of a character trying on a witch dress at this junk shop. My original first line was, “It all started with this dress.”

The second book has a more unusual origin story: I never planned to do it! My agent and editor both thought it would be cool to explore one of the more minor characters in OPPOSITE, and Vanessa was my natural choice...

Learn more about Liz's secrets and enter to win THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE here...

~Holly Cupala

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September: Maureen Speaks Out

Over at her blog, Maureen Johnson gives her thoughts regarding the current "boys' crisis" in YA lit. Here's an excerpt, but check out the entire entry. Spot on, Maureen!

"I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be working harder to improve boys’ literacy. Quite the opposite. I’m suggesting that in doing so, consider the many female authors and readers of today, and think about how we grew up—and frankly, how female readers are still growing up. You can’t turn a blind eye to the basic reality that 50% (or more) of the school population is still getting a steady diet of male authors, even though an astounding variety of women are writing books of extraordinary quality. And it is certainly not the case that we are running out of male authors. That concept is demeaning to everyone."
LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

rgz LIVE twitter chat with Maureen Johnson tonight!

Join readergirlz and me for a Twitter chat tonight with Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever author Mareen Johnson!
***sounds of cheering***
It all starts at 6pm PST/9pm EST - search for the #rgz discussion and follow @readergirlz and @maureenjohnson.

Don't have a Twitter account? It's fast and easy to set one up!

At http://twitter.com/, just click on the yellow "Give it a try" button to get started. All you will need is your name, a unique user name, and an email address. Add a password, and you're now on Twitter!

Search for readergirlz to begin following us and our tweets.

If you want others to see your posts ("tweets") during the chat, make sure the "Protect my tweets" box is not checked on the Accounts tab. If you want to get fancy, you can add a picture and customize your page in the Design tab.

Protect your privacy! No one can see your email address on twitter, but it's a good idea to choose a user name that doesn't give away your real name or location (especially if you are not an adult).

To join the Maureen Johnson chat:

Click on the "Home" page and enter #rgz in the Search box. Our chat will come up, and you can jump right in! Be sure to include #rgz in your chat posts so that everyone else can see them and respond.

We'll see you there tonight!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cover Stories: The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller

eternal ones cover.jpg
I love a bright red cover. Sleek and striking, Kirsten Miller's new release, The Eternal Ones, caught my eye instantly. Here she is to tell the tale:

"I had an idea for the cover: I thought of two hands reaching for each other across the cover. The female hand was flesh and blood, while the masculine hand appeared ghostly--almost translucent. It was a rather literal nod to the plot. (The book is about reincarnation.) But I also knew going into the process that there are people who are MUCH better at this sort of thing than I am, so I wasn't going to ram my idea down anyone's gullet.

"I know I discussed the design a great deal with my editor, but I'm not sure if mentioned 'my cover' or not. He had some pretty cool ideas of his own that I thought would be interesting to pursue.

"The cover went through at least five phases which bore no resemblance to each other. There was the action cover, the bodice-ripping cover (which graced the original ARC), the spiritual cover, the lost in space cover, and the final cover....

Read the rest of this Cover Story (and see the ARC cover) at melissacwalker.com.

PS-Kirsten also has a spectacular blog where you can submit a photo and have a past life revealed. She did one for me and I swoon whenever I read it. Gorgeous.

Party It Up: Suite Scarlett & Scarlett Fever

Planning your own book group get-together for the Scarlett books? Here are some party ideas from author Maureen Johnson

Invite: 1930s, stylish, Art Deco

Food: Cake. There must be cake. Also, doughnuts. And weird herbal teas.

Décor: Art Deco or Theater Shabby. Your choice.
Movies: Anything set in New York. (Except Cloverfield, maybe.)

Game: Unicycle riding.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Guest Blog: Lisa Shanahan

One of the books we postergirlz recommended this month is Lisa Shanahan's wonderful novel My Big Birkett, which was published in the USA as The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It. (Make sure you look it up both ways when you visit your local bookstore or library!) Lisa recently shared the backstory of this book with us here at readergirlz:

I first began writing my novel The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It during a heartbreakingly difficult time in my own family. In the late nineties, my older sister gave birth to triplets, only to be diagnosed days later with cancer. Months after that, my dad was also diagnosed with cancer too. Then followed this extraordinary year, where we had the intense pleasure of watching the triplets who were so little, grow fatter and funnier and more content - saying first words, eating their first solids, taking their first steps, embracing life - but also the agony of watching my dad and sister get sicker and sicker. One of the hardest things about that time was coping with the extreme, sudden swings between joy and sadness, nearly every single day.

Although none of these actual events appear in my novel, in some strange way, the emotional texture of that time - the tenderness, the fear, the confusion and even the happiness got woven into a story about a girl called Gemma Stone, who is in the middle of one of the most difficult years of her life too. She is the one trying to find the courage to say the big 'I do' to everything this life offers; her wacky, eccentric family, the charismatic Raven De Head, her sister's bizarre fiancé, bridesmaids and in-laws, school, drama, Nick Lloyd - the whole bittersweet glory of loving people up close.

I hoped to write Gemma's story in a way that would make a reader both laugh and cry, sometimes almost in the same breath because this was something I experienced in my own family. Emma Quay, an Australian illustrator that I often work with, once said to me about my books, "You have a whole gallery of flawed, imperfect families." To which I could only laugh and agree because this is the place from which I write.

- Lisa Shanahan

September: The quest for fame

Maureen says, "Chelsea has been chasing fame all her life. Why do you think people want to be famous? Why do you think Chelsea's brother Max rejects the quest for fame?"

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cover Stories: ReVamped by Lucienne Diver

Lucienne Diver is here to share the story behind the second gorgeous cover in her Vamped series (remember the tale behind Vamped?). Here she is:

"Flux did such a fantastic job with the cover for my first novel, Vamped, that I wasn't at all worried about what they'd do with ReVamped. When my editor wrote to say they'd come up with the concept of my heroine,Gina, filing her nails to sharp points, I think the only comment I had was to suggest the color of polish. I was sure I couldn't love any cover as much as the first (below right), but apparently, I'm fallible. Who knew?

"The first time I saw the ReVamped cover the nail file didn't yet look like a nail file. It was just a preliminary, so I didn't actually love it right away..."

Read the rest of Lucienne's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
The Secret Backs of Things by Christopher Golden
Zombies vs. Unicorns anthology (short stories from a dozen authors, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier)
My Tiki Girl by Jennifer McMahon
The Mosts by Melissa Senate

This Month's Spotlighted Title
Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

Friday, September 17, 2010

September: Good Guy or Bad Boy?

Maureen asks, "Eric or Max?"

In other words: Sunny, funny, outgoing boy OR dark, brooding boy with biting wit?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

rgz Newsflash: Alice in Wonderland App

Did you all see this? So cool!

We've talked much about a rgz app. What do YOU think it would look like?

My website

Guest Blog: Buzzy Jackson

Have you checked out our postergirlz recommended reads for September? Our non-fiction pick is Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist by Buzzy Jackson. She offered up these words of wisdom for you aspiring writers lurking here at readergirlz:

How to Write

Sure we all know how to write: a series of letters forming words, forming sentences, forming paragraphs... et cetera. So why is it so difficult to write in a way that expresses who we are inside and what we feel? For most of us there’s one big reason: fear of the less-than-perfect.

It took me two books and hundreds of pages to get over my own fears of not writing well enough. Well enough for... what, exactly? Ah, there’s never a good answer to that question.

Most of us can come up with a cool idea for a poem, a story, or even a Facebook post, but when it comes time to put the words down on the screen, we’re suddenly faced with the fact that what we’re feeling doesn’t quite match what we’re writing. It’s just not good enough – that’s what we tell ourselves, anyway.

Stop telling yourself that! I’m serious: Just stop it. The very first step to writing well is to learn to make that inner “it’s-not-good-enough” voice shut up. We all hear it, but the folks who learn to ignore it are the ones who end up making things: books, songs, fashion, films… You must start ignoring the critic inside your head.

Will ignoring the critic make you a good writer? Not by itself, but it will allow you to do one of the two things good writing requires: practice writing. Just like dancing or biking or drawing, the more you write, the better you get at it.

The second thing every good writer does is read – a lot. Read as much as you can and read everything you can. Try to mix your genres: science fiction one week, Joseph Conrad the next. Personally I find that good books fall into two categories: those that are so good they intimidate you and make you afraid to even attempt your own writing, and those that are so good they inspire you to sit down and write your own great book.

The next time you get a good idea, take one of those inspiring books with you for courage, sit down, and just start writing. Tell the inner critic to shut up, and just write. No matter what the result, know this: you’ve just overcome something most people can’t: fear of not being good enough. You’re good enough. And the more you write, the better you’re going to be at it.

- Buzzy Jackson

Story Secrets: IF I STAY by Gayle Forman

I'm very excited to welcome author Gayle Forman to Story Secrets today to talk about IF I STAY, in anticipation of the sequel, WHERE SHE WENT. (In fact, Gayle just finished up the sequel's Teaser Tour.)

I had the pleasure of meeting Gayle in person at the wonderful Teen Author Carnival this last May, still to be recorded as one of the coolest events I've been to yet! Gayle was generous and lovely and charming.

Welcome to Story Secrets, Gayle!


On a day that started like any other… Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Or, I suppose another way to put it is: it's the happiest, most uplifting book you'll ever read that contemplates death.

Or, try this: A story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

Holly Cupala: I love to hear the stories behind the story – from where did the idea for IF I STAY come?

Gayle Forman: Well, part of this story is a secret and remains so. But I'll be vague and say there was a tragedy that left me with a question: If something catastrophic happened to your family and you yourself were hovering between life and death and knew what had happened to the rest of your family, could you choose to go with them? Would you choose to go with them? So, I'm obsessing about this for years and years when this totally fictional 17 year-old cello player pops into my mind to answer the question...

Learn more about Gayle and her story secrets here...

~Holly Cupala

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Reach Out: Friends of Esther, Vlog by John Green

This month's theme is Family. We recently lost a young member of our extended internet family. As posted by John Green on Vlog Brothers:

If you'd like to honor Esther's memory, please visit Friends of Esther, where donations will help Esther's family with expenses related to her care. Checks may be sent to:

Friends of Esther Earl
118 Billings Street
Quincy, MA 02171

You may also make donations in her name:
The HP Alliance
PO Box 441640
West Somerville, MA 02144

September: The Soundtrack to Suite Scarlett

Featured Author Maureen Johnson hand-picked songs for the playlist that accompanies Suite Scarlett and Scarlett Fever this month (take a sneak peek, left). Listen to the full soundtrack with the player in the right-hand sidebar or see the list of songs in the September issue!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September: Postergirlz Recommended Reads!

Did you love the Scarlett books? Are you looking for more standout family stories? Check out these additional postergirlz recommends. They are perfect companion reads!

The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It by Lisa Shanahan (previously titled My Big Birkett)
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Girl, 15, Charming But Insane by Sue Limb
The Possibilities of Sainthood by Donna Freitas
Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist by Buzzy Jackson

rgz NYC Host: Back to School (and Books!)

Micol here!

September means that I am officially back in New York City, where the book world is back at it in full swing!

Sunday marked the annual Brooklyn Book Festival, and though I was knee-deep in Deadlineville and couldn’t attend, apparently I was the only bookish type in New York who didn’t!

Once my manuscript was in (hurrah!), there was no way I was missing last night’s Barnes and Noble Back to School Bash! Organized by David Levithan, the program featured readings from all of your most-anticipated fall releases, as well as the rockin’ song stylings of everyone’s favorite YA jam band, Tiger Beat! Tiger Beat is Daniel Ehrenhaft on guitar, Barnabas Miller (but you can call him Barney) on drums, Natalie Standiford on bass (chicks who rock = major cool), and the inimitable Libba Bray on lead vocals! Quite the line-up, huh? Check them out as they rock out! In between songs, each took a turn reading, along with Eireann Corrigan and Eliot Schrefer. All in all, it was the perfect way to usher in the fall reading season!

But the fun’s not over, folks! For all of you Cornelia Funke fans, today marks the book birthday of her newest work, Reckless!

To celebrate, Funke is inviting readers "behind the mirror" for a huge theatrical storytelling event! Join Cornelia LIVE TODAY, September 14th at 1:30 pm EST for the worldwide launch of Reckless, featuring musical performances, dramatic readings, an interactive audience Q&A and more! Check out the live feed at: http://www.iclips.net/watch/get-reckless-tour - and check out Reckless!

That’s all for me! Happy fall – and happy reading!