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!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Cover Stories: Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard

Publisher's Weekly named Jenny Hubbard's debut a Flying Start last spring, and summarized the novel thusly:

"Set in the early 1980s, Paper Covers Rock is structured as the journal of 16-year-old Alex No Middle Name Stromm, who is holding onto some secrets about the recent drowning death of one of his classmates."

The title and cover caught my attention, and here's Jenny to explain that gazing boy from Paper Covers Rock:

"I didn’t envision a cover while I was writing, but after I found out it was going to be published, I envisioned a black-and-white photograph of three boys in silhouette on a rock, their backs to the viewer.

"All I said [to my publisher] was, 'Please don’t put a face on my narrator.'

"The cover that is currently on the book is not the first one that was designed for the book. The first one caused me to burst into tears--truly. It was entirely wrong, both in mood and character depiction. What the reader would have seen was a free-spirited, smiling, skater-dude boy in mid-jump over water..."

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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

rgz Seattle HOST: An interview with Ally Carter!

Readergirlz Seattle Host Stephanie Guerra recently sat down to chat with Ally Carter, author of the Gallagher Girls series. Here's what they talked about: 

Hi Girlz,

Ally Carter, author of the Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, came to Third Place Books in Seattle to promote Out of Sight, Out of Time (fifth in the Gallagher GirlsSeries). She was delighted with the crowd, and commented on her enthusiastic, smart readers. I read the book and had the chance to interview Ally, who is funny, articulate, and altogether charming. 

In Out of Sight, Out of Time, Cammie Morgan wakes up in a European convent without a clue about what she has done in the past few months—or what’s been done to her. All she recalls is that she had to leave Gallagher Academy to protect her family and friends from the Circle of Cavan, an ancient terrorist organization. Now she must return home and try to unravel what she’s been through, and whether she can trust her friends, her boyfriend, and even herself.

Carter’s plot is rip-roaring action full of twists and surprises. She’s a master of the cliffhanger, and she writes in clean brushstrokes that keep the spotlight on her characters. Her work has plenty of drama and suspense, but it’s also infused with a spirit of light-heartedness and fun.  

A few words with Ally:

SG: It’s clear there’s an involved history behind the Gallagher family. Can you say anything about your methods for writing that history? How much back-story did you create?

AC: I haven’t actually written it, but know it internally. I’ve considered writing a prequel about the first ten years of the school, and what the culture and climate was like.

SG: Which secondary character in Gallagher Girls is your favorite?

AC: From a writer’s standpoint, Liz is my favorite. She’s smart, great for comic relief, and sort of an “every girl.” Lots of readers identify with her, because she sees the spy world through an outsider’s eyes.”

SG: Can you tell us a little about your writing process, in particular revision? Do you outline?

AC: I am a very fast and dirty rough draft writer. It’s not uncommon for me to write the first draft in 4-6 weeks. But then I do massive revisions. I doubt that there will be a thousand words in the second draft that appeared in the first draft. I change pretty much every sentence in that book. But I have to write that rough first draft just to figure out what the story is. I like to make an analogy to a house: I need to build the foundation and figure out where the rooms are before I worry about hanging up wallpaper or decorating.

SG: How do you feel about the balance between focusing on plot and character?

AC: My plots originate with character, but then it’s my job as the author to mess that character’s life up in the most interesting way possible. For me it’s very much about making sure there’s as much going on externally as there is internally. And those two things need to tie together very tightly. For instance, in the fifth Gallagher Girls, the external tension lies in the fact that Cammie can’t remember what happened to her over the summer. But that has massive internal implications: Can she trust herself and her friends? Is she a good person? Or has she changed in some massive way?

SG: With multiple series underway, do you tend to work on one project at a time or juggle several at once?

AC: I focus on one project exclusively until it’s finished. If I let myself bounce around, I wouldn’t ever finish anything. There’s always an idea that sounds shinier or more exciting than the book you’re two drafts into and hating every word of.

SG: Who are some of your favorite YA authors?

AC: Holly Black is our Yoda; when all else fails go sit at the feet of Holly Black! I also love Emily Lockhart and Rick Riordan.

SG: What was your favorite book as a child?

AC: To Kill A Mockingbird. What’s interesting is that reading it as a kid was so different from what I read as an adult. It changes. You read it as an adult and you realize exactly what Atticus is going through.

SG: Did you always want to be a writer?

AC: I began to think of writing as a possible career when I read the The Outsiders, probably when I was about thirteen or so.
SG: What is your goal as a writer?

AC: Ultimately, my goal is to get better with every book. I never want to rest on my laurels. I am constantly trying to deliver better material, books that are more timely, more relevant.

SG: What's the best piece of advice you ever got on writing?

AC: I got the best advice from my mom, who is an English teacher. I was a kid, sitting at the table trying to start my novel, feeling so distraught because my first page wasn’t as good as the first page of To Kill A Mockingbird. My mom said, “Never compare your first draft to somebody else’s finished draft.”

Great advice -- and a great interview! Thanks, Ally. And thanks Stephanie!

Monday, March 26, 2012

2012 NYC Teen Author Festival Starts NOW!

Just a reminder that the NYC Teen Author Festival starts today!

Full info, with schedule and exciting details, on the Facebook page.

Tonight's event:
Monday, March 26 (Mulberry Street Branch of the NYPL, 10 Jersey Street b/w Mulberry and Lafayette, 6-8):

Plotting Dangerously: Doing What it Takes to Find the Story

Coe Booth
Jen Calonita
Paul Griffin
Deborah Heiligman
Melissa Kantor
Morgan Matson
Kieran Scott
Melissa Walker

moderator: David Levithan

Go, go, go!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Rgz Salon: Karma, by Cathy Ostlere, Reviewed by Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Rgz SALON member Lyn Miller-Lachmann has been the Editor-in-Chief of MultiCultural Review; the author of the award-winning multicultural bibliography Our Family, Our Friends, Our World; the editor of Once Upon a Cuento, a collection of short stories by Latino authors; and most recently, the author of Gringolandia, a young adult novel about a refugee family living with the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. The book has had multiple print runs and is available for order. (Don't forget to read the fascinating Cover Story for Gringolandia.)

We're honored to have Lyn here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Today, she reviews Karma by Cathy Ostlere (Razorbill):

"Stories of couples brought together by love but threatened by their families’ enmities existed even before Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet and continue to enthrall readers today. One of the most compelling that I have read recently is Cathy Ostlere’s Karma, a novel in verse set in India in 1984, in the days following Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination at the hands of her Sikh guards. Following her mother’s suicide, 15-year-old Jiva travels with her father to India to deliver her mother’s ashes to their proper resting place. Jiva’s mother was Hindu, and her father is Sikh. Their religious differences forced them into exile in Canada, cut off from their families; the experience of exile, their neighbors’ prejudice, and the bleakness of their surroundings contributed to the mother’s depression and death. Jiva and her father return to New Delhi on the eve of the assassination. In the massacre of thousands of Sikhs afterward, they are separated. Using the name Maya—her mother’s name for her—Jiva ends up hundreds of miles away, saved by 17-year-old Sandeep who has his own story of separation from family and adoption into a foreign culture.

"Ostlere’s characters are multi-dimensional and complex—parents as well as teens—making this a novel that readers of all ages will appreciate. The unlikely relationship between Jiva’s mother and father leads to her family’s exile and mother’s despair, but it doesn’t deter the teenager from falling in love with someone from a different culture herself. Like many idealistic young people, she seeks to find a way to overcome hatred and suspicion, to forgive what has been done to her, and to choose love and hope over everything else. As she writes in her diary, 'The young are told to wait for emotions to catch up to the flesh but what if the moment is now? / Our yearnings ready to set us free from sorrow and fear? / And besides, who will show the world the possibility of love, if it isn’t us?'” -Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cover Stories: Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey

Janet Lee Carey is a founding member of Readergirlz! She has been here before to talk about her cover for Stealing Death. Now she's back with a stunning new novel, Dragonswood. Here's her Cover Story:

"My cover ideas changed as I was writing Dragonswood. I often have a movie going in my head as I’m writing, so every once in a while I’d stop the movie to a still shot and think, 'Hey that would make a great cover.' Some images had to do with Tess’s fire-sight. I envisioned Tess staring into the fire entranced by the vision of a man swinging his sword, or of a fairy woman riding dragonback in the golden flames.

"I tossed a few ideas around with my editor, Kathy Dawson, at Dial Books for Young Readers. Along with the fire-sight images, we discussed a cover related to the early action scenes showing Tess and her friends’ escape from the witch hunter disguised as lepers. I pictured a bedraggled and muddy Tess dressed in a dark-hooded leper’s robe. Much later Kathy Dawson and I discussed the kind of medieval gown Tess would wear -- the colors, the fabric -- by then I realized we weren’t going with the fire-sight or the leper’s robe idea. I didn’t mind Tess wearing a gown since she does later in the book; still I remember asking, 'Will Tess have a knife in her hand?' Kathy paused a moment, then said, 'I think you will be surprised by the direction this cover is going in, Janet...'"

Read the rest of Janet's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com, and watch the book trailer below!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cover Stories: Skater Boy by Mari Mancusi

Mari Mancusi has written a ton of YA novels, the latest of which are the Blood Coven series [read those Cover Stories]. Her very first Young Adult book, though, was Sk8er Boy. Now it's  out of print and she's got the e-rights, so she was able to create her own updated cover. Cool, right? Here's Mari with the story:

"You never forget your first. And for me, that was Sk8er Boy. My first true love and the title of my first young adult romance, published in 2005. Perhaps the most autobiographical book I've ever written, it's a sort of Romeo and Juliet with text messaging.

"I originally sold the book to Dorchester, a romance publisher who had just introduced a new line of young adult books called Smooch. I had done one other romance for them, but this was my first teen book. So you can imagine how excited I was to see the cover.

"It looks pretty silly now (right), but you have to remember, at the time, those iPod commercials (see below) were really big and so I guess the artist felt it would appeal to a teen crowd. Still, though I knew it was trendy, I never felt as if it captured the feel of my actual book. It's not romantic, for one thing. It's not sweet. You don't get a good feel for the plot or characters. Oh and I hate the girl's purse! At the time, everyone had hobo bags and large purses--hers looks like something out of the late eighties. As does her outfit...

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

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rock the Drop: 4/12/12

Grab this banner to share the news about Rock the Drop!

And here's your snazzy bookplate!

Once again, readergirlz and Figment are going to ROCK THE DROP in honor of Support Teen Lit Day, 4/12/12. We can’t wait! Here’s how you can get involved:

Snag the above bookplate and/or banner, created by the uber-talented David Ostow and add it to your blog and social networks, linking back to this post to share the love. Proclaim that you will ROCK THE DROP!

Print a copy of the bookplate and insert it into a book (or 10!) to drop on April 12th. Drop a book in a public spot (park bench, bus seat, restaurant counter?). Lucky finders will see that the book is part of ROCK THE DROP!

*Plan to snap a photo and post it at the readergirlz facebook page. Then tweet the drop at #rockthedrop with all the other lovers of YA books. 

Get ready for the celebration! Get ready to rock! 

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz 

Monday, March 5, 2012

rgz NYC HOST post: NYC Teen Author Fest is coming!

It's coming, readergirlz: that week-long YA author extravaganza known as the NYC Teen Author Fest! This year the Fest runs from Monday, March 26th through Sunday, April 1st, and will feature fantabulous programming and the opportunity to see a gazillion (that's an approximate number) of your favorite authors -- including myself and Diva Melissa Walker -- in person. 

The full schedule is available over at the very official NYC Teen Author Fest Facebook page, which you clearly have already liked/bookmarked/committed to memory, yes?

What are you waiting for? Check it out!

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Reddit 2012 Gift Exchange

Check out the reddit reddit 2012 Gift Exchange, which is putting books in classrooms! Registration ends tomorrow, March 5th. Here's more about it:

We know how good it feels to give someone a book they have always wanted to read or one you think they will love. Now imagine how much better it will feel if, when giving a book to a fellow redditor, you also make a donation to DonorsChoose.org! We have a page at Donors Choose where you can pick any book related teacher request that you see fit. Upon signing up for the book exchange, you will receive a special code and, when you enter it on DonorsChoose.org, they will DOUBLE your donation up to $1,000! Donations aren't required but we really hope you will donate!

I learned about the exchange from Amber Benson, who is one of many awesome authors supporting the exchange.

reddit: Books are awesome. Check them out.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

rgz Everett HOST Post - Debut Authors on Tour!

Hi readergirlz! Today our Everett Host, Carole Estby Dagg, has some news about a mini-tour of six debut authors around and about the Pugent Sound. Sounds (no pun intended!) delightful, no?

 Come Meet the New Kids on the YA Block!

If you live in the Lake Forest Park-to-Olympia corridor of NW Washington, you have several opportunities to meet six new YA authors as they go on tour with readings and panel discussions in mid-March. Whether your reading taste runs to magic or the macabre, real-life contemporary or really old-fashioned, find your next favorite book – and maybe win a copy in a drawing that will be held at each event:

March 14, Third Place Books 7 P.M.
17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, WA

March 15, Capital High School 12:40 p.m.
(not open to the general public)
March 15, Olympia Timberland Library 7:30 p.m.
313 8th Ave. SE, Olympia, WA

March 16, Garfield Books, 7 p.m.
208 Garfield St., Suite 101, Tacoma, WA

Here’s a preview of books by the New Kids on the YA Block:

ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD, by Kendare Blake:
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation. He kills the dead. When a job takes him to a new town after a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, he expects an easy kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, who has killed everyone who has dared step into her deserted Victorian house.
Kendare appreciates Greek mythology, rare red meat and veganism. Visit her at www.kendareblake.com

DON’T EXPECT MAGIC, by Kathy McCullough
After her mom dies, Delaney Collins moves in with her estranged father and discovers that he’s a fairy godmother—or rather, a fairy godfather—and that she’s inherited the skill as well.  Although she doesn’t believe in happily ever afters, Delaney is forced to help Flynn, a boy at her new school, win the girl of his dreams. But as she gets closer to making Flynn’s dream come true, Delaney finds herself with a wish of her own…
Kathy lives in Los Angeles, where she writes books and screenplays. Find out more about her at www.kathymcculloughbooks.com.

THE FAERIE RING, by Kiki Hamilton
The year is 1871, and Tiki has been making a home for herself and her family of orphans in a deserted hideaway adjoining Charing Cross Station in central London. Their only means of survival is by picking pockets. One December night, Tiki steals a ring and sets off a chain of events that could lead to all-out war with the Fey. For the ring belongs to Queen Victoria, and is a reservoir which holds a truce binding the rulers of England and the realm of Faerie to peace. With the ring missing, a rebel group of faeries hopes to break the treaty with dark magic.
Kiki believes in faeries, and magic. You can visit her website at www.kikihamilton.com.

FLYAWAY, by Helen Landalf
Flyaway, a contemporary realistic novel set in Seattle, centers on 15-year-old Stevie’s struggle to come to terms with her mom’s addiction to meth. While her mom is in rehab, Stevie stays with her annoyingly perfect Aunt Mindy, who gives her a taste of a more normal teen life, forcing Stevie to choose between loyalty to her mom and the chance to move forward into a more positive future.
Helen Landalf is author of two pictures books and five books for teachers. When she’s not writing, she works as a Pilates instructor and teaches dance to preschoolers. Visit her website at www.helenlandalf.com.

NEVER EIGHTEEN, by Megan Bostic:
Seventeen-year-old Austin Parker’s dying wish is to help his loved ones understand that life is short, and it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Plagued by addiction, abuse, conflict and loss, they’ve given up. He’s desperate to help them live—even though he never will.  It’s probably hopeless, but he has to try.
Megan Bostic loves sock monkeys, the color black, and her crazy beautiful daughters.  Find out more at www.meganbosticbooks.com.

THE YEAR WE WERE FAMOUS, by Carole Estby Dagg
In 1896, a Clara Estby and her suffragist mother walked from Washington State to New York City in a race against the calendar to win money to save the farm and prove women could do it. The book is based on newspaper articles which described their real-life 4,000-mile trek and their narrow escapes from flash flood, days lost in the Snake River Lava Fields, shooting a bandit, camping with Indians and a meeting President-elect McKinley.
Carole writes in Everett and a converted woodshed on San Juan Island under the supervision of a bossy cat. Visit her at www.CaroleEstbyDagg@yahoo.com.