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!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Song of the Week: Little Mix by Little Me

Anything is possible, if you set your mind to it, work hard, and have your heart in the right place.

Little Mix, an awesome all-female vocal group and winner of The X Factor, reinforces these ideas in their new song "Little Me."  The next time you're feeling down on yourself, turn this song on and remind yourself that the possibilities are endless, and that you can be anything you want to be. 

If you can't see the video embedded above, click here to watch it on YouTube.

Wish I knew back then what I know now
Wish I could somehow go back in time
And maybe listen to my own advice

I'd tell her to speak up, tell her to shout out
Talk a bit louder, be a bit prouder
Tell her she's beautiful, wonderful,
Everything she doesn't see

You gotta speak up, you gotta shout out
And know that right here, right now
You can be beautiful, wonderful,
Anything you wanna be

Click here to read all of the lyrics.

Monday, December 16, 2013

rgz Newsflash: Co-founder's Trailer at Hypable

So excited to share my trailer for FIRSTBORN! Right now it's an exclusive at Hypable.

We'll do a Cover Story soon with Diva Melissa Walker. Thanks for celebrating with me! And thanks to Kirkus for the starred review. Happy holidays, rgz!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Saturday, December 7, 2013

rgz Newsflash: Online Author Visits' Holiday Offer

Newsflash from Online Author Visits:
We are a group of children’s authors that do Skype and Google visits with classrooms and book clubs across the country (we donate 25% percent of our fee to a chosen charity). To celebrate such a successful year, we are hosting a contest where two winners will get to each choose two booksfrom among our talented author pool. But wait – there’s more! The winners will also get to choose a school library of their choice to receive a collection of 5 books valued at over $150! At a time when school libraries are experiencing significant budget cutbacks, this is a great opportunity to do something nice for the library you love.
So while you’re shopping online, why not hop on over to www.onlineauthorvisits.com and enter our ‘Tis the Season Book giveaway? It’s easy and a wonderful chance give back to the library in your life.
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

rgz Circle of Stars: Sonya Sones and Deb Caletti, Crossover to Adult

Do you crossover and read adult works as well? Of course we've seen many adult authors enter the YA stream. Now watch as YA authors step into the adult market. Sonya Sones did it with her Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, which Meg Cabot called: "Funny, fresh, and heartbreakingly poignant, this book had me laughing and crying at the same time."

And now Deb Caletti has as well with He's Gone.


Kirkus gave He's Gone a starred review and said, "YA veteran and National Book Award finalist Caletti (The Story of Us, 2012, etc.) makes a striking adult debut with this tale of a husband's mysterious disappearance...Well written, strongly characterized and emotionally complex fixtion."

Well done, ladies! Representing! Rgz, look for these if you read adult, or maybe they are the perfect gifts for those adults you live with. :~) Happy shopping!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, December 2, 2013

Films Now, Books First

What are your favorite book-to-film adaptations? Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Book Thief? Anxious for the movie version of Divergent? Can't wait to see the next installment of The Hobbit? Leave a comment at Allie's latest Teens Wanna Know article!

Friday, November 22, 2013

rgz Newsflash: J.J. Abrams and Operation Teen Book Drop

Rock the Drop, 2013

Okay, how cool that J.J. Abrams' fascinating new novel S sprang from a book he found years ago. It was left in a public place with the intention of being found, read, and passed along. Did you catch him on Colbert? Listen in for a laugh, and just imagine who might find your next Operation Teen Book Drop donation, and how might they be moved to act, give, or create...


Photo from Collider.com

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, November 4, 2013

Attention Filmmakers and Readers: Make a Snowblind Trailer!

Attention filmmakers (and readers!)

Want to show the world what you can do AND spread the love of a good book? St. Martin's Press and Talenthouse are accepting 1-minute trailers for Christopher Golden's upcoming book SNOWBLIND. All of the submitted videos will be seen by some pretty cool folks - legitimate directors, writers, producers - and one will be selected to be the book's official trailer.

If you are interested, you should enter.

If you know other filmmakers - be they amateur or professional, adults or teens or kids - please let them know about this incredible opportunity.

Trust me. I've read the book, and it's amazing. With edge-of-your-seat tension and jaw-dropping twists, Christopher Golden's Snowblind blizzard is going to blow you away!

So what are you waiting for? Spread the word, gather a production team, and make that mini-movie!

Here's the official press release and all of the pertinent information. Good luck!

St. Martin's Press and Talenthouse invite amateur filmmakers to produce a short horror book trailer for SNOWBLIND, the highly anticipated novel by New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden. The winning trailer will be heavily promoted and used as part of an integrated marketing and advertising campaign for the book and will also receive a consultation with one or more of the judges to discuss their work.

Helping St. Martin's Press judge the entries are:

FRANK DARABONT (Director, Writer, Producer) - The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead, Mob City, among others.

DAVID S. GOYER (Writer, Director, Producer) - Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Trilogy, Blade, Da Vinci's Demons, among others.

DON MURPHY (Producer) - Transformers 1-4, Real Steel, Natural Born Killers, Vampire Academy, among others.

STEPHEN SUSCO (Writer, Producer) - The Grudge 1 and 2, Texas Chainsaw 3D, Red, High School, among others.

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN (Author, Editor) - Of Saints and Shadows, Baltimore, Tin Men, The New Dead, among others.

For more information on how to enter:

SNOWBLIND trailer competition guidelines

Video should be a maximum length of 1 minute.

The end shot of the trailer must provide the publication information for the book, including title, book image provided, and the publication information:

On Sale
January 21, 2014
Wherever Books Are Sold

Choose one of the three options listed below:
1) Create a scene from pages 28 - 30 featuring Cherie, her dog, and the iceman. (See the book excerpt linked below.)
2) Create a scene from pages 48 - 51 featuring Isaac looking out the window at the ice men dancing in the snow in his yard, with Jake not believing him. (See the book excerpt linked below.)
3) Entrants are invited to create their own scenes or images inspired by a provided sample from Snowblind. These original trailers should capture the tone of the novel. For example:
- A woman sitting on her bed with the covers drawn up, hugging her knees, staring in terror at the window with the wind rattling the glass, snow piling up against it or pelting it.
- A woman smoking a cigarette outside a bar at night with the snow falling. She hears a sound, turns, looks terrified.
- An anchor reads the news about the blizzard and what happened twelve years ago and then the power goes out and you hear the whistling of the wind as snow whips across the screen, perhaps suggesting the image of evil features looking in.

The presence of the snowstorm/blizzard may suggest digital effects but they are not required.

Entrants may devise their own approach to representing the ominous presence of the storm and the fear of the townspeople.

Judges will consider many factors, including imagination and ingenuity.

Submit by: January 6th, 2014

Direct links to all of the necessary ingredients:
SNOWBLIND Novel Excerpt
About the book
St Martin's PRESS Logo
Judging Panel Official Bios

Get Snowblind:
Barnes and Noble

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Exclusive interview with Alison Cherry!

What if you lived in a town where redheads reigned supreme? That's the premise of Alison Cherry's satirical new novel Red, set in the fictional town of Scarletville. Felicity St. John has hair to die for - rather to dye for. You see, her mom has been getting Felicity's strawberry blonde hair dyed since she was little, determined to make her daughter popular and powerful. Now Felicity's in high school, about to participate in the Miss Scarlet Pageant, much to her chagrin and her mother's delight. Then a series of anonymous notes appears in Felicity's locker: someone knows the truth about Felicity's hair and is threatening to reveal all unless she does what they say. How far will Felicity go to protect her roots? Will she do what her mother wants, or will she finally be able to just be herself?

Author Alison Cherry, a natural redhead, stopped by my blog Bildungsroman today. Check out our discussion about society, conformity, and individuality, as well as the writing process.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

rgz Newsflash: Happy Book Birthday, Stephanie Guerra!

Today we're toasting Seattle Host Stephanie Guerra on the launch of her latest book! Billy the Kid is Not Crazy is a hilarious middle-grade novel about a kid who gets in trouble so frequently that his parents send him to a psychiatrist. 

Billy March has been grounded for 63% of the past month. Every time he almost gets his parents’ trust back, his mind wanders off, and he causes another disaster! Like the time he and his best friend Keenan decided to play droid war in a parking lot—and ended up launching a shopping cart into a car. . . . Now Mom and Dad are threatening to send Billy to a psychologist. They may even make him take brain drugs! But deep down, Billy really worries that Dad wishes he had a different son. He’ll never be as perfect as his sisters. Maybe he doesn’t belong in this family at all. But maybe, just maybe, talking to a “shrink” won’t be as terrible as Billy thinks. With generous black-and-white illustrations in every chapter and ton of heart and humor, readers will be cheering for Billy as he struggles to find his place in the world—and discovers his true talent in the process.

Wanna know the whole the story behind the book? Check out this post on From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors.

 And here's some great early buzz from Amazon Vine:

“My son is a reluctant reader, but Billy the Kid is Not Crazy is the first book he ever read with enthusiasm on his own. He laughed out loud a few times, and could really relate to the main character.” –Scott Sherman

“I'm considering buying ten copies to have on-hand as my friends' children age. This is great for kids and parents. It's about a boy who is totally NOT crazy. He's a typical dreamer who often makes bad decisions because...he's still a kid!” –Mage

“My third grader loves this book. It is filled with heart and humor… I love the jokes that are mixed in and the heart felt moments. Junie B watch out.” –Edward Walker

“The author has done such a wonderful job with these characters… The artwork is a great addition, delivering tons of laughs. Combine that with some truly witty dialogue and you get a book that is in turn hilarious, thoughtful, and very real.” –J. Prather

“The artwork in the book is great, lots of fun. Really adds a lot and speeds up reading--illustrations in books are almost always a plus! Highly, highly, HIGHLY recommended!” –K. Davis

“I got this book for a boy who is diagnosed with Asperger's… He sped-read through the book once and liked it so much that he's reading it through again but more slowly. He says the title character is "just like" him.” –J. Tant

Congratulations, Stephanie - we can't wait to get our hands on Billy!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cover Stories: For Darkness Shows the Stars

Diana Peterfreund tends to have great covers, and when I saw For Darkness Shows the Stars (a post-Apocalyptic take on Jane Austen's Persuasion, hello!), I fell in love with the starry sky. So I asked her about it, and here she is:

"I always have an idea in mind for my covers, but since I’m not an artist it’s probably best that my publishers ignore me. They did ask me to send inspiration pictures, though. I sent in a lot of pictures of harsh seascapes and rocky cliffs and beaches beneath a sunset/sunrise and a starry sky. Sometimes there were forlorn women standing on these beaches. I think Harper and I were totally on the same page about the direction we wanted to go in, which mostly makes me feel like I’m finally getting a hang of this imagery thing.

"I asked for something very lush and romantic, to fit the feel of the book. Also, because this book has such a distinctive title that bucks the trend of the one-word YA book titles, I asked for a fun font treatment that really highlighted the title..."

Read the rest of Diana's story at melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cover Stories: Eve by Anna Carey

I'm a sucker for bridges. And running. And flowing hair. So the cover of Eve? Kind of up my alley. Here's Anna Carey to talk about the cover of the first book in the Eve trilogy:

"I had a vague sense of what the book might look like. The name--Eve--conjures so much. We all know Adam and Eve, and there's so much imagery associated with their story. Originally I saw the cover as having a lot of lush greenery. I sometimes saw a pale girl lost in the forest. It's funny, the book trailer captures a lot of those original images and ideas that were left behind as the cover evolved.

"The designer asked for a list of images or words that appear in the book. I can't seem to locate that list, though I'm 99% sure the designer came up with the bridge idea, which I love. It's hard to go back through your book and decide which imagery is meaningful and/or metaphorical--so much of that is folded into the manuscript unconsciously. I'm pretty certain all my suggestions were fairly basic. Thankfully she didn't put a wall or a cluster of trees on there. I don't think it would've had the same effect..."

Read the rest of Anna's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cover Stories: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father

Jessica Brody has shared two previous Cover Stories here (for My Life Undecided and The Karma Club). She's back to tell the tale behind the cover of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father.

"I’m terrible at envisioning covers. So no, I didn’t really have an idea in mind. But I knew I wanted it to show the contrast of my main character’s two worlds (spoiled heiress and working girl) which I think they ended up doing really well!

"Honestly, I was surprised when I saw the cover. It was SO different from the light, pastel, girly looks of my other YA book and my publisher had told me they were going to keep with the same look. So when I opened this, I almost thought that they sent me the wrong cover! It was all edgy and kind of punk rock-ish. I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it..."

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

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Cover Stories: Personal Statement by Jason Odell Williams

Jason Odell Williams is an Emmy-nominated producer, and his first novel was just optioned for a three-picture deal. Whee! Plus, Jason tells a good Cover Story. Here he is:

"I never had a cover in mind while writing Personal Statement. I never really picture a cover or poster for any of my work (books, plays, films) until the writing is at least mostly finished. So with Personal Statement, I never had a preconceived idea; I was so focused on just finishing the manuscript.

"So once I had a solid first draft, I sat around over dinner and drinks with my publishers Carey Albertine and Saira Rao and we started brainstorming cover ideas. We thought about something hurricane-related, like a trashed backyard that could look like either the morning after a storm or a wild party. But that didn’t really say enough about the 'Personal Statement'-college application part of the book. Another idea we floated around was having a shot of the major players in some sort of pose like an album cover or action shot during the Hurricane prep, but again that felt too linear and only dealt with the volunteer aspect of the story.

"So we came up with the idea of crumpled up paper, all of these false starts when trying to write a personal statement and succinctly tell strangers at college 'who you are.' The one we had sort of settled on was the one with the can of Red Bull and the 'cover' page of a personal statement with a boot print and coffee stains on it (right). And we were pretty happy with it and were going to go with that. But Carey & Saira wanted to punch it up a little, so they asked Nick Guarracino, who had recently been brought on to do the illustrations for another book they were doing, to take a look at the cover and make it pop more.

"He read some of the book, looked at our cover, and instead of punching up the old one, he came up with 6 completely different options. My publishers looked at them all and knew right away it was the hand thrusting up from the pile of pages. They texted me the image and I took one look and was blown away. The last I knew, our cover was going to b the page with the coffee stain on it, so to then suddenly see this amazing, bright, dynamic, bold arresting cover, I was so excited and thrilled. I immediately texted back and said 'YES that’s the one.' (I may have used some profanity in my excitement... as in 'Holy SH*TBALLS that's amazing! I love it! Yes!')

"And I actually never saw these other options (left) until this week. And while the girl’s face was a close contender, there is something sad and melancholy about it that’s not quite right for the book. Also, it’s hard to put a real face (even half of a face) on a book cover. And I never liked the idea of 'casting' a character before someone reads the book. (What if the Rani on the cover doesn’t match the Rani in your head?) So in the end, I know we made the right call with the hand thrusting up from the pile of balled up pages.

"Nick told me the photo was made by taking a picture of a friend’s hand and then using photo shop to add the balled up pages and the color in the background. Then he made the hand look more feminine and ethnically ambiguous. What I like about that is then the hand becomes like a mirror… you see what you want to see. When I first saw it, I thought it was a white guy’s hand. Others see a white girl or an Asian or Indian-American girl. And now when I look at it I can't decide if it's Emily Kim's hand or Rani's. So it’s cool that the hand has that 'every-person' quality to it.

"And now, the more I look at the cover, the more I see how right it is for this book. The hand at first seemed to be simply frustrated to me, but now I also see defiance and breaking free and standing out from the crowd. The hand is coming up for air after drowning in expectation for so long. Of course, I’m reading a lot into it and people looking at the cover for the first time might never see any of that, but I think what the cover does convey, even at first glance, is a sense of being bold and explosive and exciting. It would make me stop twice if I saw it on a shelf (even a 'digital' shelf!) And for all of those reasons, I love this cover couldn't be happier!"

Monday, September 9, 2013

rgz Newsflash: Kickstart Grey Griffins: Night of Dragons and Anthology

In this new age, books are being published in so many ways. Here's a fresh example and a chance for you to participate in the launch yourself. Listen in as Jon S. Lewis shares the latest news about Grey Griffins. What caught my attention is that 100% of his profits from the accompanying anthology will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Kids Need to Read.

readergirlz who write, there's an opportunity for your query letter or partial manuscript to be reviewed, a possible Skype session with Jon, and a chance your short story might be included in the final Grey Griffins Anthology. Check it out, and let us know what you think.

Best to you, Jon!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

by Scott Altmann 

How to Unlock Stories By Bestselling Authors
I’ve been lucky enough to publish nine books with Scholastic, Little Brown, and Thomas Nelson. I hope to work with them again one day, but I’ve decided to selfpublish my next book (Grey Griffins: Night of Dragons).

According to BookStats, sales of e-book trade titles rose 44% in 2012 and e-books represent 20% of all books sold, which is up 4% from the prior year. It won’t be long before digital overtakes print.

Companies like CreateSpace have made it easy for authors to go direct to market without a publisher, which means we have the ability to take control of our careers. Look at Amanda Hocking. She  couldn’t find an agent to represent her (much less a publisher) and yet she went from an unknown commodity to a literary rock star in less than a year. Amanda isn’t alone, either. There’re authors like Hugh Howey, John Locke, Rachel Van Dyken, H.M. Ward and dozens of others who are flourishing in the new paradigm. And don’t forget Barry Eisler, who turned down a $500, 000 advance to publish his own books.

I’ve talked about publishing my own books for years but I was always worried about the stigma of being a self-published author. But everything is different now and it’s time for me to jump in.

Why I’m Going to Publish Two Books Instead of One
When I decided to self-publish I knew that I had to make a splash, so I asked some author friends if they would help me out. So while I write Grey Griffins: Night of Dragons, they’re going to write Grey Griffins short stories. We’re going to collect those stories in an anthology, which means I’ll be releasing two books instead of one. And the best part is that 100% of the profits from the anthology will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/) and Kids Need to Read (http://www.kidsneedtoread.org/).

Check out the roster of authors who are involved:
• Brandon Mull | NY Times Bestselling Author, Fablehaven
• Aprilynne Pike | NY Times Bestselling Author, Wings
• Frank Beddor | NY Times Bestselling Author, Looking Glass Wars
• Michael Spradlin | NY Times Bestselling Author, Youngest Templar
• Dean Lorey | Co-Executive Producer, Arrested Development
• Shannon Messenger | Let the Sky Fall, Keeper of the Lost Cities
• Tom Leveen | Party, manicpixiedreamgirl, Sick
• Joseph Nassise | International Bestselling Author, Templar Chronicles
• Matt Forbeck | Leverage: The Con Job based on the TNT television series
• Janette Rallison | My Fair Godmother, Slayers

The Drawback
Each short story in the Grey Griffins anthology will be professionally edited. It will also have a cover painted by the incredibly talented Scott Altmann (http://www.scottaltmann.com/). The final product will look every bit as good as what the major publishing houses produce, but there’s a drawback. When you publish your own books you have to come up with the money to pay the artists and the editors. That’s why I’m turning to Kickstarter.

Crowdsourcing with Kickstarter
Right now those short stories are locked and they won’t be released unless I can make enough money to cover the costs of the artwork and the editorial. I want to be able to make a ton of money for those amazing causes, and here’s how you can help…

Kickstarter provides a way for you to pre-order the book and in return I’ll invest that money in the product. And trust me, I know what it means to have a tight budget. It’s why I made sure the pledge levels started at $1. There are some fun rewards, too, like custom Grey Griffins short stories, collectible character trading cards and sketches from the cover artist. For the writers out there, we’re offering the chance for a query letter review, a partial manuscript review, and even a Skype brainstorm session where I’ll help you come up with ideas for your story. You can help fund the Kickstarter campaign here. http://kck.st/1aXVQQC

You Can Even Get Your Story Published in the Grey Griffins Anthology
Because I also have a passion for helping new writers break into the industry I thought the best way to do that with this project was to give someone a chance to get a short story published in the anthology. Your story will end up in the same book with all those New York Times bestselling authors. If it sounds like something you’re interested in, you can find the submission guidelines here: bit.ly/gg-anthology.

Thank you
Thanks for taking the time to read this and for your consideration to back the Kickstarter campaign. I’m going to need your help to make this project a reality, and I know that together we can do something incredible!

Photo by Scott Mitchell

Jon Samuel Lewis is an American writer best known for the acclaimed Grey Griffins series published by Scholastic’s Orchard Books. After selling nearly a million copies in the original trilogy, Lewis and his writing partner, Derek Benz teamed with Little Brown to publish the Grey Griffins Clockwork Chronicles. He is also the author of CHAOS Novels, a young adult urban science fiction series published by Thomas Nelson and has written for DC Comics. Lewis is also a marketing executive and content strategist who works with Fortune 500 companies on their digital marketing strategies.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cover Stories: Mirror, Mirror by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Diana Rodriguez Wallach has a fast-releasing trilogy of stories coming out this fall, and each has a different cover. Here's the story of #1, and the full-series cover:

"I told my publisher that I really wanted a mirror in all of my covers. I wanted that to be the element that tied the series together visually.

"My release is a little different from your average book. Reflecting Emmy is the first short story in my Mirror, Mirror trilogy. Each of my short stories—Reflecting Emmy, Nara Gazing, and Shattering GiGi—will be released individually as ebooks in September, October, and November, respectively. Then they will be compiled together to create the Mirror, Mirror trilogy, with an additional short story prequel and bonus material, to be released in December.

"So if you add it all together, that’s a whopping FOUR different covers for this series..."

Read the full Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cover Stories: Timepiece by Myra McEntire

I have long been a fan of Myra McEntire's gorgeous cover for Hourglass, and Timepiece is just as lovely. Here's Myra to share her perspective:

"I loved the Hourglass cover so much (below right), and I hoped my publisher would stick with that photographer. There was an original image I didn’t think did the story justice, and when I expressed my concerns, they listened..."

Read the rest of Myra's story at melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cover Stories: Sophie's Mixed-Up Magic by Amanda Ashby

Amanda Ashby has been here before to share stories about her covers, and she's back today with the story behind the Sophie's Mixed-Up Magic covers, her first middle grade series.

"I’ve been lucky with my covers and I’ve loved them all, but without a doubt the covers for my Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic series are my favorite! And I’m not just saying that because they are my first covers to have a head (though heads are cool!) but it’s rather because as soon as I saw them, I just knew that the girl on the cover 'was' Sophie!!!! From her straight blonde hair, her expressions through to the clothes that she was wearing, it was all the Sophie of my mind!

"Sometimes I get asked if I have any thoughts on the cover, but this time I wasn’t and I hadn’t even realized that there was even a shoot until after it was all over..."

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

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cover Stories: Surrender by Elana Johnson

Elana Johnson was here last year to share the very cool cover for POSSESSION (read that Cover Story), and she's back to talk about SURRENDER, the second in this series.

"Honestly, my first thought when I saw the cover was 'No. No, that can’t be the cover!' The POSSESSION cover was so perfect, with the butterfly in ice. The SURRENDER cover seemed so pedestrian in comparison. I lovingly call it 'when taxidermists make mistakes.'

"My editor and agent and I had quite the discussion about the cover. Everything from the color of the hummingbird to the shape of the jar. It’s a fascinating process, this cover making. But... the cover you see now is the same one I was sent in January..."

Read the rest of Elana's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cover Stories: Being Friends With Boys by Terra Elan McVoy

Terra Elan McVoy has been here before to share her adorable covers for Pure and After the Kiss (read those Cover Stories), and now she's here to talk about Being Friends With Boys. How great is that title? Here's more about the cover, from Terra:

"I never have any idea about my covers; I’m so lucky to have been assigned to such smart, clever, amazing people at Simon Pulse to work on them. This team does such an incredible job, and I figure it’s best to leave that work in their capable hands!

"Admittedly, my very first thought when I saw the cover was, 'But there aren’t any coffeehouses in the book! They never drink coffee!' Very quickly though, I realized that was a pretty lame and limiting response.

"My editor was incredibly patient with me and let me just sit on my first reaction until I came to my senses and realized this was perfect.

"The cover did change, in one important way..."

Read Terra's full Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cover Stories: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Morgan Matson is here! You know I love her, and this is her latest book (out in paperback this summer) so we must read it asap. Also: The Cover. Here she is to tell its tale:

"I had absolutely loved my cover for Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour [read that Cover Story here]. I wasn’t worried about how the cover for the second book would turn out. I was still in the midst of writing the first draft of the book when my editor asked me what I had been thinking about for the cover.

"I mentioned that since the book takes place in a summer lake community, with a dock being a very important part of the story, maybe there could be a dock featured somewhere.  An initial idea I’d had was two sets of bare feet on a dock, or hanging over the edge and skimming the water.  And then I basically just gave her vague, summer-conjuring words – pine trees! Mountains! Lake!

"By the time I saw the first cover proof, we’d actually been going back and forth a lot on the title.  I tend to pick long, not-particularly-evocative-titles, and then cling to them stupidly...."

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

Too Cool for This School by Kristen Tracy

Looking for a fun book to read as summer winds to a close? Here's a recommendation for our younger readergirlz: Too Cool for This School by Kristen Tracy!

Lane's sixth grade year isn't quite going how she planned it. When her same-age cousin Angelina unexpectedly comes to stay with Lane and her parents for a month, she totally disrupts everything at home and at school. Within days of her arrival, Angelina destroys one of Lane's favorite shirts, clashes with Lane's friends, and clicks with Lane's crush and sort-of boyfriend. Angelina decides to go by her middle name, Mint. Lane tries to give her cousin advice on how to blend in, but Mint doesn't take it. Soon, pretty much everything Mint does or says rubs Lane the wrong way.

Anyone who is or has been 11 to 13 years old can tell you a horror story or two about their social life during middle school. Some kids stress out about fitting in, while others stand out for any number of reasons, whether they want to or not. While Lane thinks Mint is eccentric, other classmates embrace Mint's exuberance. Likewise, some readers will probably think Mint's outfits are zany while others will applaud her daring-do. As in her previous middle grade stories The Reinvention of Bessica Lefter and Bessica Lefter Bites Back, author Kristen Tracy reminds us of our best and worst moments in middle school, handling both the triumphs and the mortifying moments with just the right mix of surprise and worry. 

Click here to read the rest of my review!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

rgz Seattle HOST: Stephanie Guerra interviews Jennifer Bradbury

A MOMENT COMES by Jennifer Bradbury (Atheneum, 2013) is hands-down one of the best young adult historical fiction novels I’ve read. Set in 1947 during a bloody moment in India’s history, the novel traces the intersecting lives of three teens: Tariq, a Muslim working as translator for a British cartographer; Margaret, the cartographer’s daughter; and Anupreet, a lovely and wary Sikh girl who is one of the cartographer’s domestic staff.
The Partition of India, or the division of the subcontinent along sectarian lines, was a turbulent divide which produced the predominantly Muslim Pakistan and the majority Hindu Republic of India. The three main characters are placed squarely in the crux of this struggle, fighting for their own and their families’ safety as India boils to a fever pitch around them.
Tariq is driven by dreams of Oxford—and a forbidden admiration for Anupreet, whose people are the enemies of his own. Margaret is chafing under oppressive heat and an oppressive mother, and finds Tariq’s good looks a welcome distraction. And Anupreet is hiding painful secrets as she endures the daily violence of her surroundings. Although each character is representative of a larger class in conflict, they are finely drawn, believable people with distinct and engaging voices. Margaret’s wry, humorous personality brings many laugh-out-loud moments which contrast nicely with the suspense unfolding around her.
The focus of the story is never didactic, and remains squarely on the entangled lives of the three characters—but it also illumines an important and often unknown (in our country) event in history. The ending was delicate, satisfying and thought-provoking, and left me with a sense of the tremendous impact of Partition on human history.  Also important for me as a reader, the danger and tension of the setting were captured masterfully without devolving into graphic violence. And perhaps most important of all: despite the themes of political turmoil, the mystery and depth and aching beauty of India were captured with clarity and affection by an author who has clearly lived in the country and loved its people.
Jen kindly agreed to share some insights about her inspiration for telling a story set during Partition, her research process, and what we can look forward to next. I hope you’ll check out A MOMENT COMES and Jen’s other acclaimed works, SHIFT and WRAPPED. Here’s Jen:

The story started for me in 2005 when I was teaching on a Fulbright Exchange in Chandigarh.  Chandigarh was created post-partition to serve as capital of both Punjab and Haryana and is full of people with vivid recollections of partition.  I was very lucky in that the friends I made and the students I taught were kind enough to answer my questions and share some of their stories with me.  But the more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I was sort of stunned by how little I knew about the roots of the conflicts between Pakistan and India.  The partition still stands as the greatest human migration in history, and some estimates at the loss of life rise as high as two million.  Those staggering numbers, and the fact that more people don't know about them, still surprise me. 

Years later, when the seeds of the story still hadn’t left me, I began writing the book as a means to try and find my way to a better understanding.  A few books were really helpful in that process—Alex von Tunzelman's Indian Summer and Pammie Mountbatten’s India Remembered: A Personal Account of the Mountbattens During the Transfer of Power are two that come to mind.  I was also able to get copies of Margaret Bourke White's Life magazine pictorials.  She was the field photographer for Life during the time the book takes place, and the images are haunting and powerful.
Since finishing the research and rewrites on A Moment Comes, I’ve been happily tramping about in 1838.  My next book, tentatively called Giant's Coffin, is set inside Mammoth Cave at the tuberculosis hospital that was established inside the cave.  There are mysteries, adventures, odd medical cures and river pirates.  I’m very excited about it both because it is my first middle grade novel and because it’s my first set in my home state of Kentucky.  It should be out in the next couple of years. 

Thanks, Jen - and thanks, Stephanie, for a great piece!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

rgz Diva Delight: Words with Wings

So happy to recommend our rgz Circle of Stars, Nikki Grimes' new release, Words with Wings. The verse novel poetically explores protagonist Gabby's propensity to daydream. Amidst the turmoil of her parent's separation and a move, escape through thoughts is easy. Gabby preserves her memories and protects herself in her new situation by slipping away in her mind.

Stuck in Dreamland

Maybe something
is wrong with me,
all this fancy dancing
in my mind.
Where I see red and purple
and bursts of blue,
everybody else sees
black and white.
Am I wrong?
Are they right?
Too bad
I can't ask Dad.

When the daydreams interfere with life, Gabby learns to find power in her ability. The step from daydreaming to writing is made with the aid of a perceptive teacher and a new friend.

With succinct, vivid words, Nikki brings to light the thoughts and aims of two opposite characters, mother and daughter. The reader gains sympathy and understanding for both points of view.

Find Words with Wings and take the challenge to find the strength in what some see as your weakness.

Words with Wings
by Nikki Grimes
WordSong, 2013

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Friday, June 14, 2013

Cover Stories: Rogue 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 the author of Gringolandia, a young adult novel about a refugee family living with the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. Her most recent novel, Rogue, features a main character with a mild form of autism, which Lyn also has. In an interview with the Times-Union, she says that she, like her character, "got into a lot of fights. I beat up boys. I literally cried every day at school. The stress was overwhelming. I made really good grades, and I hated school." Early reviews are very positive.

The book also has a very cool Cover Story, and she's here to share it: 

"My YA novel, Gringolandia, had an unusual and powerful cover closely connected to the story, and I was heavily involved in the design process. A small press published the novel, and in general, small presses do give authors far greater input than large corporate publishers. Thus, when I signed the contract for Rogue, I knew I’d get a chance to see the cover beforehand but I’d have little or no role in the ultimate decision-making.

"That said, the result exceeded my wildest expectations. My wonderful editor, Nancy Paulsen at Penguin, commissioned Marikka Tamura, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and other prestigious venues. We all agreed that the cover of Rogue needed a bicycle, because bicycles of all kinds play an important role in the story. Once we decided on the title of 'Rogue,' after the X-Men superhero with whom my main character, Kiara, is obsessed, we all knew the cover needed a comic-book superhero motif. 

"When I first saw the cover design, the only thing that concerned me was the thought bubble that contained the novel’s first line: 'It usually took the new kids two weeks to dump me, three weeks at the most.' The reason is that when I was in school, I used to descend on the new kids, to make them my friends before the more popular kids stole them away. It never worked, and my own friendships never lasted more than a few weeks. So I was nervous about advertising unpopularity—Kiara’s and mine—on the cover.

"My editor did not agree with me. The one change that the publisher made from the galley to the finished copy was to change the thought bubble from pink to blue (see galley cover on the right). And here’s where we did have outside input—not mine, but my seventh grade student’s recommendation.

"When I told my seventh graders that my novel had been accepted, under the title KIARA RULES, and read them the first chapter, a student named Dan said, 'This is the kind of book I’d read, but not if it has a girl’s name in the title and pink on the cover.' So KIARA RULES became ROGUE, but the graffiti 'Kiara Rulz' on the cover recognizes the earlier title and Kiara’s generally fruitless efforts to be 'cool' and in control. And, of course, the pink thought bubble became a blue thought bubble. That was a good move because it turns out that boys do enjoy reading Rogue. It’s rare to have boys pick up a novel with a girl protagonist—The Hunger Games is a notable exception—so I’m thrilled that Rogue is in that company. At the same time, Kiara, like Katniss, doesn’t take on traditional gender roles, and every other character is a boy. Like many girls with Asperger’s syndrome, myself included, Kiara’s first real friends turn out to be boys rather than girls.

"The gender-neutral cover captures perfectly my main character, her tendency to get in trouble even though she wants to be good, her sense of being an outsider, and her superhero obsession as she struggles to find her own special power. It’s also an lively cover that hints at the outdoors setting and the action and suspense that should keep the pages turning."

Thanks, Lyn! I love the idea that seventh graders weighed in here and got a voice at the table! Can't wait to read it!