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!

Authors in Residence

rgz Author in Residence logo

Spring, 2010

Please join us in welcoming Lisa Ann Sandell as our Author-in-Residence for May-August 2010. During her stay, Lisa will be hanging out at our blog and chats. We are honored to have her among us

Lisa Ann Sandell

Author's Real Residence: New York, New York
Favorite Hobbies: Reading (obviously), writing (even more obviously), riding my bike, going to plays, traveling, hanging out with my dog and my husband and my friends, taking long walks along the Hudson River, sculpting, and I'm trying to learn how to draw.
Favorite books on writing: On Writing by Stephen King and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Favorite YA books: It's hard to pick favorites, but here are what I think might be my top three: Looking for Alaska by John Green, Martyn Pig by Kevin Brooks, and Incantation by Alice Hoffman.
Website: http://www.lisaannsandell.com
Blog: http://lisaannsandell.livejournal.com

Lisa Ann Sandell

Please take the time to grow familiar with Lisa's esteemed body of work. Check out her book covers and summaries below.
Lisa informed us that her first novel, The Weight of the Sky, is loosely autobiographical. This book tells the story of Sarah, an American teenager who travels to Israel on her first trip away from home by herself.
In Israel, Sarah volunteers on a kibbutz, or communal farm, and falls in love with the land - and a boy - and comes to appreciate what really matters to her in life, what she wants to do and who she wants to be. A coming-of-age story about self-discovery.
Published March 2006

Lisa Ann Sandell

Song of the Sparrow tells the story of Elaine, a young woman who, with her father and brothers, lives in a military camp led by Arthur of Britain. The men fight against invaders from many directions, and Elaine does what she can to help the Britains by learning the healing arts to tend to wounded soldiers. There is romance and lots of adventure.
Lisa says, "What I love best about the stories of King Arthur are the themes of friendship, equality, and justice - I think these ideals are what make the human race noble. I also tried to inject this novel with the notion that girls can be as strong as men, even if they aren't doing the same things. We all have a role to play and the role of girls and women is just as important as that of men."
Published May 2007

Lisa Ann Sandell

In A Map of the Known World, Cora Bradley's older brother has died in a car crash. Now she finds solace in drawing maps of and envisioning herself in exotic locales. Then, as she begins high school, Cora begins to spend time with Damian, the handsome, brooding boy who was in the car with Nate the night he died, and she uncovers her brother's secret artistic life, and realizes she had more in common with him than she ever imagined. The themes of this novel cover the redemptive powers of art, friendship, and love.
Published April 2009
Did You Know?
Both Song of the Sparrow and Weight of the Sky are verse novels.
Lisa's short story entitled See Me was published in the anthology 21 Proms.

Art Saves
How do you think Art Saves? In July 2009, we challenged readers to show us their answer to that question creatively. Lisa created a beautiful collage for the project.
Click here to view the collage & to read her accompanying essay about art and the world.
You may view all of the Art Saves creations in the special gallery within the July 2009 issue of readergirlz.

Tune in!
Lisa took us on a walk and showed us some of favorite writing spots in New York City.

Lisa then showed us some of her favorite works of art.

Next, Lisa considered representation and the history of art.

Finally, Lisa talks about storytelling - and drawing inspiration from reality - in Glacier National Park, MT.

Listen up! Lisa selected the following tracks to represent music which has touched her life and her books.

Paint it Black by Rolling Stones
Fight Test by The Flaming Lips
This Time Tomorrow by The Kinks
Just Like Heaven by The Cure
Love Story by Taylor Swift
Let My Love Open the Door by Rilo Kiley - their cover of the Pete Townshend song
Fidelity by Regina Spektor
All My Little Words by The Magnetic Fields
Carey by Joni Mitchell
Rocky Raccoon by The Beatles
Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? by The Hold Steady
Time to Pretend by MGMT
Chinese Translation by M.
If You Could Read My Mind Love by Gordon Lightfoot

Tune in! We created a playlist with these tracks on Project Playlist. If you can't see the Flash player below, click here to open the playlist in a new window.

Winter, 2010

Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott will be our author-in-residence for the first 4 months of 2010. She'll dropping by the readergirlz blog and chats throughout her visit. She is also our newest readergirlz diva. We are honored to have her among us. Join Elizabeth during her live chat at the readergirlz blog on Monday, May 3rd at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST.
Author's Real Residence: Just outside Washington, DC
Favorite Hobbies: Hanging out with my husband, my friends, and my dog, reading, watching TV, going to the movies, and baking.
Favorite YA Books: A short and incomplete list focusing on non-US authors I think everyone should read: Let's Get Lost by Sarra Manning, Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, Dooley Takes The Fall by Norah McClintock, Game Girls by Judy Waite, Leader of the Pack by Kate Cann, The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd, and Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry.
Favorite Books on Writing: Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and On Writing by Stephen King.
Website: http://www.elizabethwrites.com
Blog: http://www.elizabethwrites.com/blog
Have fun growing more familiar with Elizabeth's esteemed body of work. Check out her book covers and summaries below.

Elizabeth Scott

Bloom Lauren has a good life: decent grades, great friends, and a boyfriend every girl wants. So why is she so unhappy? It takes the arrival of Evan Kirkland for Lauren to figure out the answer: she's been holding back. She's been denying herself a bunch of things (like sex) because staying with her loyal and gorgeous boyfriend, Dave, is the "right" thing to do. After all, who would give up the perfect guy?

But as Dave starts talking more and more about their life together, planning a future Lauren simply can't see herself in -- and as Lauren's craving for Evan, and moreover, who she is with Evan becomes all the more fierce -- Lauren realizes she needs to make a choice...before one is made for her.

Elizabeth Scott

Perfect You
Kate Brown's life has gone downhill fast. Her father has quit his job to sell vitamins at the mall, and Kate is forced to work with him. Her best friend has become popular, and acts like Kate's invisible.

And then there's Will. Gorgeous, unattainable Will, who Kate pretends she can't stand even though she can't stop thinking about him. And when Will starts acting interested, Kate hates herself for wanting him even though she knows she's just his latest conquest.

Kate figures the only way things will ever stop hurting is if she keeps to herself and stops caring about anyone or anything. What she doesn't realize is that while life may not always be perfect, good things can happen -- but only if she lets them.

Elizabeth Scott

Stealing Heaven
My name is Danielle. I'm eighteen. I've been stealing things for as long as I can remember.
Dani has been trained as a thief by the best -- her mother. Together, they move from town to town, targeting wealthy homes and making a living by stealing antique silver. They never stay in one place long enough to make real connections, real friends -- a real life.

In the beach town of Heaven, though, everything changes. For the first time, Dani starts to feel at home. She's making friends and has even met a guy. But these people can never know the real Dani -- because of who she is. When it turns out that her new friend lives in the house they've targeted for their next job and the cute guy is a cop, Dani must question where her loyalties lie: with the life she's always known -- or the one she's always wanted.

Elizabeth Scott

Living Dead Girl
The thing is, you can get used to anything. You think you can't, you want to die, but you don't. You won't. You just are.
This is Alice.

She was taken by Ray five years ago.

She thought she knew how her story would end.

She was wrong.

Elizabeth Scott

Something, Maybe
Everyone thinks their parents are embarrassing, but Hannah knows she's got them all beat. Her dad made a fortune showing pretty girls -- and his "party" lifestyle -- all over the Internet, and her mom, who was once one of her dad's girlfriends, is now the star of her own website. After getting the wrong kind of attention for far too long, Hannah has learned how to stay out of sight...and that's how she likes it.

Of course, being unknown isn't helping her get noticed by gorgeous, confident Josh, who Hannah knows is her soul mate. Between trying to figure out a way to get him to notice her, dealing with her parents, and wondering why she can't stop thinking about another guy, Finn, Hannah feels like she's going crazy. She's determined to make things work out the way she wants...only what she wants may not be what she needs

Elizabeth Scott

Love You Hate You Miss You
It's been seventy-five days. Amy's sick of her parents suddenly taking an interest in her. And she's really sick of people asking her about Julia. Julia's gone, and Amy doesn't want to talk about it. No one knew Julia like she did. No one gets what life is without her. No one understands what it's like to know that it's all your fault.

Amy's shrink thinks she should keep a journal but instead, Amy starts writing letters to Julia. And as she writes letter after letter, she begins to realize that the past holds its own secrets -- and that the present deserves a chance.

Elizabeth Scott

e Unwritten Rule

Everyone knows the unwritten rule. You don't like your best friend's boyfriend.

Sarah has had a crush on Ryan for years. He's easy to talk to, supersmart, and totally gets her. Lately it even seems like he's paying extra attention to her. Everything would be perfect except for two things: Ryan is Brianna's boyfriend, and Brianna is Sarah's best friend.

Sarah forces herself to avoid Ryan and tries to convince herself not to like him. She feels so guilty for wanting him, and the last thing she wants is to hurt her best friend. But when she's thrown together with Ryan one night, something happens. It's wonderful...and awful.

Sarah is torn apart by guilt, but what she feels is nothing short of addiction, and she can't stop herself from wanting more...

Elizabeth Scott

A fable of a terrifying near future.

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate.

Grace will be published in September 2010 by Dutton.

Tune in! During her residency, Elizabeth posted monthly vlogs about writing. She will also be chatting live with us at the readergirlz blog at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST on Monday, May 3rd. Join us then!

Elizabeth Scott chat at readergirlz

April 2010

In Elizabeth's fourth vlog entry, she answers reader questions about her post-book rituals and about the importance of editing.
Comment at the readergirlz blog for your chance to win a set of all of Elizabeth's published books, including a copy of her next book, Grace!

March 2010

In her third readergirlz video blog, Elizabeth tells us more about her newest book, The Unwritten Rule. She also talks about how she creates her characters, and when, why, and how she cuts scenes from her manuscripts. She said she tends to cut 40% (!) of her drafts in order to streamline the stories. Five lucky blog commenters got copies of The Unwritten Rule.

February 2010

In her second video blog for readergirlz, Elizabeth discusses where she gets the inspiration for stories and why she loved reading tool catalogues as a kid. She says she'll read just about anything, even cereal boxes! Elizabeth gave five paperback copies of her book Something, Maybe to randomly selected folks who left comments for her at the readergirlz blog.

January 2010

In her first readergirlz vlog, Elizabeth answers readers' requests for info about her workspace, writing rituals, writing process, and the best (and worst) reviews she's ever gotten. She also talks about why the concept of loss figures into so much of her work. Three lucky readers who posted comments about the video at the readergirlz blog each won a signed copy of one of Elizabeth's books. Thanks to everyone who entered.

Listen up! Elizabeth says, "I never listen to music when I write, so I honestly can't think of any songs that reflect me and writing! I asked around, though, and here is a list of songs some incredibly awesome people have suggested for my books."

For Bloom: "Fix You" by Coldplay, "Somewhere Only We Know" by Keane, and "Consider Me Gone" by Reba McEntire

For Perfect You: "Wonderwall" as covered by Ryan Adams, "Battlefield" and "It Takes More" by Jordin Sparks, "The Middle" by Jimmy Eat World, and "Reasons To Love" by Meiko

For Stealing Heaven: "Better Son/Daughter" by Rilo Kiley, "Fearless" by Taylor Swift, "The Way I Feel" by Matt Wertz, and "Dream" by Priscilla Ahn

For Living Dead Girl: "Creature Fear" by Bon Iver, "Ceremony" by New Order, "Accidents" by Drunken Boat, "I Will Dare" by the Replacements, "Pastel Blue" by Sister Vanilla, "Skinny Mean Man" by Say Anything, "Nobody's Home" by Avril Lavigne, and "Haunted" by Evanescence

For Something, Maybe: "Hate That I Love You" by Ne-Yo and Rihana, "Falling Over Me" by Demi Lovato, "Hallelujah" by Paramore, "Fall" by Something Corporate, "Stolen" by Dashboard Confessional, "Shine On" by The Kooks, "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor and "Empty Days" by Augustana.

For Love You Hate You Miss You: "Twice" by Twin Dragon, "Fall Away" by the Fray, "Pale" by Within Temptation, "When You're Gone" by Avril Lavigne, and "The Way I Loved You" by Taylor Swift

For The Unwritten Rule, which will be out on April 6th, 2010: "You Belong With Me" by Taylor Swift, "Why Can't I" by Liz Phair, ''Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service, "I Know I Know I Know" by Tegan and Sara, '"Wonderwall" by Oasis, "Edge of the Ocean" by Ivy, "The Winner Is" from the Little Miss Sunshine soundtrack, "Crazy For This Girl" by Evan and Jaron, "What Sarah Said" by Death Cab For Cutie (mostly just because of the name) and "Blue Eyes" by Cary Brothers

Tune in! We created a playlist with the tracks which were available on Project Playlist. If you can't see the Flash player below, click here to open the playlist in a new window.

Winter 2009

Beth Kephart

Please join us in welcoming our first Author-in-Residence at rgz: Beth Kephart! Beth was in house for 4 months, from September 2009 through the end of the year. Throughout her visit, she popped into the readergirlz blog and chats. We are honored to have her among us.
Author's Real Residence: Philadelphia
Favorite Hobbies: Gardening and ballroom dancing
Website & Blog: http://beth-kephart.blogspot.com
While Visiting Us: Beth was shortlisted in the Best Published Author Blog category for Book Blogger Appreciation Week.
Please take the time to grow familiar with Beth's esteemed body of work. Check out her book covers and summaries below.
Beth posted monthly blogs, three with videos, in which she discussed the art (and the joys, and the frustrations) of writing. Each blog entry also served as a prompt for writing contests.
December 2009: Writing from Life
Here is Beth's fourth and final writing prompt and contest:
"What I'd love you to do is go out into your worlds and take a photograph - or find a photograph you've already taken - of a place and study it for its mood, its lights, its ambience, its possibilities, its weather, and turn it into something that is new and unexpected...I'd love for you to write ten lines or so - or a poem - about this place and send the photo along with it so we can see how your mind has transformed reality into something imaginative."
Entries for this contest were due December 30th, 2009. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to our winner Charlotte and runner-up Carly! Read their entries. Charlotte will receive an advanced reading copy of The Heart is Not a Size, Beth's YA novel which will be released in March 2010 by HarperTeen.
If you can't see the video below, click here.

November 2009: Then and Now

Here is Beth's third prompt:
"In this readergirlz challenge, the premise is simple: Find a photograph of yourself as a young child on the verge of some new knowledge or turning point. Write a paragraph about that photograph/that moment in present tense, as if you are experiencing that moment for the first time. Then write about that photograph/that moment in past tense, with the gift of retrospection. Ask yourself what you gain from working in the present tense, and what is gained by reflection; include your thoughts on this with your submission."
Entries to this contest were due November 25th, 2009. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to Kiera! Read her winning entry. Kiera received a signed copy of Nothing but Ghosts, a novel about a young girl who, in learning to live past her mother’s unexpected passing, involves herself in decoding the mystery that envelops the recluse down the road. The past and the present collide in Ghosts.
October 2009: The Story Song
Here is the second of Beth's vlog entries, with her written introduction:
"For the second readergirlz contest, I've chosen a topic close to my heart - choreography - and called it The Story Song. I read books to meet new characters, to go new places, and to find out what happens. I also read to learn how the author has chosen to choreograph the narrative. Is it a straightforward telling, or a book that turns round on itself? Does the story speed up and slow down, are there embedded refrains, which themes recur, which details, and why? Watch the video below, then share with me one of your own poems or short (up to ten lines) pieces of writing. Tell me, with your submission, just how you thought about the piece as lyric. What, in other words, was your choreographic strategy?"
Entries to this contest were due October 25th, 2009. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to Q! Read her winning entry. Q received a signed copy of House of Dance, a novel about a young girl who, in taking care of her dying grandfather and learning about the life he once lived, decides to offer him one final gift.
If you can't see the video below, click here.

September 2009: Remain Vulnerable

Here is the first of Beth's vlog entries, with her written introduction:
"I believe that the stories that touch us are written by authors who remain vulnerable to the world - who leave themselves open to the raw wounds and the glorious possibilities of yearning, outreach, and hope. Watch the video, then write no more than ten lines of poetry or prose expressing a fully lived emotion."
Entries for this contest were due September 25th, 2009. Thanks to everyone who entered, and congratulations to Jennifer Petro-Roy, Erin McIntosh and Lauren Miller! Read the winning entries. Each winner received a signed copy of Undercover, a novel about a young, aspiring poet who discovers the beauty that lives within her.
If you can't see the video below, click here.

Beth Kephart

Nothing but Ghosts

Ever since her mother passed away, Katie's been alone in her too-big house with her genius dad, who restores old paintings for a living. Katie takes a summer job at a garden estate, where, with the help of two brothers and a glamorous librarian, she soon becomes embroiled in decoding a mystery.
There are secrets and shadows at the heart of Nothing but Ghosts: symbols hidden in a time-darkened painting, and surprises behind a locked bedroom door. But most of all, this is a love story - the story of a girl who learns about love while also learning to live with her own ghosts.
Published June 2009
Bonus download: Nothing but Ghosts flyer (PDF)

Beth Kephart

House of Dance

Rosie and her mother coexist in the same house as near strangers. Since Rosie's father abandoned them years ago, her mother has accomplished her own disappearing act, spending more time with her boss than with Rosie.
Now faced with losing her grandfather too, Rosie begins to visit him every day, traveling across town to his house, where she helps him place the things that matter most to him "In Trust." As Rosie learns her grandfather's story, she discovers the role music and motion have played in it. But like colors, memories fade. When Rosie stumbles into the House of Dance, she finally finds a way to restore the source of her grandfather's greatest joy.
Published May 2008

Beth Kephart


Like a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac, Elisa ghostwrites love notes for the boys in her school. But when Elisa falls for Theo Moses, things change fast. Theo asks for verses to court the lovely Lila - a girl known for her beauty, her popularity, and a cutting ability to remind Elisa that she has none of these. At home, Elisa's father, the one person she feels understands her, has left on an extended business trip. As the days grow shorter, Elisa worries that the increasingly urgent letters she sends her father won't bring him home. Like the undercover agent she feels she has become, Elisa retreats to a pond in the woods, where her talent for ice-skating gives her the confidence to come out from under cover and take center stage. But when Lila becomes jealous of Theo's friendship with Elisa, her revenge nearly destroys Elisa's ice-skating dreams and her plan to reunite her family.
Published September 2007

Beth Kephart

Other works include:
* The forthcoming novels The Heart is Not a Size, slated to be published in March 2010, and Dangerous Neighbors, coming in fall 2010;
* The Longest Distance, a short story published in the anthology No Such Thing as the Real World;
* The memoir A Slant of Sun;
* Ghosts in the Garden; and
* Flow, the autobiography of Philadelphia's Schuylkill River
Bonus download: The Heart is Not a Size flyer (PDF)

Listen up! Beth selected the following tracks to represent music which has touched her life and her books.
The Same Mistake by James Blunt
Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley
Cucurrucu Paloma by Caetano Veloso
Les Avions en Papier by Bruno Coulais
The Book of Love by Peter Gabriel
Amazing Grace by The Soweto Gospel Choir
My Beautiful Reward by Bruce Springsteen

Tune in! We created a playlist with the tracks which were available on Project Playlist. If you can't see the Flash player below, click here to open the playlist in a new window.

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