Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why I love #yafeministchat

There's never really been a name for the type of young adult books I love most. The books with female characters you're dying to be besties with. The ones that make you want to stand up tall because just reading them makes you feel proud to be a woman.

In my head, I've always called these books "girly YA," but I'm usually afraid to say that out loud, let alone tweet it. I'm scared of the backlash. You know, the "Calling a book girly makes it seem different - less than - other books! Labels like that alienate male readers! They should all be called contemporary! Pink covers are the devil!" backlash.

And those are excellent points (well, except maybe that bit about the pink covers - I do love a good pink cover), BUT. The books I'm talking about ARE different from a lot of contemporary YA. And they don't even have to be contemporary (A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY by Libba Bray is one of my favorites). So what is it about these books that makes them so special?

1) Female relationships take the forefront. Girls are shown navigating relationships with their friends, sisters, mothers.  

2) Issues of particular importance to girls feature prominently (beauty, rape, eating disorders, female sexuality and double standards). I'm not saying these issues can't be important to boys too, but they affect girls more forcefully.

3) There's some element of girls against the establishment, women challenging the status quo.

4) The main character, at some point during her character arc, has an “I am woman. Hear me roar.” moment. A young woman finding her voice for the first time is incredibly powerful, and it's something I love reading about.

5) Shenanigans, including but not limited to: sleepovers, séances, singing into hairbrushes, shopping, dancing, makeover montages, pranks, games of never have I ever, pacts (bonus points if said pact is made over a Cosmo a la SHUT OUT by Kody Keplinger), and just, in general, fun. Because I firmly believe that you can change the world and have fun at the same time.


This is what I think, and these are the types of books I'm looking for. But I've mostly just fretted over the fact that "girly YA" maybe wasn't the best label, and searched harder for them on Goodreads. And that's precisely the problem with NOT having a label for these books. If you don't acknowledge that they're different - beautifully, wonderfully, life-changingly different, it makes it harder for the people who want and need them to find the books that are going to expand their hearts and change their world views.

So, to whoever thought of #yafeministchat, THANK YOU. Thank you for giving a name to the books I love. Thank you for providing a forum where I can discuss them with my friends. Because the book recs alone are making my year.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: LIARS, INC. by Paula Stokes

I'm super excited for another book by Paula Stokes because THE ART OF LAINEY was so. Much. Fun. Check out the cover and blurb for her next book:




For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV's How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.



Are you freaking out yet because I am FREAKING OUT. I need this book! The cover is gorgeous, creepy, evocative, and the premise. Love. I get chills every time I read the part about Max hooking Preston up with a cover story and Preston never coming home. So, yeah, I'm going to be devouring this book in approximately 6 days.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED by Hannah Moskowitz

There are a lot of reasons I'm excited for this book.

1) I love Hannah Moskowitz books like a fat kid loves cake. (My thoughts on Invincible Summer and Zombie Tag.)

2) So many people who don't normally get to see themselves in books are going to be able to identify with Etta. And I think lots of people can identify with not feeling like we fit exactly. Plus, diversity on the cover, FTW!

3) I love reading about ballet even though I'm not a ballerina.

4) I love when people who are very different teach each other things and grow together.


Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in
her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she's too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself? 

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.



Okay, I just realized NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED came out yesterday, and I'm a dumbass. But also, YAY! That means I can buy it RIGHT. NOW.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: WRITTEN IN THE STARS by Aisha Saeed

For today's Waiting on Wednesday post, I'm super excited to share a book by fellow Atlanta YA writer, Aisha Saeed. If you're a local too, you should definitely stop by her launch party Sunday, March 29th, at 7 p.m. at Little Shop of Stories! I'll be there with my copy of WRITTEN IN THE STARS!


This heart-wrenching novel explores what it is like to be thrust into an unwanted marriage. Has Naila’s fate been written in the stars? Or can she still make her own destiny?
 
Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden. When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.



Why I can't wait for this book: I love reading books with rich and gorgeous settings, and I love learning about other parts of the world. Plus, Naila definitely sounds like the kind of girl I want to get to know better!



Sunday, October 26, 2014

YA Contemporary Scavenger Hunt!


YA Contemporary Scavenger Hunt


Today I get to be part of a YA Contemporary Scavenger Hunt - which is pretty amazing because A) if you know me, you know I love Scavenger Hunts and B) my next book is about girls banding together to beat the football team at their annual scavenger hunt. Thanks Katie and Montana! I also get to host an interview and giveaway with Tiffany Schmidt, which is very exciting because her books sound so freaking good!


Interview:

What was your inspiration for writing Send Me A Sign and Bright Before Sunrise?

Both of these novels started with characters. 

With Send Me a Sign I wanted to explore a character who was superstitious and thrown into a situation where her life felt out of her control. So those superstitious beliefs became her coping mechanism. I also wanted to write a story that went against a lot of the cancer tropes that felt very prevalent to me. So I wanted Mia to be very flawed instead of saintly, scared and selfish instead of stoic and sacrificial, a Person with cancer vs. a Cancer Patient.

Brighton in Bright Before Sunrise developed in reaction to a lot of the Mean Girl/Queen Bee cliches that are so common in literature and film. I wanted to create a female character who was popular not because she was manipulative or cruel, but because of how well she adapted to others’ expectations for her. I wanted to explore a character that’s so busy being a people-pleaser that she’s lost sight of what she wants for herself. 

And I wanted to pair Brighton with someone who would see right through her exterior and challenge her — so that was my inspiration for Jonah, the new boy in school who sees all the different versions of Brighton she presents to different people. He decides this makes her incredibly superficial and fake. Of course, the more he dislikes her, the more determined Brighton is to win him over…


Oh wow, I love books that take a more careful look at Mean Girls/Queen Bees, so I'll definitely be reading that one! Out of all of your characters, which one do you relate the most to? 
Brighton. Like her, I’m also plagued by an inability to say no. (gah, it’s only two letters, why is it so hard?) And I definitely spend far too much time worrying about being nice or if I’m liked. I’ve never managed to develop that ability to not care. And while writing Bright Before Sunrise didn’t cure me of this, it’s certainly made me much more aware of my Brighton-esque tendencies. I’m a work in progress :)

But, like Bright, I also truly love helping other people and cherish my relationships with my friends and family (even when they’re driving me nuts!).


Are there are there any other YA genres that you'd like to eventually write in? 
My next novel, HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH (book 1 in the ONCE UPON A CRIME FAMILY series) is a romantic thriller about crime families that traffic human organs. So, while there’s no magic or paranormal elements, it’s a fairy tale reimagining and a thriller, which are both fun new challenges for me.

After that… who knows :) 


If you could have dinner with any three authors, who would they be?

JK Rowling. 
Jane Austen
Louisa May Alcott


What 2015 release (or releases) are you the most excited for right now? 
Amy Spalding’s KISSING TED CALLAHAN AND OTHER BOYS
Courtney Summers’ ALL THE RAGE
Ally Carter’s WE ALL FALL DOWN


What advice would you give to aspiring authors? 

Read! Write!  A LOT. And plan to continue to do both of those things forever. (If this idea isn’t appealing to you, then you probably don’t really want to be an author! — to me it sounds like the Best Thing Ever. It’s ‘work’, but also my favorite type of fun.)

But, it’s also my job, so it’s not all snuggling up with books and coffee. While you’re reading and writing, start educating yourself on publishing too. There are so many great resources on the web — take the time to read through them. Join local (or online) critique groups. Focus on your craft. Challenge yourself. Accept that you’ll hear no more than yes, and that there’s not such thing as a ‘perfect book’ — there’s always, always room for improvement and revision. 

Buckle up and be patient — because publishing is a game of hurry up and lots of waiting. It’s a roller coaster of emotions and luck and chance—it’ll break your heart and make you cry from happiness. It’s the best thing ever—but it’s not easy. And it can’t happen without putting words on a page. So… go start writing and reading. 


What do you like to do when you're not reading or writing? :)
Run
Bake 
Snuggle down with my Schmidtlets & puggles
Binge-watch TV shows with St.Matt
Travel


Giveaway!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Summary: 
When Jonah is forced to move from Hamilton to Cross Pointe for the second half of his senior year, "miserable" doesn't even begin to cover it. He feels like the doggy-bag from his mother's first marriage and everything else about her new life—with a new husband, new home and a new baby—is an upgrade. The people at Cross Pointe High School are pretentious and privileged—and worst of all is Brighton Waterford, the embodiment of all things superficial and popular. Jonah’s girlfriend, Carly, is his last tie to what feels real... until she breaks up with him. 

For Brighton, every day is a gauntlet of demands and expectations. Since her father died, she’s relied on one coping method: smile big and pretend to be fine. It may have kept her family together, but she has no clue how to handle how she's really feeling. Today is the anniversary of his death and cracks are beginning to show. The last thing she needs is the new kid telling her how much he dislikes her for no reason she can understand. She's determined to change his mind, and when they're stuck together for the night, she finally gets her chance. 

Jonah hates her at 3p.m., but how will he feel at 3 a.m.? 

One night can change how you see the world. One night can change how you see yourself.


Author Bio:
Tiffany Schmidt lives in Pennsylvania with her saintly husband, impish twin boys, and a pair of mischievous puggles. She's not at all superstitious... at least that's what she tells herself every Friday the thirteenth.

SEND ME A SIGN is her first novel. BRIGHT BEFORE SUNRISE will follow in Winter, 2014. The ONCE UPON A CRIME FAMILY series begins with HOLD ME LIKE A BREATH in 2015. You can find out more about her and her books at: TiffanySchmidt.com, TiffanySchmidtWrites.Tumblr.com or by following her on Twitter @TiffanySchmidt.



Other Novels:

Send Me A Sign, Hold Me Like a Breath (coming 2015)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

17 FIRST KISSES Launch Party!

My launch party for 17 FIRST KISSES was last night at Little Shop of Stories, and it was so much fun! I'm so grateful to everyone who came out and so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends! And to live in an area with such a fantastic local bookstore!

Here are some photos, courtesy of Ross Laver:

Zack and I doing a reading together - he read the boy parts for me :)















A cake with my book cover on it! Does it get any better than that? (Thanks, Mom!)





















Signing books! (This was so surreal!)















Ansley is practicing for her very own book signing.





















Me and my mom.















I have no idea what terrifying thing is happening on the other side of the camera.















Me and my grad school girls.















Xander loved the reading.















Mom, Xander, and Micah. (And my sister in the background. I think she looks like the 17FK cover model!)















Hannah, me, and Dad.















Ansley chowing down on some cake!
















Days 14 and 15 of the 17 days until 17 FIRST KISSES countdown. Other posts here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

First Kiss Friday - 17 FIRST KISSES giveaway!

Hi! Today for First Kiss Friday, I want to hear about your first kisses! So, tell me in the comments, link to your blog, or hit me up on Twitter with the abridged version. The first five responders win a signed copy of 17 FIRST KISSES and a lip gloss :)

The kiss can be your very first kiss, your first kiss with your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner, any first kiss you think would be fun to share! I'll be sharing mine with RT Book Reviews on Tuesday, June 17th. And here are some previous First Kiss Fridays to get you started.

ETA: I don't want people to be discouraged if the contest fills up fast, so the best story will also win a signed copy + lip gloss + something awesome I will think of.

Open to US and Canada.
Day 13 of the 17 days until 17 FIRST KISSES countdown. Other posts here.