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Posts Tagged ‘teen’

From Books to Film and More: Inside the Mind of Alex Flinn

Posted by inkpopbecki on May 11, 2011

Ever wonder what it takes to go from book to film? Where were those writers before their books were movies? Join us for a live chat  with #1 New York Times bestselling author Alex Flinn to discuss this and other topics tonight at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events. In the meantime we caught up with Alex to ask her a few questions about her work.

How did you come up with the idea to adapt Beauty and the Beast into a modern day fairy tale?

I read a lot of fairy tales with my kids, and I became interested in the part of the story you don’t hear about as much – the Beast.  How did he become a beast?  Why was he all alone in the woods?  Where were his family?  I thought a lot about his loneliness and desperation, and that’s why I decided to write a book?

What was it like seeing your characters lifted from the page and brought to life on the screen? Were there things that the film did that you were unable to do in your book and conversely were there aspects of the book that were unable to translate to film?

Book and film are very different media.  I didn’t expect the movie to be exactly like my book.  What the movie does that a book can’t is, it provides a visual and also, music.  What the book did that the movie couldn’t was that it was longer and way more detailed.

Since Beastly you have created adapted another fairy tale into a modern retelling. What does it take to adeptly do these sort of reinterpretations? Are there limitations or things that you have to keep in mind when adapting these tales?

The hardest thing about adapting a fairy tale is deciding what the characters know about the existing fairy tale.  Has Kyle seen Beauty and the Beast on film, for example?  Also, do the characters believe in magic and, if not, do they come to believe in it based upon the circumstances of the story.  Since we are used to NOT believing in magic, this can be a hard transition.

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Your debut novel, Breathing Underwater, is now coming out in a new paperback edition. What have you learned since publishing Breathing Underwater in 2001?

What I’ve learned since publishing Breathing Underwater is more about being published than about writing.  The main thing I’ve learned is that not every reader is going to like every book.  Even with my own books, I have books that will appeal to different readers (The reader who likes A Kiss in Time is not necessarily going to be the same reader for Breathing Underwater).   When you first get published, you want everyone to love everything you write, but a book that appeals to all may not deeply touch many.  Now, I write each book for the reader who will like it.

Want to hear more? Join us tonight at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events for a live chat with author Alex Flinn

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Realistic Dystopia, Not an Oxymoron: Inside the Mind of New York Times Bestseller Megan McCafferty

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 27, 2011

New York Times bestseller Megan McCafferty is best known for her contemporary adult series Sloppy First. So we were excited when we heard she was penning her first young adult novel. Then when we discovered it had dystopia aspects, we became really curious. Bumped is set in the not too distant future and centers upon a world where fertility is fleeting and girls are being encouraged to “Bump” early in their lives.  Sound interesting? Join us for a live chat with New York Times bestselling author Megan McCafferty tonight at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events to find out more about creating a realistic dystopia.  In the meantime, we sat down with Megan to ask her a few quick questions about Bumped.

How did you come up with the story idea for Bumped?

Like many, I was fascinated by the Gloucester High School pregnancy pact. Shortly after, Bristol Palin and Jamie Lyn Spears went public with their pregnancies, and Juno was released to widespread critical and commercial acclaim. Cultural conversation in this country is dominated by extremes, and anything having to do with teens and sex is no exception. So the combination of all these events brought familiar debates about Abstinence Only versus Comprehensive condoms-on-bananas Sex Ed to a whole new level of hand-wringing intensity. I asked myself: What if teens were encouraged to have sex and get pregnant? What circumstances would make that morally acceptable on both sides of the sociopolitical spectrum? Those questions inspired the whole story.

What was it like moving from writing contemporary adult novels to writing young adult fiction? What did you have to keep in mind when making this transition?

Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings take place in high school and are considered by many to be young adult novels. So the transition wasn’t as drastic as it might be for an adult fiction writer who has never tried writing for or about teens. After spending an entire decade with the cast of characters in the Jessica Darling series, it was far more challenging just to be writing about anyone new.

How does an author approach topical issues, like teen pregnancy, and still make their novel relevant for future generations?

By not making it an “issue” book about teen pregnancy! Bumpedis really about what happens when two girls defy the expectations placed upon them by their parents, religion, friends

and society at large. I think we all can look back on a defining moment in our lives when we stopped pretending to be the person that others expected us to be and started being ourselves. That growth process is universal, and will hopefully help Bumped endure the test of time.

Want to hear more from Megan McCafferty, join us for a live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop forum events.

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Breaking the Genre Code: inktips from Kimberly Derting

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 13, 2011

Most authors will tell you it’s important to write in a genre and stick with it. That’s great, but not all books are that easy. Kimberly Derting’s Body Finder series offers readers a paranormal story with a bit of suspense. So what do you do when your genre is not so clear cut. Join us for a live chat today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop Forum Events with Kimberly Derting who will answer this and other questions. Can’t wait until tonight? We have some  writing tips from Kimberly Derting to wet your appetite.

 

Trying to pin down the exact genre of THE BODY FINDER was no small feat.  It was a mystery/thriller with a paranormal spin.  And, on top of that, it was a romance as well. It was a paramystamance.  Yeah…not so much.  But writing THE BODY FINDER was a whole other story.  I never once thought about how I was going to fit it into a neat little box, mostly because the secrets to writing suspense are the same whether you’re writing a fast-paced action-thriller or a toe-curling romance. For whatever genre you write, it’s all about trying to keep your readers on the edge of their seats.

 

1)  Use the Red Herring approach.  Sounds like some sort of cold, dead fish, right?  Well, it’s not.  The red herring can be your best friend when you’re writing.  Don’t know what a red herring is?  Here, let me help.  Red Herring: something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue. Think about it, you have to give your readers clues along the way, hints as to how your story will wrap up, but you don’t want those clues to be too obvious or you might as well just tell them whodunit and get it over with!  One way to make those hints less conspicuous is to use the “red herring” trick.  Just when you’re dangling a particularly juicy bit of information onto the page, divert their attention by giving them something even shinier to look at…something more interesting to focus on.

2)  Cast aspersions and doubt onto your characters.  This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to fall into this trap.  Make sure your “bad guy” isn’t wearing a black hat and your “hero” isn’t always riding a white horse.  Don’t let anyone off the hook.  Give your readers reason to questions everyone.  In romance, a lot of writers create love triangles to build this sense of tension for the protagonist, forcing her (or him) to choose between two romantic opposites.  Making the readers ask who will they pick?  Is he/she the same one we would choose?

3)  Ratchet up the tension.  How many times have you been reading a scene and you’re perched on the edge of your seat practically screaming at the pages—at the character—not to go in the room where danger awaits?  You know what I mean.  We do it with books, TV, at the movies.  But it’s those moments before the protagonist is wandering into dangerous territory that really get your heart racing and make you want to jump out of your skin.  Take the movie JAWS, for example.  The girl is swimming along, minding her own business, and suddenly you hear it…the music.  You know the shark is coming, but she has no idea.  You hold your breath.  You squeeze the hand of the person next to you.  You want to tell her “Swim!  For the love of God, swim!!!”  But once you see the blood gurgling to the surface, and the girl has disappeared beneath the dark waters, you already know she’s toast and you can breathe again.  At least until you hear that familiar soundtrack once more.

Take your time constructing those “moments before”.  Set the scene by describing the atmosphere, what they’re smelling, hearing, and feeling around them.  Think about the emotions the character is going through…is their heart racing?  Is their breathing shallow?  Give the reader some time to really fret over that character’s well-being.

So how does that same principle apply to romance, you ask?  Simple.  What’s really the best part of the love story?  I love a good kiss as much as the next girl, but even better than the kissing scenes are those moments before the first kiss (or kisses).  The close calls and what-ifs and will-he-or-won’t-he moments that have you leaning closer to the page and holding your breath.

 

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Creating a Paranormal World: inkTips from Author Cynthia Hand

Posted by inkpopbecki on April 6, 2011

Cynthia Hand knows a thing or two about writing compelling paranormal worlds. As a debut author, she was able to intrigue a HaperCollins editor so much, she sold the paranormal trilogy Unearthly on her first round of submissions. That is practically unheard of in the publishing world. How did she do it? Ask her yourself. Join us for a live chat with Cynthia Hand today at 5 p.m. EST in the inkpop Event Forums.

In the meantime check out these helpful tips from Cynthia on how to create an engaging paranormal world.

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1.Do the research. For most paranormal worlds there is some sort of mythology and history out there. Most of the big best-selling books like The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, etc, that have fantastic, creative and original worlds also have a very strong basis in real history and myth. Don’t be intimidated by it—dive in! Become an expert in the subject, really let yourself get into it and try to look at your topic from all angels—whoops, I mean angles. J The more you know, the fuller and richer the world you create will become. Creating a believable paranormal world is about the details, and doing the research will provide you with all kinds of beautiful details. Make it your business to collect details.

2. Follow your instincts. While you’re doing all this amazing research, let your gut lead you. If there’s a nagging little voice at the back of your brain that says that a piece of information you stumble over could be important, or that maybe you should look into this particular story or subject a little more, listen to it. Be curious. Go after what interests you, not just in a little way, but in a big way, because if something is super interesting to you, chances are that it will be interesting to everybody else, too.

3. Ditch the research. At some point you will have to push out on your own. Don’t let the information you’ve gathered confine you—break away. Take what you want from the research and abandon the rest. What will make your paranormal world successful is ultimately not about the fact-gathering you’ve done, but about your own unique vision. That’s why there can be ten great vampire novels out there or why so many writers can get away with retelling the story of Cinderella; even if the story’s been told before or we’re familiar with the subject, you, as a writer, can make it new. It’s all about your creativity, your twist, your fresh take.

4. Don’t forget the real world. Maybe the biggest, most important tip I can give you in creating a paranormal world is to put as much focus (if not more) on the real world of your story as you put on the supernatural world. When we are immersed in a real world that feels true and visceral and er, real, then it is easier for us to believe the aspects of your story that defy belief. A good story is not just about the flashy special effects—it’s about the people, and you want your people to live in as real an environment as possible. Practice restraint with your crazy supernatural stuff and think instead about what your main character eats for breakfast. (My main character, Clara, is a fan of Cheerios with banana slices.) Again, this is about the details.

5. And finally, have fun with it. Let yourself play! This is the fun part of being a writer!

Want to read more about the Unearthyly series? Check out Unearthly at HarperTeen.

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Writing What You Don’t Know: Inside the Mind of P. J. Converse

Posted by inkpopbecki on February 24, 2011

Sure you can look out of your window and write about what a summer day looks like in your own back yard. As a teen, you probably don’t have to stretch that far to create an authentic voice for young adults. What if you don’t want to write about the things around you? We caught up with author P.J. Converse to discuss his experience writing about a foreign country through the eyes of a Chinese teenage boy. If you like what he has to say, join us for a live chat today at 6 p.m. EST in the inkpop forums events.

What was the experience like getting your first novel published?

Getting my novel published involved a lot of photocopying and letter writing and a crazy amount of waiting. Then there’d be one note after months, “Pls send first 3 chaps w/ SASE” and it was the greatest thing ever.

If you’re like me, you’ll start out at the bottom, sending unsolicited submissions to publishers or agents you’ve found in some book. Then you send out a query letter and 3 chapters or first fifty pages or just a query or the whole thing—whatever the particular publisher or agent wants—and wait for someone to get back to you. Several weeks is the shortest turnaround period in this process; often it can be several months.

I started out with sending to publishers because I thought I wasn’t going to give 20% to an agent just for making a call to a publisher, which is all I thought they did. So I sent out to lots of publishers.

A lot of the time I got a form letter saying no thanks. Other times I got an actual letter saying no and why. A positive response was major, especially the first one. When I got my first “send three chaps” I thought destiny had arrived.

I think I had eight publishers ask me for pages. One process went all the way up to a senior editor / panel who decided not to move forward—that took a year and half with an average of 5 months between correspondence.

After two years of writing queries and sending out pages to publishers, I’d gotten nowhere. That’s when I thought about finding an agent. Luckily there were still publishers I hadn’t sent Subway Girl to, so that once an agent helped me get Subway Girl in better shape, there would still be places to send it—you don’t typically get a second chance with the same book with a publisher, so be careful about sending it out to too many places first off.

Also, and this was big for me too, an agent can get your book to someone much quicker and it will probably be to a head editor instead of to the person who has to go through unsolicited manuscripts – so, you won’t have to wait maybe years before your book is read by someone who can actually buy it.

No way Subway Girl would have got published without George Nicholson and Emily Hazel (who are now at Lee & Low Books) at Sterling Lord Literistic. The best site I know for finding a list of agents to query is www.agentquery.com

One last thing, it was actually harder to get an agent interested in reading pages so don’t get discouraged if that takes a while. Try not to send out your book to too many agents first up, so that you’ll still have places to send it later if you decide you need to do some more editing.

Your protagonist, Simon Chan, is a Chinese boy living in Hong Kong. What does it take to for you, an American author, to write from the perspective of a sixteen year old Chinese boy? What do you have to do to bring a foreign city like Hong Kong alive for a teen American reading audience?

I spent a couple of years teaching English in Hong Kong at a high school. You could tell almost immediately that the teenagers were thinking and worrying about the same things that teenagers think and worry about in other countries. Then after being around HK for a couple of years, I learned some of the specific things a HK teenager has to deal with growing up in a crappy part of Kowloon and going to a so-so high school.

It helped me to have lived and worked in HK for a couple of years because you go through all the emotions when you live in a place (versus just visiting there.) The store of memories I have definitely helped me describe how the places felt and not just how they looked.

What was it like to write Amy?

It was fun! She seemed very real to me very quickly and then it was a case of letting that voice come out in the different situations as they came up. The tough part I guess is to get to the point where you hear your character’s voice.

Amy’s voice comes from the girls and women that I’ve known and from myself as a teenager. I didn’t worry so much about getting ‘the female perspective’ right, but about expressing in detail the perspective of a beautiful, sensitive teenager who is thrown into a different city and culture and school with only her little brother and mom—and making that voice interesting (at least), and sometimes humorous or moving (at best).

Want to hear more from P.J. Converse? Join us for a live chat today at 6 p.m. EST in the inkpop forums events.

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Interview with Robert Barclay, author of If Wishes Were Horses

Posted by inkpopbecki on February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day! When trying to decide what to do for this great day of love, we decided to bring you an interview with a new author whose book is said to be like Nicholas Sparks meets The Horse Whisperer. Our hearts jut melted when we read If Wishes Were Horses. Just for fun we’re giving you a chance to win a free copy of this book. Just leave a comment. We’ll randomly select two commenters to receive a free copy of If Wishes Were Horses.

Q: Writing was a lifelong ambition for you. What finally propelled you to sit down and write If Wishes Were Horses?

Robert Barclay: After I sold my businesses in New York, I moved to Florida.  I had always wanted to write a novel of some kind, and my wife, Joyce, suggested that I do it.  She said something like:  “Okay, big shot.  Now you’ve got the money and time, so go and write your book!”  So it came in the form of a challenge that I couldn’t refuse!  She’s my rock, that one.  Many folks who know us call her “my better two-thirds”!

Q: Your wife, Joyce, is a practicing psychologist, and she too suffered a tragedy similar to the plot of your novel. Did that make it easier to write—or more difficult?

RB: Both, I would say.  Joyce lost her younger son to a drunk driver.  Sadly, I witnessed the true pain and sorrow of someone who was actually going through it.   That meant I could both write about it with a greater sense of reality, but it also forced me to watch Joyce endure the most difficult period of her life.  From that terrible reality came the idea of Wyatt losing his family.  I only hope that I conveyed it well.

Q: You revealed that much of the novel is drawn from your own past. Can you share with us one or two examples from the book in which a situation in your own life inspired a part of the story? How do you as an author balance your own experiences with your fictional narrative? Were there ever times that you thought you had to change something because it was too close?

RB: Because Wyatt lost his wife and son on his birthday, he finds it impossible to take the blessings during his weekly church service, which is a celebration of blessings, anniversaries, etc.  Instead of participating, he always leaves the church just as the priest commences it.  The inspiration for this came about while I was in church one Sunday.  As the priest called for people to come and take the blessings, I saw a man of about my age rise from his pew and head for the aisle.  Rather than heading for the sanctuary, however, with his head hung low he gave some cash to one of the ushers, and he quietly departed the church.  Although I never saw him again, I knew that his tale had to be an interesting one.  That became the inspiration for Wyatt’s inability to remain in church during the blessings.  Seeing that unknown man leave the church seemed so poignant, and it rang so true, that I knew I wanted to use the occasion in my book.

And yes—novelists must do their best to balance their fictions with their own, true-life experiences.  The secret, I think, is letting your life experiences get close to the storyline—but not so close that you are actually recreating them onto the written page.  If the writer falls into that trap, he or she will begin telling the story of their lives, rather than those of the characters.  Plus, every new tale will smack too loudly of the preceding one.  Personal experiences are highly useful.  But no matter how enticing they might be, they should be used only as a guideline, and nothing more.

Q: Equine Therapy is a central part of the story. Why did you decide to focus on this type of therapy versus another? Based on your research, do you think this type of treatment is effective for troubled teens?

RB: I had heard of equine therapy, and what little I knew about it at the time seemed like a good premise around which to wind a love story.  As I did the research and interviewed people who actually ran such programs, I realized that not only was it an effective form of therapy for troubled teens, but that it could also be incorporated into a ranch setting, which might make the novel more interesting.  Plus, I set the book in Florida, which is not usually the first state that comes to mind when people think about horses, or horse ranches.

Q: You have several very strong female protagonists in this story: Gabby, Aunt Lou, and Mercy. As a male writer, do you find it hard to capture the voice for your female protagonists? Explain.

RB: I very much enjoy writing female characters, but they’re tricky to do well.    Women can be so emotionally guarded one moment, and yet become so vulnerable only moments later.  I think that’s what writers of either gender need to better understand. For the most part, I think, men tend to think and act decisively, in straight lines.  Things are far more black and white for them.  Women, on the other hand, tend to think more before acting, and they seek deeper meaning in both the words they say, and the ones they hear.   Which by the way is a good thing, I think.  I truly do believe that if women ran the world, there would be fewer wars.

Q: How have your family and friends reacted to your success as a novelist? What has the experience been like for you?

RB: My family was amazingly supportive about my writing a book, especially when one considers how difficult it is to be published.  Frankly, I was shocked to learn not only that the book had sold, but to also learn how much support it is being given by my publisher, HarperCollins.  Everyone—including myself—is eagerly awaiting February 15th, the day the book hits the shelves.

Q: What writers have influenced your work? Which writers do you admire and what are you currently reading?

RB: As a kid, I very much enjoyed Ian Fleming and Mickey Spillane.  Tough-guy spy stuff, things like that.  In fact, I spent a lot of time wondering who would win the fight if James Bond went up against Mike Hammer, but I never did figure that one out!  Later on my tastes matured, and I read all kinds of things now.  Lately, I‘ve taken to gobbling up biographies.  My all-time favorite is, My Wicked, Wicked Ways, which is Errol Flynn’s autobiography.  It’s an oldie, but a goodie.  Right now, I’m in the middle of a fascinating one called, The Last of the Playboys, which is a detailed account of the life of Porfirio Rubirosa.  It was Rubirosa’s amazing life that inspired Harold Robbins to write The Adventures, and a film was made of Robbins’s book.  If you’re looking for a highly interesting read, I suggest them both.

Like this post? Interested in reading If Wishes Were Horses? Leave a comment and win a chance to receive a free copy of this book.

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Valentine’s Day Haiku Contest

Posted by inkpopbecki on February 11, 2011

Unless you live under a rock, you’re sure to have noticed the heart-shaped-boxes full of chocolate that are lining the shelves of grocery stores. That’s right . . . Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! We thought we’d get into the Valentine’s Day spirit with a little poetry contest. And when we say little, we mean it—3-line poetry only!

Whether you’re celebrating love with chocolate and flowers or inducing a self-inflicted sugar overload in the hopes of drowning out that disgusting red-and-pink motif, we want to see your best haiku. From now until the big V-Day, write your own haiku for a chance to win a prize pack full of four awesome love stories.
So what is a haiku? A haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that is made up of three unrhymed lines. The first line has five syllables, the middle line has seven syllables, and the third line has five syllables. Each of our featured authors has written an example haiku, check them out below!

How to Enter:

Write a haiku and post it in the comments section of this post or on Twitter with the hashtag #VDayhaiku between February 11, 2011-February 15, 2011. If you’re going the Twitter route, make sure you’re following @inkpop [link: twitter.com/inkpop] so we can Direct Message you if you win!

The Theme:

Any haiku about Love! Whether it’s first love, puppy love, love-at-first-sight, anti-Valentine’s Day, or a break-up haiku we want to hear it!

The Prize:

Five (5) winners will be selected at random from entries received to win a prize pack that includes books from debut authors Anna Humphrey and A.M Robinson, as well as Catherine Clark and New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson. Read more below about these authors and the books in the prize pack below!

Check out some haiku examples from our prize-pack authors below!

Anna Humphrey
Got dumped via txt
by my chickensh*t boyfriend.
Virtual <3break.

A.M. Robinson
Impromptu to-do
for Vampire Valentine’s Day:
Buy new turtleneck.

The  vampire swore that
the candy heart said “Bite me.”
Beth, dead, was doubtful.

Judy soon found out
Better no Valentine’s date
Than a zombie one

Catherine Clark
Time to trade up when
You get no rose, no candy
Hallmark won’t do it.

He’s so adorbs when
He goes into sugar shock
Thinking about me

Maureen Johnson
On Valentine’s Day
It is acceptable to
Eat someone’s heart

More About the Prize Package

Rhymes With Cupid

Goodman’s Gifts & Stationery Store
February 14
Cashier: Elyse
3 boxes of heart-shaped chocolate . . . $12.00
Chocolate is the only good thing about this nauseating holiday.
4 containers of candy hearts . . . $5.00
Ever since my ex cheated on me, I’ve sworn off love. Too bad my new neighbor Patrick didn’t get the memo.
1 Valentine’s Day card . . . $4.50
I’m not interested. Although, he is pretty cute. And sweet. And funny.
1 singing Cupid doll (promotional item) . . . $0.00
Stupid Cupid! Point your arrows at someone else. . . .
Subtotal . . . $21.50
It’s going to be a complicated Valentine’s Day.

Anna Humphrey lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and kids.

Vampire Crush
I swear, my life was always totally normal.
Normal house, normal family, normal school. My looks are average, I don’t have any superpowers, no one’s showing up to tell me I’m a princess—you get the picture. But when my junior year started, something not normal happened. There were new kids at school . . . new kids with a wardrobe straight out of a 19th-century romance novel, and an inexplicable desire to stay at school until sundown.
And on top of that, James Hallowell showed up. James, who stole my sandwiches in fourth grade and teased me mercilessly through middle school. James, who now seems to have the power to make my heart race any time he comes near.
But something weird is going on. Because James rarely goes out during the day. And he seems stronger than your typical guy. And he knows the new kids, all of whom seem to be harboring some kind of deep secret. . . .

A. M. Robinson grew up in Indiana, but now lives in New York City, where she works in the publishing industry. She graduated from Indiana University with a double major in English and Chinese, but she is obviously only using the first one. Vampire Crush is her first book.

Maine Squeeze

Two irresistible and hilarious love stories (and really cute boys)!
In Maine Squeeze, eighteen-year-old Colleen Templeton can’t wait for summer. She’s going to share a house with her best friends, earn money for college, and spend every free moment with her boyfriend, Ben. It’s the perfect plan. At least until she discovers that she’s going to be working side by side with Evan, the guy she dated last summer—the best summer of her life . . . until he broke her heart. Will Colleen be able to keep her cool when this summer starts heating up?
Courtney Von Dragen Smith didn’t plan on being single her senior year. But in Banana Splitsville, thanks to her now-ex-boyfriend Dave, single is exactly what she is. And miserable. That’s okay, though, because she has a plan: steer clear of boys for the rest of high school. Oh, and stick to a new vegan diet. But it turns out that ignoring all guys (well, really one guy in particular) is about as hard as keeping away from sundaes when you work at Truth or Dairy. Is Courtney falling in love again? (With more than that dish of scrumptious ice cream?)

Catherine Clark is the author of several novels for teens, including The Alison Rules, Picture Perfect, and Maine Squeeze. Originally from western Massachusetts, Catherine now lives in Minneapolis, and works as a bookseller in Saint Paul at the renowned Red Balloon Bookshop. She occasionally teaches and even more occasionally goes running. She always loves hearing from readers through her website and corresponding with fans via e-mail.  She and her husband have two children: a daughter, and a 10-year-old Australian shepherd.

13 Little Blue Envelopes
Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.
In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?

Coming April 26, 2011: The Last Little Blue Envelope
Ginny Blackstone spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt laid out in a series of letters before she died. But when someone stole Ginny’s backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—the journey came to an abrupt end. Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he’s found her bag. Ginny heads overseas and gets caught up in a whole new adventure, filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.

Maureen Johnson is the author of The Key to the Golden Firebird, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, The Bermudez Triangle, and Devilish. She lives in New York City.

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Writing Bestselling Historical Fiction: Inside the Mind of Anna Godbersen

Posted by inkpopbecki on January 5, 2011

What does it take to write historical fiction? Research? Strict adherence to the traditions of the place and time? What about writing a bestselling historical fiction series. We caught up with Anna Godbersen, bestselling author of The Luxe and Bright Young Things to talk about this and other issues facing authors today. Want to hear more? Join us for a live chat with Anna Gobersen in the inkpop forum events tonight at 8 p.m. EST.

Your first series,  Luxe, was set at the turn of the century and your new series Bright Young Things is set in the roaring 20s. What made you decide to write historical fiction?
I love writing for Young Adults, because my readership has their whole lives ahead of them, and that’s so exciting, to be writing for and about people for whom the world is wide open, who can still become anything. But I grew up in a slightly different generation… I didn’t text or facebook or email when I was in high school. So it’s somewhat more comfortable to be writing about teens who lived before all that. Also, because I’m a nerd, and I enjoy the research. Plus, I love the idea of introducing my readers to characters who, because of the era they live in, face really different problems, which creates a nice perspective. Of course, not totally different problems– love is a great unifier, always, everywhere!

What drew you to the turn of the twentieth century? What drew you to the 1920s?
They are sort of opposites actually, and I am really fascinated by both extremes– the decadent clutter of the Victorian Era, the sense that the characters are being watched by everyone lest they fail to conform perfectly, vs. the breezy, modern, fun-loving 1920s, where no one will watch you unless you do something very brilliant and idiosyncratic. In both cases I think I was drawn to these iconic moments of American history, where the fashion and the society become really distinctly our own, and where young women in particular got a chance to break out of the old ways. The little steps that Diana Holland took at the end of the Luxe series allow for the world where an Astrid Donal is possible.

Aside from the time period what is different about writing characters in the early 20th century and those in the 20s?
The everyday life of society people in the Gilded Age was ruled by really stringent etiquette–there was hardly room to breathe, much less be a full, messy human being! So when I was writing the Luxe books I was writing about these ardent, flawed characters buckingup against a very narrow morality. In Bright Young Things all that is turned on its head; I am writing about characters in a world where everything goes. The surface of that world, just like the surface of the opulent and tightly controlled Gilded Age, is glamorous, but deep

down it is treacherous, too–they have that in common. But for Cordelia and Letty, the danger lies in having too few rules– unlike Diana and Elizabeth Holland, they really can do anything, but after a while being able to do anything becomes a crutch. If they don’t determine their own morality, they will be lost in wild, footloose, 1920s New York.

Was it difficult to make the transition into a new time decade?
As a writer, it is always difficult to start something new–but once you get going it is thrilling. So yes and no! It was a challenge, with all the good and bad things that word always implies.

Want more? Join us for a live chat with Anna Gobersen in the inkpop forum events tonight at 8 p.m. EST.

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