Monday, April 30, 2012

New Operatives!!


Oh wait.

*stops jumping around*

*regains cool Operative persona*

*struggles to keep it*

Sorry. It's hard to keep cool when I have such exciting news to share...

See, here's the thing: We've added some awesome to YA Confidential.

And by "some awesome," I mean Jessica Love, Katy Upperman, and Matthew MacNish! If you don't know them already, you should! They're all valuable members of the YA community and blogosphere. We at YA Confidential are beyond thrilled that they've agreed to join our mission!

And now, I hope you'll join me in welcoming them to the blog!!

Operative: Jessica Love 
Codename: J-Lo
Legend: Didn't date in high school because no boy was good enough; she was saving herself for Luke Perry. Currently undercover on a high school as an English teacher who dorks out over Atticus Finch, Nick Carraway, and John Green. Writes about popular girls who don't know they are looking for love and the guys who think they are worth waiting for. 
Known Accomplices: Jill Corcoran - Herman Agency

Operative: Katy Upperman
Codename: K-Sizzle
Legend: Once danced onstage at a Korn concert… in a lavender GAP button-down. Now a soldier’s wife, a princess’s mama, and a writer of young adult fiction chock full of cute boys, intense romance, and steamy kisses.
Known Whereabouts: and @katyupperman, as well as bookstores, country-western bars, and shopping malls spanning the globe.
Known Accomplices: Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Management

Operative: Matthew MacNish
Codename: The Disco Samurai
Legend: Once sued his own parents, and won. At the age 16 ran away from home and made it all the way to ... er, wait. That's a book he wrote. Writes books about young people that may or may not be for young people, about angry kids who are tired of the world pushing them around ... er, wait. That was his own life. That first part was true, about the suing. Kind of.
Known Whereabouts: The QQQE, @MatthewMacNish, under a highway overpass, sipping on a box of cheap wine, singing about the 90s. 
Known Accomplices: Bookies, Liquor Store Clerks, Renegade Librarians, Literary Ninja, and anyone from Middle Earth.

So from the rest of the operatives, welcome aboard, newbies! We promise not to haze you at all very often.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Comment of the Week!

Each Thursday we ask you a question, and on Saturday we pick the author of our favorite answer to win a prize from THE VAULT as a thank you for participating.

This week's winner, who told us about her favorite YA so far this year, is:


"The best YA book I've read this year has been WANDERLOVE by Kristin Hubbard. The writing is beautiful, it includes illustrations drawn by main character Bria, the location described is exotic and lush, but the characters are just compelling. Bria and Rowan are two complex, flawed individuals trying to live the life they want, making mistakes, and learning to trust each other. Even the secondary characters are amazing - I swear I have met Israeli backpacker Liat! 
Most of all, this novel made me think and wonder about decisions I've made in my past - made me think about how I will one day encourage my kids to pursue their dreams. There's nothing better than a novels that brings your own life into sharp relief!"

Some books stay with us only between Kindle downloads (which is, what, 60 seconds?) and then it's on to something new. It's that rare title that can stay with us for a lifetime (or, in this case, a kid's lifetime).

Congratulations, Gilly, and thanks to everyone for your amazing comments this week! I'll be curious to see what titles from the comments end up on our Best of the Year and which get pushed off by even MORE amazing stuff down the road!

Come back next week for your chance to win a prize from our vault!

Friday, April 27, 2012


Hi everyone! Thanks to reader Janice Sperry for today's Ask-A-Dude Question!

Remember, you can ask your own question using the submission form on the right.

Janice asks:

Q: Do high school guys prefer being single or having a steady girlfriend?

A: In order to answer this question, we need to step back in time. How far back?

All the way.

That's right, the answer to this seemingly simple question takes us back to the Big Bang and the creation of the universe itself.

Now did I turn off the stove or not?
Those of you who believe that everything popped into being a mere 4,000 years ago should take your bathroom break now. It's gonna get ugly.

Those of you who are giggling because I said “Big Bang” are guys and so you already know the answer and you might as well step outside with the Creationists and, I don't know, go for pizza or something. Mommy and Daddy need to talk Big People Words for a few minutes.

Okay. Let's begin.

Prior to the Big Bang, there was nothing. Then there was the Big Bang. After that there was everything.

With me so far? Of course you are. Things go so much faster when we send the boys out for pizza.

Churning in that early cosmic soup were the building blocks of all matter. And inextricably bound to those building blocks were the properties of the universe, physical laws none of us can break. Nothing goes faster than the speed of light. Entropy increases. Your checkout lane is always gonna be the slowest one.

One of these properties is called quantum entanglement. Basically, when two systems have interacted and then separated, the quantum state of those two systems is co-mingled and indefinite until measured.

There's a great thought experiment that helps illustrate this idea called Schrödinger's Louboutins. Yes, yes, I know it's actually called Schrödinger's Cat but the original thought experiment calls for killing a cat with poison gas. Who the fuck goes around talking casually about poisoning cats?! Also, I think we can all agree that the destruction of a pair of Louboutins has almost the same emotional impact.
Hallowed be thy sole
So the experiment goes something like this. You put a pair of Louboutins into a box with a vial of acid that has a 50/50 chance of breaking while you’re out doing whatever it is you do after you put Louboutins in a box. Which is weird, by the way. That’s no way to treat those red-soled beauties.

If the vial of acid does not break, the Louboutins are safe and you can go back to lighting candles in your personal shoe shrine.

But if the vial does break, the Louboutins are ruined forever.

The really eerie part of quantum entanglement is that, before the box is opened and you actually look inside, the Louboutins are both ruined and pristine, wearable and unwearable. How’s a girl supposed to plan for Friday night?

Okay, fast forward 14 billion years. Yes, 14 billion. I’m sorry, sir, did you not take a bathroom break with the others? Go now. I think there’s pizza.

Getting back to guys and their preference vis-a-vis dating, think of this superimposition of states as the condition in which male teen brains exist. All guys want to be happy. Singlehood makes them happy. So does going steady. So just like your Louboutins, males exist in a co-mingled state until observed.

This explains why your boyfriend will tell you he likes to be “little spoon” when cuddling one day and then burps his dinner in your face the next.

Until you look in that box, guys will exist in that superimposed state and generally behave in a way that Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” A lot of people think he was talking about quantum entanglement. Nope. He was explaining why he didn't get laid enough. That saucy old cockhorse.

For writers, capturing the entangled nature of the way guys think allows them to add authentic and complex behaviors to their male characters.

But for those of us in the non-quantum macro world, how do we deal with such stupidity?

First option, look in the box. Force the guy to collapse into one state or the other. You can do this by simply speaking to him.

You: Hey, are we dating, or what?
Guy: Or what.
You: Not an acceptable answer. Either we’re dating and I do that behind-the-ear tongue thing that makes you shudder or we’re not dating and you can go back to feeling up Donny’s man-boobs.
Guy: You know about that?
You: Everyone knows about that.
Guy: Um, okay. I guess we’re dating.
You: You guess?
Guy: We’re dating, jeez.
You: Which means we’re exclusive, right?
Guy: Huh?
You: Tongue or man-boobs?
Guy: Tongue. Jeez, tongue.

Besides talking to your guy, the only other option is to hope the cosmologists who came up with the Vacuum Metastability Event Theory are correct. According to them, our universe exists in a false vacuum that will tunnel into a lower state and end the universe as we know it while giving rise to another universe with different constants and fundamental properties.

Did you get that? Guy logic is so weird and intractable, the only way to get around it is to destroy the whole effing universe and start over.

For some of you this might actually be the easier of the two options.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Best YA

Every Thursday, we post a question for our followers--and every Saturday, one of the commenters will be selected to choose a title from our Vault! ARCs, signed books, awesome books... Anything we have--you get to choose.

To enter, follow YA Confidential and please make sure that your email address is linked to your comment in some way! (So we can get in touch with you :)

Today's question:
What’s the best YA you’ve read this year?

Our Answers

Alexandra: A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix!

Sara: Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers. Seriously filled with so. much. love. for this book. Assassin nun. High stakes fantasy. Gorgeous prose. Okay, and to be honest, it’s tied with Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta. For most of the exact same reasons. (Just replace “assassin nun” with “ruffian with a secretly beautiful soul and torchered, multiple personalitied princess.”)

Alison: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. There are many books that make me cry. And there are probably just as many that make me laugh. TFIOS did both - a lot. My stomach cramped several times from either uncontrollable sobbing or gut-busting laughter. John Green just has this amazing way of bringing every emotion to the surface. Such an incredible, heart-warming and heart-wrenching story. I highly recommend.

Cristin: My answer may be super obvious, but my favorite so far has been The Fault In Our Stars. John Green's writing really speaks to the teenager who still lives inside of me who was always made fun of for using big words. I loved everything about it.

Cambria: Pandemonium!!! Fast-paced and dangerous and sexy!

Copil: Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. I know it's older (came out in 2007) but I only got around to it this year. I love fantastical otherworlds and Meiville has an eye-poppingly inventive go at creating his. Every few pages Mieville introduces a creature or concept (or creature as concept) with so many levels, I kept re-reading passages and finding new discoveries each time. Reminded me of this video: Also? Three words: Garbage Can Ninjas.

 Your turn!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Today, we have the undercover lowdown on the cover for Elle Strauss's YA time travel novel, CLOCKWISE. Elle's book had a recent cover change and I have to say that I adore the new cover. Elle has joined us to give us the inside scoop.

Karen: Quick! First word that comes to mind when you look at your cover?

Elle: Fun!

2 Karen: Okay, now tell us a little about your story.

Elle: A teen time traveler accidentally takes her secret crush back in time. Awkward.

3.) Karen: You recently redid the cover (I love the new one by the way). Tell us why you did that.

Elle: I decided to indie (self) publish for the first time last September with this book, so it’s kind of my learner book. The whole experience has been schooling. One of the things I learned along the way is there are different types of covers for YA and MG. And one of the strong MG trends is to use illustration. Illustration isn’t something you find on a lot of YA. I didn’t realize this and though I really liked my first cover, is said MG to too many potential readers.

4.) Karen: Was it hard saying goodbye to your old one? (For the record, I liked the old one, but I think the new one fits the story better.)

(original cover)

Elle: Not once I saw the new cover. I lurve it!

5.) Karen: What’s your favorite part about your new cover?

Elle: I love the expression on the model’s face, and the graphic work on the background flash of light.

6.) Karen: Are there any meaningful details you’d like to point out?

Elle: Well, there’s the stop watch. It’s entirely symbolic as an actual stopwatch doesn’t show up in the story.

7.) Karen: If you’d like to give a shout out to your cover designer, photographers, or any other influential folks feel free to do so.

Elle: Nico at Fair Trade Creative , Jessica at Jessica Balfour Photography

8.) Karen: Anything else you’d like to share about the process?

Elle: Well, when you indie publish, you’re responsible for it all. Tracking down and booking a model (if you use one), a photographer, directing the shoot, choosing the photo to use, consulting with your graphics designer until you have something you love. It’s all up to you.

9.) Karen: We like to spread the cover love here at YA Confidential, so, besides your own, what’s your favorite book cover and why?

Elle: If I said Tangled Tides, by Karen Amanda Hooper, would that look like I’m sucking up? J (But really, such a cool cover!) Okay, I’ll say Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn because it’s so captivating and accurately reflects the story genre and main character. And I’m reading Imaginary Girls right now, and I really like the photo shot of the model. Knowing what I know now about that process, I appreciate the work and creativity it took to get that.

Karen: The second book in this series, CLOCKWISER just released. Which one do you love more?

Elle: Clockwise will always be my first love, but Clockwiser rocks, too. Just saying.

Karen: You have some cool behind-the-scenes info to share about the day the cover photos were taken. Tell us about it.

Elle: It was freezing out when we did this shoot. I was shivering with a winter coat, scarves and gloves on. The model was so brave! The shoot only lasted 15 minutes because of this and I'm so glad we got two good shots, one for book 1 and 2.

Some other fun things to point out...Elle: Here you'll see the black background and the original tunnel image used as the template for the light graphics to come. The spine line is too sharp and we decided to blur the front to back image over the spine to avoid problems with lining up the spine line. The back cover is laid out but not final. Also note the pocket watch in her hands. You can't really see the whole thing, so Nico took a hand shot from another image that showed off the watch more and switch it for the original hands.

For the final, light graphic was added, black changed to dark blue, title font decided on, pocket watch hands inserted, t-shirt wrinkle lines removed, back cover washed and final text decided upon.

Karen: Ahh, the power of graphic artists.

Big thanks to Elle for the inside scoop on her cover. We know you're itching to read CLOCKWISE now, so you're in luck. Elle is giving away an ebook of CLOCKWISE to a lucky winner. Maybe even more than one winner.

To win, leave a comment and tell us the following: If you could time travel, where would you? (Place, year, event, etc.)

Elle will select the winner (s) based on her favorite answers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Want your first page critiqued by teens?

Okay, so, who doesn't want their target audience's feedback on their book? Every month, we offer that chance!

Send the first page of your YA novel to and one submitter will be randomly chosen to have their page critiqued on the blog by our teen spies! They'll reveal what they liked, what they didn't, and whether or not they'd keep reading! 

Deadline for page submission: May 1!

If you've submitted in previous months, but haven't been selected, feel free to submit again!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Comment of the Week and Hourglass Winner!

Each Thursday we ask you a question, and on Saturday we pick the author of our favorite answer to win a prize from THE VAULT as a thank you for participating.

This week's winner, who played matchmaker for two characters from different YA books, is:

Christina Kitroeff!

"...I'd pair Liv Durand from Beautiful Darkness/Beautiful Creatures (by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl) with Jules Marchenoir from Die For Me and Until I Die (by Amy Plum).

Here's the Love Equation:

Her brains + his humor + both their loyalty to their friends and their world + both their kindness - their loneliness (which they'd totally cancel out if they fell for each other) + his artistic talent + her scientific quirkiness = a love that lasts because they can joke around while inspiring each other, because they build each other up while they each pursue their own separate passions, because they overcome odds by relying on their complementing differences as well as the kindness and loyalty that make them fundamentally alike.

I kind of think of it like she can tuck her quirky corners into his smoother edges if that makes any sense. He can lift her up with his charm and humor while she keeps them both focused with her determination."

Congratulations, Christina, and thanks to everyone for your amazing comments this week! This question was a hard one, so you all deserve kudos for answering it!

Congratulations also go to Michelle @ Book Briefs who won a signed copy of Myra McEntire's Hourglass!

Come back next week for your chance to win a prize from our vault!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tales from the Locker Room: Fieldtrip Edition

Okay, so I really don’t stalk the locker room, but I do pick up on some interesting things in my classroom and in the hallways. And this month my seniors take off on the annual senior class trip so I thought I'd do a little listening in about fieldtrips in general. I went to our spies and analysts and my own students for their insight.

BUT first a special announcement. And a fieldtrip for you!

Yesterday, we told you about working with Cupid from Cupid's Literary Connection to pre-screen the entries for the just-finished Agent Invasion. As part of that experience, Cupid invited us to talk about what it was like to play agent-for-a-day.

But our joint efforts yielded something far more important. After many days of collaboration, several bottles of very expensive whiskey, two rounds of putt-putt golf and a hefty bill from one of those in-flight magazines (we totally needed a combo umbrella/stun gun), we've come up with something that has eluded the literary community since the first writer queried the first agent.

It is our great honor to bring to you. . .

The Perfect Query Letter(tm)

We hope you'll find a moment to visit Cupid's site and check our guest post as well as take a look at Cupid's new contest and join in the fun!
Go on. Take a fieldtrip! Then, pop back here to read what our teens have to say about them.

Are you back? Learn how to write the perfect query? See! An educational fieldtrip. And now you have something in common with today's teen contributors. Take a look.

Have you gone on any fieldtrips in high school? If so, where did you go?

Yes, to colleges and to band competitions.

I wish. We have school weekends, and on occasion a teacher will take us out to the school yard if it's a nice day or something, but nothing comes to mind.

I think I’ve had three this year, but they’re 3 hour trips and REALLY boring. I’ve never liked fieldtrips (although the one where I went to Quebec for a week was fun).

At my school, we sometimes take field trips... mostly the younger grades though, because they can afford to miss classes more than the older grades.

My school's band goes to Cuba every two years, there's a photography trip to Paris every two years as well, and this year a bunch of students went to Italy. Also if you're involved in extracurriculars like sports or music, they might go for tournaments or tours and you get to go places.

If we do go, it's usually hiking or to a museum or something. We have an annual field trip to Table Mountain to see the wildflowers. We identify all the flowers we see on the way to a waterfall, and catch newts and frogs.

The majority of the ones I went on were for my drama classes – we would go to see a show, then usually write a review about it. I think I went on one with my Women Writers class last year, but I don’t remember where we went.

Agent A note: The only students at my school who’d been on a fieldtrip were part of a special organization (band, chorus, NHS,...)

Are the fieldtrips educational? For reward? What was your favorite and why?

They have to be educational to be passed by my school board.

All of them are for educational purposes. My favourite high school field trip was when my French class went to this French restaurant. We got to eat good food and miss school. There was another French field trip where we did different activities in French all day.

My favourite trip in high school….I don’t have one because they all blow, pretty much.

In tenth grade I got chosen to go to City Hall and speak to Senators. I thought it was very educational and rewarding because it benefited me.

All are educational. My favorite was going to Campbell University because that is where I want to go.

If your school doesn't do fieldtrips, why might that be?

We're boring and education-focused?

Our school doesn’t have the money for reward fieldtrips

We never have a reason to take one.

Our school spends too much money on nonessentials.

Do you think high school students should go on more field trips? Explain.

Yes, there should be more. Education is not only in the class, but education is the whole world.

It’s a great way for students to learn how subjects fit into everyday life.

They help prepare students for traveling and gives them things to look forward to.

I don’t really like them because I miss stuff in all my other classes.

The seniors at my high school DO take a trip every year to Disney World. They spend four packed days in the parks (Grad Nite is ALL night in Magic Kingdom), get up and go to bed at insane hours, even dine at Medieval Times (gotta make it educational!) I usually chaperone and have just as much fun (if not more than) than they do.

So I asked some of my former students to tell me a bit about their experience.

My most memorable part(s) of senior trip was definitely going to Orlando. Waking up at (what was it? 5?) 5 in the morning to get on the bus with your closest group of friends and know that in a few more hours you wouldn't be at school!!! How does it get better than that?

My most memorable part of senior trip was the fact that I made some of the closest friends that I could possibly ask for. Those couple days that we spent in Disney World were probably the best part of my entire grade school career.

I am definitely glad that I went because they are memories that I will never forget and I still talk about the trip whenever the topic of senior trips or Disney is brought up. I think everyone should have a senior trip because it is a great end of the year kind of stress reliever for seniors and it is something underclass man can look forward to. I also have friends who didn't have the opportunity to go on senior trips who really wish their school would have had that option.

I think EVERY school should have a senior trip. I cannot explain how shocked I was coming to college and learning that I was almost the ONLY one that went to a high school that offered senior trips.

I also asked some of our spies and analysts if there was a senior trip at their school.

The seniors vote every year on where they want to go. It's a bit expensive, but we have a student organization that helps those who need it. (FISH-Fundings Involving Senior Happenings) (or something) (Yes, fish, like Nemo.) If you don't go on the senior weekend, that's just...really sad, to put it mildly.

There was up until my senior year, and my senior year we didn’t do anything.

Ugh. Bummer.

That’s the roundup on fieldtrips. Next month—PROM. See you then.

Did you enjoy your fieldtrip to Cupid’s Literary Connection? Did you have fieldtrips in high school? A senior trip? Tell us in the comments!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

YA Matchmaking

Every Thursday, we post a question for our followers--and every Saturday, one of the commenters will be selected to choose a title from our Vault! ARCs, signed books, awesome books... Anything we have--you get to choose.

But FIRST--a special announcement!!!

Recently, YA Confidential had the opportunity to lend some operatives for a very special mission (not to be confused with a Very Special Episode where the agents reminisce about previous episodes because they basically ran out of ideas).

Cupid from Cupid's Literary Connection asked us to pre-screen the entries for the just-finished Agent Invasion. Not only were we honored, we had a BLAST doing it! The submissions were outstanding and some of them have already received attention from the incredible list of agents who stopped by.

We were so inspired by the entries, we jumped at the chance to post our thoughts about the experience. Our guest post over there today talks about playing agent-for-a-day and also offers a SECOND chance (along with the one below) to win something from our Vault!

And head over there tomorrow for a YA Confidential collaboration with Cupid where we release into the wild (*echo-y announcer voice*) The Perfect Query Letter (patent pending).

We hope you'll take a moment to visit Cupid's site and check our guest posts today and tomorrow as well as read some of the amazing entries. More importantly, take a look at Cupid's new contest and join in the fun!

Go ahead, we'll wait right here with our vault question for the day. 

*waits patiently* 

*raps along to Fantastic Voyage*

*(What? It's FUN. Try it.)*

*(And also? Whatever happened to Coolio??)*

And now, back to regularly scheduled programming!

To enter, follow YA Confidential and please make sure that your email address is linked to your comment in some way! (So we can get in touch with you :)

Today's question:
If you could pair two characters from two different YA books in a relationship, whom would you choose?

Our Answers

Copil: I'd set up Frankie Landau-Banks (from E. Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks) with Guy Langman (Josh Berk's main character in Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator). At first glance, they seem ill-matched. Frankie is ambitious and wicked smart. Guy defines laziness and thinks golf course ball-washers are the height of comedy (in his defense, they are pretty funny).  But under the surface, both characters struggle with a similar desire to be taken seriously by their peers and spend a lot of time analyzing the motivations of those around them. I think putting them in a room together might result in some serious chemistry. Also, neither seems to have a prohibition against committing a misdemeanor. And from experience I can tell you that's a match made in heaven.

Sara: The problem here is that I usually really like the characters that end up together in the same book. So… I’m thinking… Okay. What about Gale from The Hunger Games and Ismae from Grave Mercy. (Which, omg if you haven’t read that book yet what is WRONG with you????) We already know Gale would need a strong, badass girl, like Katniss, and Ismae? A nun assassin? I mean, let’s be real. She’s freaking badass. Except I like Ismae with someone else. (I won’t say without giving stuff away.) But still. I’m sticking with this answer because I always liked Gale and knowing he ended up with someone good would make me happy.  

Karen: Katsa (Graceling) and Seth (Wicked Lovely) Mainly because I've never really loved Aislinn, but also because Katsa and Seth would make a kick-butt couple.

Cambria: PASS! This one's too hard to answer! For me, the reason why I love so many of the YA relationships I read about is because the couples just seem so...perfect together. It's almost impossible for me to imagine them with anyone else, even if the book relationship may not have gone exactly how I would've liked. So I'm holding up my big fat PASS card on this one!

Alison: Oooh! Easy. I would pair Adam Wilde (Where She Went) with me!  Oh, wait. You said YA book character. *pens autobiography, slaps it up on Amazon*  The autobiography’s about my teen years—that’ll make it YA, right. ;)

On a serious note (although I was really being serious), the more I thought about this question, the more my mind went to those good-hearted characters who didn’t get the guy (or girl) or who just seemed to get the raw-end of the life stick, and I just wanted him/her to be with someone GOOD and AWESOME. Here are a few I came up with.

Clay (Thirteen Reasons Why) with Juliet Sykes (Before I Fall)

Meredith (Anna and the French Kiss) and Ty (Catching JordanI was going to say more on this, then realized I’d be spoiling both books. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

Colby (The Disenchantments) with Mia (If I Stay) What? They’re both into music. I love both of them. And well, if Mia’s with Colby, then I can have Adam all to myself.

Also, I really want Charlie (The Perks of Being a Wallflowerto find a good, decent girl who will love him and let him be loved. I was thinking Melinda (Speak), but man, they both have so much baggage. Thoughts?

And because my answer is not long enough and because I want to strike off on a somewhat related tangent - I just really wanted the Colonel (Looking for Alaskato end up with someone TALL and HOT. Someone who needs his humor, but would also keep in line. Therefore, I banish him to a semi-deserted island with Taylor Rene Krystal Hawkins aka Miss Texas (Beauty Queens)

Your turn!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Today, we have the fabulous and funny Myra McEntire, giving us the undercover scoop on the cover for her YA novel, HOURGLASS.

Karen: Quick! First thing that comes to mind when you look at the cover for Hourglass.

Myra: Why is that golden door sucking her in like that? (My kid’s babysitter turned the book sideways and said, “She’s walking down the wall, yo.”

2.) Karen: *giggles* Tell us a little about the book.

Myra: Sexy, Southern, sassy, timey-wimey. You think it’s paranormal, but that’s the hook.

3.) Karen: Keeping with the S theme, I'd also say sneaky. ;) Did you have any input or say in your cover?

Myra: Not in the HOURGLASS cover. I saw a comp for the TIMEPIECE cover and sent them the picture that’s on the cover now in response.

4.) Karen: How did you react when they first showed HOURGLASS to you?

Myra: I called my agent and said, “This is good, right? I mean, I think this is good. Really good. Right?” She agreed.

5.) Karen: Well, that's because the awesome Holly Root has exceptional taste. ;) So, any other thoughts or undercover scoop you’d like to share with readers?

Myra: The girl on the cover is named Lissy Larrichia, and she’s ALSO the photographer. She has awesome tumblr and flickr pages.

6.) Karen: Lissy is very talented. And now you made her famous. I bet she loves you. :) Your second book in this series, TIMEPIECE is releasing soon. Which cover do you love more?

Myra: I really do love them both equally. They feel like such a pair that I can no longer judge them individually.

7.) Karen: Understandable. We like to spread the cover love here at YA Confidential, so other than your own, what’s your favorite book cover and why?

Myra: I love the Harry Potter covers. There are secrets in each one, and the art is so thoughtful.

Karen: Harry who? Never heard of him. I'll have to look him up.

Thanks so much to Myra for giving us the inside scoop on her covers. Want to add Myra's books on Goodreads? GO HERE

Check out Myra's website HERE
or stalk her on Twitter

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Real Teen Answers

On Friday you asked. Today, our teen spies and analysts answer!

How much drug use are you willing to forgive a character for? For example: if a character is in a lot of pain, and does something really stupid, even though they know it's stupid, but they've just kind of given up, would you be willing to continue sympathizing with them, or would you just get annoyed at them for making obvious bad decisions?

GRACIE: I think the character always needs to change, in some way, by the end of the book. I know I've been frustrated many times by characters who have taken a long time to figure things out or finally make good decisions. So I guess eventually I would just get fed up with this character if they didn't change. However, that doesn't necessarily have to be their drug habits.

LAURA: It kind of depends on what pain they’re suffering, but I’d say yes, I would continue to sympathize with them. Although, if they continued to make obviously bad decisions, I would lose my respect for them.

RIV: I actually have a similar situation in my own WIP, with an emotionally pained MC who looks to...alternative methods. And, I think there are so many factors involved in something like this. How does the character come to drugs? How much do they know that it's wrong? Are there any other ways they can escape the pain? As long you can clearly express how your character is feeling, and how s/he's just so lost, and there's nothing else, then I can excuse it. I understand that first puff/snort/sip/etc. And from there, it's a downward spiral. But make me understand; I want to be sad too.

EMILY: I don't like reading about drug use at all. So I guess none.

LISSA: I don’t mind drug use in the books I read; I think, no matter what the situation is (be it where the character is in pain or because s/he’s just doping up with friends) makes the book realistic. That being said, I like it when drug use/abuse is dealt with carefully, and the second scenario from above often promotes ideas that I don’t think YA readers should have to read about. In the situation where the character is in a lot of pain, I’d ABSOLUTELY, 100% sympathize with them. I think, given the character’s feelings, that it’d be very difficult NOT to sympathize with the character.

ERICA: I don’t think it’s black and white like that for me. It depends on the novel – in some cases, I am a lot more forgiving and others I’m like, nope you’re done.

Do you live with one parent or are your parents married? What about your friends? Would a book where most of the adults are married seem unnatural to you?

EMILY: My parents are married. Most of my friends' parents are married too.

LISSA: I live with both my parents and the majority of people that I know do, too. (Then again, I live in Suburbia Hell.) I think that a book where most of the adults are married would be refreshing.

LAURA: My parents are married and the majority of my friends’ parents are, too. To be honest, I’ve been waiting a LONG time for a YA book where most adults are married. While I know a lot of people whose parents have separated, the other half is hardly represented enough.

RIV: Mine are married, and most of my friends are in similar positions Of course, it's in a community where divorce is looked down upon, and people usually "work things out" somehow.

GRACIE: My parents are married, and a lot of my friends and teenagers I know do have married parents. I don't think it would seem unnatural at all for most of the parents to be married. I think it's unnatural how often there is missing or single parents in YA. They are everywhere! I would love to see a set of YA parents that are married and have an actual relationship with their teenager beyond punishing them and having rules for them.

ERICA: My parents are married, and a good portion of my parents friends are as well. I don’t see why having adults married would seem unnatural to anyone – even if it’s something you don’t have in your life, it is in someone you know.

HEAs...Happily Ever After. Would you consider these a must have?

EMILY: In most cases, yes. I think sometimes unhappy endings are okay. A good example would be A Walk to Remember. The ending isn't "happy" per se, but it's beautiful just the same.

GRACIE: I don't care if the story ends perfectly. Sometimes it's nice, but really there can't be happily ever afters all the time.

ERICA: Nope – If a HEA works, great. If something that isn’t a HEA and works with the plot, that is fine as well.

RIV: Ooh. Good question. I'm a sucker for HEAs, but I want a little bit of bitterness still. I don't want complete happiness, I want something to go wrong. And also, I don't think some characters deserve happy endings. That's mean to say, but if the character's whole life, their whole story, is full of pain and bitterness, a nice HEA doesn't feel right to me.

LAURA: Not at all. While I love HEAs as much as the next person, I also love a good old-fashioned tragedy. Oh, wow. That sounded really morbid. I guess what I’m trying to say is that in real life, curing cancer or even getting the guy/girl isn’t a simple task that magically happens as the curtains go down. I love keepin’ it real…man.

LISSA: Meeeeeh. I mean, I like HEAs, but in certain stories, they’re really unfitting. I think the best solution, when you’re stuck wondering which situation would fit better (HEA or the opposite) is to leave the story somewhat open-ended, if possible. Give the story and characters enough closure, but leave the ending up to the reader, or sort of balanced.

What's your current favorite book? Why? Is it the characters or the plot that your remember days after finishing it?

ERICA: Current favorite book? As in one? I cannot pick! My favorite 2 more recent reads were Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg or False Memory by Dan Krokos – both were just really well written and had a plot that was awesome and really unique. I also loved the characters, and characters are one of the biggest determining factors for if I will love a book or not for me. I still am thinking about both.

EMILY: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, I guess. The main character is quirky and it's a really great book about being yourself. I think in this case, it's definitely the characters that I remember.

LAURA: Ah! This question is really tough. I’ve read so many amazing books lately that I don’t think I can just mention one. After discussing HEAs, it only seems fitting to mention Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler. I’m discovering that I’m maybe a little biased towards authors named Sarah, but I just LOVED this book. I read it at the start of the year and it’s stuck with me since. Everything about it was superb – the writing, the characters, the plot. Then there’s Before I Die by Jenny Downham. Woah. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I read it last month. The story is unshakable and utterly beautiful. And I can’t forget Crazy by Amy Reed. I actually read this one last year but I am literally unable to get it out of my mind. I worship Amy Reed; she creates the most outstanding characters.

RIV: My favorites rank pretty high, so it's rare that I will read a book that will make it to the top like that. My top book like, ever, is Graceling by Kristin Cashore. It has a brilliant plotline, with majorly kick-butt characters. And really terrifying antagonists. Looking at the list of some of my favorites, that's a pretty surefire combination. But, of course, if I had to choose one individual point: it's strong lead characters who don't take no for an answer. And it's a character-driven plot-line. Character-driven stories are a must.

GRACIE: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. The writing is amazing, the characters are amazing, the story is amazing. I definitely love books because of the characters, though.

LISSA: Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, and it’s definitely because of the intense emotions that are packed between the pages of that book. Marchetta writes with an incredibly raw power that is, in actuality, really addictive (I’ve read JR 10 times since first reading it 2 years ago). Also, though, it’s the characters and plot – the characters because they’re so real, so complex, and the plot because it’s twisted and messy and beautiful.

Are there any stylistic trends you're tired of, or underrepresented ones you'd like to see more of in YA? For example, longer vs. shorter books, more slower-paced, literary writing style, or more third-person narration? What are your thoughts on epistolary novels, where they're partially or entirely in the form of letters or journal entries?

GRACIE: I think there's definitely still a lot of stylistic variety in YA, if you know where to look. I don't really care about POV or style or anything as long as it's good and fits the story and the characters. I do generally like normally written books, though, not anything in the form of letters or e-mails or poems or whatever. Journals are OK, although they have the potential to be really boring because all they are is telling. I think the Princess Diaries series is a good example of an effective journaling style, because the journals don't just go on about this happened today, and then this happened... blah blah blah.

LISSA: I don’t like epistolary novels, but I do like third-person narration and longer books with fast paces. I’m really tired of Insta-Love and really enjoy stories where the romance is sets in slowly, yet still in a whirlwind fashion.

EMILY: I think there are too many dialogue tags. Action Attribution makes for a stronger scene.

RIV: I'm actually very impartial to the books I read, in terms of first- or third-person. But I do, of course, love fast-pacing. I don't think the style of a book will make it or break it for me. For example, I don't go looking for poetry books, but I won't put them down.

The key part is writing whatever is most comfortable and natural for you. It's not about what the reader prefers, because a good story will get picked up anyway. It's about what YOU prefer. If you force yourself to, for example, write third person, we can tell how hard it is for you

ERICA: I feel like lately there’s a trend towards shorter books, which for me I am tired of. I don’t particularly like really short books, as I feel like the plot doesn’t ever get a chance to completely develop or if it does it is very rushed. I have read a ton of books in the last few months that are under 250 pages, and I always am thinking “I want more.”

I think epistolary novels are great – I definitely prefer ones that are partially written in the form of letters/journal entries, but either way it’s fine. I don’t really consider them any different than a normal book.

Do you like books where animals (like, say, the protagonist's pet dog or horse) feature as characters of sorts?

GRACIE: I haven't really seen that that often, and when I have it's been kind of in the background. I know I'd much rather see relationships develop between people than between a person and an animal, though. However, that's purely my own opinion.

EMILY: Mmm...if it's done well. It's a tricky thing to pull off, as we don't really know what their minds are like. But it can be a good thing. Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede is excellent.

RIV: I don't know how to answer this question in such a general way. Each situation is different. Do you mean that the animal has a personality, like in those 45,000 MG books that take place on a horse ranch? Or will the animal suddenly start talking? The former can be interesting as long as you do the ridiculous amount of research necessary, and the latter can be hard in that you need to avoid cliches.

LISSA: Nope. The only books I’ve ever enjoyed an animal as a leading character would be in the Iron Fey series, but even so, Grim took a while to grow on me. Maybe it’s because I’m not an animal person, per se, but I typically don’t enjoy those types of characters.

ERICA: It depends how it is done. In some cases, like in Jess Rothenberg’s The Catastrophic History of You and Me where Hamloaf, Brie’s dog, plays a pretty cool role that I say definitely! Hamloaf was awesome.

How much interest is there in spirituality in the teen community? Is it mainly to satisfy parents (go to church) or is there personal interest in knowing God?

GRACIE: From what I've seen at my school, very little. There's a few people who are interested, but not a lot.

ERICA: I think there’s an element of both in a lot of situations.

RIV: I live in a pretty religious community but, for the teens, there's a lot of being lost. Either you were brought up with it, and you feel it deeply, or you're still trying to figure it out, and you're teetering on a very narrow fence.

EMILY: I go to church because I want to. I enjoy it, and it helps me strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

HUGE thank yous to our spies and analysts and thank YOU for asking such awesome questions. If you've thought of another question, or missed the post to ask it--don't worry. We'll be back with another ask-a-teen feature next month!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The thing about writing for teens...

Is that you have to get teenagers. And sure, some of us remember what it was like back  in the days of the disco   when stirrup pants were cool  when Clueless hit the theaters  when we were teens, but I think the edges can get a little blurred. 

So for today's post, I questioned a few of our teen spies/analysts--and my teenaged cousin--about their favorite and least favorite things about being a teenager.

Their responses were so familiar to the things I remembered, while at the same time, could be used for serious character development and/or motivation. Here's what they had to say: 

Pros to being a teenager:

Hanging out with friends and very low taxes.

I love that I can just not do things I need to take care of, and the world won't end because of it. It's nice to know that there's no one out there depending on me so completely, and I don't have to worry about anyone but myself. 

I can act as crazy as I want, and just be odd, and my friends will make fun of me and strangers will give me odd looks but it doesn't matter because I'm me. 

I love the sense of possibility. There's so much you can DO, so much you can try. You're not quite a child but not quite an adult, smart enough to think for yourself but dumb enough to do all the things an adult never could or would. 

 Your whole life is spread before you, and it can be anything. 

The fact that I can get away with really stupid stuff "because I'm just a teen, and she'll definitely grow up before eighteen." 

I guess I like all the opportunities available to me, and the fact I can partake in a ton of different activities and extracurriculars, whereas as I know I won't have time for all I do now in a few years.

More self-awareness about the world around me. Every day, I gain more insight into everything around me, and I aim for more and more. Basically, figuring out how to use my teen years the most. Also, as the years go by, age restrictions will shift, and I'll be able to do more stuff. Car at sixteen? Cool.

I love not really having a lot that we need to care for. I mean, our parents pay for food, living costs, and anything else we might need. We have freedom without a ton of adult responsibility.

And the cons:

The stress of high school and nagging parents.

I don't like the restrictions, how I'm stuck at home when I want to party, and I'm suffocating in New York when I want to go see the world. 

I hate how 11 hours of my day are spent on school and going to/from it, and I come home to another three hours of homework. 

I want to learn to be my own person, not in my family's and my community's shadow, but I can't because I'm under 18 and I'm still in high school. Also: it kind of stinks that I can't get any solid summer jobs... 

I hate that my age is used to dismiss genuine problems or feelings. Adults have this tendency to write us away as "those hormonal teenagers." So, according to them, because our bodies are a soup of raging hormones, it makes all our problems and emotions completely trivial. We don't actually feel that sad, that happy, that in love. It's just the hormones. I wish they'd take us seriously. 

School. It's such hell, being in high school, because all you want to do is get out of it but darn, you have 2 years left, ("hang in there!") Also the fact that everything I do is considered "sketchy behaviour" and that we live in a very ageist society. 

Something I don't really like about being a teenager is the assumption that because I'm a teen I'm irresponsible or reckless or something like that that a lot of people have about teens.

Not enough freedom. While my ambitions go up, the amount of control I have plays catch-up, along with the amount of motivation I have. For example, I had been slacking on this Social Studies project that I'm supposed to do, but it doesn't help that I don't have enough incentive to do it. I rarely need 100% for any school assignment. On the other hand, I find that I don't have enough motivation for the more important stuff. I have suffered at least one emotional breakdown due to anxiety.

But back on freedom. Sometimes, I feel like not everyone in the house is on the same page. At times, I feel so paranoid about one of my siblings snatching my laptop from me or--even worst--looming over my shoulder, that it kills my motivation. Also, there's the fact that I feel like I'm not like most people, especially boys, my age. The social pressure sometimes worries me into wondering whatever I'm not making the best of what little time I have as a teen.

I don't really like being told what to do. I am a pretty independent, stubborn person who has a tiny issue with a authority, so being told what to do rubs me the wrong way at times. I always do what I'm told, I just mumble under my breath about it the whole time :D

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