Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Reflections, Accomplishments & Hopes for a New Year

It's that time of year when we take a hard look at what we've done and assess how we want to improve and move forward. This is something I'm doing constantly, but it does seem important to take a moment to write it all down, especially since I feel like I have learned a lot about myself this year, and especially this past month or two.

I started out 2012 miserable and full of self-doubt. It was a long-time coming. These feelings had been building for a couple of years, so I declared 2012, the year of re-evaluation. I had to figure out what made me happy. More specifically, I had to figure out if writing still made me happy or if I was done, ready for a complete change of career and life focus.

I went back and forth, up and down about this. I'd spend a month deeply in love with storytelling and then three months hating every word I wrote or hating myself for writing. I felt like I'd finally gotten on the right track again in September and then had an absolute breakdown, my biggest crisis of faith yet in November, which I documented in this piece for Rookie--possibly the best, most honest, real and in-the-moment piece I've written for Rookie.

In July, I decided to go back to therapy for the first time in roughly nine or ten years. I was deeply depressed and anxious, especially about writing, and I couldn't do the re-evaluation thing on my own. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made. Not only did I benefit personally, I figured out a lot about my own writing. I put all the writing tips I gleaned from my therapist in this YA Outside the Lines post.

Perhaps the most important of those tips was be grateful for and recognize my accomplishments, big and small. So here's what I've done in 2012

  • Knitted one hat and one scarf for my mother, and one hooded baby blanket for my friend's first child. Started my first knitting project for myself, a skirt.

  • Taught 16 students in a Young Adult Fiction class at Columbia College and read well over 1000 pages of their work.
  • Grew lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, green beans, many varieties of peppers, many types of herbs, quite a few flowers.

  • Made countless vegan meals, tried and even invented several new recipes.
  • Got my eleventh tattoo. (It's Latin for "breathe.")
  • Joined my local library board.
  • Tended bar three nights a week and briefly made a tumblr about my adventures.
  • Visited my favorite place on earth, Seattle.

  • Saw (and met!) Mark Lanegan (whose music inspires my writing big-time), as well Garbage, Social Distortion, and several amazing bands (and legends like Iggy Pop!) at Riot Fest.
  • Hosted a college friend for about half the year and went on adventures with her like to my first Renaissance Faire.

  • Visited with several other friends from out of town, reconnected with my childhood best friend/sister after she moved back, spent as much time as I could with my amazing teenage niece who is my heroine, and made the ultimate birthday package for my BFF to celebrate eighteen years of friendship.
  • Went to my first Comic Con where I met people like the stars of one of my all-time favorite shows, Twin Peaks.

  • Went to my first RT convention, participated in a panel about boundaries in YA and in Teen Day. Met Francine Pascal, author of the Sweet Valley series that ruled my childhood.

  • Watched the last five seasons of Buffy for the first time, all five seasons of Angel for the first time, and most recently, watched all of the first season of Game of Thrones in 3 days.
  • Turned old t-shirts into new shirts, and in one case, a dress.

  • Celebrated my third wedding anniversary in Portland, Oregon. We also visited the gorgeous Oregon coast and met up with one of my best writing buds, Tara Kelly, who took this photo of us.
  • Nursed my elderly cat/best friend of 17 years, Sid, for several months and then said a sad but beautiful farewell to him the weekend after Thanksgiving and wrote him a tribute.
  • Wrote 17 columns for my local newspaper, the Forest Park Review.
  • Wrote 20 essays, some deeply personal, others pure fun, for Rookie as well as countless reviews of books, movies, TV shows, music, hot chocolate, candy, and electronic items that do and should exist.
  • Wrote my first essay for Ms. Fit Magazine, a real world feminist fitness magazine that will debut in January of 2013.
  • Made zines with my niece and her BFF at a Rookie Road Trip event.
  • Took part in an amazing reading to celebrate the release of ROOKIE YEARBOOK ONE.
  • Did a vlog to celebrate the release of the DEAR TEEN ME anthology, which features my letter to my teenage self about an abusive relationship.
  • Researched (both by visiting the library and sneaking into a cemetery after hours) and wrote my first short story in umm... eight years? It's a ghost story--my personal twist on a local urban legend about a hitchhiking phantom flapper--which will come out next October in an anthology called VERY SUPERSTITIOUS published by Month9Books.
  • Went on a writing retreat in Arizona.

  • Wrote about 50,000 words of one YA novel (ie. the Modern Myth YA)
  • Wrote about 60,000 words of another YA novel (ie. the Contemporary YA)
Yeah, looking back, even though I often beat myself up for not doing enough... that's a lot of stuff! Sure, I wish that total of 110,000 words could have been on one novel so I could feel like I finished a big project this year. And of course what I really wish is that "sold a book" could be one of the bullet points, but I worked hard and I have to be proud of what I have accomplished and the difficulties like losing Sid that I got through.

I guess the biggest question is what came of my self/life evaluation in the year of evaluation?

Ultimately, I've decided that while writing doesn't always make me happy and the current state of my career (or more specifically the way I've had to cobble together way too much work that pays way too little to support my writing habit), writing will always be a part of my life. I'm hoping that 2013 will bring adjustments and changes that will make me happier. The biggest one is that my husband and I are hoping...or at this point PLANNING to move to Seattle in summer of 2013. I need a fresh start in a place that I actually like. I grew up in Chicago and came back for school, but then got stuck here. It's not where I feel like I belong. I'm hoping that going where I feel like I do belong will shake things up a bit. It will definitely mean a job change. Bartending has its moments and it did inspire an entire (though as of yet unsold) book, but like all service industry jobs it can be really draining and demeaning. I have discovered a love of teaching this year and especially a love of writing for and connecting with teenage girls via Rookie. I'm hoping to find a job that incorporate both of those things--maybe some sort of after school arts program for young people that I can teach in. I'm not sure what is out there, but I'nm hoping to find something, and it may be a full-time something meaning novel writing will have to fit in other places in my life. I want to have nights to read and spend time with my husband, weekends to go on adventures with him. That will be the priority once we move out west. 

Writing for Rookie is my other big priority. It doesn't pay much, but every piece I craft for them, I put my heart and soul into the same as I have my novels. I'm able to write incredibly personal things and I feel like I'm a part of the type of publication I'd been dreaming of since I was thirteen years old. Rookie readers are my audience, always have been, and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to share my words and stories with them.

As for my fictional stories, my novels, my career as Stephanie Kuehnert, YA author (or just author in general), I still hope and dream and work my ass off in hopes that 2013 will be the year it relaunches. (13 is my lucky number after all.) I'm taking much needed time off until after the New Year, but then I will get back back the Contemporary YA and I hope to finish it in a month or three. After that, I will return to and reevaluate the Modern Myth YA. Maybe I'll press on with it as it is, maybe I'll re-write it again, or maybe I'll decided it needs a different form--a TV pilot instead of a book, perhaps. 

I'm not setting deadlines or making specific goals. I just want to keep doing what I've been doing--finding the faith and the drive to keep writing and enjoy writing each day that I sit down to do it. To treasure life's sweet moments, to find something to be grateful for every day.

Oh and I think I might sign up for a spinning class....

What about you? What were your accomplishments big and small in 2012 and what are you hoping to do in 2013?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

GCC Presents: Laurie Faria Stolarz

Laurie Faria Stolarz latest book in the "Touch" series, DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS is out now! Here are the details on the novel and a contest that Laurie is running!


Camelia Hammond's trying junior year of high school is finally over...but her troubles aren't. After she discovers a painful truth about her family, she escapes to a summer arts program in Rhode Island. Determined to put family - and boyfriend - drama behind her, she throws herself into her artwork.

At the arts school, she gets caught up in the case of Sasha Beckerman, a local girl who is missing. Even though all signs suggest that the teen ran away, Camelia senses otherwise. Eager to help the girl, she launches her own investigation. Meanwhile, Camelia realizes how much she misses Ben, despite being committed to Adam.

But time is running out for Sasha, and Camelia will have to trust her powers if she's to save her. Will the lessons Camelia has learned in the past give her the strength to do so?

Author Bio:

Laurie Faria Stolarz is the author of Deadly Little Secret, Deadly Little Lies, Deadly Little Games, Deadly Little Voices, Project 17, and Bleed, as well as the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares
series. Born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Stolarz attended Merrimack College and received an

MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston. For more information, please visit her Web site at

Karma Chameleon Contest

In celebration of the release of DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS, I'm so excited to announce the launch of a brand new contest. I'm calling it Karma Chameleon - yes, after the Boy George song from the '80's (in case any of you have heard of it; if not, you can YouTube it for fun). I'm naming it that, not because of Boy George or his song, but because the contest is all about karma - good karma that is, and the spreading of it, and because, five books later, I thought it'd be the perfect time to celebrate Camelia from the Touch series (recall that Camelia's real name is Chameleon).

The contest is all about giving and getting - hence the karma part. As many of you know, the law
of karma, in its simplest definition, is that whatever you put out to the world - energy or otherwise,
good or bad - comes back to you. And so, in the spirit of good karma, let's spread some goodness. I
want to encourage readers to do a good deed, i.e. organize a fundraiser or food drive, volunteer to
tutor or teach something, visit the elderly or a children's hospital. All good-karma submissions will be
entered into a drawing to win autographed copies of some of my Touch series books. I'll be sharing
the most inspiring stories on my website and Facebook, and I'll Tweet about them as well (with your
permission, of course). For more information, see the official guidelines and rules on my web site:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

GCC Presents: Eileen Cook!

I love everything I've read by Eileen Cook thus far, so I'm excited to feature her new book, THE ALMOST TRUTH, as a part of here Girlfriends Cyber Circuit blog tour!


From the author of Unraveling Isobel and The Education of Hailey Kendrick, a smart, romantic novel about a teenage con artist who might be in over her head.

Sadie can’t wait to get away from her backwards small town, her delusional mom, her jailbird dad, and the tiny trailer where she was raised…even though leaving those things behind also means leaving Brendan. Sadie wants a better life, and she has been working steadily toward it, one con at a time.

But when Sadie’s mother wipes out Sadie’s savings, her escape plan is suddenly gone. She needs to come up with a lot of cash—and fast—or she’ll be stuck in this town forever.

With Brendan’s help, she devises a plan—the ultimate con—to get the money. But the more lies Sadie spins, the more she starts falling for her own hoax…and perhaps for the wrong boy. Sadie wanted to change her life, but she wasn't prepared to have it flipped upside down by her own deception. With her future at stake and her heart on the line, suddenly it seems like she has a lot more than just money to lose....

About Eileen Cook:

Eileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her latest release, Unraveling Isobel came out in Jan 2012.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and two dogs and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

The Interview

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

EILEEN: Most often book ideas come to me as a collection of unrelated things. A bit of an idea here, another piece there, until it sticks together as one idea. This process can take months or years. This is one of the few books where I can remember the exact second I had the idea. I was on the ferry and saw a missing child poster. At the bottom there was an age-enhanced photo so you could see what the person might look like now. I had the thought "How weird would it be if I looked like the age enhanced photo?" In that instant the idea of the book dropped into my head. I ran back to my seat and wrote it down as fast as I could. I spent another week thinking over some different details, but I started writing almost right away.

Q: The main character of my first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, is the kind of girl I wanted to be (a rock star!), the MC of my second book has a lot more in common with teenage me. Is your main character someone you wish you could be, someone a lot like you, or your total opposite? How so?

EILEEN: With the exception of pulling a few pranks, I was pretty much a “good girl” in high school. My main character, Sadie, is a teenage con-artist. Her dad has been in and out of jail her whole life and she’s learned that if she wants her life to be different, she’s going to have to be the one to make it happen. She and I don’t have a lot in common, but I really admire her guts.

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your book what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story?

EILEEN: First off we need a few songs that deal with the idea of missing someone. Partly because there’s a missing child in the book, but more importantly Sadie is trying to figure out who she is and what’s missing in her life.
Missing You by Black-Eyed Peas
I Miss You by Incubus
Sadie’s a con artist- so we need at least one good lie song.
Miserable Lie by The Smiths
The book also has some romance so we need a few love ballads to round things out.
The Way You Look Tonight- by Tony Bennet
Someone Like You by Adele

Q: In addition to writing books, I also write for a website for teens called Rookie, which has a regular feature called "Literally The Best Thing Ever," wherein we write about a thing that we think is super mega awesome (even if it is the type of thing that others might call a guilty pleasure, we believe there is nothing guilty about pleasure!) and explain why we think it is literally the best thing ever. It's generally a kind of unexpected thing, for example I wrote one about the soap opera, One Life To Live. I don't expect you to write a whole essay obviously, but can you briefly tell us what either you or your character (or both!) would say is "Literally The Best Thing Ever" and why?

EILEEN: I am addicted to David’s Teas. I’m not a coffee drinker (which is practically a crime in the Pacific Northwest), but I love tea. They have all sorts of amazing flavors, but a couple favorites are: Coco Chai Rooibos (coconut, ginger, cardamom and peppercorns) and Creamy Earl Grey.

Q: What are you working on for us next?

EILEEN: I am working on a new YA which is currently being called LOST TO BE FOUND, but stay tuned the title may change. It’s about a girl named Avery who decides to search for her birth mom as part of her senior project, but ends up finding out more about herself than she expected.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A new project I'm excited about: Ms.Fit Magazine!

I love writing about the things that matter most to me, whether that be writing fiction about female musicians or teenagers struggling with depression, self-injury and addiction, or writing nonfiction about my own experiences with self-injury, griefaddiction, abuse and bullying. Over the past year, writing for Rookie has literally changed my life and my perspective on writing. I've struggled with the ups and downs (okay, mainly the downs) of my fiction career, but my regular contributions of personal essays and goofy things like my glowing review of my DVR have kept me balanced and happy as a writer.

Now I have the opportunity to write for another online publication that deals with something else I think about a lot--health. This may not be a side of me that you know a ton about, but as the daughter of two nurses, a teenager who like many other teenagers struggled with body image, and vegetarian of almost twenty years and vegan of almost fifteen, being active, making healthy choices, feeling good about myself, and cooking delicious food are all extremely important parts of my life. I've had a hard time finding publications that I enjoy reading about these things (aside from Veg News on the vegan side and my friend Rea's blog) because most of the health magazines (like way too many women's mags in general) raise my feminist hackles. Fortunately, Kathie Bergquist, a brilliant writer I know from going to grad school at Columbia College Chicago, aims to change that with her new mag, Ms.Fit. She's invited me to write for it and I am slotted to do a piece on overcoming my struggles with insomnia in her first issue in January. (The theme is Re: and my piece will be Re-learning how to sleep.)

This is how Kathie describes Ms.Fit:

Ms.Fit mag will be an unapologetically feminist, queer-friendly, body-positive web 'zine about health, fitness, and wellness, existing in a world where real women (a.k.a less than perfect) and LGBTQ folks often feel erased by mainstream health and fitness culture. We want all women and their queer allies to feel healthy, strong, and good about themselves and to live long lives of action and empowerment. And we want to have a blast doing it. Because Ms.Fit thinks that one of the most important political statement we can make is to be strong, healthy, and happy in all of our fierce, beautiful manifestations. 

 Ms. Fit is being put together by a team of women from various backgrounds and life and fitness experiences. In addition to their shared commitment to health, fitness, and wellness through a real-life lens, Ms.Fits editorial team and contributors are comprised of professional writers and editors, fitness trainers, parents, experts, amateurs, who are all committed to empowering women and community building around wellness, health, and social responsibility.

In other words, this is the perfect health, body and fitness mag for women like me and I want more than anything to see it succeed.

You can stay up to date on Ms.Fit's development on their provisional blog, (the finished mag will be fuller and prettier) and following them on Twitter.

To get the magazine launched in January, Ms.Fit has an Indie-a-Go-Go campaign running. I've already contributed and I hope that if a feminist, queer-friendly pub like this interests you (and you want to read my reflections on health, food, and fitness!), you will contribute as well!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Vlog! An Excerpt! A Contest!--Celebrating the Release of DEAR TEEN ME!

This Tuesday marked the release of DEAR TEEN ME: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves, an anthology edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Kenneally.

It was born from this website, which I wrote a letter for back in 2011. I was honored when I was asked to write a new letter for the anthology, which includes a bunch of extremely cool, interesting, and talented YA authors, who have had a variety of teenage experiences.

Here's the official description of the book:

Dear Teen Me includes advice from over 70 YA authors (including Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins, and Nancy Holder, to name a few) to their teenage selves. The letters cover a wide range of topics, including physical abuse, body issues, bullying, friendship, love, and enough insecurities to fill an auditorium. So pick a page, and find out which of your favorite authors had a really bad first kiss? Who found true love at 18? Who wishes he’d had more fun in high school instead of studying so hard? Some authors write diary entries, some write letters, and a few graphic novelists turn their stories into visual art. And whether you hang out with the theater kids, the band geeks, the bad boys, the loners, the class presidents, the delinquents, the jocks, or the nerds, you’ll find friends--and a lot of familiar faces--in the course of Dear Teen Me.

The Vlog: 

To celebrating the release, I put together a vlog--now, mind you, "put together" is a very loose term. Basically I used to crappy webcam and the Windows Movie Maker software on my computer, so please don't judge me too harshly. In it I talk briefly about why I participated in this project/why I write for teens in general and I share a short excerpt from my letter.

The Contest: 
It's not a party without presents!!! So I'm going to giveaway a copy of DEAR TEEN ME to one lucky winner. It will be signed by 4 to 5 Dear Teen Me contributors and come with bookmarks and postcards!

To enter all you have to do is leave a comment with your email address (so I can contact you if you win).

Want extra entries?
+1 for every time you tweet or share something on facebook about Dear Teen Me, could be my video, a link to this blog entry, a link to one of the other blogs on the Dear Teen Me blog tour, could just be your own thoughts on how awesome Dear Teen Me is.

Note your extra entries in your comment and enter as many times as you want before Friday, November 9th when I will be drawing my winner. This contest IS open internationally!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

GCC Presents: Kelly Parra!

My GCC buddy and fellow MTV Books author Kelly Parra has a new short story in an anthology, SOMETHING WICKED, that sounds just perfect for Halloween. Check it out! (Especially that gorgeous cover!)


Sometimes, they aren't costumes.
They’re baaaack.

More nightmares brought to you by the authors of the young adult anthology Prom Dates to Die For...
Beware the Midnight Troll on your late-night stroll by Mari Hestekin. Swim at your own risk Under Loch and Cay by Jenny Peterson. A curse of spiders on campus means Arach War by Lena Brown. Through a Glass Darkly one could lose a soul by Heather Dearly. Supernatural Hunters turn to the sea in Mermania by Kelly Parra. Social media goes to the ghouls in Spectral Media by Aaron Smith.

Don’t miss this paranormal fun for tween, teens and adults!

Kelly Parra’s short story “Mermania” continues Teen Supernatural Hunters Jaz and Blake’s paranormal adventures. The duo debuted in “Darkness Becomes Him” in the young adult anthology PROM DATES TO DIE FOR as they battled a soul hungry dark angel. In SOMETHING WICKED a merman entrances Jaz and it’s up to her and Blake to rush against time before Jaz grows her own tail by the full moon!

About the Author:

Kelly Parra’s earliest stories were told with paintbrushes, but upon discovering the drama and forbidden love of romance and suspense novels, those paintbrushes were replaced with a keyboard. Now a multi-published author in young adult and romance fiction, she has created memorable characters such as a graffiti artist in Graffiti Girl, a psychic teen in Invisible Touch, and a tough undercover narc in her novel for adults, Criminal Instinct. A two-time RITA finalist, she divides her time between her novels, short fiction, and the adventures of motherhood, where she juggles her home life with two children, a tattooed husband, a sweet poodle, and a rowdy pit bull. Visit her website
The Interview:
Q: What inspired you to write this story?
Kelly: Hello Stephanie! Thanks for having me on your blog! Well, my story “Mermania” in the paranormal young adult anthology SOMETHING WICKED is actually the continuation of my other story “Darkness Becomes Him” in the PROM DATES TO DIE FOR anthology. I’m a fan of the show Supernatural so I thought it would be fun to write about teen supernatural hunters! And from there my characters Jaz and Blake were born.
Q: The main character of my first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, is the kind of girl I wanted to be (a rock star!), the MC of my second book has a lot more in common with teenage me. Is your main character someone you wish you could be, someone a lot like you, or your total opposite? How so?
Kelly: My main character’s name is Jax. She’s an orphan teen that is able to sense anything magical. So that’s not me! Haha. However, she may have some characteristics of when I was younger. I didn’t always fit in and was somewhat of a tomboy like Jax.

Q: In addition to writing books, I also write for a website for teens called Rookie, which has a regular feature called "Literally The Best Thing Ever," wherein we write about a thing that we think is super mega awesome (even if it is the type of thing that others might call a guilty pleasure, we believe there is nothing guilty about pleasure!) and explain why we think it is literally the best thing ever. It's generally a kind of unexpected thing, for example I wrote one about the soap opera, One Life To Live. I don't expect you to write a whole essay obviously, but can you briefly tell us what either you or your character (or both!) would say is "Literally The Best Thing Ever" and why?
Kelly: Well, if we talk TV, I would have plenty of  “Literally The Best Thing Evers”. So that would very tough! You know what I’ve always loved all my life? Creativity. Creativity is the best thing ever. I have always had to express myself in some way. It’s like a feeling that never goes away. In my youth it was through arts, drawing and painting, then it was poetry and photography, and then it was graphic design, and now its writing, digital design, and home and craft projects. Creativity makes me happy, whether I’m making something or enjoying someone else’s.

Q: What are you working on for us next?
Kelly: I’m the type of writer that always has a few projects in the works. At the moment I’m writing a young adult, a romance, and a short story collection.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

GCC Presents: Mindi Scott

I am very excited to share this book with you, blog readers. My copy of it is set to arrive tomorrow and I can't wait to read it. LIVE THROUGH THIS by my Girlfriends Cyber Circuit sister Mindi Scott sounds like the kind of powerful, real read I like best. The following interview and look at the book will tell you why.


From the outside, Coley Sterling’s life seems pretty normal . . . whatever that means. It’s not perfect—her best friend is seriously mad at her and her dance team captains keep giving her a hard time—but Coley’s adorable, sweet crush Reece helps distract her. Plus, she has a great family to fall back on—with a mom and stepdad who would stop at nothing to keep her siblings and her happy.

But Coley has a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully-crafted fa├žade. That for years she’s been burying the shame and guilt over a relationship
that crossed the line. Now that Coley has the chance at her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling.

In this unforgettable powerhouse of a novel, Mindi Scott offers an absorbing, layered glimpse into the life of an everygirl living a nightmare that no one would suspect.

About the author:

Mindi Scott is the author of Live Through This and Freefall. She lives near Seattle, Washington, with her
drummer husband. Please visit her online at

The Interview:

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

Mindi: I’ve written a letter for readers and posted it on my website explaining this in detail. The basic gist, though, is that I put off writing this book for years because I thought someone with more distance from the subject could do it better. One day, I realized that that wasn’t the case and that I needed to write this book.

Q: The main character of my first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, is the kind of girl I wanted to be (a rock star!), the MC of my second book has a lot more in common with teenage me. Is your main character someone you wish you could be, someone a lot like you, or your total opposite? How so?

Mindi: Coley and I have things in common, for sure. She’s going through a situation that is very loosely inspired by something that happened to me, so it would have impossible for us to have nothing in common. But with this in mind, I deliberately made sure that she had traits and skills very different from mine. She has blond hair (mine is brown), she’s a talented dancer (I’m the worst dancer in the world), she snowboards (I ski), etc. Despite my efforts to keep us separate, I suspect that people who know me well (or who knew me when I was younger, at least) will see a lot of me in her.

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your book what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story?

Mindi: This is easy, actually, because there are a number of songs mentioned in this book! Here are five of them:
 “Asking for It” by Hole. This song has a line that includes the book’s title: “If you live through this with me, I swear that I will die for you.”

“Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie. This is a breakup song, really, but the part that is significant in the book is the line about how she’s going to miss him.

 “Missing” by Everything but the Girl. This is another “miss you” reference.

“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison. Coley has brown eyes and this song is mentioned in reference to that fact.

“Creep” by Radiohead. This has one of my favorite compliments of all time: “You’re just like an angel / Your skin makes me cry.”

 Q: In addition to writing books, I also write for a website for teens called Rookie, which has a regular feature called "Literally The Best Thing Ever," wherein we write about a thing that we think is super mega awesome (even if it is the type of thing that others might call a guilty pleasure, we believe there is nothing guilty about pleasure!) and explain why we think it is literally the best thing ever. It's generally a kind of unexpected thing, for example I wrote one about the soap opera, One Life To Live. I don't expect you to write a whole essay obviously, but can you briefly tell us what either you or your character (or both!) would say is "Literally The Best Thing Ever" and why?

Mindi: In the book, my character describes a day spent with a boy, a giraffe, and ice cream as the Best Day Ever. For me, Star Wars: The Clone Wars is Literally The Best Thing Ever because of Matt Lanter’s sexy, sexy Anakin Skywalker voice.

Q: What are you working on for us next?

Mindi: My critique partner, Michelle Andreani, and I are writing a novel together. We also have a blog that we (sometimes) update about our progress.

Monday, October 1, 2012

GCC Presents: Gretchen McNeil

My Girlfriends Cyber Circuit sister, Gretchen McNeil has a new book out called TEN, which I think any fans of YA horror or suspense will adore. Here are all the details!

About TEN:

And their doom comes swiftly.

It was supposed to be the weekend of their lives – three days on Henry Island at an exclusive house party. Best friends Meg and Minnie each have their own reasons for wanting to be there, both of which involve Kamiak High’s most eligible bachelor, T.J. Fletcher. But what starts out as a fun-filled weekend turns dark and twisted after the discovery of a DVD with a sinister message: Vengeance is mine.

Suddenly, people are dying and the teens are cut off from the outside world. No electricity, no phones, no internet, and a ferry that isn’t scheduled to return for two days. As the deaths become more violent and the teens turn on each other, can Meg find the killer before more people die? Or is the killer closer to her than she could ever imagine?

About the author:

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown.  Her YA horror POSSESS debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011.  Her follow up TEN – YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer – will be released September 18, 2012, and her third novel 3:59, sci fi doppelganger horror is scheduled for Fall 2013.  Gretchen's new YA contemporary series Don't Get Mad (Revenge meets The Breakfast Club) begins Fall 2014 with GET EVEN, followed by the sequel GET DIRTY in 2015, also with Bazler + Bray.

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk.  Gretchen blogs with The Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels where she can be seen as "Monday."

The Interview:

Q: What inspired you to write this book? 

Gretchen: My publisher wanted another horror/suspense novel from me after POSSESS and I wanted to do a throwback to the old Christopher Pike and Agatha Christie novels I loved as a teen. Voila!

Q: The main character of my first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, is the kind of girl I wanted to be (a rock star!), the MC of my second book has a lot more in common with teenage me. Is your main character someone you wish you could be, someone a lot like you, or your total opposite? How so? 

Gretchen: I think Meg is a lot like me in the she's cerebral, and constantly saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Though that's where the similarities end. Meg's much more introverted than I ever was.

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your book what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story? 

Gretchen: I'm going to wuss out and pick only one, but it's a goodie, trust me. "Kiss Off" by the Violent Femmes! I think the reason is obvious:

"I take one one one cause you left me and
2 2 2 for my family and
3 3 3 for my heartache and
4 4 4 for my headaches and
5 5 5 for my lonely and
6 6 6 for my sorrow and
7 7 for no tomorrow and
8 8 I forget what 8 was for and
9 9 9 for a lost god and
10 10 10 10 for everything everything everything everything"

Q: In addition to writing books, I also write for a website for teens called Rookie, which has a regular feature called "Literally The Best Thing Ever," wherein we write about a thing that we think is super mega awesome (even if it is the type of thing that others might call a guilty pleasure, we believe there is nothing guilty about pleasure!) and explain why we think it is literally the best thing ever. It's generally a kind of unexpected thing, for example I wrote one about the soap opera, One Life To Live. I don't expect you to write a whole essay obviously, but can you briefly tell us what either you or your character (or both!) would say is "Literally The Best Thing Ever" and why?

Gretchen: Right now I am completely obsessed with a shopping website called Mod Cloth – fun, retro inspired clothes from a huge variety of designers. Plus shoes. Plus tchotchkes. Like half my wardrobe in heavy rotation right now is from Mod Cloth, including most of the fun dresses I wear to appearances. It's reaching epidemic levels…

Q: What are you working on for us next?
Gretchen: My next book is called 3:59 and comes out Fall 2013. It's sci-fi horror about two girls who are the same girl in different dimensions, who discover that their worlds connect every twelve hours – at 3:59 – for one minute. When they decide to switch places for a day, all hell breaks loose. Literally.

After that I just sold a two book series, also to Balzer + Bray, for 2014 and 2015. GET EVEN and GET DIRTY are books one and two in the Don't Get Mad series about four very different girls who have formed a secret revenge society, getting back at bullies and mean girls who have terrorized their classmates, which all goes well until one of their targets turns up dead and the society is implicated in the death.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rookie Event This Thursday-- Help me choose what to read!

There is going to be a ROOKIE Yearbook One event in Oak Park, IL at 7 pm on Thursday! I just found out about it/was invited to read this morning and immediately started scrambling to get the evening off of work. It looks like I have managed to do that, so I will be reading and signing alongside the fabulous Jessica Hopper, the amazing Krista Burton, and our lovely founder/editor-in-chief, who is one of my biggest inspirations.... ::drumroll:: Tavi Gevinson!

The event is being put on by the fabulous indie bookstore, The Book Table, and will take place at Unity Temple, 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL on Thursday, September 20th at 7 pm.

You can get all of the details as well as buy tickets to reserve your spot ($10, which you can redeem at the event for $10 off the price of the book) on the Book Table's website.

As I've said about a million times before, I am so insanely proud and honored to be a part of ROOKIE. It is literally the most important, meaningful job I've ever had. I kind feel more strongly about it than even my own novels at times because my pieces are a part of something so much bigger and more awesome than I could ever hope to create by myself.

....And because of this, I AM FREAKIN' TERRIFIED to read on Thursday. I mean, Krista, Jessica, Tavi, all brilliant women, how do I even come close? So I want to pick the best possible excerpt from my best Rookie piece to read. (I'm reading for 5 minutes, so anything will prolly have to be excerpted because I write loooong). So HELP ME CHOOSE!!!!!

Right now I am leaning towards the first half of my "Road out of Grief" piece because I think it's probably the one I am the most proud of. Well that and "Secret Wounds" but I wasn't quite sure if I could figure out a way to excerpt that and get it to five minutes. But then I thought maybe I should do something funny, like my "Literally the Best Thing Ever: Star Trek: The Next Generation" piece. My genius editor Anaheed pointed out that funny always goes over well for public readings and I know she is right, but I am afraid that I'm not very good at being funny and when funny doesn't go over well, you feel extra lame. So yeah, I just don't know.... Thoughts? You can see a list of all my pieces here if you need a refresher in terms of which one YOU liked best/think would work best excerpted and read aloud.

Also, we at Rookie have a fun little Twitter campaign going. Perhaps you have seen our "Ask A Grown Man" segments with the likes of Jon Hamm and Judd Apatow? Well, we would like to get President Barack Obama to do one, too. What a cool campaign move, right? And many of our readers are newly 18 and ready to vote. Plus, as a politically active teen, I fully believe that teens under the age of 18 can make a difference too. Also it would just be really fucking awesome to see the prez on Rookie. If you think so too, tweet @BarackObama and tell him why you think he should do "Ask A Grown Man." Use the tag #Obama4grownman and maybe we can even get it to trend!

Here are some example tweets of both the fun and the serious variety:

Okay, hope to see Chicago area peeps at the  Unity Temple on Thursday, and hope to see everyone here giving me advice on what to read and going on Twitter to get the president to do AGAM!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Releases, New Projects, New Tumblrs (Oh and Comic Con pix)

Hey lovely blog readers, sorry it's been awhile since I've posted properly. I've been prepping for my crazy fall and hang out with these cool people:

Yeah, that would be Norman Reedus. Or you may know him as Daryl from The Walking Dead or Murphy MacManus from Boondock Saints. I know him as that guy who my friend Lindsay and I became insanely obsessed with in like 2002 and watched all his movies over and over. And he touched me. And called me babe and sweetheart several times.

Those lovely ladies would be Sherilyn Fenn and Sheryl Lee or Audrey and Laura from Twin Peaks or the women who collectively changed my life when I was eleven and my mom decided that yeah it would be cool to let me watch her favorite show with her. They are also incredibly sweet and both complimented me on my flower crown. When I told Sheryl Lee about writing for Rookie and the next gen of teen girls inspired by Twin Peaks, she got so genuinely excited it made my day.

And these people, that dude, who looks like he's about to get all bumpy-faced and bite my best friend (in the awesome unicorn shirt)'s next, that of course would be James Marsters AKA Spike from Buffy and his partner in crime on the far left is Juliet Landau AKA Drusilla.

Yes, I spent the first part of August totally geeking out and going to my very first Comic Con, Wizard World Chicago as well as my very first Ren Faire in Bristol, WI, where I met this adorable little guy:

From now on my husband and friends judge the level of my happiness/excitement by whether or not I'm making "bunny face." (Note: that Norman Reedus definitely got "bunnyface"... which sounds wrong. Especially since my husband was mentioned a sentence ago.)

Now on to that preparing for a busy fall thing, but here are a couple of things that also bring on bunnyface for me.... NEW RELEASES!!!!!!

Sorry to disappoint, but these are not solo ventures, ie. new books just written by me. They are both anthologies/collections of sorts, but that's what makes them so bunnyface worthy. They are a million times better than if they were written by just me.

First up...

Actually I believe the official title is Rookie Yearbook One because there will be more and I hope way way way more than four yearbooks I have from high school. Of course they will definitely be way way way better than high school yearbooks, chock full of the best Rookie photos, art, and articles of the year. I'm not actually sure what if any of my pieces are in there, but I do know my school photo from senior year will be!

This releases on September 4th, next Tuesday, which also marks the one year anniversary of Rookie, when I wrote this highly excited post about. I'm still just as thrilled and honored to be a part of Rookie, especially now that I see the incredible INCREDIBLE content that has been produced and the community that has grown from it. This summer during the Rookie Road Trip, I even got to take my niece and one of her BFFs to a zine making party. Rookie is probably the thing I am most proud of, even more so than my books, so if you haven't yet, I urge you to check it out. These two pieces in particular mean a lot to me, my most recent article about grief and losing my friend Marcel, and my piece on my history with self-injury. And for those of you wondering about the advice I'd give teen writers, you will find it all here at Rookie.

I will also be talking about something very close to my heart in the other new release...

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves comes out on October 30th.

I will be in AMAZING company with people like Ellen Hopkins, Lauren Oliver, Tara Kelly, and more. I wrote about the emotionally and sexually abusive relationship I was in as a fifteen year-old. I can't wait to read all of the other letters, which I imagine will range from heartbreaking to hilarious.

Fall, for me, is also a time for New Projects.

Okay, one new project. I've decided after much soul-searching, stress, and conversing with my agent that while the partial of the Modern Myth YA is being shopped, I can't keep writing it. I just get too freaked out. This doesn't mean I've given up on it. I hope/believe that my agent will call me any day now with an offer and then I will dive write back in. I explained a bit more in depth about why I felt this way/made this decision and gave some hints (in playlist form of course) about the project I've switched over to working to on YA Outside the Lines last week. As I mentioned there, the new project is a Contemporary Realistic YA (which for right now I will call quite creatively the Contemporary YA even though I have a working title that I adore for it, yanno, superstitions.) That doesn't completely do it justice those because I'm pondering some ghostly/magical realism twists to it.

It's about a girl who is grieving--a few characters actually are grieving, but my main character is not only grieving for her older brother, she has also fallen into an emotionally abusive relationship.

Yeah, I know, I mentioned both grief and abusive relationships above as my own experiences. As usual, I am drawing from those things, emotionally, creatively, cathartically, but not directly. I pondered writing a memoir, but for now I've decided against it, so my real life stuff will be found at Rookie and in anthologies like Dear Teen Me.

Something else that Ballads of Suburbia fans will enjoy is that Cass makes a cameo appearance in this one, as a grown up. As you will see in this scene that I've decided to be daring enough to share with you even though I wrote most of it while hungover last week.

Cass swiveled her head to the right, dreadlocks spilling over her left shoulder. She mimicked Kat’s posture and as she crossed her arms, the sleeve of her gray t-shirt rose to reveal her birdcage tattoo. The cage was open and empty with a ribbon hanging down from it. Loopy handwritten script on the ribbon read, “Secrets lead to sickness.”
“First day back and you’re ready?” Cass deadpanned.
Kat matched her dry tone. “Maybe that’s why I’m back.”
Maybe there was a grief group therapy certificate and Kat wanted it.
Cass flicked her chin upward, indicating that Kat should spill.
Kat’s face faltered momentarily like a kid at Six Flags who’d spent their whole time in line bragging about what a piece of cake a certain roller coaster was and then almost chickened out when it was her turn to step into the first car. But then she blinked and her expression hardened once again.
“Two years ago yesterday, I was hanging out with my brother Stevie at Denny’s like usual. Our sister Corin worked there, so we could just sit around and drink coffee for hours without getting hassled. Corin usually comped most of our food, too, but that night Stevie insisted on actually buying me a slice of pie because he’d only had to fix a couple of sentences in my final English paper, which he said was like a record. I always had him proofread my stuff even though it meant listening to him gloat about being the twin that got all the brains. It was this ongoing thing we had. I’d be like, ‘I’m older,’ and he’d be like, ‘Well, I hung out in the womb longer so my brain could get bigger.’” Kat half-laughed before saying, “Whatever, it’s one of those stupid things that’s probably only funny to us. Anyway, it wasn’t about him being smarter. Even Corin had him proof her college essays. She’s the musician, I’m the artist, I guess, and Stevie’s the writer….”
Kat swallowed and tugged on the colorful jelly bracelets on her left wrist. “Stevie was the writer. And fine, fuck it, he was smarter than me, too. Except for that night. He was so fucking stupid that night.”
She rolled her eyes heavenward and blinked rapidly. Cass started to say something, but Kat stomped her foot. “No, I can do this,” she insisted.
Taking a deep breath, she stared out into the center of the circle, focusing on a scuff on the tile that I usually spent group studying. It was the perfect arch, like a gray rainbow. “We should have gone home with Corin’s best friend Stella,” Kat continued. “Corin had to work ‘til midnight and Stella offered to give use a ride. We were in the parking lot with her when Stevie’s friends rolled up. Well, they weren’t really all his friends. Riley, he’d been one Stevie’s best friends since grade school. The two other guys, Murph and Jared, were a couple years older than us. Riley met them in woodworking class and thought they were cool because they had a car and did stupid shit like steal lawn ornaments and rearrange letters on signs and act like they were movie stunt guys.”
Kat rolled her eyes again, but this time she looked pissed rather than on the verge of tears. “I thought they were cool, too. I tried to impress them just like Stevie and his friends did. Especially Murph, I thought he was so cute. It was pathetic. That’s why we didn’t ride home with Stella. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ride shotgun in Murph’s shitty Ford Explorer. Stella even asked, ‘Are you sure?’ And right when she did, there were sirens. I remember that. An ambulance, a cop car, a couple fire trucks. It was really loud. Definitely a warning, but did I take it? No. I just waved Stella off.”
I glanced over at Cass, wondering if she was going to interject. She was always telling us not to blame ourselves or take on the burden of regrets that didn’t belong to us. She frowned sadly, but kept her mouth shut. She was probably saving the hindsight is twenty-twenty lecture for after Kat was done. Getting us to confess about that day was always her biggest priority.
“Part of me wishes we’d gone with Stella, but another part of me wishes she hadn’t been there at all because seeing her probably gave Stevie his idiotic idea.” Kat bit her lip and shook her head. “Like I said, Murph and Jared were into doing these idiotic stunts and one of them was car surfing. We’d do it in parking lots when they were empty at night. You’d climb up on the roof of the Explorer and Murph would drive. Not super fast, maybe twenty miles an hour. Riley actually did it down our street one time at closer to thirty. Stevie had never tried it, though, which everyone teased him about, especially since you know, I had,” she pointed to herself. “His sister.
“When the guys started giving him crap that night, he was like, ‘Okay, I’ll surf,’ and then he turns to me and smiles and says, ‘In fact, I’ll surf the dark spot.’ And I was like, ‘Bad ass! Shotgun!’ because of course I was way more concerned about sitting next to Murph than how fucking idiotic it was to car surf through the dark spot, which is this winding stretch of road through the forest preserve about a mile from Denny’s. Corin discovered it when Stella got her license. Stella’s kind of a daredevil, so she would turn off her headlights and go around that curve blind and crazy fast because right afterward there’s a set of train tracks and you can catch some pretty good air when you hit them.
“So we’re, like, explaining this as we’re directing Murph there and he actually got a little freaked by the idea. He said he’d do it with no headlights because Stevie really wanted to surf in the darkness and he’d go around the curve, but he wasn’t going to go that fast and he wasn’t going to go over the tracks. Not that it mattered because we never even got to the curve…” Kat’s voice cracked and she ran a finger under her eye before a renegade tear could smear her black eyeliner.
She’d been speaking at an incredible clip, her words gaining momentum like when the roller coaster goes down that first big dip. When she paused to catch her breath, the ten of us listening seemed to take a collective inhale with her. Plastic chairs creaked as kids pressed against them, trying to escape what came next in Kat’s story, what came next in all of our stories: that ugly moment that changed everything.

Yep, I'm gonna leave you hanging there. Also, worth noting, Kat is not the main character. Meredith, the girl listening to her, is, but I haven't written her recollection of her own brother's death yet. I know it. I know a fair bit about this story, but not everything. I'm writing by the seat of my pants now and just trying to fall in love with telling a story again, not worrying about an audience or who might or might not buy it, just writing what I need to write. And so far it has been working. Yesterday I wrote nearly 3,500 words. More than I've written in one day all summer, possibly all year. Here's hoping the momentum keeps going.

Because I'm trying to sink back into a solid fiction writing schedule on top of my freelance work, my bartending job, and once again I'll be teaching a YA Fiction Course at Columbia College Chicago this fall, I don't know how well I'll keep up with this blog. I'll try my best, but to fill the void, I also have this...

My new bartending tumblr.
Adventures in Bartending/The Bartending Diaries can be found here. I still don't post as regularly as most tumblrers, but I do what I can, namely posting funny bar related photos and videos and accounts of my experiences at work, which I can do LIVE FROM MY PHONE so I find that convenient and exciting. I'm also doing it because even though it hasn't sold yet, my agent and I still have high hopes that we will find a home for my bartender book and you'll get to read it.

That's all from me. Hope you guys had fabulously fun summers and exciting fall projects planned too!

Friday, August 17, 2012

GCC Presents: Elise Allen (with a contest!)

Welcome to another Girlfriends Cyber Circuit author interview! My lovely girlfriend Elise Allen has a new YA novel out, POPULAZZI. Let's hear about it shall we?


WHAT WOULD YOU DO if you had the chance to erase your past and reinvent yourself as the person you’ve always wanted to be? Would you grab it? Would you stick with it, no matter what the consequences?

Cara Leonard always wished she could be one of those girls: confident, self-possessed, and never at a loss for the perfect thing to say. One of the Populazzi.

It always seemed impossible… but now could be her chance.

When Cara moves to a new school just before junior year, her best friend urges her to seize the opportunity and change her life… with the help of The Ladder. Its rungs are relationships, and if Cara transforms herself into the perfect girlfriend for guys higher and higher on the Popularity Tower, she can reach the ultimate goal: Supreme Populazzi, the most popular girl in school.

The Ladder seems like a lighthearted social experiment — a straight climb up — but it quickly becomes gnarled and twisted. And when everything goes wrong, only the most audacious act Cara can think of has a chance of setting things even a little bit right.

About the author:

After starting her career in television, ELISE ALLEN has emerged as a vibrant new voice in teen fiction. She is the co-author of Hilary Duff's New York Times Bestseller Elixir, as well as its sequels, Devoted and True. She received an Emmy nomination for her work on the PBS show Dinosaur Train, and fulfilled a lifelong dream when she wrote for the Muppets. She lives in Los Angeles, where she indulges her inexplicable desire to run marathons. Visit her at, or on Twitter @EliseLAllen.

The Interview:

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

ELISE: I was reading Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton, and it hit me that the very stratified society of turn-of-last-century Manhattan was a lot like the equally stratified world of high school. That’s how the idea started percolating, but before I could make it work, I had to solve a puzzle. In Wharton’s book, the main character of Undine is an incredibly unlikeable social climber. That’s on purpose. It’s a biting satire, and it’s terrific. I loved that, but I didn’t want to do the same. Instead, I wanted to create a character who’d make the choice to social climb, but in a way that kept her likable and relatable. It took a long time to crack the nut, but in the end I feel like I succeeded, and I’m really happy with the result.

Q: The main character of my first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, is the kind of girl I wanted to be (a rock star!), the MC of my second book has a lot more in common with teenage me. Is your main character someone you wish you could be, someone a lot like you, or your total opposite? How so?

ELISE: Cara Leonard isn’t exactly the teenage me (though I’ve had several friends tell me otherwise), but she’s a lot like her. Cara’s biggest obstacle is her own fear. She wants to be recognized and accepted, but she’s so afraid of rejection and of making the wrong impression that she overthinks everything. She tries too hard to be what she imagines people want her to be, instead of who she is. That’s a clunky sentence to write, and an even clunkier way to live. I was similarly clunky in high school, so I can relate.

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your book what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story?

ELISE: Lovecats by The Cure – it’s playing when Cara has her first outing with Archer, the guy she adores, and his friends. It’s the first time since Cara changes schools that she feels really secure and at home. While there are a bunch of songs that play in the scene, this one always makes me happy, so it sums up the feeling best.

Disenchanted by My Chemical Romance – it’s a song that brings Cara close to a guy who seems completely out of her league, and when they hear it live in concert things start zooming forward for them.

Paparazzi by Lady Gaga – honestly, the lyrics don’t support my story at all, but obviously the song title sounds like Populazzi, and whenever I hear it I imagine Cara moving in that rarified circle of the popular crowd, feeling the admiring eyes of the whole school on her for the very first time.

The One That Got Away by Katy Perry – I love that it combines lyrics that are really poignant with a tune that’s so fun and bouncy. For me, the combination makes the story even sadder, like the song’s main character is using the light tone to try and deflect her pain. That’s Cara’s M.O. too, and I can imagine her singing this song to herself all the time at a certain point in the story.

My Life Would Suck Without You by Kelly Clarkson. In my mind, Cara’s belting this out at the very end of the book. I’d elaborate, but, you know, it’s the end of the book, so I won’t. J

Q: In addition to writing books, I also write for a website for teens called Rookie, which has a regular feature called "Literally The Best Thing Ever," wherein we write about a thing that we think is super mega awesome (even if it is the type of thing that others might call a guilty pleasure, we believe there is nothing guilty about pleasure!) and explain why we think it is literally the best thing ever. It's generally a kind of unexpected thing, for example I wrote one about the soap opera, One Life To Live. I don't expect you to write a whole essay obviously, but can you briefly tell us what either you or your character (or both!) would say is "Literally The Best Thing Ever" and why?

ELISE: OMG, I was just talking about One Life to Live last night! I used to be a big ABC soaps person, and I was with two friends who still are. They were telling me the Manning family is now on General Hospital, and we had a long talk about how southern-blonde Blair Manning used to be played by an Asian actress, and how brilliantly OLTL handled Blair’s flashbacks to her wildly different self.

But back to your question. GEL NAILS are literally the best thing ever. Have you seen these? They’re painted on in layers, and each layer is hardened by exposure to UV light, so the minute the manicure’s over, your nails aren’t just dry, they’re solid! You can do anything with them and they won’t smudge or peel. Even better, their look is ridiculously cool! My first gel nails were blue with multicolored sparkles in them; my latest are maroony, but with a wavy pattern in them.

What makes gel nails absurd is that UV exposure is a cause of skin cancer, so plopping my hands into that tiny tanning bed every three weeks is the height of idiocy… but they look so great and the super-fast seal is so convenient, I can’t stop!

Q: What are you working on for us next?

ELISE: Up next is the third book in Hilary Duff’s Elixir series, which I co-write. The book is called True, it comes out in spring 2013, and it’s already available for pre-order. Beyond that, I’m working on a bunch of projects that I can’t share quite yet, but hopefully soon!

Thanks for the fun questions, Stephanie! I had a great time hanging with you on your blog!

The Giveaway:

To thank everyone for their support with the paperback launch, Elise is doing a giveaway on her blog where commenters can win a pack of five books -- Populazzi plus books from the four authors who blurbed it (including the marvelous Girlfriend Eileen Cook!). Here's a link to that:

Friday, July 20, 2012

GCC Presents: Jennifer Echols!

I'm really excited to bring you a Girlfriends Cyber Circuit interview with author Jennifer Echols. Jenn is a fellow MTV Books author, I really love all of her stuff, and consider her a personal inspiration. I can't wait to read her new one, SUCH A RUSH, and after you hear about it (or hear more about it!), I'm sure you'll feel the same way. So let's learn more, shall we?


High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business--until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers--and the consequences could be deadly.

Engrossing and intense, SUCH A RUSH is a captivating adventure that is sure to keep readers soaring.


Jennifer Echols is the award-winning author of multiple romantic dramas and romantic comedies for teens. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.


Q: What inspired you to write this book?

JENNIFER: I took a trip to the beach with my family, then drove to the little airport with my dad to watch the advertising banner planes take off and land. My dad is a pilot, so a lot of my childhood was spent going to airports with him to watch airplanes take off and land. But this time, when he told me the banner plane pilots tend to be very young because they need a lot of flight time to become airline pilots someday, I knew that would be my next book.

Q: The main character of my first book, I WANNA BE YOUR JOEY RAMONE, is the kind of girl I wanted to be (a rock star!), the MC of my second book has a lot more in common with teenage me. Is your main character someone you wish you could be, someone a lot like you, or your total opposite? How so?

JENNIFER: Leah is determined to become a pilot and stay a pilot, and I would be deathly afraid to take control of an airplane. But I was determined to become a published author, and I am determined to stay one. So I think Leah and I may have more in common than I originally thought.

Q: If there was a soundtrack for your book what are five songs that would be on it and how do they relate the story?

JENNIFER: “Sunday Best”--Augustana
“Lonely Day”--Phantom Planet
“The Royal We”--Silversun Pickups
“7/4 (Shoreline)”--Broken Social Scene
“The Only Exception”--Paramore

They may not relate to the story at all. They were part of the soundtrack for my last romantic drama, Love Story, which I was finishing when I came up with Such a Rush. This was what I was jogging to, up and down the beach road, thinking hard. I actually don’t know whether these songs have anything to do with Love Story, either. When I construct a soundtrack, I’m listening to the music, not the words. I guess that’s kind of weird for a novelist, but I was a music major before I was an English major.

Q: In addition to writing books, I also write for a website for teens called Rookie, which has a regular feature called "Literally The Best Thing Ever," wherein we write about a thing that we think is super mega awesome (even if it is the type of thing that others might call a guilty pleasure, we believe there is nothing guilty about pleasure!) and explain why we think it is literally the best thing ever. It's generally a kind of unexpected thing, for example I wrote one about the soap opera, One Life To Live. I don't expect you to write a whole essay obviously, but can you briefly tell us what either you or your character (or both!) would say is "Literally The Best Thing Ever" and why?

JENNIFER: The current boom in YA fiction is the best thing ever. When I was a teen in the 1980s, there were YA books, but they were written for the younger end of the teenage years. By the time we were actually teens, most of us were reading adult books because there weren’t many stories written specifically for us. By the 1990s, when I was trying to get my own YA published, even that smaller YA market had dried up. My second agent stopped representing YA altogether because it wasn’t selling. After that frustration, I sent a YA directly to one of the Big Six publishers, who sat on it for a year, then wrote me a “good rejection,” saying they would have bought my book if the YA market had been better. Imagine how ecstatic I was when the YA market came back in 2004! Everything is cyclical in publishing--a testament to this is the fact that even the stalwart of the romance world, the historical, took a huge hit in 2005 when the paranormal got big--but I think the YA may be here to stay because so many of these books are incredibly good.

Q: What are you working on for us next?

JENNIFER: I’m writing Dirty Little Secret, my next YA romantic drama for MTV Books, which will be in stores this time next year.