Friday, January 30, 2009

FREEBIE FRIDAY with Alexa Young!

We did it! We made it through another week! I'm particularly stoked this weekend because my friend Jen is visiting and it's always great to spend time with Jen.

To celebrate the weekend, I'm pleased to bring you a Freebie Friday interview with Alexa Young. Her new book, FAKETASTIC, was just released this month. FAKETASTIC is the second in a four-book FRENEMIES series. Check out her very cool series website! And speaking of cool, you can see the French cover and read about her cover story over on Melissa Walker's blog. (You'll need to scroll down the page beneath the inauguration post.)

Here's the official back cover blurb for FAKETASTIC:
Halley and Avalon are reunited, and it feels so good. Or does it? As they struggle to merge their new lives, they’re more eager than ever to prove their loyalty and love to each other. That’s when the I-got-your-back opportunities knock, in the form of some potentially problematic (even SCANDALOUS) situations with their new friends. Faster than you can say “Three’s Company,” Halley and Avalon make the ultimate BFF pact and vow to support each other, cover for each other, and even pretend to be people they’re not—all with the oh-so-benevolent goal of achieving their dreams while protecting and preserving their friendships, new and old alike. AH! But can the best frenemies' farces play out as planned? Will they really be able to weave a tangled web of deception without any snags? Does betrayal ever NOT backfire, even when borne with the best intentions?

The Interview:

    What inspired you to write FAKETASTIC?

    Well, if I were truly FAKETASTIC, I would tell you it’s loosely based on my days back in the college dorms, when my friends and I used to accuse each other of “lying to make friends.” It was something we’d say whenever someone was being transparently false—like telling you your butt didn’t look big in the jeans that so obviously made your butt look big…or saying they were really proud of you for acing the class in which they got a “D”…or just being really nice when you knew they’d been talking behind your back for the past week. Of course, that’s just one little snippet of my life that kind of inspired some of the general themes in the book. In truth, the concept and a lot of the plot details and ideas weren’t even mine—they came from my editors and I just ran with them/made them my own. Wow. I am so not as FAKETASTIC as I could/should be!

    Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
    I know it’s so clichéd to say, but there are little bits of myself and other people I know in most of my characters. For example, the hot lead singer/love interest (Wade Houston) is kind of an amalgam of several different guys I had crushes on throughout my teens—with a touch of celebrities like Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and even Bono thrown in for good measure.

    What excites you?
    Readers who contact me to tell me they love my books. Editors who tell me they love my work and I don’t need to change a thing. Editors who tell me my work isn’t up to par—and who then offer guidance to help me improve. Random acts of kindness. Polite drivers. People from my past contacting me out of the blue to say they were thinking about me. Paychecks that arrive on time. Shopping at Target.

    What turns you off?
    People who are destructively rather than constructively critical. Rude drivers. Random acts of hate. Intolerance of any kind (except intolerance of destructive, rude, hateful people!). Late payments. Paying bills after shopping at Target.

    What's the biggest lie you ever told, and what happened as a result of the telling?
    Oh, man…I was a major troublemaker back in the day, so I’ve got quite a few biggies. But I think one of the most criminally significant was just before my sophomore year of college, when all my friends were getting fake IDs by ordering blank birth certificates out of the back of a magazine, filling them out, taking them to the DMV and taking the driver’s test (meaning they weren’t really fake IDs—they were real IDs created with fake identities!). I had just come back from a summer in Ireland, and was used to getting into clubs to see bands. I didn’t want to give that up just because I wasn’t 21 yet. So, I decided to go for it. I ordered the blank birth certificate. I filled it out with a fake name, birth date, and even signed the doctor’s name. I also had a whole excuse planned to explain why I was 21 and had never driven before. But when I gave the woman at the DMV my birth certificate, she didn’t question me or bat an eye. She just smiled and told me she liked my brooch, then sent me off to take the written portion of the test (which I passed with flying colors). Better still, the person who gave me the behind-the-wheel test was so impressed with my driving, she wrote “100 percent! GREAT DRIVING!” (Little did she know I’d been driving for four years already.)

    Um…anyway…for some inane reason I didn’t think my parents would mind that I was doing all this—even though my mom was a deputy district attorney at the time. So, I had the license sent to THEIR HOUSE! I figured, worst-case scenario, I’d intercept it before they got home from work…but no such luck. When I walked in the door the day the license arrived, I got a very stern lecture and my mom said she would probably be disbarred (ha…she’s Faketastic!). But instead of actually getting rid of the license? She hid it in a drawer, I found it, and proceeded to use it when I got back to college that fall. I even got a ticket on it—for littering! Several years later, my mom told me that my alternate identity had been called for jury duty. And on my wedding day, during my mom’s toast, guess what story she told? Yup. Then she took out the license! I don’t even know how it wound up back in her possession, but I’ve got it now. I’m just really lucky I never really got caught by the law—unless you count my mom, that is.

    What's the most suspenseful thing that's happened to you in real life?
    I think the most terrifying, exciting, painful and beautiful—and therefore suspenseful—experience I’ve ever been through has been childbirth (not my own—the birth of my son!). I don’t deal well with variables and unknowns, and I’m a complete control freak, so it was quite an emotional rollercoaster for me. I actually went into labor on the day my son was due—almost to the minute!—and he arrived at 11 pm. Most people say you forget the pain but, um, it’s been three years and I still remember it. Which is one of the many reasons I haven’t had another child and probably won’t.

    If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
    April Hiller. We were sort of friends in junior high and high school—but it wasn’t until college, when we decided to room together, that we became really close. She was such a magical person with this huge smile, amazing laugh, and a contagious personality that drew people to her. Every time she came back to our room, she brought a new friend with her. Over spring break of our freshman year, she was killed in a car accident. She was on my mind and in my dreams constantly for the first year or two after she died, and now—twenty years after the fact—I still have such vivid memories of her voice, her face, her quirky personality. Sometimes I’ll meet someone who reminds me of her, or I’ll do something and think, “April would have LOVED that,” or I’ll hear a song on the radio (especially songs by Violent Femmes, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Primitives, the Proclaimers…she was a major music fanatic) and flash back to the times we spent together. I would love to talk with her about all the things she’s missed since she died, and crazy as this sounds (considering I don’t have much faith in an afterlife of any kind), I kind of feel like she’d have some interesting stories to tell me about where she’s been and what she’s been up to as well.

    What's one thing most people don't know about you?
    Um…I make a point of consuming the 25-35 grams of recommended dietary fiber each day! How awesome is THAT?!

    What's your favorite quote?
    My favorite SERIOUS quote: “All empty souls tend toward extreme opinions.” (William Butler Yeats)

    My favorite FUNNY quote: “If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.” (SNL’s Jack Handy)

    Milk Chocolate or Dark?
    Dark. Definitely. And the bonus is that it’s actually kind of good for you.

The Freebie:
To be entered to win a signed copy of FAKETASTIC, simply leave a comment below. I'm kind of liking that amalgam of ex-crushes and celebrities to create the perfect leading man idea. If you could create your own leading man (or woman), who would (s)he be fashioned after? Or would you have to start from scratch?
This contest will remain open until Tuesday, February 3.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

GCC Interview with Diana Wallach

Welcome to snow day post #2. Here's the view out my back door today. Brrr!

As a reminder, if you want to win stuff, be sure to enter the DUST OF 100 DOGS countdown contest here. Only two days to go!

And if you'd like a chance to win a copy of DEATH BY BIKINI, head on over to Reviewer X's blog and be prepared to show some love.

Speaking of love, I am now taking questions on romance and relationships to be answered by our panel of experts, YA romance authors Tina Ferraro, Wendy Toliver, Simone Elkeles, Melissa Walker and Moi for a special Valentine's week of love and give-aways. If you have a question or comment for the panel, please email them to me at gerb @ lindagerber . com before February 7th.

Now I'm pleased to bring you another GCC Tour interview with the beautiful Diana Wallach.
Her newest release ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA is the third in her YA series. Here's the official black cover blurb:

Mariana Ruiz thought she left her summer fling in Puerto Rico, that is until she finds Alex sitting across from her at the breakfast table. Living two doors down from her visiting old flame isn’t easy, especially given the unresolved sparks still lingering for her locker buddy Bobby—and they don’t exactly go unnoticed.

Her best friends are little help as Madison deals with her IM-only “boyfriend” and Emily sinks into secret mode after her parents’ recent breakup. The only relationship that seems to be working is her estranged aunt Teresa who’s tying the knot on New Years with Mariana and her cousin Lilly as bridesmaids. But the last wedding detail left unplanned is who will Mariana kiss at midnight?

Strained friendships, stolen kisses, and secret loves create plenty of surprises to unfold before the New Year’s bells start ringing…

Sounds fun. Let's see what she has to say about it:

What inspired you to write ADIOS TO ALL THE DRAMA?
Well, Adios to All the Drama is the third book in the series. So it was inspired by the two books that came before. However, the first book in the series, Amor and Summer Secrets, was initially inspired by a conversation with my agent, Jenoyne Adams. She had mentioned seeing a recent increase in interest from editors seeking multi-cultural novels, and she asked the infamous question, “Got any ideas?” I didn’t. But by the end of our conversation, I had pitched the story for what became Amor and Summer Secrets.

Part of the inspiration was derived from my first trip to Puerto Rico after I graduated from college. I met my relatives there for the first time, and I got to see where my dad grew up. I wanted to share some of those experiences with my character while showcasing that the stereotypes about Latinas are just that—stereotypes.

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
Well, clearly I gave my main character, Mariana, my ethnic background. There aren’t a lot of Polish Puerto Ricans out there. So that’s a dead giveaway. And many of the experiences that Mariana faces while coming to turns with her multi-cultural identity are similar to my own.

Additionally, the town in Puerto Rico where Mariana spends the summer, Utuado, is the same town where my dad grew up. And I gave Mariana’s father, Lorenzo, some biographical tidbits from my dad’s life, including a few of his childhood anecdotes. So when my dad first read the Amor and Summer Secrets, he kept saying, “I can’t believe you were listening!” However, their personalities are completely different.

What excites you?
I love to travel. It’s one of the luxuries I’m happy to spend my money on (more than a house or a car).

I studied abroad my junior year of college in Madrid, Spain. And after that trip, I backpacked through Europe, hitting up London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Geneva and Nice. Since then, I’ve been to Prague, Italy, Bora Bora, Bali, Greece, England and hopefully many more.

What turns you off?
This is more of a phobia, but I’m freakishly scared of bugs. Not just spiders, all bugs. It’s ridiculous, but I can’t even bring myself to get close enough to one to kill it.

What's the biggest lie you ever told, and what happened as a result of the telling?
When I was a teenager vacationing at the Jersey Shore (yes, I did that), I used to tell boys on the boardwalk that my name was Penelope. I don’t know why. I just liked giving a fake name. I don’t think I suffered any serious repercussions, but there could be some guys out there who stumble across this interview and are surprised I’m not called “Penny.”

What's the most suspenseful thing that's happened to you in real life?
Waiting to see if my book would be published! The entire road to publication is one long, suspenseful, drawn-out, heart-pounding journey. I don’t think I’ve ever been on the edge of my seat more than when I was on submission with editors.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I’m a horrible driver, mostly as a result of my urban existence. I’ve lived in Boston, Madrid, Manhattan and now Philly. I’ve always taken subways or buses to class or work, so consequently, most teenagers probably have more driving experience than I do. Beware if you see me on the road.

Milk Chocolate or Dark?
Dark, always dark. I especially love those dark chocolate Dove ice cream bars. I just try to mentally block out the calories.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

READ MY LIPS - Interview with Teri Brown

Welcome to the first snow day post! As the weather forecasters predicted, we had a bit of a storm last night. A few inches of snow followed by a sleet - which left a nice thick crust of ice - followed by more snow - which is still coming down. Guess what? That combination is hard to shovel! Here's the view out my back door... We'll see what it looks like when the storm is done.

As a reminder, the countdown is still on for DUST OF 100 DOGS and the giveaway. Be sure to enter here before February 1 for your chance to win!

Meanwhile, I am pleased to bring you a snow day interview with my online friend and GCC sister, YA author Teri Brown. Teri's first book, READ MY LIPS just came out this past summer to critical acclaim.

Here's the official blurb:

Popularity is as easy as a good secret.

Serena just wants to fly under the radar at her new school. But Serena is deaf, and she can read lips really well—even across the busy cafeteria. So when the popular girls discover her talent, there’s no turning back.

From skater chick to cookie-cutter prep, Serena’s identity has done a 180…almost. She still wants to date Miller, the school rebel, and she’s not ready to trade her hoodies for pink tees just yet. But she is rising through the ranks in the school’s most exclusive clique.

With each new secret she uncovers, Serena feels pressure to find out more. Reading lips has always been her greatest talent, but now Serena just feels like a gigantic snoop…

Now on to the interview:

What inspired you to write READ MY LIPS?
My niece is profoundly deaf and my mother in law was very involved in deaf advocacy. The germs for the book started from my experiences. It actually began as a paranormal though!

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
Not really - more like a conglomeration of a lot of people I know. I meet a lot of interesting teens through my kids and I always pay attention to when they are around! When I go to the highschool to pick up my daughter, I often just sit and watch the students. I get a lot of my ideas from that.

What excites you?
A new season of The Biggest Loser! LOL Honest!

What turns you off?
People who aren’t honest with others or themselves. I feel bad for them and for everyone who has to deal with them.

What's the biggest lie you ever told, and what happened as a result of the telling?
Oh, wow. That’s a leading question. I wasn’t honest with my son about something, (Not telling you what it was!) and when he found out I was lying, all hell broke loose. He’s older now and totally forgives me, but at the time he was furious. I hate when my kids are mad at me… I don’t mind if it’s for normal parent stuff, but being in the wrong sucks… they hold it over your head forever!

If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
Louisa May Alcott. I wanna see how she wrote all those books with a fountain pen!!!!

What's one thing most people don't know about you?
Another hard one. I’m pretty much an open book. I guess most people don’t realize I have an on again off again addiction to nicotine. Currently off again, thank goodness!

What's your favorite quote?
“That don’t make no sense.” (From the movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.) It’s a family favorite and we say it all the time. You have to say it like the guy did from the movie. Also from the same movie, “I have … no name.” (With drama and feeling, very James Earl Jonesess.) Only we use it for anything, like, “I have … no milk.” Or, “I have… no cash.”
We’re just weird like that.

Milk Chocolate or Dark?
Dark. Is there any other kind?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Office Space

So, I was quickly browsing through my favorite blogs on Google Reader (quickly because I am on deadline, but taking a short regrouping break) and I came across this post by TFC sister Sarah Zarr.

I love getting a glimpse at where other authors create, so I'm taking a moment to share mine. Sarah will be linking workspace photos on her blog if you're interested in seeing others. Here's my work space, complete with my constant companion, Kali. I work out of my home, though there are some days I would love to rent an office space so that I wouldn't be interrupted by phone calls, Kali's nature calls, munchie calls from the kitchen and that sort of thing. I do feel lucky, though, to have a real live office. For years, I wrote in the corner of our family room or wherever I could take my laptop and escape. Well, I still do that escape with the laptop thing, but at least now I have a consistent workspace to come back to.

FWIW, even though I'm at home, unless I'm on deadline (now!) I seldom work in my pajamas, but I do work in my slippers!

Tuesday Thingers

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Normally, this is the day that I announce our Freebie Friday winners, but just a reminder... this one stays open until February 1st to celebrate the release of A.S. King's DUST of 100 DOGS, so you still have time to enter this week's contest!

Also, Reviewer X is giving away five copies of DEATH BY BIKINI on her blog! You must tell her that you love her to enter, but really, she's very lovable. The contest is open until February 10.

Meanwhile, it looks like we are about to get snowed in here in Central Ohio, so I've got some special snow day posts coming your way this week. Here's what's on the docket:

Wednesday: Interview with Teri Brown, author of READ MY LIPS.
Thursday: Interview with Diana Wallach, author of ADIOS ALL THE DRAMA.
Friday: FREEBIE FRIDAY - Interview with Alexa Young and a chance to win her book FAKETASTIC!
Sunday: Do100D contest winner announced.

But wait, there's more!

Get ready for the special LOVE & STUFF week here at the blog to celebrate Valentine's Day with interviews, freebies and love advice from YA romance authors such as Tina Ferraro, Wendy Toliver, Melissa Walker and more!

Do you have a love life question for our distinguished YA panel? Be sure to submit it to gerb @ lindagerber . com (omit the spaces) by February 7th.

* apologies to Wendi from Wendy's Book Corner. I have just realized she regularly features 'Tuesday Thingers" on her blog. Didn't mean to rip off your name!!!
EDITED: Ooooh. Tuesday Thingers is a meme from LibraryThing! Got it.
Well, I didn't mean to rip off their name!

Friday, January 23, 2009


OK, so I had a completely different Freebie Friday in mind for today (hint: it involves President Obama's call for service and a challenge for you all, so you might want to think on that a bit and store up your ideas for later, because we could have fun with it...)

ANYWAY, then I got the interview questions back from Amy last night and I couldn't wait to share them with you. I'm so excited for the upcoming release of her book, DUST OF 100 DOGS, that I thought we could do a countdown of sorts here on the blog:

Check that! Only a week and change until the book comes out as I'm writing this. Preorder yours now, you guys. It promises to be a great read. Look at all the awesomeness about it circulating around the web already:

"Entertaining, multi-layered, smart and definitely gripping." ~Bookshelves of Doom

"Not to be missed." ~Jen Robinson's Book Page

"I expect big things from this one." ~Reviewer X

"Spectacular. I am not kidding when I say this novel blew my mind." ~Book Divas

"This is a completely original, crazy story that will suck you in and hold onto you." ~Readers' Rants

And now on to the interview:

1. What inspired you to write DUST OF 100 DOGS?
I think the idea came from my first explorations of Irish history. I used to walk my dogs down my small road [in Ireland] and think of the people who had walked that road before me. The rest unraveled from there. A trip to Jamaica helped. (When does a trip to Jamaica not help?) My exploration of what Ireland has endured for over 800 years stirred feelings about the things that women have endured for even longer.

2. Are any of your characters based on real people (or canines) that you know?

There might be a familiar canine in D100D, but no – no characters or events are based on anything real. I steer clear of reality in my fiction. It’s easier that way.

3. What
excites you?
Right now? If you gave me a packet of Mike & Ikes, I’d get really excited. I haven’t had one since New Year’s Day. Oh – you mean like, for real? History, nature, music and love. Also, quiet stargazing.

4. What turns you off?

Entitlement, laziness and blasé consumerism.

5. If you had to spend a lifetime as a dog, which breed would you like to be and why?
Something big, but not too drooly. Like a Doberman or a big Labrador, maybe. (Why? Because drooling looks like a pain, and being big means I would feel safer.) And since we’re daydreaming, I’d like to live near a beach with an easily accessible butcher shop.

6. What's the biggest lie you ever told, and what happened as a result of the telling?

The biggest lie was every time I ever whined, “I know!” The disastrous result was not learning as much as I could have.

7. If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why? Where would you go?

I’d hang out with my husband and Bob Marley – and we’d go to Jamaica and hit the beach and kick around a soccer ball for the afternoons, play music in the evenings and swim in the mornings.
I’d hang out with my maternal grandmother and her mother-in-law on a sunny
weekend in summer, here in the woods. We’d probably make some great food.

I’d take a three-day-long walk with Walt Whitman.

If I don’t stop now, this list could go on forever.

8. What's one thing most people don't know about you?

I floss my teeth in the shower. (I’m pretty sure most people don’t know this about me.)

9. What's your favorite quote?
“Never be swayed by anything but by your own work and vision.” Tony

10. Milk Chocolate or Dark?

Milk, without question.

Now for your Freebie - up for grabs this week is this way cute pair of dog designed earrings to celebrate Do100D. Or, for those of you who may not wear earrings, a $10 Barnes and Noble gift certificate. To enter, simply leave a comment below telling me what kind of dog you would want to be, if you were cursed to live your life (or multiple lives!) as a dog.

This contest will remain open until the Do100D launch date, February 1.

P.S. For your viewing entertainment, I'll leave you with the trailer for Do100D. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mid-week Catch Up

Happy hump day! Maybe it's the holiday, followed by the inauguration festivities, but it doesn't feel like a Wednesday to me!

This will be a mini-blog because I am smack in the middle of the deadline decent into hell for the next couple of weeks. I just needed to catch up on a few things since the Germany trip last week.

First of all, I apologize for Aphra's tweets disappearing after just a couple of weeks. Seems she was flagged or something and the twitter account wasn't active. It's all ironed out now and the story will move along. You should be able to see updates in the sidebar right here on the blog if you don't have a twitter account. I may also consider a different venue in case we run into any further problems with twitter.

Also, Diana Dang from Stop, Drop and Read awarded me the Butterfly Award this past weekend, which rules are as follows:
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

In the interest of time, I'm going to limit my nominations to two... both brand new blogs that I already enjoy.

The first is a book review blog by author Kate Coombs. I've known Kate for a long time and not only do I love her books, but I admire the depth of her knowledge about children's and YA literature. Her reviews are intelligent and insightful and sometimes funny and I'm very excited that she's entered the realm of book blogging.

The second is a character blog. Darby Christopher, the lead character in Canadian Author KC Dyer's upcoming book, A WALK THROUGH A WINDOW has just begun to post about life in smallsville Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island, but knowing her, this will be a fun blog to watch.

Oh! And I just saw that Holly from Holly's Book Notes is running a contest to give away DEATH BY BIKINI and DEATH BY LATTE. Head on over to her blog for your chance to win.

And now back to work for me! Have a great one!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winners and Inauguration Day!

Happy Inauguration Day, everyone! How many of you watched the proceedings at school, work or home? I moved my workspace into the TV room and watched the pomp and circumstance all day. (In case you are wondering, no, this is not help me to be productive. But I wouldn't have missed it!) No matter what side of the political divide you sit on, this was an impressive inauguration. Loved the musical numbers (and Aretha's hat. Ha!) and President Obama's speech was direct and powerful. And check out the White House's updated website! Cool stuff. And speaking of cool stuff...

I enjoyed reading through your family/friend writing project ideas. Thanks for all your responses! The winners of this week's Freebie Friday by random drawing are:


Please send me an email with your mailing info at gerb @ lindagerber . com (eliminate the spaces) and we'll get them sent out to you.

Meanwhile, stay tuned to the blog this week for an interview with Teri Brown and a Freebie Friday you won't want to miss.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For Those Who Dream

Since I'm traveling today, this is a repost from a previous MLK Day. Celebrate! Dream!

We honor a great man today. A man who looked for a better world than the one he was faced with. On this day, as we reflect on the dreams that Dr. King dared to articulate, let's take a long, hard look at where we are as a people and where we need to be. My challenge for you today is to learn all you can about Dr. King. Listen to his "I have a dream" speech. Take his words and think of what you, as an individual, can do to make this world a better place. Dare to dream. Then work to make that dream come true.

Friday, January 16, 2009

FREEBIE FRIDAY On The Road - Logsted Edition

Guten tag! I'm writing to you today from beautiful Heidelberg. It's absolutely stunning here... but COLD. I don't mind too much, though. It's been a great trip so far. I even got to meet book blogger Lenore in Frankfurt for an evening of sushi and laughs along with her DH Daniel and their friend (whose name I will misspell even though it is simple and she told me how to spell it - but I claim jet-lag induced memory loss.) Edited to add: It's Weina! Sorry about that, Weina! (I cheated and looked at Lenore's post about our fab night out...)

Meanwhile, I'm shivering under my federbett, but very happy to bring you a unique Freebie Friday today with my online friend, agency and Teen Fiction Cafe sister, Lauren-Baratz Logsted, along with her husband Greg Logsted and daughter Jackie Logsted.
In celebration of the recent release of the first two books in their SISTERS EIGHT series (which Kirkus Reviews calls "tales of thrills, suspense and hijinks should satisfy adventure-seeking young readers") and Greg's latest release, SOMETHING HAPPENED ("Shockingly real" according to TeenReads Too), the Logsteds are providing the Freebies today. Yes, that was plural. Details after the interview:

What inspired you to write SISTERS EIGHT and make it a family project?
LBL: In December 2006, when our daughter Jackie was still just six years old, a blizzard stranded us in Colorado for 10 days with neither TV nor other kids for her to play with. Near the end, desperate for new things to do, I remembered that I'd always wanted to write something Jackie could read since she's always been so proud of my career but the subject matter of my books was too mature. So I asked what she'd like in a story. Being an only child, she wanted a book about sisters. When asked how many, she said eight. When asked what ages, she said one thru eight. Then I decided to make them octuplets, all three of us brainstormed the concept of girls whose parents go missing one New Year's Eve, and Greg started mixing in things like talking refrigerators and flying watering cans.

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process as a family?
LBL: Basically, I'm "The Pen." We talk first about what needs to go into each book, then I write a chapter, after which we all read it together and Greg and Jackie tell me what works, what doesn't work, and then we brainstorm the chapter to come. We also have editorial breakfasts and lunches where we go out to eat, talk about future books, and I come home with napkins covered with hasty scribbles shoved in my handbag. It's actually a lot of fun. Oh, and when edits or proof pages come from our publisher, we all go over everything - Jackie knows what STET is and she's not afraid to use it!

Jackie, what's it like to be a published author? What do your friends at school think?
JL: It's cool! They've heard the first three books in the series - Mommy came to read to us - and they like it. They try to get information out of me about future books and sometimes I can't help it - I tell them!

Greg, your book SOMETHING HAPPENED was also just recently released. What inspired you to write that book?
GL: Basically, just reading the morning paper. It seemed for a while all you ever read about was how some hot young teacher was caught having an affair with a thirteen-year-old boy. It made me wonder what happened between these two people in the beginning, what was it that led them down this path.

What can you tell us about your next release (which I think looks way cool) ALIBI JUNIOR HIGH?
GL: I'm very excited about ALIBI JUNIOR HIGH. It's going to be my first hardcover! ALIBI is much more 'action packed' then my last book. It's about a thirteen-year-old boy, Cody Saron, who's spent his whole life living with his CIA agent father. He's traveled the world, speaks five languages, is a martial arts blackbelt, has been home-schooled to almost a college level of education. He's done everything except try to fit in with other kids his own age. That's exactly what he has to do after someone tries to kill him and his dad at a cafe bombing in Chile. After the carnage of that day his dad decides it's no longer safe for Cody to work with him anymore and he sends Cody to Connecticut to live with his aunt until he can find out who's after him and why. Cody thinks that after everything he's been through going to some small town junior high will be easy, a piece of cake, nothing to worry about...boy, is he ever wrong!

Lauren, please dazzle the readers with the number of releases you had in 2008.
LBL: Um, five. Should I be feeling as self-conscious as I am right now?

No way! But you can tell us what to look forward to from you in 2009.
Only three books! At least as far as I know. Books 2 and 3 in THE SISTERS EIGHT series - GEORGIA'S GREATNESS and JACKIE'S JOKES - and my next YA novel, CRAZY BEAUTIFUL, which is a contemporary he-said/she-said retelling of Beauty & the Beast involving a gorgeous girl and a boy with hooks for hands who meet on their first day at a new school.

How do you get it all done?
I'm a lunatic. Also, I just work really hard, treating my writing like a full-time job. If you sit in front of the keyboard for nine hours a day, words are bound to come out.

What excites you? (Collectively or individually)
LBL: File this under pathetic: Each day, when I tick off the last item on that day's to-do list, I become ecstatically excited. See? I told you it was pathetic.
GL: The unexpected surprise that turns out to be something fantasic.
JL: All the ideas we have for THE SISTERS EIGHT that I've never seen in any other books.

What turns you off?
LBL: Me, when I get crabby or dissatisfied with the world. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, I can't stand being around me.
GL: People who stand really close to you when they talk.
JL: Mean people.
If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
LBL: My two best girlfriends. They don't really know each other but I've known one for 32 years and the other for 22 years. I think it'd be a hoot.
GL: Oh, it might be fun to go deep-sea fishing and have a few beers with Ernest Hemingway.
JL: Nastya, because she's my best friend.

What's your favorite quote?
LBL: "We know what we are, but know not what we may be." Ophelia, from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Of course if you ask me again tomorrow, I'll say something different.
GL: "Time goes, you say? Ah no! Alas, Time stays, we go." Henry Austin Dobon, The Paradox of Time, 1875.
JL: "That makes no Hooonga!" [Jackie's mom here to say, Please note: "Hooonga" is a word Jackie's friend Tess made up, it really is spelled that way - capital H and triple 'o' - and it means "sense." Just thought you'd like to know!]

Milk Chocolate or Dark?

And now for the freebie - to be entered to win a copy of SISTERS EIGHT book one, ANNIE'S ADVENTURES or SOMETHING HAPPENED, leave a reply below, telling me what you would write about if you could write a book with your family (or best friends.) Keep it PG, please!

This contest will remain open until Inauguration Day! (Tuesday, January 20)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


On my way to Germany today, so this will be quick.

Thanks much for all your thoughtful comments. I think we can see that a healthy body image comes from loving yourself and respecting your body and seeing yourself as a beautiful and worthwhile person. Great discussion.

And now, the lucky winner of a signed copy of SWEETHEARTS is:


Please send me an email at gerb @ (remove the spaces) and let me know your mailing address so we can get the book off to you.

Everyone else, come on back Friday for an interview with the writing Logsted family, Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Greg Logsted and Jackie Logsted, and two freebies!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

FREEBIE FRIDAY with Sara Zarr!

Happy Friday!

A couple of business things before we get started. First, I apologize that Aphra's twitter updates have been sporadic over the past couple of days. Twitter's been having some issues. I may have to reconsider the format of this novella. In the meantime, please bear with me.

Also a reminder, just one more day to enter to win a signed ARC of DEATH BY DENIM over at Teen Fiction Cafe. Plus, if you head over now (and by now I mean after you have read and commented on Sara's interview) you can also enter to win some fabulous books from Melissa Walker!

And now, I'm excited to bring you an interview with the incomparable Sarah Zarr to celebrate the recent release of her best-selling book SWEETHEARTS in paperback and the release of DOES THIS BOOK MAKE ME LOOK FAT? in which Sarah writes about body image.

What inspired you to write Sweethearts?
Around the time I needed to get going on my second book for Little, Brown, a childhood friend got back in touch with me. Even though we hadn't seen each other or talked in thirty years, this bond was still there. That got me asking "what if" questions - what if we'd never lost touch? What if we'd known each other in high school? What if we ended up in different groups of friends? Would the loyalty be there, and, if so, why? The story grew from there.

How about your contribution to Does This Book Make Me Look Fat?
Oh, I feel like I could write ALL DAY about body image, weight, and food. That made it hard to focus on one thing for the essay, but one of my clearest and most humiliating memories is of going to this jerk doctor at age 16 and him saying all kinds of horrible things, like: "You don't have to eat everything in the grocery store." and "Don't you want a boyfriend?" and other lovely encouragements to me, a young girl who was, at that time, maybe 15 pounds overweight. That memory got me thinking about how self-loathing, ultimately, is totally counter-productive to self-care. I had to learn to not hate myself in order to start tackling my food and weight issues. I think if we could see nutrition and exercise as ways to love ourselves instead of punishment, it would make the whole process a lot easier.

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
Ha ha, wouldn't you like to know! (Are blogs admitted as evidence in a court of law?)

What excites you?
Connecting with people. There is nothing better than when you genuinely spark with someone, or share some understanding that only takes a look or a word to say volumes. I'm not talking romance, here, just the many cool connections you encounter in all areas of life.

What turns you off?
Willful stupidity and intentional cruelty. Also: giant Mr. Universe muscles.

If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
Now that I've been lucky enough to meet a bunch of my idols and some pretty famous people, I know that they are just normal people and they don't have any magical powers or answers, and I'd hate to waste my weekend retreat on someone famous who turns out to be as boring as me. So, let's say my maternal grandfather, who I never met and was also a writer. I'd love to share that family connection and also talk about the craft.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I once chased John Ritter down the street. (This was before I had my realization about famous people.)

What's your favorite quote?
I have many, many favorites. Here's one that will make me seem really smart: "Real art creates myths a society can live instead of die by, and clearly all modern society is in need of such myths." - John Gardner

Milk Chocolate or Dark?
I used to always say milk, but in the last year I've found myself converting to dark, and trying fancy organic and gourmet varieties. Dark seems to have more complexity, and anyone who has read my books knows I love dark complexity!

And now for the Freebie - Sara has graciously offered a signed paperback edition of SWEETHEARTS! To be entered to win, leave a comment below. Let's talk body image this week. What advice would you give a friend or sister (or brother - boys have body image issues, too!) or yourself to help develop a healthy body image?

Book Transfusion

When Devyn Burton was 12 years old, he was diagnosed with lupus. As a result, Devyn started spending a LOT of time in the hospital. Over the years, he was frustrated to find that the Giving Library at his hospital didn't have much to offer in the way of YA books. Like nothing. Little kids' books they had. Main stream books they had. YA, not so much.

In fact, this seems to be the case in a lot of hospitals. So much so that last year, YALSA and Readergrlz arranged for the donation of hundreds of YA books to a number of hospitals across the country. But the University of Michigan Hospital - where Devyn has had to spend so much of his time because of the lupus - was not one of them.

So he went on a crusade. He established an organization called Book Transfusion and set about asking authors if they would send a book or two that he could donate to the hospital. I was lucky enough to be one of those authors. I say lucky, because what Devyn is doing is beyond awesome. Over the year, he collected 103 books for the University of Michigan Hospital. And a donation of $100.

Today, Devyn delivered those books to the hospital.

Devyn Burton is my hero.

If you'd like to find out how you can help Devyn in his quest to provide YA books to hospitals and brighten the stay of many a teen (and adult!) patient, visit his Book Transfusion blog. And stay tuned right here because in the coming months we've got something designed to help in a big way.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Pssst! DEATH BY DENIM Give-away

Just thought I should let you know - I am blogging over at Teen Fiction Cafe this week, and giving away a signed advanced readers copy of DEATH BY DENIM. Stop on by if you'd like a chance to win!

See you Friday with Sara Zarr!!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Winner and Interview with Author Eileen Cook

Lots of fun things to tell you about today.

For one, Seth Mulo has been chosen as best male character on Bookworm Reader's blog. Take a peek at the other awards she gave DEATH BY BIKINI and DEATH BY LATTE. Thanks, Claire!

Also, the first reviews for DEATH BY DENIM are up! You can check them out at Flamingnet (where they have given DBD the Top Choice Award!) and at the Maelstrom blog.

Also, we have a winner from our Carrie Jones Freebie Friday:
Little Willow
Please send me an email at gerb at lindagerber dot com and I'll e-send your gift certificate to you! Everyone else, don't forget to stop by on Friday, when Sarah Zarr will join us and give away a signed copy of SWEETHEARTS!

AND NOW, a special Tuesday Treat for you - we have another GCC interview with the fabulous Eileen Cook, Author of WHAT WOULD EMMA DO?

Here's the blurb on the book:

Thou shalt not kiss thy best friend’s boyfriend…again….
There is no greater sin than kissing you best friend’s boyfriend. So when Emma breaks that golden rule, she knows she’s messed up big-time. Especially since she lives in the smallest town ever, where everyone knows everything about everyone else….and especially because she maybe kinda wants to do it again. Now her best friend isn’t speaking to her, her best guy friend is making things totally weird, and Emma is running full speed toward certain social disaster. This is so not the way senior year was supposed to go.

Time to pray for a minor miracle. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s time for Emma to stop trying to please everyone around her, and figure out what she wants for herself.

Meg Cabot says that WWED? is “Sassy and sly and sweet all at the same time, this book made me laugh out loud.” And Jaqueline Mitchard says Eileen is the next best thing to Judy Blume. Not bad, huh?

Eileen's insight probably comes from the time she spent as a counselor at Michigan State University. "But real people have real problems," she says. She returned to writing because she "liked having the ability to control the ending. Which is much harder with humans."

The interview:

What inspired you to write WHAT WOULD EMMA DO?
I had recently re-read the Crucible. In the play a group of people begin blaming others of being witches and the situation burns out of control. It got me thinking about what would be the worst thing you could accuse someone of today and how easy it is for the mob mentality to take over. Those thoughts were the beginning of the story that would grow into What Would Emma Do.

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?

I tend to steal traits and quirks from different people and then mix them up to create someone new. What I find interesting is when someone who knows me reads a book and thinks they identify someone else and it wasn’t even someone I had in mind at the time.

What excites you?

Ideas and stories. I love to read and I gather odd bits of news like black slacks attract cat hair. I listen in on conversations when I’m out in public. All these ideas and scraps of ideas get squirreled away somewhere in both my office and my brain. Like a compost pile sometimes it stinks, but sometimes something really interesting comes out of it.

What turns you off?
I hate when people are narrow minded. I don’t mind disagreeing with someone, but it frustrates me when someone refuses to even listen to another point of view.

In DEATH BY LATTE, my character Aphra starts her adventure with a lie. What's the biggest lie you ever told, and what happened as a result of the telling?
I am a terrible liar. Terrible. I will never be able to have a life of crime or live as a secret double agent spy. For this reason I tend not to lie very often. When I was in high school I wanted to go out to a nightclub where my crush was playing in a band. My parents wouldn’t let me go. I said I was going to my room, but in reality I climbed out my bedroom window. What I didn’t know is about 15 minutes after I left my mom had convinced my dad to let me go. When she got to my room to tell me I was already gone.

Much later that night I carefully slid open the bedroom window and started to climb in. My mom was sitting there in the dark and while one half of me was outside, and the other hanging in, she said: welcome home.” I knew I was in BIG trouble.

All stories are built on suspense. What's the most suspenseful thing that's happened to you in real life?
There have been a few decisions I made in my life that were a leap of faith. I wasn’t sure how things would turn out, but it felt like the right thing. One example would be getting married. My now husband and I had dated for several years, but broke up while I was still in college. We were broken up a little over a year when he flew into town and told me he missed me and wanted to get married. We went from not dating to married in less than four months. I’m pretty sure there were a lot of people who thought we were insane, but so far it’s been great.

If you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?
I would love to have the ultimate writer’s retreat with my current writing buddies, but we would also invite Meg Cabot, Jane Austen, Stephen King, Jodi Picoult, Sarah Dessen, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker. I could go on and on. I think we’re going to need a large conference center for all these people.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I can’t do a cart-wheel. I start off good, but for some reason my legs sort of fall over during the “wheel” part of the move. This was a source of great humiliation growing up. Please do not offer to teach me how- many have tried, many have failed. I have accepted that a gold medal in gymnastics is not in my future.

What's your favorite quote?
Oooh I love quotes. I’m one of those people who always has quotes pinned up all around my office. One of my favorites (it is hard to pick just one) is a poem by Shel Silverstein

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me -
Anything can happen, child
Anything can be

Milk Chocolate or Dark?
No debate on this issue at all- dark chocolate hands down.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Freebie Friday - CARRIE JONES

LinkBefore I begin this post, let me just say that I love the cover of Carrie Jones' new book, NEED. I think I almost love it as much as she does, which you can read about in her cover story on Melissa Walker's Blog.

Carrie cracks me up.

Now, about NEED:

Zara collects phobias the way other high school girls collect lipsticks. Little wonder, since life’s been pretty rough so far. Her father left, her stepfather just died, and her mother’s pretty much checked out. Now Zara’s living with her grandmother in sleepy, cold Maine so that she stays “safe.” Zara doesn’t think she’s in danger; she thinks her mother can’t deal. Wrong. Turns out that guy she sees everywhere, the one leaving trails of gold glitter, isn’t a figment of her imagination. He’s a pixie—and not the cute, lovable kind with wings. He’s the kind who has dreadful, uncontrollable needs. And he’s trailing Zara.

Oooh. *Shivers* I have to get this book. It's gotten great reviews, including the one in the School Library Journal where the writer says "I can't wait for more of Carrie Jones!" Lucky for her (and for us), Carrie was just asked to write the sequel to NEED.

Now, on to the interview, then check out the freebie at the bottom of this post!

What inspired you to write NEED?

I saw a really strange man with a tail at the Common Ground Fair in Maine.

Are any of your characters based on real people that you know?
Yep. Lots of my characters are pieces of real people twisted around and changed.

What excites you?
Men in uniform! I know! Isn’t that awful and a cliché?

Men who make me laugh. Also a cliché.

Tall men. Also a cliché.

(Hey. clichés became clichés for a reason.)

Oh, and when people call me ‘baby,’ which is also terrible because I am such a girl-power-type woman, but a guy says ‘baby’ and I am just gone.
I am so ashamed.

Oh, wait, how about a nice normal answer like: Spending quality time with the people I love and a good book.

That’s so boring though.

What turns you off?
Boogers. I have a real problem with boogers.

Ew! Me, too.

In DEATH BY LATTE, my character Aphra starts her adventure with a lie. What's the biggest lie you ever told, and what happened as a result of the telling?
Once a guy I was friends with was really mopey and staring out his dorm room window and I said, “Guy, what is wrong?”

And he said, “I am just really sad.”

And I said, “Well, what would make you happy?”

And he said turning in a really melodramatic way, “You.”

And I laughed! I did. And I felt soooooooo bad that I laughed and then I lied and said that I wasn’t laughing because it was goofy. Instead, I said I laughed because I was nervous and it was so sweet.

And then he asked me out and I said ‘yes’ because I felt so badly. That ‘yes’ was a lie. Those two lies ended up being eight years in a really bad relationship.

Oy! All Aphra's lie did was just about get her killed... And she didn't have to deal with that for eight years!

So, besides that relationship, what's the most suspenseful thing that's happened to you in real life?
There’s been a lot:

  1. I ran for office. Election night is suspenseful.
  2. I’ve found dead bodies.
  3. I’ve performed CPR and it worked and then the person died again.
  4. Waiting to hear about books (if they’ll get published) is pretty suspenseful
  5. Riding around in a police car
  6. Pretending to be a prostitute.

We so have to hang out sometime. I'd love to hear the stories around these things!

And on that note, if you could invite anyone you wanted - living or dead - to hang out with you at a weekend retreat, who would you invite and why?

Right now I’d invite Steven Wedel and Brian Kell and Tiffany Trent and Jackie Gangley and Tom Nadeau and Devyn and Jo Knowles and Ed Briant and Andrew Karre… Wait. I’d invite pretty much everyone I know and have a HUGE bash and just watch them all get together and have fun then I’d sneak off outside and be happy that they’re all happy. I’d invite John Wayne and Sherman Alexie just to see what happened. I’d invite Ben Franklin and see if he was as big a flirt as everyone said.

What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I’m very attracted to smells.

I'm not even going to touch that...

What's your favorite quote?
“The dream he needed most was the dream that frightened him more.” –Sherman Alexie

Milk Chocolate or Dark?

Now for the freebie: To celebrate NEED, and because I LOVE the look of that gold lipstick on the cover, up for grabs this week is a $10 eGift certificate to Sephora. They have gold lipstick - I checked! To be entered to win, leave a comment below telling how you would handle one of the six suspenseful moments Carrie describes above. Or the sad boyfriend. This contest will remain open until Tuesday, January 6th.

Meanwhile, if you want to find out more about Carrie and her books, check out her website, friend her on facebook, or head on over to her livejournal.