Friday, March 30, 2012

Cartoon Character Crushes

Confession: I once loved a skunk. Yeah, he was stinky, but he spoke with a French accent. What can I say?

My favorite human cartoon crush was Gambit from the Xmen, who had a Cajun accent. Hmm. Maybe there's a trend here. A lot of the characters from my books have accents, too.

Can you guess my next favorite? No accent, but I have one word for a clue: ASCOT

Who's you favorite cartoon character crush?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Something More Than Friends: Teen Talk Tuesday

Today some of my students share their secret feelings. One Teen Talk Tuesday commenter asked, "Have you ever had a girl (or a boy) as a friend and considered them as something more?"

Here's a sampling of what my students had to say:
Tim (18): Never have. My friends are just my friends.

Don (16): Yes. I asked her out. We went out a while. Then we went back to being friends.

Tiffany (13): Yes. I never told him! Other people got in the way. He started going out with someone, but I sometimes wish I'd told him. We're still good friends.

Tami (14): Yes. When I told him I liked him, it made everything awkward. We didn't ever go out. We're still friends but not as close.

Molly (14): Yeah, I told him I liked him, but we didn't talk as much. We started going out, but things were different. After we broke up, the friendship went back to the way it was before.

Kelly (16): I was friends with this guy, and we started to like each other. We talked more and more at school. Then we started talking on Facebook, and he came over to my house. We went out for a while. After we broke up, we stayed friends. If I started to feel like that with another friend, it could happen again.

As always, my students love to answer your questions. If you want a teen perspective about most anything, post your question as a comment and I'll share their response.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Meet Author Lisa Amowitz!

Today I'm so honored to have new YA author Lisa Amowitz as a guest on my blog. I've gotten to know Lisa over the past several days, and I've discovered she's one brilliant, funny, sweet chick. I put my blog in her hands for a revamp with very little guidance--I think I asked for something like "True Blood" without all the sex--and I got the amazing results you see now!
I know y'all will like her as much as I do. Here's what Lisa had to say when I interviewed her:

Tell us about your book.
This is a draft of the text for the back cover of Breaking Glass, due out from Spencer Hill Press in Spring 2013: On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he's not sure whether they're real or if he's just succumbing to the Glass family "crazy gene". Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soonrealizes he must discover the truth or wind up the next victim.

What was your inspiration?
It started with a boy who was an unreliable narrator, an individual who’s perspective is somewhat warped by his insistence on seeing only what he wants to see and believing only what he wants to believe. It just seemed like an interesting premise—a love-struck boy, so obsessed with his crush that he is blind to reality, who is then forced to unravel a mystery in a town where nothing is what it seems.

The town of Riverton, which is nearly a character in the book, is based loosely (as far as its physical appearance) on the real town of Croton-on-Hudson (population 7,000), 45 minutes north of the New York City border in Westchester County. It has the same creepy twisting roads, the reservoir, the Gorge and also borders the Hudson River. Croton is a former Communist stronghold, so it’s populated by an interesting variety of quirky characters. I know the town well because our good friends live there and we once spent the summer in the area. It’s quite beautiful, tranquil and country-like, yet with a metropolitan vibe.

If you could cast a movie of your book, who would be the main characters?
Oh dear. Kids grow up so fast. How could I possibly guess who would be the right age at the right time? The only individual I can think of who actually looks a bit like Jeremy Glass in my mind, is not really the person I’d choose to play the part. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that Jeremy looks a lot like Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers! But he doesn’t sing and is a lot more surly. Beyond that, the only person I could cast for sure would be the father of his best friend Ryan, the horrible Patrick Morgan, Jeremy’s nemesis and tormenter. I’d go with Ed Harris—he has just the right cold blue eyes and fake smile when he wants to charm you. That’s all I can come up with! In my mind my characters look like real people, not movie stars, so that may be part of the problem. Breaking Glass is no Twilight!

What made you decide to be a writer?
I’ve always been an artist, identified myself as an artist (we’ll talk about that more when I answer the next question), but yet I wrote-poetry, stories, bad songs. I always scored high in English. It was an ability I pretty much took for granted, a handy tool for bluffing my way through school so I hadmore time to do art. Fast forward umpteen years—when I decided I was finally (after, at long last I had achieved tenure in my professor job) going to write, it was simply so that I could have something to illustrate. I jotted down character information on some index cards and the next thing I knew, I’d become completely obsessed. It took me three years to finish that first book and it was a hot mess. But, by then, I had joined a critique group and had learned so much. And that was that. Now six books (yes, I four unpublished books in the dust heap and have completed an entire first draft since Breaking Glass. Icurrently have three more in the works) later, there’s no turning back.

Tell us about teenage Lisa!
Oh my. In my mind I was this dark, moody, sulky girl. The Art Girl could always be found in the Art room with her nose buried in whatever she was painting. But oddly, when I’ve asked people I knew in high school they seemed to have known a different Lisa. You were always smiling, I’m told. For real? I remember myself as shy and awkward and obsessive—either over music, abook, a movie or a boy. Let’s put it this way—I survived, and I guess I’m still writing about it in one way or another.

What books are your favorites?
I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games. I read the series before the big uproar and waited on line in the summer of 2010 to meet Suzanne Collins at the Oblong Bookstore in Millerton, NY. I also ADORE the Patrick Ness Chaos Walking series. And I live in wait, impatiently, for the next Cassandra Clare book from either the Clockwork Prince series or the Mortal Instrument series whatever it may be. Fortunately the woman is an industry, churning out two fat tomes a year. C’mon, Cassandra—Lisa’s Kindle is HUNGRY. Lately I’ve been exploring ebooks and less well-known authors. I recently downloaded the free ebook, Daimon, from Jennifer Armentrout, who is also published by Spencer Hill Press. I think I may have found a new favorite author!

If you could beanything else besides a writer, what would you be?
A rock star, of course.

Let Lisa know what you think & visit her at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My New Blog Look !!!!

...via fantastic YA author, graphic designer, and illustrator Lisa Amowitz! I won a blog makeover on her site, and wow, what a prize!! I'm so amazed at how she captured exactly what I was looking for.

What do you think?

Lisa also designs book covers and teaches graphic design. Visit her blog for more examples. I'll bet you'll be as impressed as I was. Thanks a million, Lisa!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guys & YA Romance: Teen Talk Tuesday

You've seen it written on his face: the awkward moment when a boy is reading a book that's  become too mushy and romantic to his taste. This week we're learning more about the "ick" factor for guys.

One Teen Talk Tuesday commenter asked, "How much romance is acceptable to boys in YA dystopian or fantasy? And does the sex of the narrator make a difference?" Here's what three of my male students had to say:

      Ben, 18: I'd rather there be no romance at all in the fantasies I read. If there's a steady romance going on throughout the book, I don't want to read it at all. I guess if it's off and on, that's okay. But if there's going to be romance involved sometimes, I'd rather it be in the boy's voice.

     Max, 18: I don't like novels with several sex scenes or lots of moments with kissing or sexual feelings. But I think even fantasy novels need SOME romance to keep them real. They can have a little emotion on each page and I'd be okay with that. Just no heavy stuff. It doesn't matter to me if it has a male or female narrator.

    Lance, 15: There's usually not any romance in the fantasies I read. If there was, I wouldn't be able to read a book where half of every page is about the romance. Whether the narrator is a boy or a girl doesn't make a difference to me.

As always, if you have any questions you'd like me to ask my students, please post them in the comments. The kids are eager to share their wisdom! Next week, a commenter's request on Teen Talk Tuesday: Something More Than "Just Friends."