Interview with Holly Schindler, author of Spark

Can you tell us about your books?

I’m a hybrid author of both critically acclaimed traditionally published and Amazon bestselling independently published books for all ages. My fourth YA, SPARK (which B&N recently listed on their “2016 YAs with Irresistible Concepts: Sparkhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/teen/10-2016-ya-books-with-utterly-irresistible-concepts/) will release with HarperCollins in May.

Last year, I independently released FIFTH AVENUE FIDOS (humor / romantic comedy), as well as PLAY IT AGAIN, the adult follow-up to my traditionally-published YA romance PLAYING HURT. In 2016, I released my first SA (senior adult) novel (for fans of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL), MILES LEFT YET.

What are you currently writing?

I’ve been focusing my indie / e-books on short reads lately. My FOREVER FINLEY SHORT STORY CYCLE is releasing once a month throughout 2016. Each short story in the series is a stand-alone that takes place in the quaint small town of Finley, with a title that reflects the month of its release. Because the stories are stand-alones, they can be read in any order, really, and at any time. (If the synopsis of the January story piques your interest in March, go for it! Youll be able to jump right in and enjoy the story all on its own, without any prior knowledge of what took place in December.) On their own, each story paints one picture, but when read together, the entire year will create a different picture. (And come on—our TBR piles stretch so high, sometimes, it just feels really good to be able to start and finish a satisfying read in one sitting.) The first three stories in the series—COME DECEMBER, JANUARY THAW, and FORGET FEBRUARY—are live now.

My middle grade novel, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY, is currently up for four readers’ awards (including my own state’s Mark Twain Award). Because fans of the THE The Junction of Sunshine and LuckyJUNCTION have asked for a new story, I’ve also recently released my first e-short story for young readers: WORDQUAKE. I had a ton of fun with that one.

How long have you been a published author?

My first book was a YA—A BLUE SO DARK. It released in 2010. Before I published a novel, though, I’d also published short stories, poetry, and literary critical analysis in university journals.

If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?

Write every day. I know a lot of authors cringe at that advice—many published authors say they don’t. But by “writing,” I’m not saying you need to have a 5,000-word output. I mean you should do something to further your writing. Read a new author. Do some research. Outline your project. Do a character sketch. All that absolutely counts. Do something literary / writing-related every day.

Who are your favorite authors?

This might sound a little weird, but given the opportunity to read a book by an author I’m really familiar with and one that I’ve never heard of, I have a tendency to grab the book by the author I don’t know. It’s really important to keep introducing yourself to new voices, new techniques. Keeps your own writing fresh.

What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?

I’m an old lit major so…JANE EYRE. Anything by Jane Austen.

Connect online: @holly_schindler Holly Schindler

Facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor

HollySchindler.com

Subscribe to the newsletter for announcements of latest releases, sneak peeks, writing tips, giveaways, and more: tinyletter.com/hollyschindler

The full list of Schindler’s available works can be found on her Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Holly-Schindler/e/B003E3TJ7U

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Interview with Cori McCarthy, author of You Were Here

Can you tell us about your books?

Let’s see… My debut book, The Color of Rain, is a bleak science fiction story about human trafficking and peril of going too far for someone you love. My second book, Breaking Sky, is a near-futuristic, slightly humorous, slightly heartbreaking story of a gender queer fighter pilot at an elite teen Air Force academy (think Top Gun meets Code Name Verity). Breaking Sky is currently in production over at Sony Pictures, so fingers crossed! My third book, You Were Here, comes out in March. It’s a contemporary story told in mixed format (prose, poetry, and graphic novel panels). It’s the story of five teenagers who come together years after the death of a mutual friend, and who then embark on dangerous dares to memorialize their lost friend. All my books are quite different, but they’re all similar in that they’ve got costly emotional journeys and thriller plot pacing.

What are you currently writing?

I’m currently working on a new contemporary YA that’s still top secret, but I will hopefully be able to share news about that one soon!

 

How long have you been a published author?

My first book came out in May 2013, so wow…three books in three years! That sounds like I’ve had better luck than I’ve had. I wrote and studied writing for ten years before I started to publish.

 

If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?

The silver key to publishing is learning to revise thoroughly and to incorporate outside critiques.

 

Who are your favorite authors?

Melina Marchetta is my all-time favorite. I’m also a huge Leigh Bardugo fan, and I love Kristin Cashore.

 

What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Cori McCarthy, MFA

Author of BREAKING SKY, YOU WERE HERE & THE COLOR OF RAIN

CoriMcCarthy.com @CoriMcCarthy

Interview with Tanya Contois by Kathleen Glasgow

Writer Tanya Contois first began blogging on All Things Books, eventually moving over to Bookish Babes eight years ago in order to share her love of books with other people. As a kid, she was hooked on Witch of Blackbird Pond and Island of Blue Dolphins, which led to passion for paranormal fantasy writing. (Did you know she’s a published writer?? She’s a bit shy about it, but maybe if you nudge her…)

Along the way, she’s had the opportunity to meet stellar writers, from debuts to well-established. Among her favorites? Alyson Noel (The Immortals), Richelle Mead (Vampire Academy), Yvonne Prinz (The Vinyl Princess), and Charlotte Bennardo (Blonde Ops).

Since Tanya’s always doing the interviewing, I decided to turn the tables on her.

How often do you visit your public library?

Tanya: It has been a while since I have visited a library because I may owe them money. *Hangs head in shame*

What book do you find yourself reading over and over?

Tanya: The book I will reread forever is Willow by Julia Hoban because of how much I identify with the main character Willow.

You are an active member of the book blogging community, on all varieties of social media. What do

you like best about this vibrant community?

Tanya: The best thing about the book blogging community is definitely the authors I have gotten to know. I consider some of them friends for life.

Many people complain that the book blogging community can be competitive and somewhat divisive. If you could change anything, what would it be?

Tanya: I would like to see less competition between bloggers. We should be focused on what we have in common, not how to outdo each other.

Alive or dead time! Choose an author to have over for meal and what are you going to cook?

Tanya: If I could have share a meal with any author, alive or dead, I would choose Charlotte Bennardo and maybe I’d make my homemade macaroni and cheese. I’m not sure what I would ask her though. Maybe for a hug. 🙂

What’s the one thing we should all know about you?

Tanya: The one thing everyone should know about me is that I used to be a published author briefly and I know more about publishing than anyone thinks.

There you have it, everyone! Please wish Tanya a happy blogoversary!

–Kathleen Glasgow, Girl in Pieces

Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith, author of the Tantalize series

Can you tell us about your books?

Sure! I tend to write in float-y categories: YA speculative fiction; contemporary realism for all ages; and various short forms–creative nonfiction essays, stories, things pretending to be poems.

TantalizeBut focusing on my recent YA novel writing–I’m the author of the Tantalize series and its spin-off Feral trilogy, published by Candlewick in the U.S., Walker Books in the U.K. and Walker New Zealand and Australia (among other houses around the globe).

Together, the books are both in prose and graphic (illustrated) format, feature eight diverse protagonists, and take place in a multi-creature ‘verse with elements of mystery, suspense, romance and some humor. There also are a handful of short stories–“Cat Calls,” “Haunted Love,” and “Cupid’s Beaux”–set in the same world.

What are you currently writing?

I’m working on a realistic, contemporary novel, tentatively titled “How to End a Date,” that’s loosely inspired by my high school and college dating experiences.

How long have you been a published author?

Since 2000, with the release of Jingle Dancer (HarperCollins), a children’s picture book. But my first professional journalistic articles were published in 1988, and my first novel, Rain Is Not My Indian Name (also Harper) was published in 2001.

If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?

Focus on the craft of writing and connect with well qualified, well published instructors in the format/age market/genre of your choice.

It’s said that no one can teach you how to write, and that’s hogwash. It’s not magic. And you shouldn’t build it up to the point it seems too elusive and intimidating.

You can learn a great deal about character, plot, dialogue, setting and so forth from a great teacher.

What no one can teach you is courage or determination or discipline–it’s up to you to get real and bring all that, but of course those traits can be thoughtfully encouraged by a mentor.

Who are your favorite authors?

The list is too long, but off the top of my head: Laura Ruby, Kekla Magoon, Will Alexander, Cynthia Levinson, Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Libba Bray, Greg Neri, Y.S. Lee…

What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?

As a child, The Witch from Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare was my comfort book, an annual read. Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate inspired me to dive into writing for young readers. But for the most part, I’m so busy with MFA student work and keeping up with new releases, that I don’t have time for re-reads.

That said, I love Katherine Patterson’s books on writing and Art & Fear: On the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I’m always recommending them to fellow writers, especially new voices.

THANK YOU!

Interview with Heidi Kling, author of Not Okay, Cupid

Can you tell us about your books?

I’ve written all kinds of books: from serious contemporary (SEA; PAINT MY BODY RED), to high-stake fantasy (Spellspinners of Melas County), to my current rom-com series High School Heartbreakers, starting with NOT OKAY, CUPID which just released for Valentine’s Day. The second book in that series, MASQUERADE GIRL, launches Halloween 2016!
What are you currently writing?
I’m working on MASQUERADE GIRL–set in New York, is the story about the quirky, thoughtful daughter of a famous, meticulous actress, who feels out of place in her own life, until she stumbles upon a costume shop fueled by artsy misfits like herself.
How long have you been a published author? SEA, my debut with PenguinTeen, launched in 2010; I sold it in 2007.
If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?  Work really, really hard. Read. Revise. Repeat. One common mistake early writers make it thinking their work is “done” long before it really is. Keep revising. Find a critique group. Network. Don’t think one “connection” can get you a publishing deal. That’s not how things work.
Who are your favorite authors?  I’m newly obsessed with Lauren Groff. She’s so incredibly talented. I like literary fiction, but I also like rich YA stories that make me cry: Gayle Forman, early John Green stuff, Jessi Kirby. Faves are:  Ernest Hemingway, Sarah Dessen, Zora Neale Hurston. I just finished The Nightingale and was sobbing. Isabelle is one of the best characters I’ve read in a while.
What are some of your favorite books to read again and again? The Sun Also Rises and The Beach. I’ve read both of those books probably ten times. I like high stakes, mind-expanding, travel stories where people aren’t necessarily behaving properly. 😉
Thanks for having me, Tanya! :))
😀 Heidi

Interview with Lyndsey D’Arcangelo, author of The Crabapple Tree

Can you tell us about your books?

I primarily write young adult LGBT fiction. I have three books published:
The Crabapple Tree (self-published), which is middle grade.
Here is a link to the description:
The Trouble with Emily Dickinson and its sequel, The Education of Queenie McBride were published by Publishing Syndicate. Both are YA fiction.
Here is a link to the descriptions:
What are you currently writing?
I am currently trying my hand at an adult book, but again it’s LGBT fiction. It’s about a basketball coach who returns to the small town she grew up in to turn around a losing team. In the midst of the season, she is forced to deal with rumors, bigotry and the demons of her past.
How long have you been a published author?
I was first published in 2008 by a small publisher. They went under a year later and I learned a hard lesson to be more patient with the publishing process in order to find a reputable agent or publisher instead of jumping in with a less experienced and reliable agent or publisher.
If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?
First and foremost, write what you know. Second, be patient and open with the publishing process. Take every critique seriously and be flexible.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite author is Judy Blume, hands down.
What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?

The Harry Potter series, of course. Anything by Judy Blume, but my favorite YA book by her is Just As Long As We’re Together.

Interview with Carrie Firestone, author of The Loose Ends List

Can you tell us about your books?

I started out writing middle grade. I worked on a middle grade project for ten years, sent out five queries, got rejected, and threw it out. I spent two years on a second middle grade novel, and was just about to send off a second round of queries for that project when I got feedback from a NYC Midnight Flash Fiction submission suggesting I write more of “Maddie’s voice.” Maddie became the protagonist in The Loose Ends List, a YA novel about a family that travels the world on a secret death-with-dignity cruise ship to help Maddie’s dying grandmother live out her last wishes. The Loose Ends List debuts June 7, 2016 (Little, Brown).

What are you currently writing?

I’m finishing a second YA book about a group of “do-gooder” teens from different backgrounds who spend an intense, drama-filled Hamptons summer together. My awesome editor, Lisa Yoskowitz, has the latest draft right now, so it’s still very much a work in progress. This novel (still untitled) is scheduled to be released in 2017 (Little, Brown).

If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?

I’m going to give EIGHT pieces of advice, since it’s your eighth blogiversary!

Live a full life. I spent all my money seeing the world, and did some pretty weird and crazy things in my life. All those experiences helped shape my stories. The more you live outside your comfort zone, the more you’ll be able to add to your books.

Take care of your mental health. Writing (and pretty much anything) requires tenacity, perseverance, and a thick skin. Learn to accept criticism without falling apart. That IS a skill and it takes practice.

Read. Read everything you can get your hands on (in your genre and beyond).

Write. The more you exercise your writer’s brain, the better your work will be. So simple. So true.

Massacre. Learn how to chop up those pages. Don’t be a word hoarder. Purge. Slash. Get rid of chapters. You will feel lighter and your work will improve. Trust the pen (or the delete button)!

Study the craft first! You don’t necessarily need an MFA, but you need to study sentences on the page. How are they structured? What’s the rhythm? Read for the purpose of learning how other people tell stories.

Then study the business! Take workshops and go to conferences if you can afford it. Otherwise, scour the Internet for HOW to query. Then make query writing your job. It took me longer to write the query for LEL than the book itself.

Connect with other writers. Writing is a solitary process. But succeeding in publishing is so hard without being part of a community. The good news? Writers are wonderfully welcoming!

Who are your favorite authors?

Of course, I’m partial to my fellow authors debuting in 2016, but I can’t choose a few, so I’ll

give you eight of my non-debuts!

Rohinton Mistry

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Edith Wharton

A.S. King

Jandy Nelson

Roald Dahl

Katherine Paterson

Judy Blume

What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?

It’s a good thing it’s not your 100th Blogiversary!

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

All Julia Donaldson Books (to my children)

Go The BLANK To Sleep by Adam Mansbach (because of my children)

The Norton Anthology of Poetry (I still have notes in the margins about college crushes)

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Thank you so much, Tanya, for giving me the opportunity to participate in this celebration! Happy Blogiversary to you and happy reading to all of your followers!

Blog tour: Excerpt and review of In Real Life by Jessica Love

 

BASIC DETAILS

IN REAL LIFE: A Novel

By Jessica Love

Thomas Dunne Books

Publication Date: March 1, 2016

Hardcover: 978-1-250-06471-4 / $18.99

eBook: 9781466870994 / $9.99

Goodreads

ABOUT THE BOOK

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, Skype all the time, regularly send each other presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There’s just one problem…Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she’s supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker at school, she decides to finally break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, with her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-a-friend feelings for him.

Hannah’s romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick’s girlfriend, whom he failed to mention to Hannah for the past three months. And it turns out his relationship status isn’t the only thing he’s been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can’t be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Love is a high school English teacher in Los Angeles, California, where she met her Jessica Lovehusband and her two tiny dogs online. She is the co-writer of Push Girl with Chelsie Hill.

PRAISE

“A sweet, honest story that begins as so many of our relationships do: online.” Emery Lord, author of Open Road Summer

“Love expertly creates a timely and entertaining story set on the glamorous Vegas strip, complete with rock and roll, gambling, love, and drama. Readers will relate to the characters in this book and their effortless use of technology to support relationships.” —School Library Journal

“[A] sweet story ideal for contemporary teens whose lives play out in similar computer-and-text-message-related ways.”Booklist

“The story manages to find its heart when it focuses on Hannah and Nick’s relationship. The warmth and intimacy of their friendship is convincing, and readers sighing over their long history will root for their relationship.” —Kirkus Reviews

“As Hannah and Nick work out the kinks of having to interact in person, they discover the advantages of taking things

to the next level in this sweet, straightforward romance.” —Publishers Weekly

“A witty and entertaining story of friendship and secrets with a sparkly Vegas backdrop. Jessica Love knows love!” —Kristin Rae, author of Wish You Were Italian

SOCIAL LINKS

Author’s Website

Facebook

Twitter

Tumblr

Instagram

Snapchat

St. Martin’s Griffin

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Tumblr

BUY LINKS

Amazon

B&N

Indiebound

iBooks

Google Play

 

“CREDIT: In Real Life by Jessica Love; Courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books”

My best friend and I have never met.
We talk every day, on the phone or online, and he knows more about me than anyone. Like, deep into my soul. But we’ve never actually seen each other in real life.
Sometimes, when I’m talking to Nick, I wonder how we man- aged to get ourselves into such a bizarre, complicated friendship. At first glance, our relationship probably doesn’t seem all that odd. Like right now, it’s the Friday afternoon that kicks off the spring break of my senior year. I’m lying out next to my pool with my feet dangling in the chilly water, my back flat on concrete, and I’m talking to him on the phone. This is how I spend pretty much every Friday from 3:30 to 4:25-ish, before he goes off to band practice and I have one of my various school or family obligations. Sounds pretty normal.
But the thing is, Nick lives in a different state, 274 miles away. Yes, I looked it up.
“Ghost,” he says, because he never calls me Hannah, “you know I will do anything for my best friend, and this is no exception. I’ll have this girl killed for you without a second thought. Just give me twenty-four hours.”
I laugh as I swish my feet back and forth in the pool. “There’s no need to resort to murder. It’s just a stupid student government trip. I’ll be over it by the end of the week.”
As tempting as it is to plot Aditi Singh’s violent end, the only reason she applied to go to the national leadership conference when it should have been a given that the senior class president (aka me) was going was because I got into UCLA and she didn’t, so a big ol’ middle finger to her. But she can’t see my middle finger, because she’s in Washington, D.C., for spring break and I’m at home with no plans like a big loser.
“Well, if you change your mind,” Nick says, “just let me know. That’s how much our friendship means to me. The code word is ‘Platypus.’ Just say it, and—poof!—I’ll make her disappear.”
I sit up and pull my feet from the pool, crossing them in front of me. “And how can you do that?”
“Hey, I live in Vegas. I have connections to the mob. Everyone here does.”
“You’re a senior in high school, and you live in a tract home in Henderson. You’re not exactly Al Pacino.”
“You don’t know. Everything I’ve told you for the past four years could be a front. I need to have a cover. No one suspects the quiet, nondescript white boy.”
“You’re right. There is a lot I don’t know about you. I mean, there are any number of huge secrets you could be keeping from me.” I say it just because I’m playing along, but it’s not true at all. I’m pretty sure I know everything there is to know about Nick Cooper.
I know when my sister met his brother at a concert four years ago and they told us we should start talking online, he thought I was one of his brother’s friends playing a joke on him until I e-mailed him a picture. I know in the middle of junior year, he shaved his head when his favorite English teacher started chemo. I know the gravelly scratch of his voice when he wakes up in the middle of the
night to answer one of my random “I’m bored, talk to me” phone calls. I know the hole in the sleeve seam of the lucky Rage Against the Machine T-shirt he inherited from his brother, Alex, since I’ve seen so many pictures of it. I know his middle name (Anthony), the date and time he was born (September 24 at 3:58 A.M.), and his favorite color (gray). And he knows more about me than absolutely anyone else, even the über-embarrassing stuff. We’ve IM’d, texted, sent a million pictures, mailed each other packages, video-chatted, and talked on the phone.
We’ve just never been in the same place at the same time.
I don’t think it’s strange to be so close to someone I’ve never met. Yeah, he’s in Nevada and I’m in Southern California, but I talk to him more than to people I’ve been in classes with since kindergarten. I do wish we could go to the movies together or something normal like that, but we watch the same movies at the same time and mock them over video chat, which is pretty much the same thing.
On the other end of the phone, his laugh stops abruptly and his voice changes. “Secrets? What kind of secrets could I have?”
“Who knows!” I try to sound shocked and serious, but I can’t keep a laugh from creeping in. “For all I know, you do have a secret mob life. Do you have some sort of gangster name I’m supposed to call you?”
His voice lightens again when he realizes I’m joking. “Oh yeah. Knuckles Nick. Or, no. Wait. Nick the Click.”
“What does that even mean?”
“I don’t know. It rhymed. Don’t those names always rhyme?”
“I know nothing about mob names, Nick the Click. But rhyming names do make mobsters seem a bit less murder-y.”
There’s a shuffle, a thump, and a squeak on his end of the phone, and I imagine him collapsing backwards onto his twin bed. “I just hate that you’re still bummed over missing out on the trip.”
“It’s not that I’m bummed, it’s just . . . I followed all the rules, Nick. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. Serving four years as class president means I go on that trip, not Aditi Singh. Onetime vice-presidents don’t get to go! It’s supposed to be my year. She broke the rules, but she got picked. How do you break all the rules and get what you want like that? It isn’t fair.”
“Well, you know what they say. . . .” “Life’s not fair?”
“Well, that, too. But I was thinking rules are made to be broken.”

REVIEW

In Real Life by Jessica Love is a sweet story about first love and I instantly felt a connection to the characters the author has created. The story was fun and not overly serious which was one of the things that I enjoyed about it. The plot of the story was unique because there are very few other books with the same story. I loved the two main characters together because I felt like they complimented each other perfectly and I was rooting for them from the very beginning of this lighthearted book. In Real Life is perfect for readers who enjoy books that deal with what it means to fall in love for the first time.

Blog Tour: Interview with Jennifer DiGiovanni, author of My Senior Year of Awesome plus a giveaway

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Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25721392-my-senior-year-of-awesome

Purchase Links:

BAM | Chapters | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks

Link to Tour Schedule:

http://www.chapter-by-chapter.com/blog-tour-schedule-my-senior-year-of-awesome-by-jennifer-digiovanni/

Giveaway Information: Contest ends March 11, 2016

One (1) winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a digital copy of My Senior Year of Awesome by Jennifer DiGiovanni (INT)

   My Senior Year of Awesome by Jennifer DiGiovanni

Publication Date: March 1, 2016 ukga3a4m

Publisher: Swoon Romance

A girl desperately tries to avoid the boy she was voted most likely to marry by her senior classmates. To prove senior superlative votes are meaningless, she and her best friend create their own list of awesome high school achievements to be completed by graduation.

Jennifer lives in a small town near Philadelphia, PA with her jjfaaqebhusband and three children. In college, she double majored in English and business, and later went back to school for her MBA. She currently works as a freelance writer and owns a small business. She also spends time cheering at her kids’ soccer games, re-learning algebra to help with homework assignments, and cooking up healthy dinners that nobody eats. When she’s not doing any of those things, you can find her reading, working on home design projects, or running (though she’s much better at walking). At night, when her house is finally quiet, she brings her YA characters to life. My Senior Year of Awesome is her first novel.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest

 

EXCERPT #1

“What did you win?” I whisper to Jana. “I don’t see your picture.”

Jana bites on her lower lip and points to the very top of the board. “Um, Sadie, I didn’t win. You did.”

Smack in the center of the top row of Senior Superlatives, I spy my junior year photo, blown up to 8 x 10 size, set inside of a glittery heart. Also inside the heart is an 8 x 10 photo of Andy Kosolowski. The caption above the heart reads, “Most Likely to Get Married.”

I want to die. No, I want to puke. I want to puke and then die. Andy, the biggest nerd in all of seniordom? The boy who wore the same Darth Vader T-shirt every day of eighth grade? The guy who passed out at middle school graduation and was trampled on by the rest of our class?

“Is this a joke?” Waves of laughter circulate around me like a bubbling, too-hot Jacuzzi. “I don’t even like Andy,” I say, maybe a bit too loudly. “Not at all.” Eyes narrowed, I whirl around. “Who did this?”

And then Andy’s tall head appears above everyone else. He scans the board and finds his picture. His mouth falls open. His eyes meet mine. A swell of laughter reignites as we stare at each other. When he cracks a small smile, I elbow my way through what feels like most of the student body to confront him.

“You fixed the vote,” I say, poking him in the center of his extra-long torso.

“What? Why would I do that?” Andy looks completely confused.

“Did you think this would be funny? Like, ha-ha, let’s make fun of Sadie who hasn’t been on a date in … a long time.” Exactly how long is personal information.

He shakes his head, acting stunned. “Maybe they mixed up my picture with someone else’s.”

Simultaneously, we redirect our eyes to the Most Likely to Succeed award, posted above a photo of Sophie Min. She’s ranked second in the class, albeit way behind Andy. I guess it takes more than brains to succeed.

“Listen up, people!” I shout, cupping my hands around my mouth like a megaphone. “I am so not marrying Andy Kosolowski. So ha-ha, joke’s on me. Hilarious.” I shoot one final look of disgust at my classmates and stomp off in the direction of homeroom.

 

Interview with Jennifer DiGiovanni

Can you tell us about your book?

My book started off as a story about two girls who realize senior year is coming to an end and they haven’t done anything spectacular. When one of the girls, Sadie, is paired up as Most Likely to Marry a boy she’s never dated or even liked in “that way”, the girls decide to create their own awesome achievement list to prove the Senior Superlative votes are meaningless.

What are you currently writing?

I’m currently working on Book 3 in the School Dayz Series, My Junior Year of Loathing, which is from the POV of Melinda. In My Senior Year of Awesome, Melinda tries to uncover the truth behind the Senior Superlative vote, and annoys Sadie in the process. But I wanted readers to know that Melinda isn’t exactly the person Sadie thinks she is.

If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?

Be brave enough to ask for advice and feedback on your work. If you want to get published, you need to learn from other writers about what works and what doesn’t. Chances are you’re really good at something, like dialogue, but may need help with action scenes. Asking for advice and listening to feedback is always hard, but my book changed so much from the first draft thanks to my fantastic critique partners.

Who are your favorite authors?

I like to read in a wide variety of genres and I have so many authors that I like. If I want to laugh, I’ll read a Janet Evanovich book. My friend, Theresa Hernandez, writes The Union series, which I love. And all of my friends my Sixteen to Read debut group are so amazingly talented as well.

What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?

I read books over and over when I was younger, but now I don’t have as much time. Recently, I reread parts of The Hunger Games, because I think Suzanne Collins is an excellent writer. I also loved We Were Liars. Little Women is probably the book I read the most when I was young. I remember my 5th grade teacher looking horrified when I told her I’d read it at least 10 times. She found me something new to read!

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