Thursday, March 28, 2013

Scenes from a Life – The Bet

Today we welcome Lucky-13 debut author Liz Coley. Liz's new novel PRETTY GIRL-13 released last week and if you haven't read it yet, do yourself a favor and get it now so you'll be in the know when everyone starts talking about this book!

The Bet:

Sometimes the only consolation when you are going through a trying, heartbreaking experience (like accidentally hiring a painter with advanced Parkinson’s disease) is telling yourself, someday this will make a great story, when I’m far away from it, when I have perspective, when I’ve scraped all the paint off the carpets.

Actually, it wasn’t too long after the incident of The Bet that I had some perspective, but things had become torn that couldn’t be mended, including a best friendship and a budding romance, and I wasn’t entirely guiltless in the rending process.

I first met, shall we call him Bruce, when I was a toddler. He lived across the street in housing for the submarine base at Gales Ferry, and his dad looked like the Gingerbread Man in his khaki Navy uniform. For a couple of years I trailed around worshipfully behind him and his older brother until both families moved away. We were reunited in San Diego around third grade, and it was soul-buddies at first sight. We went to church and Sunday school together, ate grape jelly bread and Lipton soup afterwards. We read his Peanuts cartoon collection on our stomachs and watched monster movies. I was allowed to walk the mile to and from his house alone (those were the days!) and we took toothbrushes and hiked deep into Kate Sessions Canyon to scrape fossil scallop shells from limestone cliffs. We fantasized about our imminent dinosaur discovery. Storybook stuff, that lasted for three or so years, till Bruce’s family moved away to Virginia.

Bruce and I wrote letters back and forth for sixth and seventh grade, and I joined his family for a couple weeks of summer vacation in Cape Cod. More storybook stuff—young teens swimming and sunning and sailing up and down the river at South Yarmouth, giggling and digging up clams, falling in serious like. By the time I left, he’d gathered the courage to twine our feet in front of the TV, which to an eleven-year-old girl was heady stuff.

After another two patient years of exchanging letters, we dared call ourselves girlfriend and boyfriend to our friends. The summer post-ninth grade, I planned to go out to the Cape again, and everyone speculated on what would emerge when we childhood sweethearts reunited. I didn’t know the speculation on his side of the relationship involved a specific goalshall we call it second base?and a token financial betsomething like five whole dollars? Until the moment when his friend spilled the beans (definitely on purpose and to cause trouble) we had a wonderful romantic time: hand holding, arms around each other, moonlit strolls on the beach, me being carried in his strong arms and tossed into the water. And then I found out. I was shattered, confused, angry, embarrassed—no doubt as I was meant to be. I left for home without acknowledging Bruce’s stumbling, red-faced apology. I was thirteen and naïve about “boys will be boys.” I think the money bothered me more than the goal. When his turncoat friend began writing me love poems, I realized how I’d been duped into rashness—but by then it was just too awkward. From three thousand miles, I had no idea how to patch things up or if I even wanted to. So I was left with the loneliness and the heartbreak of losing my best friend and first boyfriend for no good reason.
These are the kinds of raw emotions that make for strong stories and real characters, even if we squirm as we inject a little bit of ourselves and our memories of pain onto the page.

Thanks Liz! Carey here - I LOVED this  heartwrenching story and can't wait to read what Liz comes up with next.

Liz Coley's short fiction has appeared in Cosmos magazine and speculative fiction anthologies. Her passions beyond reading and writing include singing, photography, and baking. She plays competitive tennis locally in Ohio to keep herself fit and humble.

With a background in science, Liz follows her interest in understanding "the way we work" down many interesting roads. Pretty Girl-13's journey into the perilous world of dissociative identity disorder is one of them.

Praise for PRETTY GIRL-13:

“Unflinchingly honest and brilliantly conceived. This book will haunt you.” (Lauren Myracle, New York Times Bestselling author of Shine and Bliss )

 Get it:   Amazon    B&N    Add to Goodreads

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Welcome Wednesday: Lisa Burstein's Heartbreak

I think everyone wants to believe that the heart once broken can be healed again. As vulnerable as we are to pain, we have to believe that otherwise what is the point in trying again. Why would we bother looking for love once we’ve lost it, or been wounded/broken by someone who was supposed to love us?

I believe as readers and writers we gravitate towards this theme in books because there is something life-affirming about knowing there is something or someone waiting for us at the end of heartbreak. Like a modern fairytale, mending the broken heart is a trope that has resonance in the real world.

In my recent release, DEAR CASSIE, Cassie goes through something pretty horrific at the hands of a boyfriend and it has closed her off from being able to trust anyone. One of the ways she learns to trust again is by learning to love again. I think this is key, learning to love again, not having someone love her. I wrote it that way purposely because I wanted it to be clear that her falling in love with someone new was a choice she was making.

Here's the thing, I've gotten some reviews, some not all, that say that she should have been able to get over her trauma without help from a boy. I believe this statement and I agree with it and so it made me wonder, how do you write a story like this and give your broken female the appearance of strength if she ends up with the boy? Would Cassie choosing to be alone have made her seem stronger? Is that even realistic?

As a teen who had my own traumatic experience at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, very different from Cassie's but just as life-altering, I personally chose instead to be with everyone. That was what being raped by my ex-boyfriend did to me, it made me crave companionship and sex from anywhere I could get it. I was broken like Cassie, but dealt with it in the complete opposite way. I wondered if I had written her this way, if some readers would have had the same complaint.

Cassie for the first 75% of the book pushes everyone including girls and women away. It isn’t just about keeping boys out or letting boys in. She deals with her trauma by closing herself off, by putting up walls. Her choosing to let someone in isn't about him being a boy. It isn't about being rescued. It's about her starting to believe she deserves to be loved, to let people in again, boy or girl. That was my intention anyway.

I suppose in some ways my acting out with boys was the same as Cassie’s walls. I was letting them in, but only sexually, emotionally my barricades were up. By being with them in a physical way, by making it my choice I suppose I was able to take any power away from them. I was able to decide not to be hurt.

That was what Cassie was doing too and her opening up to someone emotionally was all about illustrating her growth. It was not about being swept off her feet, or saved by some guy. At least that was not what I intended when I wrote it.

I'm not sure what reaction is more authentic? Stronger? I'm not sure it matters. What does matter, or did matter to me was showing that someone can get past heartbreak, past a trauma and be able to let people in again. Whether that's strong or weak, I don't know. I just think it's human.

 ~Lisa Burstein

Lisa Burstein is a tea seller by day and a writer by night. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Inland Northwest Center for Writers at Eastern Washington University. She is the author of Pretty Amy, The Next Forever and Dear Cassie. As well as a contributor to the upcoming essay collection, Break These Rules: 35 YA Authors On Speaking Up, Standing Out, and Being Yourself. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her very patient husband, a neurotic dog and two cats.

What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?
You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.
You’d be wrong.
There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.
What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?
But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.
And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Somebody That I Used to Know...

Remember that scene in "Twilight: New Moon," the one where Bella (in the throes of heartbreak) is basically sitting there staring out the window as the months go by?  While there are several things about New Moon that I routinely criticize, this is not one of them.   Nope.  I get it.  Seriously.  And when I hear other people (mostly adults) criticize that scene, I'm amazed that they don't get it.  Maybe they're one of the lucky ones who managed to make it through their teen relationships without suffering major heartbreak, but not me.  Unfortunately, I vividly remember that awful, numb feeling--the feeling that my heart was permanently and irrevocably broken.  The months that followed were very much like that image of Bella just sitting there, not participating fully in her life as the days and weeks passed.

Let me tell was awful.  Horrendous.  Painful.  I'm talking about a break-up that happened my freshman year in college.  I had been dating this guy--let's call him Specimen A--since my junior year in high school.  He was a year younger than me, which means I eventually went off to college (four hours away), while he stayed at home to finish his senior year (and by home, I actually mean my home--it's a crazy, long story, but my parents had custody of him at the time--let's just say he came from a bad home situation).  This was more than just any-old high school romance--I was sure that I was going to marry this guy, despite our differences, despite about a million hurdles that stood in our path.  Love was going to overcome everything.  At least, my teenage mind was sure that it would.

But it didn't.  Things ended badly.  Really badly.  Spectacularly, mind-blowingly badly.  I won't go into details, but to say that I was devastated is the understatement of the century.  I was Bella, sitting there staring out the window, completely numb, for weeks on end.  And went on.  But I was changed.  A little damaged, to tell you the truth.  I dated in college, and even had a couple of "relationships" but I never, ever let myself fall hard for anyone--at least, not until I met my future husband.

That first heartbreak had left me angry.  Distrustful.  Specimen A was forever remembered as the jerk who not only broke my heart, but who smashed it to a million, billion pieces.  How could I trust anyone, when the one guy who had loved me so much had ultimately treated me so badly?

And then...years passed.  I grew up, got married to my one-true-love, had children.  I became a writer, and eventually wrote books exploring teen relationships.  I was always in touch with that teenage version of myself who had experienced love and heartbreak--who remembered just how strong and vivid and real those feelings had been, so writing YA was a natural fit for me.

Recently, the unexpected happened.  I traveled back to my old hometown, as a visiting author at the high school from which I graduated, and I ran into Specimen A.  Finally, the chance to talk to him--to get out my anger and tell him how that heartbreak had affected me all these years.  I was all revved up to blame and yell and point fingers.  And you know what?  I realized I wasn't angry anymore.  It was suddenly obvious to me that Specimen A had been a kid at the time--seriously, a kid--with no parental support, no model of healthy relationships to follow....just a scared, confused child.  And kids make mistakes.  Kids are figuring out relationships as they go, learning along the way.  That's what they do.  How could I be angry about that?

And me?  I realized I'm a better person for having made that journey, as difficult as it might have been.  I learned when to protect my heart, and when to risk it.  I learned to love, and I learned to pick myself up again and keep going.  I think I'm probably a stronger person for it.  I know I'm a better writer.  I can tap into those feelings, as raw as they were, and write about first love and first heartbreak with authenticity, and that's worth a lot.

And now?  Specimen A is no longer that awful boy who broke my heart all those years ago.  Nope.  He's just somebody that I used to know....

Kristi Cook

Did you survive a teenage heartbreak-from-hell?  If so, tell us about it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Welcome Wednesday: Chloe Jacobs' Worst Advice: Write What You Know

The Worst Advice I Ever Got: That darned “Write What You Know”
Whenever anyone asks me to give them some writing advice, I cringe. Because the truth is, writing is such a personal endeavour. It comes from the heart and soul. It comes from experience and dreams. And it means that everyone’s approach to it is going to be different and I can’t tell anyone other than myself how to do it right—and even MY approach changes from time to time based on my frame of mind, the project I’m working on, or some other consideration…(like how many donuts I’ve inhaled).
And I think the most misunderstood piece of writing advice out there is the one that says “write what you know”. The first time someone told me that I was floored. I mean, I’d just finished a paranormal romance for heaven’s sake. This author had read the first few chapters as a judge in a writing contest and came back with ”write what you know”. What was that supposed to mean? How could I possibly write what I know when I’m writing about demons and magic?
Unfortunately, I think a lot of people hear this bit of advice and react the same way. “Write what you know” implies that I should stick to contemporary stories about soccer moms struggling through the 9-5 job.
But I think what some people don’t realize about this piece of advice—and something I didn’t understand until a little bit later either—is that it shouldn’t be interpreted so broadly. When someone tells you to write what you know, they don’t mean you can’t write fantasy effectively because you don’t live in Narnia, and they don’t mean you can’t write historicals effectively because you weren’t born in 1604.
What it really means is that when you look at the minutiae of your writing, the little details that make up the whole, where is it coming from? If you’ve described the setting and there’s snow and it’s supposed to be cold, have you actually sat back and remembered what it was like to be outside in the middle of winter? Do you remember how the frost patterns travel across the windows? Have you translated that cold shiver that starts at the back of your spine and goes all the way through your body onto the page? Have you shown how the snowflakes flutter down from the sky like fuzzy cotton balls until they you see them close up and they’re like thin, tiny tiny cutouts of glass sticking together, more like metal shavings?
And when someone says “write what you know”, it doesn’t mean that you can’t infuse your work with deep, dark emotional characters who experience things you’ve never experienced. I’ve written about a character who loses everything and finds herself in a completely hostile environment. Looking at it broadly, no of course I haven’t fallen into a portal to another world and found myself shipwrecked from everyone and everything I know…but there havebeen moments in my life when I felt like I’ve lost everything. I do know what it’s like to be alone, scared, and wondering if it will ever be okay again. And these are the feelings a writer channels into characters and plot lines that seem too fantastical for real experiences.
So while I don’t agree with the advice “write what you know” … I also kind of think it’s the best advice ever. What do you think?
~Chloe Jacobs

Chloe Jacobs is a native of nowhere and everywhere, having jumped around to practically every Province of Canada before finally settling in Ontario where she has now been living for a respectable number of years. Her husband and son are the two best people in the entire world, but they also make her wish she'd at least gotten a female cat. No such luck. And although the day job keeps her busy, she carves out as much time as possible to write. Bringing new characters to life and finding out what makes them tick and how badly she can make them suffer is one of her greatest pleasures, almost better than chocolate and fuzzy pink bunny slippers. Find out more at: WebsiteTwitter / FacebookGoodreads

While trying to save her brother from the witch three years ago, Greta was thrown into the fire herself, falling through a portal to a dangerous world where humans are the enemy, and every ogre, goblin, and ghoul has a dark side that comes out with the full moon.
To survive, 17-year-old Greta has hidden her humanity and taken the job of bounty hunter—and she’s good at what she does. So good, she’s caught the attention of Mylena’s young Goblin King, the darkly enticing Isaac, who invades her dreams and undermines her determination to escape.
But Greta’s not the only one looking to get out of Mylena. The full moon is mere days away, and an ancient evil being knows she’s the key to opening the portal. If Greta fails, she and the boys she finds stranded in the woods will die. If she succeeds, no world will be safe from what follows her back . . .

Monday, March 18, 2013

Strawberry Heartbreak

 It started with a Strawberry Shortcake doll. She had red hair and a polka-dot dress, striped green stockings and freckles on her cheeks. When I pressed her to my face, she smelled like baby powder and plastic. There was only one problem. She was identical to the birthday present I had received the day before.

"It's okay," I tried to tell Helen, my mom's secretary. "I don't mind having two."

But Helen would not be consoled. She gathered me in her arms, her black curls tickling my neck, and cried and cried and cried.

The tears didn't stop there.

A few days later, I'm prancing in my fancy dress, the white one with the blue ribbons. My hair is in pig-tails, and I'm  weaving in and out of the folding chairs.

"She's so brave," my aunt said to my grandma, a box of tissues between them. "Look, not a single tear shed."

I wasn't brave. I was five years old. I didn't understand.

My brother understood. He was six, and he knew -- he just knew -- that if he leaped up and kissed my mother, she would wake up and come back to us.

But he got scared. My mother looked different. A layer of pancake covered her cheeks. Her lips were red like paint, and the hair was too black, too stiff. So instead of hoisting himself onto the casket, he turned away and hid behind my father's legs.

For years afterwards, my brother would beat himself up over this act of cowardice. If he had only been brave enough, if he had only kissed her like the fairy tales instructed, my mother would be with us today.

What is heartbreak?

Heartbreak is crying myself to sleep because the thing I remember most about my mother's funeral is how much fun it was to push the casket.

It is my brother blaming himself for a tragedy beyond his control.

But the biggest, truest heartbreak of all? Living my life without my mother.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Did you miss ALIENATED's cover reveal?

By Melissa Landers

On Tuesday, the wonderful ladies at YA Highway revealed my gorgeoustastic cover, and to celebrate, I offered a signed ARC for an international giveaway! ---> Enter here <--- This link will also take you to an excerpt from the book and my thoughts on the cover design.

But for now, here's a look at what Disney Hyperion created for me:

Cover love!

I couldn't be happier! To read the breakdown of why the designers chose this theme, visit my cover reveal post on YA Highway, (linked at the top of this page), and while you're at it, enter to win a signed ARC!

Oh, and I'd love it if you'd add ALIENATED to your Goodreads shelf!

What do you think? Go ahead and be honest; you won't hurt my feelings. :-D

Melissa Landers is the author of ALIENATED, a seriously foreign exchange coming in February, 2014 from Disney-Hyperion. You can learn more about Melissa on her website, and she'd love for you to add ALIENATED to your Goodreads bookshelf! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Worst Advice I Ever Got

We're thrilled to welcome Julie Cross, international bestselling author of TEMPEST, to Honestly YA today! Julie is not only a phenomenally successful writer, but a fabulous person. So without further ado, take it away Julie... *cheers from the crowd*

I’m answering this question in relation to writing because without that narrow path they’re would just be too much bad advice in my life to choose from and some of it is quite disturbing and not at all appropriate for young eyes. Anyway, worst advice I ever got when I began writing came from an online critique site after posting a query letter for public scrutiny. The commenter said: This topic is way too controversial for YA and not original enough, I can think of at least one other book that’s similar.

I’ll address the first part of the comment first. While it’s true that some agents/editors will shy away from more controversial/edgy/racey YA manuscripts, there are so many who are currently seeking out these types of stories. Why? Because controversy sells. Edgy stories leave a more vivid mark on readers. Also, at the moment the New Adult genre is becoming something very real and what’s appealing with those books is there are less limitations on the subject matter. For me, writing a controversial topic isn’t about shocking people or selling more books, it’s about making the reader feel something. When you stretch the boundaries of comfort, the risk is greater for both the characters and the readers thus leaving a more lasting impact. Could Hunger Games have been made less violent? Like what if the goal wasn’t to kill your opponents, it was to capture them and everyone except the winner was sent to a juvenile detention center for thirty years instead of a fight to the death? If the stakes weren’t as high would the book be as compelling and have sold just as well? Hard to say, but I’d guess no.

Now on to being original. This is actually something I’m faced with a lot when talking to pre-published writers. They’re so afraid of having their book be like another book that they stop writing and dig for a new idea. Here’s the reality—only a small percentage of people get upset about copycat projects. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, or who I’m talking about. Maybe you’re friends with that person or maybe you’re that person. The guy or girl that hears a current hit on the radio and then starts a rant about how it’s just like some 70’s rock band that was highly underappreciated in their time. The general population couldn’t care less about the similarities in the songs released decades apart, they live here and now and either they like the song or they don’t.

Average Joe reader, especially when we’re talking about kids and teens, finishes a book and if they love it, will immediately begin searching for something similar. Now this doesn’t mean you should go and rewrite Twilight with new names—
Oh wait…
Yeah, I’m not going there but you can connect those dots yourself.

I consider myself to be a bit beyond the Average Joe reader and still, if you presented me with a new book and told me that it’s just like The Fault In Our Stars by John Green or Easy by Tammara Webber, I’d be all over that in a heart beat.

When you go forth in your writing journey, for those of you that are writing, one thing you’re going to have to be able to do in order to sell your book (first to an agent, then an editor, then a sales team, then bookseller and eventually consumers) is to associate it with something else, “It’s a modern day take on _____ classic story” or “it’s a YA version of Stephen King’s ____ novel” or “Fans of ____ author will enjoy this book.” So, basically if your pitch is to tell people that your book is nothing like anything out there. It’s so different you can’t even compare it to anything, then you might have a problem.

Some more elite writers than myself would call this “selling out.” I think that’s complete BS. Everything is derivative of something. And there is a lot to be said for an author who writes a story with a particular reading audience in mind. That shows that you know your readers, you care about your readers, you care about the Average Joe person. You want to write a story for them. This is NEVER a bad thing. What would happen if politicians didn’t create their platforms with the Average Citizen in mind? I’ve also heard writers say that they don’t want to read any books because they might end up copying the plot. Seriously, this is TERRIBLE advice. Read a lot. And then a lot more after that. You will not copy anyone’s book exactly or almost exactly or even 40%. It just doesn’t happen.

In conclusion, unlike you wise readers, I received that advice and I’ll admit to a momentary panic followed by a few hours curled up in my bed in the middle of the day watching One Tree Hill episodes on NetFlix and eating olives and peanut butter right out of the jar. But I wised up quickly and ignored the advice of that particular commenter. So keep writing your story and don’t freak out if you’re wandering Barnes and Noble and happen to come across a book that seems to have a similar plot to yours. Chances are, it’s not that similar AND even if it is, it may very well work to your advantage.  

Author Bio
Julie Cross is the internationally bestselling author of Tempest, the first novel in a thrilling time travel trilogy. Tempest received starred reviews, was nominated for the 2012 YALSA Teens Top Ten list, is available in nineteen territories, and has been optioned by Summit Entertainment, the makers of the Twilight Saga movies. The sequel, Vortex released in January 2013. Tempest follows nineteen year old Jackson Meyer as he races through time literally to save the life of his girlfriend, Holly, and find out the truth about his past and his newfound time travel ability.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A release day giveaway for POISON, by Bridget Zinn!

By Melissa Landers

Happy Tuesday, readers! We have a special post for you today, one to celebrate a talented author who was taken too soon from this earth and sadly isn't here to see the release of her debut novel. It was Bridget's dream to share her story with others, and I hope you'll join us in launching POISON, which is available today from Disney Hyperion.

Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she's the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom's future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart…misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king's army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she's not alone. She's armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can't stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she's certainly no damsel-in-distress—she's the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.

Doesn't that sound amazing!?

Let's all pitch in to raise as much awareness as possible for Bridget's novel! If you're on twitter, here's a tweet you can copy and paste:

It's release day for #POISON by @bridgetzinn! Buy your copy today! #YA #amreading #mywana

You can also follow these handy-dandy links to buy your very own copy of POISON:
Barnes & Noble
Indie Bound
And please add it to your Goodreads list, too!

About Bridget Zinn

Bridget grew up in Wisconsin. She went to the county fair where she met the love of her life, Barrett Dowell. They got married right before she went in for exploratory surgery which revealed she had colon cancer. They christened that summer the "summer of love" and the two celebrated with several more weddings. Bridget continued to read and write until the day she died. Her last tweet was "Sunshine and a brand new book. Perfect."

Bridget wanted to make people laugh and hoped readers would enjoy spending time with the characters she created. As a librarian/writer she loved books with strong young women with aspirations. She also felt teens needed more humorous reads. She really wanted to write a book with pockets of warmth and happiness and hoped that her readers' copies would show the watermarks of many bath time reads.

From all of us at Honestly YA, congratulations, Bridget! 

To celebrate Bridget's debut, our own Jen McAndrews will give a copy of POISON to one lucky commenter. (US residents only, please.) Here's what you have to do:

1. Paste a link in the comments section that shows you helped spread the word about POISON. (A tweet, a Facebook share, a tumblr, a blog post, a message board post, etc.)

2. Provide your email address so we can contact you if you win.

The giveaway ends Thursday, March 14th at 5pm EST. At that time, we'll assign each comment a number and use to select the winner. By entering this giveaway, you agree to the terms set forth on our "contest disclaimer" page.

Good luck!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Everytime I say Goodbye

With a theme like heartbreak, you approach blogging with a bit more trepidation than usual. After all, after this many ~cough~ years on the planet, if you haven't racked up your share of heartbreak, you're really not doing your job.

There is a 1987 song by a British rock band, Simply Red, that I'm reminded of most sharply when I consider heartbreak, perhaps because of what I'd been through in the years leading up to it. I'd lost someone who'd meant the world to me, and I never thought I'd recover. It was the first time I'd ever had to say goodbye, though certainly not the last.

Quite possibly the only moment Mick Hucknall
could be considered hot. But still, a great song.
Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye 

Ev'ry time we say goodbye I die a little
Ev'ry time we say goodbye I wonder why a little
Why the Gods above me who must be in the know
Think so little of me they allow you to go

When you're near there's such an air of spring about it
I can hear a lark somewhere waiting to sing about it
There's no love song finer
But how strange The change from major to minor
Ev'ry time we say goodbye.

When you're near there's such an air of spring about it
I can hear a lark somewhere waiting to sing about it
There's no love song finer
But how strange The change from major to minor
Ev'ry time we say goodbye.

Question: What about you? Let me know in the comments if YOU have any songs that have helped you through (or seemed to empathize with) your heartbreak.

Because of that insanely tough and unexpected loss, I didn't have many of the normal teen "break-up" experiences that so many of my friends were going through--both in high school and college. I'd sort of already been there, and because of that, I usually ended up being the one who left, vs. the one left behind. It probably made me a little cold during the break-up process, and quite possibly I messed up a few decent relationships because I was too willing to move on vs. work through issues, but at least I didn't hang on for far too long, once I'd decided that the relationship had slipped away.

There's a quote by Dylan Thomas that also applies: After the first death, there is no other. And I've found that to be true. The pain of more contemporary break-ups never lasted as long as that first horrible experience; not that break-ups are ever fun, but they do seem easier to manage. 

However... I'm not quite the hard case that I try to be :) at least not all the time. For whatever reason, saying goodbye is still excruciating for me. Every time I leave my family, in particular, whether I'm visiting for a week or just a few days, that moment in the airport of saying goodbye leaves me an absolute wreck. I have entire routines in place to get through it, but if I'm feeling at all low to begin with, I'm pretty much that girl sitting in the airplane seat with her face turned toward the window and tears running down her face. You'd think I'd never see these people again--but every time, it's just that hard.

So if you're reading this, take a moment to say "I love you" to the ones who matter most to you. We all have to say goodbye eventually, but hopefully not today. :)

And I still miss you, Dad. 

Jennifer McGowan

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Welcome Wednesday: T.J. Brown's Heartaches

When I was told the topic choices for this post I was on a see saw about which one to go with… heartbreak or bad advice? Bad advice often leads to heartbreak and vice versa. Who hasn’t taken the bad advice to go ahead and eat all the Cherry Garcia in the freezer post heartbreak? But in the end, I went with the topic that resonated the most with me and since I’ve never been one to take advice, heart break it is.

But I also don’t want to be a downer… so I am going with the things that broke my heart out of sheer joy and I will keep it from being cheesy by focusing on art…we can all agree that music, books or movies can be heartbreaking—even if we can’t always agree on which ones fit the bill. SO without further ado…

Musical Heartbreak

I have been to two concerts that blew my mind and broke my heart with the sheer beauty of the moment. The first was when I went to see the U2 concert, June 3rd 2011 at Quest Field in Seattle. For those of us who call the Pacific Northwest home, planning anything outside in June is very risky indeed, but after waiting for 25 years to see U2 in concert, I wasn’t going to pass up the chance, rain or no. It was quite simply one of the most beautiful days in Seattle you can possibly have…the best weather in nine months. From where we sat, (admittedly in nose bleed) we could see the sun set over the Puget Sound, and to hear them do Sunday, Bloody Sunday and it’s a Beautiful Day was heartbreakingly beautiful.
The second heart breaking musical moment was astonishing only because I totally hadn’t expected it. My son and I went to a concert last December to see the Killers, (who were awesome by the way), and ended up being completely blown away by M83. Their sound was fresh, new, and totally surprising. It’s hard to describe the web of magic they wove over the arena, but it was so heartbreakingly perfect it moved me to tears.

Other Contenders for Musical Heartbreak? Phantom of the Opera, Eric Clapton (Have you seen him do Tears From Heaven Live?) and Josh Groban, (I’m convinced God kissed his throat at birth)

Literary Heartbreak

I have cried over my share of books, but some of them have drove me to my knees with emotion. The first was Beach Music by Pat Conroy. His gorgeous, adjective-laden prose told a story of such heartbreaking beauty, that I sobbed uncontrollably at a half a dozen different points of the book. It was so complex and multi-layered that I cried with heartbreak, joy and laughter.
The second book that made me sob, heartbroken was the attic moment in Joshilyn Jackson’s fine novel, Gods in Alabama. Another multi-layered book with both uproarious laughter and tragic tears. But that moment in the attic… the revelation… happy sigh. Heartbreaking.

Another heartbreaking literary moment happened not too long ago when I was writing the third Summerset Abbey book, SPRING AWAKENING. I’ve become teary eyed as I wrote scenes before, but I’ve never sobbed out loud over a scene like I did in that book. And not just one scene, but two.  My husband came in from the garage, took one look and asked, “Is that over your own book?” When I answered yes, he just shook his head and went back out. What can I say? Writers are crazy.

Other contenders for literary heartbreak? Where the Red Fern Grows, Lords of Discipline, The Outsiders, and The Yearling. 

Movie Heartbreak

First off, Love Actually because of THAT MOMENT when Keira Knightly watches her wedding video and realizes her husband’s best friend is in love with her and he walks out and it doesn’t even matter that it’s DIDO singing in the background because the whole scene is just so romantic and beautiful and tragic it makes you feel all tangled and gooshy and HEARTBROKEN inside. (Deep breath.) THAT MOMENT.

The second one was Casablanca. Yeah, I know. Totally cliché. In fact, I thought I was totally armed against it because it was old and cheesy and in black and white. So I was completely taken aback when I bawled like a baby at the end. It was the music--that gorgeous, classic song that finally broke me.

Other contenders for the heartbreaking movie award? The Little Princess, Black Beauty, Sophie’s Choice, and The Secret Garden.
As the icy chill of winter, 1914, settles on the magnificent country estate of Summerset Abbey, three young women seek comfort and warmth in the smiles of friends, the fire in their hearts, and the promise of spring. . . . 
Victoria Buxton
With her delicate constitution but strong, unflappable spirit, Victoria has never followed societal conventions, the rules of fashion, or the pursuit of a husband. Instead, she finds herself drawn into the controversial—and dangerous—fight for women’s suffrage. But her dream is compromised, and her heart divided, when her struggle for equal rights collides with unexpected love. 
Rowena Buxton 
After yearning to no avail for a certain young pilot to fly back into her life, Rowena fears her chances for happiness have been jeopardized by recklessness and scandal. Burdened with guilt for bringing her sister Prudence to Summerset Abbey as a lady’s maid while she herself led a life of privilege, Rowena hopes to one day make amends. But her desire to set things right is complicated by her passion for flight and a sudden engagement . . . to the wrong man. 
Prudence Tate
Raised like a sister to Victoria and Rowena, then banished to the servants’ quarters when their father passed away, Prudence has seen both sides of life, upstairs and down. But once the truth about her parentage was revealed, Prudence forged a new life for herself, married to a penniless veterinary student. Living in poverty in a shabby London flat, she wonders if she’s made a terrible mistake— and there’s no turning back. . . .
Other books in the series: SUMMERSET ABBEY (#1) released January 15, 2013; and SPRING AWAKENING (Summerset Abbey #3) August 6, 2013. 
 Amazon  | B&N

TJ Brown is passionate about books, writing, history, dachshunds and mojitos. If she could go back in time, she would have traveled back to England, 1910, Paris, 1927 or Haight-Ashbury, 1967. She resides in the burbs of Portlandia, where she appreciates the weirdness, the microbreweries, hoodies, Voodoo Donuts and the rain.

To learn more about TJ visit her here: Twitter |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  | Website 

Monday, March 4, 2013

My Gospel of Gloria Gaynor

by Kimberly MacCarron

I admit it.  I overused a song to get me through breakups and heartbreak.  I always had the individual “our song” that made me cry.  Then I had my own song that helped me through it.  It was one that made me feel empowered.  Strong.  Resilient. 

I Will Survive!

And I did.  Many, many times. 

Throughout my teen years, I stumbled in and out of love.  Again, many, many times.  Or at least it sure felt like it.  Looking back on it, I’m sure most of those angsty feelings were a little melodramatic, but at the time they felt real so they were real.

Grabbing my curling iron and dancing around my bedroom with tears streaming down my face, I would sing my heart out to this song.   At first, I would stand there at the slow beginning and sing, “At first I was afraid, I was petrified…”  Then quickly I would start dancing and getting louder and louder, feeling way stronger than I did at the beginning.  By the end of the song, I was definitely not that “chained up little person still in love with (him)”.   I wouldn’t crumble!  I would survive.  Hey, hey! 

I remember going through the heartbreak even into my adult years.  Granted, the heartbreak hurt more because there were deeper emotions involved, but the same song came through again and again to make me feel stronger. 

As an adult, I was dating my husband, and once he came to my townhouse after I became a bit annoyed at him for not yet giving me a ring.  THE ring.  He came by unexpectedly, and I was blasting the music and dancing around, and since we were friends before we started dating, he knew my history with that particular song.  All he said was “Uh oh.”
At our wedding, I danced with my husband’s nephew (who also loves this song) with complete abandon and happiness. 

Because you know what?  I DID survive.  And all those breakups and heartbreak led me to the person I was meant to marry.  Each relationship taught me something about myself and love and learning from mistakes made.   I think it’s important to go through the heartbreaks so that you can grow as a person, but it sure doesn’t feel like a learning opportunity when it’s happening.  For those going through it, I’m sorry.  But you will survive.  You will grow stronger.  As long as that’s what you want. 

Now for a couple random facts about Gloria Gaynor’s  1978 hit song I Will Survive:
1.     After a back injury and spinal surgery, Gaynor was still in a back brace when she recorded the song.
2.     This song hit the #1 slot in the United States, the UK, Canada, Ireland, Italy and Switzerland.
3.     VH1 named this #1 on the 100 Greatest Dance Songs.
4.     This song was originally the B side on its release until Boston Disco Radio DJ (Jack King) played it many times, and his listeners went nuts!
5.     This song was awarded the only Grammy Award ever for Best Disco Recording in 1980.
6.     Glee made a mash-up of this song with Destiny’s Child “Survivor”, and the song reached #51 in 2011.

So, even back in the day while I was wailing and sobbing into my curling iron and clutching my heart, I must have known down deep that this song appealed to others in the same way.  There’s not a better song out there that can give girls and women the feeling of complete empowerment like My Gospel of Gloria Gaynor, I Will Survive.

Hopefully I’ll never need to cry to this song again.  I just dance around my kitchen with my kids now.  But, I’m sure my daughters will need to borrow it in the future.  And I don’t envy them that. 
But I do envy them those raw feelings and first loves because you only have them once. 
Or twice…Or…

Kimberly MacCarron

What helped you through the heartbreaks?  Chocolate?  Good friends?  Ice Cream?  Music?  Tell us!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Fab Friday: Janet McLaughlin's GET PSYCHED

Today we've got a special treat for our Honestly YA readers -- a giveaway of Janet McLaughlin's GET PSYCHED, the first in her series to celebrate this month's release of the sequel, PSYCHED OUT. But first she's got a post keeping with our theme of book to movie adaptations. So take it away Janet...

Over the years I’ve read horror stories about how the novel writer loses control of the script. How the book they wrote is not the movie playing itself out on the big screen.

Fortunately, there are exceptions. My favorite is TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. This classic recently celebrated its 50th Anniversary. I’d just finished reading the book when the movie came out. (Oops! Giving away my age here!) The casting was perfect, the actors exactly as I pictured them.

On a more current note, if you’re name is big enough and you’ve sold millions of books, you can be assured your book will translate into film almost verbatim. Case in point—The HARRY POTTER movies. Screenwriters who adapted the books didn’t dare eliminate any scenes. Millions of young theatergoers made sure of that.

Millions of females-of-all-ages made it clear to the producers of the TWILIGHT Saga that they were not happy with the adaptation of the first book. The rest of the movies were much closer to the books. THE HUNGER GAMES producers seemed to learn from the others’ mistakes. At least I thought it was well done.

So, my question is: What would you do if a producer read your book and wanted to adapt it to the big (or little—let’s not forget TV) screen? Would you jump at the chance, not caring if you didn’t recognize the end product? “Just get my name out there!” Or would you be more cautious and ask for some kind of involvement/approval of the script? Would you even get that kind of consideration? Unless your books sold in the millions, it’s not at all likely.

I would like to think that I would choose the integrity of the story over the exposure and shear joy of seeing my characters come to life. But if I’m being honest, I don’t think I would. I can easily imagine myself sitting in a dark movie theater, so many butterflies floating around in my stomach I’m almost lifted out of my chair, surrounded by my family, watching my name flash across the screen. I figure I could always write a disclaimer later!

But who would play my protagonist? She’d have to have curly red hair, be able to do cheerleading stunts, have visions of future events, and save the day. Okay, she can dye her hair and fake the psychic and brave part. But those cheerleading stunts? There’s no faking them. Oh right. That’s why they have stuntwomen. I wonder if they’d let my granddaughter do them. After all, she was the inspiration behind the cheerleading and she’s pretty awesome. She could dye her hair red. Yep. I have my answer. Show me where to sign!

Janet McLaughlin has been involved in the communication field most of her life as a writer, teacher, and/or editor. She is a member of the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and the Florida Writers Association and is an avid fan of cheerleading competitions, especially those involving her grandchildren. She lives in Florida with her husband Tom. Her other passions involve tennis, traveling, walking and meeting people. GET PSYCHED is her first novel. The second in the series, PSYCHED OUT, premiers this month. You can learn more about Janet on her blog and on Facebook.

And now for the giveaway, a copy of GET PSYCHED, the first book in the series! Entering is easy peasy. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck! 
There's more at stake at this year's two-day National Cheerleading Competition than taking first place. Lives will be changed and possibly even lost if 15-year-old Zoey Christopher doesn't take action. She knows she'll need help, but who to trust is the problem. No one knows about Zoey's gift and she wants to keep it that way. Being fifteen is tough enough. Being fifteen and psychic — as Zoey would tell you if she trusted you — really sucks. At practice the night before the competition, Zoey gets a vision about a fellow cheerleader whose life is in danger. Later, she gets more sensory hints: a cheerleader surrounded by smoke and a panicking crowd; a vendor covered in ashes. To further complicate her life, she meets Josh, whose very touch sends her sensory system into overload. Circumstances force Zoey to tell Josh, and her friends Becca and Mike, about her visions. The foursome band together to stop the fire that threatens to destroy the hotel/convention center and the lives of so many of her fellow cheerleaders.

a Rafflecopter giveaway