Friday, June 28, 2013

FABULOUS FRIDAY GIVEAWAY: FROZEN from MELISSA DE LA CRUZ AND MICHAEL JOHNSTON


For some people,
Vegas is Hell.
Who would you trust
to lead you to Paradise?


                 



This is a paperback Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of the first in a new series form Melissa de la Cruz, with Michael Johnston. The hardcover releases September 17, 2013. But why wait until September when Honestly YA gives you a chance to read it NOW?

This contest will begin on June 28, 2013 and conclude at midnight July 4, 2013.

By entering sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways on this website, visitors agree to the terms and conditions set forth as follows:
 Giveaways and contests sponsored on this website require no purchase and are open for entry to anyone living in the United States (unless noted otherwise). Void where prohibited.
• Participants must be 18 to enter.
• Giveaways sponsored by guest bloggers are the responsibility of the guest blogger. This site is not responsible for undelivered prizes.
• If a winner fails to respond within the specified time period, another winner will be chosen. We are not responsible for misdirected emails due to mailer daemons and/or spam filters.
• Chances of winning will vary based on number of participants.
• Prizes are as stated. No substitutions or exchanges.
• Entrant information is confidential and will not be shared.
• Rules are subject to change at any time, for any reason, without notification.

#2 Submit your entries using the beloved Rafflecopter:

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Welcome Wednesday! ALTERED Author Jenn Rush Answers 10 Questions

They were made to forget. But they'll never forgive.

Everything about Anna's life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch, at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There's Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, light-hearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who's stolen Anna's heart.

When the Branch decides it's time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Anna's father pushes her to go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs.

On the run, with her father's warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. She soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they're both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.


Typically, when by the time an author appears for Welcome Wednesday, I've read the book (if it's available). This month, other priorities kept me from reading. But OH. MY. BLOG. After hearing Jenn talk about this book and reading the amazing reviews...I MUST read this book. NOW.

Take a look at the below and see if you don't agree...

Jenn Rush, welcome to Honestly YA! Thanks for being with us today. We've got just a few questions for you:

1. We always start with the same curiosity: What book spoke to you most during your teen years?

I grew up reading vampire fiction. I loved Christopher Pike’s The Last Vampire series and L. J. Smith’s The Vampire Diaries. But my all-time favorite (and still is) was Vivian Vande Velde’s Companions of the Night.

2.  Do you have a book (or books) that you reread regularly? If yes, what book or film and why?

Companions of the Night! That and Sarah Dessen’s The Truth About Forever. I love Truth because the romance is a slow building romance. The best kind of romance. And more importantly, the love interest (Wes) was worth the wait.

3. What YA novel or novels have you read recently that you most want all your friends to read?

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I will continue recommending that book until the entire universe has read. It’s rich with world-building and complex characters. And has a brilliantly written villain.  

4. What made you want to write teen fiction? Is there any link to the stories you read growing up?

When I discovered YA fiction --- at about fourteen or fifteen --- I immediately devoured everything and I just never transitioned to adult fiction. I don’t know why. I don’t know if there is any one specific reason. I just love how complex and well written YA fiction is, and it typically uses fewer words than in adult fiction. Which means the words that are used, are extremely potent.

5. Tell us about ALTERED. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

I’m a huge fan of the Bourne Series. I love Jason Bourne! I always wanted to write something similar, but tell the story from the girl’s point of view. What would it be like to meet someone like Jason Bourne and then leave your normal life behind to follow him? That idea intrigued me, though I can’t say that it’s why I started Altered. I honestly don’t remember the beginning stages of writing it. It was a story that came out of nowhere and absolutely consumed me. Before I knew it, it was nearly three-quarters done.

6. ALTERED is a thriller. Did you have any books or films you turned to / studied to keep you in that mindset? And/or did you create a play list to use while you wrote?

I definitely re-watched all of the Bourne movies. I wanted to study the pacing of the movie---how often did Bourne get a quiet moment? How often did he fight with his enemies? I also wanted to watch the fight scenes to better understand the movement of the human body.

As for a playlist --- I always have specific playlists for projects. Here’s the playlist for Altered (from an old blog post): http://www.jennrush.com/2011/12/full-altered-playlist.html

7. Reviews for ALTERED invariably include words such as “riveting” “a rapid-fire thriller” “fast-paced” “a thrill ride”. How much of that high-speed pacing was present in the first draft and how much was the result of the revision and editing process?

That was almost entirely done through revision. After I signed with my agent, we worked on pacing, and then worked on it again with my editor after it sold. On my last major round of revisions with my editor, she suggested I cut 10,000 words to tighten the pacing and up the tension. It was painful, and I honestly didn’t want to do it! But I’m so glad I did.


8. You also released, this year, BOT WARS, a middle grade. That book, too, features someone who discovers the truth he knew is no truth at all. Why does this particular theme appeal to you, do you think?

What kid hasn’t wished he were someone else? What little girl hasn’t pretended she was actually a long lost princess? Finding out you’re someone important, or something important, is a fantasy we’ve all entertained at one time. In Altered, Anna’s truth isn’t exactly a better one, but it does propel her into an extraordinary life. The same can be said for Trout, in Bot Wars. His life changes when he finds out the truth about his family.

9. We have a lot of aspiring authors here in the Honestly YA realm. Can you share with them a little about your journey to publication?

Certainly! I wrote my first novel when I was sixteen. I wrote a few more over the next few years, but I didn’t start taking myself seriously until 2005-2006 (I would have been twenty-two at the time). I wrote a contemporary YA called Sherbet Skies, and I got a lot of positive feedback on it from agents and publishers, but it ultimately didn’t win anyone over. I wrote three or four more novels after that, had a baby (!), wrote one more novel, and then finally wrote Altered (by this point, I was twenty-seven!). I wrote it in August of 2010, signed with my agent in October of the same year, and went out on submission in January of 2011. It sold in February 2011. Bot Wars sold in June 2011.

I know it often feels like you will never take that next step in your writing career. You can’t snag an agent. No editor has offered on your book. But it will happen if you don’t give up. IT WILL. J

10. Fabulous advice! Thank you! So what’s next for you?

The sequel to Altered, Erased, will release January 2014. The sequel to Bot Wars will release summer of 2014. Right now I’m revising the latter. After that, I’ll be drafting a companion novel to Altered and Erased, which will follow Nick, one of the Altered boys, and a new female character.

I also have a few other projects in the works, so I hope to finish those sometime in the next six months.  

Jenn, thanks so much for being with us today! It was wonderful getting to know you! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to read :)


Pick up ALTERED at:
Amazon

Friday, June 21, 2013

FABULOUS FRIDAY GIVEAWAY: MEG CABOT'S AWAKEN

Admit it:
You want to know how it all ends.






"the dark reimagining of the Persephone myth comes to a thrilling conclusion"


(There's no need to put the blurb here, is there? This is book 3. If you want it, you know why *s*)


Hardcover releases July 2. This is a softcover Advanced Review Copy (ARC).

This contest will begin at 12:00 am June 21, 2013 and end 11:59 pm June 27, 2013.

By entering sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways on this website, visitors agree to the terms and conditions set forth as follows:
 Giveaways and contests sponsored on this website require no purchase and are open for entry to anyone living in the United States (unless noted otherwise). Void where prohibited.
• Participants must be 18 to enter.
• Giveaways sponsored by guest bloggers are the responsibility of the guest blogger. This site is not responsible for undelivered prizes.
• If a winner fails to respond within the specified time period, another winner will be chosen. We are not responsible for misdirected emails due to mailer daemons and/or spam filters.
• Chances of winning will vary based on number of participants.
• Prizes are as stated. No substitutions or exchanges.
• Entrant information is confidential and will not be shared.
• Rules are subject to change at any time, for any reason, without notification.

#2 Submit your entries using the beloved Rafflecopter:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What We Need to Write


Honestly YA is pleased to welcome the fabulous Amy DeLuca, a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist. Take it away, Amy!

We all need to write, or we wouldn’t be here. But what do you need to write? I’m not talking about theme or genre or the book of your heart. I’m talking about the actual “things” you need around you in order to perform the act of writing. If you’re anything like me, there are certain items you’ve just gotta have. Here’s my list:

Earplugs- I’m never alone. It’s kind of cozy, but it’s also kind of distracting. My husband is a nighttime news anchor, so all those things that most husbands do around the house in the evening, mine is doing in the morning and early afternoon. That sometimes includes watching sports highlights on TV, working out to loud guy-rock music, etc. As he leaves for work, my sons are getting home from school. I love my boys. They’re good kids. They are also loud. Cute, but loud. Someday I’ll have an office. With a door. <cue harp music and angel-song> For now, I have earplugs. They go in, the world goes away, and I can write. I like the squishy foam kind -- they even come in hot pink, for those who prioritize inner ear beauty.
Earplugs of choice














Comfortable seating- When I started my first manuscript, we owned one computer, a desk-top pc. The very attractive desk chair that matched our d├ęcor had been fine for bill-paying and web-surfing, but when it came to spending hours at a time writing… um, no. 
Chair of Pain

The Chair of Pain went to live in the dining room. I would have loved to spend hundreds of dollars on an attractive and ergonomic desk chair. But here’s what I could afford.
Ugly Comfort Chair

This one is similar but about 75 percent more attractive than the pink-and-blue-flower-patterned chair that I got on clearance at Staples because clearly no one else in the world would have it. That chair clashed mightily with my color scheme, but it saved my back a world of pain.
Then a laptop became my drug of choice, and I moved Ugly Comfort Chair to the basement and writing operations over to the sofa. I write every day in the same corner, next to the lamp table where I pile my notes (I can’t seem to keep them all in the computer. Apparently I need to scribble on scraps as well) with a pillow behind that crummy back of mine.
The only thing better than writing on the sofa with a pillow is adding a heating blanket during the cold months, which in Rhode Island in my old house, equals nine months a year. It’s amazing how much better it is to write with my warm little blanket buddy.

Proper writing attire- Which day did God create yoga pants? I’m not sure, but I’m thankful for them. They’re the perfect writing uniform, providing ultimate comfort while casting the illusion that I am a person who exercises. And should the urge to leave my cozy couch corner and perform exercise ever suddenly strike, I’m dressed for it.

Beverage of choice- I’m a tea-aholic. I drink it all day long (mostly de-caf or herbal), and I have a pantry full of tea varieties to prove it. If I’m writing, there’s a mug of tea next to me.
And finally…

A beat sheet- I started off a pantser, then read Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and converted. If you want to check out his downloadable beat sheet, it’s here: http://www.blakesnyder.com/tools/
More recently, I read My Story Can Beat Up Your Story by screenwriter Jeffrey Alan Schechter. I print out his “Plot Not Plotz” form and fill in my scenes before starting a first draft, then keep it nearby to make sure my plot points stay on track as the story progresses. That form is available here: http://www.mscbuys.com/plot-not-plotz/

Now, I’m not permanently chained to the couch. I have also been known to write in cars, at playgrounds and swimming pools, but for me that’s more about getting down ideas than writing the manuscript. And the tea and the beat sheet go with me.

So, that’s my personal weirdness. What do you need to write? 


Amy is a former news anchor and currently works as a voiceover artist and corporate video host. Born in Mississippi, she now lives in Rhode Island, where she enjoys the beautiful beaches two months a year and the great "writing weather" for the rest of it. She finds it impossible to go to bed early, no matter what time she gets up.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Faking It


Hey everyone!

I can’t remember a time in my childhood when I wasn’t dreaming about what it would be like to be someone else. And I think some of that might be because I was convinced that I was lacking...something. Something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. But see, there were all of these people in my head who were so much more.

Braver.

Stronger.

Smarter.

And for years I longed to become one of them. I soaked in stories of female warriors and tried to imagine what my life would be like if I could kick butt and cast spells.

That’s when I first created Future Marni. See, I couldn’t measure up to my own impossible standards yet, but Future Marni? Yeah, she was awesome.

I didn’t think she would like me very much though. I thought that Future Marni would be ashamed to have anything to do with me. I knew there would be no fooling her. She had already witnessed exactly how hard I worked to hide the twisted knots of insecurities that contorted beneath my skin.

It’s strange being Future Marni.

In some ways, Middle School Marni gave me waaay too much credit. I still don’t know how to drive. I haven’t traveled to foreign countries on my own. And all of those pesky feelings of inadequacy? Yeah, those totally didn’t vanish overnight.

But I also remember sitting in my bedroom in high school, craning my neck towards the night sky, and wishing on every star with a single-minded desperation to someday make it as a writer.

I never could have imagined all of this!
I’m holding the Hungarian version of my debut novel, Awkward!
Seriously. If you had taken Middle School Marni aside and said, “Marni, calm down! You’re going to be published, okay? Not just in English either. The Hungarians are totally going to love you!” I would have burst out laughing.

And then I probably would have had another one of those holy-crap-the-future-is-freaking-me-out moments.
Here I am freaking out--with pure, unadulterated joy!
I don’t think I would have been able to fathom any of this. 

Not creating my own book trailers:
...not creating my only vlog...
...and definitely not having the third book in my series, Invisible, described positively by Kirkus Reviews!
The author continues the formula she concocted for her previous books (Awkward, 2012, etc.), keeping the wit dialed up to 11 in a comedy of errors. Constant quips about school, life and current situations will delight readers. Nearly everything works for laughs, but Jane also learns some solid life lessons about bullying and courage, and she teaches some lessons about friendship to her own circle as well.
Middle School Marni would be slack-jawed after reading that one!

In fact, I had a mini-conversation with Middle School Me which went something like this:

Me: They really like our book! Can you believe it?!

MS Me: Are you sure they weren’t confused or something? I mean, since when have we ever kept the wit dialed up to 11? I’ll tell you when--never. We have never kept the wit dialed up to anything. Now if they had written, oh I dunno...Bates keeps the weird dialed up to 11...yeah, that would make sense.
           
Me: What if I told you we weren’t all that weird anymore?

MS Me: I’d say I never expected I’d become a pathological liar. Y’know, that review makes a whole lot more sense now. You faked it!

Me: I did not!

MS Me: (skeptically) Mmm-hmmm...

Me: Okay, fine! So we’re still kinda weird!

MS Me: (smugly) That’s what I thought!

Me: But we’ve found all of these other weird people who are super awesome! So now on the relative weirdness scale we are totally at a reasonable level.

MS Me: I’ll believe it when I see it.

What can I say? Middle School Marni would have a hard time believing any of this.

I guess this post is my long, ramble-y way of saying that it gets better.

So. Much. Better.

I’d love to hear what adventures you have been on--especially the ones that Younger You would never believe possible!

Much love,

Marni

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fabulous Friday Summer Sweepstakes - Vicious Deep

Summertime
headed to the beach?
you supply the sunblock
Honestly Ya supplies the perfect read...




For Tristan Hart, everything changes with one crashing wave.

He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth. 

His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotion like never before? How can he explain he's heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he's suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods.

Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea...and now it wants him back.



Enter for your chance to win a signed author copy of THE VICIOUS DEEP (paperback). Here's how!

1 Read the rules:

This contest will begin at 12:00 am June 14, 2013 and end 11:59 pm June 20, 2013.

By entering sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways on this website, visitors agree to the terms and conditions set forth as follows:
 Giveaways and contests sponsored on this website require no purchase and are open for entry to anyone living in the United States (unless noted otherwise). Void where prohibited.
• Participants must be 18 to enter.
• Giveaways sponsored by guest bloggers are the responsibility of the guest blogger. This site is not responsible for undelivered prizes.
• If a winner fails to respond within the specified time period, another winner will be chosen. We are not responsible for misdirected emails due to mailer daemons and/or spam filters.
• Chances of winning will vary based on number of participants.
• Prizes are as stated. No substitutions or exchanges.
• Entrant information is confidential and will not be shared.
• Rules are subject to change at any time, for any reason, without notification.

#2 Submit your entries using the beloved Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway




Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Welcome Wednesday: Lindsey R. Loucks' My Life is a High School Musical


My Life is a High School Musical: How the Arts Impacted My Teen Years

Every night after dinner, I used to hold my napkin over my head and say in a sing-song voice, “Hope you enjoyed our sho-o-ow!” With a dramatic flick of my fingers, I would release the napkin over my face, and that was the final curtain on our meal. Family dinners were one big stage production, at least for me. As the youngest of four, I had to do something to get everyone’s attention.

Growing up, I took dance and choir classes. I loved the idea of singing and dancing just like the people did in all those wonderful musicals I watched or listened to. Being the center of attention never seemed to bother them.  But when it was me in front of people who weren’t my family at the dinner table, I wanted to run and hide behind a napkin.

It wasn’t until high school when I found my niche in the arts. A group of friends and I entered ourselves into the variety show to perform a play that I co-wrote. I don’t remember what the play was called, but it was about a dating show gone horribly wrong. I played the part of a crazy lady who has a strange fascination with picnic blankets. Umm, yeah. But I wasn’t too nervous about performing on stage because I wasn’t playing myself. Okay, maybe that’s debatable, but still.
 Anyway, we received a standing ovation for our play, and I was completely hooked. Both the writing and playing the part of other people fascinated me, and my imagination took off. I became other people in my stories, but they became the center of attention, not me. As an author, I get to hide behind my computer screen instead of a napkin!

At the end of the next book I write, instead of typing THE END, I’m going to type HOPE YOU ENJOYED OUR SHO-O-OW! The book will come with a free napkin, or better yet—a picnic blanket!

How about you? Are you an in front of the napkin kind of person? Or do you like to hide behind it with me?
Lindsey R. Loucks works as a school librarian in rural Kansas. When she's not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she's dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she'll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize.

She's been with her significant other for almost two decades.

To find out more, visit: http://www.lindseyrloucks.com

Leigh Baxton is terrified her mom will come back from the dead -- just like the prom queen did. While the town goes beehive over the news, Leigh bikes to the local cemetery and buries some of her mom’s things in her grave to keep her there. When the hot and mysterious caretaker warns her not to give gifts to the dead, Leigh cranks up her punk music and keeps digging. She should have listened. Two dead sorceresses evicted the prom queen from her grave to bury someone who offered certain gifts. Bury them alive, that is, then resurrect them to create a trio of undead powerful enough to free the darkest sorceress ever from her prison inside the earth. With help from the caretaker and the dead prom queen, Leigh must find out what’s so special about the gifts she gave, and why the sorceresses are stalking her and her little sister. If she doesn’t, she’ll either lose another loved one or have to give the ultimate gift to the dead – herself.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Makings of a Hero


Honestly YA is pleased to welcome Kari Miller, a 2013 Golden Heart® finalist!  She's talking about heroes--flaws and all.  Take it away, Kari!
For the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking in particular about the hero in my Golden Heart entry, Leath’Dhia. In the process of dissecting Henry Fitzalan’s character, I thought it might be helpful to compile a short list of my most memorable romantic heroes in order to identify what makes them so darned special to me. The list was a whole lot shocking and a little embarrassing:
            Erik from Susan Kay’s Phantom
            Tyrion Lannister from JRR Martin’s Game of Thrones
            Mr. Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
            Rhett Butler from Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind
In full disclosure, I appreciate a gorgeous man as much as the next woman. However, these are the characters that endured in my thoughts long after the book went back on the shelf. Somewhat concerned about this list, I sent several friends two questions: Who do you think are the best/sexiest heroes ever created? Who are the characters you could fall in love with? Here are some of the men that made the list:
Mr. Darcy, Odysseus, Edward Cullen, Atticus, Noah Calhoun, Legolas, Ren and Kishan, James Bond, Beast, Samwise Gamgee, Neville Longbottom, and Luke Brandon.
My first thought was, “Well, there’s no accounting for taste.” Especially my own – three of my heroes are considered ugly by most standards. Tyrion Lannister is a dwarf who loses part of his nose in battle. Erik (aka The Phantom of the Opera) doesn’t even have a nose and lives in the basement. While debating the need for immediate therapy, I decided to get out the scalpel for some serious character dissections. I wanted to know what makes these men special to me when other so-called “heroes” are about as memorable as a warm glass of milk. Or, in other words, what makes some men jump off the page and under my skin, while others stay precisely where they are. During this process, I stumbled on six desirable traits shared by many of these characters, regardless of physical beauty. I call these traits, ‘The Makings of a Hero.’
For my purposes, I have focused primarily on the Phantom, Tyrion Lannister, Mr. Rochester, and the Beast (a favorite of my teenage daughter).
1. Emotional baggage
My hero may not be handsome, but he’s handsomely damaged. The right amount of trauma is, for some reason or another, sublimely attractive. This baggage can be in the form of childhood distress and physical disfigurement (the Phantom and Tyrion), a deep secret (Mr. Rochester), or a single event that irrevocably changed the course of his life (the Beast). It can even be an actual piece of luggage, so long as it’s filled with serious pain and torment.
2. They’re ruthless, yet kind
To achieve their ends, the men on my list are willing to commit all manner of sin. They kidnap, manipulate, steal, lie, cheat and kill. In other characters, the same actions are considered unforgivable. So why do these men get away with it? From what I can figure, it’s all in the intent. They do it for preservation of self and others, for love, and for redemption. Even more, underneath their ruthlessness is a heart of pure gold.
3. They’re so smart it’s annoying
There’s not a dull tool to be found in this shed. Each of my heroes has intelligence and wit aplenty, and for me there’s something uber sexy about a man who utilizes both to either hold up his end of a conversation or win a battle without flexing a muscle. Tyrion’s verbal grace makes it easy to forget that he has to waddle from one place to the next. Mr. Rochester’s extensive travels and quest for knowledge is downright sexy when coupled with his dark moods and brooding silences. The Phantom is so freaking intelligent, he jumps straight to godlike status.
4. They’re built
And by “built,” I mean like a bear, not a birdhouse. Not just because muscle is sexy, but because it represents physical strength, and for me, a hero has to be able to protect himself and those he loves. However, if he lacks physical strength, he can easily compensate (or complement) with:
5. Power
Power comes in many forms. It may be in the form of talent and genius, as with the Phantom. Or it may manifest as family influence, as with Tyrion, whose diminutive size is more than compensated by the number of gold cloaks, wildlings, and sell-swords at the ready. For some, like the Beast, their power is a direct subset of their physical strength, resulting in a dearth of bear-men to compete for the title of “Belle’s Most Powerful Suitor.”
6. Are hopelessly devoted to that one special girl
By far, the perfect hero’s most attractive quality is his devotion to his lady. Why? Because we’re ladies. And we like men who like us back. These men may be villains, outcasts, and emotionally damaged, but more than anything, they desperately want to love, and be loved in return. 
So that’s my list, the six qualities that compel me to champion the underdog, whether he’s four feet tall, horribly deformed, or a literal dog. It is also these qualities that make me wonder if I have relied too much on my own hero’s physical beauty as a character shortcut. For a worthwhile experiment, try peeling the ‘skin’ from your hero. Has his character been hobbled, or is there enough left for him to stand on?
In truth, as a writer of YA and NA, it did strike me as odd that all of my characters and most of those passed along by others belonged to the adult category. For this reason, I wonder if beauty is more necessary for younger readers than adults. I mean, even my teenage daughters willingly dismiss Henry’s flaws because “OMG MOM, he’s, like, so sexy.” 
What do you think?  

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Life Is a High School Musical


I have always loved theater, especially musicals. In high school, no matter how dreadful the halls were, or how awful the kids behaved toward me, I could always escape to that darkened, hallowed place of magic and art … my high school auditorium. When school got to be too much to bear, I would escape into the sanctuary of back stage for respite from the cruel teen world. Sometimes I cried, sometimes I slept, occasionally I laughed with others I encountered but I always transcended … and healed.  *Shout out to the Vaca High Drama Club!*


My best friends were all theater geeks. Together, we explored the daring and provocative world of high school theater, both on and off stage.  One of my fondest memories was cutting class to catch a nap on stage during tech week for Once Upon a Mattress (come on, giant mattress!) with about fifteen other kids.
Me & Tony taking a bow in You Can't Take it With You.

 After high school, when I relocated to the Midwest, my first family was a community of players. How ironic that by banding together to make believe, we could simultaneously build something real. Is it any wonder that I gravitate toward creating characters with an intrinsic passion for the arts? In DOON, my character, Kenna Reid lives, eats, and breathes Broadway. And although we may differ on our favorite musical of all time, we both agree in the genius of Sondheim and NPH.
Steven Sondheim and NPH (That's Neal Patrick Harris for you lesser beings; Barney Stinson of HIMYM for you couch potatoes, and Doogie Howser for you old folks.)
 
It was deeply satisfying to write a character whose entire high school existence was drama club, because I was her (minus all the leading roles). Without my high school drama program, my teen years would have been a dark and lonely prison sentence that I may not have endured … at least not with the same compassion, wit, and humor. My twenties would have been lackluster and disconnected instead of filled with the richness of performing great shows like Into the Woods, Children of Eden, and The Boys Next Door
The cast of The Boys Next Door (me - center & pregnant) with our director.

Today, in an alternate universe, I wouldn’t know the joy of watching Little Shop of Horrors and Phantom of the Opera with my daughter and singing along at the top of our lungs. Without the art of theatre, my life and writing would be bereft … And I will be forever grateful that I found my little corner of the sky when I needed it most. 

In case you missed our recent Broadway/BEA in NYC recaps:

YOUR TURN: Did the arts make a difference in your high school existence? Tell us about it!



In the first book of the new Doon Series, Veronica and her best friend, Mackenna, travel to Scotland for the summer in hopes of finding some peace. But the Scottish countryside holds a host of secrets—including a passageway to a mysterious land that appears to be a living fairy tale. In the land of Doon, the girls could have everything they’ve ever longed for … or end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that could soon become a nightmare. Coming 8.20.2013 from BLINK.