Three Fabulous YA Reads

In my last post I told you about the local Author Panel for the finalists of the Colorado Book Award. Three authors formed the panel and presented a short talk about the genesis of their book idea, their process and research, and their thoughts and advice for writers. It was fabulous!

What was most fun for me was that I was unfamiliar with two of the books, and so I had no idea what to expect. Let me tell you, I CAN NOT wait to read them!

First up was Donna Cooner, and her book SKINNY. She told us about Ever, the protagonist, who deals with obesity and hears this voice in her head, called Skinny, who speaks all the evil things Ever’s classmates think about her. Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful.



What struck me about this book is that is it based on the author’s experience with gastric bypass surgery and explores Ever’s decision to undergo this procedure in order to combat her obesity. Donna read an excerpt from the book describing an embarrassing scene that takes place at Ever’s school. It was excruciating to imagine this happening. Learning that it actually did happen to the author made it all so very real and absolutely heart-wrenching. A glimpse into the life of someone who just wants to be thin and the demons that go along with being unhappy in your skin, no matter what you see in the mirror.

Links to buy SKINNY 
 

Hopeless. Freak. Elephant. Pitiful. These are the words of Skinny, the vicious voice that lives inside fifteen-year-old Ever Davies’s head. Skinny tells Ever all the dark thoughts her classmates have about her. Ever knows she weighs over three hundred pounds, knows she’ll probably never be loved, and Skinny makes sure she never forgets it.

But there is another voice. Ever’s singing voice, which is beautiful but has always been silenced by Skinny. Partly in hopes of trying out for the school musical—and partly to try and save her own life—Ever decides to undergo a risky surgery that may help her lose weight and start over.

With the support of her best friend, Ever begins the uphill battle toward change. But demons, she finds, are not so easy to shake, not even as she sheds pounds. Because Skinny is still around. And Ever will have to confront that voice before she can truly find her own.

Cooner explained that SKINNY was met with controversy over whether or not gastric bypass should be available to teens. She said SKINNY isn’t a statement about whether or not the surgery is right or wrong for teens, it explores a possible outcome in Ever’s world, where it is an option that she takes.

Next, Denise Vega shared ROCK ON: A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls, and a Brother (not necessarily in that order) and explained how much she loves loooong subtitles for her books. :)

Denise shared several versions of her opening pages and described how they moved from one to the next before she and her editor decided which one was the right one.  It was interesting to get a peek at that process.  What are the odds that all of these books would have fabulous covers?

Links to buy ROCK ON.

Denise also shared her love of music as she grew up in a very musical family, though she is not at all gifted musically. The book sounds like a lot of fun. Here is the blurb from the back:

I stroke my sleek Les Paul, then slam into a killer riff that sends every girl in the front row screaming for a piece of me. I look out on the crowd, my voice hitting all the notes. I –“Ori?” –look back at my best friend and drummer, Nick “Call Me the Brew Man: Brewster, and –“Ori. Dude. You’ve got to come out now. We’re going on soon.” I blinked once. Twice. The stage dissolved. I wasn’t a rock star. I was a sixteen-year-old dork at the FX Lounge for Mic Night Monday. And I was hiding in the bathroom.

Sounds fun, right?

And finally, we have Pamela Mingle’s KISSING SHAKESPEARE, which was the winner of the Colorado Book Award. So, I have to tell you that I brought home my stack of signed copies and my friend totally snatched up my copy of this one. Doesn’t it have a terrific cover?

 

Miranda has Shakespeare in her blood: she hopes one day to become a Shakespearean actor like her famous parents. At least, she does until her disastrous performance in her school’s staging of The Taming of the Shrew. Humiliated, Miranda skips the opening-night party. All she wants to do is hide. 

Fellow cast member, Stephen Langford, has other plans for Miranda. When he steps out of the backstage shadows and asks if she’d like to meet Shakespeare, Miranda thinks he’s a total nutcase. But before she can object, Stephen whisks her back to 16th century England–the world Stephen’s really from. He wants Miranda to use her acting talents and modern-day charms on the young Will Shakespeare. Without her help, Stephen claims, the world will lose its greatest playwright. 

Miranda isn’t convinced she’s the girl for the job. Why would Shakespeare care about her? And just who is this infuriating time traveler, Stephen Langford? Reluctantly, she agrees to help, knowing that it’s her only chance of getting back to the present and her “real” life. What Miranda doesn’t bargain for is finding true love . . . with no acting required.

Time travel? Romance? THE William Shakespeare?!  Sign me up!

Pam had to do a ton of research in order to get this book right. So many specific time period facets, and a lot of historical places come into the book. She shared the huge stack of research reading she did, trips to the UK, and photos of a castle where Shakespeare is thought to have worked, she surmises, in order to gain access to a vast library that would have only been available to the wealthy.

The authors held a Q&A after their presentations and we had a great discussion about all sorts of writerly things.

Three tidbits that I took away from this panel:

It is never too late to realize your dream to be a published author.


Write the book that’s in YOU… not the book you think the world wants.


Honor yourself and schedule your writing time – if you don’t, how can you expect anyone else to?

Thanks for reading!

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