Monday, August 29, 2011

Where To Find Teens On The Web

EDIT: This post was written two years ago, and if you've spent any amount of time on the internet lately, you probably know it's a machine that changes in a snap. Some of these bloggers and teens don't blog anymore, or don't have an online presence anymore, or they have just grown up and are no longer teens. So be aware of that when you're clicking through the links! If I have time sometime, I'll try to make an updated list. Thanks! ~Alyssa

Is it even called the Web anymore? Wow I am supposed to be totally on top of all these terms... ANYWAY. Today I have decided to put a thing together of where you can find teens on the Internet (only a few of them, and they are mostly writers!) as well as some good posts to give you an idea of what teens think about books.


-Taryn Albright, 18-year-old writer, blogger, reviewer. She also has an editing service with Kate Coursey called Teen Eyes.
-Aleeza Rauf, 17-year-old fun writer, blogger and reviewer who currently lives in Pakistan. My interview with her here.
-Audrey, a Young Adult who reviews YA.
-Blue Lipstick Samurai, otherwise known as Glenna. 17-year-old writer and blogger.
-Brittany, 13-year-old writer and blogger (host of Teen Writers Summer Blogfest I particpated in with a bunch of other teens.)
-Riley Redgate, 17-year-old writer and blogger. I've really enjoyed her blog in the short time I've been following. (And she has a penname, like me! Except hers is awesome.)
-Kate Coursey, 18-year-old agented writer, has editing service with Taryn Albright (for link, see above!)
-Laura, college student, also particpated in Teen Writers Summer Blogfest.
-Madeline Bartos, spunky young teenager with lots to say to help you get in the mind of a teen.
-Matthew Dodwell, teenage writer from Australia.
-Brigid Gorry-Hines, 18-year-old cool person.
-Noveltee(n), group blog by teenaged writers.
-Emilia Plater, 18-year-old agented awesome person. She likes unicorns.
-Steph Bowe, teenage PUBLISHED author.
-Brittany Clarke, 17-year-old writer and blogger. And I did a guest post for her.
-The Golden Eagle, (another penname!), teenage Chinese-American writer and blogger.
-Through The Book Vine, a book review blog by a Canadian highschooler.
-Amanda, 18-year-old aspiring author.
-Twin Moment, a blog by two teenage girls, Lizzy and Constance.
-Romi, a younger Australian teenager who blogs and reviews. (And writes. I am starting to see a pattern...)
-WORD for Teens, the most awesome book review site ever run by a teen.
-Rachael, 18-year-old writer and blogger.
-Nick Hight, teenaged writer and blogger from New Zealand.
-Yahong Chi, 15-year-old (?) writer, reviewer, and blogger. And Canadian.
-Gabrielle, 18 year old writer and blogger.
-Mint Tea and A Good Book, a collaborative teen book review site.
(If you have any suggestions for teens to add, just comment!)

Yes, there's more of us than you thought, right? Haha.

I really want to make a point here. You may not know this, but there are obviously (see above) a lot of teens out there, reading blogs and websites of YA authors. We know what you say, and our (er, my) ears perk up when anything about teenagers is mentioned. It's fine to talk about teens on your websites and blogs, but one thing that isn't acceptable is not having respect for your audience. (See the link below to read the awesome post on respect by Kiersten White). If you say something degrading about teenagers, or young people in general on your blog, I almost guarantee you that there ARE teenagers that will read what you wrote. The Internet is not a safe place to be mean. (Um... though.... 1. You should never be mean and 2. That includes not being mean to everyone, not just teens). I'm sure all you awesome peoples out there probably know all this stuff, but just a gentle reminder that teens could very well be reading your stuff, and if that makes you tweak the things you say on your blog, then good. :)

Now here's some awesome posts about what teens think about books, etc:

In case you missed some, here are all of the answers to your questions! (And even though this project is over, still feel free to e-mail me whenever with any questions you have.)

This post is a post that YA Highway did awhile ago that includes a bunch of information and links on book review blogs run by teens!

A Thought for The Day, by Laura on what she thinks of saying things like "at such a young age" and "for a teenager".

Check out the blog series Madeline Bartos did called Straight From Your Audience Member.

Here's a post by 13-year-old Brittany on what she thinks of books being called "the next Harry Potter".

Aleeza Rauf has a rant about why series are waaay overdone (and I kind of agree with her).

Also check out ALL the posts on Brittany's blog from the Teen Writers Summer Blogfest that she hosted this July. (There are links in each of her posts to all the other participants' posts.)

Check out all the awesome teen interviews that Paper Hangover does.

Here's a post by Riley Redgate about high school humor.

And some of my posts... more on the "show-don't-tell" concept and how it's similar to puzzles, basically a summary of what I think of books (kind of in response to that awful WSJ article a few months ago), what my teenaged brother has to say about books, and why I think characters are important in books.

I also really, really want you to read this post on respect by not a teen but an amazing person anyway, Kiersten White.

And, last but not least... the completely crazy post that I did awhile on back that includes a list of authors who published books as teens (there's quite a few, actually), another list of writing teens who have blogs/websites and a list of writing magazines and websites that teens can submit work to. All with links, o' course.

(If you have any links to posts that teens wrote about their opinions of books and reading, etc, then please post the link in the comments and I'll add it!)

I hope I helped you guys learn a little bit more about your audience this past week. Have a great rest of the week! (And if you have any suggestions for links to add to anything, just comment!)

Oh, and I would also like to thank everyone who shared about my contest thing on their blog or twitter, as well as everyone who asked questions. So thank you so much! I will now proceed to disappear for a few days before returning to my regular (er... irregular) postings.

*Just a note: all the links on the words "Teen Writers Summer Blogfest" go to different places! So make sure you click on each one!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Answers To Your Questions Part 4

Last two questions! From Abby.

How do you feel about your parents? Do they bug you or are you close? Are they nosy or do they give you your independence? What are your preferences when it comes to parent/teen relationships in books?

Me: Thanks you guys, asking all these questions about parents when my parents actually read my blog... haha. :) Just teasing you. But I guess that kind of gives you an idea of how close I am with my parents, since I let them read all this stuff. Anyway, my parents specifically are really great. They give me and my siblings the perfect amount of independence, and they really trust us with pretty much everything (that is probably partially our fault though). Of course sometimes they bug me... that happens with everyone, I think.... but overall my parents and I are close. I trust them and have discussions with them and talk with them a lot. Although I don't tell them everything, either. I share much more with my friends than my parents, but I'm pretty sure that's normal.

As far as parent/teen relationships in books... hm. I have to say that I have yet to read a book where I am like, "that parent/teen relationship was done brilliantly!" but it doesn't really matter that much, because usually a book has a much bigger focus than a parent/teen relationship, I think. I might not even notice if there was absolutely no parent/teen interaction in a YA book. Also, I find a lot of parent/teen relationships in YA are very stereotypical. Either the MC has some sort of problem with their parent (like one of their parents never notices them or something) or the MC is really annoyed with their parents. Since I have neither problem with my parents, I can't really relate. However (as I've said before) it doesn't really bug me that much if a) I can't relate and b) there's no parent/teen interaction. (Sorry, parents. :D)

E: How do I feel about my parents…. Well to tell you the truth I am not close to my Dad at all. My parents divorced when I was really young and my Dad has never really been there for me. My Mom on the other hand is awesome. We fight at times, and get on each others nerves but there isn’t a thing in the world that I love more than my Mom. She gives me a lot of independence, (aka pretty much lets me do what I want – within reason) and she doesn’t bug me about things that I don’t need to be bugged about (she bugs me about cleaning, cause I hate cleaning and never do it). When I read a book I want the relationship between teen and parents to be a good one, but have it realistic too. I mean, no parent is perfect and no relationship between a teen and a parent is perfect. If it is perfect in a book it ruins it slightly for me.

What about sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll? How do you feel about it? Is it realistic, or does it offend?

Me: I'm not into any of that stuff, so when I read it in a book, it's basically like reading about a different world. Which is OK. But I find that it's nice that, even if a character isn't into that stuff or tempted by it, then it still occurs around the character. That's more realistic, to me. Yes, a lot of teenagers have sex, do drugs, etc. But a lot of them don't. Not every teen struggles with that kind of stuff. However we are aware it's around -I know there are people in my high school who do all that stuff. And actually, YA does a pretty good job of this. A lot of YA has sex and drugs in it, but a lot of it doesn't. Yay! :)

E: I don’t think that sex, drugs, or “rock n’ roll” help the story. I realise that a lot more teenagers now take drugs and have sex at younger ages, but I don’t and won’t. I don’t like having all of that in books, it ruins the book for me.

Thank you everyone for asking questions! And even though these are the last questions, COME BACK TOMORROW! I have a really awesome post that will help you guys get even further into the minds of teens (I hope). Anyway, "see" you tomorrow! (Right???)

Oh, also, feel free to answer the questions yourself in the comment. And I have a question: What's the best (as in most realistic) parent/teen relationship that you've read in a YA book? What makes it so special, in your opinion?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Answers To Your Questions Part 3

Hey guys, sorry I didn't get any questions up yesterday... I was super busy. Anyway, here they are.

From Melody K:

What is a common thing that most teens dislike about their parents?

Me: I think that my parents specifically are pretty great (and also they read this :D), but as far as something that most teens probably dislike about their parents... well I'm just going to take an educated guess. When you're a teen, you're older and therefore have more responsibility, etc. You can now go out and do things you couldn't before when you were younger and your mom walked you to school. I think a lot of teens really value that independence and maybe want more independence than they can get at the moment (even if maybe it's not what they need). Parents get in the way of that independence.

E: (Can I answer this… who knows, my Mom might read it. Just kidding.) The main thing that I would think teens find annoying about their parents are their parents telling them what to do. I mean, who likes that? I know that my Mom will annoy me when she keeps telling me thing after thing to do, and I would guess that others feel the same way.

Bro: I don't know. (Although he was disappointed that my dad didn't want to juggle a soccer ball with him...)

From Jenny:

What 1 movie or TV show do you feel represents or resembles your high school well?

Me: Honestly? Absolutely none. I don't know if American high schools are a lot different than Canadian high schools or something but.... yeah. In all movies and TV shows I've watched, the high schools in them don't really come close to resembling my high school. (At least, overall. There's always a few things that are similar. Like, my school has students too. :D)

E: First off, I don’t know what high schools are like in the United States, but I doubt that they are like the ones in movies. There is only one movie that I felt portrayed high school well. There were still some things that were off, but for the most part it was good. This movie was To Save a Life. Basically it is about a young guy who’s previous best friend kills himself at school. That is the main thing that isn’t the same. We have never actually had someone do that at my school. However, all the tough things that happen, and the drugs and smoking that go on during the school day are similar. I do not smoke or do drugs, but there are people at my school who do. I hate that fact, but it is true. So that is pretty much the only movie that I feel properly represents a typical high school situation.

Bro: None.

Who are your heroes?

Mattie Stepanek!
Me: One of my heroes is definitely Robin Jones Gunn, who is a Christian author of some books that I adore. Another one of my heroes is Mattie Stepanek. He died when he was 14, but he was amazing. He had muscular dystrophy but let me tell you that did not stop him from just doing everything he could to help the world. I encourage you to look up his poems, especially one called "I Am".

E:  My heros…. Hum. In writing, my main hero is Robin Jones Gunn, because she changed my life forever. In real life, however, a few of my heroes are Martin Luther King Jr. because he was amazing. Another hero of mine is Bethany Hamilton. I recently did a lot of research on her because her movie, Soul Surfer, caught my attention. The fact that she went through what she did and not once did she get depressed (Anna Sopia Robb acted sadder in the movie,  but in real life, Bethany was always positive) it just lifted my sprits 200%. Heroes to me are not people like Superman who save the day. A true hero is someone who quietly does what needs to be done, not needing to always be ΓΌber noticed.

Bro: I don't know.

 When you read a story, what character trait do you usually identify with most?

Me: I don't usually identify with certain traits to tell you the truth. I'm not very talkative and kind of shy (yes I come off quite differently online) but I don't really identify with the kind of shyer, I guess what you would call "geekier" characters. I'm not sure why, maybe it's because a lot of the time those characters feel really, really sorry for themselves or all they want to do is be popular. I'm not really like that. But I also identify with certain things that are the same about characters -not really traits, specifically, but things like a character being Canadian, or having a sibling with a disability (because I'm Canadian, and my sister has Down Syndrome). Sometimes I will pick up a book solely on the basis that it's Canadian or there is a character in the book with a disability. Not so much if there's a shy character though, because I think they're kind of boring and very overdone.

E: Character trait… that is interesting. I would have to say that the character trait(s) I most identify with is honesty and purity. I am not saying that I am always honest. (I try but don’t always (or sometimes, often) succeed) I enjoy characters who are honest and pure because it makes me feel all mushy inside and just makes me feel happy. Like once I hit Robin Jones Gunn’s the College Years, Christy was not as annoying (hate to say it, but sometimes she got on my nerves with her naivete :D) and her way of dealing with everything with honesty and integrity really warms my heart. It makes me sad that there aren’t more books like that.

Bro: I don't know. (Me (suggesting character traits): Being shy? Bro: I don't know. Me: Being not talkative? Bro: I don't know. Me: Saying I don't know to everything? Bro: I don't know.)

The last few will hopefully be up tomorrow, and then I have a special post prepared for Monday! Have a good rest of the weekend, everyone.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Answers To Your Questions Part 2

So for some reason, the file that I saved all of the questions in I named "awesometastic atk [ask the teens] questions". Yeah, I have no idea why I thought there was a "k" in "teens". It's a mystery....

Oh and I've decided to personalize Friend. She is now E. (And she is a real person, by the way. She's one of my best friends and I am very grateful that she did this for me!)

Anyway, on to today's questions:

From Stephanie, PQW:

Are teens put off by a protagonist that is younger than themselves?

Me: Nope! I frequently read middle grade and I love it. Character ages honestly don't matter to me at all, especially if they're younger. I think a big part of this is, because I'm a really weird, odd person, then I don't go through the same things that other kids, middleschoolers, or teenagers go through. Lots of situations that are presented in YA are completely foreign to me. But I still like those books because they introduce me to a new world that's a place I can discover and have fun in while I'm reading. It doesn't bug me all that much if I can't relate one hundred percent to characters or books. I don't think anyone can relate one hundred percent to a book anyway, unless they wrote it (though even then...)

E: I LOVE it when the protagonist is younger (or same age) as me. If they are younger especially, I can relate what is going on. When a protagonist is older, sometimes the things they do don’t make sense because I have not experienced that time of life yet. When the protagonist is younger that makes it more fun to read because you can chuckle at mistakes that they make, and sometimes even go “Hey! I did that too!” which is a really cool sensation.

Bro: I'm pretty sure when I asked him this question he said, "What's a protagonist?" but besides that, I don't think he cares.

From Wub2Write:

Are teens turned off by dated slang in their novels? Does it distract the reader?

Me: First of all, the person that asked this question said it is cool that I said "jeepers" and I think that is awesome. :) Yes, it is true that I often use quite old-fashioned sayings like "jeepers" or "oh my goodness". However, sometimes, yes, dated slang does take me out of the novel. A character might say some weird phrase and I'll be like, "what? Teenagers don't say that." Unless the character is the kind of person that likes to make up funny sayings or use old-fashioned sayings (or there is some other reason for it), then I think that dated slang sounds weird.

E: Dated slang. Quite honestly when I read that I read it as “dating” slang. I was thinking words like babe, and honey and such. Very confusing. I get it now! :D I don’t think that dated slang is at all turn off-ish. In fact, sometimes the words that I read in novels I pick up and start using it myself! I think that it makes a book better because if it is all the same slang that is being used now and at my school it would seem too much like real life. For myself, rather than dated slang distracting me, it pulls me into a book, lets me absorb it, because I am not distracted by thinking that “That sounds like Jordyn! And that sounds like Randy!” and so on and so forth.

I know that's only two and I promised 3-4 per day, but I'll get more to you tomorrow, okay? And don't forget to feel free to answer the questions yourself!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Answers To Your Questions! Part 1

So a parachute has nothing to do with this post.
But it's pretty. So just enjoy it.
So in case you didn't know, I asked for inquiries for teenagers from YA authors and writers. (The contest results are here if you entered). I received a whopping 11 questions! Sweet, thanks guys. Anyway, since I have about three (mostly two, since my brother's answers usually include one of three sentences) people answering each question, I am NOT going to include all the questions and answers in one post. Over the course of this week your questions will be answered, each post containing three or four questions. At the end of the week, I have a special post with some links that will hopefully help you get even further into the mind of your teenage audience.

Just remember when you're reading the answers that the views expressed are only the views of a few teens. Other teens might (probably) think differently. That being said, anyone else is free to answer the questions in the comments.

The answerers are Me (17), Friend (also 17) and sometimes Brother (15). (Although I can save you the trouble of reading my brother's answers right now. His answers are either I don't know, I don't care, or Whatever.)

On to the questions!

From Lynn:

Do you prefer edgy reads? (Edgy meaning dark, serious situations.)

Me: When I think about it, I don't usually read books like that. I am sure there are teens out there that find much comfort in books that deal with heavy issues, but I don't. I put down The Perks of Being A Wallflower because it was way too intense for me. However, sometimes I can stand those books. I once read this memoir of this woman who went through horrible, horrible stuff before giving her heart to the Lord. It was pretty amazing, and it dealt with some really tough issues.

Friend: To me, books with deep situations like that aren’t always the best books to read. Sometimes it is just too serious for me to take at that time. Usually I would put a book like that aside and read it a little bit at a time. Either that, or I would have an “edgy” read on the go, and have a fun read at the same time. A fun read meaning that it isn’t serious and just is funny and light. That way there is a mix of both edgy and light.

Bro: I don't know.

Does swearing (not overdone but enough to be realistic to a character) offend you?

Me: No, swearing does not offend me. My dad and I often have a discussion about how swears, really, are just words and it's how you use the word that makes it a swear. (But that is a long discussion that isn't really relevant). Anyway, sometimes a character swearing is quite effective. Although if I read a book with zero swears in it, I am never, ever thinking "the author could have added some swears", even if it was that kind of book.

Friend: I prefer that there is no swearing in a book. Especially the worse swears. “Small” swears like crap and such don’t bother me very much, because I find that all books seem to have those now. However, if I am looking at a book and it has too much swearing for me (even if too much to me means not that much to the author) I seriously consider not getting that book. I know that a lot of teenagers would have a different opinion on that though.

Bro: I don't know, no, it doesn't bug me.

From Kristin Bailey:

I want to know what teens think of authors who like to dress up for their own events in costumes, vampires, steampunk etc. Do you guys view it as fun, or silly?

Me: I have never been to an author event. I'm not quite sure what I would think of authors dressing up... it could be cool but it could also be really weird. I think it really depends on the author, and how well they can pull it off. Some people can pull off those kinds of things really well.

Friend: Hummm…. Kristin Bailey, you ask a great question. I have never gone to a book signing, or at least, not a book signing where I wanted to be there. (Having a family friend who is an author means going to their books signings, even if you really don’t want to.) I think that would be kinda cool to see though! That would show how in love with their books an author is, if they are willing to dress up goofily. One thing – I wouldn’t want it overdone. If it is overdone, I think it would just take away from the person themselves. Everybody would remember the costume, not necessarily what was said. [<--awesome point!] Those are my thoughts!

And that will be it for the day. Check back tomorrow for more answers to questions! And anyone else feel free to answer the questions.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Draw Winners!

I decided to perform the draw the old-fashioned way:

With scraps of paper. Except I am horrible at performing draws, apparently. I cut up way too many scraps of paper, for one. (Evidence below).

Then I got my brother, of all people, to pick the winners. He for one was trying to annoy me, and for two apparently couldn't read my handwriting. Anyway, the winners have been picked.


So, here are the winners:

Prize package #1: $25.00 Amazon gift card and a critique (by all the teens who will be answering questions) of anything you want whether it be blurb, first page, etc (max 5 pages)

...goes to.... Jenny!

Prize package #2: The chance to either have you either a) interviewed by me and have the interview posted here on the blog or b) guest post here on my blog... as well as a critique of anything you want (max 5 pages) by the teen team.

...goes to... Lali!

Prize package #3: A critique of anything you want (max 5 pages) by my teen team.

...goes to... Kristin Bailey!

Winners please e-mail me (kazuntai101atgmaildotcom) and tell me what you want critiqued (if anything) and then everything else I will figure out from there. As for the actual questions, I will (try to) post 3-4 questions per day with answers and then I have a special post up my sleeve for the end of it all. Keep checking back to see when your questions will be answered! (I'll be going pretty much in the order the questions were asked on the original post). Also thank you to everyone who tweeted or blogged about this. I'm glad we got so many questions!

Sorry if I kind of don't make sense today... I am quite tired and therefore kind of out of it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Quick Note About Explore-A-Teen's Brain Contest

If you don't know what the Explore-A-Teen's-Brain Contest is yet, go HERE. I've gotten a bunch more questions for teens, and I'm hoping that I'll get a couple more soon... so I am NOT closing the contest or questions yet. I'm extending the deadline to Monday, August 22, 2011. I might extend it even more later, but it depends.

AUGH that was so boring. I hate info dump posts.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

RTW: Inspiration You Can Find On A Map

Before I answer a YA Highway Road Trip question, go here to check out the interview I did with author Corrine Jackson and go here to check out my "explore-a-teen's-brain" contest, where you can ask teens questions and win prizes!

Today's Road Trip Wednesday question is... (wow, haven't done one of these in awhile...)

What is the most inspiring place you've ever visited in real life?

I've been to a few places around Canada (most recently Calgary and Banff) and the U.S. Oh, and I've also been to Cuba. But no place inspires me more than where I live. Every day, I am inspired by how amazingly beautiful my city is. I mean, look at this:

I bike here often... (though this isn't me)

I love the prairies...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview With Cool Person CORRINE JACKSON!

So it's time for another interview... this time with very-soon-to-be published author, Corrine Jackson! (Thank you so much for taking the time to do this, Corrine!)

Corrine Jackson (pronounced Cor-een) believes flip flops are appropriate footwear for any occasion, but concedes the need for boots since moving to San Francisco. She loves collecting degrees, including a BA and MA in English, and very soon, an MFA in Creative Writing. Her YA contemporary book, IF I LIE, will be published by Simon Pulse in September 2012. And TOUCHED, the first book in her paranormal romance trilogy will be published by Kensington in December 2012.

(I think she would also forget about flip-flops if she came and stayed where I live for the winter... flip-flops don't really go well with four-foot snowbanks and -40 degree Celsius.)

Anyway, you can find Corrine here at her website, here on Twitter, and here on Facebook.

Now, without further ado... lovely lady Corrine Jackson!

When and how did you first get into writing? When did you decide you wanted to do the work to be published?

I wrote my first short story in second or third grade. I wish I could tell you what age I was, but I haven’t a clue. I do have the original story, though. Oddly enough, it was about a girl whose best friend was being physically abused by her dad. That theme somehow made it into my first novel, so maybe everything comes full circle? Anyway, I wrote short stories throughout junior high and high school, and took creative writing classes in college. But I have to say, I didn’t get serious about publication until 2009 when I began writing TOUCHED and started to think there was a possibility that it could be picked up.

How did you come up with the ideas for your books?

That’s a hard one. My ideas don’t come in a single flash. I find myself getting ideas for what seems to be three different books, and then somehow they all meld into one book that becomes more complex than I originally thought. With TOUCHED, I thought what if this girl has this ability to heal people, but every healing took something from her? IF I LIE has a similar theme where a girl keeps a secret at great cost to herself. I like to explore how your character can be sharpened when you have to give up something that matters to you. I think choosing that kind of selflessness can be a point where you discover what you’re made of. I had a few moments like that as a teen, and I can see now how my decisions shaped who I’ve become.

Can you summarize your books in a sentence each?

TOUCHED – Remy O'Malley has the power to heal people with her touch, but her ability comes at a steep cost because every illness or injury she heals becomes her own.

IF I LIE – Seventeen-year-old Sophie Quinn becomes an outcast in her small military town when she chooses to keep a secret for her Marine boyfriend who has gone MIA in Afghanistan.

What is your weirdest writing routine or habit?

I don’t know if it’s weird, but I have to write at Starbucks. I need the white noise of the people around me in order to lose myself in the work. Whenever I try to write from home, I get distracted by shiny objects – particularly the TV. I’ve watched every episode of Family Guy on Netflix in the name of procrastination. Also, I keep a spreadsheet tallying my daily word count goals and the progress I’ve made. There are formulas and everything. I’m not proud, but it seems to work for me.

(I am adding a comment: if you knew how many spreadsheets my dad keeps for like... everything... then you probably would be proud! Haha. :) ).

What is something you experienced in your publishing journey that you think of as being unique to your experience?

Good question! Everyone’s journey is different. I can think of two moments that stand out. The first was finding out that my agent was going to make me an offer – on Twitter. The other was getting two book deals, almost exactly a month apart. Selling four books in a month doesn’t happen often, and I will be forever grateful to my agent, Laura Bradford, for working that miracle.

What is your favourite kind of cupcake?

Fleur de sel. *dies* They are dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache frosting, a caramel filling, and a sprinkling of sea salt. Excuse me while I wipe up the drool. If you ever find yourself in San Francisco, immediately go to Kara’s Cupcakes and have two. Whenever I have something to celebrate (like going a whole day without stubbing my toe or managing to avoid getting a parking ticket), I buy myself one. I also have a recipe on my blog, but be warned that they’re a lot of work to make.

I watched your first video blog and I was wondering... the embarassing moment that you talked about... did that really happen? (If you're wondering what I'm talking about, click the link and watch! It's really funny! The embarassing moment is #3.)

Sadly, yes. I actually did make that big of an idiot of myself. The editor I was speaking with kept talking and smoothed over the moment so that I didn’t start hyperventilating. Also, lucky for me, I was alone in my apartment when I made that call because I immediately turned a lovely Maybelline Color-Me-Red shade. Someday I’m going to ask that editor if they remember me saying that and if they just wanted to die laughing at me.

What are you looking forward to most about having your books published (besides actually having them published)?

I’m so excited for people to READ them. At which point, I will eavesdrop on what they are saying. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to hear people discuss the characters I created and debate the choices they make. So far, one of the books has a tendency to make people weep, and I LOVE that. Touching people’s emotions that deeply is a surreal experience. I mean, I know I cried into my coffee writing the scenes, but I’m attached to my characters as a writer. When a reader connects in a similar way, I feel this warm glow of accomplishment.
And that's all! I am so excited that Corrine agreed to take the time to do this interview, and I really hope you guys liked it. Also, I am ten times more psyched to read your books when they come out, Corrine! It is painful to think they come out a whole YEAR from now.

In other news.... my ask-the-teens project is still going on! So if you have any questions that you'd like to ask some teens about their reading habits... then go HERE to learn more! It also includes prizes you can win!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Brother's Self-Esteem Issues

I've decided it's time for another "bro convo", where my brother says really funny things without realizing it and I embarrass him on the Internet. Except he's too apathetic, so it doesn't actually embarrass him. (Although he probably doesn't know what apathetic means).

The context is that my brother is forever playing this video game, Little Big Planet 2. There's an aspect of it that you can make levels, and some website is holding a level-making contest. My brother is making a level to the enter the contest. He and I are talking about his level that he is making.

Picture him playing a video game.

Bro: I think I can win if I can do this one part that I hope I can do but I don't think I can.

Me: Well, (making up random melody on the spot) just believe in yourself! Wait... there has to be an actual song like that...

Bro: What about that... Don't Stop Believin'?

Me: (singing) Don't stop! Believing! Hold on to that fe-e-eling... no, but I thought of another song... now you made me forget it...


Me: I remembered the song! (sings "Who Says" by Selena Gomez) Who says... who says you're not perfect...

Bro: What's that supposed to be?

Me: Telling you to believe in yourself. For your level thing.

Bro: No, it's telling you you're not perfect.


Bro: Wait, WHAT did the song say?


And obviously, I am singing so many uplifting self-esteem songs to my brother because it's an issue of his. I mean, just take a look at the evidence:

Me: Bro, do you have self-esteem issues?

Bro: What's that?

HAHA I love you, bro. ;)


In other news... I finished the second draft of my current WIP!!!

**Also, I still have my draw for prizes/ask-the-teens project going on! Check that out HERE and spread the word, please!**

Thursday, August 11, 2011

WARNING: Contains Prizes And Chance To Explore Teenage Brains!

I am now going to take advantage of the only one of the many selling points us teenaged writer-bloggers have: that we are your audience! Well, if you are a writer of Young Adult books anyway. If not, then, well... it'll just be interesting for you to find out more about what other people think of reading!

So. I wanted to give you the opportunity to get inside a teen's head and find out what we look for in YA... basically anything you want to know about us (ahem, not ANYTHING but you know what I mean). So, who will this lucky teen be? ME, o' course. Although I will try to rope a few of my friends/siblings into answering questions as well in order to get a wider opinion. (Not that you couldn't just stereotype all teens with my answers because all teens are clones of each other  well that's a secret.)

Now in case you missed all that, I'll summarize: I want YOU to ask questions! Ask anything you want to know about teens, their reading habits, what we want to see in YA... whatever! (There are some examples of questions here!) I would like them to be good questions (not like "what's your favourite colour"), although they do not necessarily have to be reading or writing related. (Paper Hangover frequently does teen interviews and their questions are not always reading related, yet they are still useful!) Also, all you teens out there who read this note that... this time, you're not allowed to ask questions (well, you can, but they won't count for anything).

To ask a question, just think of a question, and then ask it either in the comments of THIS POST (the one you're reading) OR you can send me an e-mail at kazuntai101[at]gmail[dot]com. Put "Ask The Teens Question" in the subject line. After the deadline for questions, I (and my teen team) will answer them here on my blog... either in one post or multiple posts, depending on how many questions I get. Oh, and I will be accepting questions up until Friday, August 19th. New deadline! Monday, August 22.

BUT WAIT! There's more! Everybody who asks a question who will be entered into a draw to win one of THREE prizes!!

Prize package #1: $25.00 Amazon gift card and a critique (by all the teens who will be answering questions) of anything you want whether it be blurb, first page, etc (max 5 pages).

Prize package #2: The chance to either have you either a) interviewed by me and have the interview posted here on the blog or b) guest post here on my blog... as well as a critique of anything you want (max 5 pages) by the teen team.

Prize package #3: A critique of anything you want (max 5 pages) by my teen team.
*Note that all critiques are optional! (So if you want the gift card or interview but not the critiques, then that's OK!)

ONLY people who asks questions will be entered, and ONLY one entry per person UNLESS you share this on any of your socialnetworking sites and then post the links to where you shared below so I know you've shared... then I'll put in an extra entry for you. So that is max TWO entries... no extra entries for multiple questions (although you can ASK multiple questions, actually I'd love it if you did!) and no extra entries for sharing on multiple media sites (although that would be AWESOME if you did!!!!)

WAIT, TEENS AND NON-QUESTION ASKERS! You people will be entered into the draw as well if you share on your blog/twitter/tumblr/facebook/etc and post the link to where you shared in the comments below! (The same rules apply, though... no extra entries for multiple sites but DO IT ANYWAYS PLEASE!!)

(Jeepers there is way too much information in this post... did I miss anything yet?)

Another thing: if you want to ask a question, but you DON'T want to be entered in the draw then just let me know when you ask your question!!

So, even if you don't feel motivated by the chance to win one of the prizes above then it would still be completely awesome if you would spread the news around! Tell people to come here so they can find out everything they ever wanted about what teens think about books!! And please link back to this post, the one and only! (If you guys are awesome enough with this... maybe I'll hold another contest later... hmm...)

Thank you so much everyone!! If you have any questions at all, then first skim through the summary below and then if you are still confused, just ask!


I'm now going to summarize everything in list form in order for you not to be confused. But if you aren't confused, just skip this part!

-ask questions to real live teens about their interests, lives, reading habits, what they think of YA, whatever! Here are some examples.
-you CAN ask multiple questions! In fact, please do!
-ask questions by commenting on THIS VERY POST or e-mailing me with subject "Ask The Teens Question"! (kazuntai101[at]gmail[dot]com)
-all questions will be answered here on the blog after the question deadline
-ALL questions WILL BE ANSWERED. Guaranteed. (Note that it may take awhile though).
-question deadline is Monday, August 22. 
-teens are not allowed to ask questions (sorry!)

-everyone who asks a question will be entered in a draw to win 1 of 3 prizes (see what the prize packages are ABOVE!)
-Only people who ask questions OR share about this project (including a link to this post!) on any of their socialnetworking sites will be entered in the draw.
-Max two entries per person (one for questions, one for sharing).
-No extra entries for multiple sites or questions... but please do all of that anyway!!
-if you want to ask questions but NOT be entered in the draw, just let me know and you will not be entered!

Spread the word, please!

Ok... I think I didn't miss anything... PHEW!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How To Feel Good About Your Baking Skills Even When You Make Mistakes

The title says it all, my friends.

Um. I might have been baking today.  Some yellow slug banana muffins. MAYBE.

You cracked an egg imperfectly and now there's an eggshell in there and YOU CAN'T GET IT OUT.

No worries, you say. Eggshells have got nutrients, like calcium. It's all good.

While digging for eggshells in slimy egg guts, you realize you forgot to wash your hands.

OH WELL, you think. Your family needs to build up their immune systems anyway.

While squishing frozen bananas out of their brown hides into your mixer, you notice how much they look like yellow slugs.

And then a friend shows you this link and you never want to eat banana muffins again. Oh, wait. That's not relevent.

You burn the muffins.*

IT'S STILL ALL GOOD. (You don't pay attention to any COMPLETELY NONEXISTENT tears of frustration). Birds like burnt muffins, RIGHT!? And you forgot to fill the bird feeder last week. ALL. GOOD.

You accidentally inject some sort of bizarre chemical into your muffin mix and everything explodes when you turn the oven on and it triggers THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT aka dragonflies take over the Earth.

I mean, you're dead. But at least there's no mosquitoes, RIGHT??

See how easy it is to keep a positive attitude while baking? Good luck, everyone!

*Disclaimer: I did not actually burn my muffins today. :D They're quite yummy, actually.


In other news... I have received the awesometastic Liebster award from Jenny AND Brittany (teenage host of the teen writers summer blogfest I participated in for July). I will dole that out later.

Speaking of the Teen Writers Summer Blogfest... on the last day we did this "Ask the Teens" thing... and I think I want to do that again. So start thinking of things you want to know about teens & their reading habits! I will have a post with details on that later.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Interview With Someone Slightly Nerdy On What They Think About Books

My father's look-alike. Ha!
Awhile ago, I did an interview with my brother on his reading habits here. I've thought about continuing this theme of interviewing people on their reading habits, but never got around to it... until now!!

I've decided to call these similarly-themed blog posts a "blog series" called Ask The Reader.

Today, we'll be going into the head of someone who, like my brother, is slightly obsessed with soccer... along with car racing, astronomy, science, and organization. He also thinks of relationships in terms of graphs and talks a lot. Which is why I ended up having to compress a 28-minute interview recorded on my Olympus digital recorder (you're welcome, Olympus) into a blog post that would be short enough to keep you short attention span, internet-loving bugs' interest. (It's okay. I'm one too.) He doesn't have a blog, or a twitter, but he does have one link here. 

Now, I present to you... my dad! Oh, and, by the way... my dad does not actually emphasize every second word. I just bolded some words so you could skim (if you so please) the interview and still get the most interesting/important parts. I know, paragraphs are daunting, aren't they? :) Enjoy!

Me: What types/genres/topics of books do you enjoy the most?

Dad: Well the last year or couple years, I’ve been reading a lot of biographies... biographies of astronauts, motorsports things, like Murray Walker.  I also enjoy reading things about science, science history. History of certain development of ideas, like how they determine the expansion and size of the universe... or just history... I’ve read books on history of mathematics by different mathematicians... Natural history, like palaeontology all that sort of thing I’ve always found that kind of interesting. And.... there’s probably a few others as well, but... it tends to be nonfiction. Oh, and I also read adventure things... like I read The Adventures of Marco Polo (that was nonfiction too).

I hope that from all that, you at least get that he mostly reads nonfiction. But read on, my friends!

Me: How do you go about picking books out to read?

Dad: You know, I see books in some of my astronomical magazines or the journal I get from the RASC [Royal Astronomical Society of Canada]. Occasionally someone mentions a book in some of the car magazines I read or motorsports things that I read or science things that I read and then I always make a note of it and then I’ll go and look up reviews and if it seems reasonable I’ll save a link to Amazon reviews or something and I have a whole folder with probably several hundred books listed and whenever I want to buy some books or whatever and then I look at that folder by date... usually the most recent things...

Kind of crazy, huh? I just have a small notebook with a cat picture on the front... what is your TBR list like?

Me: Have you ever not finished a book?

Dad: I know there was one... uh-oh, you’re not going to like to hear this... it was a huge book that I thought “this will be good” on the Incas (an ancient civilization in South America). Fascinating things, but when I started to read it, I realized quickly it was not a history but a sort of fictionalized account, with people and characters. Like historical fiction. If that’s what you’re after that’s fine, but if it’s not then...  There was another book by creationists that I had so little respect for and his ideas were so easy to dismiss... and since then, he has abandoned those ideas. I read all of that book, but skipped over some of the appendices.

Me: What do you think makes a book a bad book?

Dad: The books that I read, those type of books, it’s very easy to write something on history or science and make it extremely boring –reciting facts, and too much of that sort of thing and someone has to be a very gifted writer to make it interesting. So a book like that that has good possibility, good material but it’s just... poorly presented. There’s also the attitude of the writer. There was one book I read, Time Among the Maya or something, and it was kind of like it’s kind of fun to be with this guy for the first week or two, but by the end you just want to strangle him and just want to get away from him.

Read that, nonfiction writers? You've got to have a good personality in order for your book to be appealing.

Me: What are some of your favourite books or authors?

Dad: William Sheehan, who has written books on Mars and Venus and articles in Sky & Telescope... and Owen Gingrich, who I've heard speak at the university. He is a Christian but also one of the foremost astronomical historians.

Me: Have you ever read fiction?

Dad: I used to read a lot of science fiction. I read Lord of the Rings of course, and this book Dune by Frank Herbert, and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I think I also read Moby Dick... and for awhile I was reading Sherlock Holmes (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle). I tend to gravitate towards classics, just because they’ve stood the test of time and so on.

Me: What is so appealing to you about nonfiction? 

Dad: I just have an insatiable curiosity about the world around me and about history and I love to sort of see my place in where we are now in relation to time going back. And to me, it seems so sad when people are so focused on now and even their own history they couldn’t care what happened yesterday. There's just so many fascinating stories about the past.

What say you about nonfiction? Fiction?

Me: When you read nonfiction, how much of what you learn while reading do you retain?

Dad: It depends... but I like to work fairly hard at understanding when I’m reading. I don’t like to sort of gloss over things. Sometimes when I read books with math in them or formulas, or discussions that are a bit more in-depth like that then I don’t want to just skip over it. Because I know you benefit from [going more in-depth]. Certainly as time goes by it fades, but I think in general I remember a bunch of stuff.

Me: How long does it take you to get through a book usually?

Dad: I don’t like to rush through books. With the books I read, I wouldn’t want to read them all in one sitting even if I could. I usually read for ten or fifteen minutes to a couple of hours at the most but then anymore than that and I feel the stuff I’ve learned is already fading and I’d rather have it sort of sink in a bit... savour it a little bit. On average it takes me a month to get through a book. If I’m reading regularly, then at least several weeks.

So if you're amazed at those people that read a gajillion books per year... then just know that they aren't getting any soak time.

Me: That's all my questions! Thanks! You did better than bro did.

Dad: Well, when it comes to talking, you can count on me... for quantity, anyway.

That's for sure!


Do YOU want to be part of the Ask The Readers series? Just e-mail me (kazuntai101[at]gmail[dot]com) and I'll send you some questions specific to your reading habits/routines/personality. Then the interview will appear up on the blog so other people can learn about your unique reading habits!


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