Yeah, so....welcome to the blog of Judith Tewes, young adult contemporary fiction author. Here be edgy stories with a side of snark.


Take Tewes with Ashley Poston

Every odd Tuesday (because Tuesdays aren't odd enough), I feature a different young adult fiction author YOU should know - from best-sellers to debuts. And what better way to do this than asking them TWO fun questions. Short, sweet, and sassy - just the way I like interviews.

I'm crazy excited! On December 19th the first seven titles available from Bloomsbury Spark will be released and we can all rejoice this holiday season with some epic reads. Today's guest author, Ashley Poston is one of the initial seven and is somewhat of an expert on the New Adult genre. If you're not familiar with NA or you're trying to wrap your head around the concept - I think you'll find Ashley's answers enlightening.

About Ashley:

Ashley Poston

Graduating from the University of South Carolina, she interned at Random House Publishers with Kodansha USA, where she (helped) edit the Sailor Moon manga and that was really, really, really cool. She wrote a play that won some award, and can quote every Motion City Soundtrack lyric by heart.  

She currently lives in South Carolina with her cat (aka her soulmate) and a plethora of books. When she's not writing, she's going to the movies (her second favorite past time) or taking extravagant road trips (her third favorite past time). Oh, and she's naturally redheaded, and she's already stolen your soul so don't ask.

On to the questions!

1. As the Creative Director for Generation New Adult Magazine (which is very slick, BTW), can you give us your take on the New Adult genre? 

I've been hearing about the New Adult genre ever since my Random House internship days. Then, they were just beginning to buzz about their FLIRT imprint. I didn't know what to think about New Adult at first---but the more I became involved in the community, the more I began to absolutely love the authors part of it. I mean these men and women built this category from the ground up through self-publishing. That has never been done before, and it's spectacular how the publishing industry is changing because of it. New Adult is a great category for exploring themes of fitting in, choosing your own path, and finding out who you are outside of the constraints of high school or a job. I mean, when you're 18 you're set loose into the world, and when you find yourself at 25 you've probably worked a mess of dead-end jobs and made a lot of very bad---but very memorable---decisions. I think that's the allure to New Adult, because it can explore grittier subjects that are deemed taboo in YA and too vanilla in Adult.

2. You have some cool projects in the works, my friend. From your upcoming Bloomsbury Spark title, The Sound of Us, and other YA/NA manuscripts to the co-creation of a webcomic. (JEALOUS!) How do you divvy up your writing schedule?

I have a really wonky sleep schedule, to be completely honest. I write best between 1AM and 3AM, and I edit best around 5PM with a pot of coffee in me, so it's strange. The Sound of Us is an outlier, though. I have a passion for this story that I can't explain. I think it's because I've been through twelve drafts and 46 rejections with these characters. I just never gave up on them and their story. I could wake up at 8AM and dive head-first into the manuscript, and not come out until dinner. The webcomic, Luminoso, is a different monster entirely. It's a co-project with my fellow friend and cartoonist, Jarad Greene. We've been working on it for almost a year now, meeting every week, and hopefully y'all will see the fruits of our labor this winter! It's a really fun story.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Judith! These were super fun questions (and not one's I've been asked before, either!). 


Loved having you, Ashley and I enjoyed The Sound of Us immensely. Want more Ashley? Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr.


Take Tewes with Sarah Tregay

Every odd Tuesday (because Tuesdays aren't odd enough), I feature a different young adult fiction author YOU should know - from best-sellers to debuts. And what better way to do this than asking them TWO fun questions. Short, sweet, and sassy - just the way I like interviews.

Today I'm featuring Sarah Tregay, author of Love and Leftovers, a novel in verse that received great reviews like: From Kirkus ReviewsA verse novel with real depth to accompany all that white space. full reviewFrom VOYAAlthough the words are simple, the themes of Love and Leftovers are not. full review —Ed Goldberg.

Sarah Tregay

Raised without television, Sarah started writing her own middle grade novels after she had read all of the ones in the library. She later discovered YA books, but never did make it to the adult section. When she’s not jotting down poems at stoplights, She can be found hanging out with my "little sister" from Big Brothers Big Sisters. She lives in Eagle, Idaho with her husband, two Boston Terriers, and an appaloosa named Mr. Pots.
FAN ART is coming Summer 2014 from Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
And now for the questions!
1. Love and Leftovers is a novel in verse, however you also write "regular" (?) prose. ;) How is your writing process similar / different between the two formats?

With a verse novel, each poem focuses in on a little piece of the story and there is often a time skip from one poem to the next. I wrote LOVE AND LEFTOVERS in the same way—in little pieces. With my overarching idea in mind, I wrote the poems first. Then I put each poem title on a 3x5 card and shuffled them around until I had the plot.

I tend to be a little more linear when writing prose. I might skip around and write chapter ten before chapter five, but nothing as extreme as writing all the paragraphs on 3x5 cards and figuring out the plot later. The two types of writing aren’t mutually exclusive—sometimes my first draft of a prose novel will have poems in it! (And sometimes my editor will let me keep them.) My next novel, FAN ART, has poems between the chapters.

2. I see you're a fellow Class of 2K program alumni from the Class of 2k12. Whoopa! I debuted with the Class of 2k10 (under my pen name, Judith Graves). How very cool. For those out there considering...what were some of the benefits you experienced launching your debut title with an author collective?

Debut author groups such as the Class of 2k are wonderful in many ways. First, there’s the marketing side of things. For example, we worked together to promote everyone’s titles to independent bookstores, schools, and librarians. Both the Class of 2K12 and the Apocalypsies put together in-person events the week of Book Expo America. These were opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I were on my own. But more importantly, there’s the immense amount of support on a personal level. Everyone in the group is going through the same stresses—edits, deadlines, and second book jitters—so they understand and can offer suggestions and emotional support. I am really glad that I joined a debut author group and I would encourage others to do the same.

Thanks so much for the interview, Sarah! Want to know more? Check out Sarah's website and follow her on Facebook.


Take Tewes with Jenny Kaczorowski

Every odd Tuesday (because Tuesdays aren't odd enough), I feature a different young adult fiction author YOU should know - from best-sellers to debuts. And what better way to do this than asking them TWO fun questions. Short, sweet, and sassy - just the way I like interviews.

Today I'm featuring Jenny Kaczorowski who...Likes her heroines smart and quirky, her heroes nice, and her kisses sweet. Her debut, THE ART OF FALLING, is coming from Bloomsbury Spark in Winter 2013. 
The questions!

1. As both a photographer and young adult fiction author, you really embody the expression "a
Jenny Kaczorowski
picture is worth a thousand words". If you had just THREE words, however, to describe your upcoming Bloomsbury Spark title, The Extraordinary Art of Falling, what would it be?

Identity, longing, kissing. For me, THE ART OF FALLING is about finding who you really are behind the image you project. My two main characters, Bria and Ben, both have these larger-than-life images at their high school and their journey is really about reconciling who they are with how people see them. They both long to be more than their personas, they long for each other, they long for more than high school. And then there's lots of kissing. This whole story started with two kissing scenes I cut from another story. In my first serious manuscript, the first kiss didn't happen until about 2/3 into the story. FALLING has a kiss within the first chapter. So yes. Kissing happens.

 2. Okay, you brought this up. (Well, it's on your website.) And I can't get it out of my head. You live in, "Avon, Ohio, the duct tape capital of the world". Them's fightin' words. Here in Canada, we love our duct tape. :) Thus, I issue a challenge. Can you list 10 ways a writer can put duct tape to use?

Go Avon! Canada may love duct tape, but can you claim an annual duct tape festival? As home of the Duck Brand duct tape factory, we have a lot of pride. We wear duct tape prom dresses and suits, we duct tape entire cars, we carry wallets and purses and belts made of duct tape. For writers, there are a few special uses:

 1. A case for your laptop. Nothing protects like duct tape.
 2. A cover for your notebook. Those things take a beating.
 3. A restraint system to keep yourself at your desk during edits.
 4. A caffeine delivery system. Duct tape your coffee cup to chest for hands-free drinking.
 5. An emergency paper substitute. Don't let a valuable idea escape! Jot it down on duct tape wherever you are.
 6. A pen/pencil repair kit. Snapped your writing implement in frustration? Duct tape.
 7. An alertness aid. Can't keep your eyes open? Duct tape.
 8. A bandaid. Paper cut from your manuscript? Duct tape.
 9. A theft-deterant. Need to protect your writing snacks? Duct tape.
 10. A sound-canceling device. Friends, children or significant other talking while you need quiet? Duct tape.

 Is there anything it can't do? I guess not, lol....well done with this list. I admit, I'm impressed. Thanks so much for joining me, Jenny. Want to learn more? Of course you do! Check out Jenny's WEBSITE, follow her on TWITTER.


Take Tewes with Kelley Lynn

Every odd Tuesday (because Tuesdays aren't odd enough), I feature a different young adult fiction author YOU should know - from best-sellers to debuts. And what better way to do this than asking them TWO fun questions. Short, sweet, and sassy - just the way I like interviews.

I'm thrilled to be meeting all the fantastic authors at Bloomsbury Spark. Like Kelley Lynn. She's a vocalist, writes, plays a lot of sports (okay, I don't, but I should!), and she loves to colaborate which implies she plays nice with others. Here's bit about Kelley from her website:
Kelley Lynn
Eventually the day came when the voices in Kelley Lynn’s head were more insistent then her engineering professor’s. So instead of turning to her Thermodynamics book, Kelley brought up a blank page on her computer screen and wrote. Somewhere along the way she became a Young Adult author. FRACTION OF STONE (Sapphire Star Publishing) was released in March 2013. ROAD TO SOMEWHERE, Kelley's collab with Jenny S. Morris, is to be released by Bloomsbury Spark in the near future.
The Questions:

1. Your website includes a cool tidbit. You're a vocalist and you occasionally perform with local bands. I so love this about you. As a member of an all-woman band, (bass/vox) I'd be all over a jam session! (I've always wanted to start a virtual / all-author band. Just saying - it's an agenda. You've been warned.) Since music is a huge part of you and your writing process....whatcha got cued up on your current writing playlist? The top ten tunes?

An all-author band!!! That sounds like a fantastic idea! I'd totally be in for that. (I'm not as talented as you though. I don't play an instrument...haha)

My current writing playlist hey? Well... I don't have one. *gasp*. I usually use Spotify or Pandora and pick stations that will fit the mood of what I'm trying to convey in the chapters I'm writing at that time. So for FRACTION OF STONE (Sapphire Star Publishing) I used the Evanescence channel A LOT. For ROAD TO SOMEWHERE (coming January 2014 from Bloomsbury Spark) I used a good amount of country channels (a lot of it takes place in Texas...with cowboys ;)). One thing about me is I don't have 'favorites'. Music, colors, foods, etc, I can't pick the best ones. I like it all :)

2. You are one smart cookie. Your bio says you spent some time in school studying engineering before venturing into the world of young adult fiction. Do you "engineer" your stories - aka, are you a plotter? Or do you let your tales unfold organically - aka, pantser much?

You know, this is a great question. I do have my BS in Chemical Engineering, and for my day job I work as a Tech Service Chemist for an adhesive's company. I think because my nine to five job is much more structured, I avoid having that much structure in my writing. I do not plot. I have general ideas of where I think the story should go, but I don't write them down. Just start at the beginning and see what happens. Oftentimes, where I thought I would end up, is not even remotely close in the end. 

Not being a plotter is tough when writing a collab, however. ROAD TO SOMEWHERE is a collaboration with the super talented Jenny S. Morris, and we did have to plot our a basic idea of where we were going. After all, even though she's amazing, she can't read my mind!

Thanks so much for having me Judith! This was so much fun! No, thank YOU, Kelley!
Want to know more about Kelley and her upcoming Bloomsbury Spark title? Check out her website.


Baking Up A Story

If you ask me, and you didn't, but I'm going to pretend you did anyway - plotting a novel, or story, or screenplay is a lot like baking. Take my recent efforts to whip up some Halloween treats, for example.

I started with a solid foundation - basic sugar cookies cut into appropriate shapes (characters / setting / theme), all the tools I might possibly need to explore creative possibilities (paths the story might take / tropes and cliches to twist / writing craft skills to apply), and an ultimate vision of what I wanted the cookies to kinda-sorta look like at the end.

Then comes the actual writing. The first draft - akin to the first layer of icing on said cookies. The things are iced - they could be consumed as is...but they're nothing to write Count Dracula about. 

And so you revise. Extensively. Adding layers and depth to your story and characters. 

Sometimes the cookies crumble. Plot lines are tossed out with the trash or you simply let the dog eat them. Or maybe they're expanded. But in the end you produce a story - perhaps not exactly as you originally envisioned - but uniquely your own. Complete with both eye candy and a rich taste TO DIE FOR that will leave your readers / eaters wanting more.

So get out there this HALLOWEEN and bake up some spooky-assed stories. I dare you! And if you're looking for some paranormal tales to ring in All Hallow's Eve, check out the other me, Judith Graves, hosting The Crossroads Blog Tour. 22 paranormal YA authors. 7 blogs. 1 wicked cool prize.

SIDE NOTE: if you're looking for a killer "literary" way to celebrate Halloween, check out the amazing Neil Gaiman's All Hallow's Read program. This October 31st - give someone a scary book!


Take Tewes with Jennifer R. Hubbard

Every odd Tuesday (because Tuesdays aren't odd enough), I feature a different young adult fiction author YOU should know - from best-sellers to debuts. And what better way to do this than asking them TWO fun questions. Short, sweet, and sassy - just the way I like interviews.

Without further ado, I welcome young adult fiction author, Jennifer R. Hubbard, published 
Jennifer R. Hubbard
with Viking. Jennifer lives in the Philadelphia area, is an avid hiker, chocolate lover, and has been writing since the age of six. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to hang out with Jennifer during our Class of 2k10 tour to NYC during Book Expo America. Here's a bit about Jennifer, in her own words:
I will read almost anything; I prefer to write short fiction and young-adult novels. I had my first short story published when I was seventeen, but it took me many years to write well with consistency, and I continue to learn more every year. My short fiction has appeared in literary magazines such as Willow Reviewand North American Review, and a short story called “Confessions and Chocolate Brains” appears in the 2011 anthology Truth & Dare. 
Here's the blurb for her latest release, Until It Hurts to Stop:
When you can’t trust anyone, how can you ever feel safe? 
In seventh grade, Maggie Camden was the class outcast. Every day, the other girls tripped her, pinched her, trapped her in the bathroom, told her she would be better off dead. Four years have passed since then, and Maggie’s tormentors seem to have moved on. The ringleader of them all, Raleigh Barringer, even moved out of town. But Maggie has never stopped watching for attacks, and every laugh still sounds like it’s at her expense. The only time Maggie feels at peace is when she’s hiking up in the mountains with her best friend, Nick.  
Lately, though, there’s a new sort of tension between the two of them—a tension both dangerous and delicious. But how can Maggie expect anything more out of Nick when all she’s ever been told is that she’s ugly, she’s pathetic, she’s unworthy of love? And how can she ever feel safe, now that Raleigh Barringer is suddenly—terrifyingly—back in town?
The questions:

1. Two of your novels, The Secret Year and Try Not To Breathe, deal with the issue of teen death (one accidental, one attempted suicide). What's your take on the current suicide / death theme trend in young adult fiction?

I don't think of it as a trend, so much as a topic that is evergreen. Every generation has its books that address the topics of death and suicide. Sadly, although we wish this were not true, the reality is that teens do have to cope with death in many ways. They lose friends suddenly to accidents; they face terminal illnesses; they sometimes turn to suicide. We need a portion of our literature to reflect this reality.

I like to focus more on the healing aspect: coping with grief and facing life (as in The Secret Year); stepping back from the brink of suicide and putting a life back together (as in Try Not to Breathe). That's just the part of the journey that draws me most strongly as a subject.

2. Your upcoming title, Until it Hurts to Stop, seems to be a departure for your work on several levels. The subject, while still one of the heavies, is bullying this time around and you've also switched to a female point of view main character - whereas your other books were from a male perspective. Did your writing process change as well?

My writing process changes with every book. This was a tough book to write because I've known for a long time that I would tackle this subject eventually--but it's such a big, and emotional, topic! I decided the aspect I wanted to focus on was the aftermath of bullying--how it affects people's minds and relationships afterward.

Also, I have two other plotlines going on in the book: my protagonist is trying to hike up mountains, which proves both physically and emotionally challenging, and she is wondering if something more than friendship can develop with her hiking partner. Blending and balancing these plotlines took a lot of revising.

Thanks so much for your insights, Jennifer! Want to learn more about this awesome contemporary YA author? Check out her blog and follow her on Twitter.


Take Tewes with Alexandra Diaz

Every odd Tuesday (because Tuesdays aren't odd enough), I feature a different young adult fiction author YOU should know - from best-sellers to debuts. And what better way to do this than asking them TWO fun questions. Short, sweet, and sassy - just the way I like interviews.

Without further ado, I welcome young adult fiction author, Alexandra Diaz, published 
Alexandra Diaz
with Egmont. Alexandra is a fellow Class of 2k10 member (although I'm there are Judith Graves) and I so enjoyed hanging out with her during our NYC book tour. I'm proud to call her a friend and critique partner. From her website:  

Alexandra Diaz is a Cuban-American spending her time between Bath, England, Santa Fe, NM, and the rest of the world. She has an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University and has led various workshops since she was fourteen. As a result of being homeschooled for most of high school, she’s fascinated by teenage school life and the drama that occurs in those quarters. One of the reasons she writes is to experience life in someone else’s shoes. She is a “jenny of all trades” having worked as a nanny, teacher, film extra, tour guide, and dairy goat judge (seriously) among several other jobs. In addition to traversing the world, she enjoys hiking, swing dancing, and performing circus arts.
Alexandra has several titles available for your reading pleasure:
On with the questions!

1. Of All the Stupid Things is told from multiple viewpoints. Which character was the easiest voice to write / the most challenging?

When I first thought of writing Of All the Stupid Things in multiple points of view, I thought it was going to be quite a challenge. Once I got into the novel and knew my characters, I didn't find it nearly as taxing as I has initially thought. Part of the secret of writing in multiple POVs is knowing your character well: what they would do, how they think, how they react to situations.

The easiest character for me to write was Pinkie. She's the worry-wort of the bunch. Her brain is overactive, insecure, and she double and triple guesses everything. I found it very easy to get into her head (don't know what that says about me!). The hardest character was definitely Whitney Blaire. She a bit of a bitch and it was hard to make her into a likeable character. By showing what really went on in her head and her family life, I was able to show (hopefully) how and why she acted the way she did. It's a great and useful exercise to know and understand what factors makes a character who or what they are.

As a result of writing in different POVs for my first book, I feel I'm able to write new and diverse characters better because I know how to get their heads.

2. You recently wrote two YA novels "on commission" which, as you explain on your website, means: "...it was someone else’s idea and I was paid to write it." Congrats on this awesome writing gig! ;) How did your process differ from when working on projects entirely of your own creation?

Writing on commission is very different from writing your own story. Some people can see it was being a bit contrived and formulaic, and for those it might not be the easiest work. I, however, loved it. I was given a 15 page outline of the story that I had to develop into a 40,000 word novel in two months. I love having deadlines and although two months is not very long, it was perfectly manageable even with day jobs. I didn't have to worry about what happened next and how it worked with the story arch because all of that was in the outline. Although there isn't too much creativity in this kind of work, I was able to make the characters "my own" and I certainly feel like it was my book even though I didn't come up with the story.

I was fortunate to work with a great editor who listened to my ideas and allowed me to add extra scenes where needed. It was a paid writing job, which allowed me to work under deadlines and guidelines, but still flexible enough to add my own personal touches. It also gave me the discipline and confidence to work on future projects of my own. I'm glad I had the opportunity to do it.

Thanks for stopping by the blog, Alexandra! Want more Diaz? I knew you would. Check out her website and like her on Facebook.