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 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.