Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Megan Shepherd Takes the Dare

I am thrilled to be the second Mystery Author revealed here on the blog! When the Friday the Thirteeners first contacted me I thought, what better way to combine my tolerance for humiliating myself with my love of young adult literature? Clearly, it’s a match made in heaven, and getting to know these talented ladies has been a pleasure.

What HASN’T been a pleasure is picking a truth or dare from all the submissions! You guys are apparently a highly creative and slightly sadistic bunch, which makes me encouraged about the future of the YA literary community. So, inspired by Erin’s post last week about her publisher’s cover design process, I chose a dare submitted by Jessica Ball:

Design an original cover for your book.

Let me clarify, in case it's somehow not clear, that this is NOT THE REAL COVER. The real cover won't be designed for a few more months and will be totally awesome, aka, nothing at all like these. Even though, you know, I took a four-hour Photoshop class about two years ago, so clearly I’m totally qualified for this kind of thing.

Get ready. You might need blinders. Ta-da!

Thanks for the great dare, Jessica! Because this was my first truth or dare, and inspired by our Thirteener name, I’m giving you either a $13 Barnes and Noble gift card or (if you are a writer) a 13-page critique. Email me at fridaythethirteeners[at]gmail[dot]com and let me know which you would prefer.

Keep submitting those great truths & dares, everyone! You can submit them here.

Megan Shepherd is a young adult writer living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her debut novel, THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER, comes out in early 2013 from Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins, and is the first in a Gothic thriller trilogy. She’d love to hear from you at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, or on Goodreads.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Kasie West Tackles a Dare

Thanks, Sara B. Larson for this awesome dare! For your troubles, you win a 30 page critique. AND the opportunity (how come it took me three tries to spell the word opportunity? Does that say something about me?) to watch me make a fool of myself (which is probably what you were after in the first place).

I thought I'd be all cool and relate this dare to writing, but then I just sat there staring at the blinking cursor going: Uh.......

The best I can come up with is kind of a given and that's: Make sure you give your characters flaws. Even if you don't use their fears as part of the plot, know their fears, their goals, what keeps them awake at night. It makes them come alive on a page.

Tune in Tuesday to see Megan complete her dare. Don't forget to leave us more dares by filling out this form. Natalie Whipple is up next. Come on, you know you want to watch her make a fool of herself (or is that just me?).


Kasie West writes YA paranormal. She graduated from Fresno State University with a BA degree that has nothing to do with writing. She earned her masters in Junior Mint eating (which is awarded after eating your millionth King Size box....and is now working on her PhD). She loves sappy alternative rock ballads and reading way past her bedtime.

Her debut novel PIVOT POINT will be out with HarperTeen in the Winter of 2013

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Introducing our Second Mystery Author!

Ahem, drumroll please...

We Friday the Thirteeners are very very very excited to introduce our second Mystery Author:

Megan Shepherd

photo credit Kristi Hedberg Photography

Not only is Megan super sweet, with an amazing YA debut coming out in 2013, but she's also an extra in the Hunger Games movie. She won't tell us any of the details, but we captured this evidence from the trailer!! See?

Clearly this is the only reason why we invited her to join the ranks.

But in all seriousness, we can't wait to get our hands on her novel, THE MADMAN'S DAUGHTER, either. It is the first in a trilogy and will be available from Balzer + Bray early next year. Check out this scrumptious summary:
London, 1894. Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father’s gruesome experiments. But when she learns her father is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations were true.
Juliet is accompanied by the doctor’s handsome young assistant and an enigmatic castaway, who both attract Juliet for very different reasons. They travel to the island only to discover the depths of her father’s madness: he has created animals that have been vivisected to resemble, speak, and behave as humans. Worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island’s inhabitants. Juliet knows she must end her father’s dangerous experiments and escape the island, even though her horror is mixed with her own scientific curiosity. As the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father’s genius—and madness—in her own blood.
Doesn't that sound amazing? Why is 2013 so far away still?!

To make the wait seem shorter, or at least to entertain ourselves in the meantime, we are pushing Megan straight into the truth and dare pool. So leave a special truth or dare just for Megan on the Truth or Dare page. (Don't leave 'em in the comments as we'd like to keep them a surprise!) Megan will be answering one of them a week from today, so be sure to check back.

Until then, please help us give Megan a warm welcome as our newest Thirteener!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Erin Bowman Takes the Truth

I was all set to tackle an embarrassing dare, but then this fabulous truth came in from Alyssa regarding book covers and the design process and I had to shift gears. This topic is very timely for me -- TAKEN is undergoing the cover design phase as we speak -- so let's get to it, shall we?

A hat tip to Alyssa, for prompting such a great discussion. As a thank you, I'm giving you a $13 amazon or B&N giftcard (your choice). Just email me via our Thirteeners account -- fridaythethirteeners[at]gmail[dot]com -- so I know where to send your prize.

And to everyone else: Perhaps you would like to submit some more truth and dares for us? We really do love them, even if some are cringe-worthingly embrassing.

That's all from me for now, but make sure you stop by on Tuesday when we announce our newest mystery author!


Erin Bowman is a YA writer, letterpress lover, and Harry Potter enthusiast living in New Hampshire. Her debut novel, TAKEN, comes out from HarperTeen in Winter of 2013. You can visit her blog (updated occasionally) or find her on twitter (updated obsessively).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chris Howard Takes The Dare

Chris Howard is our guest author for Truth or Dare this week. His debut YA novel, ROOTLESS, will be published by Scholastic, November 2012. Chris chose a dare, submitted by one of our own--April Tucholke dared Chris to write a ROOTLESS inspired song, and he did it. Happy Valentine's Day.

Hi! This is Chris, and I'm honored to be included on Friday the Thirteeners this week! Thanks for having me! I hope you enjoy the song I wrote for the main character of my debut novel, ROOTLESS. It was supposed to be a "dare" ... but to be honest I had an absolute blast working up the tune on my acoustic guitar. ROOTLESS is the first in a series of books set in a distant future where nothing can grow. The main character's name is Banyan - he builds trees out of old scrap and salvaged junk, until he finds a clue to the whereabouts of the last living trees on earth ... He's an awesome young dude, really, and he deserves a song - so thanks for inspiring me!

Chris Howard grew up not far from London, but he currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He studied Natural Resources Management in college, and spent eight years leading wilderness adventure trips for teenagers. Chris is passionate about art and the environment, and his debut novel celebrates both those things...and more. ROOTLESS will be out this November, via Scholastic Press, and Chris is currently working on Book 2 of the series. Find him here:


Next up: the brilliant Erin Bowman. She'll take the stage Friday, Feb. 17. Submit a truth or dare for Erin here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Elsie Chapman Takes The Truth

As writers, we really do have to live in our heads a lot of the time. It’s how we get to know our stories, our characters, figure out the best way to breathe life into them. And just like every writer works differently, every book comes about in its own way, too. So it was this Truth submitted by Joan that got my attention:

Why did you write this particular novel (the one debuting in 2013) and how many had you written before this one?

I’m going to start with the second part of the question, since it really loops back around into the first.

Before DUALED, I’d only ever written one book. Which I was actually just finishing querying (I’m going to call it the Hella Crappy First Young Adult Novel Which Shall Not Be Named for the sake of this post) when I was suddenly, wondrously struck with a Shiny New Idea.

Well, okay, not so much. It was actually my son who asked me a question about doppelgangers—though I can no longer remember how or why it came about. The question was, How did we know for sure we didn’t all have one somewhere in the world, simply because we never saw them?

This was pretty much my thought process afterwards:

Hmm, that’s an interesting question, I don’t know the answer but…you know what, that would make a pretty cool book, I wonder if anyone’s ever…hey, wait, I could write that book!

I’m going to say something now that might sound crazy (and probably is, but I’ve been told all writers are crazy to some degree, anyway): I don’t think I chose to write DUALED as much as it kind of…sort of…chose me. Wired on little more than caffeine and adrenaline, I pounded out that sucker over a period of five weeks. No one knew I was even writing, so I wrote while the kids were in school and at night when everyone was sleeping. Though I’ve since discovered the beauty of outlining (especially when it comes to revisions and realizing that plot holes are just not that much fun to fix), DUALED was pretty much pantsed the whole way through.

It just…worked. Things came together. For me to have written DUALED, it was this strangely perfect combination of getting the aforementioned HCFYANWSNBN out of my system, an offhand question from a curious then-eleven year old, and a plot that just seemed to fall into place, more or less.

It’s very cool and a bit scary to realize that each and every book out there is more than just pages and ink and a nice, glossy cover. Here’s some possible hows and whys behind a book being written:

1) It’s an idea that first reared its head when the writer was a kid, a teen, an adult, slowly percolating in the back of their mind until it was finally ready to take shape.
2) It’s one vivid image that steamrolled and somehow took on a life of its own.
3) A dream one night.
4) Years of brainstorming and research and outlining.
5) Cobbled together from scavenged parts of older, trunked novels.
6) Countless hours of lost sleep
7) Even more hours of said writer committing to Butt-in-Chair in order to finish what they’ve started.
8) Following a trend.
9) Wanting to start a trend.
10) The ultimate proof that it’s really not nuts to go for broke.
11) The most satisfying told-you-so to naysayers.

So here’s the thing, what it comes down to—books happen in all kinds of ways, for all kinds of reasons, and just like writers and how they work, no two are the same. It keeps this whole writing thing so very exciting and challenging. It’s what drives us to insane lengths even while it keeps us grounded. And I think we’re so very, very lucky to be able to be a part of the process, both as writers and readers.

Thanks to Joan for submitting this Truth. Because it's my first Truth or Dare, your prize is a $13 gift card to B&N or Amazon! Please email me at elsie.chapman@gmail.com so I can get it to you asap.

Up next on Friday the Thirteeners, for your Valentine’s Day viewing pleasure, we have a seriously fantastic guest coming by. YA author Chris Howard will be in the house on Tuesday, February 14, to vlog us a song inspired by his debut novel ROOTLESS (Fall 2012)! Bring lighters. See you all then!

Elsie Chapman grew up in Prince George, BC, before graduating from the University of British Columbia with a BA in English Literature. She currently lives in Vancouver with her husband and two children, where she writes to either movies on a loop or music turned up way too loud (and sometimes both at the same time). She is represented by The Chudney Agency and DUALED is her debut novel. It will be released by Random House in Spring, 2013.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shannon Messenger Takes The Dare

I WOULD be excited about my first post here at Friday the Thirteeners--if it weren't for the whole: make the new girl tackle a dare straight away thing! (okay, fine, I'm STILL excited--but I'm also nervous because I KNOW what you're about to see...)

See, here at Friday the Thirteeners, we talk about books. We talk about writing. And sometimes, apparently, we share really really embarrassing things. But that's kind of writing related too--because all that shame and humiliation = EXCELLENT FODDER FOR WRITING ANGSTY SCENES. And thanks to Jaye Robin Brown's lovely dare, I now have PLENTY of angst to draw on.

I really have no words for what you're going to learn about me--except maybe:


 Thanks a LOT, Jaye!

No really, THANK YOU. We really do appreciate people who submit truths or dares--this blog would be rather boring without it. (so if you're reading this, please, feel free to go HERE and submit some. I mean really, how often do you get a chance to torture a group of YA authors, huh? HUH?)  And to reward you for your efforts, Jaye, I'm going to give you a $13 amazon or B&N giftcard (your choice). Just email me at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com so I know where to send your prize.

That's all for me for now--I won't be back for a few weeks. But make sure you stop by this Friday to watch another of us get tortured tackle a truth or dare! You never know what we'll have to do/share next!


Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she learned--among other things--that she liked watching movies much better than making them. So she left LA and moved to suburbia where she would have time to eat too many cupcakes, own too many cats, and write lots and lots of books. LET THE SKY FALL is her first young adult novel, coming in Spring 2013 from Simon Pulse. She is also the author of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, book one in a middle grade series launching Fall 2012 (S&S Aladdin). Find her online at shannonmessenger.com.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ellen Oh Talks the Truth

I was all set to do a food related dare about showing you guys how to cook a Korean meal that was featured in my book, but then this question showed up from Wendy and I really felt that I had to take a stab at it. Her question is:
You guys are obviously all hard workers, dedicated to craft. But there are so many good writers today. Is there one special moment, something you did or an epiphany you had that you can share with us, that stands out to you as the reason for your success in today's market.
I think this is a fabulous question and one that I challenge all of the Thirteeners to answer because I believe you will get a different answer from all of us. But since I'm up right now, I get to answer it first. So is there a special moment or an epiphany that I had that I can attribute my getting a book deal to? Why yes, in fact, for me, there were several moments but there is one that sticks out. My apologies because I'll be a little long winded.

I have many wonderful stories about the wonderful positive encouragement I received from my family and friends. But sometimes, you have to thank the naysayers.

I'd become fascinated with Ancient Asian history after reading a biography on Genghis Khan back in the year 2000. It led to years of obsessive research that led to a kernel of an idea -- an idea that I could write a fantasy novel using a mix of history, mythology and legend. And then it happened. One morning, while stuck in horrible gnarly traffic on the Washington, DC beltway heading to work, the idea blossomed into a story that just came tumbling out of my head. Since traffic was either at a stop or crawling along, I grabbed every single scrap of paper out of my purse and began scribbling the story down of a young prince who is supposed to be the hero of legend, but then it turns out that the hero is really his cousin, who’s a girl. And that was the idea that ultimately turned into Prophecy.

The difficulty was that I had a demanding legal job (and at the time 3 small children) which made finding time to write very challenging. Then there was a major corporate restructuring and all the senior management that I reported to and respected, left my company. The day job was even more demanding, but now not as fulfilling. I was turning more and more to my writing for satisfaction. My husband, who has always been a great support and has always believed in me, said, “Why don’t you quit and give the writing a go?”

Ok, to be honest, it really wasn’t an easy decision for me. I had enjoyed my legal career. I wasn’t sure I was ready to give it up to try something that might never pan out. But I really loved my new book. I believed in it. There were two failed manuscripts in my drawer that would never see the light of day, but I just knew this one was it. That was the epiphany. A feeling of knowing that a book idea you have is good enough to be published, but not knowing if you were good enough to write it. But I knew, no matter what, I had to try.

At the time I had a close work colleague who couldn't understand why I was quitting. In a moment of rash and stupid honesty, and because we were friends, I told him in a very bashful, slightly embarrassed manner, that I was working on a book and my dream was to see it published and maybe make a career out of it. I had never shared this dream with anyone outside of my husband at that point. My friend laughed. Loudly and derisively. And then he said, "Yeah, right. Keep dreaming.” He even made that pftttthhh sound. You know the one you make when you think someone is full of shit? Yep, that one.

It's funny. I've had many more negative comments thrown at me before and after that statement, and yet it is this one derogatory comment, made by a close work colleague, that I can absolutely point to as the turning point. It was at that moment that I decided I would prove him wrong. No matter how long it took, no matter how many books I wrote, no matter how bloodied and broken my hands were (hey that happened, I actually worked on a very tight deadline with a broken hand!) I would prove him wrong. 

This fired me through countless rejections, difficult criticisms, and 75 redrafts of my manuscript. My book underwent more plastic surgery than Joan Rivers. I was merciless because I had something to prove. I tore that manuscript apart to its bare bones and built it back up again so many times and in so many different ways. And yet I never got sick of it. Quite frankly, I don't know if it's because it's that good or because my intense fury would just never die away. Either way, I actually owe my old friend a debt of gratitude. He gave me the kick in the butt I needed to chase after my dream. He made me determined to prove him wrong. He made me so freaking mad!

One day I'll have to give him a call and buy him dinner and tell him "Dude, a long time ago, you were a real asshole to me and I have to thank you for that." He probably doesn't even remember what he said that long ago day, but it changed my life and for that I am grateful.

So here's to all the naysayers in our lives that make us burn with vengeance to prove them wrong. May we all channel that fury into book deals! 

Thanks Wendy for your fabulous question! Since this is my first Truth or Dare, you get to choose a prize - a $13 gift card to Barnes and Nobles or Amazon or a 13 page critique. Thanks again for playing Truth or Dare!
Posted by: Ellen Oh Writer, lawyer, college instructor, donut-slayer, chocolate lover. Addicted to diet coke. Likes to quote extensively from the Princess Bride, Monty Python and Godfather movies. Never leaves home without her iphone, chapstick, a book and her American Express card. Her debut, PROPHECY, comes out in Winter 2013 by HarperCollins Childrens.