Teen Writers Bloc

A Blog by the New School Writing for Children MFA Class of 2012

Enter to Win a Signed ARC of Jessica Verdi’s MY LIFE AFTER NOW

Posted by Jessica Verdi On January - 15 - 2013

photo 224x300 Enter to Win a Signed ARC of Jessica Verdis MY LIFE AFTER NOWHi gang!

To celebrate the impending release of my contemporary YA novel MY LIFE AFTER NOW (Seriously, is it April yet? I’m tired of waiting!), I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway! The giveaway is open from now through March 1, and one winner (chosen at random by Goodreads) will get a signed advance reader copy of the book. Woot!

Here’s what the book’s about:


Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it’s all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends? How will she face her family? Now, every moment is a precious gift. She never thought being positive could be so negative. But now, everything’s different…because now she’s living with HIV.

And here’s the link to the giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

15752348 Enter to Win a Signed ARC of Jessica Verdis MY LIFE AFTER NOW

My Life After Now

by Jessica Verdi

Giveaway ends March 01, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Jane’s Take on the Film Adaptation Issue

Posted by Jane Moon On November - 16 - 2012

cat in the hat Janes Take on the Film Adaptation IssueI used to hate when books are made into movies. I’m the kind of person who believes that the reader should use only their imagination and the author’s descriptions to know what a character should look like, how they sound and what kind of personalities they have.

Whenever I go to see a movie adaptation of a book, I prepare myself to be disappointed. I read Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher and I went to see it when it came out on the big screen. The movie ending made me wish I could get that hour and 30 minutes of my life back. I loved The Color Purple by Alice Walker. The film adaptation was decent but I still didn’t get that this-is-as-good-as-the-book feeling. And whoever came up with the idea to ruin Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat needs to stay out of the entertainment business. The closest I’ve come to liking the film version were both parts of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. (Sorry, but I felt the first six could have been better.)

The only movie that came the closest to my expectations was The Hunger Games. After an *ahem* intense peer group session with classmates Mary and Kevin, we decided to go see a movie. I actually liked this one. In fact, I thought it was almost as good as the book. Even though the characters weren’t quite how I had imagined them to be, I felt they were still excellent representations of the ones in the book.

Even though The Hunger Games was well done, I still don’t believe there can be a movie adaptation than can equal the book itself. But maybe when Catching Fire comes out, it might change my mind.

Book cover image courtesy of Random House BFYR

TV’s Best “YA” Girls (according to Caela)

Posted by Caela Carter On November - 9 - 2012

A lot of writers will tell you that the key to their productivity was when they got rid of their TV. Well, that ain’t me. I love television, especially well-written shows with either hilarious or heart-breaking characters.

…But not quite as much as I love reading well-written books.

And because the majority of books I read feature teen girls, I have a particular fondness for any show that manages to write a real, sympathetic teenaged girl.  I’m not talking about the Gossip Girls and the 90210s and the soap operas aimed at young women. In fact, it’s perplexing to me how many girl characters translate from three-dimensional on the pages to simply flat and self-serving on the screen. I’m not calling for an end to these dramas, but it would be great to see more sympathetic teenaged characters in those hit network prime times.

Here are some of my favorite “YA” voices from modern television:

Big Love’s Sarah Henrickson

 TVs Best YA Girls (according to Caela)

Sarah’s struggle to love her mother while strongly disagreeing with her lifestyle is poingnant and relatable for any reader. Oops, I mean viewer. And the sacrifices she makes to take care of her expanding and confusing family make her a truly sypathetic character.




Modern Family’s Hayley Dunphy

 TVs Best YA Girls (according to Caela)

Hayley is proof that you can write a sympathetic and funny teenager even if she isn’t, um, smart.  Her revolving-door boyfriend (don’t we all love Dylan?) and arguments with sister (Alex) over clothing-rights remind us all of someone we knew (or know) in high school.





Parenthood’s Amber Braver man

 TVs Best YA Girls (according to Caela)

Isn’t tiny, quirky Amber everyone’s favorite on this show? She is clearly brilliant. Her reasoning is astounding. Her vocabulary is better than mine. But her mistakes are so frequent that she has no idea how smart she is. If that isn’t the definition of teenaged, I don’t know what is. (And yes, I know she’s 20 now, but she was a teenager though much of the show.)





Parks and Rec’s April Ludgate

 TVs Best YA Girls (according to Caela)

What? She’s not a teenager. But, she was. When the show started, she was a spunky, sarcastic 18-year-old intern. And how fresh it is to see a teenager outside of the family-and-high-school setting! She’s such a real character, it almost doesn’t matter how young she is…or maybe that was the writers’ point…




So three cheers from this viewer for these very real fictional girls! And here’s hoping this list gets longer, and more diverse, in the near future!

Photo Credit: hbo.com, abc.com, nbc.com

Why Perla is Proud to Be a Quitter

Posted by Teen Writers Bloc On October - 22 - 2012

 Why Perla is Proud to Be a QuitterSo what’s new in my life?  I would say a whole lot!

Earlier this school year I decided to resign from all my jobs.  I resigned as an adjunct professor and I resigned from the position I had with the Board of Ed.  I must say however the decision was a scary one and I was in a state of shock for some time. I expected some distress and even some insomnia while I pondered my life and the fact that I was giving this writing thing my all.   Today, however, I feel overwhelmingly excited.  I made the best choice — I knew my writing and my last year in grad school would have been almost nonexistent if I would have gone back to teaching full time (while also being a mom of two).

And it has proven so worth it.  This semester has definitely been great thus far.  Now that our second year has started I think most of the inhibitions/insecurities one feels when first starting something new have greatly diminished.  Workshops go by a lot quicker and are pretty straightforward.  Everyone knows each other pretty well and for the most part know what everyone is working on and what they need to work on.

I also attended an awesomely awesome writing conference a few weeks ago– The Comadres and Compadres Writing Conference.  It was the first Latino writing conference organized by Las Comadres Para Las Americas.  In this one-day event amazing Latino writers such as Nicholosa Mohr, Sonia Manzano and Dahlma Llanos Figueroa shared their wisdom and teamed up with editors and agents all looking for Latino writers to represent.  The day was packed with inspiration and positivity.  It definitely made me feel better about recently quitting (especially after pitching my unfinished manuscript and getting great reviews). All the negativity surrounding Latinos getting into the publishing world that I had heard the previous year was dispelled after this wonderful event.

Lastly the one thing that has probably caused us second years some stress is the inevitable search for advisors for our anxiety-producing thesis semester.   But I recently received the incredible news that I will working with David Levithan next semester. I can’t even describe how freaking exciting I am.  David Levithan!! That is all.

Photo credit: robbieabed.com

Nothing Is Really New for Caela

Posted by Caela Carter On October - 16 - 2012

 Nothing Is Really New for Caela“So, what’s new?”

That’s been the question of the month for me in more ways than one.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to travel across the country for the wedding of one of my oldest friends. I was excited to attend a wedding with my own new husband, to visit Las Vegas for the first time, and to see the bride and groom smiling from ear to ear. I was also excited for the chance to catch up with old friends.

After exchanging a few pleasantries, one of them asked me, “So your book comes out in a few months? How are you feeling?”

I answered briefly but honestly: “Freaked out.”

Here was yet another group of people I hadn’t quite thought about reading all of the steamy and emotional and angry and confusing scenes that I had written in the privacy of my own bedroom. Here was another group of people who might choose to read my book and decide it’s too girly or too mature for teens or, my biggest fear, too political.

And if I’m completely honest, all of this worry about who is going to read my book is effecting my writing hours every day. The truth is that I’m nervous. It’s hard to reconcile that such a private life — one that involves only me and my computer — will be on shelves for the entire world to see. It’s hard to juggle how much time I should spend preparing for my February release date for Book 1 (Me, Him, Them and It), versus putting new words on paper for Book 2. It’s hard to figure out all of the steps I will need to take to turn one book into a lifetime career as an author. It can be overwhelming.

I thought my friend would ask me why I’m freaked out, but he didn’t. Instead, he shrugged and said, “Still, lifelong dream coming true, right?”

 Nothing Is Really New for CaelaAnd suddenly I realized I was one of those jaded baseball players from the big emotional scene in Rookie of the Year. “Don’t you realize you get to have fun for a living? You get to do what you want to do for your job?” The kid has to yell this at the players to get them to smile, to enjoy themselves.

I had known this friend since elementary school and with that one simple question he reminded me that I’m still the little girl I used to be. The one who filled notebooks with pencil-scribbled half-novels. The one who wrote stories when she was bored in class instead of notes to her friends. The one who knew the answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” for as long as she could remember.

“So, what’s new?” Well, not a whole lot. I’m still writing stories. I’m still living entire lives that exist only between my brain and the words that pop out on the page. I’m still the same girl I was when I met the bride in fourth grade.

But it can be difficult to transition your dream into your job. And, sometimes, you need a kid (or someone who still knows you primarily as a kid) to put you in your place.

Photo credit: vegasmaxicourse, ew.com

Which Book Does Jess Wish She’d Written?

Posted by Jessica Verdi On September - 19 - 2012

 Which Book Does Jess Wish Shed Written?What’s the one book you’ve read that you wish you’d written?

With all the books I hold dear to my heart, you’d think this would be a tough question for me. But it’s not. There is, hands down, one book out there that I wish I’d written. And that one book is Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story.

Now, this question is not: what is your favorite book? It’s Kind of a Funny Story is, in fact, one of my favorite books, but that’s not the point.

The reason I chose this book as the one that I wish I’d written is because Vizzini does so brilliantly what I try to do in my own work – he tackles a very serious issue, but puts a positive spin on it.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is about Craig Gilner, a fifteen-year-old with depression so severe he checks himself into a psychiatric hospital without his parents’ knowledge – but only after spending a very long night planning out every detail of his suicide. When Craig gets to the hospital he is faced with two surprises: 1) He can’t just stay for the day, get some medication, and go on his merry way. He must stay for a minimum of five days. 2) The teen wing is undergoing renovations, so he’s admitted into the adult psych wing, where he meets some very colorful characters.

Read the first line, and you’ll be hooked: It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is simultaneously one of the most depressing, heartbreaking, inspiring, and hilarious books I have ever read, and Vizzini writes with absolute authenticity. At the end of the book, there’s a note that reads as follows: Ned Vizzini spent five days in adult psychiatric in Methodist Hospital, Park Slope, Brooklyn, 11/29/04 – 12/3/04. Ned wrote this 12/10/04 – 1/6/05.

I mean, it doesn’t get more real than that. And I, for one, am incredibly glad that Vizzini was brave enough to write his story.

And bonus – the novel was turned into a movie that came out in 2010 and starred the brilliant Keir Gilchrist as Craig, as well as delivered spectacular performances from Zach Galifianakis, Emma Roberts, and Lauren Graham.

Read it. Watch it. Love it.

Book cover image courtesy of Disney Hyperion.

Jess’s Cover Reveal for MY LIFE AFTER NOW

Posted by Jessica Verdi On September - 4 - 2012


Okay, I know it’s not considered customary or proper to begin a blog post with what is essentially a scream, but I can’t help it. My book has a cover! Check it out:

9781402277856 3001 Jesss Cover Reveal for MY LIFE AFTER NOW

MY LIFE AFTER NOW, my contemporary YA novel, will be published by Sourcebooks Fire on April 1, 2013. Yes, that’s April Fools’ Day, but hey, that just makes the release date easier to remember! Here’s the back cover copy:


Lucy just had the worst week ever. Seriously, mega bad. And suddenly, it’s all too much—she wants out. Out of her house, out of her head, out of her life. She wants to be a whole new Lucy. So she does something the old Lucy would never dream of.

And now her life will never be the same. Now, how will she be able to have a boyfriend? What will she tell her friends?  How will she face her family?  Now, every moment is a precious gift.  She never thought being positive could be so negative. But now, everything’s different…because now she’s living with HIV.

And I love my cover! The Sourcebooks Fire design team really outdid themselves. I love the red dress (symbolic of the HIV but without being overly obvious), the stage-like lighting (the light flares are my favorite), and how she seems to be bravely facing her future—whatever it may hold. I also love the color scheme—it’s just so pretty!

Let me tell you—seeing my cover for the first time a couple of weeks ago made this whole “I’m getting published” thing a whole lot more… well, real. I cannot wait to get to walk into a Barnes and Noble and see my book on the shelves. Only seven months to go!

Click here to pre-order My Life After Now from Amazon!

Click here to add My Life After Now to your Goodreads list!

Book cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks Fire

Hungry? Riddhi’s Books Might Just Hit the Spot!

Posted by Riddhi Parekh On July - 25 - 2012

TWB JULY 600x450 Hungry? Riddhis Books Might Just Hit the Spot!If my writing projects were served for brunch, here’s what you might see on the menu:


A traditional whimsical middle-grade holiday drink made by combining two parts The BFG with equal parts Haroun and The Sea of Stories and The Butter Battle Book, a dollop of The Phantom Tollbooth, infused with Star Wars and misted over The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Complimentary shot of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.


An environmental picture book summer salad generously tossed with The Giving Tree, sautéd bits of The Bear That Wasn’t and garnished with An Inconvenient Truth vinaigrette.

Plat Principal

A succulent slow-roasted humorous middle-grade with char-grilled Where The Wild Things Are, glazed Horton Hears A Who and marinated The Giggler Treatment, drizzled generously with Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Served on a bed of finger-lickin’ Captain Underpants.


A triple-layered decadent emotional YA trifle with delicate slices of The Interpreter of Maladies and bittersweet caramelized bits of Push and a fluffy icing whisked with a pinch of Bitter Chocolate, topped with delicately macerated Luna.

Bon appétit!

Photo source: stock.xchng

How Does Amy Describe Her New Book?

Posted by Amy Ewing On July - 16 - 2012

downton abbey handmaids tale 600x352 How Does Amy Describe Her New Book?When it comes to comp titles for my books, I am the worst at thinking them up. Which is why I don’t. I ask other people to do it for me.

With my current project, first, I went to Dhonielle. Then, because I was working on it so closely with her, I relied on my thesis advisor, Jill Santopolo. And now my editor, Barbara Lalicki, has come up with the final comparison: Downton Abbey meets The Handmaid’s Tale. I love it. Neither one is a YA title (Downton Abbey isn’t even a book), but I think it gives a fairly good idea of what sort of book THE JEWEL is.

Although, hopefully, my book will be something entirely different and unique, something unlike anything else out there. As writers, that’s what we’re always striving for, right?

Images courtesy of Carnival Films, Everyman’s Library

Why Caela Hates the “What’s Your Book About?” Question

Posted by Caela Carter On July - 9 - 2012

 Why Caela Hates the Whats Your Book About? QuestionWhat is my book about?

UGH! I hate this question. It’s an essential part of a writer’s life, like annual teeth-cleanings and scrubbing the dishes, but I’d probably rather do any chore than talk about my writing.

I used to say that I refuse to talk about a project while I’m still working on it. It was a convenient excuse considering I never used to finish what I started. But now that I am preparing to have a book on the shelves, I suppose I better be ready to describe it. Still, I maintain that this is the hardest part of my life as a writer: harder than banging my head on the wall and trying to get a plot to work out, harder than coming up with that perfect first line, harder than edits, and more annoying than copy-edits. Talking about my writing just doesn’t come naturally.

But, after all that whining, I still have to do it. So, here goes: ME, HIM, THEM AND IT (which is being published by Bloomsbury and will be on shelves in February and is available for pre-order now!) is the story of the succession of impossible decisions 16-year-old Evelyn must face when pretending to be a “bad girl” results in her pregnancy. It’s the quirky teenaged-ness of Juno meets the silent tension of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

How was that?

Well, like a tetanus shot, at least it’s over.

(Oh, I guess this month’s question was to describe my WIP but I can’t do that… it’s not finished yet!)

Photo Credit: tetanusvaccine.net

pixel Why Caela Hates the Whats Your Book About? Question

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