Thursday, September 29

I love favorite books week! Sometimes I even read...

... books for grown-ups.

No, seriously.

Most of the last five years have been spent reading YA in all its various forms. And then, every once in a while, I will decide that I need to stop living in the world of teenagers and actually *gasp* be a grown-up for a bit.

This year, I discovered Sarah Addison Allen. I kept hearing all this great buzz about THE PEACH KEEPER, so I decided to check it out. I loved it literally from page one.

I’m not a huge fan of traditional adult paranormals, but I adore books where the magic is woven in more as part of the ambiance of the story. Sarah is absolutely brilliant at this. Lovely romance, great magic weaving, and an intriguing mystery make this an absolute winner.

Sarah also does something that I love as a reader. Even though her books aren't a series, she sometimes weaves in characters from previous books. Which made me super bummed that I hadn't started with her first book, GARDEN SPELLS.

When my mom passed away this winter after a decade-long battle with cancer, I really needed a charming, lovely, hint of magic read to help me through that difficult time. Allen's books were exactly what I needed when I needed it most. I immediately went out and bought her entire backlist after reading THE PEACH KEEPER. I adore them one and all.

What about you? Which authors have you discovered recently that you absolutely adore?

Wednesday, September 28

The changing face of books!!

So this week it's all about books. I LOVE books. I love the feel of books, the smell of new books, I love everything about them. And when I pass a book shop I go all glassy eyed and have to go in there.

And I treasure my books and treat them well. I never, ever, ever, turn the corners of the pages down and get very upset if I see anyone doing it. I always use a bookmark and when I've finished reading a book it still looks like new.

My only problem is living in NZ and Australia, books are double the price as anywhere else. I mostly buy my books through Book Depository in the UK because they're loads cheaper and they ship for free.

Plus, when we go on vacation my suitcase is weighed down by all my books. I'll often read one book a day.

So...... with that in mind, for my birthday I got a Kindle!!!! O. M. G. It's amazing. I can take it anywhere in my purse, without it being too heavy.... the hair salon, doctors, dentist.... I've never had such an awesome present.

And........ although I never thought I'd hear myself say this, I'm not sure I'll buy a book again (okay, I will probably buy non-fiction reference type books but not fiction).

So what about you..... an ereader convert?

Thursday, September 22

Loyalty Program Update!

Hey everyone! It looks like our Teen Fiction Cafe Loyalty Program is already off to a rockin' start!

Two loyal visitors have already reached 5,000 points and claimed free books!

Congrats to Amanda and Laurene!

SMALL TOWN SINNERS by Melissa Walker and MY LIFE UNDECIDED by Jessica Brody are no longer in the catalog. But don't worry! We still have tons of fantastic free books left to be claimed.

As of 9/22/11, the following books are still available:

Kay Cassidy - The Cinderella Society
Wendy Toliver - The Secret Life of the Teenage Siren
Erica Kirov - Magic Keepers: The Eternal Hourglass
Stephanie Kuehnert - I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
Elizabeth Scott - Between Here and Forever
Alyson Noel - Evermore
Linda Gerber - Death by Bikini
Josh Berk - The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin
Amanda Ashby - Fairy Bad Day
Greg Logsted - Alibi Junior High
Lauren Baratz-Logsted - The Education of Bet
Sara Hantz - The Second Virginity of Suzy Green

Remember, you can earn up to 500 max points per day simply by...

- Visiting our site (100 points)
- Commenting on of our posts (100 points)
- Tweeting one of our posts (100 points)
- Liking one of our posts (100 points)
- Google Plus-ing one of our posts (100 points) 

Click here to read the full details about our loyalty program and learn how to join!

Keep visiting and sharing!

The Teen Fiction Cafe Authors

Thursday, September 15

What I'm Craving...a Bully-Free World!

While I didn't want to use this post as a shameless plug for Dear Bully (although
it DID come out last week with great reviews from the New York Times, Boston Globe, Booklist, Publisher's Weekly, Romantic Times, School Library Journal and got some shout outs from USA Today,, and Better Homes & Garden!), I feel that it's okay to do it here, because several Teen Fiction Cafe members are also contributors to DEAR BULLY: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories (HarperTeen, Sept. 2011). Essays included are Alyson Noel's Silent All These Years, Jessica Brody's End of the World, Linda Gerber's The Innocent Bully, Melissa Walker's When I Was a Bully Too, and Stephanie Kuehnert's The Soundtrack to My Survival. The contributors to DEAR BULLY (including the ones on this blog) were incredibly generous with their stories; wanting to share a deeply personal part of their lives in order to help teens deal with bullying today.

The sad fact is that it's a LOT harder for teens today than it was when we were roaming our schools' hallways. With Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, IMs, text messages, email (I am ashamed to admit for fear of scaring everyone off with my age, but I didn't even HAVE email or a cell phone until after college!), with all of these technological advancements, it's almost impossible to escape from bullies. Every time a new social networking site pops up or a new gadget like the iPhone becomes available, there's just one more way for kids to target each other through bullying, spreading rumors, sending hurtful messages or harassment.

This is why I became so concerned with their plight. There is virtually no escape, no safe haven. That is why I created a Facebook page called Young Adult Authors Against Bullying, which eventually morphed into Dear Bully. That was the goal -- a place online where teens could go to know that they were NOT alone. And that (hopefully) will be the result of the anthology DEAR BULLY. A way for us to share with our readers our own stories of being bullied. And to show that we made it through okay. Because that's the whole goal: to make it through.

Just to give you an example of how dire the bullying situation has gotten in schools across the country these days, consider this: The third leading cause of death for kids aged 15-24 is suicide. And a huge percentage of suicides involve some kind of bullying. That statistic alone is staggering. And when you add the other national statistics available, it gets worse:

  • 1 in 3 kids is bullied. That's roughly 2.7 million students each year.
  • 77% of children are bullied mentally, verbally and physically.
  • Every 7 minutes an American child is bullied.
  • 160,000 kids miss school each day for fear of being bullied.
  • 1/3 of all teens have admitted to being involved in bullying at some point in their school career.

And if you think this doesn't affect you directly, consider this: Approximately 289,000 students (4.1 % of bullied kids aged 12-18) brought a gun, knife or other weapon to school. And that percentage jumps to 7.4% when cyberbullying is brought into the mix. 75% of all school shootings arise from some kind of school bullying or harassment.

Truly frightening.

On the upside, if bystanders get involved and no longer give bullies the audience they so desperately crave, the number of bullying incidents drop dramatically. It's okay to stand up against a bully when you see something that is not right going on. Not just okay, but necessary. Bullying is not and never has been acceptable. It's not a right of passage and it's not something that everyone has to go through to become a better, stronger person.

And, finally, most importantly, teens need to know that they aren't going through this alone. That's the most important message of our book. If teens don't have anywhere else to turn, at the very least, they have us. We are here. We believe in you. We know that it's hard and it sucks and sometimes you want to give up, but you can do it.

Just trust us.
We know.
We've been there.

Wednesday, September 14

What I'm Craving . . . . My Own Shoe

No, I wouldn't wear the shoe in the picture. I haven't worn heels in nearly a decade, I don't think. I DO wear cowboy boots--one pair is fire engine red, the other is worn and gray. Now that fall is here, I will be breaking them out.

But I DO feel like the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. I have four kids. They range in age from adulthood down to Pirate Boy in first grade. Both my parents live with us. We have two dogs. We have a cat (who used to be called Pumpkin, but when my mom moved in, she HATES cats and nicknamed the cat "Fleabag"--this got shortened to Flea, as in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and it has stuck). We have a hedgehog. (Again, the hedgehog used to be called Penelope, but now we all refer to her as Hedgie.) We have a snake. A python, actually. A ball python (they are smaller and calm and docile). It is not OUR python. It is my oldest son's python. When he leaves for college in two years, it must go to a good home because I loathe the snake. LOATHE it. Lydia (the snake) started out the size of a pencil. I rather liked her then. She is not, most assuredly, the size of a pencil now and I live my life in mortal terror of her escape, when I am certain she will seek me out (because she KNOWS I loathe her) and eat me. The fact that she really isn't THAT big (three feet or so) matters not one iota. I find my fear perfectly rational.

Anyway, my office is open on two sides. My dad sits in the next room and generally talks to me a lot of the day. This is not conducive to writing. Then there is the fact that I must chauffeur said children to various activities. The homework hour. The laundry all of them create. And so on and so on and . . . .

So I want my own shoe.

A little place of my own to write and escape. To run away from home to. A place that is QUIET. Very quiet. And ALL MINE.

I don't really expect that to happen. And I assume even if I HAD my own shoe, I would miss the chaos a bit.

But it's what I crave and it's my pipe dream after all.

How about you? Ever long for some SPACE? QUIET? What?

Friday, September 9

Ode to Zooey

Besides getting to wear boots again, one of my favorite things about the fall is the new lineup of sitcoms. Is there a new TV show you're eager to watch?

I am so excited for Sept. 20 because it's when the first episode of The New Girl will be on Fox TV. I've been a fan of Zooey Deschanel since I first saw her in Eulogy at Sundance Film Festival about 6 years ago. If you haven't seen it yet, I totally recommend it!

Now tell me what other shows I should be recording this fall! And don't forget to sign up for Teen Fiction Cafe's brand-spankin' new Loyalty Program as introduced HERE.

Thursday, September 8

Stephanie's Can't-Miss TV

Though I can be out of the loop a lot with new TV and movies because I work nights and spending my days in the writing cave, I have a few “can't miss” TV programs that are on currently, but about to wrap up: True Blood (dude, I love Eric way more than I want to admit!) and Weeds. With both of these my husband and I started watching them on Netflix. We got the first season and were so hooked that we set aside money so that we can order HBO and Showtime respectively when they are on. But I was out of town so I haven't seen this week's episodes yet, so shhh no spoilers please!

I tend to discover TV shows late through Netflix. My current “new discovery” is Mad Men. We've powered through the first two seasons in about two months and will definitely be caught up by the time season five starts in January. (Right now we just started season 3, so again, please no spoilers!) It's actually always a bummer when we catch up because then we have to watch the show one episode at a time and after months of binging, it's total agony. Not to mention the season breaks. I'm sure True Blood in particular will end on a cliffhanger and I don't know what we'll do while we wait for it to come back next year.... Actually I guess we'll fill our time with The Walking Dead and then Mad Men will be back along with Californication and before we know it it will be True Blood and Weeds time again! Plus I'm sure we'll have a new Netflix addiction to binge on.

As you can see the TV I watch is extremely varied. We've got a vampires/werewolves/faeries/witches/shapeshifters show, a dramedy about the very dysfunctional Botwin family, and then a sixties drama. I have to say one of the coolest things for me about watching Mad Men is that my mom would've been about the same age as Don Draper's little girl on the show, so I feel like I'm getting a hint of what her childhood is like—except she was raised by a librarian and a baker, so it was probably very different. Also I highly doubt she got caught smoking at 8 like Sally here:

Anyway what all three of these shows have in common are great characters who are like no one else on TV. As a character-driven writer, it's no surprise that that's what I look for in good TV. That and I like a lot of drama, even if it's supernatural drama or drama with comedy thrown in, or really emotionally repressed sixties drama.

I also of course am very open about my love of over the top soapy drama, which means my most anticipated fall return is 90210. In terms of characters, I really got thrown a curve ball by that show last season. I also loved Adriana and hated Naomi, but now I've completely flip flopped. Adriana became so shallow and Naomi actually began to show some depth. Of course we ended the season by finding out that Naomi was pregnant and I'm dying to see what that does to her character. So, even though it's totally a guilty pleasure (and I'm still very angry at the writers for pushing Adriana beyond what I think was realistic for her character, but that's a whole other rant), I'm really psyched for 90210.

What about you? Do you watch TV shows regularly or catch up later on Netflix? What is your most anticipated show to return? And have you heard of any new ones that look like they are going to be good? Maybe I can jump on the bandwagon early instead of 5 years late like with Mad Men!

PS. In case you haven't heard about TFC's new loyalty program yet, check it out! You can earn points to win our books just by commenting, linking to, or tweeting about us!

Wednesday, September 7

A Can't Miss Movie for Writers

I stink at watching movies. I have had "The Social Network" home from Netflix for literally six months. I really plan to watch it one of these days! But my kids always rule the TV. I've seen lots of children's movies. But usually I go to bed really early. Also: baseball is on a lot.

This is too bad because I used to watch a lot of movies and in fact had a job (well, freelance gig) as a movie reviewer for a while. It was a two-man column, sort of like a printed Siskel & Ebert, but with more jokes. I wore a weird hat and scarf in my headshot. (Note, I can't find that picture anywhere, but it looked sort of like this.) We would often spend a lot of the column making fun of each other rather than talking about the movie. But we always (eventually) got around to watching the movies and, because it was a city paper we tended to focus on the movies playing at the one arty cinema in Allentown rather than the blockbusters at the multi-plexes in the burbs. This was fine with me, as I really like artsy movies. (I mean: "films." Artsy movies are always "films.") I have my limits of weird to be sure, but I am way more likely to enjoy a film that is two hours of people talking about sadness than two hours of robots blowing things up.

This means that, yes, Woody Allen is still one of my favorites. He hit a rough stretch there of course (understatement!) but he has made some pretty good movies lately. And my choice for recent "can't miss movie" (specifically for writers) is Woody's 2010 "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger." This movie was recommended to me be a writer-friend. It was Sally Keehn, who also lives here in Allentown. (Hi Sally, if you're reading this! You should be proud because I actually got around to watching a movie and chose the one you recommended.) Sally slyly said it was a great movie for writers and would say no more. I can see why she didn't want to say too much because it has some twists that are best left unexplained. It has generally gotten mixed reviews, but man, I really think all writers will like it.

There are a couple of different plotlines, all of which I enjoyed, but Roy (played by Josh Brolin) is the one who writers are likely to connect with. He gave up his previous life (as a doctor) to become a writer. He's written one successful novel and is now faced with the massive struggle known as "book #2." He's going a little crazy, he's under a lot of pressure, and he finds himself in a desperate situation (I hope this isn't giving too much away) where he is considering "borrowing" someone else's brilliance. There's a great twist at the end and so many little scenes of a writer's life that I really related to. Even his apartment (flat maybe? it is set in London) with its leaning piles of books looks exactly like every writer's apartment/house I've ever been in. So check it out! Let me know what you think! I give it forty-five thumbs up.

Tuesday, September 6

Win Free Copies of Our Books with Our New Loyalty Program!

Hey loyal TFC Fans! Guess what!? We're SO appreciative that you continue to visit our site, that we wanted to REWARD you for your loyalty! That's right! We've installed a brand new "Loyalty Program" on the Teen Fiction Cafe. The more you visit and interact with our site, the faster you can earn points to win free copies of our books!

You earn points by:

  • Visiting our site daily (100 points)
  • Commenting on our posts (100 points)
  • Liking our posts on Facebook (100 points)
  • Tweeting our posts (100 points)
  • Sharing our posts on Google + (100 points)

But FIRST, you need to sign up for the program. 

Signing up is SUPER easy.

1) Click on the "Become a Member" button in our Loyalty Program widget on the top left corner of the site.

2) You'll be asked for permission to link your Facebook profile. Click "Allow"

That's it! You're a member of our loyalty program! Now every time you visit our site, comment, and share posts, you'll be collecting points!

Once you reach 5,000 points you can choose one of our books to win!

But remember, there's only 1 copy of each of our books in the catalog, and once someone claims it, it's gone! So be sure to start visiting, commenting, and sharing now so you can claim your favorite! (Once you sign up for the program, you'll be able to view the catalog and see which books are left to claim).

Use the Like, Tweet, and Google+ buttons at the bottom of each post to share and earn points!

Points are limited to 500 per day (1 visit, 1 comment, 1 Tweet, 1 Facebook Like, 1 Google+ ) so keep coming back each day to earn max points and claim your Free book fast!

We hope you enjoy the new program! And thanks again to our loyal fans!

- The Teen Fiction Cafe Authors

Monday, September 5

Can't Miss TV

When I was growing up, September was cause for much rejoicing, rejoicing along the lines of: Yippee! It's the new TV season! Of course, times have changed. Now we get the launch of various TV shows scattered throughout the year. There are even new shows launched during the summer now, where summer used to be the dead zone of reruns or third-rate variety shows. Still, despite its downgrade in uniqueness, there's something special about the fall season. Maybe it's that there's still more new shows that launch then than at any other time of the year? Maybe it's just habit? Whatever the case, here's five fall shows I'm really looking forward to:

5. Pan Am. It'll be like Mad Men but without advertising and in the skies! OK, maybe it won't really be like that. Maybe it'll just be nostalgic fun for me since I'm old enough to remember when even little boys and girls put on full suits and ties before getting on a plane.

4. Terra Nova. I'm pretty sure there are supposed to be dinosaurs in this one. When have dinosaurs ever worked in any show filmed for the small screen? But, you know, Steven Spielberg. Plus, small screens are much bigger now!

3. The X Factor. Because I need another entertainment/competition reality show in my life!

2. The New Girl. Zooey Deschenel. Zooey Deschanel. Zooey Deschanel. It's just so much fun to say Zooey Deschanel! The first episode was available On Demand even though it hasn't aired yet on network TV - how quaint! I just said "network TV"! We saw it and all gave it thumbs-up. It was really cute. Plus, you know, Zooey Deschanel.

1. Luther, Season 2. I know, I know, I'm cheating and this isn't a new-new show. It's the second season of a BBC show that's already aired over in England but who cares??? I just found out that my favorite new-to-me show of last year - Luther! Luther!! Luther!!! - has ts U.S. premier on September 28. Could I be any more excited? I could not.

So how about you? What upcoming new shows or returns of old favorites have you champing at the bit?

Be well. Don't forget to write.

Thursday, September 1

What could *your* walls say?

My favorite web gem - for messing around whenever I need a pick-me-up (or, okay, feel like procrastinating) - is Wall Written. Wall Written allows you to custom design wall clings of a variety of inspirational sayings. You can choose the size of the overall quote and also the colors of the text and decorative elements. Like this one, of my very favorite quote in the world:

You can even choose your own saying and custom design it as a wall cling using their awesome design tool! You choice the saying, font, color, layout, and decorative elements. Is that cool or what? If I had my way, my entire office would be blanketed with sayings. They already kind of are! My two favorites? "Be the change you wish to see in the world" and "Live-Laugh-Love".

What could *your* walls say?