The Author’s Voice: interview with OneFour author VERONICA BARTLES

What do you do when your sister outshines you in every way, and now your crush wants your help in winning her heart? (hint: it involves a twelve-step program)

Veronica Bartles talks to us about sibling rivalry, dream guys, and her YA contemporary romance, TWELVE STEPS (Swoon Romance, 2014).


Veronica Bartles lives in New Mexico with her husband and four children. When she’s not writing or lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, she enjoys creating delicious desserts, exploring new places, and recycle knitting. Her debut novel, TWELVE STEPS was released in March 2014.


Kate Boorman is an independent artist and writer from the Canadian prairies. She was born in Nepal (where she was carried up the Himalayas in a basket) and she grew up in a small Albertan town (where she rode her bike to Girl Guides). She is fond of creepy things. Speaking of! Her YA fantasy WINTERKILL is out now (Abrams/Amulet and Faber & Faber).

DON’T TOUCH Release Day

The day has come!

Don’t Touch is out in the wild, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the bloggers, reviewers, authors, librarians, and booksellers who have already supported this book. I’m also so grateful for my fellow OneFours–the wisdom they’ve shared has made everything from ordering bookmarks (thanks, Kristin Rae!) to scheduling events so much pleasanter.  And thanks to my fantastic family and friends who have shared so much excitement for this book’s release!



Step on a crack, break your mother’s back,
Touch another person’s skin, and Dad’s gone for good . . .

Caddie has a history of magical thinking—of playing games in her head to cope with her surroundings—but it’s never been this bad before.
When her parents split up, Don’t touch becomes Caddie’s mantra. Maybe if she keeps from touching another person’s skin, Dad will come home. She knows it doesn’t make sense, but her games have never been logical. Soon, despite Alabama’s humidity, she’s covering every inch of her skin and wearing evening gloves to school.

And that’s where things get tricky. Even though Caddie’s the new girl, it’s hard to pass off her compulsions as artistic quirks. Friends notice things. Her drama class is all about interacting with her scene partners, especially Peter, who’s auditioning for the role of Hamlet. Caddie desperately wants to play Ophelia, but if she does, she’ll have to touch Peter . . . and kiss him. Part of Caddie would love nothing more than to kiss Peter—but the other part isn’t sure she’s brave enough to let herself fall.

From rising star Rachel M. Wilson comes a powerful, moving debut novel of the friendship and love that are there for us, if only we’ll let them in.

Advance praise for Don’t Touch:

“Don’t Touch is fiercely compelling, darkly funny, and hums like a high tension wire with energy.” —Tim Wynne-Jones, author of Blink & Caution

“A tender love story about the beauty and the risk of showing someone who you really are.” —Nina LaCour, acclaimed author of Hold Still and The Disenchantments

“Offers a good look at Obesseive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and other anxiety disorders.” —School Library Journal

An insightful look at anxiety disorders and letting go of fear. —Kirkus Reviews

Launch events: 

If you happen to be in Birmingham, AL, or Chicago, IL, I encourage you to come out for a reading and signing to celebrate the launch!

Little Professor Don't Touch
Book Cellar Don't Touch 2

And be sure to visit the Fantastic Flying Book Club Tour, running all week!

You can purchase a copy of Don’t Touch from the following places, or request it at your local library! You can also request a signed copy when ordering from The Book Cellar in Chicago!

AmazonBarnes & Noble | HarperCollins | iBooks | IndieBound | Powell’s


Rachel M. Wilson‘s DON’T TOUCH stems from a personal vendetta against anxiety and a love of all things theater. After studying acting at Northwestern, Rachel earned her MFA in Writing for Children & YA at VCFA. Originally from Birmingham, AL, she now lives in Chicago, IL, where she writes, acts, teaches, and spoils a dog named Remy Frankenstein. DON’T TOUCH releases September 2, 2014 from HarperTeen.

Happy Book Birthday, TWELVE STEPS (by Veronica Bartles)!!

WooHoo!! The day has finally arrived! TWELVE STEPS is officially available, and I’m so excited/nervous/a little bit terrified to think that so many amazing people are now reading my words! I just want to give you all a giant squish hug!!

TWELVE STEPS by Veronica BartlesOfficial Blurb:

 Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina’s perfect everything else.

 When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy. But when a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she’d hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants.

 As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.

 Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Authorgraph | Goodreads


For the past twelve days, I’ve had tons of fun celebrating the countdown to TWELVE STEPS with giveaways, recipes and exclusive excerpts and teasers from my favorite parts of the book. I shared my official TWELVE STEPS playlist, two amazing book trailers, a first look at chapter one, a post with the inspiration for the novel, a peek at my actual high school diary, and a special thank you to my secret crush, who inspired my favorite supporting character. In case you missed the excitement, here’s a list of all twelve countdown celebration posts.

Day #12: I share my playlist with you on YA Misfits’ Band Geek Thursday

Day #11: Watch my book trailers & vote for your favorite on I Write for Apples blog

Day #10: Flash giveaway for exclusive TWELVE STEPS artwork

Day #9: Recipe for Crock Pot Giant Brownie Sundae

Day #8: Giveaway!!! Recycle-Knit Daisy Purse, Handmade by Veronica Bartles

Day #7: Exclusive reveal: A page from Veronica’s teen diary!

Day #6: Twitter giveaways

Day #5: Exclusive first look at TWELVE STEPS’ Chapter One

Day #4Giveaway!!! Ninja Unicorn “Movie Poster”

Day #3: A Thank You to those who may not know how much they helped with TWELVE STEPS – including my secret high school crush, who inspired my favorite supporting character.

Day #2: The inspiration for TWELVE STEPS

Day #1: Recipe for Crock Pot Chili Cheese Fries

And the excitement is only beginning! Today kicks off my blog tour with more exclusive excerpts, reviews, and character interviews. And of course, another giveaway! You can find all the links here!


Veronica Bartles lives in New Mexico with her husband and four children. When she’s not writing or lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, she enjoys creating delicious desserts, exploring new places, and recycle knitting. Her debut novel, TWELVE STEPS (Swoon Romance) will be released in March 2014.

For the Love of Little People

I’ve always loved tiny creatures: fairies, sea monkeys (yes, they ARE people, haven’t you seen the ads?), and even leprechauns. So it’s no surprise that my debut novel, BY THE GRACE OF TODD, is about a boy and the tiny civilization of humanoids that have sprung from the grime of his grungy baseball sock.

Today, I’m going to discuss how I developed the Toddlans. When Todd first discovers the tiny race on his sock, they are dressed in togas made from fibers and live in crude huts made of his filth. Their language at this point is a series of grunts and coos, which Todd’s baby sister, Daisy, happens to speak fluently. They live like cave men, roasting toe jam over tiny fires.

As the Toddlians are exposed to TV (specifically The Bachelorette, QVC, and John Wayne) they learn English using context clues. It was fun to intersperse their dialogue with snippets of commercials and TV lingo. But the language also posed a challenge: how does someone who’s never seen a pencil before describe it? Carpet becomes a fiber forest, cars are metal monsters, and dental floss is a lasso (for Persephone, the cowgirl Toddlian. Yeehaw!)

Todd interior final #8

Illustration by Patrick Faricy

Despite the difficulties of seeing the world though a Toddlian point of view, there were also some delightful things about working with little people. For instance, I had to be extra creative to accommodate them–almost like playing with dolls. They drink from Lego heads, sleep in a fluffy slipper, and swim in Lake Parkay (a margarine tub lid.) Plus, they can ride around hidden in Todd’s hair, although they might be heard screaming, “Slow down, for the love of all things tiny!”

I’ll close with my favorite bit of Toddlian trivia, the Toddlandian National Anthem:
Toddlandia, Toddlandia, our home upon a sock,
Toddlandia, Toddlandia, of forest, hill, and rock,
From the salty Sweat River to the wide Sebaceous Sea,
Toddlandia, Toddlandia, our love we pledge to thee.

How about you? Do you believe in wee folk? What’s your favorite read involving little people?

Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD (Penguin/Razorbill Feb. 27, 2014). She and her husband live in the Midwest with their eleven kids and a parrot. When Louise isn’t writing or folding laundry, she directs her local children’s theater, where she’s playwright in residence.

GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Sara Polsky, author of THIS IS HOW I FIND HER

Today we’re interviewing Lucky13 author Sara Polsky, whose debut novel THIS IS HOW I FIND HER hits the shelves this week.

960HThis is How I Find Her (Albert Whitman) is about 16-year-old Sophie, who has always lived her life in the shadow of her mother’s bipolar disorder: monitoring medication, making sure the rent is paid, rushing home after school instead of spending time with friends, and keeping secrets from everyone.

But when a suicide attempt lands Sophie’s mother in the hospital, Sophie no longer has to watch over her. She moves in with her aunt, uncle, and cousin—a family she’s been estranged from for the past five years. Rolling her suitcase across town to her family’s house is easy. What’s harder is figuring out how to rebuild her life.

What was the piece of this story that first inspired you? Was it an image, a character, or an idea? 

A character, or rather the relationship between two characters —
Sophie, the main character, and her cousin, Leila. They were best
friends as children but aren’t speaking by the time the book begins.
That was all I knew about them when I first had the idea for This Is
How I Find Her, and as I worked my way backward to their personalities
and their families, I figured out the rest of the story.

What kind of research did you do to write This Is How I Find Her?

As a writer I’m interested in emotions, and memoirs are one way to get
close to how people feel about a particular situation, so I read a lot
of memoirs by people who had experienced bipolar disorder or
depression, or by people whose parents had had mental illnesses. I
also read some of the more straightforward guides to bipolar disorder
for patients and families, which helped me with some of the technical
details about medications, hospital stays, etc.

This Is How I Find Her deals with some difficult subjects, including
mental illness and suicide. What do you hope young-adult readers will
learn from this book, or how do you hope the book will affect them?

I write mostly to explore my own questions — in this case, about
topics like family and home and how to be there for loved ones who are
dealing with mental illnesses. I hope that readers with similar
questions will find some answers or comfort or sense of connection in
the story.

In This Is How I Find Her, it’s not the protagonist who has the
illness. Why did you chose this perspective?

I knew from the beginning that it would be Sophie’s mother, Amy, who
had bipolar disorder and Sophie who was taking care of her and seeing
her experience from the outside. That was always the story I wanted to
tell — I wanted to explore the way mental illness affects families
and friendships and the complicated emotions that Amy’s suicide
attempt raises for Sophie and her relatives.

Your protagonist, Sophie, is an artist. How did that affect her
characterization? How did it affect the voice and your use of

I knew from the earliest drafts that Sophie’s mother would be an
artist, so I liked the idea of Sophie being an artist, too — it would
be something they shared aside from Amy’s illness. It was also
something that made Sophie easier to write. She’s a character who
spends a lot of time in her own head, and her artist’s perspective on
the world meant that her head was a visually interesting, imaginative
place to be (at least, I hope that’s what readers think!). As I
revised, I went back to the descriptions again and again to make sure
Sophie was using her artist’s eye all the time.

What was your biggest challenge in writing This Is How I Find Her?

It was challenging to write a character who is detached and closed off
the way Sophie is at the beginning of the book. There isn’t a lot of
dialogue early in the story, and Sophie tended to shut down any time a
conversation became revealing or personal. Making her an artist helped
with this, since it gave her more reason to observe the world around
her, and I also relied on flashbacks to show a happier, more open time
in Sophie’s life.

And as this community is “All for One and OneFour KidLit,” we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid:

The book that jumps to mind first when I think about books I loved as
a kid is Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising. (I loved the whole series,
but that book was my favorite.) I ended up majoring in medieval
history and literature in college, so I also look back on TDiR as the
book that started me down a whole path of reading Arthurian legends
and books about the kings and queens of England and eventually
studying things like manuscript handwriting and Latin and Welsh (aka
the coolest college major ever). Other authors I read a lot of:
Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Cynthia Voigt, and Ann Rinaldi.

Thanks for stopping by, Sara, and congrats on your debut! 



Sara is a writer and editor at Curbed NY, and her articles and essays have appeared in The Christian Science MonitorThe ForwardPoets & Writers, and other publications. Her fiction has appeared in Fictitious Force and Behind the Wainscot. She lives in New York City.

Online you can find Sara on her website, Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter.

This interview was conducted by OneFour member Rebecca Behrens, and is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Lucky13s —- YA, MG, and children’s book authors debuting in 2013.

Rebecca Behrens lives in New York, where she works as a production editor. Her favorite things are em-dashes, Central Park, running, and doughnuts. Her MG debut, WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE (Sourcebooks; February 4th, 2014), tells what happens when a lonely first daughter finds Alice Roosevelt’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of a White House closet.

Gettin’ Lucky: An Interview with Erin Richards, Author of VIGILANTE NIGHTS

About VIGILANTE NIGHTS (taken from Erin’s website):

A “good boy” will do anything for vengeance when a gang rite kills his twin sister. Will Lucas win, or follow his sister Silver into the darkness?

After a hideous car wreck, Lucas wakes from a coma to find that his world is gutted. Not only is his beloved twin sister, Silver, gone forever, but Lucas is broken in body and spirit. He will never be a college athlete, and is robbed of what he now realizes was the most important bond of his life. Although they weren’t identical twins, Lucas and Silver shared a bond so fierce it defied reason, and was nearly supernatural.

After her death, that bond seems to endure when Lucas sees Silver everywhere he turns. Either he’s crazy, or Silver is trying to tell him something about the California gang initiation they stumbled into that cost Silver her life. Lucas is bent on revenge, turning on Raymond, Silver’s former boyfriend; the one Lucas never wanted her to date. He forms a posse of vigilantes to take out the gangsters responsible for Silver’s death, but he risks not only his own life, but the love of the new girl on his block, who knows more about Lucas and Silver than can be accounted for by mere chance.

This is your first young adult novel, but you have two published adult romances. Why did you decide to write a YA novel? Do you plan to write more YA?

My muse has multiple personalities! When I started writing adult romance novels that’s what I was reading. People say write what you read. But the first book I ever wrote when I was eighteen was for young adults, and I really wanted to go back to writing YA. I gave it a go and wrote my first YA novel from a girl’s POV. I had so much fun writing the novel, I was hooked. The next book I wrote was Vigilante Nights. I don’t plan on giving up on writing adult romance, but I really like writing for teens. There’s something fresh and innocent about teenagers coming of age in any setting, whether contemporary, supernatural or SF&F that appeals to me. It takes me back to my own childhood and the type of books lacking back then.

Can you tell us a bit about your path to publication? How did you get your agent, and then how long did it take before she placed your novel at Merit?

I decided to submit Vigilante Nights to publishers on my own. At that time, I had just heard about Merit Press, the new YA imprint of F+W Media, and I was able to get early submission guidelines from my editor of another F+W Media imprint. When I read the guidelines, I thought Vigilante Nights would be perfect for Merit. I submitted to them (nail biting commenced) and within two months, the acquiring editor, Jackie Mitchard—NY Times bestselling author—emailed to tell me she wanted to talk. A new round of nail biting commenced. I was heading out on vacation and she was traveling so we didn’t connect for a couple of weeks. After a few rounds of emails, I received the offer to publish on August 28. After I picked myself up off the floor, happy dancing ensued!

I still wanted an agent to represent me and negotiate the contract. Right off the bat, I contacted Natalie Lakosil of Bradford Literary. I had connected with her on a couple of other novels and we had informally met that summer standing in line together at an RWA convention book signing, no less! Within ten minutes, she responded to my email, and agreed to read Vigilante Nights. The next day, she offered representation.

Can you tell us about how you got the idea for VIGILANTE NIGHTS?

The novel I wrote at eighteen was originally inspired by S.E. Hinton’s classic novel, The Outsiders, one of my favorite all time novels. Memories of gang activity and street racing from my teen years also played a role in the plotting. My story had stayed with me for years, and I always wanted to update and write it with a fresh outlook and more experience. Vigilante Nights bears only slight resemblance to that long-ago story, but Lucas’s coming of age in a time of tragedy remained constant.

Although it’s listed as contemporary, you have a paranormal element throughout. Was it natural for you to mix those genres?

Yes, it was very natural for me to mix supernatural or magic realism with a contemporary setting. I love all things paranormal whether it’s a lightweight element based on science or psionics or a heavier mythical creature element. My first romance novel, Chasing Shadows, is similar in that it’s a contemporary romantic suspense and the main character has telepathy. I’m currently writing a YA romantic suspense novel and the main character has a deep intuition that’s almost clairvoyant.

The novel begins with a teen’s death during a Mexican gang initiation and continues with tense moments related to the gangs’ criminal activities. Did you have any concerns about handling the racial issues, including slurs used by the characters?

Even though you all know this, it bears repeating: Vigilante Nights is a work of fiction and the views expressed by my characters are not my views. I tried to remain sensitive to this issue while also keeping it real and maintaining the authenticity of the issues, the story, the setting. My main character’s best friend is half-Mexican (who himself uses a racial slur against another Mexican).

It was never my intent to offend anyone, and I tried to keep a filter on my teenage characters. But Vigilante Nights is intense and emotions run high. Most people say things they may regret in the heat of the moment, in anger, fear, grief, and I didn’t want to treat my characters any differently. I can only hope my readers keep an open mind. Vigilante Nights is about loss, friendship, and love, not just vengeance.

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

As an avid reader since the time I learned to read, this is an easy one! Each of these books represented a step in shaping my fictional taste buds.

1. The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

2. The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton

3. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Erin Richards Photo

Erin Richards
Author Photo by Dawn Schubert Photography

Thanks for stopping by, Erin!

About the author:

Erin Richards lives in Northern California. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, photography, and American muscle cars.

Her YA debut novel, VIGILANTE NIGHTS, releases from Merit Press (F+W Media) on July 18, 2013. In addition to her website and blog, she can be found online on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Cindy L. Rodriguez is a former journalist turned public school teacher and fiction writer. She lives in Connecticut with her young daughter and very old dog. She loves coffee, chocolate, the ocean, and power naps between obligations. Her debut contemporary YA novel, RESURRECTING EMILY, will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA (Fall 2014).


We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today we’re talking to Vivi Barnes, author of OLIVIA TWISTED, coming from Entangled Teen in 2014. One author, four questions. Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published! How’d that happen?

Some writing, some wine, some rejections, some wine, some crying, some wine, some offers, some wine. You know—wine. 😉

I went to my son’s school to talk about the process of getting published and held up a picture of a crying baby to sum it up. It’s a tough process. I’ve always heard that you don’t write to make money. This is so true. We write because we can’t not write. Either that, or we’re just gluttons for punishment. Seriously, though, I’ve been fortunate to have such great people helping me through the craziness, including my critique partners, my agent (Pam Van Hylckama Vlieg) and editors (Stacy Cantor Abrams and Nicole Steinhaus).

I look forward to seeing my book on the shelves in November! Then it might actually feel real.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

OLIVIA TWISTED is a contemporary reimagining of the Dickens’ classic, OLIVER TWIST. However, the gang that recruits Olivia is made up of hackers instead of pickpocketers. It was a (happy) challenge to follow along the general plot lines of the original story but make them more relevant to today, including making the protagonist not a victim of society but someone who shapes her own destiny. My favorite part of the story is the romance between Olivia and the “Dodger” character, Z, and the way they both question their choices, some of which might be surprising to the reader.

Here’s the official synopsis:

Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

—I love adrenaline sports. Not sports like soccer or softball—I kind of suck at those (like fall-and-scrape-my-knees suck). But the kind that sends your heart flying into your throat, like skydiving, rafting, skiing and ziplining. I would love to go hang gliding—that’s high on my to-do list.

—I love acting and being silly. I dressed as Honey Boo Boo at the last SCBWI conference ball in Miami and, well, it was interesting! I think my critique group was ready to smack me after enduring elevator rides with my telling strangers that they better “redneckognize.”

—I am an extrovert. Big time. I love people (unless you’re bad people) and get a lot of energy from being in big groups (with the exception of being in Wal-Mart, which totally stresses me out). I also love hugging, so watch out!

Do you have any writing quirks–places you need to write or things you need to have with you?

I absolutely must have music. This isn’t an option. If I don’t have music playing while I write or revise, I will stare around at the scenery, at the people walking by, at the empty Diet Coke can. I get totally distracted. Type of music varies from Linkin Park and Three Days Grace to Harry Potter soundtracks. I also enjoy writing on a desert island with a pina colada, but that just doesn’t happen often enough (or ever). Actually, I can write anywhere but a desk or table. For some reason, having proper ergonomics when typing really bugs me. Give me the big comfy chair any day!

Vivi Barnes was raised on a farm in East Texas where her theater-loving mom and cowboy dad gave her a unique perspective on life. Now living in the magic and sunshine of Orlando, Florida, she divides her time writing, working, goofing off with her husband and three kids, and avoiding dirty dishes. OLIVIA TWISTED debuts November 5, 2013, from Entangled Teen.

GETTIN’ LUCKY: An interview with Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, author of HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES

For months, I’ve been dying waiting very patiently to introduce you to the talented Jennifer Salvato Doktorski…and now it’s finally time.  HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES releases TODAY! HOORAY!
Besides having one of the best titles I’ve ever seen, this book is full of snark, wit, tender moments and a whole lot of fun. It’s exactly what a contemporary YA read should be!

flames Here’s the Goodreads blurb to whet your appetite: Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make   amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new.

 Eeek!! Told ya. Okay, let’s get to know this amazing author a little better…

A cliché first question, but considering the title of this book, I have to ask: What was your motivation in writing this story?

I wanted to write a fun, fast-paced, and hopefully funny book about a girl traveling cross country with three guys. For me, the story began with the phrase, “girl on the receiving end of a temporary restraining order.” I knew that had to be in the opening sentence somewhere. From there, I started to think of “Why?!” What type of girl would find herself in that predicament? I found Rosie’s voice in that opening sentence and the rest just flowed from there.

Thanks to a week long road trip from New Jersey to Arizona, the landscape of this book is ever-changing. Is this a trip you’ve taken yourself?  

Yes!  I took this trip when I was in my 20s with a friend of a friend named Kenny. I didn’t know his last name until about week before we left, but he was willing to travel west with me and fly home. He timed the trip with a west coast business meeting. I was at the proverbial crossroads in my life and going to live with my good friend from college while I applied for jobs, did some freelance writing, and decided if Arizona was someplace I’d like to stay for a while. It’s a gorgeous state and I loved my time there, but in the end, I decided to return to New Jersey.

Besides the temporary restraining order slapped on her at the beginning of the book, Rosie has a potential STALKING charge hanging over her head, too. If fictional characters could talk, who would file stalking charges against you?

Ha!! Great question! Well, I don’t think I’m anything like Rosie in that respect, but hmm… let’s see. Is there some fictional character out there that I could picture myself losing my heart and mind over? I really had to think about this one, but I’ve got two for you. One from literature and one from the small screen. Aragorn from LORD OF THE RINGS and Angel from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But somehow, I think both of them could handle a woman scorned without getting the police involved.

Rosie is a combination of New Jersey tough and Latino fire. What was it like creating such a lively character? Did you have any “real life” influences who played a part in her makeup?

Well, I come from an Italian-American family and there are no shortage quick-tempered personalities to draw from. Like a lot of characters, Rosie is bits and pieces of people I may have known or met, but as the disclaimer at the front of the book states, she is totally fictional!! 🙂

Music plays a subtle, though poignant, role in this book. (*nods to Metallica references*) If HOW MY SUMMER… became a movie, what songs would you like to see on the soundtrack?

This book actually has a playlist that the cool marketing folks at Simon Pulse posted on Grooveshark for me. Some of the songs on it are “Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts” (Brandon Flowers), “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” (Pink) and “Rosalita” (Bruce Springsteen). Rosie is named for the Bruce song. I also listened to my share of Taylor Swift while I was writing this book, and she’s represented too. Oh, and Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers who I discovered during my time in Arizona.

You can find the playlist here.

Your second book, Famous Last Words (Christy Ottaviano Books–A division of Henry Holt Books for Young Readers) will be released July 2, 2013. How is that leading lady, Samantha, different from Rosie? How are they the same?

Well, compared to Rosie, Samantha is a bit of a wallflower. She’s shy and has trouble finding her voice and place in life. In fact, Sam would probably benefit from a friend like Rosie and vice-versa, I suppose. They would balance each other out. They’ve got a lot in common too. They both spend the summer before their senior year in high school discovering who they are. They’re both from the same fictitious town in northern New Jersey, have an Italian-American backgrounds, and great relationships with their parents.

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid?

I’m sure most writers say it’s hard to pick just three, but here are mine.

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret

A Wrinkle in Time

The Cat Ate My Gymsuit (Interviewer side note: I read this answer and fell in love with you all over again!)

Thank you for the interview Bethany and for giving me the opportunity to talk about my books! This was a lot of fun.

OUR PLEASURE! All the OneFours wish you great success with this wonderful book!



In addition tJennifer Salvato Doktorskio writing for teens, Jennifer is a freelance writer who has written articles and essays for national publications including, Cosmopolitan. She always wanted to be a writer even though she often referred to her college major in English as “PreLaw” because it held the promise that she might actually find work someday. HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES, will be published by Simon Pulse in May 2013, while Jennifer’s second novel, FAMOUS LAST WORDS, about a teen obit writer, will be published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers in July 2013.


Bethany Crandell and her husband Terry live in San Diego with their two daughters and a chocolate Labrador who has no consideration for personal space. She writes Young Adult novels because the feelings that come with life’s ‘first’ times are too good not to relive again and again. SUMMER ON THE SHORT BUS is coming spring 2014 from Running Press.


We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. Today we’re talking to Philip Siegel, author of THE BREAK-UP ARTIST, coming from Harlequin Teen in May 2014. One author, four questions. Here we go!

So you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication)

I wasn’t a voracious reader growing up. I utilized Cliff Notes and Spark Notes growing up quite a bit. (Ah, the days before Wikipedia.) I loved movies and television, so much that I studied screenwriting in college. During a stretch of unemployment, which is quite common in Los Angeles, I tried my hand at writing YA. While at a temp gig, I would do all my real work in the morning, mull over a chapter during lunch, then type it up in the afternoon. Until another temp ratted me out. Five years, two trunked manuscripts, and one change of scenery later, I sold my first book.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

From Goodreads:

Some sixteen-year-olds babysit for extra cash. Some work at the Gap. Becca Williamson breaks up couples. 

After watching her sister get left at the altar, Becca knows the true damage that comes when people utter the dreaded L-word. For just $100 via paypal, she can trick and manipulate any couple into smithereens. With relationship zombies overrunning her school, and treating single girls like second class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even her best friend Val has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, she receives a mysterious offer to break up the homecoming king and queen, the one zombie couple to rule them all: Steve and Huxley. They are a JFK and Jackie O in training, masters of sweeping faux-mantic gestures, but if Becca can split them up, then school will be safe again for singletons. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date and wiggle her way back into her former BFF Huxley’s life – not to mention start a few rumors, sabotage some cell phones, break into a car, and fend off the inappropriate feelings she’s having about Val’s new boyfriend. All while avoiding a past victim out to expose her true identity.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist was easy.

Since I have a screenwriting background, THE BREAK-UP ARTIST has a cinematic feel to it. It’s fun, fast-paced, and filled with sharp dialogue. Teen films and TV shows have such great, quotable dialogue (CLUELESS, EASY A, 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, DAWSON’S CREEK even though it was totally unrealistic), and I try to carry on the tradition with THE BREAK-UP ARTIST.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

Hearing from readers (all good things, hopefully). Knowing that complete strangers are going to choose to read my book is unreal.

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

My first job out of college was as an NBC page, and it was the greatest job I’ve ever had. I was such an eager beaver that my fellow pages called me Kenneth, like from 30 Rock. I even have a photo with Al Roker! Sadly, this is is one of the very few pictures I have from my page days. So word to the wise, folks, when you have the chance, always try to Kodak the moment.


Philip Siegel grew up in New Jersey, which he insists is much nicer than certain TV shows would have you believe. After college, he moved to Los Angeles, where he became an NBC page. Currently, he works in downtown Chicago and writes novels while sandwiched in between colorful characters on the El. His debut novel, THE BREAK-UP ARTIST (Harlequin Teen), about a girl who runs a business breaking up couples, hits bookstores May 2014.

GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Sarah Skilton, Author of BRUISED

book coverToday we’re talking to Sarah Skilton, whose debut novel, BRUISED, hit stores yesterday. I adored this book, especially its gutsy, conflicted, and very-much-in-need-of-a-hug narrator, Imogen. She’s a wonderful character, but the premise is pretty undeniable, too:

When Imogen, a sixteen-year-old black belt in Tae Kwon Do, freezes during a holdup at a local diner, the gunman is shot and killed by the police, and she blames herself for his death. Before the shooting, she believed that her black belt made her stronger than everyone else — more responsible, more capable. But now her sense of self has been challenged and she must rebuild her life, a process that includes redefining her relationship with her family and navigating first love with the boy who was at the diner with her during the shootout.

trek water bottleMany thanks to Sarah for taking the time to chat with us, but on top of that, SHE COMES BEARING PRIZES! Leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book and a BRUISED water bottle. And now, let’s talk Tae Kwon Do, gender roles, and Bunnicula with Sarah!


Imogen is such an unforgettable character – she’s girly and brash and innocent and incredibly tough all at the same time. How did you come up with her?

Thank you! I’ve always felt that most characters possess inherent contradictions, because I do, and all the people I know do. For a silly example, if I’m at the airport, I’ll probably pick up US World News & Report alongside Star Magazine because I genuinely like both. With Imogen, it was easy for me to picture a teenage girl who was immensely skilled and driven in one area (martial arts) but inexperienced in another (romance, interpersonal relationships). She also happens to be the youngest person in her grade, so it made sense to me that she was not quite as mature as her classmates and friends.

The first two things we learn about Imogen are that someone was shot to death right in front of her, and that she blames herself and believes she should have stopped it. What was it like writing from the perspective of a character who is dealing with trauma and guilt like that?

In some ways it was cathartic, because I know how it feels to be depressed and guilt-ridden (though not for the same reasons as Imogen). Other times, writing from that POV weighed me down a little and I had to be sure I added humor or slightly happier scenes so as not to bury the reader in only one type of emotion. The character of Hunter, Imogen’s older brother, helped bring out some levity, as did Ricky.

sarah skiltonImogen is a girl who likes to throw a punch, and sometimes, the people in her life don’t quite know what to make of that. Can you talk a little bit about how Imogen’s journey in BRUISED is shaped by gender?

I definitely think that “getting into fights” is viewed differently when discussing a girl versus a boy. With boys, they’ve been wrestling since toddlerhood (rightfully so, I would say) and a fight later in life might be considered a normal, healthy rite of passage, especially if it’s tied in with learning to stand up for yourself.

When we think of girls fighting, it’s usually in a humorous or unhinged connotation; silly-looking people slapping each other ineffectually, or pulling each other’s hair, or being “hysterical.” It’s not considered positive; it’s considered unladylike. But it’s just as important, or even more important for girls to learn how to defend themselves properly and confidently, to react right away if someone makes them uncomfortable or moves past their comfort zone in a way that’s threatening.

Like Imogen, you’ve studied Tae Kwon Do. What’s a part of your training experience that you brought to the book?

When I was taking classes I noticed it was difficult for the female students (myself included) to act “aggressively.” To continues my train of thought from the previous question: it’s ingrained from birth that girls should be nice and polite, even in situations that are unpleasant or unwanted. When Imogen is teaching her young student Taylor a technique in which you’re supposed to pull your opponent toward you, it goes against all of Taylor’s instincts, and I think that’s how many girls feel when learning self-defense.

I also went through a phase in my 20s of really, really wanting to be in a fight. It sounds strange or self-destructive, but there was a part of me that wanted to know what it would feel like, beyond regulated sparring in class, so I could get over it. Imogen has different reasons for feeling that way, but the frustration she struggles with was somewhat drawn from my own life and training.

Who are some of your writer (or non-writer) role models?

I admire Gillian Flynn (author of Sharp Objects, Dark Places, and of course her recent hit, Gone Girl) for her fearlessness. I find her characters to be fascinating and horrifying and whip smart and grotesque and lovable in their insanity. She’s never afraid to “go there” in any sense, and I really hope to learn from that.

And finally, as this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know two or three books that inspired you when you were a kid.

My pure, all-encompassing obsession was the James Howe Bunnicula series (particularly Howliday Inn, which featured Chester the Cat).  I wrote Mr. Howe letters when I was in elementary school in the mid-1980s, and he wrote back! That experience definitely inspired me to pursue writing.

I also loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by EL Konigsburg. The kids ran away and lived in a museum! How cool is that?!


The coolest! Thanks again to Sarah Skilton for talking to us. And don’t forget, leave a comment on this post by Friday, March 8 at 12 pm ET for a chance to win a copy of BRUISED and a water bottle.

sarah skiltonAbout the Author:

Sarah Skilton is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a fact that came in handy while writing her martial arts-themed debut YA novel, BRUISED. She and her husband, a magician, live in Santa Clarita, CA with their son. She’s never been sawed in half, but there’s still time. She loves to read coming-of-age and YA novels, effed up memoirs, and edgy non-fiction.

This interview was conducted by OneFour member Mary McCoy whose YA novel DEAD TO ME will be published by Disney-Hyperion in Fall 2014. This interview is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Lucky13s —- YA, MG, and children’s books authors debuting in 2013.