Let’s Eat: A Novel Cuisine – Wisconsin YA Book Bloggers/Librarians Dinner!
Dec 20th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Enjoy cooking? Try some yummy food inspired by ten YA novels written by eight awesome authors.

On December 19th, seven Wisconsin YA book bloggers/librarians/book addicts met for our first book club meeting. And what a night we had!!! Heidi from http://www.yabibliophile.com , Rani from Next Chapter Bookstore http://twitter.com/#!/couldberuthless, Jillian from http://heisereads.blogspot.com, Erica from http://www.thebookcellarx.com Sasha http://twitter.com/#!/FzngWizbee, Maggie http://twitter.com/#!/MaggieMelchior and me. We had a blast talking about YA novels we loved from 2011, novels we can’t believe we waited so long to read, novels that surprised us or disappointed us. We talked about the authors who have hilarious tweets and are so wonderful in person. (There are a lot of them!!!!) We talked about how we review books for our blogs and Goodreads. Time flew by! It was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time with just the best gals to hang out with and talk books. And I can’t WAIT for our next book club meeting, which is scheduled for February. For more info check out the awesome Heidi’s post! http://www.yabibliophile.com/2011/12/my-book-club-rocks.html

Besides reading and writing YA, cooking is another one of my passions. (I used to volunteer my time and cater events for a non-profit organization. That’s how much I love to cook. 🙂 ) Whenever food is mentioned in a novel, I pay attention. And so I decided to create a menu and cook a dinner as a surprise for our first book club meeting. All the recipes were inspired by YA novels. Some mentioned a specific food, like mariquitas in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (Noah and Mara

Mariquitas and Garlicky Sauce inspired from THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin (Click photo to enlarge)

are eating in a Cuban restaurant in Miami, page 222) while others mentioned atype of food, for example Korean in Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Lola runs into Mr. Lim and asks him about his Korean restaurant, referenced on page 9. Lindsey Lim is Lola’s best friend.)

Here’s the menu and the YA novels that inspired the food:

A NOVEL CUISINE (All recipes are vegetarian except the chicken tikki masala, but feel free to substitute tofu)

Pita Chips (How to Ruin a Teenage Life by Simone Elkeles)

Chummus (How to Ruin a Teenage Life by Simone Elkeles)

Guacamole (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles)

Mariquitas w/ Garlicky Sauce (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin)

Hot-Sour Soup (Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, If I Stay by Gayle Forman)

Chicken Tikki Masala (We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han)

Brown Rice (We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han)

Bok Choy and Cucumber Kimichi inspired by LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins

Bok Choy and Cucumber Kimichi inspired by LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR by Stephanie Perkins (Click photo to enlarge)

Bok Choy and Cucumber Kimichi (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins)

Moelleux au Chocolat (Molten Lava Cakes) with Strawberry Sauce

(Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins)

Sprecher* Cherry Cola  (Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, The Duff by Koby Keplinger)

Hot Mint Tea (Timepiece by Myra McEntire)

Water with Sliced Lime (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin)

*Note – Sprecher is a Wisconsin favorite local brewery. Try and find their soda if you can. Once you taste their cherry soda, will will never want to drink Cherry Coke or Cherry Pepsi again!

Click here for ALL THE RECIPEShttp://www.whorublog.com/?page_id=1015

Take Five with Holly Schindler, YA Author of A BLUE SO DARK & PLAYING HURT
Dec 11th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Holly Schindler




ENTER TO WIN YOUR CHOICE OF ONE OF HOLLY’S NOVELS by listing which novel you would want in the comments’ section. Tweet and/or post on Facebook for an extra entry each – let me know. Giveaway ends on December 21, 8:00 PM EST

1. From some of the things I read about you, it seems like you sacrificed quite a bit to become a published author, and if it hadn’t been for your family your dreams would not have come true. What’s the journey been like and what do you most want other aspiring authors to take from your experience?

My path to publication was long and winding—took seven and a half years to get the first acceptance! And it also took full-time tunnel vision to really learn the ins and outs of writing a novel (even though I already had a master’s in English). Without the incredible support—financial and emotional—I got from my family, I never would have gotten started. I never would have seen that first acceptance without having all that time to write. (I taught piano and guitar lessons part-time to pay my bills, but because of my family’s support, I didn’t have to seek full-time employment. My full-time job has always been writing.) I won’t lie—four, five, six years into my pursuit, I had my down moments, and I shed a few tears…but I never felt like I should be doing anything else. And in that respect, I don’t feel like I sacrificed at all. Actually, I feel as though the REAL sacrifice would have been to get the full-time job and not pursue writing! (The idea of that’s just so incredibly sad—I know I wouldn’t have been truly happy doing anything but writing.) The thing is, there’s a point in the pursuit of ANY dream when it feels like the dream is kicking your butt a little—it doesn’t matter what the dream is…maybe it’s to own your own business, or to become a surgeon, or breed ostriches. You’ll have days when you look at yourself and wonder what you’re doing. But I learned firsthand that’s the point at which it’s the most important to keep pushing.

2. Both of your novels are realistic fiction. What is the appeal for you to this particular genre and are there any other genres you see yourself writing in the future? What other genres do you enjoy reading?

I’m a fan of all genres—there’s nothing I won’t read: classics, contemporary, poetry, literary, romance. I even took a sci fi course in college, because that was the one section of the library I’d never spent much time in and I thought if I immersed myself in it for a while, I’d want to read more books in that genre. Now, no section of my public library goes unvisited! While my first books are realistic fiction, they do still differ slightly: A BLUE SO DARK is literary, and PLAYING HURT is a romance. And my writing interests are every bit as varied as my reading interests, so stay tuned!

3. As you know, I haven’t read A Blue So Dark, yet. It’s a YA novel that brings to light the difficulties of a teen dealing with her mother’s schizophrenia. From what I understand it’s very different from Playing Hurt, your second novel, which I loved. Playing Hurt is an older YA contemporary/romance novel. The main characters are out of high school and address issues such as death, physical and emotional injuries, identity crisis, choices, love, and sex. What, if any, are some of the similarities between your two novels, and what is it that you hope readers will take away from A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt.

You’re right—on the surface, those two books are absolutely night and day different. But I think the quality I’m most proud of in both of those books is their honesty. I think both are pretty bare—BLUE maybe even more so than PLAYING HURT. I also love that the characters in both books are slightly flawed—they kind of bumble through their struggles—but they ultimately triumph. I think that’s the beautiful thing about YA, though—as a whole, I think what you’ve got are characters who are dealing with adult situations for the first time. Teen characters are in no way seasoned pros when it comes to dealing with the hardships of life. So they’re bound to make a bunch of mistakes. But they do succeed. Revisiting all those “firsts” in life is one of the reasons why writing YA is so much fun.

4. A huge congrats to you for your debut middle grade novel, The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky, which is coming out in 2012 and is being published by Dial. Please share with us what you can about this new novel.

Thanks for the congrats! THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY is still about a year away from publication. It’s about a young artist, and will feature original cover art—the first of any of my books to have original art! I’m really excited about that…

5. What has been one of the biggest life lessons you personally have learned and how has it helped you to grow as a person?

The absolute biggest lesson I’ve learned is the benefit of persistence. You don’t get anywhere in life if you don’t just dig those heels in and really learn the art of being a bit stubborn. That’s not to say that you should be bullheaded and believe that what you write is always perfect and that you should never revise anything when rejections inevitably come in. What I mean is that you can’t let the rejections make you think it’ll never happen. One rejection of one project is just that—one rejection. And an opportunity to learn and improve. Get to work; revise and submit again. I really believe that the only authors who never get to see their books on the shelves are those who give up.

A BLUE SO DARK: Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talent artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura’s dad left them. Convinced that “creative” equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears. One of Booklist’s Top 10 Novels for Youth (2010) Silver Medal, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year (Young Adult Fiction) Gold Medal, IPPY Awards (Juvenile / Young Adult Fiction)

PLAYING HURT: Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family. As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain—or finally heal their heartbreak?

For more information about Holly go to hollyschindler.com  Holly’s blog: hollyschindler.blogspot.com, Twitter: @holly_schindler, and Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor

Coping with Finals – Papers & Exams
Dec 5th, 2011 by Liza Wiemer

Are you slammed with writing papers and studying for exams? Freaking out and feeling paralyzed on how to get through this intense time? Most likely, there aren’t enough hours in the day for you to get all the work done. Perhaps you procrastinated and now it feels like you’re living in HELL. Been there. Done that. Hopefully, these tips will be helpful.

1. Start with the basics. If you haven’t done so already, write out the date and time for the exams and when the papers are due.

2. Get organized. Know what you need in order to study or write. Need to go to the library and check out books? Research on the net? Borrow notes from a classmate? Actually read the material? (If you haven’t done this, obviously you know you’re in a rough spot and most likely can’t make up a quarter or semesters’ worth of reading. Do your best. Read the first three paragraphs of each chapter section and skim until you reach the last three paragraphs. Read those. In no way am I advocating this as a method of learning – but if you’re in crisis mode, it’s a decent solution.)

3. Block out time to work on the papers and study for the exams, then stick with the schedule. Isolate yourself if you need to and whatever you do, make a promise to yourself that you’ll avoid all social networking during that time. Social networking has a way of being a total time sucker! Don’t fall into the trap.

4. Know your teacher/TA/professors’ office hours. Take advantage of any study sessions they may have. If you have questions or know that you don’t understand something, don’t wait to get help. If you’re writing a paper and you’re not sure you’re on target, BRING IT TO YOUR PROF and ask her to look at it and give you direction. This shows you care and are concerned, so don’t worry about looking stupid or that you’ll feel foolish. If necessary, explain to your prof what’s going on and see if you can get an extension. If you don’t ask, you won’t get it. And if you don’t get it, at least you asked.

5. Load up on protein. Protein prevents sugar highs and lows so it’ll help sustain you. Keep a few of your favorite munchies and caffeinated drinks and water with you.

6. Do your own work.

7. Avoid taking someone else’s prescription drug to enhance your ability to concentrate or focus. You might believe that you can do it once or justify it in order to get through this difficult time, but everyone’s body reacts differently to meds, and like any drug there can be serious ramifications. Or maybe not. But is it worth the risk? Once tempted who’s to say you won’t be tempted again? Be respectful of yourself and your body. Look at the big picture. Ask yourself: A year from now, five years from now how important was this?

8. Destroy your unrealistic expectations. Just flush the idea of perfection right down the toilet. Who the heck is ever perfect? Do your best in the moment based on the circumstances you’re facing. Teachers/professors can and do overburden their students. They don’t have a clue what others have assigned. Live with doing your best in the here and now. Don’t ask more of yourself. It’s totally unreasonable. Don’t berate yourself for any reason. Even if you procrastinated, move on. Take hold of the here and now and do what it takes so that you can be satisfied that you took charge in the moment. Negative self-talk is a huge waste of time and destructive. Stop. STOP!

9. Don’t take a “screw-it” attitude. If you’re thinking that you’ve already screwed it up, so why try, you’ll only hurt yourself. Self-destruction isn’t pretty. Seriously, just do something positive with the assignment. Even if you know that you could have done better, accept what you ARE doing as the best in the moment. And if you’re in crisis, even if it’s of your own making, talk to your teacher/TA/professor. Not everyone has a heart of gold and will cut you slack. But go in with a clear plan. Show that you have given it some serious thought and be reasonable. I’m hopeful that these educators will want to see you succeed.

10. Many need to pull all-nighters. If you can, snatch a twenty to thirty minute snooze during the day. SET YOUR ALARM. Good luck. And when it’s all over, do something nice for yourself. ☺

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