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Dystopian Literature November 28, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in coming-of-age, science fiction, weekly topics, YA fiction.
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Marie Lu, author of Legend trilogyStories of a grim future weren’t a new concept when Cormac McCarthy won the 2007 Pulitzer for The Road. The slant of a future not shiny with hope, but spoiled and shattered into a bleak landscape of struggle and survival are time-worn concepts within literature. Does the abundance of dystopian literature published and read today reflect a grave outlook for the world community? Or is it just another literary trend that will peak and slide back into a sub-category of science fiction? We’ll ask these questions and others this week in #litchat.

Marie Lu, Friday’s #litchat guest host, is something of a phenomena. Born in Shanghai, raised in Texas, and educated at USC, 27-year-old Lu has already achieved what many writers struggle for years to achieve. Her debut novel, Legend is the first in a trilogy of dystopian YA novels. Film rights to Legend have been sold and screenwriters are already at work adapting the first novel into a screenplay.

Legend is the story of two opposing characters, June and Day, thrown together in what was once the western United States and now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Before she started writing full time, Lu was the art director at a video game company. She also owns the business and brand Fuzz Academy, which was chosen by C21Media as one of the International Licensing Expo 2010’s brands with the most potential for a TV series. After graduating from USC in ’06, the California weather sweet-talked her into sticking around. She currently lives in Pasadena with her boyfriend, two Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and a chihuahua mix.

View the video trailer for Legend.

Follow Marie Lu on Twitter: @MarieLu.


Holiday Break November 21, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in fantasy, weekly topics, YA fiction.
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We are taking off the week of November 21-28, 2011 the first of our holiday breaks. We will return on November 25 for a topic on YA fantasy with Marie Lu, author of Legend. We’ll break again from December 19-30, then resume a brand new year of literary discussion as we celebrate the third anniversary of #litchat during the week of January 2-6, 2012.

Plot Changes November 14, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in classics, YA fiction.
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Lauren Baratz-Logsted

What would you change about a classic novel? Would you save Anna Karenina from suicide? Bring Rhett back to Scarlett? Or would you have Santiago return to port with his prize marlin fully intact? This week in #litchat we’re discussing what you would change in the plots of classic novels.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted returns to #litchat on Friday to discuss her latest novel, Little Women and Me. In this imaginative and witty YA novel, Logsted ventures into the world of Little Women. When Emily, sick and tired of being a middle sister, gets an assignment to describe what she’d change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can’t change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won’t be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily-not the four March sisters-who undergoes the most surprising change of all. Lauren Baratz-Logsted’s winning confection will appeal to fans of Little Women as well as anyone who enjoys a modern twist on an old favorite.

Between 1994 and May 2002—when Red Dress Ink called with an offer to buy her first novel, The Thin Pink Line—Baratz-Logsted worked as a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and a window washer, making her arguably the only woman in the world who has ever both hosted a book signing party and washed the windows of the late best-selling novelist Robert Ludlum.

Since Red Dress Ink’s call in 2002, Baratz-Logsted has kept very busy with writing more novels and checking her Amazon ranking on a daily basis. She has authored novels for adult readers, young adult novels and The Sister’s Eight middle grade series. She still lives in Danbury, with her husband and daughter, where she has lived since 1991.

Follow Lauren Baratz-Logsted on Twitter: @LaurenBaratzL.

Facing Down the Fear in Writing November 6, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in YA fiction.
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Writing takes courage. Ideas for stories, characters, topics may populate a writer’s mind, but the fear of getting those ideas out of the head and onto a page can strangle a writer. What fears do writers encounter most, where do they come from, and how do successful writers face down the fear?

Award-winning author A.S. King returns to #litchat on Friday, November 11, to discuss fearless writing. Her third novel, Everybody Sees the Ants, released in October of this year, is a Junior Library Guild Selection, and her second novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, is a Michael L. Printz Honor Book. Her first novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an Indie Next pick and a Cybil award finalist. All three of King’s YA novels feature protagonists who battle personal demons and overcome tremendous adversity.

In Everybody Sees the Ants we meet Lucky Linderman, a kid bullied throughout his life whose dream life provides the key to his release. Drawn in between the lines of Lucky’s tale is a thread that connects his father’s personal struggles with his grandfather going missing in Laos during the Vietnam War. Lucky’s second life in the dreamland jungle of his grandfather’s prison and its magical seep into his real life becomes the impetus that changes his life and brings answers to his family.

A.S. King has divided herself between self-sufficiency, teaching adult literacy, and writing novels. She has also been a rare poultry breeder, photographer, master printer, contractor, summer camp counselor, pizza delivery driver and, for a week or two, a complete loser who did nothing at all.  Her short fiction for adults has been widely published and was nominated for Best New American Voices 2010. Amy now lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and children and is a huge fan of Kurt Vonnegut, corn on the cob, nice weather, libraries, her community swimming pool, and fleece socks.

Follow A.S. King on Twitter: @as-king.

Young Writers & Readers September 12, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in weekly topics, YA fiction.
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Dallas Woodburn

September is back to school month. This week in #litchat we’re reaching out to teachers, librarians, and young people who write about and for young people. We’ll discuss resources and curriculum, as well as the best books for teaching the art and craft of writing more than just book reports and class assignments. We’ll feature some young writers who are already stepping into the publishing world through the myriad opportunities available today.

On Friday, September 15, author Dallas Woodburn joins us in #litchat to discuss  Write On For Literacy, a non-profit educational organization she founded to encourage kids and teens to discover confidence, joy, a means of self-expression and connection with others through reading and writing. Write On For Literacy holds writing contests, teaches writing camps, and operates the website to feature book reviews, author interviews, and a forum for young writers to share their work.

In the past nine years, the Write On For Literacy Holiday Book Drive has collected and distributed nearly 12,000 new books to underprivileged children. Write On For Literacy recently published Dancing With the Pen, the group’s first anthology of writing by young people gleaned from workshops and submissions to the organization.

Dallas Woodburn is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Fiction Writing at Purdue University. She is a 2009 summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Creative Writing and a minor in Entrepreneurship. She published her first book, There’s a Huge Pimple On My Nose, when she was ten years old, and has been hooked on writing ever since. She is the author of a second story collection, 3 a.m., and is currently working with a literary agent on the sale of her first novel. Woodburn’s short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in numerous literary journals including Monkeybicycle, Cicada, flashquake, Arcadia Journal, The Newport Review, and Eclectic Flash. In addition, she has written dozens of articles for publications including Family CircleWriter’s Digest,  Motherwords, JustineThe Los Angeles Times, and eight Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She is a staff writer for the websites GradtoGreat.com and TweenParent.com and writes the words and storyline of a monthly comic strip for the youth anti-drug magazine Listen.For her volunteer work, Woodburn has been honored with the Congressional Award Gold Medal, the Jackie Kennedy Onassis/Jefferson Award, and most recently the “Best of You” award from Glamour Magazine.

Follow Dallas Woodburn on Twitter: @DallasWoodburn.

Yay for YA February 28, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in weekly topics, YA fiction.
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Sascha Zuger, writing as Aimee Ferris

Young adult literature may feature characters who can’t yet vote or legally buy cigarettes, but the settings, circumstances and challenges are often as compelling as mainstream novels. Considered to be one of the hot markets for writers now, YA titles often outsell other genres positioned for adult readers. This week in #litchat we’re cheering for YA authors and the novels we cherish from our youth.

On Friday, March 4, Sascha Zuger, who writes YA under the pen name Aimee Ferris, joins us as guest host. Zuger is author of two YA novels, Girl Overboard (2007) and recently released Will Work for Prom Dress. In Will Work for Prom Dress, Zuger/Ferris takes readers through numerous zany attempts of two teenage girls to be the best-dressed girls at the prom, while they also attempt a “betterment plan.” Fashion, family, faux pas and romance make Will Work for Prom Dress a fun YA weekender.

Zuger left the corporate world after her company made an ill-fated decision to send her to Hawaii on a ten week business trip.  After living in Fiji, she joined a regatta as crew and sailed the South Pacific landing as a PADI divemaster on the Great Barrier Reef, before relocating to the Caribbean to try her hand at training dolphins.  Skydiving, playing a dead body in a dinner theatre, white water rafting, and feeding sharks underwater also made the list of prospective occupations before she settled on a career of making stuff up. She now juggles freelancing for a few dozen national magazines (*where she does not make stuff up), photographing her travel work and writing books, including Girl Overboard in Penguin’s (S.A.S.S. series). Zuger lives in New York.

Follow Sascha Zuger on Twitter: @Sascha_Zuger.

Quick Change Authors: Writing in Multiple Genres January 15, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in bestsellers, chick lit, children's literature, coming-of-age, commercial fiction, fiction, historical fiction, YA fiction.
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Lauren Baratz-Logsted

It’s been said that a good writer can slip between genres without leaving tracks. Ken Follett made his name with action-packed cold war suspense, but turned the clock back hundreds of years with his medieval historical fiction. Margaret Atwood’s science fiction holds its own against her literary work, while Joyce Carol Oates writes in several genres using two additional pen names. The bard himself wrote comedies, tragedies and sonnets.

This week in #litchat we’re discussing what it takes to write well, publish and be read in multiple genres. Joining us on Friday, January 21, 2011, is Lauren Baratz-Logsted. One of the most prolific authors of our day, Baratz-Logsted has successfully published children’s early readers, young adult, chick-lit, adult suspense. Just last week Baratz-Logsted wrote “the end” on the ninth book in her popular children’s series, THE SISTERS EIGHT.

A graduate of University of Connecticut at Storrs, in 1994 Logsted-Baratz left her job at a bookstore to take a chance on herself as a writer. Success did not happen over night. Between 1994 and May 2002 – when Red Dress Ink called with an offer to buy THE THIN PINK LINE – Lauren worked as a book reviewer, a freelance editor and writer, and a window washer, making her arguably the only woman in the world who has ever both hosted a book signing party and washed the windows of the late best-selling novelist Robert Ludlum. Since Red Dress Ink’s call in 2002, Baratz-Logsted has been very busy writing novels and checking her Amazon ranking on a daily basis. She still lives in Danbury, with her husband and daughter, where she has lived since 1991.

Follow Lauren Baratz-Logsted on Twitter: @LaurenBaratzL

Note: There will be no moderated #litchat on Monday, January 16, while we observe the Martin Luther King holiday in the United States.

Read chatscripts from this week’s #litchat:

January 19, 2011: Quick Change Authors

January 21, 2011: Quick Change Authors, Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Write Out of the Box October 10, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in weekly topics, YA fiction.
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Topic of the Week: October 11-15, 2010

We often discuss fiction genres in #litchat. Love them or loathe them, genres help retailers know where to shelve books in a store and they help buyers locate books within their interest. But what happens when novels don’t fit into the boxes that form the genres? When the characters cross over from one genre into another, the story arc pops open the box lid, or the theme oozes out and seeps into another genre? Do these novels work? Who writes them? Who buys them? We’ll discuss these questions and more in this week’s topic, “Write Out of the Box.”

Guest host on Friday is A.S. King, who will lead the spirited discussion, “An Hour of Rebellion With A.S. King.” Although her books are shelved in the young adult section, King doesn’t write for a specific age group. “I don’t write my YA for teenagers alone. I write them for families. The father can enjoy it as much as the kids,” says King. She’s eager to share what she sometimes refers to as “writing with the middle finger” with #litchat.

King’s second novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, launches on Tuesday with an eager audience of mixed ages awaiting. In Please Ignore Vera Dietz, King ignores teenage angst and points instead to abuses of physical, chemical and emotional. It’s a powerful book about facing personal demons, both past and present, and doing the right thing in the midst of grief.

A.S. King’s short fiction has appeared in many print and online journals and has been nominated for Best New American Voices. Her first young adult novel, The Dust of 100 Dogs, was published in February 2009 and was an ALA Best Books for Young Adults pick, a Cybils Award finalist and an Indie Next List pick for teens. Her next novel, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, is due in October 2010 from Knopf, and her third, Everybody Sees the Ants, will come a year after from Little, Brown.

Read the chatscripts from this week’s discussions:

October 11 & 13, 2010: Write Out of the Box

October 14, 2010: An Hour of Rebellion with Author AS King

Follow A.S. King on Twitter at: @AS_King.

Birth of a Novel October 3, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in coming-of-age, fiction, literary fiction, weekly topics, YA fiction.
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Topic of the Week: October 4-8, 2010


Susan Henderson


Novels, like the characters who fill them and the authors who write them, have a backstory. They may be conceived in a spark of insight or a foggy vision of crisis, they may take years to write or dashed off in a flurry of days. Some are methodically plotted with outlines and color-coded spreadsheets of character traits and story arc, while others are mined in a word-by-word chipping away to the mother lode of storyline. One of the most common questions #litchat followers ask of guest hosts is how they got their book published. The week of October 4-8 in #litchat we’re talking about just that.

We are pleased to have Susan Henderson as guest host on Friday, October 8. Susan’s first novel, Up from the Blue, launched last week amid a buzz of media attention generated not only from its brilliant storytelling, but from the years it took to bring this powerful novel to market.

Told in the wizened voice of seven-year-old Tillie Harris, Up from the Blue, traces a year in the life of a family torn apart by debilitating mental illness and obsessive professional pride. Tillie Harris adores her tortured mother, striving to become the girl she believes will draw her mother back into the fold of family life. Tillie’s father wanders in and out of the story giving orders like the Air Force colonel he is, hiding his own brokenness by managing a household to appear beyond reproach. From the bowels of the house to the bedroom where Tillie lies awake until she’s able to enter her secret world, to the decrepit cement hole in the backyard that once was a swimming pool, the destructive forces of pride, obsession and depression zero in on the Harris family as accurately as the missiles Colonel Harris designs at the Pentagon.

Up from the Blue first sold first to St. Martins in 2006, but differences in vision between the editor and author led Susan to do the unthinkable of a debut novelist. She bought back her novel. Susan has blogged about her experiences birthing Up from the Blue in her popular website, LitPark, as well as in a column, Evolution of the Book, published at The Nervous Breakdown (TNB).

Susan is the founder of LitPark, and blogs occasionally at Huffington Post, as well as Brad Listi’s The Nervous Breakdown. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets award and grants from The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation and The Lojo Foundation. Her work has—twice—been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has been published in a who’s who of literary journals through the years. She and her husband live in the northeast with their two boys.

Read the chatscripts from this week’s discussions:

October 4 & 6, 2010: Birth of a Novel

October 8, 2010: Birth of a Novel, author Susan Henderson

Follow Susan Henderson on Twitter at @LitPark.

Indie Author Showcase June 20, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in alternative publishers, fantasy, literary fiction, self-publishing, YA fiction.
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June 21-25, 2010

It’s that time of year again for #litchat’s Indie Author Showcase. While traditional publishers remain the standard of success for authors, the stigma of self-publishing is vanishing as indie authors whose work falls through the cracks of commercial publishing trends are finding success on their own. Indies of film, music and other arts are celebrated, isn’t it time to salute the finest of indie authors?

This week we’re featuring three authors who have chosen to take their writing career into their own hands, and each of them in different ways.

Monday, June 21: Dan Halloway — Digital Publishing and Community

Dan Holloway is a writer, blogger, music journalist, theologian, arts promoter and mental health campaigner. He is a founder member of Year Zero Writers, a collective of contemporary fiction writers set up to give people a place to write directly for readers, free from commercial consideration. He is the author of the novel Songs from the Other Side of the Wall, and the collection of stories and poems (life:) razorblades included. Dan’s short stories, articles about publishing, and journalism have appeared in places as diverse as PANK, One in Four Magazine, Editor Unleashed, Emprise Review, The Indie Handbook, and the urban writing biennial XCP: Streetnotes.

Dan has organized cross-arts events from the Free e-Day Festival, to the current Year Zero Live tour, using untraditional venues from music clubs to art galleries and tattoo parlors. His latest project is eight cuts gallery, a real and virtual space designed to blur completely the boundaries between literature and other arts.

Follow Dan Holloway on Twitter: @agnieszkasshoes

Wednesday, June 23: D.R. Whitney — Established a Publishing Company

D.R. Whitney wrote The Last Princess as the first in a series she calls The Goddess Prophecies, an epic fantasy adventure featuring a contemporary heroine drawn to the mythic isle of Avalon. An adult version of The Last Princess was originally offered by a small press, but during #litchat we’ll learn why Whitney reclaimed her project, revised it for YA, and established her own publishing company to bring it out. In addition to the trade paperback, Whitney has produced an audio version of the book a lush soundtrack and a theatrical delivery. A film adaptation is claimed to be in the works. Savvy marketing, a million-dollar budget and relentless belief in her work keeps Whitney in the game.

Whitney’s journey to The Goddess Prophecies began in Britain where she spent several years researching Celtic myth and legend. She is currently completing work on her second installment , entitled: “The Last Princess and The Staff of Power.” Whitney lives in Los Angeles with her music producer husband, James and three Pekingese.

Follow D.R. Whitney on Twitter: @goddessprophecies

Friday, June 25: William H. Johnson — iUniverse (self-publishing house)

William H. Johnson comes from a background of theater and film, where independent artists are highly respected for working outside the mainstream. With this background it was natural for him to go it alone, rather than pursuing a deal with a traditional publishing house. Johnson received a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University where he developed a passion for theater. Since relocating to Southern California in 1997, William has directed numerous plays from David Ives one acts All in the Timing to Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece, Waiting for Godot. In 2004 he began training and developing The Magic Meathands improv comedy ensemble, a performing company whose mission of com-mune-edy outreach has been blogged about on idealist.org and featured on CNN Headline News: Local Edition.

In 2009 he began writing essays on race in America and political commentary that have been published in three different regional newspapers. Johnson’s first novel, The Dark Province: Son of Duprin, was released in March 2010.

Follow William H. Johnson on Twitter: @AuthorWilliam