The randomly chosen winner of Luisa Plaja’s book Split By A Kiss is Elaina! Elaina, please email Luisa at chicklish@googlemail.com. Thanks to all of you who entered!

This week’s guest blogger is Tara Altebrando, the author of What Happens Here and The Pursuit of Happiness. Tara has written about how she got into writing young adult books. Thanks to Tara for this awesome post, and thanks to all of you for reading! Without further ado:

Hey, Jocelyn. Thanks for having me! I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk a little bit about how I came to write for teens. Where better than Teen Book Review to do that, right?

Many moons ago now, I had a sort of permanent freelance job at a big publishing company, writing flap copy for books of the grown-up variety. I was pretty sure it was the best, most reliable freelance gig to ever exist. But then at the end of the year one year, the big boss said they’d run out of money in the budget to pay me and I was cut loose for the months of November and December. I was told I’d be hired back in January, but still…Merrrrry Christmas!

It would’ve been nice to just take off and spend a month on the Italian Riviera or carousing in Paris, but I needed money, so I started to put out some feelers. And as my father always says, “When God closes a door he opens a window.” Someone was going on maternity leave and a proofreader/copyeditor was needed in the production department of HarperCollins Children books.

So a photo badge was made and my commute changed by a few stops and there I was, spending my days reading proofs of children’s books and all sorts of marketing materials, too. One day, a young adult novel came across my desk and I read it with bated breath. It was a marvelous book, the very sort of book that I hoped The Pursuit of Happiness would be…only I hadn’t written it yet. I’d published a novel for grown-ups, and was supposed to be writing my second one, but suddenly, when I got to the last page of those proofs of that fantastic YA book, I thought, “THIS is what I should be doing.” Writing YA! I’d already written the first chapter of Pursuit. What was I WAITING for?

So now that Pursuit has been out in the world for a few years and my new YA book, What Happens Here, is being released, it’s sort of neat to start to contemplate an actual career in young adult fiction. There is, I think, a great fear among writers of being a one-trick pony so it’s nice to know that I’ve officially got two tricks. And I hope that readers will find in What Happens Here everything they liked about Pursuit-uh, if they did, that is-but with some new stuff, too. Like a bit of glitz and adventure! I’ve moved the action from the colonial village of Pursuit to Vegas, and even better…to Europe!

Oh, and that fantastic YA book that got me to thinking? It was The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson. Which is sort of funny because back then her name meant nothing to me. So little, in fact, that I completely forgot it. And once I started to get to know the YA world, her name kept coming up and we were even at a bunch of the same parties and I kept thinking, “You really need to read some Maureen Johnson,” not even realizing that I already had! And that it had made all the difference!

So big thanks to my ex big boss for giving me a most unexpected Christmas gift that year, to the woman at Harper for having a baby, and to Ms. Johnson for unwittingly handing me the key to my own future.

Oh, and I can’t forget. We’re giving a copy of What Happens Here away! Comment below to enter!