Guest Blog

Today, I have a great guest blogger (vlogger? Is that a word?), who has created my first-ever guest vlog. Book Chic talks about how he got started book blogging, and it’s great. Check it out:

You can also see his previous guest post for Teen Book Review here, and his video page here




PS: Anyone else interested in guest blogging or vlogging, feel free to email me with ideas.

Jennifer E. Smith’s The Comeback Season was one of my favorite books of 2008, and I’m very pleased to have Jennifer here today for a guest blog! Aside from being an author, she is also an editor, and she wrote about the craziness of her life. Enjoy!


I’m one of the lucky ones.  Not only do I have one job I love…I actually have two.  Besides being a writer, I also work as an editor at a major publishing house.  So I spend my days working with amazing authors, helping them through the publication process, learning from their successes and mistakes, and then at the end of the day – after all the hours of reading, the pages of notes, the line edits and copyedits and art meetings – there’s this beautiful book to show for it all.  And afterwards?  I have my own writing too.  Being a writer is something I’ve wanted since I was ten, and now it seems almost impossible that I’m actually doing it.  I hope everyone can be this lucky.  I hope everyone gets to do what they love someday.  
Still, most people have a pretty romantic notion of what these kinds of jobs entail.  So I’m here to set the record straight.  Contrary to popular opinion, editors do not spend the majority of their days poring over manuscripts, or chewing on the end of a pencil in a book-lined room while consulting a thesaurus every now and again.  And the same goes for writers.  I know very few who pass the time sitting in front of a notebook with a cup of tea, staring off dreamily whenever a new idea comes to mind.  The truth, in both cases, is a little more hectic than that.  And so I thought I’d outline for you a typical day in the life of a writer/editor:
6:38am – Wake up.  Hit snooze.  Manage to wake dog while I’m at it.
6:46am – Hit snooze one more time.  Just a few more minutes.  
6:54am – Okay, okay, I’m up.  Put on coat to take dog out.  Stand in freezing cold hoping he’ll choose to do his business quickly. Think of a brilliant beyond brilliant way to fix current work in progress, but it’s already disappeared by the time I’m back inside.
7:08am – Remember idea but am in the shower.  Will remember later, I’m sure.
7:52am – Leave for work.  Remember idea on the way, but fingers are too cold to write.  Gone again by the time I make it to the elevator.  
8:08am – Check email.  Check voicemail.  Several authors need several things.  Scurry around.  Make photocopies.  Get paper cut. Return phone calls.  Start thinking perhaps authors are kind of a pain, then remind myself that I’m one too.  Revise thought immediately.  Authors rule.
12:12pm – Lunch break.  Jot down what’s left of the morning’s idea, but too much going on in the office to write anything coherent. Resolve to do it later.
1:45pm – Jacket meeting.  Check email.  Marketing meeting.  Check email.  Publicity meeting.  Check email.  Author meeting.  Check email.  Another paper cut.  Check clock.
6:00pm – Try to spend a few minutes coaxing out the morning’s brilliant idea, but am whisked off to a book party for another author. Spend much of it in the corner, looking on jealously as they make their speech.  Try not to blame them for finishing their book.  It’s nottheir fault they have more time than I do.  (Or have won way more awards.)  Start backing out the door.  Need to get home and begin writing immediately.  
8:00pm – Arrive home.  Say hello to dog (after all, must always be gracious to your fans).  Sit at computer.  Try to remember why that idea seemed so genius this morning.  Type some nonsense, just to fill the page.  Erase it immediately.  
8:08pm – Eat dinner.
8:32pm – Return to computer.  Check Facebook.  Check MySpace.  Check email. 
8:44pm – Get snack.  (Not remotely hungry, but better than sitting in front of blank page).
8:48pm – Stare at screen some more. 
8:52pm – Notice manuscript in work bag.  Begin editing instead of writing.  Seems silly to work on my own idea when I’ve got someone else’s right there…
9:55pm – Still happily editing when something clicks.  My idea!  It’s brilliant again!
9:56pm – Return to computer.  Write a few hundred words.  Feel proud of myself.  Dog looks proud too.  Switch off computer again. As long as my number one fan is happy, then I’m happy too.  
So there you have it.  Glamorous?  No.  Leisurely?  Definitely not.  Wonderful?  Absolutely.  

Thanks, Jennifer! 

Check out my review of The Comeback Season and the author’s page on Myspace. Her next book, You Are Here, will be out in May, and I can’t wait to read it. 


Karen Mahoney is a writer who has also worked as a book buyer, and so is very knowledgeable about books in general. Read her guest blog about how she got into writing YA! 

First of all, a big Thank You to Jocelyn for letting me ‘borrow’ her corner of the internet. Teen Book Review is one of my favourite places to read about YA fiction, so it’s very cool to be here. 

As a writer of YA urban fantasy, I’m lucky enough to be represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency in New York (despite the fact that I’m a Brit based in London). My first novel,The Iron Witch, is currently on submission to editors in the US, so any good vibes you want to send my way would be much appreciated. ;) Regardless of that, my debut publication is coming up later this year in an anthology of YA vampire stories, The Eternal Kiss (Running Press, Autumn 2009). My story is called ‘Falling to Ash’ and puts the spotlight on an important supporting character from The Iron Witch. Moth is a young vampire who returns to her hometown for a memorial service, one year after her mother’s death, but is reluctantly pulled back into the supernatural world while she’s there. What should be a routine job for her ‘boss’ turns into something with potentially deadly consequences. I’m excited to be a part of this anthology, and if you like vampire stories you’re in for a real treat with the amazing authors that are involved. 

I write YA fiction for so many reasons – and to be honest, I didn’t even know that I was a ‘YA writer’ until I first worked as a bookseller and realised how huge the Teenage Fiction section was. I never sat down and thought: “Okay then, I’m going to write for teenagers because that’s what sells!” I write for young adults simply because I happen to love writing about characters aged around 16-18. It’s an age where a lot happened in my life, and all of those experiences – the good and the bad – seem so much more powerful when you’re going through the inevitable changes that the teenage years bring. All those ‘first times’ that we go through at 17… It makes for wonderful drama and conflict in fiction. The potential for emotional writing is huge, and I love writing big emotional scenes. I remember how brave I could be at 17, while now I am much more cautious and (try to) think things through before acting. There’s a fearless quality to many teenagers I have known. 

My stories involve the fantastic existing alongside the ordinary – I love that combination! The possibilities are endless… My characters include vampires, shape-shifting elves, half-demons, witches, and a girl with iron tattoos that give her super-strength. How can you not want to get lost in a world that’s filled with darkness and excitement; romance and adventure; and huge life-or-death battles between good and evil – usually where the sides aren’t as clearly defined as you might like? 
I used to work with older teens as a student advisor, and I learned so much then. Not just about the young adults I worked with, but also about myself. I think it was then that I realised I wanted to focus on the teenage years in my fiction. Now that I’m writing YA contemporary fantasy I can truly allow my imagination to soar, while still keeping myself and the worlds I create firmly grounded in the very real issues of what it’s like to be a teenager. I remember 

that time pretty well (too well!), even though it sometimes seems very far away. To think that I’m writing books that might one day be read by young adults who experience things so passionately… That would be a dream-come-true. :) 

* * * 

Feel free to visit me at my blog – I update almost every day and ramble on about all sorts of things over there:

I am also part of a new website and group blog for nine urban fantasy and YA authors, which will launch on Monday.

* * * 

As an avid reader of all kinds of fiction – including YA urban fantasy, I’m giving away two books to one commenter: 

An ARC of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (due for release in February), and

a signed copy of the new UK edition of Tithe by the brilliant Holly Black. 

Just leave a comment telling me what you’re reading at the moment – or what the last book you read was – and Jocelyn will pick a winner and forward me that person’s details. I’ll mail to any country.

This contest will be open until 11:59 PM EST on Wednesday, January 24. Thanks, Karen!

Just a note: I haven’t read this book yet. It sounds interesting, and it got a good review on Teens Read Too, but I can’t say I’m officially endorsing the book yet–just the guest post by the authors! It’s a funny interview with one of their characters. I’m also recommending you enter their contests!  Who doesn’t love free stuff? For some of the contests, you do have to buy the book, but not for all of them.

After a millennium of imprisonment in his magic wand, an ancient wizard possesses the young boy who released him. When danger is nigh, he emerges from the frightened child to set things right. Both he and the boy try to grasp what has happened to them only to discover a deeper problem. Somehow the wizard’s bride from the ancient past has survived and become something evil.
C&E: Thank you for joining us today, Rowan.
Rowan: Well, since you created me, I pretty much have to do what you say.
Ethan: I guess that’s tr—
Christine: Wait a minute. You mean you’re under our complete command?
Rowan: Of course.
Christine: So I have this gorgeous, hunky Scotsman at my beck and call? Who will do whatever I say!
Rowan: Um.
Ethan: Honey, let’s stay focused.
Christine: Oh, sorry sweetie. Of course!
C&E: So Rowan, how does it feel to have your story told to the world?
Rowan: It is rather a tragic story, is it not? I mean, I am not thrilled that the entire world now knows my greatest mistake, am I?
C&E: What would be your greatest mistake?
Rowan: Hiding, of course. Fiana was right. It was cowardly.
C&E: But what choice did you have? It was hide or die.
Rowan: Yeah. Thanks for that. How can anyone make that kind of decision so quickly? All I could think is that I wanted to see my beautiful bride again.
C&E: Well, you did see her again.
Rowan: And we all know how that turned out.
C&E: Every relationship has its challenges!
Rowan: You’re not going to get a rise out of me.
Christine: Are you sure about that?
Ethan: Down girl.


Read interviews with their other main characters Cullen and Fiana.

Check out the Holiday Contests,/a> where you can win books, B&N gift cards, a digital camcoder, and more! Just leave a comment on this blog for a chance to win a limited edition signed print of Christine’s Green Man II painting.
The book is available
now via Amazon (Kindle, too) and wherever books are sold.

Christine and Ethan Rose are the authors of the new YA fantasy novel
Rowan of the Wood. They live in Austin, TX with their three dogs and Shadow the Cat. *

Just a note: I haven’t read this book yet. It sounds interesting, and it got a good review on Teens Read Too, but I can’t say I’m officially endorsing the book yet–just the guest post by the authors! It’s a funny interview with one of their characters. I’m also recommending you enter their contests!  Who doesn’t love free stuff? For some of the contests, you do have to buy the book, but not for all of them. 

Teen Book Review is excited to host Christine and Ethan Rose, authors of the new, award-winning YA fantasy novel Rowan of the Wood during their Geekalicious Yuletide Blog Book Tour! The authors are stopping by here on Saturday, December 13. They’ll be interviewing their main character Rowan..

Rowan of the Wood:
An ancient wizard possesses a young boy after a millennium of imprisonment in a magic wand. He emerges from the child in the face of danger and discovers Fiana, his new bride from the past, has somehow survived time and become something evil.

The authors are also hosting a contest on YouTube and giving away a digital camcorder just for following four simple steps. Check it out!

Come back and visit on Saturday, read Rowan’s interview, and post questions/comments. The authors will be available all day Saturday and Sunday to answer your questions. Every comment on this blog is an entry to win a signed, limited edition print of Christine’s Green Man II painting. The authors are also giving away autographed books and over $600 in other prizes through their website.

As promised, this week is extra-special because we have a second guest blogger, Elizabeth Scott! Elizabeth is the author of three fantastic books, Bloom, Perfect You, and Stealing Heaven (there she is on the left with Perfect You). One lucky commenter on today’s post will win a signed copy of Stealing Heaven! This contest closes a week from today. Don’t forget to enter our other current contest, for an audiobook of The Opposite of Invisible, and stay tuned for more contests, including an extra-awesome contest sometime next week. And now, on to our guest blogger:

I’m writing this on May 2nd, and I have to tell you, I’m a little nervous. It’s my first ever “guest blog” and I feel as I should have something profound to say about writing. But you know, I don’t. I still have so much to learn about how to write–not just the mechanics of it, though I’m quite certain I’ll never know enough about grammar, but about the heart and soul of stories themselves.

And that, I think, is the beauty of writing. It’s always surprising you. You start a story, you think you know where it’s going–maybe you’ve even taken notes–and all of a sudden, BOOM! Your characters aren’t telling your story anymore–they’re telling *their* story, and that moment…it’s one of the most amazing feelings. I mean, how often do you get to peak into someone else’s life, to see what their heart truly desires?

It’s also terrifying, because a lot of writing is about learning to let go, to not force what you want and to just wait and see what happens. And it can be hard, and whenever you think you’re done, it almost always turns out that you’ve just gotten started.

That’s what keeps me writing, though. I love the rush of an idea, I love the moment when I sit down and start to type. I love it when the people I’m writing about do what they want, and let me come along for the ride.

This week’s guest blogger is Liz Gallagher! Thanks to Liz for doing this. I also have another special treat for you all this week–I’ll have another guest blog on Friday! So stay tuned for a double feature this week. Anyway, Liz has written a fantastic post which I have for you below, and one lucky random commenter will win an audio book of Liz’s fantastic book The Opposite of Invisible. Please be as awesome as last week’s commenters and weigh in on the very interesting questions Liz raises in her blog post! Last week’s winner of a signed copy of Song of the Sparrow is Megan. Megan, please email me your mailing address at And now, on to Liz’s blog post:

When I think about my work as a young adult author–a genre that I fell in love with as an adult–I keep coming back to the same food for thought. I call it food for thought because it’s not a thesis, an assertion, a lesson, or anything else that I’m sure about; it’s a question. Here it is: What makes a young adult book different from an adult book about a teenager? And are YA books only for teens?

To me, a novel is a novel. I think. There are books being pubbed as YA that I definitely think every human should read – MT Anderson’s Octavian Nothing, for example, or Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief. Those books are on the literary end of the YA spectrum, though, which raises another question. What are the categories of YA? And do some have more crossover appeal than others?

I used to think that we might find some kind of rule in this: lots of books about teens that are published as adult books have a tone of looking back at teenhood (such as Curtis Sittenfeld’s runaway hit of a few summers past, Prep, in which the narrator is a wise old twenty-three, if I remember correctly), while most books about teens that are published as YA have an immediate, in-the-moment tone. That idea sounded like a decent rule of thumb ’til I found lots of rule-breakers; a notable exception is Marc Acito’s How I Paid for College, an adult book told in the now of  eighties teendom.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about this food, but–to stick with the metaphor–I’m still hungry. I’ve nibbled extensively on the idea that where we classify and subsequently sell a book about a teen is largely a marketing decision (and, tied into that, obviously depends on who’s publishing it). The crux: Teens will find books in the adult section, but most adults won’t shop in the YA section. Therefore, a book with crossover appeal will find a larger audience (of both teens and adults) in the adult section.

But something interesting is going on right this moment! A trend! A new item on the menu, if you will. Last week’s Entertainment Weekly (May 16) included an interesting article, “Teen Nation” by Jennifer Armstrong. It’s starts like this: “Anyone who’s a teenager — or one of the many adults whose pop culture tastes lean in that direction — might want to blow off that summer job.” Teen entertainment out there that’s super-popular, and not just among teen audiences.

The article breaks it down into TV (Gossip Girl, THEWB.COM showing old faves, the forthcoming Juno-esque The Secret Life of the American Teenager, the re-envisioned Beverly Hills, 90210), Movies (American Teen, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants sequel, the forthcoming film adaptation of Nick and Norah’s Infinite  Playlist,and –hello?! — Juno) and Music. I’d argue that music is the last to bleed over (Do any adults out there actually listen to Miley Cyrus, Jesse McCartney, or the Jonas Brothers in the absence of young people? The article thinks so . . . I think they’d do better to point out how many of us watch American Idol.) In any case, the article points out that we’re in a new teen-entertainment boom and that it might not dry up any time soon, as past booms have been forced to say bye-bye-bye.

It’s odd to me that an article with mention of Gossip Girl, Nick and Norah (which they call “the Micahel Cera comedy,” with no mention of it’s basis in the Levithan & Cohn book), and Sisterhood doesn’t begin to examine how books play into this trend. Guess we’ll have to do that ourselves!

Here’s the most interesting quote in the article, from Leslie Morgenstien, who helped develop Gossip Girl from “the popular book series” (the only mention of books I remember in the whole article) into the tv show: “Thing have shifted. Children are better informed, more sophisticated. There used to be a trickle-down effect: Properties would start for adults and then trickle down to teens. I think now it’s reversed.”

That’s almost the equivalent of adults shopping in the YA section, isn’t it? Will this phenomenon spill over to the book world? And will it say in the pop culture — “properties”– arena? Or bleed over into less effusive books, too?

Let’s talk! Adults, how do you feel about the questions? Do your adult friends seem more open to teen entertainment than they once were? Or are only those of us who are already YA-minded watching Gossip Girl? Do you know anyone who’s read the books because of the tv show? And teens, what do you think? Will you stop shopping the YA section once you’re “grown up”? Where do you hear about books? Why do you read  YA? Who do you think it’s for?

Last week’s guest blogger was Paula Yoo, who gave away a copy of her book to a random commenter. The winner for last week’s contest is The Page Flipper! Please email me at with your mailing address and I’ll forward it to Paula. This week’s guest blogger is Lisa Ann Sandell, author of Song of the Sparrow. Thanks so much to Lisa for her fantastic post about books! Speaking of fantastic, and of books, you’ve got to read Lisa’s book if you haven’t yet done so. Lisa is also giving away a copy of her book; read on for details.

On Books and Reading…

My husband accuses me of being a silly romantic for elevating books and reading to some foolishly glorified state. After all, so much of our reading time is spent finding out what celebrities are wearing or what the candidates are feuding about or what the tabloid headlines are. And there’s nothing elevated about reading that stuff.

So what is it about books?

Well, I like the smell of a book, of its paper and ink, the perfume of the printed word. I love the feel of a book, especially if it’s squat and heavy and fits in my hands just so. And I get a kick out of the fact that the book is a technology that hasn’t changed in hundreds of years (although, I’ll admit the future of the book seems somewhat uncertain in this electronic age).

But best of all, I love the way I can curl up in bed, in a comfy chair, or on a blanket in the park and geLisa's living room is so overflowing with books that they've started to grow on the walls!t lost in a book. Lost in a new and different world, lost in someone else’s view of the world. I love slipping on somebody else’s shoes and going for a nice, long tromp. The greatest thrill in reading, for me, is entering into a stranger’s head and looking out on life through different eyes and learning something about myself in the process.

For as long as I live I will never forget the first time I read Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and met Meg:

“Go back to sleep” Meg said. “Just be glad you’re a kitten and not a monster like me.” She looked at herself in the wardrobe mirror and made a horrible face, baring a mouthful of teeth covered with braces. Automatically she pushed her glasses into position, ran her fingers through her mouse-brown hair, so that it stood wildly on end, and let out a sigh almost as noisy as the wind.

It was electric. Meg embodied all of the ugliness and pain I felt when I was younger. She felt the same despair I did, the same sense of awkwardness and loneliness and hopelessness I felt. Her closest friendship was with her younger brother, as mine was with my younger sister. I identified with Meg in every way, and that connection was profound for me. Because I realized, for the first time, that if someone in a book could feel the same way I did, then maybe it wasn’t just me. Maybe I wasn’t the freak I thought I was.

Then, as I followed Meg on her adventures and saw the courage and intelligence and grace she brought to the subsequent stories, I began to feel hopeful. And throughout the course of L’Engle’s series, as Meg grew up and grew into a beautiful swan, I began to believe that maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t doomed to ugly ducklinghood for the rest of my life either.

So, if you ask me what it is about books that I like best, I can tell you: A famous writer once said that “You can’t see around your own corner.” Books allow us to do just that. It is inside of a book that we can sometimes discover what is best about ourselves. Even in a flight of fantasy, we can read a good story and be reminded of what makes us human and what brings us together as a species.

I’d love to hear what reading means to you. And here’s an incentive: One lucky commenter will receive a signed copy of my latest book, Song of the Sparrow!
(Excerpt from A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, New York: A Yearling Book, Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1962. p. 6.)

This week’s guest blogger is Paula Yoo, whose first novel, Good Enough, is something of a must-read and available now. Paula is also the author of a picture book and writes for television. In this fascinating blog post, Paula talks about writing for television and writing novels, and how the two compare. For those of you who haven’t yet read it, Paula is also giving away a signed copy of Good Enough to one commenter below! You have until next Wednesday to enter. Last week’s guest blogger, Tara Altebrando, gave away a copy of her book What Happens Here to a random commenter as well! The winner of that contest, chosen by a random number generator, is Steph (Reviewer X). Steph, please email me your mailing address at and I’ll forward it to Tara! Without further ado, now, Paula’s post. Enjoy!

By night, I’m a children’s book writer of YA novels and picture books.

By day, I’m a TV screenwriter.

So? you ask. What’s the difference?

Good question. Sometimes, there’s no difference at all. In both genres, you are simply trying to tell an original story with interesting characters. Other times, the difference between screenwriting versus novel writing is so wide that I have trouble bridging the gap when I’m working simultaneously on a novel and screenplay deadline.

Like right now. Tonight, I’m preparing to embark on a ten-day book tour through Seattle, WA,  Cinncinati and Dayton, OH, and Ft. Thomas, KY. Aside from packing dilemmas (yes, yours truly INSISTS on bringing five, FIVE pairs of shoes for 9 1/2 days!)… I’ve also had to juggle a book project and a script deadline.

My book project is a new YA Novel that I’ve been doing a ton of research on. I finally started writing it and have been pleased with the 30 pages I’ve produced so far. But I’m also frustrated because I know I have at least another 200 pages to fill…

But as I work on this novel, I also have a script deadline looming in the near future. This script requires me to switch gears and think about how to cram several characters and storylines into a mere 50 pages.

So that’s one difference between novels and screenplays: LENGTH.

I’d say that’s the biggest difference, and the most important one. See, in a novel, you can meander and go off course for a bit. You can take more time in letting a character reveal himself or herself to the reader. The story unfolds gradually, revealing layer upon layer, like peeling an onion, until you reach its core.

Of course you can’t meander too much – you have to make sure the reader never loses track of who the main character is, what  he/she wants, and what obstacles they have to overcome in order to get what they want in the end.

With a screenplay, specifically hour-long TV dramas, you have a fixed amount of pages – between 45 and 60 pages, tops – to tell a story that has compelling and interesting characters and an interesting plot where the stakes keep increasing.

Story in TV form is often told and shown through dialogue and characters’ reactions. Everything else – wardrobe, scenery, etc. – is often decided upon by committee. TV Screenwriting is a very collaborative format where the props and art department and director and a whole CREW of people interpret your words. For example, you could write that a character lives in a “rundown bungalow in a tough neighborhood.” In a novel, I’d expand upon that description and show what it’s like to live there. But on a TV show, the location director and art department interpret your basic description and bring that setting to life. As a TV writer, your job is to concentrate on what the characters are saying and doing.

The best part about being a TV writer is that it teaches you the economy of language because you don’t have a lot of time to tell a story. It also teaches you how to structure a plot so there is not one wasted scene – everything happens for a reason – one action causes a reaction which causes another action which in turn causes a reaction… before you even write a script, you MUST write an outline which lists the main “story beats” for each scene of each act.

That skill has helped me immensely when I get stuck writing a novel. For example, this new YA novel I’m writing has been difficult because it has a more complicated storyline with more characters than my first novel, Good Enough. I found myself using TV writing techniques to plot out the new novel, figuring out what the basic story beats were for each act.

That, in turn, helped me finally write those first 30 pages. Only 200 or so left to go! :)

I’ve also been asked what it’s like to write for TV versus writing a novel.

For novel writing, in a nutshell, it’s a lonely life. You’re mostly by yourself, sitting in front of your computer, writing. Sometimes you socialize with writers’ groups and have friends read and critique your work, but for the most part, being a novelist is lonely, lonely work.

For TV writing, you are in what they call a “Writer’s Room.” It consists of anywhere between three to 12 people. The hierarchy is Staff Writer, Story Editor, Executive Story Editor, Co Producer, Producer, Supervising Producer, Consulting Producer, Co-Executive Producer, and Executive Producer. The person who created the show is known as the “Showrunner.”

No two shows are alike but most shows tend to follow this general pattern:

1. The writers sit in a big room and eat a lot of junk food and gossip and eventually figure out what’s going to happen to the characters every week. This includes funny minor storylines, often called “runners,” to the big main plot of the week, to figuring out what serialized elements need to be updated every week (for example, if two characters are dating, you have to figure out the natural progression of their love story for the entire season etc.).

2. Once ideas are pitched and accepted or rejected, the writers summarize these ideas on a dry erase board.

3. These ideas are pitched to the Showrunner who either approves or rejects or revises these general ideas.

4. Once the ideas are given the greenlight, the writers then “beat” out the story by listing the order of events for each act. Most TV dramas have a teaser and four acts (that’s the traditional format). The latest trend has been anywhere from five to six acts! But basically, a TV show is divided up into several act breaks. Each act break has to have some sort of cliffhanger, and each cliffhanger gets more “dangerous” as you get closer to the final act.

5. Once the story beats are figured out, then the producers pitch this to the network. The network execs give their opinions, the writers tweak/revise their pitch, and then finally the writer of this episode is given permission to write a detailed outline explaining each scene of the show.

6. Once the outline is written, it goes through another lengthy revision process with approval or rejection from the network. Once the outline is finally approved, the writer has a certain amount of time to write a full script.

7. When the script is written, it goes through many more revisions until the episode is scheduled to shoot. There are still more revisions throughout filming, and even in the editing room after everything has been filmed!  (I haven’t even described all the pre-production work that goes into preparing a script for the shoot – from the props and art department figuring out the look of the episode to the casting of the actors in the minor roles etc.)

8. And then the show airs! But the writers are huddled back in the writers’ room, eating more junk food and figuring out next week’s episode.

Please note, this is a very, very simplified and rough version of what happens in TV. Not all shows work this way, and I’ve left out a ton of details. But at least you have a basic idea of how much work and revision goes into the writing of a TV show… and how collaborative it is!

I love doing both jobs. I started out as a novelist and I still think of myself primarily as a novelist. But I can’t imagine not working in TV – it’s a fun and exciting world and I’m a very social person, so I appreciate the escape from my lonely novel writing batcave. I feel very lucky and honored to have the privilege of working in both worlds, and even though it’s twice as much work, it’s worth it. I’ve learned and grown so much as a writer, thanks to my experiences in both worlds.

Now, time to see if I can actually shut my suitcase with all those shoes inside it! :)

The randomly chosen winner of Luisa Plaja’s book Split By A Kiss is Elaina! Elaina, please email Luisa at 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!

Today’s guest blogger is Luisa Plaja, author of Split By A Kiss. She’s written a fabulous post about YA books in the US and the UK, and I know you all will really enjoy it!

Travelling Trousers and Pants on Fire: When YA Titles Cross The Ocean

In suburban London, England, my friends and I grew up thinking we understood what it was to be an American teenager. Actually, I’d go further than that: we thought we were American teenagers. We had Stars and Stripes pens and NFL folders for our coursework. We watched John Hughes films and 90210, we read Sweet Valley High. We knew all about ‘lunch ladies’, ‘principals’, ‘proms’ and ‘graduating’ from high school in a big ceremony, as contrasted with the British experience of dinnerladies (or just vending machines), head teachers, and taking exams before slinking off quietly for the summer, waiting for a scrappy printout of our results to arrive in the post in August and certainly not a whiff of any mortarboards thrown in the air.

British teens of today might not have NFL emblazoned on their iPod skins, but many are just as well-versed in the ways of schools across the pond as I was. They watch films and television programmes set there, they devour books by American authors and they don’t need a glossary to understand that when Meg Cabot’s J.P. says he hates ‘corn’, he means ‘sweetcorn’. (Or at least, I think he does. Someone correct me if I’m wrong!)

When I lived in the United States, I discovered that the same does not hold true the other way round. The teenagers I met in the States did not know very much about life in Britain. Well, why would they? They don’t watch hours of primetime telly programmes (er, television shows) set in Britain, or read masses of contemporary British teen fiction.

But some British fiction has made it to the USA. I’ve heard that Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson comedy series, soon to be released as a film (er, movie), has brought the term ‘snogging’ to the USA, as well as creating a generation of Brit-literate American teens. I believe the books are published with a glossary, but then so are the British versions. Nicolson-ese needs as much translation in Billy Shakespeare land as it does in Hamburger-a-go-go land.

I’ve always thought that you can tell a lot about a culture from their teen book titles. Jaclyn Moriarty (who is Australian, but that’s a whole other post) made me think of this. The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie (USA) is called Becoming Bindy Mackenzie in the UK, and The Year of Secret Assignments (USA) is Finding Cassie Crazy in the UK. I used to think this meant that the US audience demands more dramatic, thriller-ish titles while Brits prefer to ponder their identity and sanity. But perhaps not. After all, you only have to look at Louise Rennison titles to see a certain randomness: And That’s When It Fell Off In My Hand is called Away Laughing on a Fast Camel in the USA, and the USA’s On The Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God is a translation of Britain’s It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers.

Well, I can see that ‘knickers’ and ‘pants’ might not cross the cultural divide, and I notice that Meg Cabot’s Pants on Fire became Tommy Sullivan is a Freak in the UK. But, confusingly, Sue Limb’s Girl 16: Pants on Fire is Girl Going on 17: Pants on Fire in the USA, so perhaps it’s not the pants that are at issue. After all, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants gained an ‘l’ in the UK but did not change its ‘pants’ to ‘trousers’, perhaps because ‘travelling trousers’ sounds faintly ridiculous, though possibly not as hilarious as the idea of travelling knickers. And, back to Louise Rennison, the latest Georgia book has been translated from Luuurve is a Many Trousered Thing to the plainer Love is a Many Trousered Thing, but fully retains its trousers. And both nations are awaiting the imminent release of the same title: Stop in the Name of Pants!

Putting pants, knickers and trousers aside, maybe the truth is that title changes don’t say very much about a culture after all. I recently heard that the prizewinning British novel Ways To Live Forever by Sally Nicholls will be issued in Dutch with a title that translates as “By The Time You Read This, I’ll Be Dead”. I immediately scratched my chin wisely and thought, “Hmm, clearly a cultural difference in attitude to death.” But perhaps not. It seems that the second title just sounds better in Dutch.

If you have any theories on this matter, or know of any interesting UK/US book title changes, I’d love to hear them!

And if you’d like to read a novel about a British girl in a US high school, you could check out Split by a Kiss, available on Amazon UK, or here with free delivery to Hamburger-a-go-go land.

Plus I’m giving away one copy to a Teen Book Review reader. Please leave a comment below for a chance to win! You have until midnight EDT on Wednesday, April 30 to enter.

Melissa, on the left, and some friends, at a famous Chapel Hill spot.Great news after an unexpected break: I’m going to be hosting author guest blogs here now, every Wednesday (don’t hold me to that, but I’ll try)! Are you excited? I know I am! I’m also thrilled that Melissa Walker has agreed to write the first guest blog for Teen Book Review. Thanks so much for doing this, Melissa! Melissa is the author of Violet on the Runway and Violet by Design, two fabulous books that you really should read, if you haven’t yet. You can also check out my interview with Melissa here. Without further ado, here’s Melissa fantastic blog:

Oh, the places I have been…

Thanks for having me, Jocelyn! I wanted to touch on something close to my heart, which is, um, home.

Every fiction writer makes stuff up, right? Yes, but I bet if you ask them, they might admit to cribbing quite a bit from real life.

When I started writing my first novel, Violet on the Runway, I tried to set it in a small town in Tennessee. After a few chapters, I knew that I had to take a step back. This wasn’t a town I knew about, these weren’t places I’d been. So I brought Violet into my world, Chapel Hill, NC, the town where I grew up. Incidentally, Sarah Dessen’s books are based in Chapel Hill, too, but she calls her fictional town Lakeview. She made a video about that here:

People always ask me if my characters are based on my friends (or maybe enemies). And the answer is yes. Not in the way that the characters are exactly like my friends, but I definitely pick up little habits from real people I meet and put them into my books. For example, I have a friend who loves to order a Sprite and Twizzlers at the movies, and then bite two ends off a Twizzler and drink through the candy straw (Violet does this too). I also had a crazy boss once who was nosy and hilarious and lots of fun—so I put bits of him into Violet’s theater manager.

And while it may seem weird that Violet works where I worked (in a movie theater), walks the same high school hallways that I did (at Chapel Hill High School) and even ends up considering going to college where I went (Vassar College), it’s not that unusual. After all, there’s that old author’s adage, “Write what you know.” So far, I’m sticking with that path (except for the runway model part—that I’ve never done!).