Monthly Archives: July 2010

Deadlines extended for our two writing contests!

Good news! We’re extending the deadlines for our two writing contests!

First … our Naughty List writing contest is now open until SUNDAY, August 1st at midnight (mostly due to myself not remembering the original deadline and putting out conflicting information).

Prizes include signed copies of The Naughty List and So Many Boys by Suzanne Young. Contest details HERE.

Second … I’ve decided to give you another week for our Summer of Skinny Dipping Contest. The new deadline is next Saturday, August 7th by midnight (PT). Details HERE.

The Summer of Skinny Dipping: That’s a wrap!

Today, we wrap up our week-long feature on The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells.

First, we want to remind you about our contest to win one of 5 copies of The Summer of Skinny Dipping — it ends at midnight (PT) tonight!

Next, we want to take a quick look back at all of this week’s features:

Introducing The Summer of Skinny Dipping

Book Review: The Summer of Skinny Dipping by Amanda Howells

Tell us a summer story & win The Summer of Skinny Dipping (Contest)

Classic Connections: The Great Gatsby & The Summer of Skinny Dipping

Exclusive Interview with Amanda Howells: Part 1

Exclusive Interview with Amanda Howells: Part 2

Exclusive Interview with Amanda Howells: Part 3

Amanda Howell’s Blog

For the comments: Tell us your thoughts on The Summer of Skinny Dipping!

Exclusive interview with author Amanda Howells: Part 3

Today, we present part 3 of our 3-part interview with The Summer of Skinny Dipping author Amanda Howells (see part 1 & part 2)– and today, she tackles the now-traditional Novel Novice flash questions!

If you could trade places with one person for a single day, who would it be & why?

Kristen Stewart—both on and (apparently) off-camera. I know it’s boring but I’m Robsessed. And I’d like to have her wardrobe and her legs (for more than a day, please).

What was the last movie you saw?

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. The first movie is by far my favorite. I loved it and think it’s a classic that will endure. I preferred it to the books, and to movies 2 and 3.

Biggest TV addiction?

30 Rock. RPattz isn’t my only celeb crush. I’m also in love with Alec Baldwin.

Guilty pleasure?

fistfuls of Gummi bears (preferably slightly stale), at night

Fruits or veggies?

Both. Just don’t mix them up. I get weirded out if there’s a strawberry or a raisin in my salad. I make only one exception: unless you’re an Asian pear, stay out of my salad.

Karaoke song?

Manic Monday. “6 o clock already I was just in the middle of a dream.” It’s such a silly song, but hey, I was a teen in the 80s. The Bangles were cool to me.

Favorite childhood toy?

I don’t know if this qualifies as a toy, but the Swiss Army Knife I got when I turned 9 or 10. I fancied myself a kind of a Nancy Drew at the time and was always looking for secret panels in the walls or using my knife to digging up old floorboards in the attic of the Victorian cottage we lived in. I really wanted to find a treasure map or an old diary. And believe it or not, underneath one of the old boards I pulled up, I found the 100-year-old diary of a 13-year-old girl wrapped in an old piece of rotting cloth! Next to it was the head of a porcelain doll. I’m not lying. It’s one of the most extraordinary things that ever happened to me. I wanted to find a secret diary, and I did. Life can be just as amazing as fiction!

See everything we’ve got on The Summer of Skinny Dipping, including our contest to win one of 5 copies of the book — it ends tomorrow at midnight!

The Official Mockingjay 13 District Blog Tour

Scholastic has announced all 13 blogs to take part in its Official Mockingjay 13 District Blog Tour … including Novel Novice!

We’ll be representing District 7 on August 16th. Here’s a look at the complete line-up of blogs on the tour:

District 1 | Galleysmith | August 2
District 2 | Sci Fi Guy | August 4
District 3 | WORD for Teens | August 6
District 4 | GreenBeanTeenQueen | August 9
District 5 | Dear Author | August 11
District 6 | Hey Lady | August 13
District 7 | Novel Novice | August 16
District 8 | Jenn’s Bookshelves | August 18
District 9 | The Compulsive Reader | August 20
District 10 | Presenting Lenore | August 23
District 11 | Mundie Moms | August 25
District 12 | The Book Smugglers | August 27
District 13 | Beth Fish Reads | August 30

You can get more from the Official Hunger Games Facebook Page!

Book Review- 13 to Life

Here is an author’s dream– you participate in a contest (a cell phone text novel contest no less), win, get an agent, and sign a multi-deal book with a publisher. Ladies and gentleman let me introduce you to author, Shannon Delany and her novel 13 to Life.

Here is the official synopsis:

Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown of Junction is changing.  Mysterious dark things are happening. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change. But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is sure to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town. It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid…


Here is why this books works: great, likable female protagonist who while you want to shake sometimes for her romantic choices, offers a fresh and enjoyable voice in YA lit. An outstanding set of supporting characters ranging from witty, dependable friends to smooth-talking, want to get to know brothers. Even some of the “villains” are really well-written, including Jessie’s football star crush who you can’t ever decide if he really likes her for her, or likes her for what he can get from her. Though I suspect we will find out the answers in the next installment.

The paranormal storyline is done perfectly in my mind. It’s not even the main focus of the story, and I really dig that. I keep stating that what makes a great paranormal YA is a strong focus on the relationships of the story. The mythology (paranormal aspects) of the novel don’t really come into play until the  end of the novel, leaving ample time for the reader to fall in love with Jessie and Pietr falling in love. Though, once again, according to the novel’s cliff-hanger ending, I think the focus on the novel’s mythology will get a bit more intense. Delany has hooked me with her characters, so I am already along for the ride.

Also, Delany is a very self-aware author. Often her MC makes random observations about the publishing world, and YA fiction which are not only spot-on, but really fun to read for anyone who is in the know.

What didn’t work: The love story’s conflict. At first, I was ok with the major obstacle that stood in the way of Jessie and Pietr, but when it evolved into something beyond girls before boyfriends (evolving into plot hole ridden story of amnesia) I got a little frustrated. I don’t want to give too much away here, but let’s just say the character of Sara did not work for me.

Even with this flaw, the book was a really enjoyable read. One of the best books I have read this summer. If you are a fan of The Twilight Series, I highly suggest you pick it up.

The Best of The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

Today marks the end of our July Book of the Month feature on The Naughty List series by Suzanne Young. So we’re taking a moment to look back at all the highlights:

The Naughty List Contest:

We want you to get creative!

This contest is open until midnight (PT) tomorrow — so you’ve still got time to enter.

The prize? Signed copies of The Naughty List and So Many Boys, with some signed Naughty List goodies for 2nd and 3rd place.

The contest? Write a short-story (500 to 1,000 words) based on the following writing prompt:

After the big game, you head out to the parking lot and see your BFF’s significant other in the back seat of a car with someone other than your friend. Tell us what you do next?

The rules for submission?

  1. it must be fictional
  2. written in the first person
  3. it must include the following words: naughty, smitten and ninja

So hurry & get your entries in now!

Exclusive interview with Suzanne Young:

Secret Video Project

We teased you about this occasionally on Twitter … see, I live really close to Suzanne Young. So she & I conspired and came up with a very goofy, very fun video project that we executed on June 10th — the release day for So Many Boys. This silly video is the result of our efforts:

Desktop Wallpapers

We love desktop wallpapers. We can’t get enough of them. So we created a collection of wallpapers for all of The Naughty List books — including the newly released So Many Boys and the yet-to-be-released A Good Boy is Hard to Find.

Exclusive Sneak Peek at A Good Boy is Hard to Find

Yep. It’s not in stores yet. But Suzanne gave us an exclusive look at the upcoming third installment of The Naughty List series. You won’t find this look at A Good Boy is Hard to Find anywhere else, so be sure to check it out! We also previewed Suzanne’s two new, more serious books coming out in 2011.

For the comments: What has been your favorite part of The Naughty List features this month?

Mockingbird contest: We have a winner!

Who says the classics are dead? At least thirty-one of you still think Harper Lee’s iconic To Kill a Mockingbird is relevant on this, its 50th anniversary. We wish we could give out copies to each of you, but here’s our one winner of a 50th anniversary edition:


Send us an e-mail with your full name and mailing address to and we’ll get it in the mail.

And did you know, To Kill a Mockingbird made its way into a Congressional resolution?

H.Res. 1525 would resolve that the House of Representative:

  • “Recognizes the historic milestone of the 50th anniversary of the publication of “To Kill a Mockingbird”; and
  • “Honors Nelle Harper Lee for her outstanding achievement in the field of American literature in authoring “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Pretty Cool, huh?

Exclusive interview with author Amanda Howells: Part 2

The Summer of Skinny Dipping Week continues today on Novel Novice with part 2 of our 3-part interview with author Amanda Howells. (See Part 1 here.) Today, Amanda talks about why readers shouldn’t be fooled by her book’s title & cover, why reading is so great, and what she’s working on next (which we are SUPER excited about)!

If you met someone in a bookstore, and they were thinking about buying your book, what would you say to convince them?

Much as I know my title is right for the story, and much as I like the fresh young cover, I think many of my ideal readers pass this book by thinking it’s pure fluff, and just for teens at that—shallow, juvenile beach reading. Those are the readers I’d beg to reconsider. Because the book definitely has entertaining, summery “beach-read” elements but there are layers to the story and substance to the characters, if I do say so myself.

I also worry that many moms will see my title and raise an eyebrow, thinking it’s too racy for their daughters. It’s actually pretty chaste. It’s not in the Gossip Girl/The Clique vein, but is rather more old-school in tone because I myself love a more timeless kind of romance that can be read by women of different generations. Not convinced? Let’s get down to brass tacks. It’s only $8.99! For such a fat book! A risk surely worth taking, dear on-the-fence book buyer.

What books would you recommend to fans hankering for more after reading The Summer of Skinny Dipping?

Sarah Dessen is the reigning master of YA romance/coming-of-age stories—I particularly like The Truth About Forever and That Summer. Also in a summery vein, I like The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han. Deb Caletti is really great too. And if you haven’t read the classic A Summer To Die by Lois Lowry, that’s a beautiful summer YA classic.

At Novel Novice, one of our main goals is encouraging teens to read. What would you say to reluctant teen readers to convince them to pick up a book (any book)? Why do you think reading is so important?

There’s such an explosion of YA literature happening so there is definitely something out there for you even if you think you don’t like reading, or if you don’t connect with the general literature you’ve been exposed to. I’ve been amazed by the sheer volume of YA bloggers I’ve met via my book—their enthusiasm for reading is infectious. I challenge any reluctant teen reader not to be enticed by a book or review on The Story Siren blog or one of the zillions of other blogs hosted by teens. And if seeing pure words on a page really is a chore to you, try a graphic novel (Marjane Satrapi, Neil Gaiman, manga, etc). YALSA has great suggestions in their various lists.

To me the ultimate thing you miss if you don’t read and if you are only into other media, is that sense of privacy you get when you are alone in the silence with words. Nothing can replace that quiet, private conversation a reader has with a book (be it Kindle or paperback) in her hands. I also want to say that I am continually impressed by the quality of YA-directed fiction these days. Even the genre series are well-written—those books where the covers make you think you’re getting fluff (I speak from experience with that). I just read The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. It was so tremendously well done. I loved it. And she is just one of many writers who are focusing their talents on a teen audience. So we are in an age of abundance, reluctant reader, and there’s no excuse! If you don’t like reading you just haven’t looked very hard at the shelves.

What are you working on now?

The second Summer Of … book (it’s going to be a little series of stand-alone romances). This one has a darker, more suspenseful vibe. It’s set on the Oregon coast and once I decided to set something close to my (new) home of Portland, the story just inevitably turned a bit spooky. The Oregon coast is so beautifully eerie and what passes for summer on our cold and gray beaches is, well, cold and gray! So I’m letting the chill seep into my story… FYI, for better or worse there are no vampires involved. Or werewolves.

Tune in tomorrow for part 3 of our interview with Amanda, and check out everything we’ve got on The Summer of Skinny Dipping, including our contest to win one of 5 copies of the book!

District 7 in the Official Mockingjay 13 District Blog Tour

We here at Novel Novice are really excited to announce that we’ll be representing District 7 in Scholastic’s Official Mockingjay 13 District Blog Tour!

We’ll be posting our information about District 7 on Monday, August 16th — along with an exclusive giveaway! (You’ll have to wait to find out what it is — but we promise, it is REALLY cool!!)

Find out which other blogs will be hosting the other 12 districts on the blog tour this Friday on the Official Hunger Games Facebook Page!

And don’t forget, Novel Novice’s 13-day Countdown to Mockingjay begins August 11th!

Exclusive Sneak Peek: A Good Boy is Hard to Find

Can’t get enough of our July Book of the Month, the Naughty List series by Suzanne Young? Lucky for you, Suzanne was kind enough to share this EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at book #3 in the series, A Good Boy is Hard to Find. You’ll only find this sneak peek right here at Novel Novice:

“Pyramid,” Kira added.

I shook my head. Moving might be too risky, but how were we going to confirm the cheat without a photo? I shifted on my sneakers, trying to decide the best course of action.

Leona nodded, telling me that she agreed with Kira’s idea. My stomach turned. I had a bad feeling about this. When we spied in close proximity situations, the general rule was to stay put. Not engage in gymnastic endeavors.

Izzie and Leona got down on all fours as Kira stood in front of them making the base. It was just high enough that if I stood on her shoulders, I’d be able to see over the metal locker. There was a slurping noise from over there. Ew!

I put one black-sneakered heel on Leona’s back and then grabbed onto Kira as I hoisted myself up. We were silent—like cheerleading ninjas trained in the sacred art of pyramid building. Slowly and deliberately, I put my feet on Kira’s shoulders, and then I was in the air, completely stable.

I reached my hand out and felt someone slip a camera into my palm. Without looking down—because that could surely make me fall—I lifted it up to eye level. Then I looked through the lens. It took me a minute to find them, but there, across the room near the shower door, was Blaze and his accomplice. Her back was to me, and I had to admit already, she was definitely not as shapely as Trishelle. In fact, from behind, she looked like a linebacker.

Her blond hair was stiff, almost wiglike, and she was wearing an awful minidress that looked like she’d picked up at Walmart. Not that Walmart was unusable, but for minidresses? I’d say so.

I zoomed in as Blaze’s hands massaged at her back and they were in some intricate hug/kiss. Gross. If Blaze kissed like that, I’d think Trishelle would be glad to get rid of him.

Quickly, I started clicking off shots, waiting for the accomplice to turn around. I needed her face. Not technically. This was enough to prove the cheat, but a shot of her face would be nice for future reference. We could keep her on our possible cheater radar. Sort of like I had done with Chloe.

At the thought of her name, my jaw clenched and I held the camera a little tighter. My breathing changed, coming out in short gasps, but I needed to stop.

“Shhh . . .” I heard and glanced down. Kira was giving me a stern look, and I realized I might have been growling out loud. I swayed on my feet. Whac-a-Mole! Why did I look down?

I thrust my hands out to my sides as if I were walking a tightrope and straightened my posture as Kira held my ankles. It took a second, but finally we got our equilibrium back. Whoa. Total save.

When I adjusted the camera, I froze. Blaze and the girl were no longer kissing. Her back was still to me, but now they were staring at each other. I wondered if I’d just missed something big.

I zoomed in closer, hoping to catch the side of her face. Just then, she shifted in her heels, and I readied my trigger finger.

“Turn,” I murmured. And just then, the figure swung around. I clicked the camera furiously and—

Holy Spumoni! She had a beard!

My entire body flinched, and I felt the camera slip from my hands as I tried to regain my balance. But it was too late. Before I could grab onto the lockers or anything else, I felt myself falling from the sky, heading face first toward the tile floor of the locker room.

Look for A Good Boy is Hard to Find soon – and be sure to get The Naughty List and So Many Boys, if you haven’t already.