Event Recap: Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour

summerlovin2.0Over the summer, I had the pleasure to meet four amazing authors at the Mission Viejo Library as a part of the Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Book Tour. These authors include Suzanne Young, Sarah Ockler, C.J. Flood and Jody Casella. Although I haven’t read any of their books yet, I got two at the event (Bittersweet and #Scandal) and I cannot wait to read them! I along with other people asked questions about how they became authors, where they get inspiration and how it affects their day-to-day life.

One question that stood out to me was “How long did it take for you to write your books?” because the answers vary so greatly depending on who you are. For example, for Jody Casella (who used Nanowrimo) took a full year to complete. Meanwhile Sarah Ockler finished her hit #Scandal in 4 years. Jody Casella’s Infinite Sky took three to four years to complete. The funny thing about writing is that its like riding a bike (yes, I know such a cliché simile but yes, I’m going to use it!) at first you’re wobbling, its hard to keep your balance and takes forever. But once you get the hang of it, its a much smoother ride that takes much less time. Just like the simile, Suzanne Young wrote her first book in 4 moths and now it only takes one month for her to finish a writing.

We then asked what these four writers do when they’re not you know, writing. Jody Casella’s only job is to write books although she was once an English teacher at a high school. Sarah Ockler is also a full time writer, as well as CJ Flood. Suzanne Young is a high school English teacher.

More questions followed and so did more answers. These four women are such inspirations for aspiring authors and its amazing to hear each of their stories. At the end of the event, we were given pizza and soda. Quite the way to end such a fun event. These writers were awesome to meet and I’m so glad I went.

-Danielle T., 8th grade

Event Recap: Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour Stop

SummerLovin2-squareSummer is finally upon us, and to kick off this time of year the Mission Viejo Library hosted four authors of young adult fiction to come and speak as part of Simon & Schuster Publishing’s Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour.

First to speak was Jody Casella, the author of Thin Space. This book is about a boy whose twin has just died in a car accident. As he is a survivor of the crash, he feels that his brother’s death was his responsibility, so he spends his time walking around with no shoes, trying to enter the thin space between the living and the dead world to make things right. This is Casella’s sixth book, and though she is not a twin herself, the losses that she has had in her life allow her to make the loss in the book realistic for readers. Casella had always wanted to be a writer and though she chose teaching as a career at first, she let that go to pursue writing. Now, she spends pretty much every day in her pajamas, except when she has to walk her dog, working on multiple projects. (Sounds pretty comfortable!)

summer_lovin_leila01The next author who spoke was Sarah Ockler, who described her newest book, #scandal. This book is about an introverted high school girl whose best friend gets sick right before prom and asks her to go to the dance with her boyfriend. This causes problems since the girl has secretly had a crush on that boy for several years. When a picture of the two of them gets posted online, the girl has to deal with the aftermath. Ockler came up with the idea for this novel based on her own experience with people who had shifted relationships and much of their lives to online connections. When asked about the hardest part of writing, Ockler responded that the revision process is probably the most difficult and time consuming. In her spare time, she reads YA literature exclusively as adult literature has become a bore for her.

Next, the audience heard from Suzanne Young, the author of The Program and its sequel, The Treatment. This series is set in the near future where teen suicide has become an epidemic, and the government has set up the Program to erase teens’ most scarring memories. It deals with the theme of how you would live your life without a memory. Would you make the same friends? How would you respond to certain events? Young stated that the idea for these novels was actually derived from a commercial listing the side effects of a particular drug. That got Young thinking what the world would be like if everyone took that drug. Young is currently a high school teacher, and she says that when her books come out, her students are very excited that she is a published author. Her students can receive extra credit if they attend her book signings! She even lets some of her senior students comment on the storyline of a soon-to-be novel to get input to help her write.

summer_lovin_leila02The last author to speak to the audience on Sunday was C.J. Flood, who complained of being jet-lagged from her journey from England. Infinite Sky is her first novel, just like this was Flood’s first trip to the United States and her first time trying a Tootsie Roll, which surprisingly, she strongly disliked! Infinite Sky is about a girl who has to deal with her mother being gone, her father not acting right, and her brother being depressed. The story starts out with the girl attending a funeral, but you won’t know who she’s mourning unless you read the book. This story comes indirectly from Flood’s own life, since her parents got divorced when she was eight years old. At the moment, Flood does not work on multiple projects, but in the future she hopes to do so and to be able to write books faster, like the other authors in the panel.

Overall, this was a fantastic event. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the lives of these authors outside of the book writing. They were very encouraging to aspiring writers and gave attendants a sense of the pride that one feels after publishing a novel.

And, to top it all off, there was free pizza and soda at the conclusion of the event!

– Leila S., 8th Grade

Event Recap: Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour Stop

SummerLovin2-squareAs part of Simon & Schuster Publishing’s Summer Lovin’ 2.0 Tour, four YA authors came to the Mission Viejo Library on June 22 to introduce their new books. Still looking for a summer reading list? Search no more. Try out The Treatment, #scandal, Infinite Sky, and Thin Space, by their respective authors Suzanne Young, Sarah Ockler, C.J Flood, and Jody Casella. Here come the next big hits of the year!

All of these books feature teens, as do most YA books these days. The Treatment by Suzanne Young tells of a near future where a suicide epidemic has resulted in the creation of a program that wipes a person’s depression, along with their memories. The only known reversal of the process is the Treatment, a small pill which brings back memories, and it’s over this that our good and bad guys clash. Suzanne writes a very unique thriller, playing on the question: Without our memories and experiences, are we still the same person?

While we are on the memories theme, #scandal by Sarah Ockler reminds us that social media can preserve memories all too well. On prom night, Lucy is photographed kissing her best friend’s boyfriend. When someone posts these pictures to Facebook, things quickly spiral out of control. Soon, Lucy becomes the victim of bullying and shaming at her high school. This book is best described as a mesh of Sherlock Holmes and Mean Girls.

In Infinite Sky by C.J. Flood a band of gypsies set up camp near Iris’ home. She befriends a gypsy boy named Trick, and slowly falls in love. However, the two families clash, as Iris’ father is convinced they only present trouble. Soon, trouble indeed presents itself. When the emotional rollercoaster runs loose, you’ll be reminded of Romeo and Juliet.

Our final book is Thin Space by Jody Casella. It tells of two twins, Austin and Marshall. When Austin dies in a car accident, Marshall is consumed by survivor’s guilt, and begins falling apart. In his desperation, he begins searching for a thin space, where the walls separating the worlds of the living and dead are thin enough to cross. Overall, this book has a somewhat dark mood, like the still silence after tragedy.

summerlovin2.0Besides showing off their new books, these authors also gave us insight on their writing process. Often times, authors come up with ideas based on their own life experiences, and make a story out of it. Characters can come from anywhere: family, friends, people you meet at the grocery store. Of course, the next step is to actually put the story together. Writing is looking at the wall and daydreaming– until the storyline makes it onto paper. Sometimes, authors work on multiple projects at a time as the publisher reviews the book.

Most of these authors started out as part-time writers and gradually built up confidence. So, to any aspiring writers out there, keep pursuing your dreams, even if it’s in small steps at a time. Did you know Suzanne Young started by writing murder mysteries in sixth grade? Who knows– maybe one day you’ll publish a book for us to review on here.

-Phillip X., 8th grade