Guest Nose Kristen Walker

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome author Kristen Walker, author of the funny debut novel Match Made In High School. You won’t forget your sunscreen after reading her story. Oh, and I’m giving away a copy of her book too!

Kristin writes:
I was unfortunate enough to grow up just before scientists linked sunburns to skin cancer. It was also a time devoid of anything resembling good fashion. It was the 80s, and that meant tan skin, a pastel Polo shirt, and a pair of Hawaiian-print Jams. Plus, a bad perm, blue eyeshadow, and pale pink iridescent lipstick. I, being a Euro-Scandinavian mongrel, have always been as pale as paper.

But the summer I was 15, I decided that I was going to get a tan. So one day, I laid out in the sun from 10AM to 4PM. On the beach. In a bikini. With a glistening coat of baby oil smeared over my entire body. That evening, I didn’t feel too bad. But somewhere in the middle of the night, the pain kicked in.

When I woke up, I was glowing a nuclear red. For the next week, I was in agony. I had to go to cheerleading camp with shreds of skin falling off my arms and face like birch bark. By the end of it, a full layer of skin had peeled off my entire body. It was disgusting and embarrassing. And sure didn’t make me tan. Needless to say, I’m a sunblock fanatic now. I pride myself on my translucently-pale skin. I know the damage was done, though. But at least I don’t have to wear blue eyeshadow and Jams anymore.

About A Match Made In High School

When a mandatory marriage education course forces Fiona to “try the knot” with super-jock Todd Harding, she’s convinced life could not possibly get any worse. Until moments later, when her long-time crush is paired with her arch-enemy (otherwise known as Todd’s obscenely hot, slightly sadistic girlfriend). But that’s nothing compared to her best friend’s fate–a year with the very shy, very goofy, very big Johnny Mercer.

A series of hilarious pranks and misunderstandings leave Fiona wondering: is there somethign her supposed “best friend” hasn’t told her? Could there be more to Johnny Mercer than a deep voice and an awesome music collection? And perhaps most intriguing of all, is it possible that Todd Harding could actually have a heart–and a brain–beneath his pretty-boy exterior? Buy the book at Amazon or Indiebound.

About Kristin Walker

Kristin Walker grew up roaming the Pennsylvania countryside. She finally landed at Penn State, where she earned a BA in Theatre Arts. In addition to being actor, Kristin was many things on her way to becoming an author, such as a lifeguard, a nanny, a beginning ballroom dance instructor, a library circulation clerk, and very nearly a nurse. A Match Made in High SchoolLadybug, Wee Ones, and two Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Kristin lives in a Chicago suburb with her husband and three sons. Find out more at:

To win a copy of Match Made In High School, please leave a comment by Tuesday, February 23rd.

Guest Nose Jon Skovron

I’m married to an indie music-lover & last summer my daughter spent her babysitting money on an electric guitar, so it’s my pleasure to welcome Jon Skovron, debut author of Struts & Frets this week. I can’t wait to read this book!

Here’s what Jon says about how appearances factor into his story:

One of the main characters in the story is a guy named Joe who puts forth that extra special effort to let you know that he is super bad ass. Piercings, tattoos, chains, spikes, steel-toed boots. He wants it make it absolutely clear that he is HARD CORE!

Another character is Rick. He is dead set on disproving every fashion stereotype about gay men. He is the shabbiest, scruffiest, and sometimes the smelliest dude in his group of friends.

A third character, Jen5, enjoys creating a sense of what she thinks of as label dissonance. She takes aspects of different looks or labels, like “skater chick” or “art chick”, or “geek chick”, and mashes them all together.

Teens experiment with identity so much and clothing is a huge part of that. It isn’t shallow. What you wear really does change how you behave. Ask any actor.

About Struts & Frets
More than anything, Sammy wants to play guitar in a famous indie rock band. The problem is that his front man is a jerk who can’t sing, his bassist is a burn-out who can’t remember the songs, and his drummer is just out to lunch. But Sammy needs this band because it’s the only good thing he’s got going. His father skipped out before he was born, his mother is an overworked therapist with a drinking problem, his grandfather is slowly losing his mind to Alzheimer’s, and the girl of his dreams is dating his jerk lead singer.

Now that jerk lead singer has entered them in a Battle of the Bands contest to win free studio time and guaranteed radio play. Sammy has two weeks to get them to sound like a real band, or face public humiliation in front of the entire local indie music scene. Buy the book on Amazon or Indiebound.

About Jon Skovron
Jon Skovron is an insatiable music geek who can play eight instruments, but none of them well. He was born in Columbus, Ohio, has lived all over the US, and now resides with his wife and two sons in Washington, DC. His short stories and reviews have appeared in publications like Jim Baen’s Universe and Internet Review of Science Fiction. Struts and Frets is his first novel. To read more about Jon:

Guest Nose L.K. Madigan

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome L.K. Madigan, debut author of Flash Burnout. I’m really excited to read this one! L.K. says:

In FLASH BURNOUT, the main character is 15-year-old Blake, a guy who doesn’t spend much time thinking about his appearance. In one chapter, he comes back from winter vacation with a monster zit … but that’s really the only time he suffers over a physical “defect.”

It was liberating for me, not only as a writer, but as a recovering teenager, (!) to not pay attention to his appearance.

I spent soooo many hours during my own teen years obsessing over my height (too tall), my weight (too skinny), and my skin (bad). I guess those memories were so painful I was unwilling to inflict such angst on Blake. He made it through the story with only one zit. 🙂

About Flash Burnout

Fifteen-year-old Blake has a girlfriend and a friend who’s a girl. One of them loves him, the other one needs him.

When he snapped a picture of a street person for his photography homework, Blake never dreamed that the woman in the photo was his friend Marissa’s long-lost meth addicted mom.

In a tangle of life, death, and love, Blake will emerge with a more sharply defined snapshot of loyalty. Buy a copy at Indiebound or Amazon.

About L.K. Madigan

L.K. Madigan is a writer living in Portland, Oregon, who finds it odd to speak in the third person. Therefore:

Hi. I am married with one son, two big black dogs, hundreds of books, and a couple of beaters, I mean vintage cars. Find out more at

Guest Nose Lauren Bjorkman

Today I’m excited to welcome Lauren Bjorkman, debut author of the serious hilarious YA novel, My Invented Life. Many, many laugh-out-loud moments!

Here’s Lauren:

I never loved my nose. My bridge is too prominent, and I have freckles. But when a close friend of mine in high school seriously pondered a nose job (and she is gorgeous!), I hated that she obsessed about it! So when I have negative thoughts about my nose now, I banish them the best I can :D.

Roz in My Invented Life has issues with her height and weight. It doesn’t help that her sister calls her Chub. But late in the story, she sees her reflection while getting costumed for the dress rehearsal, and has this revelation: Mirrors don’t lie. The fitted bodice, puffed sleeves, and A-line skirt transform me from giantess to goddess. I could slay the heart of Zeus himself. And Juno’s, too.

About My Invented Life

Roz and Eva are sisters, close friends, and fierce rivals. Roz fantasizes about snagging the lead in the school play and sexy skate god Bryan as her boyfriend. Sadly a few obstacles stand between her and her dreams. For one, Eva is the more talented actress. And Bryan happens to be Eva’s boyfriend. But is Eva having a secret love affair with a girl? Enquiring minds need to know.

Roz prides herself on random acts of insanity. In one such act, she invents a girlfriend of her own to encourage Eva to open up. The plan backfires, and Roz finds herself neck deep in her invented life. When Roz meets a mercurial boy with a big problem, she begins to understand the complex feelings beneath the labels. And she gets a second chance to earn Eva’s trust.

My Invented Life is set in a small California high school during rehearsals for a Shakespeare comedy. Buy your own copy on Amazon or Indiebound.

About Lauren Bjorkman

Lauren Bjorkman grew up on a sailboat, sharing the forecastle with her sister and the sail bags. Against all odds, they are still friends. She enjoys making things up, chocolate in large quantities, and anything that makes her laugh. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her husband, two sons, and a cat that plays fetch. Find out more about Lauren at

Guest Nose Megan Crewe

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Megan Crewe, debut author of Giving Up The Ghost. If you’re looking for a fun, not scary, Halloween ghost story, this one is a really great read! Megan shares one of her “hairy” stories:

When I was 15, and trying to reinvent myself, I decided to get a pixie cut–which basically meant saying goodbye to most of my hair, which had never been shorter than chin-length. The stylist I went to put a whole lot of gel in it, and when I tried to replicate that effect the first day I came to school with my new hair, it was so stiff a girl in one of my classes joked that she could bounce a quarter off it. I also got a lot of double-takes, and more than one person asked why I’d done it or when I was going to grow it back.

It was a little embarrassing, but after I figured out how to style it in a way that fit me more (i.e., much less gel), I found I liked the way I looked and how freeing it was not to have hair constantly blowing in my face or getting tangled. People still asked me when I was going to grow it out again, but I just shrugged it off and smiled.

About Give Up the Ghost

Cass McKenna much prefers the company of ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody… and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.

But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.

As Cass becomes increasingly entwined in Tim’s life, she’s surprised to realize he’s not so bad–and he needs help more desperately than anyone else suspects. Maybe it’s time to give the living another chance… Buy your own copy on Amazon or Indiebound!

About Megan Crewe

Like many fiction authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and two cats (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and she has yet to make friends with a ghost, though she welcomes the opportunity. Learn more about Megan at:

Guest Nose Pam Bachorz

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Pam Bachorz, debut author of Candor. I really enjoyed reading this one–and highly recommend it!

A quick reminder: You can still enter to win chocolate! Now here’s Pam:

In CANDOR, everybody looks the same, adhering to a squeaky-clean ideal of beauty. So I’ll tell you a story from my own life.

Two days before my college senior picture was going to be taken, I noticed I had very obvious roots showing from the blond highlights I’d gotten months before. Horrified, but broke, I picked up a five dollar highlights kit at CVS. Then I pressed my boyfriend into service: I put on the little plastic cap and he poked the long wire that comes w/ the kit into it, pulling out strands of hair, and then soaking them in color. The scalp-poking part hurt but I figured it was all in the name of beauty. Neither of us had ever colored hair before and we were feeling pretty clever. Well, neither of us read the instructions very well either. We should have done the roots separately from the already-dyed parts, but we didn’t. When I went to wash the dye off, big hanks of my hair had turned WHITE. Other parts were merely a bright yellow. After tears and my boyfriend’s mix of laughter and apologies, I plunked down $150 to have it fixed. You’ve heard of double and triple process dye jobs? Yeah, mine was SEVEN PROCESSES. I think the hairdresser normally charged a lot more for a job like that, but he felt really, really bad for me.

As for that boyfriend, I ended up marrying him, but I’ve never let him color my hair again!

About Candor

Oscar Banks has everything under control. In a town where his father brainwashes everyone, he’s found a way to secretly fight the subliminal Messages. He’s got them all fooled: Oscar’s the top student and the best-behaved teen in town. Nobody knows he’s made his own Messages to deprogram his brain. But then Nia Silva moves to Candor, and Oscar falls in love. He must choose whether to let Nia be lost to brainwashing—or to sacrifice himself. Buy the book on Amazon or Indiebound.

About Pam Bachorz

Pam Bachorz grew up in a small town in the Adirondack foothills, where she participated in every possible performance group and assiduously avoided any threat of athletic activity. Pam attended college in Boston and finally decided she was finished after earning four degrees. Her mother is not happy that Pam’s degrees are stored under her bed.

Pam lives just outside Washington, DC with her husband and their son. She likes to read books not aimed at her age group, go to museums and theater performances, and watch far too much television. She even goes jogging. Reluctantly. Read more about Pam here.

Guest Nose Kate Messner

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Kate Messner, author of the debut middle-grade novel, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Kate says:

Beauty is a topic where my main character and I definitely see eye to eye. Gianna Z. is too busy with her running and her art projects to worry about makeup or fixing her hair, and she can’t stand that t-shirt that her track team nemesis wears with the slogan “It’s now how you play the game, it’s how you look when you play the game.”

I’m with Gianna, and I wish more of our tween and teen girls valued themselves for what’s on the inside and worried less about appearances.

About The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z

Gianna Zales has a lot on her plate this fall – a father who drives her to school in the family hearse, a mother who’s turned into the junk food police, a little brother who thinks he’s a member of the paparazzi, and a grandmother who leaves false teeth in the refrigerator. Worst of all, she’s left her 7th grade leaf collection to do at the last minute. It’s a monster project, and Gianna will miss cross-country sectionals if she doesn’t meet the deadline. She’ll need the help of her geeky friend, Zig, and some brilliant ideas of her own to pull it off. Buy the book on Amazon!

About Kate Messner

Kate Messner grew up in Medina, New York and graduated from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Communication with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She worked as a television news producer and reporter in Syracuse, NY and then Burlington, VT, before going back to school to get a teaching degree. These days, Kate is a National Board Certified middle school English teacher. She has helped hundreds of kids work on leaf collection projects and likes sugar maples and catalpa leaves the best. Kate lives on Lake Champlain with her husband and kids and loves spending time in the woods.

Guest Nose Jennifer Brown

I’m so excited today to be hosting Jennifer Brown, debut author of Hate List. I read this novel during a family road trip and upon turning the last page, handed it directly to my teenage daughter in the back seat. “You have to read this one, now,” I said. Hate List is an important story, but also a completely gripping read. I hope teens, parents, and especially teachers find this book.

Jennifer shares one of her junior high stories (what is with these school administrators?!?):

Way back in 7th grade (you know, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we had Fire Making 101 in the back of a one-cave school house?), our school decided to do this strange survey that, to this day, I still don’t know if I understand what the purpose was. Basically, what it amounted to was our homeroom teacher pulling us out of the classroom one-by-one and asking us one question: “What is the one thing you would change about yourself?”

Really, I had no idea! I’d never assessed myself that closely up to that point, and I was way into being 13 and cool, so I sure wasn’t going to spend a lot of time out in the hallway pouring out my heart to my extremely O-L-D (probably in her ’30s) and distinctly uncool teacher about my insecurities. So I blurted out the first thing that came to mind: “My nose.”

Even I was kind of surprised to hear myself say it aloud. I mean, I was overweight. Had limp hair. Acne. Bad clothes. Not to mention I could’ve gone the humble way and answered, I don’t know, “Develop more patience,” or “Be more caring,” or “Be a better person” or something like that. But I chose… my nose.

And that’s when it first occurred to me that I was sensitive about my nose. I found it too large for my face. Kind of fat. It was constantly sunburned and in various states of peeling. And it had a perpetual horizontal line across the top of it. I thought it turned up too much, and to this day I, out of habit, push down on the end of my nose when I’m deep in thought to keep it from “pugging.”

Then, in high school, someone told me, “You have your dad’s nose,” and I was highly offended. My nose insecurities ratcheted up about 1,000% after that… until I took a good look at my dad’s nose and realized… my dad has a perfectly fine nose! There’s nothing wrong with his nose. I have never found myself thinking that his nose was anything other than ordinary and nose-like. And, just like that, my nose issues began to take a back seat to other problems.

Nowadays I’m totally cool with my nose, and somewhat amused that I was ever not cool with it. It’s not perfect — much like the rest of me! — but it’s mine and I’m happy with it!

About Hate List

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman’s boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria.  Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saves the life of a classmate, but is implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create.  A list of people and things they hated.  The list her boyfriend used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year.  Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life. Buy your own copy on Amazon

About Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is the author of Hate List, a YA novel coming out in September 2009. As a two-time winner of The Erma Bombeck Global Humor award and weekly columnist for The Kansas City Star, as well as Saturday Featured Blogger for, Jennifer spends a lot of time dressing up her dog for laughs and thinking of new ways to works words such as “Puh-lease” and “Ch-yeah!” into sentences. Jennifer grew up in the Kansas City, Missouri area, where she still lives with her husband, three kids, and whole herd of uncooperative pets. Read more about Jennifer at

Guest Nose Jennifer Jabaley

Today it’s my pleasure to host Jennifer Jabaley, debut author of Lipstick Apology, a truly delicious read-in-one-sitting kind of book.

Hi Sydney, thanks for hosting me as a “guest nose”! 

In LIPSTICK APOLOGY, Emily has a major traumatic and embarrasing moment when at a party her long, wavy hair catches fire!! Emily is forced to chop the remaining singed ends into a bob – one she believes she does not have the bone structure to carry!!

This whole incident – being forced into a hair cut that you don’t think is flattering – reminds me of my very own traumatic hair incident when I was in eighth grade. My older sister had started a cosmetology class and naturally wanted to use me as a victim, um, model for her class. It just so happened that on the morning of my butchering, um, haircut, my sister got into an argument with our dad. So she was a little angry. As she kept chopping, um, cutting, my layers were getting shorter and shorter and shorter. Finally I yelled – STOP! It was like she came out of a trance and saw what she had done – a very, very bad mullet. She started laughing and I started crying. The layers were so short in the front I couldn’t even wrap them around a curling iron. Oooh, the fights that sprouted between us!!

To this day, my sister and I still think about this and laugh (of course it took me many years to be able to laugh!). But what is it about hair? Women attach so much of their esteem to something that is so external, and ultimately, just dead cells.

Thanks, so much Sydney. Now I’m going to get some highlights!! Just kidding 🙂

About Lipstick Apology

Four little words written in lipstick mean Emily must say goodbye to everything she knows.  Emily Carson has always been a good girl.  So when she throws a party the night her parents leave for vacation, she’s sure she’ll get busted.  What Emily doesn’t know is that her parents will never return.  That their plane will go down.  And the only thing left amidst the wreckage will be a tray table with the words: Emily please forgive me scrawled in lipstick – her mother’s last words.

Now it’s fall in New York City and Emily’s trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.  Her public tragedy captures the attention of more than just the media – and soon two very different boys at her new school are pursuing her: the cute, popular Owen, and the quirky chemistry partner slash pastry-baker-by-night, Anthony.  But even with such delicious distractions, Emily can’t let go of her mother’s mysterious apology.  Does she have the courage to face the truth?

With help of a whole new kind of family – one that includes a make-up artist to the stars, a teen hand model, and a wacky hairdresser – Emily must choose between the boy who makes her forget it all, and the one who encourages her to remember, and ultimately, heal. Buy the book on Amazon or Indiebound.

About Jennifer Jabaley

Jennifer Jabaley was born in New York and raised in Bridgewater, New Jersey.  She graduated from James Madison University with a degree in chemistry and received a doctorate from Southern College of Optometry.  A part-time optometrist and mother of two, Jennifer began writing her first novel after a phone call from her sister sparked an idea for a story that lingered in her mind and stirred her creative juices.  LIPSTICK APOLOGY will be released in August of 2009 by Razorbill.  Jen lives in Blue Ridge, Georgia and is currently at work on her second book. Read more about Jennifer at:


Guest Nose Cynthea Liu

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome Cynthea Liu back–for her middle-grade debut! I adored this book and couldn’t wait to pass it along to my 4th grade daughter. She’s reading it right now and loving it just as much as I knew she would. Here’s what Cynthea has to say:

PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE does address the issue of beauty somewhat through Robin’s character. In a society where tan-ness is good and fairness is almost considered sickly, I’m sure Robin had many insecurities about herself. And its not just the lightness of her skin either- for her, it was her hair, her outfits… Basically everything about her was ridiculed. She was different, and people like Mayo, made sure she knew it!

Personally, growing up, I always thought I was okay to look at, despite the braces and the insecurities about my flat nose. But oh, how differences can make a difference! I coveted those big eyes my peers had. Gorgeous eyes in all different colors. Large, voluminous eyes that can see into your soul! I even tried to draw in bigger eyes in my yearbook photos when I was in jr. high. (And I was shading in the sides of my nose to make it look less flat, too!) EEK!

It just goes to show a simple insecurity can be such a big deal when you’re younger. To the point that you’ll try to doctor your pictures with a ballpoint pen.

But I am happy to declare that I am no longer drawing in bigger eyes for myself. (I just look paranoid that way!) And I did give Robin an ending that shows that Robin’s character IS about character, and not all of those stupid things kids AND adults spend way too much time thinking about.

About Paris Pan Takes the Dare

Twelve-year-old Paris Pan’s life is a mess. She’s just moved to a tiny town in Nowheresville, Oklahoma; her family life is a comical disaster; her new friends are more like frenemies; and the boy she has a crush on is a dork. Things couldn’t possibly get worse, until she discovers that a girl mysteriously died years ago while taking a seventh-grade rite of passage–the Dare– right near Paris’s new house. So when Paris starts hearing strange noises coming from the creepy run-down shed in her backyard, she thinks they could be a message from the ghost of a girl. But while she has no plans to make contact with the great beyond, her two new friends have other thoughts. Everyone who’s anyone takes the Dare, and now it’s Paris’s turn. Buy the book here!

About Cynthea Liu

Cynthea spent her formative years in Oklahoma and Texas where she was a Whiz Quiz member, an Academic Decathloner, and a spelling bee champion. (Yes, she was very popular.) After attending college on the East coast, she worked at a corporate job where she mastered PowerPoint and racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles. Eventually, she traded in her suit for sweats to do the fun stuff–writing for children. In addition to PARIS PAN TAKES THE DARE and THE GREAT CALL OF CHINA (buy it here), Cynthea’s nonfiction book WRITING FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS: A CRASH COURSE (how to write, revise, and publish your kid’s or teen book with children’s book publishers) is available in paperback here.  Find out more about Cynthea at