Thursday, March 11, 2010


Young Adult Power Surge

Young adult literature is taking the world by storm right now, and I'm so excited that I get to be a part of providing information to readers about what I like to call the "young adult power surge." I was lucky enough to guest edit the current March/April issue of WOW!, which went live TODAY. And it's all about YA! This issue is full of awesome articles about censorship issues, voice, writing nonfiction for teens, using technology to reach readers, finding inspiration for this age group, and more. You don't want to miss any of the articles if you are a YA writer, a wanna-be YA writer, or a YA reader. Just click on the link to the WOW! e-zine over to the left of this post, and you'll be taken to the issue.

Some of my friends, who are over the age of 30, love YA books and are always recommending them to me. They actually read more YA books than adult books; and when you pick up books like Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, Crank by Ellen Hopkins, or City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, it's not hard to see why. Not to mention the Twilight and Harry Potter crazes--teens aren't the only ones responsible for shooting Stephenie Meyer and J. K. Rowling to stardom--adults love them, too.

What is it about this genre? Why is it so popular? Why are adults, like me, marking down the date on their calendars for the release of the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy this summer? I wish I had the magic answer, but I don't. Sometimes, I think it's because we all wish we were teenagers again, but with the knowledge we currently have. So, when we're reading these books, we picture ourselves in this turmoil and how we would get out of it with all our new-found knowledge. Other times, I think we love YA because the writers work so hard to present honest characters in unique situations, and we just fall in love with them. Could it be because these books are just plain good?

What about you? Do you love YA literature even though you're an adult? What are some of your favorites? And by all means, if you have the magic answer of why YA is so hot right now and/or why we love it so much no matter what our age, please share with us!

Happy reading and writing!
Margo L. Dill

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 01, 2010


Bonnie Hearn Hill, YA author of Aries Rising, launches her blog tour!

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Bonnie Hearn Hill worked as a newspaper editor for 22 years, a job that, along with her natural nosiness, increased her interest in contemporary culture. Prior to her new Star Crossed series from Running Press/Perseus Books, she wrote six thrillers for MIRA Books, as well as numerous short stories, nonfiction books and articles.

An interest in astrology along with her close friendship with Cosmo Magazine Astrologer Hazel Dixon-Cooper inspired the Star Crossed series: Aries Rising, Taurus Eyes, and Gemini Night.

A national conference speaker, Bonnie founded The Tuesdays, a bonded and successful writing workshop in Fresno, California, and she also teaches an occasional online class. On Fridays she meets with her private critique group (humorous astrology author Hazel Dixon-Cooper, prescriptive nonfiction writer Dennis C. Lewis, mystery novelist Sheree Petree, and musician/thriller novelist Christopher Allen Poe). What happens in those groups ranges from spontaneous applause to "getting filleted," as Bonnie's students and colleagues call it.

You can find out more about Bonnie by visiting her websites:
Bonnie's website
Facebook Fan Page

Aries Rising
By Bonnie Hearn Hill

Aquarius Logan McRae is a high school sophomore in Terra Bella Beach, CA and has been working all semester to impress her teachers in order to get into the summer writing camp she desperately wants to attend. But when this ordinary girl finds an extraordinary book, Fearless Astrology, her life is changed forever. Applying what she's learned about the zodiac, she lands her own column in the school paper and a date with the hottest guy in school!

But when Logan threatens to catch the members of a secret society called The Gears, who have been vandalizing school property by reading the stars, she quickly learns that she is in over her head. Will Logan be able to catch The Gears, save her love life, keep her newspaper column, and get into the writing camp of her dreams all through the use of astrology?

Genre: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Running Press Kids (March 2010)
ISBN#: 0762436700

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Bonnie Hearn Hill's novel Aries Rising to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end. We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: I always like to know which came first, the chicken or the egg. So, how did it work with you: did you decide to write a YA novel and come up with the astrology idea, or did you want to do an astrology related book and then realize it would be perfect as a YA novel?

Bonnie: The astrology came first. One of the members of my critique group is humorous astrology writer Hazel Dixon-Cooper. At one of our group sessions, we were playing around with astrological signs, and I got an idea for a title. As I started playing the what-if game, I knew the book was young adult. Then I asked my agent if she thought I could do that, and she sent me an assortment of YA books she has represented. I was hooked.

WOW: At what point did you decide your book about the discovery of a magical astrology book could become a great series?

Bonnie: The scope of astrology just naturally suggests a series, or maybe it's just the way I think. This nasty little thing happens to me when I'm writing. The book fairy comes and whispers an idea for the next book while I'm still working on the first. I knew that I wanted to do a second one with a ghost in it. Then my publisher offered me a three-book deal, and the book fairy came calling again.

WOW: Ah, the three-book deal. Tell us how you managed to have three books coming out in one year. We're all green with envy!

Bonnie: And I am green from lack of sleep. ;) Actually, it wasn't as crazy as it sounds.

I wrote Aries Rising first. Because I hadn't written YA before, I had to finish it. My critique group read it, and my agent edited it--and I guess it was probably eight or nine months before we submitted the manuscript. It sold in spring of 2008, and I wrote the other two after that.

WOW: Can you tell us a little about the Fridays? Which incidentally sounds like a great name for a 1950's musical group!

Bonnie: I absolutely love the Fridays. I should have formed them years ago, but none of us was ready. You can see photos of a typical session on my website. In 1990, I began teaching a group that became known as the Tuesday Night Writers, and then just the Tuesdays. We had enormous success in any number of genres, and many of the group's members were published.

In late 2006, I realized that some of my students were excellent critics, so I made a deal with four of them. Meet at my house every Friday morning for breakfast. We each get 20 minutes to read or plot or whatever we want. It's a pretty basic concept, and what happens around my table is so exciting it's almost scary. One member, Christopher Allen Poe, drives three hours each way (from Sacramento) to attend. We are very committed, very intense, and we laugh a lot too. One of our members had a bad experience with an agent last year. We were the only ones who really understood what the writer was feeling, and that person's 20 minutes were pretty much therapy. (That works, too. One of our members is a psychologist.) Ultimately, in addition to being each other's ultimate support group, we are professional and focused on publication. Although we do eat chocolate chip cookies and drink a lot of coffee, we don't sit around talking about our kids or spouses. We talk about the market, we talk about books we are reading, and we talk about how we can all improve our manuscripts.

WOW: Your group sounds wonderful! Do you feel every writer should belong to a critique group?

Bonnie: Only if you can create a great one. What can critique groups do for writers? I probably shouldn't say this in public, but the wrong critique group can do a lot of damage. I was lucky because I was able to handpick mine, and I already loved them as people. When I teach writing, I always encourage my students to go off and form their own groups. If I were looking for a critique group and I wasn't teaching a class, I would enroll in one and try to connect with other students. Two of my former students, a very talented man and woman (both Libras, by the way) met in my class and have been working together for several years. He moved to San Francisco, but they are still close and still read for each other.

WOW: I'm a Libra, too. I think we're supposed to be very loyal. Your group writes in many different areas--nonfiction, mystery, YA, humor. I would have thought a group that all writes in the same genre would be better able to evaluate each other's writing. Does having writers from different genres make the group more lively?

Bonnie: That's my Gemini influence, no doubt. I've written short fiction, articles, essays, columns, and I have six thriller novels published by MIRA. My original class was Writing for Publication, and I got all types of people--all ages, all interests, as many men as women, which I really like. For example, Jillian Ward, my youngest student (who just won first place in YA fiction in the San Francisco Writers' Conference contest), is 19, and my oldest, Bob Brown a cowboy poet, is 77.

We have a published cowboy poet, an essayist who published a back-of-the-book piece in Woman's Day, a newspaper columnist, a magazine columnist, a mystery writer, Mary Witte, the author of Redneck Haiku, and of course, Hazel Dixon-Cooper. Hazel, who is the funniest human I know, was a hospital secretary when she came to my group, and she received a six-figure deal for her first two humorous astrology books. I received my three-book thriller deal almost exactly a year later. Pretty amazing for two best friends in a writing group in Fresno, California.

WOW: That is amazing! Can you give our readers a few tips on how to start their own critique group?

Bonnie: Again, I would hang out with writers. Take a class, attend readings and literary events. I don't think you need to get "clubbed," as many people who join local writing groups get involved with running the group instead of writing. Just get to know other people in your community--or online--who are trying to accomplish what you are. Don't trust just anyone with your precious work. Intelligent feedback should improve your writing, not make you feel like slashing your wrists.

WOW: Great advice! So, tell us, what are you working on next?

Bonnie: I just turned in the galleys for Gemini Night, and yes, I am writing. As I said, I'm a Gemini. I always have something on the back burner.

WOW: Well, we can't wait to see what's on your back burner. With you, we never know what's simmering back there! But I'm sure it's fantastic. :)

Want to join Bonnie on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

March 1, 2010 Monday
Bonnie will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. Stop by and share your comments! One lucky commenter will win copy of Bonnie's book!

March 2, 2010 Tuesday
Bonnie will be contributing to the "Because of a Book" feature at Write for a Reader. You can also enter to win a copy of her YA novel, Aries Rising!

March 3, 2010 Wednesday
How can you find time to write when your life is packed with a 9-to-5 job, family, and a few hours of sleep each night? Novelist and former newspaper editor Bonnie Hearn Hill shares her Five Tips for Finding Time to Write When You Have a Full Time Job. Not to miss!

March 5, 2010 Friday
Bonnie Hearn Hill will be stopping by Mom-e-Centric to introduce her new YA series Star Crossed. Readers can also win a copy of the first book in the series, Aries Rising!

March 9, 2010 Tuesday
Just can't seem to talk to your teen? Margo Dill and Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of the YA Star Crossed series, discuss how books can help you communicate with the teens in your life. Don't forget to enter to win Hill's novel Aries Rising. Maybe it will give you and your teen something to talk about!

March 12, 2010 Friday
Bonnie Hearn Hill will be stopping by's The Book Case to explain how she used astrology to help create the characters in her new YA series. You can also win a copy of the first book in the series, Aries Rising.

March 16, 2010 Tuesday
Bonnie Hearn Hill started out as a writer in the fourth grade and along the way she's made a few mistakes and learned a few things. Today she shares her experience with us in Six Things I Wish I had Known When I Started Out. You can also enter to win a copy of Aries Rising.

March 19, 2010 Friday
Stop by for novelist Bonnie Hearn Hill's answers to questions posed by readers on Day by Day Writer. If you have a question for Bonnie, visit the link below to have it answered on this day! And don't forget: Bonnie's favorite question wins a copy of Aries Rising!

March 22, 2010 Monday
Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of Aries Rising, the first book in the series Star Crossed, stops by Books by Their Cover to chat about astrology. You can also win a copy of Aries Rising where the main character discovers an astrology book that gives her power over her world.

March 23, 2010 Tuesday
Cathy C. Hall is taking five on Finders & Keepers today--five questions for author Bonnie Hearn Hill, that is! Stop by for some tips on writing and a chance to win Hill's first YA novel Aries Rising!

March 25, 2010 Thursday
Have you and your daughter ever read your horoscopes out loud to each other? Stop by the Mother Daughter Book Club for an interview with Bonnie Hearn Hill! You can also win a copy of Aries Rising.

March 26, 2010 Friday
Stop by Fresh Fiction today and visit Bonnie Hearn Hill, author of the Star Crossed YA series. Enter to win a copy of the first book in the series Aries Rising!

We have more dates to come! To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

We hope you are as excited about the tour as we are! Mark your calendar, save these dates, and join us for this truly unique and fascinating author blog tour.

If you have a blog or website and would like to host Bonnie Hearn Hill or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

31 Days of Aries: Your chance to win an iPod Touch!
The Aries Rising Blog Tour & Book Giveaway continues through March 31st. Destinations will be posted daily, and a free copy of Aries Rising will be given away at each one. At the conclusion of the tour, a drawing will be held for an iPod Touch. No purchase is necessary. You can enter as often as you wish, and you can qualify in three ways:
1. Be an Aries. Just send your birth date (month and day) to starcrossed.contest[at]gmail[dot]com.
2. Write a review and post it anywhere. Send the link to the same e-mail address.
3. Post a fan badge on your Facebook page and send the link to the above e-mail address.
Send your entries to: starcrossed.contest[at]gmail[dot]com. On each entry, include your name, address, e-mail address, and phone number where you can be reached. Deadline: March 31, 2010.

And be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Bonnie Hearn Hill's YA novel Aries Rising! And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!

Labels: , , , , , , , ,