"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." —J. R. R. Tolkien

Monday, August 26, 2013

Double Debut: It's the Sara Squared Blog Tour & A Giveaway!

Hey there, Internet peeps! Today I'm thrilled to kick off the blog tour for two amazing debut authors and their equally amazing books!

To start it off even sweeter, there is a giveaway! Win both books, signed!
Enter below through Rafflecopter!

Meet Sara Kocek, author of 
PROMISE ME SOMETHING (Albert Whitman & Co., 2013)

Sara Kocek is the author of Promise Me Something (Albert Whitman Teen, 2013). She received her BA in English from Yale University and her MFA in Creative Writing from New York University, where she taught fiction and poetry to undergraduates. A freelance editor and college essay coach, Sara has served as the Program Director at the Writers’ League of Texas, a literary nonprofit. She is also the founder of Yellow Bird Editors, a team of freelance editors and writing coaches based in Austin, Texas.

Meet Sara Polsky, author of 
THIS IS HOW I FIND HER (Albert Whitman & Co., 2013)

Sara Polsky’s debut YA novel, This is How I Find Her, will be published by Albert Whitman in fall 2013. Her fiction has appeared in Fictitious Force and Behind the Wainscot. She is represented by Suzie Townsend. Sara is a writer and editor at Curbed NY, and her articles and essays have appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, The Forward, Poets & Writers, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

And now for the guest post...


Happy Monday, everyone! We are Sara Kocek and Sara Polsky, two contemporary YA authors with debut novels that release this September 1st (Promise Me Something and This is How I Find Her, Albert Whitman & Co.) Today we kick off our blog tour by interviewing each other about...each other! Turns out we have a lot in common, and so do our books. Thanks, PJ Hoover, for hosting us!

SP: Hi, Sara—

SK: Hi, Sara—

SP: Jinx.

SK: Very funny.

SP: Just had to get that out of the way.

SK: Understandably. It’s not everyday you kick off a blog tour with your author twin.

SP: Author twin?

SK: Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.

SP: You mean the fact that our names are the same or that we are both from New York?

SK: Not to mention all the uncanny parallels in our books. Did you know that in Chapter 3 of Promise Me Something, Olive and Reyna throw candy at each other to diffuse a tense situation, and in Chapter 11 of This is How I Find Her, Sophie and Leila throw cookie dough to do the same? They all wind up laughing. It’s an important turning point in both books.

SP: That’s kind of awesome. Speaking of things we have in common, let’s talk about writing contemporary, “issue-driven” YA novels. Promise Me Something deals with bullying, homophobia, and teen suicide. What made you want to tackle such weighty subjects in your novel?

SK: I actually didn’t set out to write about these topics. Buzz words like “homophobia” and “bullying” were nowhere in my head. What was in my head was a girl named Olive. She was tough and sarcastic and brutally honest, and I knew I wanted to tell her story. The fact that she gets bullied grew out of the behaviors and personalities of the other characters in the book, not out of my desire to “tackle” the subject. And I also think it’s important to recognize that these issues are never black and white. Olive may get bullied for being an outcast, but in a way, she also bullies Reyna into being her friend.

How about you—what made you decide to write a book that deals with the issue of Bipolar disorder?

SP: Like you with Olive, for me This Is How I Find Her started with the characters -- particularly Sophie, the main character, and her cousin Leila. Their relationship came to me first, and I started thinking about how they grew up in the same family, in the same town, but somehow became such different people. From there I started thinking about their parents, and it made sense to me that Sophie might be the way she was, and their relationship might have evolved the way it did, if Sophie’s mom had bipolar disorder.

Speaking of characters, which of the characters in Promise Me Something do you relate most to? Which characters were the hardest to write?

SK: I wish I were more like Olive, who always stands up for what is right even when it means putting herself out there to be made fun of. In reality, I am probably a little more like Reyna, who tries to blend in socially and not draw attention to herself. The hardest character for me to write was Gretchen Palmer, since she’s just so cruel. Every time I wrote her dialogue, I felt like getting up to wash my hands.

Both our books deal with the subtleties and complexities of friendship. In This is How I Find Her, I love how complicated Sophie’s feelings are toward her cousin Leila. Do you think friendships with family members are different than other friendships?

SP: I love this question! Yes, I think they are -- or they can be. I think we’re often different versions of ourselves with our families than we are with our friends because our families know us in a different way, and have known us for our whole lives. Leila and Sophie were so close as children, and some of that closeness and knowledge of each other remains even though they’ve barely spoken in years.

If you could meet one of your characters in real life, who would it be?

SK: That’s easy! Levi—he’s cute AND he writes awesome song lyrics.

How about you?

SP: I’d love to meet Sophie. She feels so real to me that I’d just love to sit down and have an actual conversation. Thanks for following along on our blog tour, and thanks for reading!


Thanks to Sara and Sara for being here! And I'd love to invite you all to follow along on the blog tour tomorrow by checking out DEAR TEEN ME!

Now for the giveaway! Enter by filling out the Rafflecoptor form below!

*Giveaway is US only
*Giveaway ends Wednesday, September 4th, 2013, at 11:59 pm

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Looking back at Summer...

...and not quite sure where it went.

Sure, when summer started, I had grand plans for all the amazing things the kids and I would get done. We were going to operating like the perfect machine, achieving all our dreams and goals and have plenty of free time to spend goofing around. We were going to frolic at the pool in the afternoons, the kids swimming while I sipped red wine and blogged. We were going to clean out every junk drawer in the house while spending our spare time building a time travel machine for fun.

Right, so here we are two months later. And how did it go?

It started out great. We stuck to the list. They checked off everything as they did it. They looked forward to playing their xBox and computer after getting all their chores done. They exercised. They did math and read. I wrote an entire manuscript*. Life was good.

And then the travel came...

Virginia, Chicago, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Houston, Houston again, Houston yet again**, Corpus Christi, Edna...it went on and on and on.

And sandwiched in the middle of all the travel, we had ten days worth of visitors.

We saw this:

And this:

And did this:

And this:

The schedules got buried under piles of junk mail in the kitchen. The video games came on earlier and earlier. The floor had dust bunnies (although I admit that this is a common occurrence in our house). And let's not even talk about my blog. I almost forgot what it was called.

Taken at around 7 am.

Yet, we had a blast.
We spent lots of time together, and now that school is about to start (Monday for us), I'm going to miss the kids. And the summer. I'm not ready.

Still, that beautiful siren named Routine looms ahead, drawing me forward with promises of accomplishment. She lists off the things I will be able to achieve. She reminds me that everything works better when a schedule is involved. She tells me that even my toilets will even be cleaned.

"Hello, Routine. It's nice to see you once again."

Enjoy your last few days of summer, my friends. And now, I'm off to play a bit of Wizard101 before it's time to go to the middle school to check out books and football equipment.

* which will be the topic of another post because I kept meticulous metrics

** This is my secret plan to see Joy Preble as much as possible.