Sunday, March 2, 2014

Story Crush Winter Tour Event Recap + Giveaway

Harper Teen Story Crush Winter Tour
South Hadley, MA tour stop
Odyssey Bookshop, 4 pm March 1, 2014 
Go HERE for more information about this tour

Odyssey Books is practically on the campus of Mount Holyoke college. Very New England. I wish this bookstore was closer to my house (it is nearly 2 hours from me).

Katie Cotugno
How to Love
Published: October 1, 2013, Balzer + Bray

Robyn Schneider
The Beginning of Everything 
Published: August 27, 2013, Katherine Tegen

Melissa Kantor
Maybe One Day
Published: February 18, 2014, HarperTeen

Courtney C. Stevens
Faking Normal
Published: February 25, 2014, HarperTeen

Author Discussion Recap
Harper publicist Alison Lisnow conducted a lively discussion with the four Story Crush authors, asking thoughtful and informative questions. I've broken down my recap based on author, which is not the order they were asked. At the bottom are some questions that were asked to all authors. 

NOTE: PLEASE READ THIS! The information below is based on my notes and accurate to the best of my knowledge. I used "I" when I typed the authors' answers for purely style reasons, because it read better to me than "she.' However, these are paraphrases of their actual words. Everything they said was far more eloquently stated than I make it sound here. I apologize if I represented anything an author or Ali said incorrectly. I'm also sorry for anything I didn't catch in my notes. 

Courtney C. Stevens
author of Faking Normal 

To find a description of Faking Normal. Go HERE. (I missed Courtney's summary) 

Q: Why did you pick neck scratching as Alexi's form of self mutilation? 
Courtney: As someone who's worked a lot with youth, I've seen many ways that pain is expressed. Not everyone wants to cut, but self mutilation is a common way to control how much pain a person feels. For a girl, the back of the neck is a place that can be hidden by hair, and often people rub their neck when they're stressed. Scratching isn't a far stretch from that point. 

Q: Talk about the significance of the desk song lyrics:
Courtney: I wrote on my desk in school too, but didn't have a deal with the janitor, so I do not recommend doing it yourself. But I used music to help balance two story lines in my book, the darker tale vs. wanting to create a safe space for my character to counteract the evil she was facing. 

Q: What are the significance of tents in your story? There seem to be a lot of them. 
Courtney: The significance isn't really the tent. It's the concept of sanctuary. The idea of going back to a place you felt safe. Like a cairn or blaze on a trail. Alexi has her closet. Bodee goes under his bed. The tent or a treehouse are the same thing. I wanted to create places of safety for my characters when they needed them.

Melissa Kantor
author of Maybe One Day

Q: Tell us about your story:
Melissa: Maybe One Day is about best friends Zoe and Olivia who get kicked out of dance school. They think that's the worse that will happen to them. But then Olivia gets cancer. This story is told in the perspective of Zoe, the friend of the girl with cancer. I actually relate well to Zoe.  She's a lot like me. But overwhelmingly reviewers think Zoe is difficult, which makes me wonder about myself... 

Q: How did you decide that Zoe would be the friend of the girl with cancer, and Olivia would get the disease? (or that each character was right for their role in the book)
Melissa: Olivia and Zoe get kicked out of ballet school. But where Olivia is self actualized and secure, despite what happened, Zoe is angry and bitter. Their roles throughout the book, and what they face, fit their characters well. 

(I missed a great question for Melissa about music and humor. I apologize for that!)

Q: How do you manage current technology in a contemporary story? (this was a generalized question about making teens current in their technology use.)
Melissa: You can make any decision about anything as long as you make it real. If you want to create a reason that your characters don't use Facebook, then make it believable. But you can also write realistic fiction set in a different period, like Eleanor and Park, which eliminates some of modern technology. (This led to a discussion about the wonder of mix tapes)

Robyn Schneider
author of The Beginning of Everything 

Q: Tell us about your story: 
Robyn: The Beginning of Everything is about Ezra, a boy who believes everyone will experience one great tragedy in his life. This is the story about how he finds himself after what he sees as his tragedy. 

Q: Why did you name Ezra Falkner such an ambitions name? 
Robyn: I dated someone in college who didn't like me using the name "Ezra" in a story I wrote for a class because it was one of his cousins' names. This guy was adamant that I not name my characters after anyone he knew or who was related to him. We were just casually dating! I told him that one day I'd write a book and use the name Ezra. So I did. (That guy and she didn't last long)

Q: Why did you write about this concept of everyone having a tragedy?
Robyn: I was at the house of a good friend one summer, out back at the pool, the day he discovered he had cancer. He came out and just told me and the other people there. He and I had already signed a lease for an apartment together, and of course he backed out. I was stuck alone with an apartment I couldn't afford. While this guy was going through this real tragic life experience, I felt like I "was going through the aftermath of someone else's tragedy." 

Q: Were you like your characters in high school (in terms of their nerdiness)? 
Robyn: I was more isolated, cautious and studious in high school. But my characters reflect me very well in college where I learned to be an "enthusiastic nerd." 

{SPOILER} Why did you have to do that to Cooper?
Robyn: I always knew Cooper's outcome would be what it was. For many, your 20s are characterized by the death of your childhood pet. But when I wrote the scene I listened to Claire de Lune on repeat and cried. 

Katie Cotugno
author of How to Love 

Q: Tell us about your story:
Katie: How to Love is about Reena and Sawyer, a couple who falls in love two times, three years a part. 

Q: Did you purposefully give Sawyer LeGrande such a lofty name?
Katie: I started writing How to Love when I was 16 and Sawyer was an amalgamation of all the boys I dreamed of and wanted at the time. (There was more to this answer, but it was missed)

Q: Talk about Reena's friendship with Ali: 
Katie: I wanted to explore the question of how it feels to love and then lose a friend that was once your everything. I had a real life friend who was like Ali to me. Like my characters, we had a massive falling out and after that our friendship was over. However on the positive side, since my book has published, she emailed me and we've become friends again.

Q: How does Reena feel about motherhood?
Katie: Reena's feelings are conflicted about motherhood. In many ways Hannah is the great love of Reena's life. But before Reena had her, she didn't have a lot of friends in high school and was always longing to get out of where she was to travel and study. Because of Hannah she never got to go or do anything she wanted. 

Q: How were you able to keep the Before/After story lines straight? 
Katie: I wrote How To Love in the order that it's told. But it was difficult to write because I had to balance and line up events, and if I took one detail out it could affect everything. Writing this book was very much a visual process with lots of careful maneuvering.

Group Questions

Q: What is something in your book that changed between initial writing and publication, because of the advice of your editor or some other reason? How did it affect your story?

Melissa: The original title of Maybe One Day was There Are No Cheerleaders in Heaven. I loved the title and was sure that it was partially why the book sold. But I had trouble making the voices of Olivia and Zoe authentic as bitter cheerleaders. Eventually I had to rework the story and change their roles. But then I was worried about telling my editor, because I assumed she'd  be sad to lose the cheerleaders and the title. Of course, my editor said she never loved the title and had been downplaying the cheerleader angle.

Courtney: 1) The first four pages that I wrote of Faking Normal, when I decided to write the story, were deeply personal and the hardest pages I've ever written. But they never appear in the story. When the story was being edited, we made the decision that I would keep them for myself. 

2) The original title of Faking Normal was Twenty Three because of the number of slats in the air vent above Alexi's bed. She counts them as a way of seeking safety. But you can't count to 23 without blinking. Bodee is there to help her count past the darkness. 

Robyn: 1) The original title of The Beginning of Everything was Severed Heads, Broken Hearts. I loved the title but it confused a lot of people about the nature of the book. Was it horror? fantasy? etc. It's also a title that you only get if you've read the book. So very late in the process we decided to change it, which led to a pushback of publication.

I had a terrible time trying to come up with a new title. Some of my fabulous picks: "Catcher on the Ride" and "Diary of the Gimpy Kid." Eventually The Beginning of Everything was chosen, which is the most often misquoted F. Scott Fitzgerald line. It very well represents how misunderstood Ezra is in the book. 

2) One character in the story was alive for most of my writing process, but I ended up making the decision to have this character be dead in the book instead. When I had to pull him from the story entirely, I felt like someone had actually died. 

Katie: I started writing How to Love at age 16 but then finished it as my senior thesis at Emerson. My advisor was a literary professor who was not a good match for me at all (you don't get to pick them). He basically didn't attend any of our meetings. But at the very end, he did tell me that he went through and circled all the ANDs he found in my story and concluded that my sentences were too long. This was surprisingly a very helpful comment!

Q: What projects are you working on next?

Katie: my second book is called 99 Days and it is about a girl who goes back to her hometown in the Catskills and gets involved in a love triangle featuring brothers. (uh-oh!)

Robyn: I'm writing a coming of age illness narrative featuring a fictional disease as well as working on a TV series. 

Melissa: I'm writing a book called Better Than Perfect about a girl who *was* perfect until her family falls apart and she starts to question her life. Is this all there is? I've written a lot of romance focused books and then Maybe One Day which was at the opposite, more depressing end of that. This book is somewhere in the middle. 

Courtney: I have a prequel novella in Bodee's POV coming out on Tuesday called The Blue-Haired Boy. I'm also writing a book currently titled Three Sided Square. To describe it, where Faking Normal is what it feels like to hope on the other side of pain, the new book is about what it feels like to be in high school. 

*I wanted to reiterate that the titles of these authors' works in process are not final. As we've seen above, titles can change before publication. 


5 books = 5 winners 
Each winner will receive one of the books featured on the Story Crush tour 

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

Panic by Lauren Oliver (did not appear at my stop)

(The first winner picked gets his/her choice of ONE of the five books, winner two chooses from the four remaining books etc. until we have 5 winners and all 5 books have been given away)

THANK YOU Harper Collins for this generous giveaway!

Giveaway is for US residents only (Sorry, other international readers!)
You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE


  1. Thanks so much, Lauren! I haven't read any of these books, but Faking Normal is one I'll get to within the next couple of days. :) A shame that Katie will be writing a love triangle next. :/

  2. Well, I definitely will NOT be reading Katie's love triangle novel, that's for sure. It's a shame since I adore her writing style, but love triangles are definitely not for me, especially between brothers. I think that might actually be the worst type of love triangle since it seems so out of the realm for me to imagine that siblings would fight one another for a girl...I mean, family is family, isn't it?

    Anywayyy, wonderful re-cap post, Lauren! I really enjoyed reading these responses as I'm familiar with all the books, so I'm glad you were able to attend this event and let us know about it. :)

  3. I'm actually glad that this isn't a cutting book. I ofc know what Faking Normal is about based on the reviews and stuff, but I'm glad that Stevens gave her some other form of releasing her pain than cutting, plus it's really realistic. Oh, the tent as a safe place explanation is cool. I'll be sure to remember that when I'm reading this book. I don't use fb that much, to be honest. It's not that I don't like or believe in it, but I just don't really.. Idk. Twitter and in person are more my things. If it wasn't for a few people whom I talk to on fb since they don't have twitter and don't use Skype that much and if it wasn't for my uni course being all together there--the food technologists--then I wouldn't use it at all. "Why did you write about this concept of everyone having a tragedy?" The answer to this question.. Omg. I cannot imagine what it must have felt like to both parties. This is horrible. However, the inspiration finally came to be something beautiful, eh? I feel like How to Love could touch me very deeply, because I'm in a big fight witih one of my friends right now. And.. we had a huge fight last year--our first fight since 4th grade and it was horrible. We didn't speak for a long long time, but then confessed how much we missed each other and started rebuilding our friendship which is one of the best things in my life. At the end of last year though I made one stupid decision and now she's not talking to me. I cannot do anything to make this okay, because I can't revese time. I have never done that before, I've always held my promises and once when I kind of.. broke her trust of sorts (it's all really complicated), then now she feels like she cannot be my friend? Idk. Can't really tell what's going on in her head. All I can do is wait until she isn't that mad anymore. It hurts, nevertheless. And sorry that this became like a therapy session right now :D I'm glad that the author got her friend back though:) Ohhh! Seems like Robyn has an interesting future--books and TV shows :D I can't wait to see how these ladies get on with their new projecs:) THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS EXCELLENT POST, LAUREN!!!!

  4. Oh, very cool! We rarely get anyone I want to go see coming through Columbia. *sadness* However, I loved your recap (so hard to take great notes when there's a panel going on -- it just goes to quickly to capture everything). Just one thing, I wish Katie would ditch that love triangle!

  5. This sounds like it was so much fun, Lauren.
    I would have loved to meet these authors, especially Katie and Courtney because I adored their books.
    It seems like they talked about a lot of interesting things that would have interested me. I especially like Courtney's explanation about her main character scratching her neck and the tents. I know someone who would get relief out of her grief by scratching her arms and not necessarily cutting.
    I'm kind of upset to hear that Katie's new book involves a love triangle between 2 brothers. That's not something I enjoy even remotely, but the other books sound fabulous.
    Thanks for sharing, Lauren! It was a lot of fun reading this. :)

  6. Wow. What an awesome event and a truly AMAZING recap Lauren! You're so much better at note taking and recapping events like this than I am. Mine pale in comparison to the detail you have here, so I think maybe you just need to come to Ohio and attend any events here with me. Sound like a plan? Yes? Yes. So glad you had such a great time and got to meet such fabulous authors (and Ali)!

  7. You did an incredible job with this recap, Lauren! I loved seeing what the authors had to say about their books, about their writing and about their upcoming projects. I've only read two out of the four in this post (Maybe One Day and How to Love), and really enjoyed them both.

  8. Thanks for sharing! Haha! That part with why Robyn decided to name her character Ezra Falkner was hilarious! Haha! I would love to have my name is a book, I don't know why that guy freaked out about it. Oh, and *hint hint* you may want to check on that follow on twitter part of the giveaway for @darlingsr4ever and @Quartland. Severed heads, broken hearts sound so interesting (how could it not with a title like that?) I can't wait to read it! :D

  9. It's really nice of you to share this. Finding the meaning and reason of things done in a book as well as finding out what could have been is just amazing. This also had (at least what I see) great tips for writing

  10. It's really amazing of you to actually write all this out for your followers, and it shows how dedicated you are to your blog and that's really inspiring. I love your blog it's so cute and chic and just keep doing what you are doing.

  11. Thank you for a gorgeous recap Lauren! I loved learning about the different titles that the authors had first had in mind for their books, I loved Maybe One Day and Faking Normal, but think the alternative titles would have been great for these books too, as they did represent what the book was about pretty well. Also seeing how I loved a lot of these books mentioned in this post, I'm quite eager to know what these authors have planned for their future books. I can't wait to get my hands on them! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful recap with us! :)

  12. Lauren, your recaps are thorough and easy to follow! I really enjoy reading them. You know, it feels like I'm almost actually there. :) While I haven't read any of these authors' works, it's nice to get an inside look at what I've been missing. Thanks to this post, I'm even more interested in The Beginning of Everything and How to Love. Thanks for sharing with us! I can tell you had a really lovely time. :)

    Marlene @ The Flyleaf Review

    P.s. Maybe one day I'll attend an author event in Texas... til then, I'll just have to live vicariously through you. ;)

  13. The only thing better than your event recaps is actually attending the events ourselves. As always, I love your summaries, Lauren! So detailed and thorough, they always give such a great sense of what it's like to be there, as well as insight into the author's current and upcoming projects. Thanks so much for sharing this one with us.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  14. The format of How to Love sounds interesting, and I always love when authors have used something they started at a young age or something from their personal lives.

  15. Lauren, your event recaps are always so much fun to make. And they invariably make me super jealous, but hey it's my fault I live in an area where basically no author events happen. Maybe someday I'll have the opportunity to attend events like this. :) I haven't read ANY of these books yet, but hopefully I can soon. I'm most interested in How to Love, I think, as well as Faking Normal. I still am sad about the decision to reject the original title for The Beginning of Everything. I can see how it could cause confusion as to its subject and such, but that could also have been a way to draw readers in and encourage discussion.
    Thanks for the awesome recap and giveaway!

  16. Great discussion! All questions are really interesting and meaning full. More as it’s really amazing of you to actually write all this out for your followers, and it shows how dedicated you are to your blog. At this time I am with washington bus tours that’s really inspiring I observe after choose the DC tour.

  17. Christina R. in the rafflecopter

    I always think Courtney Stevens' answers are so emotional, like even in her thought process it's all about that. It's so interesting how the hardest pages to write for her, she decided to take out, but no wonder if it was too personal.

    All their next projects are so good - love how some are totally different, some are the same style.

    Thank you! :)

  18. Your recap is great, Lauren, you did such a good job! I had a lot of fun reading it so I'm sure it was a blast to attend it. I DNF'd Maybe One Day, but I've been really wanting to read the other books. I guess I get why Robyn's title changed, but man, that was a great first title. Welp. It's disappointing that another love triangle book will be coming out, especially with siblings. Double groan. I actually do know someone who was in a love triangle of sorts with brothers. HORRIBLE. Why? Just why? *shakes head* But once again, I love your recap!

  19. Thank you so much for this amazing giveaway! I actually planned to see the Story Crush Tour that was in PA, but I couldn't make it. I was so upset that I wasn't able to listen to the author's speak and their signing. I truly thank you for this opportunity!

  20. Ah! This sounds like it was so much fun! Thanks for writing everything down for us chumps who couldn't go :P
    I'm kind of bummed that Severed Heads, Broken Dreams was axed- that's such an ace title, even if it IS totally misleading. And like another commenter, I'm also glad Faking Normal isn't a cutting book- I can't deal with those (though other forms of self-inflicted pain don't bother me for some reason. Go figure)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...