HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION - UNA LAMARCHE

Even though it’s September, there’s still time to get in your summer reading! Summer is perfect paperback season—you can take a paperback anywhere!—so we’re giving away six of our favorite summer reads over at Pinterest, where you can enter for the chance to win a prize pack of books by creating a board showcasing your dream vacation! We’ve asked the authors of those books to tell us how they spent their summer vacation. Here is what Una LaMarche, author of Five Summers andLike No Other, had to tell us:

One of the worst things about adulthood—besides surprise chin hair and turning into the kind of person who earnestly adds socks to their Christmas list—is that summer vacation suddenly shrinks from two months to about a week. However, so as not to be a total buzz kill, I will pretend that I was “on vacation” in July instead of “writing another novel.” 

But mostly, I wrote another novel. This process involved a lot of breaks to post on Facebook and Twitter about how hard I was working, and to Instagram photos of my Say Anything MacBook decal:

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 Near the end of July, my book Like No Other published! It even got reviewed in the New York Times. Naturally, I was there to Instagram the moment:

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I also got the first galley of my comic essay collection, Unabrow.

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In celebration I started getting my eyebrows professionally waxed by stern-looking Korean women instead of stabbing at my own face with tweezers while simultaneously trying to watch The Mindy Project. (The waxers politely declined to comment on the surprise chin hair.)

As I neared the August deadline for my new manuscript, I decided to let my two year-old son help me write. (This will explain why Muno from Yo Gabba Gabba makes a surprise cameo in the third act.) 

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Finally, I submitted the book and we vacated to Block Island, which is a little island off the coast of Rhode Island. 

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While there, my family took turns reading my book on the toilet, which is how you know they’re taking it really seriously:

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I also read some great books on vacation (not on the toilet, no offense to the authors):

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I did a few other notable things, like hiding under the table at a family reunion…

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And giving my son some sick inverted dinosaur shin tats. 

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As is my family custom, I declined to produce any kind of tan, or manage to successfully toss a Frisbee, for the duration of the season.

So, yeah. All in all it was a memorable summer, but now I’m ready to begin curating my fall wardrobe based on Janeane Garofalo’s character from Reality Bites, as well as stockpiling Halloween candy. Also, obviously, I need to start campaigning for my Christmas socks. It’s never too early.

Enter for the chance to win a copy of Five Summers and five other great summer paperbacks over on Pinterest!

Welcome back to the Penguin Teen Author Spotlight! Today we’re excited to have foreign news correspondent Atia Abawi here to tell us about her debut YA novel, The Secret Sky

Penguin Teen Author Spotlight:

Name: Atia Abawi
Novel: The Secret Sky
Available: September 2, 2014

Who’s your favorite author, living or dead?

There are so many!

I really do love and admire J.K. Rowling, she’s probably the only author I’ve gone to a book store at midnight for…on more than one occasion. :) She also just seems to be such a standup person.

I also love the poet Jalaludin Rumi and writer Khalil Gibran – their poems and stories stimulate my brain to think and my heart to feel.

What’s your favorite thing about your book?

I like that it can give the reader a glimpse into a part of Afghanistan not talked about much. Although it may seem dark at times and the characters lives seem so restricted, it is the reality that many Afghan people live with on a daily basis. I hope that at least for a little while I can take the reader into a world they haven’t seen but a world that does exist.

If you could spend one year on a deserted island with one character from literature, who would you choose?

Katniss Everdeen from the ‘Hunger Games’, without a doubt! She would make sure we would survive that year! :) 

Where do you write?

Wherever I can concentrate.

Sometimes that’s at our dining room table (I don’t have an office in my apartment).

At one point I rented a quaint little apartment in Istanbul for a week to have peace and isolation for my writing – I couldn’t get anything done because the silence was deafening and my iPad a devilish distraction. Eventually I’d take a taxi to the Starbucks on the busiest street in the city – and it was in the midst of that chaos where I was finally able to concentrate.

At other times the quiet room at a public library gets me typing.

Who is your favorite hero or heroine of history?

This is too tough to narrow down. I think there are heroes and heroines of all ages, races, religions, and nationalities - all over the world at any given moment. I consider anyone who in life works to not only make their lives better but the lives of others - including complete strangers - better in some way, is a hero.

Do you tweet? What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever tweeted?

I can’t really remember…I know I’ve made some funnies in the past but my twitter feed has a lot of news because of my life as a journalist. But recently on vacation back home in the United States (I live overseas) I tweeted about my Slurpee on 7-Eleven day and @Slurpee tweeted me back. Which was exciting, so I then professed my love to Slurpee, and he/she went quiet…unrequited love…

What is your favorite season?

Fall. The beauty of the trees changing colors and the crisp autumn air makes me appreciate the beauty our world shares with us. I know to some this season symbolizes death but to me it’s the opposite.

If you could teleport anywhere in the known universe right now, where would you go?

If this includes time travel, I would go to 1970s Afghanistan. I want to see the country in its glory. I want to see the women of Kabul confidently living as an important part of society. I want to see the world my parents knew. I want to be able to drive into villages and be greeted as a welcome guest without the fear of danger lurking at every turn.

Driving down the streets of modern day Kabul can be depressing and disheartening but you can see the glimpses of the ghosts from a time when the city had an amazing spirit. And I’ve always dreamt of traveling back in time to be able to see it with my own eyes.

Do you have any writing rituals?

I sometimes like to light my creativity candles when I’m feeling less than motivated. It may seem silly but I think it helps.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Love and family.

What is the best concert you’ve ever been to?

Shania Twain – she can really get you dancing.

What are you currently working on?

Currently working on the release of the ‘The Secret Sky’ and hoping the readers will like it.

I am also stepping outside the literary box for a little while to work on a cookbook with my mom, jotting down her delicious Afghan recipes. Not sure if we will ever release it but I know I want it for safe keeping and eating.

Thanks Atia! We can’t wait for everyone to read The Secret Sky…and we’ve still got our fingers crossed that @Slurpee will return your undying love. :)

You can find Atia on Facebook and Twitter and on her website

Add The Secret Sky to your Goodreads to-read shelf and purchase your own copy here

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Sherri L. Smith

Even though it’s the end of August, there’s still time to get in your summer reading! Summer is perfect paperback season—you can take a paperback anywhere!—so we’re giving away six of our favorite summer reads over at Pinterest, where you can enter for the chance to win a prize pack of books by creating a board showcasing your dream vacation! We’ve asked the authors of those books to tell us how they spent their summer vacation. Here is what Sherri L. Smith, author of Orleans, had to tell us:

Dear Summer,

I am so sorry I missed you.  I hear you were at the beach splashing in the cold waves and toasting your shoulders in the hot sun.  I hear there were clam strips and lemonade.  Sounds wonderful.  I also saw your Facebook update about driving to the mountains and eating fudge in that little town you discovered at the end of the road.  *Sigh*  You have such a perfect time, no matter what you’re doing.

As for me?  Oh, well I’ve been traveling.  About a million different places.  Well, actually a little less than 300… all from the comfort of my sofa.  I’ve been reading.  While you were out getting sun kissed and windblown, I was curled up on my blue sofa with my gray cat and a stack of books higher than the mattresses above that famous pea.  So, I’ve sailed on ships, and climbed rocks on strange worlds.  I’ve sipped tea in dim parlors and raced bikes down rose-dotted lanes.  I’ve eavesdropped on hundreds of lives with a simple flick of the page.  I sometimes visited all four seasons in one day.

Oh, I saw you outside, waving and winking at me, calling me out into the pool or the ice cream parlor.  And for one week, I kept seeing you in San Diego as I walked from the hotel to the convention center 100 feet away.  You looked happy.  I was happy too, if you were wondering.  I was going to Comic Con.  A giant, air conditioned, artificially lit wonderland.  It wasn’t fudge at the end of the quaintest road in California, but it was fun.

And now you are ending.  The buses (and trains and bikes and SUVs) have already hauled the kids back to school.  Corduroy pants are on sale where swimsuits used to hang in all those great boutiques you kept posting about.  And I’m still here, still reading.  Only a dozen or so more books to go.  You see, I have plans with Autumn.  Yeah, I’m going to New York City for the National Book Awards.  Did I mention I’m a judge?  That’s what the reading has been all about—finding the best books of the year for young people.  So it’s kind of been like a treasure hunt, all those pages I’ve been turning.  And I’m getting close to the X.  So, in November, when you’re… wherever you go in the winter—is it Rio?  Australia?  I forget.  I’ll be dancing in Manhattan with the best of the book world.  Off the sofa, out of the house, and in the city that never sleeps.  I’ll tell you all about it next year.

That’s the best thing about you, Summer.  No matter how long it’s been since we’ve hung out, we pick up right where we left off and it feels like old times again.

I can’t wait.

Hugs,

Sherri

Enter for the chance to win a copy of Orleans and five other great summer paperbacks over on Pinterest!

ROOKIE is a website created by and for young women to make the best of the beauty, pain and awkwardness of being a teenager, and every school year they compile the best content from the site into a book. ROOKIE YEARBOOK 3 explores cures for love, girl-on-girl crime, standing for something, features interviews with Rookie role models like Sofia Coppola and Kim Gordon, and includes bonus exclusive content from Shailene Woodley, Dakota and Elle Fanning, Grimes, Kelis, Sia, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City, Haim, and more! ROOKIE YEARBOOK 3 comes out October 21, but you can pre-order it now! High-res

ROOKIE is a website created by and for young women to make the best of the beauty, pain and awkwardness of being a teenager, and every school year they compile the best content from the site into a book. ROOKIE YEARBOOK 3 explores cures for love, girl-on-girl crime, standing for something, features interviews with Rookie role models like Sofia Coppola and Kim Gordon, and includes bonus exclusive content from Shailene Woodley, Dakota and Elle Fanning, Grimes, Kelis, Sia, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer of Broad City, Haim, and more! ROOKIE YEARBOOK 3 comes out October 21, but you can pre-order it now!