I've Moved!

If you're looking for the blog of YA author Sara Bennett Wealer, you've come to the right place... sort of. This actually is my old blog. I now blog at sarabennettwealer.blogspot.com. You can visit me there for the latest and greatest, or stick around here and browse some of my old posts. Enjoy!

Changes are Coming

I've got a lot of exciting things planned for 2012, one of which is resurrecting my blog with a pretty makeover. This poor thing has never looked that great, and I haven't had a lot of time to devote to updating. But I'm cooking up ideas for ways to make it more interesting, one of which will probably entail moving to a new location. I plan to re-emerge with a fresh new look and a new angle on writing, publishing, YA and life in general. Until then, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter, where I'm much more active.

See you soon!

Happy Holidays from Friends Furry and Not

Wow - how is it already Christmas time? I can't believe how fast this year went. And, as usual, I got so behind on Christmas cards that I didn't end up sending out any! That's why I was thrilled when Saundra Mitchell suggested putting together a video holiday card featuring YA authors singing Winter Wonderland. I love seeing what everybody did - and getting a look at so many cute pets (mine included).

So, consider this my holiday card to friends and readers alike. Thank you for helping make this a great year - I'm looking forward to 2012!


Like Your YA a Little Artsy?

RIVAL is one of several arts-related YA and MG books that have come out this year, so if you like music or dance or drama or art AND YA literature you're in luck! For the past few weeks Page Turners Blog has been featuring YAs that feature the arts, and this week they're spotlighting my book. Check out this week's posts to find out how you can enter to win a signed copy of RIVAL. Then check out posts from previous weeks to find out about some other awesome arts-related titles.

Want to meet some of these authors in person? If you live in Washington/Oregon or New York/New England, why not check out an event by Stages on Pages? Our tour is coming to your area, and here's the schedule. Sadly, I won't be at any of these stops, but I will be participating when the tour comes closer to the Midwest. I will keep everybody posted!

It's Not THAT Dark Out There

Over the weekend I participated in a wonderful panel discussion at Books by the Banks here in Cincinnati. Joining me were Kristina McBride (THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES), Julia Karr (XVI) and Katrina Kittle (REASONS TO BE HAPPY). The topic: is today's teen and tween fiction too dark?

I know this topic has been talked to death lately, ever since the Wall Street Journal ran an article lamenting the huge amount of paranormal, dystopian and tough-issue books on the shelves these days. Our discussion was thoughtful and layered and included some wonderful input from some of the teens in the audience, and we landed where most authors and readers land whenever this topic comes up: that these books can play an important role in sparking discourse, that it's dangerous to tar entire genres with one brush, that it's up to readers and their parents to decide what's appropriate for them. I don't want to re-hash all of that here. What I do want to do is share some perspective from an author who doesn't write quote/unquote dark books.

Basically, if you're not in the mood for a darker topic or you don't think your child is ready, there are TONS of books out there that offer a lighter read. It may take some digging - I understand it can be overwhelming when big bookstores plaster their endcaps and displays with titles about dead teens, demons, violent futuristic societies, etc., (plus some lighter books aren't even making it to big-box bookstores right now). That's where the market is, still, and I want to go on the record as saying I've enjoyed several books on "darker" topics lately. But a good bookseller or librarian should be able to direct you to books that deal with more realistic settings and take a lighter tone. And by lighter, I don't necessarily mean froofy, cutesy or superficial. A lot of books out there deal with heavy topics like death or rivalry (like my book!) and even teen pregnancy, but with a less-gritty point of view.

Before last weekend's panel, I asked some fellow authors for recommendations for "lighter" YA books. I read these off at the end of the discussion, and I thought I'd share them here. This list doesn't come close to being exhaustive - please add your own titles in comments. I may find some new books for my TBR pile!

RIVAL by Sara Bennett Wealer (got to toot my own horn here)
ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
SEAN GRISWOLD'S HEAD by Lindsey Leavitt
GEEK GIRLS' GUIDE TO CHEERLEADING by Darcy Vance and Charity Tahmeseb
YOU WISH and PRADA & PREJUDICE by Mandy Hubbard
WHERE I BELONG by Gwendolyn Heasley
E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver books
DONUT DAYS by Lara Zielin (I'm reading her THE IMPLOSION OF AGGIE WINCHESTER right now, and even though it deals with a goth girl and teen pregnancy, I wouldn't classify it as a "dark" book.
PROM & PREJUDICE by Elizabeth Eulberg
COFFEEHOUSE ANGEL by Suzanne Selfors
Ally Carter's GALLAGHER GIRLS books
SUITE SCARLETT and the BLUE ENVELOPE books by Maureen Johnson

Where in the World is Sara?

I can't believe how fast this year has gone, how is it already fall?!?! 

My debut year has been wonderful and hectic and crazy (as most years are for me, to be honest). But the best part of being a new author has been when I get to connect with readers, either through the wonderful emails that you send me, or at events. If you live in the Ohio area, I'd love to see YOU at a couple of festivals I'll be attending.

Here's the scoop!

This Saturday I'll be at Books by the Banks in Cincinnati, signing books and participating in a panel titled "Are Today's Teen/Tween Books Too Dark?" Joining me will be Julia Karr, Kristina McBride and Katrina Kittle. The panel starts at 2 p.m., and I can't wait! If you're in the area, please try to stop by, and bring your kids - there are tons of fun activities for children at this great festival. You can learn more about it here.

On November 5, I'll be at the Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio. It's touted as the largest one-day literary event in Ohio, and I've heard wonderful things about it. For more information, look here!

I wish I had more news to report, but at the moment I'm hard at work on a new project. Perhaps soon it will give  me something cool to announce. I have a couple of other things up my sleeve as well but am not ready to discuss them yet. But stay tuned - I'm hoping for another exciting, crazy year to come!

"Don't you wish bullies had never been invented?"

That (points to subject line) is what my daughter said to me the other day, and I loved how simple her thought process seemed - somebody somewhere thought bullies were a good idea, and man, mom, weren't they wrong?

Of course bullies are invented every day, in many different ways and, of course, we can't wave our wands and make them go away. But we can call bullies on their behavior. We can try to help them find better ways to interact with others. And, most of all, we can help kids who are being bullied understand that it's not their fault and they are not alone.

That's part of the aim of DEAR BULLY: 70 AUTHORS TELL THEIR STORIES, which is out this week with HarperCollins. Edited by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall (who deserve mega-kudos both for having the idea and seeing to fruition), It's filled with essays, letters, comics and short stories by YA authors who have been bullied or were bullies. My contribution, "Can We Make This Letter Disappear?" is a letter from my adult self to my teen self, trying to put the problem of bullying into a bigger, more personal perspective. I wasn't tormented in the classic bully scenario, but I did put up with my fair share of girl crap, and I dished out my share as well. Girl drama, cattiness, bitchiness, gossip - whatever you want to call it, that's bullying, too, and I still feel the scars in my relationships with other women and in the anxiety I feel about my own daughters' social experiences.

Wherever you are in your journey - whether you're a teen who's struggling with standing up to the mean kids, a victim of bullying, a parent, a teacher, a counselor, or even a neighbor or grandparent - I hope you'll find a story in DEAR BULLY that helps. Maybe it gives you better insight. Maybe it gives you a new strategy, or perhaps it just offers the hope that things will get better. A portion of proceeds go to Stomp Out Bullying, so please, if you can afford it, buy the book. And if you read it? Let me know what you think.


Bidding is now OPEN!


WHAT: An in-depth critique of your full manuscript from me, and a critique of your query letter and first 20 pages by my agent, Holly Root at Waxman Literary Agency. Your book doesn't have to be Young Adult, although that is my area of expertise, and we can negotiate the kind of feedback you'd like. If you want a big-picture commentary on your plot, characters, etc., that's cool. If you're looking for a line-edit, we can do that, too.  If you're only halfway through your book but want some feedback and a bit of brainstorming on where it's going, then I'm game. Basically, I will treat your manuscript like I would the work of one of my critique partners. I will tell you what I think your book needs to get to a publishable level and do my best to give you resources that can help you polish it.

WHY: To benefit my sister-in-law Jenny's fundraising efforts for breast cancer research. Her story is here.  And you can find out about how breast cancer has affected me personally here.

WHEN: Bid any time between now and midnight, EST, Sept. 15.

HOW: Place your bid in the comments of this blog post. Your comment must be from a registered LJ account or be signed with your name & a way to get in touch with you if you win. If I can't reach you, your bid will be deleted!

Other Rules: 
You must submit full payment for your bid by Midnight on Sept. 30, directly to Jenny's fundraising page. She'll forward me the payment confirmation, and I'll connect with you and we can work out a good time to do the critique.

I promise to do my best to return my comments to you within 2 weeks of receiving your manuscript. I just ask for a day or two of leeway to account for any work or family issues or holidays, etc. that may come up; with two small kids, you never know! At that point, we can also coordinate with Holly about having her take a look at the material. (Please note: no promise is made or implied regarding Holly's requesting extra pages after reading the first 20. She'll give her professional opinion of your query and initial pages, to help guide you as to what might hook an agent. Anything else would be icing on the cake.)

By bidding, you signify that you understand I'll be giving my opinion of your work based upon my experience and skills. Mine is only one opinion. You are free to disagree with all or parts of my assessment, but please do so graciously.

About me: I am a full-time writer whose debut novel, RIVAL, is published by HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins. You can find out more about me at my website, www.sarabennettwealer.com.

So that's it! The opening bid is $20. Please increase the bid increments by a minimum of $5, and make sure to sign your bid with a way I can contact you or use a registered LJ account.  

Not interested in a critique? You can still donate to Jenny's fundraising page!

Announcing: Stages on Pages!

One of the things that seems to interest people about my book, RIVAL, is the arts angle - it's about two girls who are passionate about music, both preparing to go up against each other in a major singing competition. I wrote the book for teens who are like I was back in high school, interested in the arts but unable to find many books that tackled the topic.

The cool thing is, I'm no longer alone! There are a lot of books out lately--or just about to be released--that focus on the arts. Now, several authors with arts-related books are banding together and going on tour!

I'm so excited to announce Stages on Pages, young adult and middle grade authors touring America in support of the performing arts. This amazing project is the brainchild of Stasia Ward Kehoe, whose ballet-themed book, AUDITION, comes out in October. (Ooohhh... ballet - I can't wait. I am a HUGE balletomane.)

We've just announced the first leg of our tour in Washington, California and New York. And tons more stops are yet to be announced. So bookmark the website and like us on Facebook to see if we'll be coming to a bookstore near you.