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I’m very excited to share the First Place winner of the novel beginnings contest. This is a contemporary MG story and one that I think will have you cracking up and loving the voice. It’s by Anita Nolan and is called ELLIE AND THE KING. Read on to see why I picked it.


Lisa Marie Presley and I have a lot in common. Maybe it’s not obvious, since she’s older than my mother and has been married to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage, among others, and I, at the age of thirteen, have been married to no one.

This is a great opening line and paragraph. It also sets up an interesting problem. The narrator says they have a lot in common, then goes on to outline how they couldn’t be any more different. And yet…

But we both have Elvis for a dad.

Ah, there it is! The moment I was hooked.

The only difference is—her dad really was Elvis.

My dad, on the other hand, just thinks he’s Elvis. Okay, maybe he doesn’t really believe he is, but he plays along with the people who play along with him pretending to be Elvis.

I don’t think I have ever read a plot conflict about an Elvis impersonator, er, tribute artist. 🙂 I love her thoughts on him and his audience, how he plays along and they play along with him, it sums everything up in a tight little sentence.


Don’t get me wrong. I love my father—I do. He ‘s taken care of me since my mother left when I was three months old.

But sometimes I wish he were a normal dad, with a normal hobby, like woodworking, or golf, or creating sculptures from tree trunks with a chain saw.

No, my dad wants to be Elvis. How humiliating is that?

Thank you, Dad. Thank you very much.

Love the Elvis nod at the end of this mini-section here. While there are moments where the voice strains just slightly into overused “sarcastic teen” territory — “Whatever” or “How humiliating is that?” — we do get some nice humor here, and some odd details (“creating sculptures from tree trunks with a chain saw”) that show us a true, idiosyncratic character. We also get a little family history here, but not too much. The big lesson in this contest so far — don’t weight the beginning down too heavily with backstory and exposition. See how little other writers are doing and how it feels like just enough.

“I’m adopted. It’s the only possible explanation.”

The Piercing Pagoda kiosk at the mall provides excellent cover for my friend Lindsey and me while a group of kids from school—the popular ones—stroll past, but I duck lower anyway. I don’t know why I worry, because I’m one of the more invisible people at school. But if anyone connects me with the man dressed in full Elvis regalia standing across the way, my name will flash through every IM in Cranford Middle School, and possibly the entire state of Pennsylvania.

Locates the reader, gives us a snappy line of dialogue and grounds us in the scene and the moment that’s happening. We also get a little bit more context for this character and her social life, or lack thereof. I like that we jump into scene quickly.

Lindsey glances at the older ladies—it’s always older ladies—lined up to meet my dad, and shakes her head. “There’s only one problem with the adoption theory. How do you explain your eyes?”

That is the problem. I’ve tried to convince myself that I look nothing like my father—and I don’t—except for my dark green eyes, complete with little blue flecks. I guess the adoption theory can’t be right, but as my father bursts into song, I wish it were.

The challenge of how to describe the physical traits of a first person character is a constant one. Here, the writer does a good job of giving us some physical detail that works into the story. This is an icky trick that all first person writers have to do at some point, and this is a rather elegant solution. (I also love the “it’s always older ladies” aside. Good voice.)

The kids from school hang at the edge of the crowd, pointing at Dad and laughing. My face flushes and I have a hard time swallowing. I wish Dad would keep the Elvis stuff out of the mall and away from anyone I know.

Gram says I shouldn’t be embarrassed. Everyone has a few skeletons hanging in their closets. Unfortunately for me, my skeleton is the one dressed in gold lamĂ© singing Love Me Tender in front of the Cinnabon.

What a terrific image to end the excerpt on! And there is great interiority here, so Ellie’s big predicament — and moment of panic at the mall — is beginning to be very clearly felt by the reader. There’s also tension. They’re hiding. The popular kids are on the prowl. Dad is gyrating. You get one guess, and one guess only, about what could possibly happen next. And with this voice and this sense of humor, I really do want to see it unfold after reading this snippet, don’t you?


The contest concludes tomorrow with the announcement of the Grand Prize winner. Thank you to everyone for reading these entries and commenting. Keep your thoughts comin’!

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by Allen Zadoff
Young Adult, 320 pages.
Egmont USA (2009)
ISBN: 978-1606840047

Andrew Zansky can’t stand the label on his Levi’s jeans because it exposes his 48 waist size for the world to see. At the beginning of his sophomore year in high school, Andy can’t help feeling like something needs to change. He wants more (and not just lasagna) from his life. When an opportunity to play varsity football comes along, he can’t believe his luck. But will his new identity among the jocks change more than his size-48 outside?

Debut YA novelist Allen Zadoff wrestled with some very conventional high school tropes — loser makes his way through the popularity ranks, the unattainable girl starts paying attention — and came up with a hilarious, completely unique voice to carry this familiar story in a new way. Zadoff, who has made no secret of his own struggles with weight (he is the author of HUNGRY, an adult memoir) gives us an unforgettable character in Andy, and a great title for Egmont USA’s inaugural list!

For Readers: FOOD, GIRLS, AND OTHER THINGS I CAN’T HAVE has been getting lots of great press recently because it gives center stage to a complicated, funny and completely relatable plus-size character who is — drum roll please — a dude. And the book portrays the problems that a larger kid faces in an honest, sarcastic and ultimately triumphant way. Even though it’s always good to see body diversity in books, readers of every shape will flock to Andy because his insecurities and quirks are unique yet universal. Plus… it’s a hilarious read that actually had me slapping my knee. It hits shelves on September 8th, so pick up a copy at your local indie!

For Writers: As if writers don’t already have a lot to consider when crafting a character! Well, I’m here to add another ingredient to the mix: physicality. Andy’s physicality is central to FOOD, GIRLS because his is, partly, anyway, a story about being a fat kid. However, every character has a body and, unless you’re writing paranormal, they’re usually tethered to that body and aware of it 24/7. When crafting a person out of thin air, when creating a character who, by definition, doesn’t exist, it’s easy to forget that they’re supposed to be meat and bone, complete with all the various aches, pains, embarrassments, rumbles, heft and weight that flesh entails. Read FOOD, GIRLS and see how grounded Andy is in his particular mass. Then see if you can’t add a similar sense of physical reality to your character’s life.

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by Jake Wizner
Young Adult, 304 pages.
Random House Books for Young Readers (2009)
ISBN: 978-0375852152

Disclosure: I love Jake Wizner. A lot. So when it came time to read CASTRATION CELEBRATION, I was a whole mess of fuzzy/nervous/excited feelings. I will try to leave my obnoxious crush on SPANKING SHAKESPEARE out of this review.

At a Yale summer program for artistic teens, Olivia and Max run into each other and can’t seem to separate again. While Olivia is there to nurse a broken heart and write a ball-busting, dick-shrinking play called, duh, “Castration Celebration,” Max makes it his goal to pursue her and win the girl that doesn’t want to be won. Their story is paralleled by Olivia’s characters, Jane and Dick, who fall in love, fall out of it, sing songs about Edward Cullen drinking Bella’s period blood and then fall back in love again. Much Ado About Nothing is another overarching parallel.

Now. There has been some hullabaloo about this book already (I’m lookin’ at you, New York Post) because of its sexual content. And when I say sexual content, I don’t mean ugly-bumpin’ porn scenes. I mean jokes about sex, penises, periods, vaginas, sheep-molestation, all of it. Some people are up in arms but this is exactly why it doesn’t really bother me… Wizner writes jokes. For a person with my sense of humor, the bawdiest sex joke won’t really make me blush. It’s harmless.

What struck me about CASTRATION CELEBRATION, as a book, though, is that it all seems like one big joke. Sometimes in a good way, sometimes… not. The whole hook/title/play-within-a-book idea feels like Jake Wizner riffing with himself, coming up with a funny concept and thinking “Wouldn’t that be a freaking hilarious book?” Sometimes, these crack-yourself-up moments lead to really awesome, funny stuff. Other times, developing a one-line inside joke into a book and then actually releasing it into the world can’t compare with the freshness and fun of the original idea. While a lot of CASTRATION CELEBRATION is funny, some of it strains to be so. Some of the musical scenes and songs are great, others feel like they’re trying too hard, like Wizner had a fabulous idea but got in a little over his head once he realized he’d have to develop it all the way.

As I think I’ve said before, I love Jake Wizner’s writing. I love it. His sharp characterizations and effortlessly hilarious dialogue in SPANKING SHAKESPEARE won me over. In CASTRATION CELEBRATION, though, I didn’t feel like the characters were as sharp as they could be. Olivia, Max and Zeke, Max’s roommate, are the standouts, while the others, especially Olivia’s gaggle of female roommates, blend into one another. And some of the dialogue — while it was fun and banter-y and random and totally captured the cadence of a group of hormone-drunk teens shooting the shit and trying for laughs — didn’t elevate all that goodness to the realm of interesting and compelling fiction.

That being said, the book really picks up steam after the first 75 or so pages. I think Wizner struggles a little to nail the tone of this book (which, believe me, I admire so much… a farcical, faux musical, bawdy romp comedy is a tough tone to nail) but finds the true voice of it eventually. As a book, CASTRATION CELEBRATION raised some really interesting questions for me. Can a person write the literary equivalent of Superbad or an SNL sketch and expect audiences to react to it the same way in book form? Even though the script-format scenes of the book are written for the stage, they read like they’d be better in a Judd Apatow film.

This is something I’ve noticed a lot in film/TV/advertising lately. It seems like the lowest common denominator has hit rock bottom since Judd Apatow, The Office, Will Ferrell and others soared to new heights of popularity. Now even Madison Avenue admen with bazillion dollar budgets are casting their version of The Office’s Jim and making him say random stuff/do some physical comedy because they think that’s what the public likes (see: those ridiculous Bill Gates/Jerry Seinfeld ads). It’s a really interesting phenomenon to watch, because most producers/advertisers/writers are totally clueless about comedy. Jake Wizner, on the other hand, writes excellent comedy. And there are some really funny parts to CASTRATION CELEBRATION. But did Wizner fit this story with the right medium? My gut says no. It reads more like a sketch or a movie. Though, who knows, that might just be the new synergistic format to reach older teen (and especially boy) readers.

CASTRATION CELEBRATION comes out May 26th, 2009. Order it today or pick it up for your grandma, pastor or therapist at your favorite local indie! (I know I’ve used this joke before, but I’m not nearly as funny as Jake Wizner, so gimmie a break!) Links: Amazon, Shop Indie Bookstores.

For Readers: SEX!!!!! Did I just make you blush? Then you probably shouldn’t read this book. If you can handle a lion’s share of tasteless sex jokes, you’ll be fine. Older readers who are fans of comedy, sex, laughing, sex, smiling, sex, boys, sex, girls, sex, sex, sex and sex will enjoy this book. As with SPANKING SHAKESPEARE, cool kids who hang out with the drama nerds, artists, music geeks and otherwise party on the enlightened fringes of their high school societies will probably find more here than will those who loved PAISLEY HANOVER.

For Writers: I’m still convinced that writers who want to write older teen comedy need to add Jake Wizner books to their curriculum. Another cool thing he does here, as he did in his first book, is intertwine narrative chapters with a character’s “own” writing, in this case, Olivia’s play. This is a popular technique to showcase what a character is thinking, as witnessed by the journaling phenomenon. If you’re looking to add another layer of voice to your character, maybe think about featuring something “they’ve” written in between chapters of narration.

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All right, this alert is for all you Beating Hearts out there to feast on. Despite the zombie-ness of this week, I had to step off the Zombie Train for a second to e-squee about this news that came in today from Publisher’s Marketplace:

Jake Wizner’s SPANKING SHAKESPEARE, optioned to Paramount Pictures for feature film with Mark Canton producing, by The Gotham Group, on behalf of Marcia Wernick at Sheldon Fogelman Agency.

Oh. My. God. I love SPANKING SHAKESPEARE. I love Jake Wizner. I laugh so hard every time I read this book and — yes — with everything else I have to read, I still find myself compulsively reaching for this book.

If I’d been reading Variety, I would’ve figured this out last year but news travels slowly through my thick skull. And I am so psyched. If they get Michael Cera on this project… I could watch Michael Cera butter toast for two hours and then pay to see it again. And then buy it on BluRay the day it comes out. Just put Michael Cera in it. Please. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Now on a completely serious and zombie note, first… give me your delicious braaaaaaaains. Now that we’ve got that out of the way: I just did a rad interview with FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH author Carrie Ryan that I’ll be posting on Thursday. Hold on to your braaaaaaains, ladies and gents, this one will be awesome.

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by Maureen Johnson
Young Adult, 368 pages.
Point (2009)
ISBN: 978-0545096324

Scarlett Martin gets a special present for her fifteenth birthday… a key to her very own suite at the boutique Hopewell Hotel in the heart of Manhattan. Only she’s not staying in it. With her suite at the Hopewell, the Martin family business, comes the responsibility of caring for whoever resides there.

This particular summer, as things at the Hopewell take a turn for the economic worse, the Empire Suite guest happens to be Mrs. Amberson, an eccentric, wealthy and flamboyant actress who wants to reconnect with her passion for the theatre… and to inject some drama into Scarlett’s life.

Between trying to bolster her brother Spencer’s acting career, being at Mrs. Amberson’s beck and call and playing the part of Spencer’s hottie castmate crush, Scarlett suddenly has her hands full. When Spencer’s play gets in trouble and Scarlett’s sister’s love life crumbles, Scarlett will have to step in and, with her suite guest’s help, save the day.

SUITE SCARLETT is a fast, laugh-out-loud funny read full of Johnson’s signature hilarious and quirky characters.

This review celebrates the paperback release of the novel, which is technically May 1st, 2009. If you want to get your hands on it sooner, though, you can order Suite Scarlett right now from Amazon!

For Readers: Readers will love Scarlett and her siblings, who manage to make ends meet and scrape by no matter how crazy their situation. They’ll also adore Mrs. Amberson, who is like the theatrical aunt everyone wishes they had. Her money doesn’t hurt things, either. There’s also a romance between Scarlett and Eric, Spencer’s castmate, which has some real depth. If you’re into theatre, fun and great, snappy dialogue, pick up SUITE SCARLETT, now in paperback!

For Writers: Every writer, at one point or another, has dreamed of writing a crazily eccentric character like Mrs. Amberson or Chessy Chestnut, from Lisa Yee’s ABSOLUTELY MAYBE. If you’re into writing humor, you will enjoy studying Johnson’s use of dialogue to this effect. Her interactions between the siblings, especially Scarlett and Spencer, as well as her characterization of Mrs. Amberson are hilarious.

Also, Maureen Johnson is excellent at using social technology. Case in point, she told her Twitter followers yesterday that if they could make SUITE SCARLETT break the 1,000 number of the Amazon Sales Rank, she’d sign up for trapeeze school. Guess what? SUITE SCARLETT topped out at #643. Follow her on Twitter: @maureenjohnson. She’s also got a ning site, which is a cool social networking utility that authors like John Green use. Check out her website for more details. This is stuff that up-and-coming YA and kidlit authors should get very comfortable using, because these social networking tools are going to be key to promotion in a few years, if not already.

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What a wonderful time! I just got back from the Lisa Yee reading at Books Inc. Palo Alto. First, I have to give a standing ovation to Jennifer Laughran, who organized this event and is in charge of  Not Your Mother’s Book Club. She is such an asset to the Bay Area kidlit community. She is literally on the pulse, if not the pulse, of everything that goes on here.

Speaking of pulse… my pulse is definitely jangling with sugar from all the delicious cupcakes! Mmmm.

Another standing O goes to Lisa Yee, who was her witty, charming self at tonight’s reading, as you can see from the pictures.

After reading a little bit from STANFORD WONG and ABSOLUTELY MAYBE, she spent a little time giving advice to writers, which she tried to say in one, very long word:


She also told writers to pull something different from the shelf, something other than what they’d usually read. (See: The Importance of Reading for Writers)

Instead of worrying about producing the next New York Times bestseller, she also advises writers to keep some perspective:

Keep your goals small: write one good sentence.

Overall, a very fun and totally memorable evening. More pictures behind the cut and… the winner of the ABSOLUTELY MAYBE contest revealed!

Read the rest of this entry »

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I’ve got a special treat for you guys today. Here we’ve got Sarah Quigley, author of TMI, which debuts today. I posted a review of it earlier and I’m so happy to feature her interview. With interviews on this site, I’ll be focusing on certain aspects of writing and publishing. For my first interview, I wanted to lighten things up. Here’s How to Write Humor, An Interview with Sarah Quigley!

Kidlit: The tone of Becca’s blog posts is so much fun and such a cool addition to her character. What came first for you as a writer, the story and the narrative or the posts?

Sarah Quigley: TMI would not exist if it weren’t for my own blog, which was discovered by an editor at Dutton Children’s Books. She contacted me to see if I was interested in writing a young adult novel, and it was her idea to have a blogging heroine.

On my own blog, I created an alter ego named Babs. Babs was living my life, but she was much cooler, wittier, and sexier than me in everything she did. I wanted the same kind of blogging outlet for Becca in TMI. On her blog, Becca becomes Bella, who verbally slays her enemies and woos the hottest guy in school.

The story/narrative and blog posts had a chicken and egg relationship. They were so intertwined from the beginning that I have no idea which came first. As I developed the story, I added and reworked blog posts many times. Some of the original posts were fairly tame, and my husband encouraged me to make them more outrageous and elaborate. I had a blast chasing after Becca’s runaway imagination.

KL: How did you hone and develop Becca’s voice? What was your inspiration?

SQ: Becca and I have lot in common. We’re both sarcastic and emotional and inappropriate. Many of the things that Becca says and thinks are things that I have said and thought, so that part was easy. However, early in the story, Becca vows to stop oversharing, and this left me with the challenge of maintaining the voice of a TMI girl who can no longer say whatever she wants.

I had to simultaneously show how conflicted Becca was about what she could say and not say while allowing her to continue to think freely. As I wrote every conversation, I had to layer the things that Becca actually said with what she wanted to say.

KL: There is a lot of verbal humor here, too, but a lot of funny situations. A lot of humor writers think that the right mix of both is the key to a consistently funny novel. What do you think has more humorous potential, witty dialogue or putting a character into funny or embarrassing situations? Which of these two was more challenging to write?

SQ: This question immediately makes me think of David Sedaris, one of my favorite writers. Sedaris often writes about weird things that happen to him, and that can be funny. Even funnier, though, is Sedaris’s knack for drawing the humor out of ordinary situations with dialogue and observation. His style inspires me.

I find plotting quite difficult, and I struggled to come up with a storyline for TMI that put Becca in funny situations. I was much more comfortable staying in her head, giving her snarky little thoughts and observations about the world.

KL: TMI is mostly funny but there are definitely serious situations in the mix. How did you handle juggling these two aspects of it?

SQ: In early drafts, I actually made some of the serious parts of the novel even more dire. My editor advised me to tone them down because they were detracting from the humorous parts and because they were unrealistic. I also made the villains a little too evil, almost cartoon-like. Looking back on the first version of TMI, I can practically see them twisting their mustaches and cackling maniacally. I thought their nastiness would be funny, but it was merely a distraction from the real story.

KL: The naked younger brother is definite comic relief. Was there anything else that you put in the book just for huge belly laughs?

SQ: Some of the blog entries don’t really move the plot along. I was just having fun being silly and thinking of ways for Becca to vent.

KL: You got a book contract with your blog but did it ever get you in trouble? Do tell!

SQ: One of the earliest posts on my blog was a story about a guy I made out with one summer in college. He had an entertaining name (it would look perfect in the opening credits of a porn film), and I couldn’t resist mentioning it.


Fast forward eight years. I got an email from this guy asking me to remove his name from my blog. Apparently, my mention of his name had caused some “awkward personal and professional situations.” Of course, I felt awful. I immediately removed the entire story and apologized. He was very gracious about the whole thing, but I definitely beat myself up a little for believing that people I wrote about would never see my blog. You’d think I would have learned that after writing TMI. I guess life really does imitate art sometimes.

Sarah Quigley’s TMI hits shelves today! Pick it up at your favorite independent bookstore or order it this very minute! Check out her website at

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by Lisa Yee
Young Adult, 288 pages. ALA/Scholastic (2009)
ISBN: 978-0439838443

It’s no accident that Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Anne Chestnut prefers to shorten her name to “Maybe.” Her list of names reminds her of her mother’s full moniker: Chessamay Chestnut Abajian Wing Marshall Wing Sinclair Alvarez, or “Chessy” for short. Each of those last names is a failed marriage and Chessy, a pageant-obsessed, blond and buxom charm school proprietor, is about to skip down the aisle again.

Maybe’s only salvation comes in the form of friends named Ted and Daniel “Hollywood” Jones. After the aptly nicknamed Hollywood gets accepted into USC film school and Chessy’s skeezy new fiance, Jake, makes a drunken advance, Maybe sees her perfect opportunity to escape Kissimee, Florida. Not only does she imagine freedom from Chessy and Jake in Los Angeles, she sees something else: the chance to find her long-lost father, Gunnar, who she hears is a movie producer. Maybe convinces Ted and Hollywood and off they go under the watchful eye of Daniel’s documentary video camera.

In Los Angeles, nobody gives Maybe or her strange hair colors a second glance. They don’t give her any help, either. While Ted gets a job and Hollywood gets engrossed in film school, Maybe finds herself homeless, jobless and no closer to finding her father. What Maybe does find, though, is her kind ex-stepfather, Sammy, and a new friend, Jess. By the time Gunnar finally comes around, she’s learned more about herself and who her real family is (with a little help from Hollywood’s video camera) than an estranged DNA-donor could ever tell her.

A fun and quick read, Absolutely Maybe is a departure from Yee’s more lighthearted middle grade fare, like Millicent Min, Girl Genius and Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time. She’s sacrificed some of her trademark humor (which now mostly comes from Chessy’s character and Ted, who could power the entire Los Angeles sprawl with his energy) to try on a moodier character.

I’m still trying to decide whether Yee wears the genre well. While Maybe is a compelling character, sometimes she feels like there’s a wall around her and she doesn’t let the reader as close as she could. After finishing her entire first-person story, I’m still wondering about certain wishes she has in her secret heart and about how the attempted rape really affected her. Right now, emotional repercussions are well-hidden under outward rebellion. Maybe’s search for her father is a good, if familiar, engine to drive the plot but I just wish we could feel Maybe’s world more deeply alongside her. That would flesh out the second half of the book and make the conflicts she faces more engrossing.

You can order your copy of Absolutely Maybe or enter to win a personalized, autographed copy by Thursday, April 16 at 2 p.m. on our Kidlit Contest page!

For Readers: Lisa Yee delivers a band of quirky characters who go off on a road trip, a dream that many readers might want to experience vicariously. Readers with divorce, alcoholism and step-parents in their lives will be drawn to Maybe’s family issues which, while pretty serious, don’t end up dooming her in the end. If you’re more interested in plot over character, try ABSOLUTELY MAYBE. It’s a worthwhile read to see what Lisa Yee has been up to.

For Writers: Chessy’s character is a study in the hilarious, over-the-top parent that most writers try at least once in their work. Lisa Yee makes Chessy shine. She’s the most engaging character in the book, hands down. This just goes to show that, no matter how horrific, a monster parent can actually be tackled in a funny way that leaves a big impression. On the flip side of the coin, watch out for Sammy, who is the absolute opposite of most stereotypically awful step-parents. Even though he’s no longer Maybe’s step-dad, he becomes her safe harbor. This is a nice way to have divorced parents in a book without getting heavy-handed.

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Review: TMI

by Sarah Quigley
Young Adult, 288 pages. Dutton (2009) ISBN: 978-0525479086

Ever wish life came with a release valve? Just dumped in a very shameful way by a freshman, of all things, for her oversharing tendencies, Becca decides to pursue another way to vent. Instead of going analog with a diary, she starts a blog, takes on the identity of Bella and spills her guts. Her blog is rightfully called TMI, or “Too Much Information.”

Everything goes swimmingly for a while. New boy Jai joins Becca and her best friend Katie at their table in the cafeteria. She gets cast as Sandy in the school production of Grease. Her crush, who she’ll be sharing the stage with, even seems to like her. Bella’s blog posts hit an all-time TMI-high as she dishes on her romantic fantasies, her family and the juicy details of her friends’ lives.

But what goes up on the Internet must come down… right? When Becca realizes that she should’ve probably kept some details of her life to herself, that maybe her blog wasn’t quite as anonymous as she thought, it’s too late to undo the damage her loose lips, er, fingertips caused. Print-outs of her blog make the rounds at school and implicate Jai, who  shared his biggest secret with the wrong girl, in something huge.

As she’s faced with the hard truth behind her overshare escapades, Becca must work to win back her friendships and any shred of trust she has left, both from herself and others.

TMI comes out on April 16th, 2009. Pre-order it today!

For Readers: Sarah Quigley has packed tons of fun into this hilarious debut. Becca’s voice is right on point and her filter is absolutely nonexistent. Readers will cringe along with Jai and Katie as they turn the pages to see what spills from her mouth next. The blog entries are delightful fun and really keep the pacing quick and lively. While TMI is a fresh, fast read, Quigley wasn’t afraid to give readers an endearing main character who does some dumb, deplorable things and pays for it. And unlike most main characters, Becca really feels the full brunt of her actions in a surprisingly deep and truthful way. The reader will delight in seeing her grow for the experience. After turning the last page, they’ll be crushed that Becca actually stopped talking.

For Writers: Not only is TMI a study in witty, hilarious dialogue, Becca is also a wonderful character for a writer to read. From Becca’s public persona at school to her private agony after yet another info-binge, she’s very mutli-faceted. Her flights of fancy in the blog entries she writes only add another level, and we see how Quigley has fleshed out her imagination to great effect. Aspiring authors will also be interested (and a little bit jealous) to learn that Quigley, as alter-ego Babs, is no stranger to anonymous blogging. It was an editor at Dutton who saw her online journal and contacted her about writing a YA book. TMI is the result. Now she’s much less secretive over at

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