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EVENT: YA Panel: Root for the Rookies!
WHEN: July 14th, 2016, at 7:00 PM
WHERE: The Woodbury Room at the Jones Library, Amherst, MA
The Jones Library and the Odyssey Bookshop are ecstatic to present this July YA Panel: Root for the Rookies, featuring Carrie Firestone, Karen Fortunati, Jennifer Mason-Black, Shannon Parker, and Rebecca Podos. Aspiring writers and YA reading junkies are invited to meet this squad of debut young adult authors, pick up a copy of their books, and get an inside scoop on the publishing world!
Carrie Firestone has lived in rural, urban, and suburban places, and, while she currently lives in the suburbs, she is decidedly a city person. She loves parties, and all kinds of music, and books about random people doing random things in random places. She loves to travel with her husband, and two daughters, Lauren and Emily. When she isn’t writing, you might find her reluctantly sharing her popcorn at the movies, trying to get people (or dogs) to do a conga line, or adding items to her loose ends list.
In Firestone’s novel, The Loose Ends List, seventeen-year-old Maddie O’Neill Levine’s grandmother is a young-at-heart socialite who has always been Maddie’s go-to confidante. Although Maddie and the rest of her family have learned to expect the unexpected from their matriarch, Gram still manages to shock them all when she announces that she has booked the O’Neill clan on a secret death-with-dignity ship called the Wishwel. Gram has terminal cancer and is determined to leave the world in her own way–and give her family an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.
Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her wacky family. Aboard the ship, Maddie bonds with other Wishwellians and falls for Enzo, the son of the ship’s owner, as they travel the globe. But despite the copious laugher, headiness of first love, and wonder of the glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram, and she struggles to find the strength to let go in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, grief, and the power of forgiveness.
Karen Fortunati is a former attorney, whose experiences on the job with children and teens and personal experiences witnessing the impact of depression, bipolar disorder, and suicide inspired her to write this story of hope for those who struggle with mental illness.The Weight of Zero was just named to the prestigious Indies Introduce list for Summer/Fall 2016. The manuscript was also awarded the 2014 SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant in the Contemporary YA category, named a finalist in the 2015 Tassey-Walden Awards Contest, and won the Serendipity Literary Agency 2013 YA First Page/Novel Discovery Contest.
In Fortunati’s novel, The Weight of Zero, seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero, only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its own living death on her again.
But Zero’s return is delayed due to unexpected and meaningful relationships that lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. These relationships, along with the care of a gifted psychiatrist, alter Catherine’s perception of her diagnosis as a death sentence. This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic, and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.
Jennifer Mason-Black is is a lifelong fan of most anything with words. She’s checked for portals in every closet she’s ever encountered and has never sat beneath the stars without watching for UFOs. Her stories have appeared in The Sun, Strange Horizons, and Daily Science Fiction, among others. Devil and the Bluebird is her first novel. She lives in Massachusetts.
In Mason-Black’s novel, Devil and the Bluebird, Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding her sister Cass.
Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places.
Shannon Parker lives on the coast of Maine with her husband and sons. As a young adult, restlessness drove her to backpack throughout dozens of countries, adventures she found less intimidating than high school. She has since devoted her life to education and holds degrees from three New England universities. She can usually be found rescuing dogs, chickens, old houses, and wooden boats. Shannon has a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and ridiculous laughter, ideally, at the same time. The Girl Who Fell is her first novel.
In Parker’s novel, The Girl Who Fell, Zephyr Doyle is focused. Focused on leading her team to the field hockey state championship and leaving her small town for her dream school, Boston College. But love has a way of changing things. Enter the new boy in school: the hockey team’s starting goaltender, Alec. He’s cute, charming, and—most importantly—Alec doesn’t judge Zephyr. He understands her fears and insecurities—he even shares them. Soon, their relationship becomes something bigger than Zephyr, something she can’t control, something she doesn’t want to control.
Zephyr swears it must be love. Because love is powerful, and overwhelming, and...terrifying? But love shouldn’t make you abandon your dreams or push your friends away. And love shouldn’t make you feel guilty, or worse, ashamed. So when Zephyr finally begins to see Alec for who he really is, she knows it’s time to take back control of her life. If she waits any longer, it may be too late.
Rebecca Podos is a graduate of the writing, literature, and publishing program at Emerson College, where she won the MFA award for best thesis. Her fiction has been published in Glimmer Train, Glyph, Paper Darts, Bellows American Review, and SmokeLong Quarterly. She lives with her husband in Connecticut. The Mystery of Hollow Places is her first her first novel.
In Podos’s novel, The Mystery of Hollow Places, all Imogene Scott knows of her mother is the bedtime story her father told her as a child. It’s the story of how her parents met. He, a forensic pathologist; she, a mysterious woman who came to identify a body. A woman who left Imogene and her father when she was a baby, a woman who was always possessed of a powerful loneliness, a woman who many referred to as “troubled waters.”
Now Imogene is seventeen, and her father, a famous author of medical mysteries, has struck out in the middle of the night and hasn’t come back. Neither Imogene’s stepmother nor the police know where he could’ve gone, but Imogene is convinced he’s looking for her mother. And she decides it’s up to her to put to use the skills she’s gleaned from a lifetime of reading her father’s books to track down a woman she’s only known in stories in order to find him and, perhaps, the answer to the question she’s carried with her for her entire life.