Sunday, March 15, 2009

Guest Nose: Neesha Meminger

The main character in Shine, Coconut Moon doesn't have any insecurities in the looks department, but she does feel very insecure about not knowing who she is. It's an "inside-out" sort of thing. She's fine on the outside, but there's nothing of substance for her on the inside, and that's what she sets out to discover.

For me, personally, the issue as a teen was always hair. Body hair. I'm not super hairy, but I do remember one of my male cousins saying when I was thirteen, "You're a girl. You're not supposed to have a mustache." Obviously, I was devastated, but at the time, I retorted, "You're just jealous because you haven't started puberty yet!"

This experience, however, really shaped the single, biggest insecurity I had all throughout high school. It wasn't until much later that I realized I'm not particularly hairy. And that many of the places i was waxing looked exactly the same pre-waxing as they did post-waxing. It was such an amazing and liberating experience to allow myself to be exactly as I was without worrying anymore, but also to see that it's all so subjective -- this whole beauty thing. Much of it is often not even remotely based in reality.

About Shine, Coconut Moon

Samar–a.k.a. Sam–is an Indian-American teenager whose mom has kept her away from her old-fashioned family. It's never bothered Sam, who is busy with school, friends, and a demanding boyfriend. But things change after 9/11. A guy in a turban shows up at Sam's house–and turns out to be her uncle. He wants to reconcile the family and teach Sam about her Sikh heritage. Sam is eager, but when boys attack her uncle, chanting "Go back home, Osama!," Sam realizes she could be in danger–and also discovers how dangerous ignorance is. Buy the book on Amazon here. In Canada? Buy the book here.

About Neesha Meminger

Neesha Meminger was born in India, grew up in Canada, and currently lives in New York City with her family. All of her writing explores the inner landscape of her characters, and how it merges or conflicts with the outer. She writes stories of women and girls defining themselves and shaping their own destinies within the confines of their day to day realities. To find out more about Neesha Meminger go to:


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Friday, March 13, 2009

Guest Nose: Carrie Ryan

One of the things I loved about writing in the world of The Forest of Hands and Teeth is that they're so obsessed with surviving that they don't have any time to focus on looks which is kind of nice. There are definitely times I wish our world were like that!

Oh, the things I've done in the name of beauty! I've wrapped my hair around empty coke cans to try to tame the frizz. I've sat in my office at work refusing to drink water for fear I would have to walk to the bathroom later on painful high heels. I've even used tape and saran wrap to help hold things in place for a particularly inventive Halloween outfit!

Then one summer I was in Guatemala on an archeological dig and my hair was at that wrong length. I couldn't pull it off my neck and it was so so hot! One evening I just took a machete and cut it off--cut it boy short! I think it was in that moment that I realized sometimes worrying about beauty can be a real pain!

About The Forest of Hands and Teeth
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is about a young girl named Mary growing up generations after an apocalypse in a village surrounded by fences protecting them from the Unconsecrated, zombie-like creatures inhabiting the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Cut off from the rest of the world and told they are the last survivors of the Return, every part of her life is controlled by the religious order called the Sisterhood. As Mary starts to fall in love with someone she shouldn't, she learns the extent of the Sisterhood's power and starts to discover more of their darkest secrets. When the security of the fences is threatened and her world is thrown into chaos, Mary must decide what she's willing to risk to find out if there's life beyond the Forest. Buy the book on Amazon here. Or support your favorite independent store here.

About Carrie Ryan
Born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie Ryan is a graduate of Williams College and Duke University School of Law. A former litigator, she now writes full time. She lives with her writer/lawyer fiance, two fat cats and one large puppy in Charlotte, North Carolina. They are not at all prepared for the zombie apocalypse. Read more about Carrie at

Friday, March 6, 2009

Guest Nose: Cynthea Liu

If you want to get an Asian talking about her nose, you've asked the right person. Though I'll say in The Great Call Of China, Cece's nose isn't her issue. She's got other things to worry about like connecting with her birth parents. So all the nose-talk, if there had been any, would have been reserved for the special uncut scenes!

But for me as an author, with a very flat nose, I can tell you some funny stories about how I feel about my nose or lack thereof.

First, a lot of glasses in the U.S. are not made for Chinese people. Eyewear designers assume everyone here has a decent nose bridge to prop the glasses up. Me? If I cry, a tear can roll horizontally across my nose to the other side. That's how flat it is. So eyewear people, please make a version of your glasses with nose-pads, thank you!

Also as a kid, I remember my cousins telling me I should pinch the skin between my eyes on a regular basis to help the nose grow there. WHATEVER! We knew that was a joke, but seriously, we were all probably pinching away at our faces in a closet somewhere, hoping it was true!

Anyway, I could go on and on about my nose, like how I used to shade in the space between my eyes in pictures so it would look like I actually have a nose. And don't get me started on my eyes!

About The Great Call of China
Chinese-born Cece was adopted when she was two years old by her American parents. Living in Texas, she's bored of her ho-hum high school and dull job. So when she learns about the S.A.S.S. program to Xi'an, China, she jumps at the chance. She'll be able to learn about her passion--anthropology--and it will give her the opportunity to explore her roots. But when she arrives, she receives quite a culture shock. And the closer she comes to finding out about her birth parents, the more apprehensive she gets. Enter Will, the cute guy she first meets on the plane. He and Cece really connect during the program. But can he help her get accustomed to a culture she should already know about, or will she leave China without the answers she's been looking for? Buy your own copy here!

About Cynthea Liu
Cynthea spent her formative years in Oklahoma and Texas where she was a Whiz Quiz member, an Academic Decathloner, and a spelling bee champion. (Yes, she was very popular.) After attending college on the East coast, she worked at a corporate job where she mastered PowerPoint and racked up thousands of frequent flyer miles. Eventually, she traded in her suit for sweats to do the fun stuff--writing for children. In addition to The Great Call of China and Paris Pan Takes The Dare, Cynthea's nonfiction book Writing For Children And Teens: A Crash Course (how to write, revise, and publish your kid's or teen book with children's book publishers) is available in paperback. Read more about Cynthea at

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Guest Nose: Saundra Mitchell

In Shadowed Summer, my main character Iris trails behind her best friend Collette in the getting-to-the-beauty phase of being a teen. It doesn't occur to Iris to think about the way she looks until her uncle brings her a few faintly fashionable odds and ends from a tag sale.

Among these pieces, Iris finds a fitted, blousy shirt unlike her usual beaten-up Ts. And when she puts it on, she feels different. More obvious; more like Collette, who's still delighted enough with her recent transformation that she wants people to notice the bra strap peeking from under her sleeve. But Iris isn't ready for that kind of scrutiny yet--this new skin is pretty, but not exactly hers.

As someone who spent most of junior high wearing skinny ties and suits, then most of high school in combat boots and floor-length skirts, I relate. Trying to find myself, I tried on a lot of skins--some more successful than others. But I remember clearly, meeting up with a high school friend, later, in my 20s. By then, I had moved on to comfortably casual department store--normal enough, I suppose.

When he saw me, he said, "If I had known you looked like that, I would have asked you out."

I think if he'd said that at any other time, I would have been devastated. Felt like I'd failed somehow. But he caught me on a day when I was exactly me--and that was exactly enough. And instead of being ashamed that I hadn't been pretty enough, I was amused.

I replied, "Hey, I've always looked like this. It's not my fault you didn't see it."

Though Iris isn't at that point by the end of Shadowed Summer, I like to think she's approaching it. I like to think I'm hitting it more often than not. So I hope that on those days, when you feel exactly wrong, entirely ugly and unlovable in the extreme, you'll take a moment, stop, and realize that you've always looked like this. 

And you are beautiful.

About Shadowed Summer
Nothing ever happened in Ondine, Louisiana, not even the summer Elijah Landry disappeared. His mother knew he ascended to heaven, the police believed he ran away, and his girlfriend thought he was murdered.

Decades later, certain she saw his ghost in the town cemetery, fourteen-year-old Iris Rhame is determined to find out the truth behind "The Incident With the Landry Boy."

Enlisting the help of her best friend Collette, and forced to endure the company of Collette's latest crush, Ben, Iris spends a summer digging into the past and stirring old ghosts, in search of a boy she never knew.

What she doesn't realize is that in a town as small as Ondine, every secret is a family secret. Want your own copy? Find it here.

About Saundra Mitchell
A screenwriter and author, Saundra Mitchell penned the screenplays for the Fresh Films and Girls in the Director's Chair short film series. Her short story "Ready To Wear" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her first feature film, Revenge Ends, debuted on the festival circuit in 2008. In her free time, she enjoys ghost hunting, papermaking, and spending time with her husband and her two children. Find out more about Saundra at or