Home    |     Bio    |     Books    |     DBAW Tour    |     News    |     Press    |     Events    |     Contact

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Story Secrets: THE ABC's OF KISSING BOYS by Tina Ferraro - and a giveaway!

Story Secrets is back, this time with fabulous, fresh, funny, and simply delightful YA author Tina Ferraro on THE ABC's OF KISSING BOYS! (If you missed previous Story Secrets, you can check them out here.)

Tina and I met at an SCBWI midwinter conference in NYC. She recognized me on the spot...as someone who'd won her book TOP TEN USES FOR AN UNWORN PROM DRESS from YA Fresh, the blog she co-helms with fellow YA author Kelly Parra (I wrote about the white tulle with glow-in-the-dark dots I wished I'd made after one of the most disastrous co-dates in history...).

I'm especially excited for Tina because today's book was featured on Amazon's Great Gifts for Teens list - and it just made YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults List! So if you still have holiday dollars, Tina's book is the perfect way to spend them.

Welcome, Tina!


When I first started taking about my third Random House novel, The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, I really wasn’t sure what to say. The plot sounded ridiculous, even to my own ear: in order to get promoted to varsity soccer with the rest of her team, 16 year-old Parker has to learn to kiss the socks off last year’s prom king. And she finds help in the unlikeliest of places: the freshman guy across the street.

I mean, say what?

But thankfully, reviewers provided cleverer and more succinct versions.

Here’s YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), when nominating it for Best YA Book of 2009: "Learning to kiss from her father's archenemy's son (a freshman) can lead to consequences Parker never imagined. A funny, poignant, and sweet Romeo and Juliet.”

Booklist calls it: “...a mashup of Bend It Like Beckham, Mean Girls, and Can’t Buy Me Love, and will find a happy audience in fans of the same.”

So at the risk of appearing unoriginal with my own original project--what they said!

How did you come up with the idea for the do-or-die kiss scenario?
For me, it was a crash-boom-bam of ideas.
  • I had been thinking about a girl who doesn’t make varsity with her teammates, and how awful it would be to get left behind.
  • I loved the idea of a title that started “The ABC’s of...”
  • I thought it would be fun to research kissing.
Suddenly, they all banged together--plus the fact I knew several high school soccer players and a coach who would help me--and I knew I had a book!

Did you know the Romeo and Juliet story would become a significant part of the plot?
The whole Romeo and Juliet father-feud happened during the writing process, and the more it emerged, the more I liked it. So I found myself going back and heightening some previous areas, and setting the scene for more drama along the line. So the fact YALSA chose that to highlight completely delights me!

Do you talk with anyone about your ideas as you are writing, or do you keep them top secret?
Both! I often tell my critique partner, author Kelly Parra, what I am planning. But sometimes I’m unsure about an element, or I want her “cold” reaction to something I’m trying, so I’ll keep it quiet to gauge her reaction.

Any secrets you might be willing to share?
I now know totally random and ridiculous information about kissing. You don’t want to be on the opposing team in Trivial Pursuit if a kissing question comes up!

Mid-way through the book, Parker and Tristan attempt something called The Steam Kiss. I had planned to try it out with my husband to see if one kisser with hot water in his mouth and one kisser with icy cold water could really make steam when kissing-- but got busy and forgot. Suddenly, I was writing that scene and I didn’t know what to do. Then I realized the thing to do was to have the kissing experiment rushed and therefore fail. So it wasn’t a real and true answer, but something they swear they’re going to “get back to.” To this day, I haven’t tried it and don’t know if it works!


I'm sure everyone could use some kissing research (if anyone tries the Steam Kiss, I'd be very curious about the results). Thanks for sharing your secrets, Tina!

So here's The Great Kissing Giveaway:
Tina has generously offered to send one winner a copy of THE ABC's OF KISSING. For a chance to win, leave a comment - your best or worst kiss ever - and some way to contact you, and we'll choose one winner to receive the book by Monday at 5pm PST. May the best kiss win!


  1. Best kiss ever:
    July 4, 19xx, when I was dating the older brother of J., a close friend.

    We were at this little lake, sitting on the front lawn of some mutual friend. I remember how the darkness, and the festivities around me just faded away. I remember how the smell of his cologne was absolutely intoxicating, and both that scent and his warm arms wrapped around me as we just kissed forever.

    A few years later, after S., a friend of both J. and me, had also dated him, a group of us were discussing kisses, and who was the best kisser we had dated. S. and I said at the same time, "David!" J. was not amused.

  2. My best one was the kiss I got from a person who has a special place in my life. No boyfriend material, but its the person who just started supporting me mentally when I really needed a friend, and even when its on the cheek..those ones are the best!

  3. My worst kiss ever-UGH! I was watching Gorilla's in The Mist with a boy downstairs in our family room. He went to kiss me and encirlced my entire mouth with his.He was like a blowfish. I couldn't move my lips or anything. Even though a teenager, I'd kissed a few boys before and knew this was way awkward. The worst part, when he was done he leaned over and said, "You haven't kissed a lot of boys before, have you?" I didn't have the heart to tell him he sucked, literally.

  4. Truly, all my best kisses have been with my husband. But in the interest of his privacy, and because the book in question is called The ABC's of Kissing Boys, I'll relate my best kiss with a boy.

    My first kiss was with a boy in 7th grade who was a sweet friend, nothing more. My next (and best) kiss with a boy was in 9th grade. We met at a dance my all-girls-school hosted: he watched me all night (i learned later), and then asked me to dance. Outside, he waited with me for my ride home, me shivering, his arm around me to ward off the chill wind. Then he looked around, and ducked his head to kiss me.

    I didn't know it could be like that. My knees literally buckled. And I wasn't cold anymore.

  5. My worst kiss ever was when I was on a first date with a guy I really liked. We were with my best friend and her boy friend, at the movies, and they were making out big time beside of him. It was kinda akward for us because there of the inevitable first kiss we had yet to do.
    The screen went blank for a second and the next thing I see is his face in front of mine.
    I sat still and proceeded to get slobbered on. I couldn't take it anymore, so I turned my head. He jerked, too, and knocked his drink into my lap. He then turned quickly back around and knocked his drink on my best friends' lap.
    I did let the boy walk me to my door, afterward. But when he went to kiss me goodnight, I gave him my cheek.
    So, my worst kiss was also my worst date.

    My best kiss was with my best guy friend. We were laying in his driveway watching the stars. He said "I'm going to kiss you now." (Knowing what happened with the worst kiss.) I shoved him lightly. He grabbed my arms and pulled me in for a kiss. I replayed it every night.

  6. oh, my email: courtneyyrae@gmail.com

  7. Let's see thinking back I would have to say the worst kiss ever was when I kiss a guy who didn't know how it was very very and i do mean very sloppy eeewww
    never went out with that person again i can promise you that


  8. Ah...best kiss! Probably as we dangled from a bungee cord, still swinging over the river (oh, wait...that was The Bachelor the other night). It was probably as we slurped a shared piece of spaghetti 'til our lips met(doh...that was Lady and the Tramp). Probably as my man hung upside down in the rain and I planted one on him (nope...that was Spiderman).

    Well, mine would have to be the best young adult kiss ever...worthy of a novel. ;) After two weeks of kissing tension, as we strolled the docks on Lake Washington and the timing was right...HE STILL DIDN'T KISS ME! So, I told him he was a wimp. That's all it took. I've been kissing him ever since!

  9. The best kiss-well I guess last night. It's always the most recent kiss with my husband, he still makes me weak in the knees even after 17 years of marriage. ;)


  10. It is so much fun to read about kisses--thanks to all of you who entered. And thanks to Holly for inviting me for this guest blog! And best of luck to the commenters!

  11. I'm loving these kiss stories! Yes, first kiss with my sweetheart...sigh.

  12. I'm blushing before I even say a word!
    I met this guy and he had taken a road trip with my dad to talk about me and had been gone a whole week. That Friday he was hurrying back to Oregon (too fast - he got a ticket in California) and I couldn't wait to get alone with him and hear how the trip (and conversation) had gone! He wouldn't tell me that night, but... we were sitting on the floor of my studio apt... and so, so gently... he kissed me. It was absolutely amazing. I guess he'd had a great trip - he proposed a week later! :-) lauralootru@gmail.com

  13. My worst kiss makes me laugh to this day.
    It was right after I got out of high school. I had filled out and looked good. I had learned that the guy I had a crush on since the 9th grade finally liked me. Stayed cool on the outside, but on the inside I was freaking out!
    So, we were at the club, dancing, when the song morphed into a slow one. Never breaking our hold on each other, we slowed our pace.
    He leaned down to gently kiss me... Or so I thought. He really leaned down and covered his open mouth over my closed one. Engulfing my lips and about a half inch around them. I smoothly pulled my self away and told him I needed to take a break and ran to the bathroom.
    I looked in the mirror and where he had sucked my lips (and surrounding area), my make up was gone. I avoided him after that.


  14. My first kiss was in the yard of my grandmother's house. I was five years old and I mentioned how I thought the older neighbor boy, Jeff, was cute. So Jeff's brother's, my sister, and a few neighbors chased him, held him down, and I kissed him and then I ran giggling like crazy! It seemed cute then, but if I did that to someone now, I'd be arrested! :)

  15. Most of my best kisses are with my husband, but one first kiss stands out from before I met my husband:

    This boy and I had just met and really liked each other. We started hanging out and became friends. One day we had gone to an event with some friends. We were on our way back home and we were all piled into his Volvo station wagon and suddenly the car broke down in the middle of the freeway. It was scary, because we were in the middle lane and cars were swerving by us. We somehow made it out of the car and ran across another lane to the side of the road. We all made it safely and stood there waiting for AAA. As we were all standing there by the side of the freeway with cars zooming by and still digesting what had just happened and with some adrenaline coursing through our veins, the boy walks up to me and kisses me so sweetly and with so much intention and determination, it was the best feeling. Here we are by the side of the freeway, his car has broken down, we are waiting for AAA and what does he do? Walk up to me and kiss me! I will never forget it.

  16. These are all so very sweet! It's going to be impossible to choose one, so I think Tina and I will have to resort to the name-in-a-hat strategy!

  17. My friends tried the steam kiss and I don't think it worked right...
    The water just kinda fell out. ahhah.

  18. by analisa

    my best kiss was when i had just thrown up from a crazy night and he still puckerd up and layed one on me ( right on the lips )