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Friday, July 30, 2010

I've been keeping a big secret.

Which is...how many author friends have stopped by to tell you a few secrets to celebrate the end of the Tell Me a Secret Virtual Tour!



I'm also hanging out with Mavie at The Bookologist today with a few last secrets...and last chances to win Week 7 tour prizes! Comment here and at The Bookologist for a chance to win! (US/Canada residents only.)


Tell Me a Secret

So what's the big secret on Monday?

Over 100 blogs are throwing a HUGE PARTY across the blogosphere to celebrate the launch of the Tell Me a Secret book trailer, plus I'll be at readergirlz for the month of August! We're giving away:

Signed TMAS books!
TMAS t-shirts!
Music CDs!
Sneak Previews!
Bookmarks and Handmade Magnets!

and...

A Tell Me a Secret handmade necklace!

See you Monday for all of the fun!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A few last vlog secrets...at The Hiding Spot!

Follow me to The Hiding Spot today, where Sara asks some intense questions about TMAS...via vlog!

Sara has been a huge supporter of the book from the beginning - thank you so much, Sara!

And Reggie is safe and well after a scary earthquake experience in the Philippines. She posted a very nice review of TMAS here, and our tour interview here. Thank you, Reggie!


Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour



PARTY, PARTY, PARTY!

Tomorrow I'm stopping at The Bookologist for a super-secret, super-surprise final video...then on Monday (August 2nd), we're having a TMAS Book Trailer Party across the blogosphere!
Lots of prizes to be won, plus signed books...
and check out this video to see the really cool grand prize!



Story Secrets: THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY & JUNE by Robin Benway

Have you read AUDREY, WAIT! by Robin Benway? If you haven't, go pick it up - it's the hilarious story of Audrey and her life after her ex's song about their breakup becomes a runaway hit. And I think of it every time I wear my (now infamous) arm warmers!

What does Robin have up next, you ask? Well, she's here to chat about THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY & JUNE...and even share a few secrets of her own. Welcome, Robin!

*****

THE EXTRAORDINARY SECRETS OF APRIL, MAY & JUNE is about three sisters who discover that they have superpowers soon after their parents divorce. They find themselves trying to figure out what's happening to themselves while also trying to salvage their relationships as sisters.


Holly Cupala: So what's the story behind the story, Robin? Where did April, May, and June come from?

Robin Benway: I actually saw a tattoo on a male model that read "April May June"and I immediately thought, "Those are girls' names." It didn't occur to me until later that they're obviously also months of the year, so I took that as a sign that I should be doing something with those names. I knew that they were sisters, and that they were each a year apart in age, but it took several days before I realized that they had something...special.

In the book, April (the eldest) can see the future, May (middle child extraordinaire) becomes invisible, and June (youngest) can read minds. The idea of who gets what superpower just fell into place so naturally. What's worse than a little sister who reads your diary? A little sister who reads your mind. I was so excited to play with the characters and find out how they related to one another and to themselves.


HC: What was it like to write three very different sisters?

RB: I found out that it's a lot harder to write a book from 3 different points of view than I thought it would be! At first, I thought just one sister (April) would narrate the whole story, but I came to realize that all three girls needed to have a voice. It was difficult, but I think it became a much better book when the sisters each had a chance to tell their story.

I was also sort of surprised at how the superpowers unfolded. At first, I thought that April, May & June would be fighting the Big Bad Evil Thing and saving the world and that whole thing, but then I realized that AMJ is not that book. The superpowers became a sort of metaphor for those things that make you different in high school, and how isolated you can feel because of that difference. It's an age-old superpower theme, but I wanted to see what would happen when the girls had to work together, date, even just walk through the high school hallways. What happens if you disappear when you get nervous? Will you ever be able to kiss a guy? EVER? What happens if you get braver? Will you still disappear, or will you be strong enough to stay present? Each sister faced these sorts of challenges, which I was TOTALLY not expecting!

The powers are also a bond of sorts, one that the girls can't share with anyone else (not even their parents), and it's something that they can't escape. This is who they are and they have to deal with it, so no matter what happens, they really do have to rely on one another. As a writer, it was so much fun to dig through and discover what would happen to the girls. I really can't describe what a thrill it was to get to know my characters. I miss writing them terribly.


HC: Was there any real life inspiration for the story?

RB: My parents divorced when I was twelve years old, and when I was writing about the parents in "AMJ", I found myself remembering details of my parents' divorce that I hadn't thought about in years. They weren't necessarily sad or happy details, but they were significant, and I tried to put them into the girls' stories.

Writing about divorce in this book made me look back at my own experiences growing up, but it also made remember high school in a way that was different from how I remembered it when I was writing Audrey, Wait! I recalled just dreading every morning of high school. Like, "Please please please do not make me have to go back there." I also remember thinking, "I wish something would happen today." I didn't care what it was--surprise fire drill, the guy I had a crush on would talk to me, whatever--but I just wanted something to break up the monotony of six periods separated by a 45-minute lunch break. In "AMJ", the sisters all have this feeling in their own way. And, of course, something does, in fact, happen. Big time.


HC: Who or what inspires you now?

RB: For writing, I get inspired by all sorts of things. It could be a photograph like the one that inspired "AMJ", or a song that I hear on the radio, or a comment that a friend makes. I also love (and I apologize for this in advance) eavesdropping on teenagers. The things they say to one another are so clever and funny and heart-wrenching. I wish I could write half as well as they speak sometimes.


HC: What’s up next?

RB: I'm working on something right now, and as soon as I can talk about it, I will. I swear. Cross my heart.


*****

Fellow rgz diva Melissa Walker did a cool cover story on AUDREY, WAIT! here, and check out the APRIL, MAY & JUNE trailer:


Plus you can follow the sisters on twitter: aprilstephenson, may_stephenson & june_stephenson!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Would you like to see some of my art?

Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour


Georgia Cranston (also known as Gypsy Wings, and the one who made my gorgeous TELL ME A SECRET necklace!) is chatting with me about art and lit and the many links between them for today's blog stop at Eve's Fan Garden - including a few of my own art pieces.



And I'll let you in on a secret...in just a couple of days, we're launching a huge tour finale and giving away one of her very special TELL ME A SECRET necklaces to one of you! Stay tuned... !

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tell Me a Secret Party Secrets!

Thanks to everyone who came to the #tellmeasecret book bash! It was so much fun to celebrate with all of you. I'm hoping to get some of Heidi's pics on the blog and facebook soon!

With all of the announcements and readings and music and trailer preview and excitement, we forgot to share the answers to the secret party game. So here are the secret-keepers, in order of their steamy secrets...

  1. My writing friend, Annie Gage

  2. Liz Gallagher, rgz diva & author of THE OPPOSITE OF INVISIBLE

  3. My best friend since 10th grade, Amy (I was there...I saw it happen!)

  4. My niece, Molly

  5. Dawn Knight, author of MISCHIEF, MAD MARY, AND ME

  6. My husband's mom!

  7. Sara Easterly, graphic novelist and publicist

  8. Judy Bodmer, author of WHEN LOVE DIES

  9. Writing friend, SCBWI blogger and former co-Regional Advisor, Jolie Stekly!

  10. Janet Lee Carey, author of DRAGONS OF NOOR (coming in October!)

  11. Did you guess my mom? You were right!

  12. My friend Heidi, official party photographer!

  13. Justina Chen, rgz co-founder & author of NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL

  14. Clare Meeker, author of CHARGE AHEAD

  15. Author of SHE-SMOKE and BBQ Restaurantrice, Julie Reinhardt


Hope you enjoyed the secrets!

Historical romance meets contemporary realism in one cataclysmically...

...fun stop with Janet Fox, fellow 2K10 debut author of the beautiful YA novel, FAITHFUL!

I hope you'll stop by to chat writing secrets, getting a debut novel on the shelf, and other publishing quandaries.

See you there!



Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour

Monday, July 26, 2010

Have I ever faked reading...?

Update #2: I just got an email from Reggie, and she's ok! Although she said the electrical and water were cut because of the quake and her family had some problems with flooding and one person was hospitalized, but they are ok now. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts and prayers for her!

UPDATE: Hi, everyone, sorry about the broken link today! The last time I checked in with Reggie, she was visiting family in the Philippines, and I have heard there was a large earthquake there a few days ago. I am hoping and praying she is ok.

I've written to check in with her and am waiting to hear. Please keep her and her family and country in your thoughts and prayers today. Thank you!

*****

The Undercover Book Lover asks that and more (including some tough questions about teen pregnancy and messaging!) at today's tour stop. Reggie's a self-declared bookworm and a big supporter of TMAS, so I'm really excited to get to visit her blog today!

Don't forget, comment here and at Reggie's stop to be entered to win this week's TELL ME A SECRET signed books and swag. See you there!




Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Last chance to win prizes for Week 6 of the #tellmeasecret blog tour!

Time is running out to enter to win a signed copy of Tell Me a Secret and other cool prizes! Here are this last week's stops:

WEEK #6: July 19 - July 23

Monday: Steph Su Reads
Tuesday: Miss Erin
Wednesday:
Romance Bandits
Thursday: Mitali's Fire Escape (open internationally!)
Friday: Green Bean Teen Queen


And here's a quick sneaky preview of the FINAL WEEK of the TMAS tour...I know, by now you know everything there is to know about the book, me, my secrets, my friend's secrets...or do you?


Stay tuned for some really cool surprises in store this week!


We're stopping at The Undercover Book Lover, Janet Fox, YA author of Faithful, Eve's Fan Garden for some cool art surprises, The Hiding Spot for a vlog, and...The Bookologist for a surprise video...

And get ready for a very cool, super secret finale to usher us into a whole month of TMAS at readergirlz! (Hint: an online party a week from tomorrow, August 2nd!)

Hope to see you next week!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

LIVE STREAM! Tell Me a Secret - Launch Party 24 July 2010



Thanks for joining the party!

We hope we can pull this off so you get to join us at this special event.

UPDATE: right about 46:00 is where the announcements and secrets and readings begin!

INSTRUCTIONS:
Wait 10-20 seconds for the stream to start.
If the stream isn't playing, refresh the web page
then hover over the video and press the play button.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Secret Party Lowdown...

Can't make it to Seattle for the TELL ME A SECRET Book Bash this weekend (and to hear the announcement about the super cool TMAS project we've been working on all summer)?

Then tune in tomorrow evening for a *Live Stream* video of the party and celebrate with us! We'll even give a signed TMAS book away to one commenter on the party post! (US address only)

The webcast will be right here at www.hollycupala.com, beginning around 6:30 pm PST/9:30 EST. (exact time TBA)

Party on!

Time for Green Bean Teen Queen!

Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour

I'm crazy about YA librarian Sarah Bean for her name alone - and then I got to actually meet her in person at ALA in Washington, DC, and find out her name only begins to tap the awesomeness that is Green Bean Teen Queen.

Left to right: me, Drea from Book Blather, Amy Brecount White, and Green Bean Teen Queen!

I'm visiting with Sarah today to chat about YA lit and lots of secrets...so stop on by for a fun chat and more ways to win TMAS signed books and prizes! See you there!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Straight talk with Mitali Perkins

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I would like to fold myself into Mitali's purse so that she could take me everywhere, I think she is that wonderful!

Not only does she write phenomenal books, among them SECRET KEEPER and the brand-new BAMBOO PEOPLE, but she writes and speaks to crowds of kids and adults about the interconnectedness of races and cultures within literature and life.

There are many different races of characters in TELL ME A SECRET, and it was my hope to portray them with as much respect and love as I felt for those characters. It is a very great honor for me to visit Mitali's Fire Escape to chat about them today!


Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour

Story Secrets: FORGET-HER-NOTS by Amy Brecount White

I'm so happy to be able to introduce my friend Amy Brecount White, author of the debut novel FORGET-HER-NOTS - I met Amy at the Teen Author Carnival, and we hit it off so well that she very generously invited me to stay with her for ALA! (Below left, here we are at the Harper Breakfast, gorgeous screen supplied by The W.)

About FHN, Publisher's Weekly says, "A delicate sense of magical possibility and reverence for the natural world," and "Wonderfully original and beautifully written" from Jen Nadol, author of THE MARK! Check out an excerpt here.

So it is with great pleasure that I host Amy today...and I even have a gorgeous signed copy of FHN to give to one lucky commenter. Welcome, Amy!

*****

Forget-Her-Nots is the story of a girl discovering the magic and mystery of her flower powers. Publishing it is my dream come true!

Holly Cupala: Such an original idea. What was the initial spark?

Amy Brecount White: I’d always known I wanted to write a novel, but I went to hear Toni Morrison speak once. Her advice was, “Write the story that only you can tell.” So that got me thinking about what unique stories I have inside me. I had recently made a tussie-mussie (a symbolic flower bouquet) for a friend who had cancer, and I loved to garden. Pretty soon I had the original idea of writing a story that featured the language of flowers come to life.


Were you already familiar with flowers, and how did you come upon their magical properties?

I knew about the language of flowers, because I’d pitched a few article ideas to magazines and newspapers when I was freelancing. Oddly, I never got the non-fiction assignment, but started to think about the magical possibilities of flowers. I didn’t want mine to be a fantasy novel in some far off fictional world, so I kept it as tied to reality as I could. I classify it as magic realism, because I think that encourages us to see the wonderful and magic in our everyday lives. I really do think there is a kind of magic in flowers blooming.


You've written some non-fiction as well. How is that different from creating a fictional world from scratch?

I’d written lots of articles and essays for newspapers and magazines, such as The Washington Post and FamilyFun, but I was surprised by how different novel writing was. Non-fiction articles are very straightforward and easy for me to organize. In contrast, writing fiction is more like solving a puzzle whose pieces are constantly morphing. Even if you have an outline, the characters and emotional movement of the novel will take you places you couldn’t predict. It’s lots of fun and very challenging. My learning curve was much steeper than I expected.


What inspires you?

Lot of things. I’m definitely inspired and rejuvenated by the natural world. I love being outside or hanging out in gardens and conservatories. I’m also inspired by all the kids I’ve ever taught and my new fans. I’ve received some amazing messages and am so grateful that my readers would take the time to write me. It really brightens my whole day to know someone loves something I wrote.


Tell us about your writing process! Drafts? Research? One project at a time or many?

I first thought of the idea about eight years ago. However, I wasn’t only working on that. I was working on my second novel, STRING THEORIES, and still freelancing and doing other projects. Novel writing is a stop and start process. With your first novel, you spend a lot of time waiting to hear back from agents or editors, so I always tried to have lots of projects going at once. And, yes, it went through a lot of drafts as I tried to make the story stronger and deeper. The editors at Greenwillow were really amazing and helpful, too. I had lots of different plot and subplot strands going in Laurel’s life, so it was fun developing them and weaving them together. Also, I did lots of research to get the flower details, bloom times, and scents just right.


Have your life experiences helped you get to the heart of the story?

Drawing on my own life experiences - such as losing a parent or falling in love - gives emotional truth to my writing. Writers have to have a great memory for emotions and details, so they can bring the truth of human experience to their own scenes and characters. In any situation I find myself – even uncomfortable or unpleasant ones -- I tell myself, “I’m a writer. Remember these details, remember this emotion, so you can use it later.”


What do you most hope your readers will take away?

First off, I hope my readers will have fun reading the story. I also hope they’ll have a new love for flowers and be more aware of how flowers can enhance our relationships and lives. There are actual, scientific studies that show having flowers around can make you happier.


Any secrets you might be willing to share...?

For me, the biggest secret to a good writing day is leaving myself a note the day before telling me exactly what to start on. That way I can jump right in without agonizing or just re-editing the same stuff.

I also love to write before it’s light outside, especially if I’m in the creative, first-draft stage of a novel. Your internal critic isn’t awake that early in the morning, so writing feels freer. Sometimes I’ll wake up at 3 or 4 am, write for an hour or two, and then go back to bed. Strangely, those days are always incredibly productive.


Can you tell us a bit about your next novel?

My second novel, STRING THEORIES, is finished, so I hope to have news on that soon. It’s about the physics of relationships, love v. lust, a stream, and getting even. After that, I’d love to write a companion novel to Forget-Her-Nots, and I’ve always found Emily Dickinson’s garden to be terribly enticing ….

*****

Thank you so much for dropping by, Amy!

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY:

I have a gorgeous signed copy of FORGET-HER-NOTS that I brought back from ALA just for you...all you have to do is comment on one of the following: a) why you'd love to read FHN! b) do flowers entice, mystify, or both? or c) do you have a particular relationship with nature that fuels your creativity?

Contest is open until Monday at midnight PST! Comment away!

I leave you with the really cool FHN trailer!


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Sizzling secrets with the Romance Bandits...and Story Secrets winners!

Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour


There's a romance threading its way through TELL ME A SECRET - boy meets girl, girl falls hard, boy gets scared, love gets complicated...

We're discussing all things romantic (and sizzling) with up-and-coming debut author of the Delacroix Adademy series, Inara (a.k.a. Kirsten) Scott, at Romance Bandits today!

Come join us for the party, plus your comments here and there have a chance to win this week's signed copies of TELL ME A SECRET and other swag. Join us!

*****

Now for Story Secrets prizes from Andrew Auseon (FREAK MAGNET) and Kay Cassidy (THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY):

The winner of Andrew Auseon's FREAK MAGNET is...latishajean!

The winner of Kay Cassidy's super gorgeous CINDERELLA SOCIETY bookmark is...californiameaghan!

Please contact me at this link to claim your prizes! Include your name, what you won, and your mailing address. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

She reads, she writes, she acts, she makes the world a more interesting place...

Miss Erin, that is, who posts beautiful pictures and poetry and has a role in a major motion picture coming soon...and she invited me to her blog today to discuss the underlying themes and threads that bind TELL ME A SECRET together. I've been a fan of Miss Erin's for a long time, so it's a great joy to be able to visit her!

Miranda's sister, Xanda, wanted to be an actress - to fly away to Hollywood with her boyfriend Andre and never look back. It's fascinating to watch someone fulfilling such dreams before our very eyes.


Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour


Leave comments here and at Miss Erin's stop to be entered to win this week's secret swag!

Monday, July 19, 2010

You never know what might happen next...

Tell Me a Secret


...when our crazy vlogs are involved, that is! Today's stop is with Steph at Steph Su Reads, and Steph asked me to give you all a tour of writing hotspots (and even a flash of the ever-growing YA bookshelf), plus she's asked a few mysterious questions. I hope you enjoy!

I had the pleasure of meeting Steph in person at the Teen Author Carnival and even got a pic with YA author friend Melissa Walker, but it turned out pretty blurry. We'll just have to reshoot another time:

Don't forget, we're still giving away signed books and swag each week! Tell your friends, and leave a comment at my stop and Steph's!

And if you haven't already, go vote in Princess Bookie's TELL ME A SECRET Recreate-A-Cover contest! Down to the Final Five! The winner gets a signed book! I voted! Here are the gorgeous recreations:








Aren't they incredible?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

#tellmeasecret Swaaaaag! Weeks 4 & 5!

First, a sneak peek of Week 6, coming your way tomorrow: on location vlog with Steph Su Reads, questions of theme with Miss Erin, some racy romance discussion with Romance Bandits, straight talk about race and lit with Mitali's Fire Escape (open internationally!), and chat with YA librarian Green Bean Teen Queen.

And now...Week 4 & 5 commenters, you think you should win some TMAS swag? So do I!

WEEK 4
signed 1st edition of TMAS: Dani., Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com
TMAS t-shirt: Lisa Schroeder
Symbion Project CD: Heidi MacKenzie
TMAS sneak previews: Christinabean, Aik, Shanyn, misskallie2000, Tahleen
handmade TMAS magnet & bookmark: Llehn


WEEK 5
signed 1st edition of TMAS: Jenny N, Linz
TMAS t-shirt: Erica The Book Cellar
Symbion Project CD: aquafortis
TMAS sneak previews:
Bri Meets Books
Alex (Tales of a Teenage Book Lover)
Angelique (Vampires and Tofu)
Jami (YA Addict)
Amy J (My Overstuffed Bookshelf)
Mevurah (The Heart of Dreams)
Adriana (Loves to Read)
Sab (YA Bliss)
Adrienne (Addicted Book Reader)
Gilliene
Jan (Eating YA Books)
Caitlin (Scarrlet Reader)
Stop, Drop, and Read!
Sherry (Flippin Pages for All Ages)
Vidisha
Malbebe
Kaitlyn in Bookland
Kailia Sage
Ekta
Dani
handmade TMAS magnet & bookmark: Trini (A Book-Lover's Review)
Whew, that's a LOT of swag!
If you see your name on the list, please click here to contact me. Include your name, what you won, and your mailing address! Thanks! (I'll also try to track you down, though I am pretty slow these days...)
I will hold prizes for two weeks!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Week 5 Recap + Prizes tomorrow!

It's been a pretty crazy week at the TMAS blog tour...here's a rundown:


WEEK #5: July 12 - July 16

Monday: Princess Bookie - super cool recreate-a-cover contest!
Tuesday: HipWriterMama - chatting about writing
Wednesday: Cleverly Inked - secret island vlog tour!
Thursday: Sarah's Random Musings - Sarah interviews TMAS main character Miranda
Friday: Poised at the Edge - the twisted depths of writing TMAS...

WEEK 4 & 5 Prizes tomorrow! TONS of them! I went totally crazy this time.

And here's the nutty Cupala video of the week:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mean Girls at Poised at the Edge!

Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour

Today I get to visit Melissa at Poised at the Edge, who has been a readergirlz friend from practically the very beginning! She's been blogging up a bookstorm all this time, and I am very honored to get to visit her and chat about books and secrets - and mean girls!

That wraps up Week #5 of the virtual tour, so don't forget to comment at all the stops and my blog for lots of chances to win a signed 1st edition of TELL ME A SECRET and lots of other cool swag.

See you there!

DIY Friday: amazing Tink costume

For DIY Friday, I begged Little Willow - blogger, reader, writer, singer, actor, songwriter, and all-around incredibly sweet person - to let me post this picture of her in this handmade costume she wore in a production of Neverland. She is Tink, of course!



























Isn't it incredible? It was handmade by costume designer Cierra Treloar, more of whose work may be found here. Miranda's sister in TMAS is a DIY girl bound for the stage, and I think she would passionately approve!

Happy weekend!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

TMAS at Sarah's Random Musings + giveaway

Tell Me a Secret - Worldwide Blog Tour


Today I'll be hanging out with my dear friend Sarah at Sarah's Random Musings. Sarah has been a readergirlz friend for just about forever, and I've been so lucky to get to meet her in person! (Oooh, and she's coming to the Seattle TMAS party! If you'll be in Seattle 7/24, contact me for party deets.)

Sarah proposed something completely off the beaten path: an interview with TELL ME A SECRET's main character, Miranda. I had to reach deep for this one...Sarah has asked some seriously challenging questions, it was fun to imagine how Miranda might answer them.

Besides that, Sarah is giving away a signed copy of TELL ME A SECRET!

You can also comment here and at Sarah's post for chances to win this week's books and prizes!

Story Secrets: THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY by Kay Cassidy + cool giveaway!

I love that Kay Cassidy's motto is about "leaving you feeling energized, inspired, and ready to make your mark on the world." I haven't had the pleasure of meeting Kay in person, but she has been ever so nice in the virtual realm. She even invited me to submit TMAS secrets for the Great Scavenger Hunt Contest (in fact, she just added TELL ME A SECRET! Go check it out!), and she's here today to chat with us about her debut novel, THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY.

Welcome, Kay!

*****
THE CINDERELLA SOCIETY is about a secret society of good populars dedicated to defeating the mean girls of the world. It about getting comfortable in your own skin, being true to who you are (no matter how many people try to bring you down), and the triumph of good over evil in the world of high school social politics.

Here's a little teaser:

I opened the card, my hands trembling in dread and the faint remnants of what I used to call hope, as a tiny silver high-heel pin bounced into my hand.

I juggled the pin for a second, barely managing to keep it from falling, and flipped open the note with my other hand. The words inside were not a message but an invitation that sent shivers down my spine:

Your presence is requested at The Grind.
Tonight, 7 p.m.
Wear the pin.
Discretion MANDATORY.


Holly Cupala: Good...evil...awesome shoes...where did your Cinderella idea originate?

Kay Cassidy: The Cinderella Society actually came from a magazine article about high school sororities. I'd never heard of that before and, once I started thinking about the kind of society I would create if I could, I realized I would want it to be an organization devoted to fighting the everyday battle of good vs. evil. The idea snowballed from there and The Cinderella Society was born.


Was it a Cinderella story all along?


Surprisingly, the book was originally called The Plain Jane Society until a friend of mine mentioned that it was kind of a Cinderella story (except Jess isn't passive like Cinderella). And suddenly, the whole Cindys vs. Wickeds theme popped into my head. I scrapped it all and started over with a much clearer vision of the battle Jess was facing.


What's at the heart of your inspiration?

People who pursue their dreams with passion. It's a rare thing these days, and something I think we should applaud when it's done with a good dose of smarts thrown in the mix. :-) There are no guarantees in this life, so you might as well make the most of it! The Olympics are a great example. Seeing someone fulfill their greatest potential is amazing. I'm such a sap during the Olympics.


How long did it take to write, and did you go through very many drafts?

I worked on the story in various incarnations for 3-4 years before deciding to scrap everything, blow the lid off the story and make the society as big as I could imagine in. I'm an obsessive plotter—I plot every scene in advance with a few sentences about why that scene matters—and then sit down to write it while it's still fresh in my mind. The final draft of The Cinderella Society (the one I wrote from scratch after the whole lid-blowing experiment) was written in 25 days. I didn't sleep much. :-) A few months of editing followed and then I subbed it to agents.


How have your life experiences helped you get to the crux of Jess' story?


Girl empowerment is something near and dear to my heart. I was a leadership development specialist in my former life and I'm passionate about helping people (especially kids) embrace their potential and stay true to who they are. People who know me well have mentioned that they see a lot of me in the book and I think that's kind of nice. Jess isn't me, but the Cindy motto—Celebrate your strength, Embrace your future, Be extraordinary—is definitely something I aspire to.


Any secrets...?

I am a ridiculously bad cook. You know how some people joke that they could burn water? I'm pretty sure I could burn air. Even though I'm very organized and detailed-oriented in other areas of my life, I dissolve into a puddle of incompetence in the kitchen. I'm terrible at timing dishes to come out at the same time, so me putting together a special dinner is cause for celebration. Me putting together a special dinner that a) is not burned, b) does not have any food that is cold or congealed by serving time, and c) does not irreversibly damage anyone's tastebuds is a miracle of biblical proportions. And cause for me to reward myself with something nice like more awesome YA books. Or a pony.


What's up next?

Right now, I'm working on the sequel to The Cinderella Society, titled Cindy on a Mission. It follows the further adventures of Jess and the Sisters as the Wickeds launch an offensive that threatens everything the Cindys hold dear. Cindy on a Mission will be on shelves in Fall 2011.

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You all won't believe the awesome thing Kay is giving away in honor of her visit today: a super-cool TCS glass slipper bookmark! For a chance to win, share a secret about what makes you feel strong and special. That's what the Cindys are all about. Contest closes Monday at midnight PST!