Friday, March 30, 2012

Elsie Chapman Takes the Truth

My first vlog, folks. Not just for Friday the Thirteeners, but ever ever. Please be kind.

So a couple of weeks ago I was in NYC for spring break. After I got to meet my amazing editor and agent, it just seemed like the perfect time to tackle a couple of truths about the writing process. And then vlog about it. (I'm sure there's a connection between the two...somewhere.)

Also, you know what they say about how everyone hates the sound of their own voice? I realized that THIS IS TRUE. SO, SO TRUE. I also swear I'm not nearly so valley-girl-sounding in real life.

Still, I hope you enjoy!

Okay, now that you're done laughing at me, got any burning truths or dares you'd like to submit? Do so here. And come back next Friday, April 6th, when the fabulous Erin Bowman takes her turn at Truth or Dare!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mindy McGinnis Takes The Truth

We are so excited to welcome Mindy McGinnis for Truth or Dare this week! Mindy's debut YA novel, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, will be published by Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins, Fall 2013. In the meantime, she's going to tackle a Truth as submitted by Friday the Thirteeners blog reader, Rena:

Q: What was the stupidest thing you did as a teenager that you realized (as a teenager) that it was so bone headed that it makes you blush with shame now?

I grew up in a very rural area. And by rural I mean that we define the term “neighbor” as someone whose house you can see from your own when you’re standing on the roof. Entertainment was far away, and so my older sister and I came up with very original, and possibly lethal, ways to pass the time.

We look at each other now, and while we don’t necessarily blush with shame, we do ask each other, “How did we survive our teens?”

It’s a decent question.

Bone-Headed Self-Entertainment Instance #1:

Grain silos are fun places to play. Um, if this were a True or False question on a parenting quiz, you need to mark False. Yes, parents know better. But do teens? Not usually. You may not be aware of this, but silos have an internal ladder and side access doors that you can open when they’re not full of grain. Opening side doors of partially full bins, then climbing the internal ladder and jumping down into the grain was fruit for dares to see who could climb higher, and subsequently sink the lowest into the grain upon impact. It was a favorite past time of mine until I saw the scene in Witness where Harrison Ford kills one of his pursuers by suffocating him in a grain silo.

Bone-Headed Self-Entertainment Instance #2:

Rushing streams should be viewed as a free waterpark ride. Again, this is patently false to discerning observers, but bored teens aren’t exactly in that category. Scurrying along fallen trees and then clutching onto limbs flailing wildly in the rushing current was a heck of an adrenaline rush, and also an invitation to a quick drowning. Luckily, fate either appreciated our balls or wasn’t paying attention.

Bone-Headed Self-Entertainment Instance #3:

Haymows and swinging ropes were made for each other. At first glance, this doesn’t seem so bad, right? I knew plenty of people with ropes in the mow for a good swingin’ time. Well, the rope we used was a good eight feet from the edge of the hayloft and at the moment we were using it, there was no hay truck (or really anything) in between our skulls and the concrete floor. I can’t remember how many times I made the running leap, but I can remember exactly the words that were used by our father when we were discovered. It was quite the education.

Continued Issues with Bone-Headedness:

I did manage to break my tailbone at one point in a hayloft related incident. I wasn’t paying attention as I scooted backward from a raccoon I’d accidentally surprised. Luckily I was in the small barn and it was only about a five-foot drop to a wooden floor. I got to relive the pain two years ago when I rebroke my tailbone as a passenger on boat that was on land, and not moving. I can attest that while tailbone breakage hurts (like, really effing hurts) no matter how you broke it, there is a certain pang to your dignity that comes along with admitting that you did it while disembarking from a parked boat.

Thanks so much for playing Truth or Dare with us, Mindy, and we can't wait to get our hands on NOT A DROP TO DRINK!

Mindy McGinnis is a YA librarian and writer repped by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary. Her debut YA novel, NOT A DROP TO DRINK will be available from Katherine Tegen/ Harper Collins, Fall 2013. Mindy blogs at Writer, Writer Pants on Fire, and serves as a moderator on the writing forum AgentQuery Connect. She also contributes to the group blogs From the Write Angle and The Lucky 13s.

Come back this Friday, March 27th, because our very own Elsie Chapman is up. Feel like submitting a Truth or Dare for her?

Friday, March 23, 2012

In which Ellen embarrasses herself for April's amusement...

Two weeks ago, April double dared me to come clean about my Brooklyn fight story. The funny thing is that it isn't as much about me fighting in Brooklyn (which I did a lot of) but about how my husband came to nickname me The Brooklyn Girl.

Just so you know, I fought a lot growing up. I mean face scratching, punching, kicking, slapping, rip the clothes off your back fighting. (I never pulled hair but had an insane amount of my hair pulled out in various fights.) But none of them is anywhere near as embarrassing as what I'm about to share with you.

So back when I was dating Da Man, who would later become Da husband, we went out with a bunch of friends to a bar/nightclub. Da Man took his usual position by the bar while my girlfriends and I took to the dance floor. As I was dancing, a man walked by and grabbed my arm and copped a cheap feel of my left breast. Now I'm not what you call a particularly well endowed type of girl. And I'm pretty sure my left side is actually smaller than my right. So it isn't that easy to accidentally feel me up. If a guy wants to cop a feel, there needs to be some intent, if you know what I mean. So the raging feminist in me lost her mind and in crazy, self-righteous anger, began to punch the guy as hard as she could, and as many times as she could, knocking him down, and making him let go of her. Da Man reckons I hit that guy at least 10 times before he hit the ground.

Raging Feminist - 100 "you go girl" points vs Nasty Sexual Molester - 0

Ok so here's the other side of the story. Guy is at a bar and gets rip roaring drunk and accidentally staggers on to the dance floor, trips and grabs at a nearby girl's arm in order to steady himself. The girl is actually insane and turns on said drunken fool and begins to punch him senseless, even as he is falling to the ground. His poor friends come running over to his defense shouting "Stop! He was just falling! Please stop! He was just falling!"

Insane Girl - 0  vs Drunken Fool - 1000 sympathy points

Exorcist, Linda Blair

To this day, I don't think I've ever seen so many frightened men with gaping jaws staring at me. If my head had spun around and I had spewed green vomit, I don't think they would have been half as scared of me. And I'm pretty sure the only person laughing was Da Man. I distinctly remember him telling the drunken fool's friends not to mind me as I was from Brooklyn. To which one responded, "let's get the hell away from The Brooklyn Girl." And that's how I got my nickname.

Now that I've thoroughly embarrassed myself, I leave the floor to our newest member, Mindy McGinnis who will be posting her inaugural truth or dare on Tuesday, March 27th! Until then, hope you all have a wonderful, non-violent weekend!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Introducing our Third Mystery Author!

Ahem, drumroll please...

We Friday the Thirteeners are very, very, excited to introduce our third Mystery Author:

Mindy McGinnis

Mindy's making her YA debut with her novel NOT A DROP TO DRINK. To be published Fall 2013 from Katherine Tegen/Harper Collins, here's a teaser:

NOT A DROP TO DRINK, the story of a teenage girl surviving in a rural America where an ounce of fresh water is worth more than gold and death wanders the countryside as thirst, cholera, and the guns of strangers; when her mother dies in an accident, the girl must decide between defending her pond alone or banding together with a crippled neighbor, a pregnant woman, a filthy orphan, and a teenage boy who awakens feelings she doesn’t understand.

Not only does NOT A DROP TO DRINK sound fabulous, but Mindy's pretty awesome herself, and we are more than ecstatic to have her join us! But her hazing just wouldn't be complete without a Truth or Dare, so make sure to submit one for her here. She'll be answering a week from today, March 27th, so make sure to check back to see how she does.

In the meantime, please join us in giving a huge welcome to Mindy, our newest Friday the Thirteener!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Shannon Messenger Takes The Truth

Looks like I'm up this week--and I left things up to random chance again and ended up with a "truth" from Alyssa. Hope you enjoy!

Got any burning questions you're dying to ask us? Or maybe you have some terrifying dares you want to torture us with. Feel free to submit as many as you want by going HERE. And come back next week to see Ellen Oh take on a truth or dare.

Also... Don't forget to tune in next Tuesday when our next mystery author will be announced...


Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, where she learned--among other things--that she liked watching movies much better than making them. So she left LA and moved to suburbia where she would have time to eat too many cupcakes, own too many cats, and write lots and lots of books. LET THE SKY FALL is her first young adult novel, coming in Spring 2013 from Simon Pulse. She is also the author of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, book one in a middle grade series launching Fall 2012 (S&S Aladdin). Find her online at

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It's Almost Friday the 13th!

That's right, folks! The second Friday the 13th of 2012 is fast approaching -- less than a month, to be exact -- and we've got a special post planned to celebrate the occasion

In addition to hosting a giveaway, we plan on writing a little something for you, our readers. (Think short story done exquisite corpse-style.) We're really pumped to write this guy, and excited to see how all our different styles will come together, but first, we need to decide on a genre! So help us out, won't you?

Be sure to check back on Friday, April 13th for the finished story! In the meantime, you can always leave us some more Truth or Dare options. Shannon will be answering one tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kelly Barson Takes The Truth

The fabulous Kelly Barson is our guest author for Truth or Dare this week! Her debut YA novel, 45 POUNDS, will be published by Viking Children's Books, Summer 2013.

A brief teaser: 45 Pounds is about a sixteen-year-old girl, Ann, who doesn’t fit—not into her blended family and certainly not into Snapz! clothes. She’s certain that if she could lose 45 pounds before her aunt’s wedding, her life would be perfectly normal. She finds out, though, that there is nothing perfect about normal.

Sounds pretty amazing, right? In the meantime, Kelly's chosen a truth submitted by blog reader Alyssa: What is your most embarrassing memory?

In my novel, 45 POUNDS, the main character, Ann, suffers many embarrassments. Unfortunately, those moments weren’t hard for me to write because I have a plethora of my own memories to draw from. The hard part is choosing just one! Since several of Ann’s embarrassing moments involve clothes, I thought I’d choose a fashion-related memory.

Around Halloween a few years ago, I wrote a last-minute skit for my church. Since I wrote it on Thursday to be performed on Sunday, there was no time to find a real cast; my daughter and I would have to do. There was also no time to find a fairy godmother costume. Again last minute—Sunday morning—I improvised. I yanked an old bridesmaid dress from the back of my closet: a poufy floral number, circa 1989. Thrilled that it fit, I was all set. But wait! The Velcro crisscross straps in the back kept coming free and flapping every time I moved.

My husband suggested safety pins. What? I wasn’t sure if we had any. Besides, I was in a hurry. Like a fashion designer pulling a scarf off one runway model and draping it on another to save the day, I would just take some scissors and remove the problem. They were just late 80s extraneous details, weren’t they? It’s not like I needed those straps. I was more than, um, ample enough to hold up the dress. Snip. Voila! Fairy godmother costume complete!

No time for rehearsal, my daughter and I entered stage right on cue. The church had an excellent turn-out that morning, as if they knew this was my acting debut. I did my part. I folded laundry as I “argued” with my daughter. I bent to pluck a towel from the basket. The dressed slipped down my right shoulder. I shrugged it back to place. With a washcloth, the left slipped. I shrugged again. Then the “doorbell” rang. As I stood, the V-neck widened and inched down my shoulders. I adjusted as I answered the door, exaggerating the motion, like it was scripted. I had this under control.

The final thirty seconds, which felt like half an hour, involved my daughter and me dancing and was supposed to be funny. Knowing how precarious my dress was, I was reserved, despite the instructions to be animated to increase the laugh. It didn’t matter. When I moved right, my dress slipped left. When I moved left, the dress slipped right. I tried to use my dancing as a vehicle for recovery, but it—along with mean old Mr. Gravity—only made it worse. But, even then, I refused to believe what was happening. I kept dancing, convinced no one knew but me.

Then I saw the church secretary’s eyes widen. Her husband, one of the elders, looked away. Scanning the congregation, it was obvious that my problem was visible beyond the front row. And not a single laugh. Then it hit me: I had not only debuted as an actress, but also as a stripper. And in church no less. After I slithered into the pew next to my husband, he whispered, “You might want to change, like, now.”

No one has asked (or should I say allowed?) me on stage since then, which suits me just fine. I’ll stick to writing. At least then the embarrassing moments aren’t my own. Except, of course, when I voluntarily expose my mortifying secrets to the world-wide blogosphere.

Kelly Barson graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc. She lives in Jackson, Michigan, where she embarrasses herself publicly more than she cares to admit. You can find Kelly at, on Twitter: @kabarson, or on Facebook at

Thanks so much for playing, Kelly! Come back this Friday, March 16th, to see our own awesome Shannon Messenger talk Truth or Dare. You can still submit one here!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kendare Blake Takes The Dare

Kendare Blake is daring it up with us this week. She's the author of the brilliant, terrifying Anna Dressed In Blood, and its sequel Girl of Nightmares (out August 7, 2012). Kendare Blake digs travel, animals, Greek mythology, bloody meat, vegans, and writing books that scare the hell out of people. April Tucholke dared Kendare to start an urban legend, because, well, urban legends are awesome. Here we go:

For those who don’t know, a psychopomp is a portent of death, a spirit that foretells or announces when a person is about to or has recently passed. Family members of hospital patients recount stories of animals rapping against the hospital windows in the middle of the night. They turn to see yellow eyes or a flutter of wings, and when they turn back to the patient’s bed discover that they have died.

This psychopomp is different. As the story goes, this photo was taken on the same day the cat died. When the distraught owner posted the photo online, it prompted sympathy. Until the owner himself died, approximately two weeks later. Prior to his death, he told family members that he had seen the cat, outside in his garage. While that death cannot be attributed to the psychopomp cat, others have reported experiencing a strange sensation after looking into the cat’s glowing eyes. They say that after looking into its eyes for several minutes, a strange, panicked feeling takes hold, for no reason. Some say that they see the cat shift, or move, or its expression change. It should be noted that these responses are rare.

Though no harm or death can be attributed to this image, legend has it that if you stare into the eyes of the psychopomp cat, it will become your psychopomp, and will appear to you in the days preceding your death.

Okay, that's it. Thanks, Kendare! Let's make this baby happen. Stare into those glowing eyes, people, and spread the word. Who knows...maybe we will get this into snopes. Or, at the very least, give someone nightmares--which I hear is really good karma.

Next up: April Tucholke, this Friday, March 9.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Truth: How Gray Can Characters Get?

Hey everyone! Welcome to another revealing day at Friday The Thirteeners. I couldn't help but tackle this interesting truth from Kayla, so here goes:

Thanks again, Kayla, for offering such an interesting question! Please feel free to mention other "gray" books or characters in comments. It's so fun to explore the spectrum out there.

Keep submitting those truths & dares, everyone, and have a lovely weekend!

Natalie Whipple is a YA writer and card-carrying nerd. Her favorite areas of the nerd realm include anime, Korean dramas, good cheese, and playing mmorpgs with her family. She takes pride in writing the weirdest books she can think of, and her novel, TRANSPARENT, will be out Summer 2013 from HarperTeen.