Author Life with Kim Turrisi – An Interview



Home to many seasoned and new authors, the Ontario Teen Book Festival brings together fans of young adult literature from across the state and their favorite novelists for a spectacular completely free event. Fans of all ages are invited to attend a special event full of meet and greets, panels and more! Each author’s books will be available for purchase thanks to returning sponsor, Once Upon a Time bookstore of Montrose.

Join us on Saturday, March 3rd from 9AM-5PM at Colony High School located at:
3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761

About Kim Turrisi


A graduate of Florida State University, Kim Turrisi began her career in film and television. After a year of on-set production (getting coffee, wrangling actors and taking lunch orders) Kim segued to the development side of the business. First working as a development executive at Columbia-Tri-Star and eventually shepherding many projects in family entertainment for Disney, Viacom and Hallmark.

Her debut Young Adult novel JUST A NORMAL TUESDAY is loosely based on the author’s own experience, the debut YA novel follows 16-year-old Kai as she struggles through the emotional aftermath of her sister’s suicide. Kai spends a month at grief camp, discovering a roadmap to piecing her broken heart back together.

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About Just a Normal Tuesday


It’s just a normal Tuesday…until sixteen-year-old Kai finds a s

uicide note from her beloved older sister, Jen. Now Kai is the only child in a family reeling with grief. Unable to make sense of her sister’s choice, Kai begins to lose control. She cuts class. Lashes out at the people closest to her. Pops the same pills that killed her sister.

As she spirals toward rock bottom, her parents offer her a lifeline: a summer away at camp. Grief camp…for teens. Kai reluctantly agrees to attend, even though she’s not exactly in the mood for s’mores. But she finds solace in meeting kids like her, and slowly she begins to come back to life—and even love—at The Treehouse.


Tell us a bit about Just a Normal Tuesday.

Just A Normal Tuesday offers a road-map for anyone who has been touched by loss and anyone who is looking for hope in a broken world. Sixteen year old, Kai Sheehan’s, world is turned upside down when she comes home on a seemingly normal day to find a suicide letter from her older sister who she adores. Her world crumbles and she spirals out of control. At the end of their ropes, her parents send her to a grief camp where she finds hope with the help of teens who have suffered unimaginable losses.

What was the hardest scene to write?

The one where she reads the suicide letter. Since it’s based loosely on my teen years, it brought up a lot of feelings that were extremely difficult to relive over and over as I wrote then revised.


What are common misconceptions about author life?

That we make a lot of money!  Or that we sit down to write and the words just flow. When that does happen, it’s wonderful but the truth is that sometimes, they don’t or the ones that do are terrible.

Any new projects in the works?

Yes, first up is a young adult adaptation of a wildly popular web series called CARMILLA. It’s much lighter than TUESDAY so it’s been a welcome relief.

I have a few other things in the works but I can’t talk about them yet.

Do other authors help you become a better author? If so, how/who has helped you the most?

For sure. I have a terrific circle of writer friends who keep me sane and on track whenever I’m about to derail. Marlene King, Veronica Rossi, Martha Brockenbrough, Anna Shinoda and Aaron Hartzler. In fact, there would be no book with Aaron. His encouragement when I was afraid to write this really made all the difference in the world.

How did you realize you wanted to become a writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I loved reading. I was probably the only person in any of my classes who loved essay questions. Words are really powerful and I love that.

How many unpublished or half-written works/books do you have?

Let’s just say that I have a lot of half thought out ideas and a few finished books that need a lot of work.  I do have two that I’m really excited about revising. The others…not so much.

What did it feel like holding a copy of Just a Normal Tuesday for the first time?

Like I imagine winning a Gold Medal in the Olympics feels. I cried like every other debut author I know. It was a victory for me personally.

Do you write with music? If so, what type?

Always. I create playlists for my characters then an overall one for the book itself. So it depends. For Just a Normal Tuesday, there was a lot of angst ridden music. Mostly, alternative music.

Any tips for someone trying to become a full-time writer/author?

Journal all the big moments in your life whether they are fun like a first kiss or hard. The first time someone hurt your feelings. First break up. First loss. Scribble all of the adjectives you can to describe how you were feeling. That way they’ll be fresh when you look back on them years later when you’re writing your first book.

Vomit it all in your first draft. You can and will revise later. You’ll lose chapters, characters, pages of dialogue. It’s always better to have more.

Write what you know. Don’t be afraid. Be fearless.

When you are revising, I have one tip that Marlene King gave me early in my career. Pretend each word you use costs you a dollar.

Thank you so much, Kim!


Writing Tips and Inspiration from Anthony Breznican – An Interview



Home to many seasoned and new authors, the Ontario Teen Book Festival brings together fans of young adult literature from across the state and their favorite novelists for a spectacular completely free event. Fans of all ages are invited to attend a special event full of meet and greets, panels and more! Each author’s books will be available for purchase thanks to returning sponsor, Once Upon a Time bookstore of Montrose.

Join us on Saturday, March 3rd from 9AM-5PM at Colony High School located at:
3850 E. Riverside Drive, Ontario, CA 91761

Spotlight on Anthony Breznican

33918882About Behind the Song

Anthony Breznican will be on th panel for his latest work in the YA anthology, Behind The Song edited by K.M. Walton.

Behind The Song collects the short stories and personal essays inspired by the music that touched fourteen young adult authors and musicians.


About Anthon3845d2_87a58e49de4d424583f2a0dcf37594fey Breznican

Anthony Breznican was born and raised in Western Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Pittsurgh. He has worked as a reporter for The Arizona Republic, Associated Press, and USA Today. He is currently a senior staff writer for Entertainment Weekly.

Brutal Youth is his debut novel.

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Tell us a bit about “Miss Atomic Bomb” in Behind the Song.

The book is a collection of short stories inspired in one way or another by music, and “Miss Atomic Bomb” tells the story of a teenage girl named Cassie who has been keeping a very serious secret. A boy in her class has figured it out and is trying to blackmail her, but as the tale unfolds we realize the world they’re living in is very different from our own. There are many who, rightly or wrongly, might believe Cassie is to blame for that — if they knew the truth about her.

It’s quite an interesting story! What actually inspired “Miss Atomic Bomb”?

My inspiration was a 2012 song by the Killers, which is a beautiful anthem about memory, and love, and the profound impact one person can have on another. But it’s also enigmatic. I tried to ask: Could these lyrics have a different, darker meaning? And I created a little Twilight Zone-style story out of that.

If “Miss Atomic Bomb” was made into a film, who would you want to play Cassie and Michael, the two main characters?

I would love to see it adapted for a TV show, sort of a Black Mirror or Tales from the Dark Side type of series. Cassie is very strong, but she has to appear vulnerable. And Michael has to be somewhat pathetic, but also menacing. I would prefer to see two unknown actors, rather than existing stars.

You also wrote the novel Brutal Youth. I know which was the hardest to read for me but what was the hardest scene to write?

That’s a book about kids who are trying their best to survive bad situations without becoming as cruel as the people who threaten them. There’s a scene between one character, Lorelei Pascal, and her mother that haunts me. The mother is violently angry, and life with her is like living in a house full of landmines. Halfway through, there is a scene set at dinner in which the mother explodes. That was painful to write because it was difficult to relive. My father was frequently volatile and abusive, and that scene is based on some of my own memories of growing up.

What did you edit out of Brutal Youth?

I wanted that novel to be about the whole community, not just one kid’s story. I was interested in exploring authoritarianism. Sometimes a whole country can become unhinged, and this was a look at one small community — a troubled high school — where fear and anger led to more of the same. So I wanted to dive into the histories of some of the older characters to create some empathy for them. They are cautionary tales. What made them this way? I didn’t want them just to be monsters. But sometimes I had to cut back on that in order to keep the story moving. So there is a lot more history to each of them than you will find in the book.

Do other authors help you become a better author? If so, who has helped you the most and how?

They have mainly helped just by being inspirations. I admire the work ethic of Andrew Smith, for instance, who wakes up at 5 in the morning each day and writes for several hours before his teaching job. Gillian Flynn showed me that a person can work in my profession, writing entertainment news, and still tell your own story. And Stephen King, whose work first inspired me to pen my own scary stories as a kid, continues to be the Michael Jordan who makes me want to go out and play my heart out.

How do you deal with discouraging thoughts or fears during the writing process?

You just have to crawl out from under those and realize that, yes, your book is terrible. But once it is finished, you can get to work rewriting it and make it better. You have to be like Wonder Woman in that No Man’s Land scene. Just put your shield up and push forward against the barrage.

How many unpublished or half-written works/books do you have?

Just the one that I’m working on now. But I spent 18 years in journalism paying the dues that other fiction writers usually pay with unpublished novels.

What was it like going from Senior Writer at EW to published author?

It was a dream come true. I love my day job, telling the stories of the storytellers. But it is wonderful to tell a few of my own. I am especially grateful to hear from young readers, who feel like Brutal Youth captures some of the tragedy that they see, as well as the hope. It’s important to know that the world has both.

Do you write with music? If so, what type?

I often choose songs that put me in the vibe of a certain character, or scene. With Miss Atomic Bomb, the pace of that song was just as important as the lyrics I adapted for my own nefarious story. I loved the pulse of it, and the defiant strength blended with melancholy.

Any new works planned?

I have a haunted house story that is calling to me. Haunting me, I guess you’d say. It needs more attention from me.

And of course, what would an author interview be without any tips for someone trying to become a full-time journalist/writer/author?

You have to break into the business by getting bylines. But it’s not possible to start at the top. You’ll never get your first byline at a big newspaper or a national magazine. Find a smaller publication that needs people. (Don’t work for free, but don’t expect to get rich right away.) Get a few good clips, learn what you can, then move on to the next place. Take a low-level job at a big outlet the first chance you get, and work your way up. This all sounds easier said than done, but it is possible.  Too often people waste time trying to jump to the middle of the ladder rather than simply climbing up from the bottom.

Thank you so much, Anthony!

Here’s a mini-review I did of Anthony Breznican’s debut novel, Brutal Youth:


YallWest 2017 Y’all

You’d think I’d get tired of that title by now…

Well, it’s that lovely time of year again–YallWest time! This year saw some changes from past years and to be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about them. The major change: this year was only one day with a Friday preview night. Now if you’ve read my blog before, then you know that I tend to only go one day anyway but it makes a difference. I like having the option to go multiple days or the option of going one day over the other. If one author I want to meet is signing at the same time as another I at least had the option to see them the following day. Also! When it was two days, I could actually check out some booths and partake in activities or scoop up some awesome swag or ARCs because it wasn’t as packed. This year, I saw monstrous line after monstrous line and even tried to stand in a few only to be told when I got to the front that they just ran out. It was a major bummer but with that being said, I will also say that I totally enjoyed myself very much!


Sorry we’re the cutest ❤

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#TBT Jesse Andrews at The Americana

Okay, my bad. I’ve been gone for a bit. Stay tuned for a personal update post.

But let’s get to what you actually came here for. On April 8th, 2016 (a while ago, I know) I met one of my absolute favorite authors, Jesse Andrews.

It was for his book tour for his newest young adult novel, The HatersThe Haters is about two boys attending a Jazz camp and quickly realizing that they don’t belong. They start “jamming” with an intensely unique girl and decide that their new band, must go on tour. Because “the road” is where bands get good, not in some lame Jazz camp.

In my grande adventure to being an individual I attended my first signing on my own. Ok, kind of. I was on my own but then I quickly met up with Kevin. We walked around the store picking out the best condition books to purchase and have signed. While doing so, I found out that Kevin was actually going to introduce Jesse Andrews! I was filled with excitement for him.


After Kevin’s wonderfully delivered introduction, Jesse Andrews began his discussion. Alright, look. I’ve been to my fair share of book signings/panels/discussions and this was by far one of the top 3 favorite events ever. Jesse Andrews was one of the most awkwardly charismatic people I’ve ever had the pleasure of holding a conversation with. While he was up there, he dove into his first attempts at writing and especially writing a novel. He focused on how “terrible” his writing was and how many rewrites or his work he needed to do. It was amazing. He talked about the rejection and the hard work but also how rewarding the entire process was. It was spectacular, honestly. It was definitely a great discussion for writers/fans of his work/fans of ya.


He spent most of the discussion flailing about and I absolutely loved it. He was so animated and passionate about the topics and it was just so lovely to witness. After the general discussion and some questions from the audience, he read an excerpt from The Haters and I was instantly so excited to read it. I love Jesse Andrews’ writing style because it is so realistic and the portion I heard from this book was no different.


I got so much stuff signed, to be honest. He signed my “S” (that I’ve gotten multiple authors to sign), my blu-ray of Me and Earl and The Dying Girl, as well as my hardcover copy of the book, and my hardcover copy of The Haters. It was kind of hilarious because while he was signing my stuff, we talked about Kevin for a bit and he accidentally signed my book to Kevin. He felt so genuinely bad and I was like “Hey, it’s okay. Kevin’s my friend and this makes for a good story.”


But come on, we’re like totally adorable.

YallWest 2016 Y’all

Guess what I did this weekend. Yup, I attended the second YallWest Festival in Santa Monica and it was such a fun time!

Much like last year, I only got to go for one day. This time it was Sunday. So, of course, I can’t speak for how amazing Saturday was, but I’m sure it was a jolly good time.IMG_8065

I was a little bummed to find out I could only go one day but it was more than alright  when I actually go to the event. This year was bigger and better, honestly. There were so many more booths of awesome brands and book related companies and publishers giving out freebies and lovely information.

Not just that, though. There were some truly spectacular panels going on as well. Last year I sought out to make more time for panels and I’m so very glad that I did.

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YallWest Y’all!

As some of you may know, this past weekend was a glorious time for us west coast readers/bloggers! The first ever YallWest Festival happened in Santa Monica and it was amazing.

Unfortunately, I only got to go on Saturday but fortunately, I got to meet some truly amazing people!

We arrived a little late but I got dropped off so that I could get going. I wandered around these incredibly packed and thriving lines, a little lost. However, I found a board that detailed who was signing and I jumped right into the Ransom Riggs line. I was excited, but also a little worried my company wouldn’t find parking. It didn’t dawn on me until I was moving in the line that I was going to meet RANSOM RIGGS!

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Life.Love.Beauty. Signing

Last summer, I was looking for something new to watch on Netflix and stumbled onto the best worst show that has ever graced my television screen: Pretty Little Liars. Needless to say, I got super obsessed and watched it like everyday. Fast forward to earlier this year and Keegan Allen, who plays Toby Cavanaugh, has just published his first book. It is a collection of his writings as well as a photo book.

He had a couple signings coming up nearby but my school schedule clashed with the event times. I just had to live vicariously through his snapchat feed and see all the happy fans that got to meet him while I stayed in bed, catching up on my Shakespeare readings.

On one of my searches for local author events I found that Keegan had added more dates to his book tour and one of time was five minutes away from my house! Of course I was going. And of course my lovely boyfriend was going to come along for the ride.

We had originally intended to get there early to be one of the firsts in line but we’re lazy and it was a rainy day so we got up around 10 and got ready. Honestly, we lollygagged and got to the Burbank Barnes & Noble around 11:30AM. We bought the book and got our member wristbands. For this event, the member wristbands were a literal front of the line pass. Honestly, only about 3 groups of people were ahead of us and 3 groups of members were behind us. So having a membership for this signing was a real big perk. We sat around and grabbed some yummy food and tea from the wonderful cafe workers (whom which I love because I’m a regular and they’re super nice and funny).


The event started a little after 1PM. I expected all the girls in attendance to scream their little hearts out when he arrived but there was pretty much a collective gasp of swoony amazement and boy did he notice. He started with a snapchat from us and then took a picture with his film camera.

He was very nice to everyone and very attentive. He wasn’t standoffish in the slightest. The couple ahead of us were surprising their daughter by face timing her while he signed her book. He even talked to her via facetime. It warmed my heart to have a celebrity be so nice.


We were literally like the third group and he signed my book, I gave him a drawing and we chatted a bit. Oh, I forgot to mention that he LOVED my boyfriend, Blake’s, mustache and even took a portrait of him! I was fangirling all over the place! I hope he puts the picture in his next book or something. AHHH. I’m getting all excited just thinking about it.

Signing my book <3

Signing my book ❤

In closing, Keegan Allen is such a nice and talented person! And I’m so glad I got to experience this event because it let my inner fangirl flag fly.

waiting in line <3

waiting in line ❤