Honorary Heartlette – Tina Ferraro

February 3, 2008 at 11:03 am | Posted in books, career, contests, Honorary Heartlette, Tina Ferraro, writing, young adult | 44 Comments
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Why YA?


My fourteen year-old niece recently read my work-in-progress and commented to her father (my brother) that “Aunt Tina really understands how teenagers think.” My brother, grinning, responded, “That’s because Aunt Tina still is a teenager.”               

This story greatly amuses me. For on one hand, I’m a responsible adult who manages my writing career, the comings-and-goings of my husband and our three teenagers, and some community service projects. But strip all that away, and I’m a person who is giving herself the happy teen years now that she was too cranky to appreciate the first time around.               

For ever since I made the change from writing adult romance to YA romance, I’m having more fun than an adult should be allowed. There’s nothing better than shutting out my real world of property taxes, laundry, and my impending Empty Nest Syndrome and letting myself sweat the small stuff: my complexion, my grade on a test, or what hero’s text message REALLY means. I love the idea that my whole life is still ahead of me, and is full of endless possibilities.  I could still make my first million before my first wrinkle, “hook a hottie,” and look fantabulous in tight jeans.                

Because when I’m writing for teens, I *am* a teen. Not today’s teenagers, necessarily, not trying to get inside my kids’ heads and live parallel lives. I float back to those thoughts and feelings of my own day, and I write from that perspective–while trying to create storylines, characters and sometimes odd things that would have appealed to me (like uses for an unworn prom dress, a hexagon to define romantic compatibility, and 26 much-needed tips on ways to kiss your next boyfriend). Naturally, I use my kids as sounding boards on slang, present day electronics, and trends, and occasionally a subplot or scenario will arise from something I see or hear from them. But that’s all secondary to my own creativity. The elements of my books start and end with me.                

So that’s my good news for those of you without kids or teens who are interested in writing YA. Don’t feel that put off by a lack of teen contact. You can always find one to read your first draft, chat with other YA authors, or research teen trends through books and the internet. Most important is tapping into your inner teen and remembering what intrigued you, scared you, thrilled you. And to create those characters and storylines. Times have changed, but teenagers really haven’t.                 

And if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself completely engrossed in your stories, laughing out loud at the keyboard, and looking at the world with a revitalized, fresher view. Nothing wrong with that. So excuse me if this sounds like a cliché, but when people ask me, “Why YA?” I am tempted to say, “Why not?”  Because writing YA fills me in a way no other genre does.                

And I am, like, toh-tally okay with that, okay?                                             

Tina is (very generously) giving away a copy of her new book How To Hook A Hottie to one of our commenters at the end of the week- Just let us know what you’ve done to hook a hottie to get in on the giveaway action!



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  1. Tina,
    It’s, like, totally okay! Your love for what you write comes through in your books . . . and we love to read them! Thank you for joining us on the blog this month and for sharing your thoughts on Why YA . . .

  2. Thanks Tina!

    Should I be scared that this completely made sense to me???

    Anyway, something I’ve done to hook a hottie? Hmmmm. . .

    I think the oddest thing I did was: Ignore Him. Wasn’t trying to get Mr. Popular’s attention – figured someone that hot and that popular wouldn’t be a good match – well, that got is attention alright!

  3. Great post, Tina!! I think you’ve always known YA was right for you because it shows through your heart-warming characters and awesome story lines. 🙂 And I’m so happy readers of all ages have connected with your wonderful books.

    ~Kelly (Tina’s CP)

  4. Tina,
    Such great advice. I’m so glad you are having fun with your teen years even if it is, what, fifteen years later? ha! Now we just have to get you to the prom!


  5. Such an excellent point, Tina. Writing YA isn’t about getting inside the heads of teens today, about keeping up with their slang and trends and likes/dislikes, because frankly that’s never gonna happen. It is about remembering your own experiences as a teen and translating them into a universal story in a contemporary (or historical or fantasy) setting. Anyone who ever was a teen can write YA. (But reading TeenVogue, CosmoGirl, and Seventeen can’t hurt!)

    TLC (fellow BuzzGirl)

  6. Tina,
    It would have been fun to know you as a teenager. But since only time traveling will get us both back to those years..I’ve got the next best thing…Your fabulous books.


  7. [Heartlettes, I’m reposting my comment because every time I logout of my wordpress account, my first one disappears. ???]

    Such an excellent point, Tina. Writing YA isn’t about getting inside the heads of teens today, about keeping up with their slang and trends and likes/dislikes, because frankly that’s never gonna happen. It is about remembering your own experiences as a teen and translating them into a universal story in a contemporary (or historical or fantasy) setting. Anyone who ever was a teen can write YA. (But reading TeenVogue, CosmoGirl, and Seventeen can’t hurt!)

    TLC (fellow BuzzGirl)

  8. That’s easy. He was a train robber at Knotts Berry Farm, I was in high school and there one Friday night with a friend. We rode the train all evening. I ended up so sick from the eternal circle, but he asked me out. :}


  9. Hey! First off….this book was so amazing! Props to you! I have actually found girly books I enjoy! I seriously never thought I’d read a book titled ‘Top Ten Uses For An Unworn Prom Dress’ or ‘How to Hook A hottie’! But they really do seem like the diary of a teenager.

    Ok so I’m supposed to right how I’ve hooked a hottie?

    Haha…well first I had exchange phone number-scary! TOld him a group of people were going to the movies and I’d call him about it. He asked me for mine too-sah weet! (It led to random texts to see how he did in his games) Then I became activity coordinator of my group. I planned skate night intentionally to ask him to hold my hand on the couple skate. After that we just invited eachother everywhere. Eventually I (yes me) asked him out! And it was a yes 😀

    Haha hope that’s how this blog thing works! And good luck on your next book! I can NOT wait until it comes oout!!!!!!

  10. I realized I wanted to write YA when I re-fell in love with teen movies and “Buffy”. It is fun to go back, and look at it with new eyes.

    How did I hook my hottie? I don’t think a train could have stopped us from getting together. We sort of just knew. Just the basic flirting rituals were all the was required.

  11. Wow, these are great ladies!

    Ashton, I may make you my social coordinator too 😉

  12. how i hooked my hottie..well, he lived far away from me so i started writing(we talking in the pre-mail times here).and then..one day he writed me back and we kept on writing!!
    We are very close close friends now..and he IS a hottie!
    Great giveaway!


  13. I used to really enjoy writing YA but somehow I got away from it. I think all you really have to do is be able to remember what it was like. As you mentioned, its always good to check modern day details but most teenagers feel the same no matter what year it is. Your comments were funny and appreciated.

  14. Wow, that is great advice! Well, I hooked my highschool hottie by becoming good friends with his sister. It worked because once while I was staying the night with his sis…. he kissed me. Ahhh… you know the Princess DIaries foot popping kiss? That was the one. 😉

    Oh the good old days.

  15. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Tina. It’s really interesting to see the inspiration and love for stories comes from. Great post!

  16. Thanks for sharing Tina! It must be fun and surreal to relive in a way those years that are, shall we say… far behind us? LOL

    It sounds like you’re having fun though and that’s the best part of doing what we love. 🙂

  17. i kinda really too shy to do anything… 😦 but yeah, i’ll read your book cuz it sounds awesome 🙂

  18. Yay Tina!! I’m so glad writers like yourself decide to write for the YA, and your niece is 100% correct in saying that you understand how teenagers think. It was interesting to hear (read) how you write, I get so carried away when i am reading that I forget most YA authors are YA at all, you do a great job of tapping into the teenage mind set!!!

    how have i tried to hook my hottie???

    well, the hottie i am madly in like with is oblivious to my flirty anticks, (aren’t all boys?) so i am sarcastically funny and touchy-feely whenever i can be…and whenever he notices something about me…i squeal with triumph in my head!

  19. I’m so happy to see so many people stopping by to comment. (TLC – we’re so happy to see you and your fellow Buzz Girls, you can re-post all you want . . . although I’m sorry to hear that WordPress gave you such a hard time. I call it swear-word-press because it can be so aggravating!) I think it’s great that you’re all sharing stories of how you hooked your hotties. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week will bring!

  20. Thank you to the bloggers here at Purple Hearts for inviting me to join you. And to all of you who have left comments already! Wow! And apologies if my response here is a bit late, but I was out at a birthday brunch for a good friend!

    More in just a moment…

  21. Thanks to my writer buddies, Kelly Parra, Steph Hale, Tera Lynn Childs and Janie Emaus, for dropping by and supporting me not only here, but in so many aspects of my life!

  22. Bria, I agree that ignoring can be a very effective way of “hooking a hottie.”

    Linda, LOL about the Knott’s bank robbers. My brother (who I mentioned in my blog) was scared to death of those guys as a little kid…but I remember when I was older thinking they were pretty hot, too!

    Ashton, it sounds to me like you’ve got the hooking hottie thing DOWN already, like I could learn something from you!

    Gwen, that’s sweet that you had love at first sight!

    PrincessM, it sounds like you used one of the techniques I talk about in my book. 😉 Good for you!

    More in a moment…

  23. Thanks for joining us, AJ, and I hope you’ve found your niche with your writing.

    Wow, MJ, loved your hottie story…and if you ever pick up Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, you might find a similar theme…

    Thanks for your comments, Kaige & Diana, and yeah, writing YA is a blast.

    Rachael, nothing wrong with being shy…like Bria wrote earlier, sometimes doing nothing is effective, too. Hope you enjoy the book!

    Chantelle, I’m glad you think I’ve got a good handle on the YA mindset! Working on my books is often the highlight of my day!


    I’m glad you enjoyed my comment 🙂

    It took 3 trips to moonlight rollerway, 2 trips to the movies, 2 volleyball games and a tournament, and a quinceanera to finish it off. It’s amazing how much effort I put in-and it was all worth it 🙂

    In addition to hooking my hottie…I had tons of fun hanging out with my friends and enjoying so many different activities!!!

  25. My 14 year old daughter is after me to write YA – after reading what you wrote about it, it sounds like fun!

    How I hooked a hottie: It was a slow night at the teen center – very few eligible guys. A friend dared me to talk to one guy sitting by himself in a corner, never thinking I’d do it. As we were leaving, I went up to him and told him I was talking to him on a dare and could I have his number to prove to my friends that I did. Sucess…until a few dates later when I found out there was a reason he was sitting by himself. 😛

  26. Ashton, it sounds like you worked out the perfect equation, hooking a hottie while having fun with friends.

    Delia–LOL–love that story! Thanks!

  27. Excellent post, Tina. I love returning to my teenage self when I write my YA stories. It’s great fun remembering things that happened to me and then allowing my heroine to handle them in ways that never would have occurred to me back then *lol*

    As to hooking a hottie…I found mine in student government. He was the *mayor* of the student council and I was the secretary. Hooray for long debates!

  28. Deb, yes, part of the joy of writing YA is making different (and better) choices. When I was writing Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, I knew I had a story to tell when my character got in the face of guy-who-dumped-her-just-before-prom. Back then, I would have just acted all hurt and kept walking and never confronted him.

    And the mayor, huh? Cool!

  29. Tina,
    I love your books. I hooked my hottie after we’d been friends for a while. He came to visit (as friends) and we hung out and had a great time together. I kept being “the fun girl” and was there when his other girlfriends weren’t. I also think I can write YA because I WAS a teenager and it was such a fun time in my life!
    Simone Elkeles
    YA author

  30. Hey, Simone, I love your books, too! 🙂 And you know, I hooked my hottie the same way…by being the most “fun” of the girls he hung out with…

  31. Tina! How awesome to see you again, and how totally awsome that How To Hook A Hottie is out! Girl, you must put me on your mailing list!

    I hooked a hottie at the beach — and not because of my bikini. I helped him take care of his younger siblings – when I wasn’t drooling over him. That boy had the darkest hair and the bluest eyes! Sigh.

    Thanks for the great post, and the encouragement to try writing YA!

    La Vida Vampire, April 2008

  32. Hey, Nancy, so good to see you here!!! I’m not coordinating the Daphne anymore…got too busy!

    Congrats on the book coming out, and loved your hottie story!


  33. hi Tina
    I’m glad to hear you can still be married mom of two, light years away from high school and out of touch with the current street slang or technology, and write YA. I’ve been playing around with it in my head and you’ve given me a push to get it out onto the paper.
    Thanks for joining us at Purple Hearts- you’ve motivated many others here already this week! We’re honored to have you!

  34. Wow, thank you, Meg! And yeah, start writing your story down. What do you have to lose???

  35. […] you haven’t checked out her guest post, you can see it HERE and enter to win your own […]

  36. Glad you found your niche, Tina. To answer the question – I did nothing but be myself. It’s the only way, in my opinion, if you’re looking for something long-term.

    I included it in my blog post at my book review/contest blog – A Book Blogger’s Diary

    Hope that’s ok with you. Thanks!

  37. I lost a lot of weight, regained confidence and cared about what I looked like! Then, I found out that if a guy only notices you after all of these things, he usually isn’t worth keeping! Thanks,Cindi

  38. […] you haven’t checked out her guest post, you can see it HERE and enter join the fun to win your own […]

  39. Um, I don’t think I ever hooked a hottie – I was completely too shy in high school! I guess all I did was tried to ignore him…

    Would love to read this book though!

  40. Welcome Kierra – I can tell you I never hooked a hottie in High School – I was a ‘come into her own in college’ type of girl, and STILL shy to this day!

  41. Callmebookworm, thanks for your thoughts, and yes, not to give a thing away about the book, but suffice to say, I agree with you!

    Cindy, yep, looking and feeling good are great self-motivators and attention-getters!

    And Kierra and BPhearts, as you can see from these posts, there are many who have waited and tried the ignoring route, as well!

    Thanks, all!

  42. Not sure what I did, but I DID hook a hottie husband! 🙂
    dansan826 at yahoo.com

  43. […] Tina’s Guest Blog out HERE and her author’s website […]

  44. […] ABC’s by Tina Ferraro was another super-easy pick. I already pre-ordered my book a while ago. Tina was amazingly gracious to us when I was over at Purple Hearts. I emailed her basically out of the blue with a “Hello Stranger who answered my fan email” email and asked if she’d be willing to guest blog at PHearts. She not only said yes, but did an amazing blog and contest give-away. She’s the type of author you want to succeed – talented, fun and nice. So, like I said, another easy pick. Check out her great post on PHearts Why YA? […]

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