Sarah Ockler

My Writing Process Blog Hop

Last week, the ever-fabulous Kathryn Holmes (follow her on Twitter!) tagged me in her My Writing Process Blog Hop. I'm very fortunate to have met Kathryn through a mutual writer friend (thank you, Ghenet!) last year, when we decided to expand the YA Buccaneers crew and asked Kathryn to join us - and I'm so glad our paths have crossed!

Kathryn is represented by Alyssa Eisner Henkin at Trident Media Group, and I'm so exited to share that her debut Young Adult novel, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND, will be published by HarperTeen in early 2015.

Now it's my turn to share. The blog hop is simple, answer four questions on your own writing process, then tag two new writers to carry on the blog hop.

What am I working on?

Right now I'm drafting a YA Contemporary with an adventurous twist currently titled NAME OF THE GAME. I'm still working out all the details, but I will say it's a cross between that old 80's movie CANNONBALL RUN (yes, the one with Burt Reynolds and Farrah Fawcett) and the current reality TV show, THE AMAZING RACE. I'm having so much fun with this story and can't wait to see where it goes! 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There are so many things I love about Contemporary YA: how real it can be, how emotional it comes across, and how relatable it is (even though it's been YEARS since I was in high school, it just goes to show how, while things do change with the times, they really are just the same).

And so many great authors that have paved the road before me: Jandy Nelson (THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE), Sarah Ockler (TWENTY BOY SUMMER), Courtney Summers (CRACKED UP TO BE), Gayle Forman (IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT).

All of this has helped to shape the way I believe I write:



Humorous. Always

That last one is key. When I look back at tough situations I've had in my life or shared with others, I've always tried to find that glimmer of humor in it all. Because that's how I keep my sanity. That's how I put it all into perspective. When I can finally laugh, that's when I know I'm going to be okay.

Why do I write what I do?

I love all facets of Young Adult -- Contemporary, Fantasy, Dystopian, and yes, I've read my fair share involving a vampire or two (or three hundred, who's counting?). But I always come back to Contemporary. The here and now.

Like many, I stumbled my way through high school -- oh did I stumble. And while I did love my teenage years, I remember it being some of the hardest years I've ever had to deal least so far.

Trying to fit in, trying to please everyone, trying to find my way, trying, trying, trying. As cliché as it might sound, all of that got me to where I am today. And even through the crappy situations, I wouldn't be remotely the person I am now, if I hadn't experienced any of the bad stuff. That's why I love YA Contemporary. And that's why I write it.

How does my writing process work?

I'm typically what's known as a pantser when I write. At least that's how I start out. I love thinking of a great idea and running with it to see where it goes.

Once I have the spark of the idea down, then I go back and plot out the structure for the story - how many stops along the way I'd like to make and ultimately, where I'd like it to end. 

I'm also a big whiteboarder and I have a giant whiteboard right here next to my computer -- of course with multiple colored pens. I'll map things out, take a picture if I like where I'm headed (or erase it if I don't)...then wipe the board clean and start all over again.

Over the years I've been writing, this process has ebbed and flowed with each project I've worked on -- but with my latest manuscript, WHERE THE WATER FALLS, this style of writing really worked for me. It allowed me to still be 100% creative, but also allowed for my inner structure-centered, list-maker/box checker self to also play.

Working full-time, I write whenever and wherever I can. I've spent many late nights writing up until my alarm has gone off for work the next day.

I write on my laptop, in journals I have stashed in my handbag (or in my car, or on my night stand, or, or, or...), via emails I've sent to myself, and even on my note taking app on my phone. Because whenever the inspiration strikes, I can't ignore it.

The My Writing Process blog hop continues...

I've tagged two of my fellow crew members from the YA Buccaneers to share their writing process. Check out their blog hop posts next Monday and learn more about their writing process, along with who they've selected to carry on the torch for the hop!

Kris F. Oliver (follow her on Twitter!) sums up her writing as curious, beautiful, and strange. Kris lives in sunny Sarasota, Florida where she spends an inordinate amount of time either floating around in a kayak or partially submerged in saltwater. She has a pretty good excuse for both thanks to being a Biologist and running an EcoTourism business on the side. 

Kelly Loy Gilbert describes her writing as introspective, character-driven, and voicey. Kelly lives in the SF Bay area with her husband and A-DORABLE daughter, is a huge fan of San Francisco Giants baseball, and is represented by Adriann Ranta of Wolf Literary. Her first novel, CONVICTION, will debut from Disney-Hyperion in 2015. You can find her on Twitter as well!

My Review: BITTERSWEET by Sarah Ockler

BittersweetBittersweet by Sarah Ockler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances... a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life... and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last...

My Review:

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to not only participate in a playful interview with Sarah Ockler (which is posted below), but was also given the chance to read the ARC of her latest release, BITTERSWEET.

Granted, I'm not sure how much (if anything) changed from the ARC to the actual published book, but I'll base my review off what I read with the ARC.

I've been a huge fan of Sarah's - and absolutely loved TWENTY BOY SUMMER. I also thoroughly enjoyed FIXING DELILAH...

But Sarah's third book BITTERSWEET, overall, was just okay for me.

In typical Sarah fashion, she has yet again managed to build a very realistic world around strong characters, dealing with tough subject matters. In BITTERSWEET, our main character Hudson, has her fair share of trials to overcome - this time, dealing with the infidelity of her father and how that, along with his departure for the "other" woman, affects she and her family. Not an easy subject to write about - and I do think Sarah did a great job tackling it.

Throw in cute hockey boys and drool-worthy cupcakes that adorn the beginning of each chapter, the story flowed easily. I loved the relationship between Hudson and her little brother, affectionately named "Bug" - hated how realistic her sometimes overbearing mom could be (which only means she was written well!), and also enjoyed her interaction between the two main boys, Josh and Will. Not to mention, Hudson's friendship with her best friend Dani, had all the layers a teenage friendship should have and was spot on.

All of that said, I'm not exactly sure where BITTERSWEET fell short for me, other than it just didn't have the same impact that TWENTY BOY SUMMER did (see my review here). I still adore Sarah's writing and amazing world building - and I'll always read what she writes. It's just this one, wasn't my favorite.

Net/net, I thought BITTERSWEET was good and worth the read - but if you haven't read TWENTY BOY SUMMER, I'd highly suggest you start there.

View all my reviews

Book Blog Tour: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler - WINNERS!

I've drawn the two lucky winners in my BITTERSWEET book giveaway!

And the lucky winners are:

Lisa (AKA Badass Bookie) and Katy Upperman!

Congratulations to both of you! Lisa, please send me an email ( with your full name and mailing address and I'll get that book off to you right away! And Katy - send my your addy, too - or maybe I should hold the book ransom, so we can finally meet in person? :)  

Anyhow, I can't wait to read this one from Sarah - I hope you both enjoy it (and you'll have to let me know what you think, as well!).

Happy New Year, everyone!

Book Blog Tour: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler

I'm oh, so excited!!! And why you might ask?

I'm the very FIRST stop on the blog tour for Sarah Ockler's newest book, BITTERSWEET, which is being hosted by the fabulous folks over at The {Teen} Book Scene. Sarah's latest and greatest is set to release on Tuesday, January 3rd.

And what better way to celebrate? I'll be giving away TWO copies of BITTERSWEET here on my blog (see below for giveaway details).

And don't forget to check out Goodreads summary of BITTERSWEET:

Hudson can't wait to get out of Watonka, her working-class town outside of Buffalo. Once upon a time, her talent as a skater was going to be her ticket out... but when her parents' marriage unraveled three years ago, so did her dreams.

Now, she buries herself in making cupcakes for her mom's diner and imagining her parallel life where she went on to skate to glory. But when she gets a letter inviting her to audition for a skating scholarship *and* the hockey team asks for her help with their technique (read: free ice time for Hudson), it's impossible to ignore the signs. Is she ready to get back on the ice? Could this be her ticket out?

Hudson's determined not to let anything stand in her way. But between baking and waitressing at the diner, the love triangle that's developing with two outrageously cute hockey boys, and the simmering drama with her best friend, her future is anything but certain...

What's not to love there? I mean, it's got hockey boys...and cupcakes! Hello?

I'm a big fan of Sarah's and enjoyed her first two books (check out my reviews for TWENTY BOY SUMMER and FIXING DELILAH from earlier this year) - and being a part of the blog tour meant I had the chance to ask her a series of questions, which she had to answer with the first thing that came to mind!

Fun, no?

So, without further adieu, the following list of words / short phrases, is what I asked Sarah:

1. Erin (ELS): Revisions
Sarah Ockler (SO): Mining for gems. In a dark cave. With a paintbrush, tweezers, a jackhammer, and a headlamp with a dying battery. Also, there are snakes. And a ticking clock. (Okay, so that was more like the first *10* things that came to mind, but…)

2. ELS: Book titles 
SO: Second impressions.

3. ELS: Measure or wing it? 
SO: Measure. Twice. And then get a second opinion.

4. ELS: Writers block 
SO: A special dedicated prison wing for YA authors gone bad (which is pretty much all of us)!

5. ELS: Social media 
SO: Often antisocial.

6. ELS: Character names 

7. ELS: Literary agent 
SO: Necessary.

8. ELS: Plotter vs. pantser 
SO: Panty-liner (one who outlines, but in a creative, pantsing kind of way)!

9. ELS: Censorship 
SO: Fear mongering.

10. ELS: Being published 
SO: Not the end goal, just a step in a long journey.

11. ELS: Young Adult 
SO: Voices in my head.

12. ELS: High school 
SO: Unending.

13. ELS: Book covers 
SO: First impressions.

14. ELS: Compliments and criticism 
SO: All part of the gig. Don’t be ruled by either!

15. ELS: Story concepts 
SO: Collages.

What fun answers, especially for all of us aspiring writers! A BIG thanks to Sarah for taking the time to do this, especially with the holidays, and I dunno, her release approaching next week!

Please check out everyone else that participated in the blog tour - for more reviews and author interviews with Sarah, head on over to The {Teen} Book Scene. As well, come back soon for my review of BITTERSWEET!

And now on to the giveaway!

General rules to note:

  1. Giveaway is INTERNATIONAL. Note: Giveaway is open to anywhere ships. It is your responsibility to make sure the Book Depository ships to your country (you can find that information here).
  2. Winners must be 13 years or older.
  3. To enter, I only ask that you be (or become) a follower of my blog via Google Friend Connect.
  4. Only ONE entry per person (please don't use alternative email addresses to enter!).
  5. Fill out the Rafflecopter form below, to be officially entered.
  6. Winners will be chosen via on BITTERSWEET's release day, Tuesday, January 3rd - and announced here on my blog.
  7. For old followers, both on Google Connect and Twitter (thank you!), max number of entries is 10. For new followers (welcome!), max number of entries is 8.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To find out more about Sarah Ockler and all of her other great books, please check her out on:




My Review: Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

Fixing DelilahFixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.
She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.

My Review:

I loved Sarah's first novel, TWENTY BOY SUMMER – and immediately dove into FIXING DELILAH, as soon as I'd finished the last page.

The hard-hitting topic this time? Family.

We've all been there before (okay, maybe some of us more than others, but still), dealing with the chaos of related loved ones. This book particularly resonated with me, primarily because it dealt with the relationship between Delilah and her mom, and her mom and her grandmother. On more than one occasion, I felt the sharp pang of familiarity with what was happening between them all - especially when the topic strayed towards her grandmother's depression. A very private and often times alienated subject, depression impacts the lives of so many, yet is often swept under the rug with the hopes it will just go away.

Sarah Ockler definitely has a way with words, along with the ability to weave intense subject matters into an otherwise common story line - and all while not speaking down to the intended audience: the teen reader.

FIXING DELILAH was beautifully written, although I will say TWENTY BOY SUMMER is still my favorite Sarah Ockler read.

View all my reviews

My Review: TWENTY BOY SUMMER by Sarah Ockler

Twenty Boy SummerTwenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary:

"Don’t worry, Anna. I’ll tell her, okay? Just let me think about the best way to do it."
"Promise me? Promise you won’t say anything?"
"Don’t worry.” I laughed. “It’s our secret, right?"

According to Anna’s best friend, Frankie, twenty days in Zanzibar Bay is the perfect opportunity to have a summer fling, and if they meet one boy every day, there’s a pretty good chance Anna will find her first summer romance. Anna lightheartedly agrees to the game, but there’s something she hasn’t told Frankie – she’s already had her romance, and it was with Frankie’s older brother, Matt, just before his tragic death one year ago.

TWENTY BOY SUMMER explores what it truly means to love someone, what it means to grieve, and ultimately, how to make the most of every beautiful moment life has to offer.

My Review:

"Weeping is different from crying. It takes your whole body to weep, and when it's over, you feel like you don't have any bones left to hold you up."