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YASH: Over and Out!


The oh so awesome Spring 2016 YASH has come to an end. 


Thanks to all the new visitors who stopped by and shared their thoughts on summer! I’ll be announcing the winner of my individual giveaway – for a copy of MY BEST EVERYTHING and an summer playlist making I-tunes gift card –  soon…


I’ve also decided to pick a few additional winners to received a copy of the book: Stay tuned!


Happy Reading, Hunters!




I tried a new exercise with my writing class recently. They each wrote a story, with a beginning, middle, and end, showing character change – using only 3 lists. The lists could be seemingly mundane – shopping lists before, during and after a vacation – or more profound – lists of things I wish I could say or do. Any kind of list has the potential to connect with a reader, and make a story more interactive as it requires the reader to fill in the blanks.

I was delighted with the results! It loosened them up, and gave them the freedom to dig a little deeper, to reveal the underlying emotions. And, they were almost completely across the board, both poignant and funny. 

It makes me want to try it, too!

Lists within a story can be extremely powerful and effective. Because they are short, and non-narrative, they demand the reader’s attention in a different way. The white space around the list leaves room for the reader to add his/her own conclusions. When incorporated throughout a story, the evolution of these lists shows character shifts and change. 


  1. Focus
  2. Intensity
  3. Emotional impact
  4. Humor
  5. Voice


survival strategies of the almost brave1. SURVIVAL STRATEGIES OF THE ALMOST BRAVE by (Fellow-Tollboother) Jen White

Billie, the main character of this middle grade novel – an emotionally powerful adventure story – keeps a notebook close by, at all times. She logs her observations about various living creatures, and the world in general. These lists and notes give us a peek into her inner turmoil – and even teach readers about the world. They’re a lovely mix of fact and heart. 

mayday by karen harrington2. MAYDAY by Karen Harrington

This middle grade novel, to be released in May, is the story of Wayne Kovoc, a survivor of a plane crash. He has always loved facts, and shares them with others as a kind of emotional shield. Having lost his voice in the accident, he is unable to share these facts – which leaves him on emotionally unsteady ground. Throughout the novel, he is determined to find his uncle’s memorial flag that disappeared in the crash. He creates Data Reports to track the plane crash investigation and recovery progress – which also, for the reader, tracks Wayne’s own recovery in a subtle and effective way. 

kissingtedcallahan_RGB3. KISSING TED CALLAHAN (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding

This hilarious YA novel is told in alternating viewpoints by Riley, and her best friend, Reid, as they document their victories and mishaps, in pursuit of romance and all that involves. The dual views – female and male – of the same topics are especially humorous and shows their differences, as well as their similarities. We also see their priorities and understandings shift and change as they gain experience – and real feelings – with their various kissing partners. 

weight of a human heart coverTHE WEIGHT OF A HUMAN HEART by Ryan O’Neill

Written for adults, this collection of short stories includes incredibly inventive storytelling. One story uses only lists, charts, and diagrams to reveal the progression of a relationship and marriage. Highly recommended to explore unusual writing conventions. And, with an powerful emotional punch. 

Even if your lists don’t make it into a final draft, I think the process of honing in what exactly you want to say, or what your character is feeling and doing at different parts of your story could add refreshing insights. Humor and voice, too! 

What other books use lists? Are you tempted to give it a try?

~Sarah Tomp

[Cross-posted at Through the Tollbooth]



I absolutely love this map of YA books that take place all over the United States – and not only because MY BEST EVERYTHING is included, representing Virginia! This wonderful image was created and posted by the Los Angeles Public Library .

Pretty gorgeous, eh?


Alabama – Looking for Alaska by John Green

Alaska – My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson

Arizona – Zero by Tom Leveen

Arkansas – Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

California – Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Colorado – Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

Connecticut – Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Delaware – The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Florida – The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Georgia – Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Hawaii – Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Idaho – Divided We Fall by Trent Reedy

Illinois – Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Indiana – All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Iowa – Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Kansas – Blood and Salt by Kim Liggett

Kentucky – My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Louisiana – Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Maine – This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Maryland – Now I’ll Tell You Everything by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Massachusetts – Conversion by Katherine Howe

Michigan – Caged Warrior by Alan Sitomer

Minnesota – Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

Mississippi – Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

Missouri – Feral by Holly Schindler

Montana – The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth

Nebraska – Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

Nevada – Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

New Hampshire – Whippoorwill by Joseph Monninger

New Jersey – Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

New Mexico – Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Saenz

New York – The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds

North Carolina – No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

North Dakota – The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Ohio – Wonders of the Invisible World by Christopher Barzak

Oklahoma – The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Oregon – This Side of Home by Renee Watson

Pennsylvania – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Rhode Island – Spellcaster by Claudia Gray

South Carolina – Beautiful Creatures by Margie Stohl and Kami Garcia

South Dakota – Loki’s Wolves by Kelley Armstrong

Tennessee – The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

Texas – Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Utah – Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

Vermont – Charm and Strange by Stephanie Kuehn

Virginia – My Best Everything by Sarah Tomp

Washington – The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

West Virginia – Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Wisconsin – Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash

Wyoming – Unearthly by Cynthia Hand





The ingredients for moonshine are ordinary. Innocent.

Corn. Sugar. Yeast. Heat and Time. 

They could be the makings for something simple and forgettable. Like corn bread, bland and boring without butter and honey.

But the same ingredients, thrown together in a particular way, lead to dangerous results.

You say it was all meant to be…

There’s a fine line between toxic and intoxicating.