Educator & Discussion Guides from the Sweet Sixteens

Whether you’re a teacher looking for curriculum connections or a book club organizer looking for a new selection with ready-made discussion questions, we have the resources for you! The links below provide direct, free (!!!) access to educator’s guides and discussion questions for a variety of middle grade and young adult titles, all published in 2016.

Middle Grade:

 BFF Bucket List

The BFF Bucket List by Dee Romito

 

 

 

COUNTING THYME

 

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin

 

 

 

THE DISTANCE TO HOME

 

The Distance to Home by Jenn Bishop

 

 

 

Bounders_cvr_LR-2tundra-trials

 

Earth Force Rising (Bounders 1), The Tundra Trials (Bounders 2) by Monica Tesler

 

 

 

Victoria J Coe (FENWAY AND HATTIE)

 

Fenway and Hattie by Victoria J. Coe

 

 

 

Finding Perfect Cover

 

Finding Perfect by Elly Swartz

 

 

 

from-the-grave-monster-trilogy-1

 

From The Grave by Cynthia Reeg

 

 

 

Howard Wallace

 

Howard Wallace, P.I. by Casey Lyall

 

 

 

I-AM-DRUMS-R4

 

I Am Drums by Mike Grosso

 

 

 

Last Cherry Blossom_cover (1) (1) (2)

 

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

 

 

 

Last-Fifth-Grade

 

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan

 

 

 

PBJ Society

 

The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society by Janet Sumner Johnson

 

 

 

WAR

 

The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez by Robin Yardi

 

 

 

momotaro

 

Momotaro: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters by Margaret Dilloway

 

 

 

motleyedhighres

 

Motley Education by S.A. Larsen

 

 

 

Lois Sepahban (PAPER WISHES)

 

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

 

 

 

RAT PRINCE

 

The Rat Prince by Bridget Hodder

 

 

 

CHARLIE PRICE

 

The Remarkable Journey of Charlie Price by Jennifer Maschari

 

 

 

 

Young Adult:

DIG TOO DEEP

 

Dig Too Deep by Amy Allgeyer [second page]

 

 

 

mY KIND OF CRAZY

 

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

 

 

 

Phantom Limbs

 

Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

 

 

 

Underwater

 

Underwater: A Novel by Marisa Reichardt

 

 

 

THE WAY I USED TO BE

 

The Way I Used To Be by Amber Smith

Thank the Admins!

“Thank the Admins” is an end-of-2016 feature that provides a shout-out to the core group of sixteen authors who have been the tireless engine behind making The Sweet Sixteens a cohesive debut group. They’ve been the brilliant minds behind ARC tours, Sweet Sixteen logo & web design, Facebook posts, Twitter love and so much more.  We hope you’ll take a moment to extend your gratitude and give these peeps a virtual high five.

Randi Pink

Into White

Randi PinkYour role as admin: Calendar Coordinator

What’s up next:  Conferences, speaking engagements, and most of all, writing.

Thing you learned in your debut year: “The most gratifying aspect of being a debut author is lifting up other authors and aspiring authors. It’s easy to get lost in the chaos of book launch, but focusing my energy on cultivating someone else’s creative energy has helped me to become a stronger artist and human being.”

 

Marieke Nijkamp

marieke_1nytcoverMarieke NijkampYour role as admin: Website and blog administrator.

What’s up next:  Marieke is busy with stories for anthologies and another contemporary YA. And in between, a fantasy story to play with!! So excited for more words from this talented author!

Thing you learned in your debut year: “The book community — readers, writers, publishing folk — is a wonderfully amazing place to be.”

 

The Debut Club: An interview with Stephanie Scott, author of ALTERATIONS

Swanky Seventeen Rebecca Barrow recently interviewed Stephanie Scott, author of the YA contemporary novel Alterations, published by Bloomsbury Spark on December 6, 2016.

About the Author

Stephanie Scott

Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult stories about teens who put their passions first. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about TV and all things books on Twitter and Instagram, and online at stephaniescott.net. Alterations is her first book.

 

 

 About Alterations

steph scott alterations coverIf anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they’d think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn’t know that all the plans she’s made for them are just dreams, and that she’s the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.

When Amelia’s abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can’t imagine leaving Miami–and Ethan–for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan’s awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.

As Liam and Amelia get closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The “new and improved” Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she’d have to make.

Alterations is available in ebook format at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

 

The Interview

Rebecca: Alterations is loosely based on the Audrey Hepburn film Sabrina.  What made you decide to use a film as your inspiration, and how much did you play with the plot?

Stephanie: Great question! I’ve always loved the movie starting with the 1990s version with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond. The Audrey Hepburn original has incredible fashion but some real cringe-worthy moments for a modern audience. When I was looking for my next project, I believe the idea I stumbled into an online conversation about which classic movies would make good book adaptations. While writing, I got hung up at times trying to mirror elements of the original story. What I ended up focusing on were the elements that make the movie appealing–the romance, the idea of reinvention, and a glamorous world for someone not used to glamour. I also added in a heavy dose of my own interests in reality shows, Project Runway, and Instagram.

Rebecca: What do you love about writing for teen readers?

Stephanie: The enthusiasm! I’ve gone to lots of reader events and book signings and that’s my favorite part–seeing readers get excited about stories and characters. The art and creativity that comes from book fandoms is also a lot of fun. I have favorites tagged on Etsy and sites like Society6 of book merch created by fans.

 Rebecca: I know you’re a big proponent of Instagram for authors (your feed is excellent and so pretty!) – why do you love it so much? And can you give us one tip for getting started on IG?

Stephanie: Thanks! It’s been a year since I discovered Instagram as more than a place to dump random pictures with some funky filters. I found the lively bookstagrammer community and started following accounts. On breaks at work I’d scroll through pretty book pictures for five or ten minutes at a time. I joined a monthly photo prompt challenge and didn’t miss a day last December, so the practice helped me get used to using it. Even Christmas Day I arranged my aunt’s holiday cookbooks and some cookies for a pic (my family joined in helping). One tip to get started: pick three things you like and make that your focus for your account. It could be books, coffee, and your dog. Or family, hiking, and healthy living. Try focusing your photos on a few things so the feed isn’t entirely random. Bonus tip: take pics in natural light and use Instagram’s edit features to adjust brightness and contrast.

Rebecca: You’re involved in a lot of contests—what do you think are the benefits of being involved in things like #PitchWars, both on the mentor and mentee sides?

Stephanie: The community aspect to writing contests cannot be understated. I found my agent through a blog pitch contest and my early critiques all came from writers I knew from blogs and twitter. There are more options than ever for writers to publish, and the choices can be overwhelming. Predatory scammers urge writers to hand over hundreds and thousands of dollars for publishing promises too good to be true. Being connected to a writer community can save you that pain. There’s a ton of information out there and groups of writers seeking similar goals can watch out for each other.

 

Lightning Round

Do you prefer to write in silence or with music?

I used to be a huge music nerd, but I tend to get most of my writing done in silence. I have a few music mixes on Spotify I’ll cue up if needed.

Ebook or physical copy?

Both! Ebooks are easy and super portable. I can start reading on my ereader and the same app on my phone will save my place. Technology is awesome.

Writing beverage of choice?

Herbal tea

One author who inspires you?

Recently: Taherah Mafi. She was a guest on Seth Meyers’ late night show and it was so cool to see a writer from the YA community on TV. Her books are great and she has incredible style.

First book you remember reading by yourself?

The Berenstain Bears

Favorite way to celebrate finishing a draft?

Reading a few books in a binge or investing time into a video game (the Fallout series is my fave! And a total time suck).

 


About the Interviewer

rebeccabarrowauthorphotoRebecca Barrow writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in the fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read. Find her on Twitter at @RebeccaKBarrow.

Her debut novel, You Don’t Know Me But I Know You, will be published by HarperTeen in August 2017.  About the book: Nothing makes Audrey Spencer happier than turning her world into art—seeing her family, her best friend, and the boy she loves through her camera lens. But when Audrey realizes that she’s pregnant, she feels a tightly sealed box in her heart crack open, spilling her dormant fears and unanswered questions all over the life she loves.

 

 

 

 

The Debut Club: An interview with Erica M. Chapman, author of TEACH ME TO FORGET

Swanky Seventeen Kelly deVos recently interviewed Sweet Sixteen Erica Chapman, author of the YA contemporary novel Teach Me to Forget, published by Merit Press on December 2, 2016.

About the Author

erica_chapmanErica M. Chapman writes dark, emotional YA novels with a burst of humor, and lighter contemporaries with smart-ass protagonists. Her first novel, Teach Me to Forget, was published by Merit Press in December 2016. She’s a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and The Sweet Sixteens, and a lifetime Lions and Michigan football fan who loves alternative music. She loves to tweet and watch various CW and Freeform shows while typing her next story on a MacBook in a Detroit Lions Snuggie. Her writing is represented by the lovely Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis.

Find her online at ericamchapman.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

About Teach Me to Forget

Teach me to Forget_BG cvr.inddEllery’s bought the gun, made arrangements for her funeral, and even picked the day. A Wednesday. Everything has fallen into place.

Now all she has to do is die.

When her plans go awry and the gun she was going to kill herself with breaks, she does the one thing she has control over–return it and get a new one. After tormenting the crusty customer service associate by trying to return the gun with the wrong receipt, Ellery gets caught by the security guard who also happens to be someone she knows–the annoyingly perfect Colter Sawyer from her English class.

Colter quickly uncovers what she’s hiding and is determined to change her mind. After confessing a closely held secret of his own, he promises not to tell hers. Ellery tries to fight her attraction to him as the shadows of her past cling tight around her, but when she’s faced with another tragedy, she must decide whether her love for one boy is more important than a lifetime of pain.

Teach Me to Forget is available at amazon, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.

 

The Interview

Kelly: Teach Me to Forget follows Ellery, a teen girl with a lot of pain in her past, as she struggles with her plan to commit suicide. What inspired you to write this story?

Erica: I lost my dad to suicide when I was 16. I was too young to really understand the impact that experience would have on my life. But one question plagued me, as I got older. Why? I wanted to know why he would do it, why he felt there were no other options. So I sat down and I poured all my whys into Ellery and Teach Me to Forget was born.

Kelly: So, reading the book, I was pretty much bawling by page six. How did you manage your emotions while writing?

Erica: Aww, well, I bawled too. I would say I did a pretty crappy job managing them in the first draft. I listened to songs on repeat and just wrote and wrote. I don’t try to manage my emotions on a first draft, it’s on the revisions that I pull it together.  I think a first draft needs those emotions for it to be its most authentic. I think it’s a great disservice to your writing if you don’t tap into that emotional pit in your soul. It’s harder but the end result is more realistic and authentic.

Kelly: Even as Ellery is dealing with a lot of internal turmoil, she finds herself fighting an emotional and physical attraction to classmate, Colter Sawyer. As a writer, was it difficult to combine romantic elements with the exploration of mental health issues?

Erica: At times, yes. Ellery isn’t someone who is looking to fall in love; she wants everyone to just let her be until she can go through with her plan. She and Colter’s burgeoning romance only works because he has a savior complex. They both find what they’re missing in each other, at least at the time. She needs a safe haven from her pain until she can kill herself and when she is with him it subsides which allows her to fall for him. He needs to feel needed which she provides. Wow, this was a hard question to answer!

Kelly: One of the things that really interested me was the relationship Ellery has with her parents. Her mother, for example, means well and is trying to be supportive, but also seems unaware how serious her daughter’s problems really are. What made you take that approach when writing the mother/daughter relationship?

Erica: For this story to work her mom had to be unaware of how deep Ellery’s pain went. I drew from my own experience. My mom never knew everything about me. I hid a lot and was very good at it and so is Ellery. I also think her mom rationalized her daughter’s behavior because she didn’t want to admit that any of what happened in Ellery’s past was her fault. I think deep down Ellery wanted her mom to find out about her plan. As for her dad, that was a tough one, but after a tragedy like theirs a lot was going to change in all of their lives.

Kelly: The need for YA to deal realistically and helpfully with teen mental health issues is becoming a hot button topic in publishing. What message do you want teen readers to take away from your book?

Erica: I would say, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get rid of your pain and that your feelings are valid. Hope is attainable with help.

Depression and suicide are not easy things to talk about, but they need to be because they’re REAL. Until we approach these matters thoughtfully and without fear and prejudice, suicide will continue to happen. We have to get rid of the stigma that because we have an “invisible illness” (let’s be honest it’s not invisible, it hurts physically too) that makes it somehow less important than the physical ones, that shame somehow comes along with mental illness. I have a therapist and I’ve had medication. There’s nothing wrong with getting medicine when you’re sick. We must accept each other for who we are and let go of who we want each other to be.

It’s okay to not be okay.

Kelly: Teach Me to Forget, which released on 12/02, is one of the last of the YA debuts this year. Was it hard to wait patiently all year? Any great advice for future debut writers?

Erica: Yes! I said to myself so many times, is it here yet? I really enjoyed watching the journey of my fellow Sweet Sixteens though, so many wonderful successes!

My advice to other debut authors would be to remember that so much is out of your control. Concentrate on what you can control. Experiment with different types of marketing ideas. I’ve been having fun with trying out promoted Facebook posts, tweets, pre-order campaigns (all advertising spending was under $200). I would say to memorize your blurb; it will make it easier for in-person appearances. So many people ask me “what’s your book about?” and sometimes I got flustered because I know what my book is about but condensing it wasn’t as easy. Have a media kit (Author Photo, Press Release, Cover Image, Bio) so you can send it when asked. Make friends and plan events with authors in your area. It’s a lot more fun to do appearances with friends.  Definitely stay positive and ride the wave.

 

Lightening Round:

What’s your go-to comfort food?

Oh, Chips. I LOVE potato chips. I could eat a bag a day if I let myself! My favorite flavor is Hickory BBQ, but I also like Cheddar and Sour Cream. Oh and Cheese balls. I wish Planters still made them…

Where is your favorite spot to read or write?

I love to write in my recliner, but I get distracted easily. I’m moving in a couple months and I plan on getting a desk which I hope will become my favorite place to write ;o)

Do you have any routines or good luck charms that are essential when you write?

I only write to music. I feel like the notes really allow me to write my best. I usually pick a few songs and I play them on repeat! I typically write at night too.

What was on your playlist while writing Teach Me to Forget?

I shared the entire playlist on the blog I used to contribute to, All The Write Notes. You can find the playlist here.

Which do you prefer: a sunny day or rainy night?

Well, I love both but I think I like a sunny day just a little more. Nothing better than the sun’s rays on your skin.

 


About the Interviewer

Photo credit: Babak

Photo credit: Babak

A third generation native Arizonan, Kelly deVos can tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cactus, cattle and climate. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, will be published in August 2017 by Harlequin Teen and her work has been featured in Normal Noise and 202 Magazine. Find her online at insanity.today

 

 

The Debut Club: An interview with Janet McNally, author of GIRLS IN THE MOON

Swanky Seventeen Carlie Sorosiak recently interviewed Janet McNally about her debut novel, a contemporary YA just published by HarperTeen.

About the Author: 

Janet McNallyThough her family is not rock and roll royalty, Janet McNally has always liked boys in bands. (She even married one.) She has an MFA from the University of Notre Dame, and her stories and poems have been published widely in magazines. She has twice been a fiction fellow with the New York Foundation for the Arts. Janet lives in Buffalo with her husband and three little girls, in a house full of records and books, and teaches creative writing at Canisius College. Girls in the Moon is her first novel, but she’s also the author of a prizewinning collection of poems, Some Girls.

Find her online at janetmmcnally.com or on Twitter or on Facebook.

 

About GIRLS IN THE MOON:

Girls_in_the_Moon_Crop jpegEveryone in Phoebe Ferris’s life tells a different version of the truth. Her mother, Meg, ex–rock star and professional question evader, shares only the end of the story—the post-fame calm that Phoebe’s always known. Her sister, Luna, indie-rock darling of Brooklyn, preaches a stormy truth of her own making, selectively ignoring the facts she doesn’t like. And her father, Kieran, the cofounder of Meg’s beloved band, hasn’t said anything at all since he stopped calling three years ago.

But Phoebe, a budding poet in search of an identity to call her own, is tired of half-truths and vague explanations. When she visits Luna in New York, she’s determined to find out how she fits in to this family of storytellers, and to maybe even continue her own tale—the one with the musician boy she’s been secretly writing for months. Told in alternating chapters, Phoebe’s first adventure flows as the story of Meg and Kieran’s romance ebbs, leaving behind only a time-worn, precious pearl of truth about her family’s past—and leaving Phoebe to take a leap into her own unknown future.

 GIRLS IN THE MOON is available at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and IndieBound.
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Thank the Admins!

“Thank the Admins” is an end-of-2016 feature that provides a shout-out to the core group of sixteen authors who have been the tireless engine behind making The Sweet Sixteens a cohesive debut group. They’ve been the brilliant minds behind ARC tours, Sweet Sixteen logo & web design, Facebook posts, Twitter love and so much more.  We hope you’ll take a moment to extend your gratitude and give these peeps a virtual high five.

Dee Romito

BFFcapturedeedee-romitoYour role as admin: You know those awesome printable calendars that show all the Sweet Sixteen releases? Welp, thank Dee Romito. She helped with that admin role, as well as creating all the gorgeous and informative middle grade flyers. And that’s not all! She was part of our Sweet Sixteen Twitter Team, making sure to shout about all the awesome debut book news!

What’s up next: Dee had a ton of fun writing a book called BEST.NIGHT.EVER. with six other authors–told from seven different, but intersecting perspectives.

Her next middle grade novel, NO PLACE LIKE HOME, is about a girl who’s learning what “home” really means. Look for these books from Dee to release in Summer 2017.

Thing you learned in your debut year: “I’ve learned that having a support network as you go on this crazy publishing ride is invaluable. The people I’ve met along the way have been amazing and are so very appreciated!”

Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being HumanJeff Garvin

Your role as admin: Every debut group needs to find its brand and that starts with a website. Jeff Garvin was responsible for creating the Sweet Sixteen logo and designing the web presence we’ve all depended on for the last two years. Jeff also maintained the Author Page so that visitors to the site could see the wide arrange of talented authors debuting in 2016!

What’s up next: Jeff will release another YA contemporary in 2018. Be on the lookout!

Thing you learned in your debut year: “Enjoy the ride and keep writing!”

 

Erin L. Schneider

SUMMER OF SLOANEErin L. Schneider

Your role as admin: What would we do without the admins that shout tweets about all our debut books?! Erin L. Schneider was one of those tireless twitter admins! She also served as the admin for our S16 Goodreads account and acted as our Forum admin. Thank you, Erin!

What’s up next: The paperback of SUMMER OF SLOANE is scheduled for release on May 2, 2017 (it’s already available for pre-order on Amazon!). She’s also busy writing her next book, another standalone YA Contemporary.

Thing you learned in your debut year: “Releasing a debut novel is like planning a wedding: you’ll be overwhelmed trying to do everything, you’ll eventually realize you do need help from others, and things will happen that are out of your control — but when the big day arrives, it will be an amazing experience that leaves you exhilarated, exhausted, and no doubt become one of the best moments of your life!”

The Debut Club: An interview with Jenny Moyer, author of FLASHFALL

Swanky Seventeener Kim Foster recently interviewed Sweet Sixteen Jenny Moyer, author of the YA sci-fi/fantasy novel FLASHFALL, published by Henry Holt/Macmillan on November 15, 2016.

About the Author: 

Jenny MoyerJenny Moyer studied writing at Seattle Pacific University, and has written and voiced national commercial spots. She co-owns Luminary Creative with her filmmaker husband, Jacob. They have lived all over the U.S., and currently call Des Moines home.

She keeps busy with her three boys—who are steadily growing taller than her–and her three pound dog (who stays small, and mostly just sits on her legs while she types.)

One of Jenny’s dreams came true the day Sarah Davies invited her to join her list of talented authors at Greenhouse Literary. Now when she sips lattes at coffee shops and daydreams, she can call it ‘work.’

Find Jenny on her website,  on Twitter,  on Facebook, on Instagram, on YouTube, on Tumblr, and on Pinterest.

 

About FLASHFALL:

flashfall_jkt_loOrion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium―the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

FLASHFALL is available at AmazonPowellsBooks a Million, Barnes and Noble, and IndieBound.
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