Last May 17th, 2013, I had the pleasure of attending the Young Adult Summer Lovin’ Book Tour at Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in Redondo Beach (my favorite bookstore ever!)
I got to see Simon & Schuster’s top YA authors interact and got to know more about their works as well as their writing habits.

summer lovin book tour1
Present from left to right, were:

Kimberly Derting (The Body Finder series, The Pledge Trilogy)
Jessi Kirby (Moonglass)
Sarah Ockler (The Book of Broken Hearts)
Morgan Matson (Second Chance Summer)
Shannon Messenger (Keeper of the Lost Cities and Let the Sky Fall)
Suzanne Young (A Want so Wicked, A Need so Beautiful, Just Like Fate and The Program)


The authors started by introducing themselves in a fun sort of way. Each gave three sentences about themselves: One lie and two truths, and the audience had to guess which one was the lie.

And just to up the stakes, they gave away some sweet prizes (literally) of skittles and chocolate kisses.

Actually, they were so nice they ended up giving away the prizes to anyone who simply guessed–whether or not their guesses were correct.

summer lovin book tour throwing


YA Author Suzanne Young throwing a pack of skittles to the audience member with the correct guess

Here are some interesting tidbits I learned about these fabulous YA Authors:

Suzanne Young was a forensics champion in High School

Shannon Messenger once sat in the wrong seat at the Academy Awards, which was actually a lucky event because she got to sit in the front row along with all the nominees.

Morgan Matson was a cheerleader in High School.

Sarah Ockler wore PJ’s to high school throughout her senior year.

Jessi Kirby prizes the bag of chips that her favorite author Sarah Dessen gave her.

Kimberly Derting experienced a drive by shooting at home when she was in the 5th grade.

The audience had fun guessing each author’s lie and listening to the stories behind their truths.

The authors also talked about their books.  Halfway through their introductions, a theme started to emerge. Most of their books not only involved a love story, they also apparently included hot abs and a lovable pet dog.

 the program

The Program

let the sky fall

Let the Sky Fall

second chance summer

Second Chance Summer

the book of broken hearts

The Book of Broken Hearts



the essence

The Essence


Afterward the authors encouraged the audience to ask questions.

The first question had to do with which author inspired them to seek out a writing career.

Suzanne Young was inspired by Stephen King. She started writing murder mysteries when she was young and all of them involved her friends dying.

Shannon Messenger started by writing screenplays. A Cameron Crowe screenplay was what inspired her love for writing, but it was Ella Enchanted which sparked her desire to write a Middle Grade Fantasy.

Morgan Matson also loved Stephen King. She read all his books, along with a variety of YA books which she had discovered along the way. Sarah Dessen is also one of her favorite authors.

Sarah Ockler began her writing career when she was 9. She wrote a story based on ET, which really impressed her teacher. Of course her parents sat her down to explain that she couldn’t publish that story because it had already been done, and she had to come up with her own stories if she wanted to get published. Sarah was also inspired by Stephen King. She discovered him one summer when she was helping with a yard sale aimed at selling her recently passed grandmother’s things. She found her grandmother’s collection of Stephen King novels and began reading them all.

Jessi Kirby wanted to be a writer when she discovered Judy Blume’s books at age 8. She started her writing career at an early age by writing bad poetry about boys who didn’t like her. She began her real writing career on her 30th bday when she first started writing the book that eventually got published.

Kimberly Derting is yet another Stephen King fan. There weren’t a lot of YA books when she was growing up so she devoured her mom’s books, which happened to include a lot of Stephen King novels. She wrote a horror novel after High School and actually got an agent interested, though it never got published. “The Black Tattoo” was the first YA book she ever read and it made her realize that YA was what she wanted to write.

summer lovin book tour audience

 Summer Lovin Book Tour Authors answering audience questions


I asked the authors if they had any writing rituals or quirks, and they gave some pretty interesting answers.

Suzanne Young has to have candy corn while writing. It doesn’t matter if candy corn is in season or not, she would find a way to get some.

Morgan Matson has to have more than one drink while she’s writing. Sometimes she has a cup of coffee, a bottle of water and some juice all spread out on the table. She likes to cover all her bases so she has no excuse to get up and stop writing.

Shannon Messenger’s writing quirk involves music, and depends on the book that she’s writing. When she wrote her first book she couldn’t write without music. When she began her second book, she couldn’t bear to write when there was music. The third book she wrote, she had to listen to just one particular CD to get her started.

Sarah Ockler needs to have coffee and some white cheddar popcorn when she’s writing—which her husband is kind enough to get for her.

Jessi Kirby said she needs caffeine and chocolate when she’s writing.

Kimberly Derting has a drawer full of gumballs which she likes to have while she’s writing, along with lots of tea. She also has a writing outfit—which consists of her writing sweater, and a comfy pair of sweats and uggs.

I had tons of fun listening to the authors and watching them interact with each other and with the audience members.  And the book signing afterwards was a source of joy as well. The authors were all so generous with their time — happily posing for pictures and chatting with fans.

They also gave out  postcards which all of them had signed.

The Summer Lovin Book Tour was definitely one of the best book signings I’ve been to.


summer lovin book tour2 with authors

Me with the wonderful YA Authors of Simon & Schuster

From L-R: Kimberly Derting, Jessie Kirby, Sarah Ockler, Morgan Matson,

Shannon Messenger & Suzanne Young



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22 Responses to “Simon & Schuster’s Young Adult Summer Lovin’ Book Tour”

  1. Hilary says:

    Hi Nutschell .. it does sound as the whole thing was one big laugh .. with lots of interesting and useful writing snippets in between – great to read .. cheers Hilary

  2. Sounds like an awesome event. I’d love to meet Shannon since I’ve followed her blog for years. Wish I lived where things like this happened.

  3. Shelly says:

    Shared this.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  4. Gina says:

    This sounds like a really good event to be a part of!

  5. That’s a lot of talent in one room. And a drawer full of gumballs? Bet she can’t open that one quietly.

  6. Southpaw says:

    Wow! That was a great panel. It’s sounds like it was fun too.

  7. Misha says:

    That looks like so much fun! I wish I could attend events like that.

  8. Awesome–and I loved all the answers for writing routines. (As I munch on gram crackers, sip my water, and rock out to the play list.) Thanks for sharing!

  9. What a fun time you must have had! And it looks like quite an intimate experience, not sitting far back in a huge crowd.

  10. Nas says:

    Sounds like a great panel. And fun too!

  11. Rachel Schieffelbein says:

    Oh this looks like so much fun! What a great time, I’m jealous. :)

  12. Wendy says:

    That is some serious talent! And I’m sure much fun was had :)

  13. Akoss says:

    Thanks so much for sharing. They also came to Tempe AZ but I couldn’t go and was so sad.
    I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. :)

  14. What an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Lexa Cain says:

    What a great gathering of authors. I loved all their secrets — especially about Shannon and the Academy Awards — that’s shocking! Thanks for sharing all the info with us. :-)

  16. Pat Hatt says:

    Looks like a great event indeed and you can’t top such prizes haha

  17. Tonja says:

    Sounds like you had fun!

  18. Suze says:

    This looks like such a nice event, nutschell. Great post!

  19. Julie says:

    This sounds like a wonderful event! Great back stories, and Shannon’s Academy Awards episode was my favorite! I also like that so many of the writers have a sweet tooth!

  20. Emilyann says:

    Wow. What an exciting time. I can relate to the music thing. I loved hearing about the unique writing quirks. When it comes to inspiration, certain music really makes me tick. Thank you for sharing the experience with us.

  21. Wow, that’s a lot of YA authors inspired by The King. 😀

  22. Oh, I LOVED reading your account of this! Almost made me feel like I’d been there (which I wish, wish I had). I always live too far away for awesome events like this!!! *sob*

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