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Monday, May 7, 2012

Meet Kim Baccellia - Summer Teen Reading Fest

Today we are officially kicking off the Summer Teen Reading Fest here with the visit of YA novelist, Kim Baccellia. Kim and I are switching blogs today, so after you read this post, hop over to Kim's blog where I am visiting. We are both giving away free books to the lucky winner of the drawing. All you need to do is leave a comment on both blogs to be in both drawings.

                                    Helpless No More 
                      Strong Heroines in YA

It never ceases to amaze me when you mention YA, some people automatically think of the book Twilight by Stephanie MeyerThey think all YA books have what I call the Bella syndrome—a teenage girl that whines about how life means nothing unless she has a guy in her life.  In the second book of the Twilight series, Bella spends most of the book in a depressed funk after Edward leaves. She even tried to jump off a bridge to end her life.  She did all of this because her life meant nothing if she didn’t have Edward.  In other words, life without a boyfriend means you are nothing.
What a bad message for teens out there.
Another heroine had to be Buttercup in The Princess Bride, who besides being annoying, waited for love and kind of gave up toward the end.  It was Westley who saved the day.
Thankfully not all YAs do this.  The teens I’ve spoken to love strong heroines that are happy with themselves with or without a significant other.

In TV one strong heroine has to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer: 

She’s the one who kicks vampire butt and doesn’t mess around with anyone.  Though the TV series came out in 1997, she now has a cult following.  It’s so big that there’s now a comic book series that can expose a whole new generation to her.
I admit I’m more of a Faith fan:

Yes, she’s slightly disturbed but she’s also multilayered with her own vulnerabilities. The last season of Buffy showed this.  And yes, even Faith now has her own spin-off comic book series where she’s the one helping Angel find redemption.

Hermione in the Harry Potter series is another strong protagonist who doesn’t wait for Harry but rather does her own part of standing up to the dark side.

In recent YA novels there’s some great strong heroines:

One great example of this has to be Katniss in Hunger Games.  She’s not only strong but it’s not a guy but rather the love of her family that motivates her. She volunteers to be a tribute for the games so her younger sister won’t have to do it.  There is a love triangle but only later on in this series.
Tamora Pierce’s books alway have very strong heroines.  One of my favorites has to be Beka Cooper:

She’s a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, and she's been assigned to the Lower City to help fight crime.  She’s tough but also has her own vulnerabilities.  Got to love that!
Another outstanding heroine has to be in the recent YA release Grave Mercy:

Ismae flees a brutal arranged marriage and goes to a convent where she’s trained to be an assassin nun.  This is in 1488 when most women didn’t have choices.  An amazing tale.

In my own story Crossed Out, Stephanie doesn’t wait around for someone to help her with her little ability of helping guide the dead to the Otherside.  Even when she does get sidetracked by one hot guy, it’s up to her to stop evil.
With the recent influx of stronger heroines has also come an argument.  If a heroine is strong, will this put the rest of the story in the background? On a Twitter chat the other day, I asked author Robin LaFevers how to keep this from happening. She said, “Make sure and give the heroine vulnerabilities and areas in her life where she isn’t strong and in charge.”  Basically give the character layers.  This is one reason why I love these characters so much.  They’re much more than one dimensional.
Are there any other strong protagonists in recent YAs you can think of?


Kim Baccellia was a bilingual teacher in Los Angeles County for eight years and during that time she didn’t find many books for Latinas that were upbeat or dealt with their heritage.  During the time she wrote this novel, she was learning about her own Mexican heritage and decided to write a novel that was set in a Mesoamerican world.

Kim has also written Crossed Out, a YA paranormal and her YA fantasy No Goddesses Allowed has a tentative release date of Christmas 2011.
A current member of SCBWI, Kim is currently writing the sequel toCrossed Out and a YA multicultural dystopia.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.

She has been a telemarketer, library helper at the university, assistant manager, sales clerk, tutor, and bilingual teacher. Now she's a stay-at-home mom and writer. She grew up in Sacramento, California, the oldest of seven. She earned an elementary teaching degree from Brigham Young University.She loves to read and write! She is the PR & Online Marketing Associate for Month9Books. She is also a reviewer for YABooksCentral.

Kim is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card AND an awesome Swag Bag!!! Swag bag includes a free ebook of your choice, bookmarks, tatoos, a $15 iTunes gift card and a signed copy of one of her books!!! A comment on her blog = 1 entry and a retweet on Twitter or post on Facebook = 2 entries!!! Winners to be selected on June 1 by random drawing.

Blurb from Earrings of Ixtumia

Fifteen-year-old Lupe Hernandez dismisses the legend about her Mexican grandmother's magical earrings as a silly fairytale, despite recurring nightmares of human sacrifice. But when the earrings thrust her into the parallel world of Ixtumea, she must confront the very thing she shuns the most -- her cultural heritage.


“How often do you hear a girl saves the world?” The melodic hush of Abuela’s voice downstairs in the kitchen woke Lupe. Darkness filled her room. She peered over at her alarm clock, six o’clock in the morning.
She pulled her pink blanket over her head and moaned. Oh, here we go again. Couldn’t Abuela let me sleep in? The blanket might cover her, but she couldn’t escape the sounds of her grandmother reciting yet another fable from the mystical land of Ixtumea. She’d been forced to listen to that stupid tale last night. And even worse, downstairs in their kitchen, listening and encouraging were Abuelita’s amigas.
Lupe stumbled out of bed, kicking aside a collection of navy-and-white uniform clothes on the floor. Throwing on a faded flannel robe, she cracked her bedroom door open. The voices grew louder.
“Si, tell us more!” The ting of spoons against the tiny teacups sounded like a battle cry. Didn’t those women know it was way too early? Jeez, no way am I going to sleep. I might as well see if they made some hot chocolate or tea. Maybe then I can stomach this whole nonsense of Ixtumea and Super-Girl before I go to school.
She had long outgrown the silly tales. Though she hated to admit it, the tale of the girl savior fascinated her. Never had she heard of a teen-aged Latina battling evil forces and saving her people, in a world not unlike the land of Lupe’s Mexican ancestors.
No, the only stories of teen heroes she’d heard starred thin beautiful blondes. Everything she wasn’t.
Still, Abuela’s voice cast a spell on her. Lupe knew she shouldn’t eavesdrop on the chismes, but she couldn’t help herself.
She crept down the stairs past the pictures of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Pope John Paul II, and one of the mysterious Mayan gods.
“Ay, too bad she couldn’t have come sooner,” Coco, their next-door neighbor, sighed. “Too many cosas modernas in our world. Now who believes? No one but us.”
Who are they talking about? Lupe wondered.
“Now that’s one story I’d like to hear,” an unfamiliar gravelly voice replied. “Not another pobrecita guera who steals the ranchero’s heart. How many poor blondes from Mexico do you ladies know?”
“You mean real ones or ones that appear with la magica of the bleach?” asked Esperanza, the acknowledged gossip of the apartment building.
Laughter filled the small condo. Lupe couldn’t help but smile. These ladies loved those telenovelas almost as much as Abuela’s tales. She thought it funny her grandmother got on her case about her Anglo pop idols. Maybe the ladies weren’t different from her, after all.
Lupe crouched down and hid behind one of the banisters. Ixchel, the spider goddess, smiled down on her from a painting on the wall. Red gems sparkled from Ixchel’s earlobes, similar to the earrings Lupe’s grandmother had tried to give Lupe last night.
From this position Lupe saw the usual group of amigas sitting around the Formica table, sipping café de leche or manzanilla—chamomile—tea in delicate small cups. Vivid crimson, yellow, and orange housecoats brightened the kitchen. The women sounded like a flock of lively parrots.
Next to the stove, Abuela worked her magic. She pinched off a bit of dough, rolled the soft masa into the size of a golf ball, and flattened the dough between her earth-colored hands. Quickly she threw the pancake-shaped masa onto a sizzling black pan.
The other women helped. Esperanza scrambled eggs, the vivid red housedress she wore fluttering over her round figure. Esperanza’s large gold hoop earrings bounced with every movement.
Coco stood in the far corner, one large embroidered rose peeking out of her simple rebozo. She cut the tortillas into thin strips to mix in with the eggs, chorizo, and cheese. “Oye, espera un momento. Tell me more about this niña who’ll save Ixtumea.”
“Here, let me finish.” The scrape of a metal chair dragged across the wooden floor and one of the women took over cooking the tortillas.
“Ay, where was I?” Lupe’s abuela asked as she settled down in one of the chairs. She wiped her hands on her apron, sealing in the roasted scent of tortillas.
“The prophecy. How does it go, again?”
“Oh, yes.” Abuelita took a deep breath. Then she began.
“She will come,
Descending through the sacred web,
To vanquish the great deceiver.
Many will be her name:
“Cipriana, do we know this niña?”someone asked.
Lupe leaned down closer to the stair, curious to find out if her grandmother would reveal the name of the person. Wouldn’t it be a real hoot if it were someone she knew?
“Let me guess.” Esperanza turned off the stove. “She’s tall, thin, and has blonde hair.”
“You sound as bad as my Lupita. Nadie está contento con su suerte. Always dreaming the other side is better.” Her grandmother let out a deep sigh. “If only she’d listen and take the earrings...”
“So she hasn’t taken them?” Coco asked. “Does she not know how importante they are?”
"You know the young.  Never listen.” Her grandmother let out another sigh.
“If I was her, I’d be dying to use them…wait, maybe, your Lupita is this niña!” Esperanza laughed so hard she snorted. “Wouldn’t that be something?”
Startled at hearing her name, Lupe leaned back against the wall. An old picture of her mother wearing those same earrings shifted above her.
Lupe felt a strange foreboding. The tips of her ears burned. What was wrong with her?
She got up and went back to her room. Quietly she closed the door to block out the voices. A prickly sensation covered her body, along with a sick feeling, maybe Esperanza was right. She thought back to last night and her grandmother’s attempt to give her a pair of earrings, identical to the ones in all the pictures in their apartment. She’d started up again with the legend and refused to let Lupe leave the room. “No, this is muy importante,” she said. She talked about a web between the worlds fraying and the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy was now. How Lupe needed to be prepared.

Now all you need to do to be in the Giveaway is to leave a comment for Kim!

 Happy Summer Reading everyone! Now go on over to Kim's blog to read an interview with Carolyn Samuels, the main character of my YA book, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and grab a chance for another free book!!

Until the next time, I am going to be hosting Helene Prevost here soon. She is the author of Desert Fire another great choice for the Summer Teen Reading Fest.


  1. Hi Kim and Barbara, This summer teen reading fest is a great opportunity to explore more quality YA stories. Kim is the one who introduced me to YA books and I love them! So much more action in them. I gobbled up Crossed Out. I agree a strong heroine is the way to go for YA readers. And Stephanie filled that role perfectly.

    1. Ooh, glad I could have been of help! And thanks for your kind words on CROSSED OUT!

  2. I like the heroine who develops from wimp to strong woman. The story shows the progress and change.

    Carolyn Samuels from If I Could Be is a good example. She changes over the course of the book. I'm interested in how she uses her newly won confidence in a second book (hint, hint).

    My own MC, Kat, evolves throughout my series. While the first book shows her totally dependent on her little brother. By the end of Scotch Broom, she's saving his butt.

    I've got my copy of Earrings of Ixtumea on my Kindle. This Summer Teen Read is a great opportunity with the MuseItUp markdowns to pick up a wide variety of good YA reading.

    1. Yes, I agree. This Summer Read Party has been great for me too. I just read Barbara's book and really enjoyed it. Next week will review a couple more fellow Muse author books!

  3. Enjoyed your post, Kim, and agree with the strong heroines (just saw The Hunger Games), although I have to say both my daughter and I regard Bella as a strong character for all she goes through! Crossed Out sounds great.

  4. Thanks for sharing the excerpt! I always love reading them! Jan Fischer Wade


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