2 Nov 2012

BLOG TOUR: Revenge of a Band Geek Gone Bad

Naomi Rabinowitz has always loved being creative. Raised in Nesconset, NY -- a suburb on Long Island -- she was introduced to the arts at an early age. Her mother, Joyce, is a pianist; her father, Melvin, plays piano and guitar; her grandmother, Esther, was a talented knitter; her late grandfather, Morris, was a violinist; her late great uncle, Sid Robin, was a well-known jazz musician, who penned the lyrics to the popular big band hit, "Undecided."

Naomi's parents, who were both teachers, frequently took her to museums and concerts. During their summers off, her family traveled. By the time she was 15, Naomi had been to several European countries, as well as China, Japan, Israel, Egypt, Russia and Mexico.

Naomi's love for writing emerged when she was in the second grade and her poem, "The Four Seasons," won first prize in a local literary competition. She became interested in journalism in junior high when her English class was selected to write for Newsday's "Kidsday" column. 

She had as much passion for music. Though she began playing piano when she was three, she switched to her "true" instrument, the flute, when she was nine and eventually added tenor sax and clarinet to her list so that she could play in jazz band. She performed in almost every musical group from wind ensemble to orchestra (but never marching band!). In 2008, she released her jazz album FLUTE PATH.
Naomi received a B.A. in English from Binghamton University and an M.A. in magazine journalism from Syracuse University. From 1998-2012, she worked as a reporter/editor for national TV magazine Soap Opera Digest.
These days, Naomi writes, plays jazz flute and designs jewelry for her businesses Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations. She lives in Queens, NY with her husband, Jonathan, and their cat, Maya.

Release date: October 9, 2012
Amazon purchase page: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009NNXUJI
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher – Self Published by Naomi Rabinowitz

Shy, overweight sophomore Melinda Rhodes thinks that her world is falling apart when she loses first chair flute in band to her nemesis -- the beautiful and popular, but nasty Kathy Meadows. Now doomed to sit second chair, Mel is ready to accept the fact that some people just aren't meant to shine.

Her luck changes when she catches the eye of Josh Kowalski, the rebellious trumpet prodigy and class clown. Josh has also been hurt by Kathy and persuades Melinda to team up with him so they can take Kathy down.
At first, the pair's pranks are harmless, and as they work together, Mel comes out of her shell. Even better, she finds herself falling for Josh and it appears as if he might feel the same way about her.

However, their schemes become more and more dangerous and Mel is surprised to discover her dark side. Just how far will she go to get what she wants -- and is Josh really worth the risk?


This year marked my 20th high school reunion. While many of those memories are still quite vivid, my overall teenage experience is a blur colored by both nostalgia and forgotten moments. I may feel like I'm a kid at heart, but the truth is, I'm 38 going on 39 ... and I ain't gettin' any younger.

Which can pose certain challenges when I'm writing YA fiction. Authors need to be able to get into their characters' heads and understand what they're going through, but how do you write relatable teen characters when you're decades older than they are?

In my case, I decided to simply write RELATABLE characters in REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD. Sure, teens come with unique sets of problems: they deal with school, friends, parents and the excitement (and agony) that comes with experiencing many things for the first time. But I felt that if I dwelled too much on my characters' "teen-ness," I'd end up writing them as cartoons.

For starters, I tried to not overuse slang. Most teens whom I know cringe when the adults in their lives attempt to talk like kids -- and slang-infused dialogue can come off sounding just as silly in a book. Sometimes slang defines a character, especially if he or she is going for a certain type of persona, but most of the people whom I know in real life -- young and old -- don't use catch phrases. At most, my teen cousin may pepper her sentences with an occasional, "Sweet!" and that's about it. Also, slang quickly becomes outdated and the idea is to keep your story as timeless as possible (unless, of course, you're writing  a period piece). I recommend letting the dialogue flow naturally. Listen to teens talk to each other in real life. Read your old diary or letters to friends, if you have them on hand. After you write, read your dialogue out loud to see if sounds like something a kid would actually say. If you have kids or know teens, ask for their opinions to see if your characters' speech is realistic.

I also tried to not use too many pop culture references. My male lead, Josh, frequently discusses classic rock bands, like The Ramones and Jethro Tull, but these bands have been around for a long time and Josh was written to be unique in that he likes older music. The problem with writing in the names of many current celebrities or musical groups is that, like slang words, they quickly become outdated. Your teen characters may be in the loop in the year that your book comes out, but they'll be behind the times in five years.

Instead, I focused on problems that I've had as an adult and tried to adjust it to a teen scenario. Most adults have had issues at work where they didn't get along with a colleague or had a tyrannical boss. My 15-year-old narrator, Melinda, has a rival in the flute section and a tyrannical band conductor. Most of us have also been in love and have suffered heartbreak and loss. You can relate to those emotions at ANY age.

For me, the most successful books appeal to younger and older audiences. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE features a teen as the lead character, but the tale itself is ageless. When I recently re-read it, I didn't think of it as a "kid's book." It's simply a memorable read. Same goes for the works of one of my favorite authors Judy Blume, who mainly writes young characters. I still enjoy reading her books because her characters are interesting, sympathetic -- and timeless. Their ages don't really matter to me.

Being a teen is something that everyone will experience or has gone through already. Keeping that in mind, I think that the greatest YA stories are simply that ... great stories.

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