Delving into secrets of teen minds

While choosing books with her daughter seven years ago, Tina Ferraro noticed a lack of upbeat books for the young adult genre.

“I saw a lot of dark options rather than light, fun, sweet stories,” she said. And that’s when she decided to throw her hat into the ring.

Ferraro has since had three books published, the most recent of which, “The ABC’s of Kissing Boys,” will be in bookstores Jan. 13.

The La Crescenta resident comes up with ideas then runs them by her children, who range in age from 15 to 20, and their friends, she said.

Ferraro enjoys writing for young adults because she likes that particular time in life when everything is still ahead of you, she said.

“And I also relate to the pathos of those changing times in a person’s life,” she said.

When she needs a sounding board about how a character would react to a situation, she said she goes to coffee with longtime friend Patricia Mills, a marriage and family therapist who lives in Burbank.

Ferraro takes a lot of care in her writing, Mills said.

“She’s very thorough in her research and how she develops the characters and, in my opinion, she’s very accurate when she portrays characters in age-appropriate developmental situations,” Mills said. “I’m impressed with her ability to convey real life situations.”

Ferraro wrote for romance magazines for 20 years before Delacorte Press, a division of Random House children’s books, published her three books.

Ferraro writes about things middle- and high school-age teens face, and tries to have a moral woven between the lines and not so much in your face, she said.

Her first book, “Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress,” was published in March 2007. The main character is dumped two days before the prom.

Its moral is being true to yourself, she said.

“I had actually seen a book ‘101 Uses for a Bridesmaid Dress,’ and started brainstorming,” she said. Her second book, “How to Hook A Hottie,” published in January, taught the value of money.

“Money can’t buy me love,” she said.

It’s about a 17-year-old girl who wants to start a business right after high school and ignores her parents’ wishes for her to go to college first.

“The main character becomes the school’s matchmaker,” she said. “I liked the idea that a girl had started a business with which she had no experience and she was going to throw herself into something for all the wrong reasons.”

“How to Hook A Hottie” was listed as an American Booksellers Assn. Book Sense Children’s Pick in the spring.

“The ABC’s of Kissing Boys,” is about a girl who doesn’t get promoted from the junior varsity to the varsity soccer team like all her friends.

“She concocts this plan to get on varsity, and it involves a kissing booth at the sports fair and kissing the prom king,” Ferraro said. “But first she has to learn how to kiss.”

Paige Farestveit, a 16-year-old 10th-grader at Crescenta Valley High School, has read all three books, she said.

“She knows teenage girls and their point of view,” Paige said, adding that the third book is her favorite of the three.

“I feel she’s getting better and better with every one because I related to the main character who is a soccer player,” Paige said. “My sister plays soccer, my best friend plays. The main character in the book just feels like one of my best friends.”

Due out in January 2010 is “When Bad Flings Happen to Good Girls.”

The premise came from her daughter’s participation as head of the school robotics team, Ferraro said.

“It’s not my daughter’s story though,” she said. “It’s about staying pink in a blue world. Retaining femininity while hanging out with 50 boys.”

Ferraro is seeing the kind of success she has always wished for, she said.

“It’s surreal because this is what I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling to have accomplished my dream.”

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