Fun Facts

YA author Cyn Balog has been Mandy’s critique partner since 2006, when neither of them even had agents. By the end of 2014, they will have written and published a combined 17 novels.

Mandy’s debut novel PRADA AND PREJUDICE was originally named HOW TO SNAG A DUKE (AND OTHER THINGS I LEARNED IN COLLEGE). Mandy tested out the title on a totally automated instant messaging bot created by fellow YA author Greg Fishbone. The bot did not like the title. She changed it.

PRADA AND PREJUDICE was in its 9th draft when it sold. It took two more drafts to polish it, which means the version owned and read by readers is the 11th draft.

The next book, YOU WISH, hit shelves at draft 2.5 (One round of revisions plus copyedits). Mandy still considers it to be the “easiest” book to write, to date. It’s also her longest, at just over 73,000 words.

Mandy did not title YOU WISH. She’d called it GHOSTS OF BIRTHDAY’S PAST when her agent submitted it. Her editor suggested YOU WISH.

The final wish in YOU WISH was originally different. The day after she sent the manuscript to her editor, her husband brought home a cup of coffee from Starbucks. The paper cup had been printed with whimsical wishes. The final scene is a direct result of that coffee cup.

Most of Mandy’s books are between 50,000 and 60,000 words, slightly on the short side for young adult novels.

In YOU WISH, most of the characters are named after Mandy’s cousins, including Kayla (the protagonist), Janae (the antagonist) and several smaller characters (Nicole, Kelsey, Adam, etc).

Mandy (and her books) have appeared in TIME, USA TODAY, and ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

Mandy wrote a novella for Harlequin’s NASCAR line-up. It released in 2010.

Most of Mandy’s novels take place in or near her hometown of Enumclaw, Washington. Her favorite place to go for a drive (blasting music, of course) is Green River Valley Road, which has appeared in YOU WISH, DANGEROUS BOY, and THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU AND ME. Unlike Mandy, her characters have not had dance parties in the car.

Her novels have been translated and sold in the UK (okay, no translation needed for that one), France, Brazil, Indonesia, Germany and Spain. She has never been to any of these countries, making her books more well-traveled than she is.

RIPPLE takes place in the fictional town of Cedar Cove, Oregon. It is based upon Lincoln City, Oregon, a town Mandy has been to several times.

RIPPLE was originally titled A RIPPLE UPON THE WATER, a quote from The Odyssey. Mandy had written RIPPLE as shorthand to her editor, who thought that was the whole title, and loved it.
She found out later RIPPLE was a brand of cheap wine.
When she first wrote RIPPLE, the character’s physical descriptions were completely different. Among the changes? Lexi was platinum blonde. She loved the cover so much she later changed her descriptions to match the cover.

Months later, she connected with the male model for Ripple (“Cole”) online and had lunch with him. It still ranks as one of her most surreal experiences as an author.

In DANGEROUS BOY, the main character grew upon a Dairy Farm. Mandy had wanted to write a “farmer’s daughter” as a protagonist for years, because she also grew upon a dairy. DANGEROUS BOY was the first time she could make it work.

Like her protagonist, she once ran for King-Pierce County Dairy Princess.

Frankie’s Pizza appears in DANGEROUS BOY, in part because Mandy wrote much of the novel in the adjacent Martini Bar. (Her Characters, however, were not old enough to enter said Martini Bar.)

Mandy attended Running Start in high school, meaning she attended her local community college at 16 years old. She still remembers her high school counselor cautioning her, “The teachers won’t know you’re in high school. They’ll treat you just like anyone else.” That conversation is where THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU AND ME was born.... she just didn’t know it at the time.

For research purposes, Mandy has called multiple police departments and high school offices.

Mandy is both an author and a literary agent. Almost all of her editors have also been authors-- Brian Farrey, Lexa Hillyer, and Jocelyn Davies.