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1. Mary Amato, author of YA novel Get Happy, on divorce–and win a signed copy!

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I’m happy to host Mary Amato, YA author of Get Happy, today–talking about divorce and writing about painful issues. Readers, if you’d like to win a signed copy of Get Happy, please leave a comment on this post. US and Canada only. (I’m two days late on posting this; I’ve been sick. My apologies!) Take it away, Mary!


One of the central issues of Get Happy is how divorce can affect a child. Minerva’s father leaves when she is two, and she struggles with this throughout her childhood and into her teen years.

Divorce can be messy and the adults involved can sometimes fail to understand what the child needs. Minerva feels as if the subject is taboo and so she bottles up her questions and her emotions, which is the opposite of what she needs.

I know that my adult readers are not going to like the way the parents in this book behave. They aren’t good role models by any means. They’re flawed. They’re human.

To me, it’s important to write about all kinds of experiences because life is messy. Books can provide safe places to explore lots of different emotions.


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Author Bio:
Mary Amato is an award-winning children’s book author, songwriter, musician, puppeteer, and poet. She writes for children of all ages, and is beginning to focus on YA. Her first YA novel was Guitar Notes. Mary lives with her family outside Washington, DC, where she also performs regularly, singing and playing her own songs. Mary is a popular speaker and runs numerous workshops for teachers and students, including many on all aspects of creative writing, even songwriting. The author lives in Silver Spring, MD. You can visit her online at thrumsociety.


Readers! Leave a comment below to win a signed copy of Get Happy! (US and Canada only)

And check out the other stops along the tour.

Thursday, October 30, 2014
Reading Nook Reviews: Q&A and giveaway

Fandom Monthly: Giveaway

Rockin Book Reviews: Review and giveaway

Saturday, November 01, 2014
Adventures in YA Publishing: Question

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Children’s Book Review:
Guest Column and giveaway

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2. STAINED is on sale for $1.99 on #Kindle and #Nook until Oct 31st!

If you loved SCARS, I think you’ll enjoy STAINED–and you may want to get it while it’s deeply discounted. Right now STAINED is on sale for both Kindle and Nook for $1.99–until Oct 31st. I hope you grab yourself a copy. :)

In STAINED, Sarah think she knows what fear is–until she’s abducted. Then she must find a way to save herself.

Like I did with SCARS, I drew on my own trauma and healing experience to write STAINED.

I hope you enjoy it! And if you enjoy it, or like this deal, I hope you’ll let others know about it, too. :)

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3. My Anti-Bully Dear Teen Me letter. #OneVoice Against Bullying

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Dear Teen Me,

I know you have no safe place—not at home being abused, and not at school being bullied. You are an easy target: shy, scared, jumping at touch, not looking people in the eyes—the marks of someone who’s been hurt. You’re afraid all the time. You hate yourself instead of your abusers and tormentors. You cut to cope. You think about killing yourself. But you keep hanging in there. You’re stronger than you know.

I know you think you’re weak. All the terrible things that happen to you at home. The way you struggle to stand up to your own bullies. But do you remember that Spring day on the way home from school when those boys were running after a girl with coke-bottle glasses and ill-fitting clothes, hooting and hollering at her, calling her names, throwing things? Do you remember how you ran after them, shouting at them to leave her alone? How angry and protective you felt? And how when the boys turned and saw you they ran away?

Do you remember the look in the girl’s eyes—the surprise and the relief that someone cared enough to stand up for her? Or how you walked her home even though it was out of your way just so she’d stay safe? And how you listened to all the horrible things she’d been through and told her she didn’t deserve any of it? That wasn’t weakness, Cheryl. That was strength. I am so very proud of you for standing up to those boys. For helping that girl find a small pocket of safety.

So what if you couldn’t do that for yourself yet? You were still being abused at home. You had victim tortured into you. But still you stood up for others. And you did it over and over again—with that same girl on other walks home, with a girl being harassed by a drunk man on the streetcar, with another girl being sexually harassed, with children being hit by their parents. You tried to protect other kids and teens the way you needed to have someone protect you. You were brave, even though you didn’t feel like you were.

I know you still feel ashamed for some of the bullying you endured, for the way you couldn’t protect yourself. Like the time you were wearily leaning against your girlfriend’s shoulder on the bus and the driver stopped the bus and told you to separate or you’d have to get off. You argued with him, but he was enraged and in authority, and you were too tired and scared so you pulled away from your girlfriend and sat there, feeling humiliated and ashamed and later angry at yourself, wishing you’d written down his number and reported him. Or like the boys in school who would poke you and then hoot and laugh when you jumped—over and over again. You were so angry and ashamed because you couldn’t stop yourself from jumping, couldn’t fight back. Or like the time that man said that he should have sex with you so you wouldn’t be queer—suggesting rape would “fix” you. You froze when he and the other men laughed, fear gripping you, and it took you long moments to tell them that that wasn’t okay. You still feel ashamed that you didn’t stand up to them more strongly. To all your bullies. But you don’t deserve that shame or the anger you turn on yourself. It belongs to the people who hurt you.

And you know what? You often did stand up for yourself, even though it felt like they won. Sometimes it’s okay to not challenge too hard for your own safety. And the other times? Come on, you were a traumatized, bullied kid. Have more compassion for yourself. Yes, you wish you’d done more. Or that someone else had stood up for you. But it’s time to let that go, and to recognize your own strength.
I know you’re hurting—so badly that you don’t want to be here. That every day feels like another day you can’t endure. But I’m glad you’re here. You have a place in this world. Never forget that. And there are good people, even if you haven’t met many of them yet. Just keep hanging on. You will find more and more people with love in their hearts instead of hate.

I want you to be proud of who you are. You’re a survivor, a strong, gentle soul who doesn’t hurt others even though most others hurt you. You have compassion and kindness for others even though you don’t experience that yourself. And you will put even more goodness into the world with your writing. Yes, you will publish books! So be gentle with yourself. Let yourself love yourself, just a little. Let go of the hate and shame that aren’t yours. And know that things will get better. You will find true friends, kindness, love. You will find hope. And one day you will be glad that you are here, making a difference in the world.

I pledge to speak out against bullying when I see it & try to make a positive difference in this world, always. #OneVoice


I hope you’ll join us all in taking a stand against bullying. Share the #OneVoice hashtag and let’s let people know that bullying has to stop!

The fantastic YA authors who are taking part in the #OneVoice Campaign all this month include:
Oct. 1- Cole Gibsen
Oct. 2- Ellen Hopkins
Oct. 3- Ann Aguirre
Oct. 4-5- weekend/open
Oct.. 6- Anna Banks
Oct. 7- Shannon Lee Alexander
Oct. 8- Julie Cross
Oct. 9- Alyssa Day writing as Lucy Connors
Oct. 10- Jus Accardo
Oct. 11- D.R. Rosensteel
Oct. 12- Sunday/open
Oct. 13- Rebekah Purdy
Oct. 14- Mary Lindsey
Oct. 15- Tracy Clark
Oct. 16- Chantele Sedgwick
Oct.17- Francesca Zappia and Rachel Caine’s post (Rachel in the morning, Francia in the afternoon)
Oct. 18- Lisa Brown Roberts
Oct. 19- Victoria Scott
Oct. 20- Trinity Faegan
Oct. 21- Tiffany Truitt
Oct. 22- Tara Fuller
Oct. 23-Jennifer Bosworth
Oct. 24- Cheryl Rainfield
Oct. 25- Chloe Jacobs
Oct. 26- Sunday/open
Oct. 27- Carrie Jones
Oct. 28- Sarah Bomley
Oct. 29- Sarah Darer Littman
Oct. 30- Tonya Kuper
Oct. 31- Nikki Urang

I hope you’ll check in (you can go back to look at any post), leave comments, and help spread the word!

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4. Why I Won’t Be Buying Books By John Grisham

I love a good suspense book. Maybe because most of my life was so full of terror and pain; I can relate to the threats, and I love it when a good person wins out, and people who hurt others get justice. But I won’t ever buy a John Grisham book.

Why? Because John Grisham said that people who watch and download child porn should not be jailed and that “current sentencing policies failed to draw a distinction between real-world abusers and those who downloaded content, accidentally or otherwise.”

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Wow. Excuse me while I take some deep breaths.

People who watch and download child porn are what drive the child-porn industry. Watching child porn is still exploitation. A child was abused and dehumanized to make that child porn that someone is sitting in their cozy house watching, getting off on. And suggesting that some men might download child porn by “mistake” or while drunk is excusing the behavior. It doesn’t recognize the culture we live in that encourages rape and child exploitation. It’s not thinking about the children that were used to create the child porn, the pain and trauma they endured. It’s severely lacking in compassion for victims, for anyone who isn’t a white male (John’s friend who he was identifying with) and that worries me.

Have I mentioned that my parents made child porn using me and other children, to make money to help fund the cult they belong to? I was regularly raped, forced to engage in sexual acts, and dehumanized in some very humiliating, degrading, sickening scenarios, all while being filmed, for men (and women) who would pay for the video or photos.

It left emotional scars, along with the other abuse and torture I endured, that stay with me today. While I have finally learned to be pretty okay with a camera (especially cell phone cameras that don’t look like traditional cameras), for years I couldn’t bear being photographed or filmed. I still get triggered into traumatic memories every time I have to do a TV interview or too many people ask to take my photo in a short period of time. And the child porn messed up my body image, my comfort with my own sexuality, and left me fearful, mistrusting, and hating my own body and sexuality. It also, along with all the other abuse, left me with many psychological effects, including severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, dissociation, and other effects.

The effects of child porn, abuse, rape, trauma, and exploitation is what I try to help others understand, on a gut and emotional level, through my books. I try to help people understand the severity of the effects, and also that healing is possible. I wish everyone who thought that child abuse or child porn was okay had to experience, just briefly through a good book, what it’s actually like. Perhaps they wouldn’t be so quick to encourage it to happen.

Child porn isn’t okay. Watching it isn’t okay. Making it isn’t okay. And while I don’t think people who watch, download, and/or buy child porn should get a higher sentence than people who create it, I do think there should be consequences. It’s never okay to exploit children (or anyone else). It’s never okay to use and harm others for your own pleasure.

So I will never buy a John Grisham book. I will never recommend his books to any of my friends. And I hope you will think twice about buying his books, or that you will consider donating to an organization that supports survivors, such as RAINN or your local rape crisis center, or an organization that fight child porn and child exploitation. We can make a healing, positive difference in this world. And it starts with compassion.

5 Comments on Why I Won’t Be Buying Books By John Grisham, last added: 10/19/2014
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5. I’m Proud To Be Part of #OneVoice Campaign: An Anti-Bully Project With Entangled, Dear Teen Me, and YA Authors

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So many teens are bullied every year–and it affects their self-confidence, happiness, mental health, and overall wellness. Sometimes it takes lives. I was bullied as a teen, and between the bullying at school and the abuse at home I had no safe place. I wanted to die often. I think we need to keep talking about bullying and keep raising awareness so that people who are bullied get support, compassion, and safety; people who bully can get help to find out why they bully and hopefully stop hurting others; and bullying can end. I hope for a more compassionate world, and I see that happening (slowly).

I think talking about painful issues is part of what helps bring change, so I’m happy to be part of the #OneVoice Campaign through Entangled and Dear Teen Me, where all this month YA authors write a Dear Teen Me letter to their teen selves about the impact bullying had on them. (My post is on Oct 24th.) There are so many fantastic YA authors taking part in this; I hope you’ll drop by EntangledTeen often this month and check out the wise, heartfelt, and powerful posts, and leave a comment for the authors. And if you believe that bullying should stop, please help spread the word using the hashtag #OneVoice.

Here is my pledge against bullying:

I pledge to speak out against bullying when I see it & try to make a positive difference in this world, always. #OneVoice

I hope you’ll join us all in taking a stand against bullying.

The fantastic YA authors who are taking part in the #OneVoice Campaign this month include:
Oct. 1- Cole Gibsen
Oct. 2- Ellen Hopkins
Oct. 3- Ann Aguirre
Oct. 4-5- weekend/open
Oct.. 6- Anna Banks
Oct. 7- Shannon Lee Alexander
Oct. 8- Julie Cross
Oct. 9- Alyssa Day writing as Lucy Connors
Oct. 10- Jus Accardo
Oct. 11- D.R. Rosensteel
Oct. 12- Sunday/open
Oct. 13- Rebekah Purdy
Oct. 14- Mary Lindsey
Oct. 15- Tracy Clark
Oct. 16- Chantele Sedgwick
Oct.17- Francesca Zappia and Rachel Caine’s post (Rachel in the morning, Francia in the afternoon)
Oct. 18- Lisa Brown Roberts
Oct. 19- Victoria Scott
Oct. 20- Trinity Faegan
Oct. 21- Tiffany Truitt
Oct. 22- Tara Fuller
Oct. 23-Jennifer Bosworth
Oct. 24- Cheryl Rainfield
Oct. 25- Chloe Jacobs
Oct. 26- Sunday/open
Oct. 27- Carrie Jones
Oct. 28- Sarah Bomley
Oct. 29- Sarah Darer Littman
Oct. 30- Tonya Kuper
Oct. 31- Nikki Urang

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6. Need a boost in your writing or editing? Check out Holly Lisle’s books and courses.

If you’re looking for some good writing technique books or online courses, I highly recommend Holly Lisle’s books and courses. I have her Create a Character Clinic, Create a Plot Clinic, and How to Write Page-Turning Scenes, and I’m seriously looking at her How to Revise Your Novel online workshop. Her books and courses are easy to understand and relate to, written in a conversational, approachable style, and full of useful information with an understanding of psychology and emotional depth and layers. She has a fresh way of presenting material, and it’s based on her years of experience writing and editing fiction (she has more than 23 novels published). I think I can always learn to make my writing better, deeper, more powerful…so I’m glad when I find more that helps my work. I hope these’ll help you, too!

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7. I love it when my talks on my books move people. My STAINED talk was a success! A post in pictures and words.

I was nervous before my talk on STAINED yesterday at Chapters Scarborough. I’m always nervous before I give a talk! (Part of it is that whole “we’ll-kill-you-if-you-talk” thing my abusers used to tell me, and part of it is that I’m an introvert. I’d rather talk one-to-one with readers.) But being nervous means I practice a lot–and that’s good for my talk.

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So it was lovely to see copies of STAINED on display, next to books by Gayle Foreman (If I Stay), John Green (The Fault In Our Stars), and Holly Black and Cassandra Clare (The Iron Trial). STAINED was in such good company!
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And it was reassuring to find Christie from the teen section of Chapters Scarborough and bibliophiliacs there, who helped organize everything so beautifully–and who came in when it wasn’t even her shift to help out, hear me talk, and buy two copies of STAINED and get them signed! I was honored. She is smart, kind, knowledgeable, and knows a ton about YA books.

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I set out the free book swag I had for readers–some positive-message stickers, positive-message wristbands, and of course bookmarks. I also had a draw for readers for a Chapters giftcard and an audiobook copy of SCARS.

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Christie introduced me. She had such nice things to say about me and about STAINED (which is a Bank Street College Best Book of the Year for Ages 14 and Up, 2014).

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I talked about why I write the books I write, the need for strong girls, emotionally strong boys, and diverse characters in books. I talked about how I used to write instead of speak (my abusers told me that they’d kill me if I talked, and since I’d seen them murder other children I knew they could do it, so I turned to writing and art to speak), and how that lead to me writing books, mentioned #WeNeedDiverseBooks, the need for everyone to see themselves reflected back in books and popular culture so we don’t feel invisible, other, or like there’s something wrong with us, and how important books that deal with painful issues can be to some readers. Sometimes a book is the only “person” a teen has to turn to, the only way they can know that they’re not alone, not crazy, and that they can get through. That was true for me as a child and teen, and it’s true for many teens today.

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After my talk I did a short reading from STAINED to gain readers’ interest. :)

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I love how the audience always gets so quiet when I talk–they’re really listening!

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After the talk and reading comes my favorite part–talking to readers, signing their books, and hugging them. :) It feels so good to hear that I’ve opened up their eyes to an issue like self-harm and the reasons it happens, or the effects of rape and abduction, or the strength of survivors, or just that I’ve moved them.

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Talking to my readers–readers who’ve read one or all of my books, and readers who are just discovering them–is rewarding!

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And one of my very favorite parts of a talk is hugging readers afterward if they want a hug. Here’s me hugging Laurie, who’s read and loved my books. Laurie’s written some poetry, and she and her daughters love to write and read. I love hearing that!

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And here I am hugging reader and activist Casey Anne. This hug and meeting her meant so much to me. Casey Anne has read all my books, talked with me online–and she drove more than 10 hours from the US to Toronto to come meet me and hear me talk! Casey Anne has such a good heart, so meeting her was a delight.

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Mary, who drove down with her daughter Casey Anne, and I also had a few good hugs.

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And so did reader Kaitlyn and I. Kaitlyn’s a tween, not yet a teen, so I left it up to her mom and grandmother about whether my books would be good for her. Kaitlyn read them, and so did her family, and they all enjoyed them. What a good feeling!

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Casey Anne and I spent a good long time talking together after my talk and signing. I wanted to make sure that she had some time with me after driving so far to come meet me! It was a fantastic talk; I enjoyed it so much. Casey Anne is smart, kind, and talented, and she’s got such a good heart. Her visit was a highlight for me. She brought four of my books for me to sign, and I wrote special messages in them for her. I also gave her an audiobook copy of SCARS and a rainbow pencil. I am honored that she drove so far to meet me! I have such fantastic readers.

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After my STAINED talk, reader Casey Anne gave me this beautiful journal she painted with a lovely quote and moving inscription inside because I write, and reader Laurie gave me the copper ring on my finger because of the copper jewelry in HUNTED. I was so surprised! I always have things to give readers; I didn’t expect them to give me anything. I have such thoughtful, kind readers!

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And after I’d spent good time with Casey Anne (and part way into it, too) I signed the stock of STAINED and HUNTED that Chapters Scarborough had–all with special messages inside. I also enjoyed seeing a teen and her mom grab a copy when I was signing stock.

I heard many lovely things from readers after my talk. Then this morning I met a man on my walk with Petal who told me he was at my talk and how very inspiring it was. That felt so good to hear!

All in all, I think it was a lovely talk and signing. I so appreciate everyone who came by to hear me speak and to get a copy of STAINED or get their own books signed. Thank you all so much for a lovely day!

2 Comments on I love it when my talks on my books move people. My STAINED talk was a success! A post in pictures and words., last added: 9/14/2014
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8. If you’re in Toronto on Sat., Sept 13th at 2pm come join me at Chapters Scarborough

If you’re in Toronto, join me at

Chapters Scarborough
on Saturday, September 13th at 2pm

to hear me talk about STAINED (Best Book of the Year for Ages 14 and up)–why I wrote it, the need for strong-girl characters, and more–and get a signed copy of STAINED, SCARS, and/or HUNTED. Everyone who attends will get free positive-message stickers, bookmarks, and be entered in a draw. I hope to see you there!

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I draw on my own trauma experiences to write all my books.

In STAINED, Sarah is abducted and must find a way to rescue herself.

Cheryl Rainfield has been said to write with “great empathy and compassion” (VOYA) and to write stories that “can, perhaps, save a life.” (CM Magazine) SLJ said of her work: “[Readers] will be on the edge of their seats.”

I hope you’ll join me.

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9. Win a Copy of STAINED and 7 other YA books!

Enter to win a copy of STAINED and 7 other great YA books! You have 25 days more to enter.

You can win:

STAINED by Cheryl Rainfield







The Caged Graves by Dianne K Salerni







Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G Giarratano







Thin Space by Jody Casella







The Headhunters Race by Kimberly Afe







Touching The Surface by Kimberly Sabatini







Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey







Catherine by April Lindner







Good luck!

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10. My Birthday Gift To You – A Free Copy of My YA Fantasy Parallel Visions

It’s my birthday today. To celebrate, I’d like to give you a free ebook copy of Parallel Visions, my YA paranormal fantasy.

In Parallel Visions, Kate sees psychic visions of the future and the past—but only when she’s having an asthma attack. When she “sees” her sister being beaten, she needs more visions to try to save her, along with a suicidal classmate—but triggering her asthma could kill her. Parallel Visions is the story of one brave, caring psychic teen whose unusual gifts put her own life in danger.

If you’ve got a Kindle or a Kindle App (for Windows, iPad, etc) you can download it for free from Amazon today (August 19) and tomorrow, just in case you see this late.

If you need another version–for your Nook, Kobo, iPad, etc.–then email me today or tomorrow at Cheryl (at) CherylRainfield (dot) com with the version you need and I will send you that version. I won’t be sending them out today, but I will in the next week or so.

I hope you enjoy it!

4 Comments on My Birthday Gift To You – A Free Copy of My YA Fantasy Parallel Visions, last added: 8/20/2014
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11. Alex London guest post, GUARDIAN blog tour, first chapter read, and giveaway!

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I LOVE Alex London’s YA dystopian PROXY–it’s one of my favorites and deals with oppression in a fast-moving, emotional and satisfying story–so I’m happy to have him here today to talk about his next book GUARDIAN and invite you to enter his giveaway! If you haven’t read PROXY yet, I suggest you get yourself a copy, and then go read GUARDIAN. (smiling) They make good #WeNeedDiverseBooks reads! PROXY and GUARDIAN have characters of color and LGBT, and are great reads. Take it away, Alex. :)



Alex London
What I wanted to explore with the oppressive systems in PROXY was how the most insidious forms of oppression are often the ones that pass themselves off as freedom. In PROXY’s world, the market gives the illusion of freedom. The powerful think that it’s a person’s choice to go into debt and if they don’t want to pay for what they can’t afford, then that’s their problem. And the powerless in many cased buy into that system because they have to in order to survive, to participate in society in any way and because the other options–making deals with criminals, eking out survival at the fringes of civilization–are pretty horrible options.

The Patrons are just as much trapped by this system as the Proxies, although they get the better end of the deal. Knox could no more drop out of being a patron than Syd can drop out of being a Proxy. He could, of course, be less of a self-centered jerk, but that’s his journey.
So in Proxy, the system is oppression masking itself as the absolute freedom of an unregulated market. It is, essentially, the fantasy of present day neoliberal economics. It’s Ayn Rand’s market ideology taken to extremes.

In GUARDIAN, that system is reversed. It’s a nightmare of collectivism, the kind of economy the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia tried to create.
Essentially, if there was a coherent philosophy behind these books–and I’m not saying there is!–it would be that any system can be become oppressive when it puts its ideological purity above the humans who make it up.

The stories are, at their cores, about real people, real teenagers, asserting their own right to exist with all their contradictions, needs, and desires in the face of merciless ideologies. In the end though, I really just tried to write a gripping tale. The ideas are there, but my loyalty is always going to be to the story.



Thank you, Alex. Read on for chapter one of GUARDIAN, the giveaway, and more about GUARDIAN and Alex London.


GUARDIAN (Proxy, #2) by Alex London
Release Date: May 29, 2014
Hardcover, 352 pages
Publisher: Philomel
Genre: YA / Dystopian / LGBT

The pulse-pounding sequel to Proxy! Inspired by The Whipping Boy and Feed, this adrenaline-fueled thriller will appeal to fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent.

In the new world led by the Rebooters, former Proxy Syd is the figurehead of the Revolution, beloved by some and hated by others. Liam, a seventeen-year-old Rebooter, is Syd’s bodyguard and must protect him with his life. But armed Machinists aren’t the only danger.

People are falling ill—their veins show through their skin, they find it hard to speak, and sores erupt all over their bodies. Guardians, the violent enforcers of the old system, are hit first, and the government does nothing to help. The old elites fall next, and in the face of an indifferent government, Syd decides it’s up to him to find a cure . . . and what he discovers leaves him stunned.

This heart-stopping thriller is packed with action, adventure, and heroics. Guardian will leave you breathless until the final page.

A fast-paced, thrill-ride of novel full of non-stop action, heart-hammering suspense and true friendship—just as moving as it is exhilarating. Fans of Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series, James Dashner’s Maze Runner, Patrick Ness’s Chaos Walking series, and Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy will be swept away by this story.

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Goodreads

Author Bio:
Alex London writes books for adults (One Day The Soldiers Came: Voices of Children in War), children (Dog Tagsseries; An Accidental Adventure series) and teens (Proxy). At one time a journalist reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, he is now a full time novelist living in Brooklyn, NY, where he can be found wandering the streets talking to his dog, who is the real brains of the operation.


Chapter One – GUARDIAN by Alex London

At night, they disposed of the bodies. There was no ceremony, no ritual, no remembrance.

“They’re human,” some argued.

“They were human,” said others. “Now they’re meat.”

“We have to study the infection,” said the doctor.

“We have to contain it,” said the counselor and gave her orders. “Burn the bodies.”

A work detail was tasked with the burning. One by one, in the dead of night, green uniforms with white masks hauled corpses to the pile. The corpses were webbed with black veins, their entire network of blood vessels visible through the pale skin. Dried blood obscured their faces and each had a single hole in the temple by the eyes, where the killing bolt went in. They were put down like livestock, burned like sacrifices.

As the bodies crackled, the doctor watched the flames, her face half in shadow, half dancing in firelight. “I believe there is a cure for this,” she said.

The counselor, standing beside her, nodded, but did not turn to look her way. “Your cure is worse than the disease.”

“You believe that?”

“It’s the truth. Your way is treason.”

“You’re in denial,” the doctor said. “This is going to get worse if we don’t stop it.”

“It’s a new world, Doctor,” the counselor replied. “We can’t turn back the clock.”

“Even to save people’s lives?”

“These”—the counselor gestured at the bodies—“are not people.”

“If it spreads?”

“Is it spreading?”

The doctor watched the young members of the work detail tossing the bodies on the pyre. They moved with the assurance of youth, the kind of attitude that allowed them to stare infection and death in the face and believe it would never touch them. “I don’t know.”

“It is your job to know.”

“I can hardly understand it. The blood turns against the body. Itching, burning. Then, expulsion. Half of them bleed out.”

“And the other half?”

The doctor clenched her jaw. “They haven’t bled out yet.”

“They are in pain?”

“They can’t communicate, but we have to restrain them to keep them from scratching their skin off with their fingernails.” The doctor sighed. “So, yes, they are in pain.”

“Put them out of their misery,” the counselor ordered.

“But, we can still learn—”

“Those are the orders.” The counselor walked away, two green uniforms trailing her into the jungle. The doctor took off her white smock, pulled the blue gloves from her hands with a loud synthetic snap, and stood before the flames.
She watched her latest failed experiments turn to smoke and ash in the bonfire, every bit of blood boiled away, with all the information it might have contained.

She had ideas, dangerous to share; but if she didn’t find a way, she feared, this sickness would go further than any of them could imagine. She would record a message in case she failed. She hoped that someone would still be alive to receive it.

Sneak Peek Chapters of GUARDIAN

Read the Exclusive 3 Chapters from London’s new release, GUARDIAN.

You can read the short story PUNISHMENT, the PROXY prequel on Wattpad for free right now! Meet Syd, Knox, and Liam (from Guardian) at 15…


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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12. If you or your teen or someone you know is thinking of suicide–talk it out.

If you or your teen or someone you know is thinking about suicide–get help. Talk to someone (or many someone’s). Make sure you (or your teen) have people to talk to. It helps to talk it out.

Check out this fantastic video on what to say and what not to say to a teen (or anyone) thinking of suicide. It helps to talk it out.

Also see my post on Reasons Not To Kill Yourself.

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13. Guest post by Tracy E. Banghart: Alloy Entertainment Partners With Amazon To Create A New Digital-First Imprint, and her previously self-published book is included. Enter to win $25 Amazon gift card.

Hello! My name is Tracy and I am so excited to be here today, celebrating with my blogger buddies! WHAT are we celebrating, you ask? Well, today marks the launch of a very exciting, special new program. Alloy Entertainment (of Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl, and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame) has partnered with Amazon to create a new imprint! As a “Powered By Amazon” imprint, it will be exclusively distributed by Amazon. Here’s more info from the official press release:


“Today, Amazon Publishing and Alloy Entertainment, a division of Warner Bros. Television Group, announced a digital-first imprint that will focus on young adult, new adult and commercial fiction. The new imprint, named Alloy Entertainment, will be part of Amazon Publishing’s Powered by Amazon program. Powered by Amazon enables publishers and authors to leverage Amazon’s global distribution and personalized, targeted marketing reach.”


I am super super proud to share that my previously self-published novel, Shattered Veil, is one of the inaugural books in this program! It has been retitled REBEL WING, given a new cover (check out the beauty below!), fully edited, and I am so, SO excited to share it with you today! In addition, two other books are part of the launch, and they are AWESOME. Read on for more info and purchase links for EVERY UGLY WORD by Aimee L. Salter and IMITATION by Heather Hildenbrand.


REBEL WING


YA Scifi Adventure


“I’ve never been actively jealous of a fictional character .  . . until now. Aris’s adventures set my imagination on fire, and made my heart take flight.” ~Kass Morgan, author of New York Times bestseller The 100


Description


The Dominion of Atalanta is at war. But for eighteen-year-old Aris, the fighting is nothing more than a distant nightmare, something she watches on news vids from the safety of her idyllic seaside town. Then her boyfriend, Calix, is drafted into the Military, and the nightmare becomes a dangerous reality.
Left behind, Aris has nothing to fill her days. Even flying her wingjet—the thing she loves most, aside from Calix—feels meaningless without him by her side. So when she’s recruited to be a pilot for an elite search-and-rescue unit, she leaps at the chance, hoping she’ll be stationed near Calix. But there’s a catch: She must disguise herself as a man named Aristos. There are no women in the Atalantan Military, and there never will be.

Aris gives up everything to find Calix: her home. Her family. Even her identity. But as the war rages on, Aris discovers she’s fighting for much more than her relationship. With each injured person she rescues and each violent battle she survives, Aris is becoming a true soldier—and the best flyer in the Atalantan Military. She’s determined to save her Dominion . . . or die trying.


About Me

Award-winning author, Army wife, and mom Tracy Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an unhealthy affection for cupcakes. Her quiet childhood led to a reading addiction, writing obsession, and several serious book boyfriends. Rebel Wing is her third novel.  She can be found at www.tracybanghart.com 


EVERY UGLY WORD

By Aimee L. Salter

Description

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school, bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.

Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and The List, Every Ugly Word is a gripping and emotional story about the devastating consequences of bullying.

About Aimee

Aimee L. Salter lives in Southern Oregon with her husband and son. She writes novels for teens and the occasional adult who, like herself, is still in touch with their inner-high schooler. She never stopped appreciating those moments in the dark when you say what you’re really thinking. And she’ll always ask you about the things you wish she wouldn’t.

Aimee blogs for both writers and readers at www.aimeelsalter.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

Every Ugly Word is her debut novel.


IMITATION

By Heather Hildenbrand

Description

Everyone is exactly like me.
There is no one like me.

Ven wrestles with these contradicting truths every day. A clone of wealthy eighteen-year-old Raven Rogen, Ven knows everything about the girl she was created to serve: the clothes she wears, the boys she loves, the friends she loves to hate. Yet she’s never met the Authentic Raven face-to-face. Imitations like Ven only get to leave the lab when they’re needed—to replace a dead Authentic, donate an organ, or complete a specific mission. And Raven has never needed Ven . . . until now.

When there is an attack on Raven’s life, Ven is thrust into the real world, posing as Raven to draw out the people who tried to harm her. But as Ven dives deeper into Raven’s world, she begins to question everything she was ever told. She exists for Raven, but is she prepared to sacrifice herself for a girl she’s never met?

Fans of Cinder, The Selection and Sara
Shepard’s Lying Game series will love Imitation, a thrilling, action-packed novel sure
to keep readers guessing until the very last page.



About Heather

Heather Hildenbrand was born and raised in a small town in northern Virginia where she was homeschooled through high school. She now lives in coastal VA, a few miles from the Atlantic Ocean, with her two adorable children. She works from home, part time, as a property manager and when she’s not furiously pounding at the keyboard, or staring off into space whilst plotting a new story, she’s lying on the beach, soaking in those delicious, pre-cancerous rays. Heather loves Mexican food, hates socks with sandals, and if her house was on fire, the one thing she’d grab is her DVR player. You can find out more about her and her books at www.heatherhildenbrand.blogspot.com 

Heather is a co-founder of Accendo Press, a publishing group she operates with fellow authors: Angeline Kace and Jennifer Sommersby. Accendo (a-CH-endo), A Latin word, means “to kindle, illuminate, inflame, or set fire.” This is something Accendo strives to do inside a reader’s imagination with every title released.

Please join me, Aimee, and Heather, along with some other great YA authors for a Facebook party this afternoon to celebrate the big launch! And don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!  

Thanks so much to my wonderful bloggers friends who are helping me spread the word!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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14. Join Cheryl Rainfield on Sat, Sept 13, 2pm at Chapters Scarborough in Toronto

If you’re in Toronto, join me at

Chapters Scarborough
on Saturday, September 13th at 2pm

to hear me talk about STAINED–why I wrote it, the need for strong-girl characters, and more–and get a signed copy of STAINED, SCARS, and/or HUNTED.

stained-launch-cheryl-signing-via-jean

I draw on my own trauma experiences to write all my books.

In STAINED, Sarah is abducted and must find a way to rescue herself.

Cheryl Rainfield has been said to write with “great empathy and compassion” (VOYA) and to write stories that “can, perhaps, save a life.” (CM Magazine) SLJ said of her work: “[Readers] will be on the edge of their seats.”

I hope you’ll join me.

STAINED-display-Yorkdale-Indigo-cropped

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15. Bookselfies – STAINED, SCARS, and HUNTED #bookthroughphone and #bookishstar

I joined Instagram about two months ago, and I’ve been enjoying the vibrant book community there. It’s fun to see others’ photos of books, and to share my own–and also, I have to admit, it’s fun to share photos of my little dog Petal as well. (grinning)

I love how easily I can share my photos through Instagram on Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr. It’s also been lovely to connect with some of my readers who were on Instagram, but weren’t finding me through other social media. I love the posts, tweets, private messages, and emails I get from readers; they’re so rewarding. And I love seeing photos of my books out there with readers!

Two of the great bookish photos I saw people recently taking on Instagram were #bookthroughphone and #bookishstar. So of course I had to join in the fun and post some with my own books. I’m sharing a few here with you–and one or two of Petal. (smiling)

bookthroughphone-stained
STAINED as #bookthroughphone. It took me a few tries before I got it to work. I had fun!

bookthroughphone-scars
SCARS as #bookthroughphone. Not perfectly matched up, but pretty close. :) I think it’s kind of cool; kudos to whoever thought this up.

bookishstar
My #bookishstar
Books from top left clockwise: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Hunted by Cheryl Rainfield, Stained by Cheryl Rainfield, Scars by Cheryl Rainfield, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Crank by Ellen Hopkins, When She Hollered by Cynthia Voigt, Are You Alone On Purpose? by Nancy Werlin, Please Excuse Vera Dietz by A S King, Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn.

And here’s a few of Petal. She is such a sweet, happy girl. :)

petal-rolling-around
Petal loves to roll around–on the grass, the hall carpet, the couches. :)

petal-about-to-catch-ball
Petal LOVES catching her ball. :)

petal-a-blur-as-she-catches-ball
And here’s Petal, all a blur as she catches her ball–even with her hair (and ears) in her eyes. :)

I hope you enjoyed these photos. What do you take photos of the most? What or who do you have the most fun taking photos of?

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16. Books Saved Me. A poem by Cheryl Rainfield.

Books saved me.
They drew me in,
their paper arms enfolding me,
their words wrapping around me,
absorbing my pain,
transporting me to other places,
other worlds,
where I could forget
just for a little while
the darkness that filled me,
the pain my lungs drew in and out.
Books allowed me to breathe.

Books saved me.
They showed me people who cared
when no one in my life did.
Showed me the tender side of people,
moments of kindness and empathy
when all I knew was cruelty.
Books allowed me to believe in the good in people.
They showed me, too, secret agony and grief
when I was so wracked in pain
I wanted to die.
Books whispered “You are not alone.
You will survive.”

Books saved me.
They gave me precious minutes, hours,
time elongated,
escape from the torture and abuse
I was living. They allowed me to dream,
to hope, to see beyond my dark world.
Hope that bolstered my soul
with paper and ink and words that swirled inside me
making me stronger, more whole,
feeding me when nothing else did.
I’m not sure I could have survived
if I hadn’t had books.
Books saved me.
I hope they’ll save you, too.

© Cheryl Rainfield, July 8, 2014.

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17. J.K. Rowling has written a new short story about Harry Potter–as an adult

Harry Potter fans get excited! J. K. Rowling has written a new 1500-word short story about Harry Potter in his thirties and his friends from the perspective of gossip columnist Rita Skeeter. This is the first time J K Rowling has written about her famous characters as adults since the end of the series. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, click on the link above and go read the story. :)

Thank you to The Bookseller for the information.

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18. I am now on Wattpad…

with the first chapters of SCARS, STAINED, and HUNTED up for you to read. Also some poems.

http://www.wattpad.com/user/CherylRainfield

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19. Q & A with Kristi Helvig, author of YA novel Burn Out

Kristi Helvig Author photoI’m happy to be able to talk with Kristi Helvig about her writing, writing process, and her new YA sci-fi suspense Burn Out.

In Burn Out: Most people want to save the world; seventeen-year-old Tora Reynolds just wants to get the hell off of it. One of the last survivors in Earth’s final years, Tora yearns to escape the wasteland her planet has become after the sun turns “red giant,” but discovers her fellow survivors are even deadlier than the hostile environment.


How did you get your book contract for Burn Out? Did a publisher find you in the slush pile, or did you have an agent who submitted for you?

Kristi Helvig BURN OUT Cover

My fabulous agent, Jess Regel, submitted BURN OUT for me and I feel so incredibly grateful that I ended up with my publisher, Egmont USA. It’s been such a collaborative and wonderful learning process.


That was smart to get an agent first, to help you navigate the publishing world.

In Burn Out, Tora lives in a world where the sun is dying and the struggle to survive is hard. What made you want to write in that setting?

It wasn’t so much a want as a compulsion. I dreamt the plot of the book after watching a science documentary about our sun burning out, and I’d say the setting chose me rather than vice versa.



Wow, that sounds like an intense dream and inspiration.

Tora seems like a strong-girl character. Was that important to you?

Well, Tora was the girl in the dream I had that night so I watched her living in extreme conditions (it was one of those dreams that felt like it lasted the whole night), and woke up in complete awe of how she survived in a world like that. She kept talking to me that entire next day and refused to leave me alone until I started telling her story.



What character or part of the book has the most of you in it?

Probably the beginning of the book where Tora has been alone for months with only her thoughts, and books, for company. While I’ve never experienced that, I love being alone, and the idea of reading all the books I want without interruption is beyond exciting. I’m also sarcastic by nature, so Tora’s sarcasm came very easily to me.




I love being alone, too, and reading as much as I can. (smiling)

What was hardest scene for you to write in Burn Out? What was the most rewarding?

Without giving away spoilers, the hardest scene to write was when Tora realized what really happened to her sister. I felt her pain and grief in my gut as I wrote that scene. The most rewarding was the scene where she and James loaded guns out of the hidden weapons room. An unexpected intimacy occurred between them in that moment that I didn’t see coming and made me root for them.



I think that makes powerful writing, when we feel the emotion we’re writing about.

One last question–why do you write?

This sounds simplistic, but I write because it makes me happy. It allows the characters in my head the space to come out into the world and tell their story. As soon as I finish one story, new people visit my brain and insist it’s their turn for their story to be told. I feel less like a novelist and more like a conduit for these voices from other realms, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

I hear you, Kristi! Writing helps me, too, and I wouldn’t feel right if I couldn’t write.



Kristi’s interview was part of a Spring Fling Tour organized by Nikki Wang at Fiction Freak. I asked all the authors one extra question: What did you do to celebrate when you found out you’d gotten your book contract?

Kristi Helvig: When I found out that BURN OUT and the sequel sold, it was a Friday morning, so we lined up a sitter for that night and went out to our fave restaurant, The White Chocolate Grill, to celebrate.

Amy Rolland: When I found out I’d gotten a contract, I didn’t quite believe it was real. I called the few people who knew I’d been secretly writing for the past few years, but I didn’t do any crazy celebrating because I’m such a cynic. If the contract fell through or if the book flopped, I’d feel silly for celebrating. (I keep waiting for the bottom to fall out.)

Anne Blankman: This will probably sound terrible, but I can’t remember what I did to celebrate–my family and I probably went out to dinner. What I remember best is the moment my agent called to tell me about the book offer. After I hung up, I told the good news to my then-three-year-old daughter. She had no idea what was going, but she could tell it was good, so she started jumping around the room, cheering, “Party for Mommy!” It was so cute.

Bethany Crandell: As soon as I regained consciousness, I took my family to Disneyland for the weekend. Nothing says celebration like standing in never-ending lines with irritable children.




Spring Fling Tour Schedule:
May 12–Bethany Crandell at Adventures of a Book Junkie
May 13–Anne Blankman at Read My Breath Away
May 14–Kristi Helvig at my blog right here :)
May 15–Amy Rolland at Read. Sleep.Repeat

Spring Fling Twitter Party Info:
The twitter party will be held on May 15 with the hashtag #YASpringFling. 8:30 PM EST to 9:30 PM EST. There will be prizes donated by the spotlighted YA Valentines and the four Spring Formal authors will also be attending! We’ll also be handing out virtual cookies, of course!







Kristi Helvig will be at the Denver Comic Con June 13-15th along with William Shatner, Adam West, LaVar Burton, Johnathan Frakes, and Michael Dorn! It will be held at the Denver Convention Center.



Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist turned sci-fi/fantasy author. She muses about Star Trek, space monkeys, and other assorted topics on her blog and Twitter. Kristi resides in sunny Colorado with her hubby, two kiddos, and behaviorally-challenged dogs. Grab a copy of BURN OUT on Amazon, Indiebound, or Barnes & Noble.

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20. #YesAllWomen

Recently a 22-year-old man killed his roommates, then shot and murdered a number of women, and wounded others, because he felt he’d been rejected sexually and was furious that he was still a virgin. He called it his “war on women.”

According to LA Times, in a video he made before the attacks (now removed from YouTube) he said: “”I’m 22 years old and still a virgin, never even kissed a girl. And through college, 2 1/2 years, more than that actually, I’m still a virgin. It has been very torturous,” he said. “The popular kids, you never accepted me and now you will all pay for it. Girls, all I ever wanted was to love you, be loved by you. I wanted a girlfriend. I wanted sex, love, affection, adoration.”

Wow. Scary.

It’s like the Montreal Massacre. A man killing women for being women. For not giving them what he wanted. Another tear through our society, our souls. This horrifies me. It should horrify you, too. Men are not automatically owed sex or praise or anything else by women just because they are men. But our culture encourages and promotes the sexualization and objectification of women and girls–and the dominance and “superiority” of men. Still. To this day.

Most women have experienced some form of sexual assault in their lives–many from men they know. At least 1 in 3 girls have been sexually abused or raped, and I think that is a very conservative estimate, given how frightening and hard it is to talk about, and how often people don’t believe a child when they speak out.

Yes, boys are sexually abused, too. But what we’re talking about right now is the misogyny–the hatred of women–that is steeped into our society, so that most young women can’t walk down a street without being harassed, or fearing sexual assault. Where women are expected to put out. Where women are still blamed for rape, and where rapists are still let free and not punished for their crimes. Where girls and women are still considered second class.

If you’re on social media, especially Twitter, you may have seen #YesAllWomen trending. It’s in response to these recent murders, and also to the hatred and violence against women that is such a part of our culture. Gina Dening wrote about this beautifully: “Because every woman has a story about being a victim. Every woman has a story of a time when she needed to decide between fight and flight.” Read her post. It says SO much more–so perfectly.

#YesAllWomen-01

I also really appreciated and loved Chuck Wendig’s post Not All Men, But Still Too Many Men on how men saying “not all men” are missing the point, and that our society is built on violence against women. We KNOW not all men are rapists or bullies or murderers or child molesters. But for so many women, we have to face or have had to face threats from men all our lives.

I did. I experienced daily and nightly rape by my father, other family members, and his friends. He used me in child porn and child prostitution to gain money and prestige among his friends and among the cult he and my mother were a part of. Rape, abuse, and torture were my normal growing up–for most of my life. I lived in fear and terror. And yet I always fought it.

I argued with my high school sociology teacher, telling her and the class that women were not ever to blame for rape, not even if they walked down a dark alley alone or wore skimpy clothes. I was verbally shot down by my teacher. I fought back against my abusers, always–but also tried to stay alive. I didn’t think I would survive and become an adult–but I’m glad I did. It’s gotten a lot better.

But I still am not comfortable in my body. I still am afraid out on the streets after dark. I still experience harassment as a woman and a lesbian. I am still affected in so many ways by the rape and abuse and objectification I experienced as a child and teen and even later.

So I am thrilled to see #YesAllWomen trending–thrilled to see women speaking out about the violence and harassment they experience, thrilled to see men and women listening, and many responding positively. I believe so strongly in the healing power of bringing painful things to light, of talking about them, and of working to create change. I believe we can make positive change together…even if it takes a very long time. And I still hope for a day when the hatred will end.

It’s what I work towards through my books. Through speaking out on social media. Through the way I live my life. And it’s what I hope you’ll work towards, too. Greater compassion. Equality. An end to the violence and hate. All of us being able to live without fear.

I know. It sounds like a dream far too big, impossible, to happen. But I still hope for it. I have to. I hope you will, too. And I hope you’ll also speak out.

#yesallwomen


Other YA authors are tweeting and writing about #YesAllWomen:

#yesallwomen-christa-desir

#yesallwomen-maureen-johnson

#yesallwomen-as-king

And Kim Baccelia has written about it in her post

There are also many articles about #YesAllWomen in the media, including:
Time

buzzfeed

and many others.

And you can search for the latest #YesAllWomen hashtags on Twitter.

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21. STAINED will be released in paperback in 2015

So not only is STAINED one of Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature’s Best Book of the Year for ages Fourteen and Up–it’s also going to be released in paperback on 5/11/15 and be only $8.99!

So much good news today! I love good news. (beaming)

STAINED_New-Cover-final-600

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22. I’m delighted that STAINED is one of Bank Street College’s Book of the Year for ages Fourteen and Up

I’m delighted that STAINED is one of Bank Street College Center for Children’s Literature’s Book of the Year for ages Fourteen and Up! (beaming)

stained-bank-street-college-book-of-yearstained-bank-street-college-book-of-year

Links to all books and categories here.

It’s such a feel-good thing to have my book recognized! For any author to have that happen. (grinning)

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23. I am honored SCARS is in a B&N blog post: “8 Great YAs About Mental Health Issues” #YAsaves #WeNeedDiverseBooks

scarsI am honored that SCARS is included in a thoughtful B&N blog post: “8 Great YAs About Mental Health Issues” written by Dahlia Adler.

Dahlia includes some powerful YA books on various mental health issues, including Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (eating disorders), It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini (depression), OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (OCD), and Crazy by Amy Reed (bi-polar).

Check out her post for the entire list and thoughtful descriptions of the books from someone who’s clearly read them and been touched by them, and to leave a comment about your favorite YA books that deal with mental health issues.

I think it’s important that we have books that deal with mental health issues in honest and realistic ways–and that provide hope. We all need to know that we’re not alone, and that things can get better.

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2 Comments on I am honored SCARS is in a B&N blog post: “8 Great YAs About Mental Health Issues” #YAsaves #WeNeedDiverseBooks, last added: 6/13/2014
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24. Shebooks: A fantastic kickstarter project for women readers and writers

Did you know that 3/4 of the stories published in traditional magazines are written by men? And yet women read SO much. Yep, there’s gender bias even in publishing.

This is where digital publisher Shebooks steps in. Shebooks publishers short ebooks written by women for women readers and designed to be read in under two hours–and they need your help to publisher even more! They only have 9 days left to their campaign.

One hundred percent of the donations made through their kickstarter project: 2014 Equal Writes Campaign will be used to pay women writers.

At every pledge level, Shebooks offers rewards, including a Shebooks subscription, a chance to get your own original work published in an upcoming Girl Power anthology, an “EQUAL WRITES” T-shirt, a night out with Shebooks authors, author visits to your book club, the opportunity to have a protagonist named after you in an upcoming book, and more.

Shebooks has already published over 40 original books by top authors and journalists. Shebooks authors include international bestselling author Hope Edelman, New York Times-bestselling author Caroline
Leavitt, former Deputy Editor of Essence Teresa Wiltz, founder of Ms. Magazine Suzanne Braun Levine, and National Book Award finalist Beth Kephart.

Shebooks can be purchased individually for $2.99 or by subscription.

I hope you’ll consider donating to them. Women need to have a voice, and publishing is a great way to have our voices be heard.



I also found this post by co-founder Laura Fraser inspiring and informative:

Not enough women are able to get their work published today—even the best women writers. Almost three-quarters of the bylines in leading print and digital publications belong to men. At Shebooks.net, we’ve decided to do something about this problem: Publish more stories by women. We’ve launched the Equal Writes Campaign to raise money to publish great reads by as many women writers as possible in 2014.

I’m the Editorial Director and co-founder of Shebooks.net, which publishes short e-books by and for women. I’ve been a journalist and author for 30 years, and while I’ve been relatively successful—one of my books was a NYT bestseller—I’ve experienced how increasingly difficult it is to be published. One of my cofounders, Peggy Northrop, has been the editor-in-chief of four magazines, and a senior editor at many more, and she’s seen the space for women’s writing shrink and shrink. Getting published is difficult for everyone, of course, as content has been considered free on the Internet, and publishers are putting all their money into their top earners and basically ignoring the rest. But it’s particularly hard for women.

Why is that? It’s a complicated question, having to do with both socialization and sexism. On the one hand, we have what people call the “confidence gap,” where women are reluctant to pitch to magazines–they don’t have the sense that their work is worthy. And there has been some research that shows that if women do pitch, if they are turned down, they tend to personalize that, and think, “the magazine doesn’t want me,” whereas men might think, “they answered my email; I’ll nail it next time.”

But the other factor is plain old sexism. It’s still very much a boys’ club, where male editors tend to trust male writers because they’re part of the tribe. I’ve been in the writers’ collective called the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto for 15 years, for instance, and I’ve seen equally talented men and women approach male editors at top-shelf magazines, and guys get the upper hand. I’ve had many personal instances of sexism in my career. One recent one was when an editor on a panel was describing a story in Italy he was considering. I approached him and said I’d like to pitch him on it–I speak fluent Italian and know Italy well. His immediate response was, “Oh, I was kind of looking for a science guy.” He automatically assumed I don’t write about science–which I have done, quite a bit–which is not what he might have assumed about a guy. And, well, a guy would have had the “guy” part of his remark down. Now, if you asked that editor if he was sexist and if he felt women should be equally published, he’s a nice liberal guy who would have said “of course,” and would have had no inkling of his deeper prejudices. Now, maybe it had to do with me and my writing. That’s certainly a possibility. But his answer seemed automatic. (I did persist and check out the story, calling Italian journalist friends to get the scoop, and it turned out to not be the story the editor thought it was.)

Shebooks wants to change inequities in publishing by giving great women writers a platform. We want to raise their visibility not only to our own readers but to other publications.
My partners and I—the third is Rachel Greenfield, who was the EVP of Martha Stewart Publishing–have been excited by the explosion of digital media, which is giving readers new ways to find compelling stories. And we’re pleased to see writers find fresh ways to work and make money outside the usual channels.

But even on these new media platforms, the problem has persisted that female authors, journalists, editors—and ultimately female readers—are being shut out of the revolution. Innovative digital publishing companies led by men and publishing mostly male writers are getting lots of investment and attention. But we know that women are voracious readers in every format—buying the majority of books and magazines and reading (and writing) the majority of blogs.

So we decided not to wait for our invitation to the party. Shebooks.net was the result: a new media format, real money for writers (our writers all share in our profits), and engaging stories that women can’t wait to read, that fit the corners of their busy lives. We’ve been amazed at the quality of writing we’ve been able to publish.

We hope lots of readers and writers will join our Equal Writes Campaign. We publish mainly seasoned writers, but if you’re an aspiring writer, you can pledge at our $35 level and one of our editors will take a look at your manuscript—for possible inclusion in a Shebooks anthology.

Please spread the word—and thanks so much!

Laura Fraser
co-founder, Shebooks

Please pledge to join our Equal Writes campaign! http://kck.st/1kbVVz7

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25. New Picture Books I Love and Recommend (And A Few Older Books But Goodies)

I love finding picture books where the art and the writing work together just right, where the storyline is compelling and the illustrations are beautiful. Picture books like that are treasures, sure to inspire imagination, good feeling, greater understanding, and/or and dreams in young readers. I also love books that celebrate books and reading. All these picture books are ones I highly recommend.


Where’s Mommy?
Written by Beverly Donofrio, illustrated by Barbara McClintock
Published by: Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House
Published: March 11, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-375-84423-2
Recommended Age: 3-7 years (and up)
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My policy is only to review books that I love or enjoy.

As soon as I opened Where’s Mommy? I was drawn in by the warm, comforting images and delightful storyline. Every image has a yellow-orange background like sunlight that creates a warm happy, mood. There is SO much to look at in every illustration; so much detail to study and enjoy. And the writing is just enough to keep the reader interested and tell us what we need to know, but not too much that it becomes hard to sit through.

In Where’s Mommy? a little girl and a little mouse who are friends but can’t tell anyone about their friendship, both can’t find their mothers one night when they’re getting ready to bed. They look for their mothers, ask their family, and start getting worried–until they find their mothers together.

Where’s Mommy? is beautifully written and illustrated. We see two lives at once; the human girl’s and the mouse’s. Both the dual storyline and the dual illustrations parallel each other, and then converge in a satisfying story. I LOVE the parallel stories; in every page or spread, we see the human girl doing something–getting on her pajamas, brushing her teeth, looking in the kitchen for her mother–and then on the same spread (often below the human girl, or beside her), we see the mouse girl doing the exact same thing. The mouse family lives beneath the floor of the human family, and the way McClintock illustrates it, we see them not only doing the same kinds of things, we also see their rooms parallel each other, sharing not only the house but the page. Absolutely beautifully done.

McClintock’s detailed pen-and-ink, watercolor, and gouche illustrations are a delight to pore through. There are so many details in every drawing that make the illustrations feel cozy and just right, that tell us a happy family lives there–the toys lined up along the couch and shelves and scattered on the floor in the human image, with furniture and plants and books and paintings–and in the mouse family, so many creative, sweet details, like beds and seats made out of teacups, an iPod for a giant music system, clothespins making up part of a bed, Christmas lights and flashlights creating light, an empty plastic berry container as a countertop, and yes–tiny books and dishes and art. Everything is drawn beautifully, with great care and perspective. Warmth and friendliness emanates from every page.

Donofrio’s text is beautifully written. The story starts out with friendship, a secret, and the reason for the secret, with the two lives paralleling each other. It takes us on their paralleling journey, has the two characters bump into each other, and then at the climax gives us a delightful surprise. The text makes the girl and mouse’s lives closely parallel each other but still fit their own world; it’s satisfying to read. The story is fun and grabs the readers’ curiosity and interest–what will happen next?–and pulls us though to the surprise and the ending, where the lives parallel each other once more, ending with a question that the reader can answer.

I think this book will inspire friendship and hope, imagination, appreciating differences, and give readers a sense of comfort and belonging.

This is one book where the story text and the illustrations work so perfectly together that they just belong together; it’s as if they were created by the same person. Both are created so beautifully that the book is a joy to read; this book is one of my new favorites. I highly recommend it.




Journey
Written and Illustrated by Aaron Becker
Published by: Candlewick Press
Published: Aug 2013
ISBN: 978-0-7636-6053-6
Recommended Age: 4-8 (and up)
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Source: I purchased the book myself.

This wordless book is pure delight. It reminds me of both Harold And The Purple Crayon, and The Red Book by Barbara Lehman, where a lonely child finds a friend, happiness, and joy through creativity.

In Journey, a lonely young girl uses a red crayon to draw a door into another world–a world busting with color, beauty, and imaginative adventure. The nameless girl starts out in a gray-brown city, all alone and dark except for the pop of red from one toy she takes with her–her scooter, a kit, a ball. But when her family is too busy to play with her, her world turns completely gray-brown–until she spots the red crayon on her floor, and draws a door in the wall of her bedroom. She walks through the door–into a world lush with color, life, and imagination–a green forest with hanging lights. She goes on an adventure, using her magic red crayon to escape from danger, and to help rescue a beautiful purple bird that soldier captured. Together, the girl with her red crayon and the purple bird escape and travel through another door into another magical land–and then back to the city, where the bird is reunited with the boy who drew her, and the girl, the boy, and the bird become friends and go off on an adventure, riding a bike that both the girl and the boy created together.

Becker’s illustrations are powerful and a delight to page through. The initial bleakness of the girl’s world is shown dramatically through the gray-brown washes–lacking any other color except for the one bright red spot of hope through the girl’s toy when she approaches someone to play–and her crayon. Her red crayon becomes a focal point, both through the dramatic pop of color and through the magic of what it can do. Each object that the girl draws to help herself–a door, a boat, a hot-air balloon–are a red burst of color that stand out against the muted but lush colors of the magical worlds she travels through.

Becker’s illustrations are intricate and detailed, with so much to look at. I also like how the illustrations aren’t all the same size; in some, there are three small drawings on a white background per page, on some, they are full color but confined to one page, and on some the action takes place over an entire full spread of color. This helps keep the story appealing and engaging.

This in an enchanting, hopeful, imaginative book that reminds readers of the importance of friends, and the power of art and imagination to transport us out of unhappiness and make our lives happier and brighter. It’s also a 2014 Caldecott Honor Book, and rightly so. It is one of my absolute favorites. Highly recommended!





The Story of Fish and Snail
Written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman
Published by: Viking (Penguin Group)
Published: June 2013
ISBN: 978-0670784899
Recommended Age: 3-5 (and up)
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Source: I purchased the book myself.

Snail and fish are friends and live in a book together–called The Story of Fish and Snail. Snail waits each day for Fish to come home and tell her a story. But one day Fish says he found a new book, and wants to show it to Snail. Snail doesn’t want to go into other books, and they argue. Fish leaves, and Snail is all alone and sad. But then Snail sees Fish in an open book below theirs, and dives down into the new book. The two friends, together again, sail off to have an adventure in the new book.

I love the concept and playfulness of characters who live in the book we’re reading about, where the book becomes part of the art (kind of like Chester by Melanie Watt). There’s something so creative and appealing (especially to book lovers) about this. I love how the illustrations move from seeing Fish dive into the open pages of The Story of Fish and Snail as if the pages hold water and everything that we see within the pages for real, and not just illustrations, to closer and closer up views of the pages of the book until we don’t see the book any more, but just the book world (under water with stones and a tiny castle), getting closer and bigger views of the arguing friends so that they almost take up the page visually (and also with the emotion and fight), until Fish leaps right out of the book and we once again see that it’s a book spread open. I also love how the only color is inside the book pages; everything else (when we get a farther out view) is shades of gray in a library–because the rest of the setting isn’t important. What’s important are the worlds inside the books, and how they come alive. It’s also a great analogy of how books really do come alive for readers.

This is a beautifully drawn and written book. Visually, the characters are so expressive and full of emotion, and the book worlds are beautiful and magical–as if books physically hold what the words and pictures say they do. The illustrations are warm and comforting, showing two lives at once, and there is so much for readers to look at. The climax was strong, the writing was just right–not too much, just enough to tell the story, and perfectly matching the illustrations.

The Story of Fish and Snail encourages a love of books and imagination, and also reminds us that fear can hold us back, but sometimes we have to stretch ourselves a little if we want to keep up with our dearest friends. This is another new favorite of mine. Highly recommended!



The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art

Written by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpre
Published by: Knopf Books For Young Readers/Random House
Published: Feb 11, 2014
ISBN: 978-0307978486
Recommended Age: 4-8 years (and up)
My Rating: 5 out of 5

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My policy is only to review books that I love or enjoy.

In The Noisy Paint Box, Vasya Kandinsky was taught to be a proper Russian boy, with manners and rules and things to practice, and he lived up to that–until his aunt gave him a wooden paint box. Vasya heard the colors make noise when no one else could. And so he painted the sound of the colors. But his family didn’t understand and wanted him to be like a normal Russian boy–so for a long time he held himself in and did what was expected of him–until finally he couldn’t ignore the singing of color. Finally, he went back to painting, painting what he heard and saw and felt from color. And when he did that, he created a new form of art–abstract art. Art that was meant to make people feel.

Text and illustrations work really well together. I love that Barb Rosenstock tells us about Vasya Kandinsky–a famous painter–and tells it as a story that comes alive, a story that we can almost touch and hear. Her word choices feel like poetry: “He spun a bright lemon circle onto the canvas. It clinked like the highest notes on the keyboard,” and make us feel it, see it, almost hear it. Her beautiful writing will grab the reader’s interest and keep them wanting to know about the little boy who people tried to force to conform, who grew into his own creativity and art. I also like that there’s an author’s note at the end of the book that included detailed information about Vasya and shows some of his actual paintings.

Mary Grandpre’s illustrations (the illustrator of the Harry Potter books) make the story come alive even more. The characters are expressive, and the illustrations are so creative, with words and images and bright swirls of color incorporated right into the illustrations themselves. For instance, when the grown-ups talk at dinner, not only do we see strips of cut-up words coming from their mouths, but we also see their heads and bodies full of words. And once Vasya discovers paint, we see the paint colors swirling up off the page with words, symbols, and bright color to show the sounds he hears. Grandpre’s style is unique, visually compelling, and full of movement, bright color, and energy.

The Noisy Paint Box reminds readers that creativity is powerful, that it’s important to be true to ourselves no matter what anyone else says, and that if we have a dream, we should follow it. This book will encourage creativity and art, and creative, out-of-the-box thinking. Highly recommended!





Books Always Everywhere
Written by Jane Blatt, illustrated by Sarah Massini
Published by: Random House For Young Readers
Published: May 27, 2014
ISBN: 978-0385375061
Recommended Age: 3-7 years (and up)
My Rating: 4 out of 5

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My policy is only to review books that I love or enjoy.

Books Always Everywhere is another book that celebrates books and reading, and so encourages the reader to enjoy books. I think this is especially important when young children are increasingly introduced to technology, television, and video games. Books teach us about the world and encourage empathy and help us understand the world in a different way than even movies can–by putting us inside the characters through our own imaginations. So I love this book about books for very young readers. I could see it being made as a board book. (The copy I have is a regular picture book.)

Jane Blatt’s rhyming text is very simple, aimed at young children learning to read: “Book big/Book small/Book wide/Book tall.” Words also appear on the books the toddlers read–some on the inside pages, and some on the covers or spines. The text flows easily and quickly, and the rhymes are just right–something I’m particular about when reading, because when the rhyming is off it can take the reader out of the story. But here it works perfectly, and gives the readers a sense of books being everywhere.

Sarah Massini’s illustrations are sweet, simple, and fun–a good match for the text and the age. They they remind me of Helen Oxenbury’s style. The baby and toddler characters are adorable in their various onsies and PJs and little outfits, with simple, sweet faces, just dots for eyes, and little curves for noses and mouths–and babies and young readers are sure to enjoy seeing other little people in the pages. I also like that various ethnicity are shown in the characters. But my favorite part are the books within the pages of this book–three-dimensional books that are much bigger than they’d be in real life–big enough to climb on–and smaller books that the toddlers hold, read, and sit on. I love, too, how the books are not just books to read, but also books to play with–to sit on, to create a fort with, a hat, a tower–prompted by Blatt’s text–just like books are used in real life with young kids, and also books are enjoyed everywhere, on swings, in bed, at the beach.

I think Massini must have had fun creating book titles and text that fit what the characters were doing in each illustration. Young readers will enjoy hearing the silly, funny titles: “Trees Are the Bee’s Knees,” “Ooops-a-daisy!” when a baby drops a book, while other titles are of classic tales.

Books Always Everywhere is a sweet, simple book about enjoying books everywhere. It will encourage a love of books and reading, and shows other young children reading, too. I think kids need to see reading modeled to help them read more, and this book could encourage that. Highly recommended!

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