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1. Starting the year with Slice of Life writing.

As I mentioned in my post last week, my students’ first day of school writing surveys revealed a strong aversion to writing and a sense of “I have nothing to really write about.”… Continue reading

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2. Learning About Africa: Ishmael Beal Tells it True “Still, the ways in which Africans are portrayed as less human have not lost the power to shock. “

Ishmael Beah, in “The West ignores the stories of Africans in the middle of the Ebola outbreak” writes bluntly about much I’ve been thinking, but afraid to say.  He begins:

It wasn’t surprising that Western journalists would react with doom-and-gloom when the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa. Or that the crisis would not be treated as a problem confronting all humanity — a force majeure — but as one of “those diseases” that afflict “those people” over there in Africa. Most Western media immediately fell into fear-mongering. Rarely did they tell the stories of Africans who survived Ebola, or meaningfully explore what it means to see your child or parent or other family member or friend be stricken with the disease. Where are the stories of the wrenching decisions of families forced to abandon loved ones or the bravery required to simply live as a human in conditions where everyone walks on the edge of suspicion?

And then he writes some hard truths.

Given our interconnected world, it’s no longer possible to excuse such treatment as a lack of access to the facts. So what is the explanation? To borrow the words of Ni­ger­ian novelist Chinua Achebe, “Quite simply it is the desire — one might indeed say the need — in Western psychology to set Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe’s own state of spiritual grace will be manifest.”

This thinking is so deeply entrenched in the minds of people in the West that it has become a reflex. Still, the ways in which Africans are portrayed as less human have not lost the power to shock. [b0ld is mine] Each new crisis, it seems, offers a platform for some to exercise their prejudices.

And

The hysteria is also fueling racism beyond the continent. In Germany, an African woman who recently traveled to Kenya — far from the affected countries — fell ill with a stomach virus at work; the entire building was locked down. In Brussels, an African man had a simple nosebleed at a shopping mall, and the store where it happened was sterilized. In Seoul, a bar put up a sign saying, “We apologize but due to the Ebola Virus we are not accepting Africans at the moment.” Here in the United States, each time I have been to a doctor’s office since the outbreak, I have noticed an anxious look on the faces of the assistants that dissipates only when I say that I haven’t been to my country recently.

And

For Western media, this is just another one of those stories about the “killer virus” and the “poor Africans” who must once again be saved and spoken for by Westerners. And, always, there is the most important question: Will the virus come to the United States or Europe?

And concludes:

If you are reading this and believe you do not think about us the ways I have described, ask yourself the following questions: When was the last time you saw, and took the time to read, a positive front-page article about an African country? Have you ever met someone from Africa and decided to tell her what you know about her country and her continent, even if you have never been there? Have you ever noticed yourself speaking slowly and using exaggerated gestures while talking to someone from Africa, assuming that he doesn’t understand English well?

 


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3. Because They Marched by Russell Freedman

Because They Marched: the people's campaign for voting rights that changed America by Russell Freedman Holiday House. 2014 ISBN: 9780824329219 Grades 9 thru 12 To write this review, I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library. While campaigning in 2007 for the presidency, Barack Obama spoke at a ceremony commemorating the forty-second anniversary of the march from Selma to

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4. Three Great Books For Children

I’ve been reading a lot of great children’s books lately and want to tell you about three I recently enjoyed.

1. DON’T TURN THE PAGE by Rachelle Burk (Creston Books) – is a delightful PB about a young hedgehog named Sami who wants mama to read her a story as she gets ready for bed, but tries to prolong the routine by telling Mama “Don’t turn the page.”  Sami’s curiosity makes her question what happens next as she peeks at the next page of the story.  It’s the perfect tale for little ones who are reluctant to say goodnight.

2. EDGAR’S SECOND WORD by Audrey Vernick: This delightful PB tells the tale of a little girl who longs for a baby brother to play with and teach things to.  When Edgar finally arrives, Hazel is disappointed because he can’t talk or do much of anything until one day when he learns his first word.  It is NOT what Hazel expected at all! A charming story for any child waiting for a sibling to be big enough to play with.

3. JUNIPER BERRY by M. P. Kozlowsky: This MG novel is a spooky and engaging tale of a lonely girl whose famous acting parents are acting even stranger than usual.  Once loving and attentive, they’ve now forgotten Juniper is even around. One day she finds them sneaking out after dark toward an old, sinister looking tree.  What is it about that tree – and the blackbird that lives in it – that makes her parents behave so strangely?  Juniper is determined to find out, before it’s too late.

Check out these books and all the other wonderful titles that can be found at your local library or bookstore.  Start the school year off with a great story!


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5. Lunch Prep in Casein

For the two hour Quick-Draw event in Dubois, Wyoming, I painted the action in the commercial kitchen where the food crew was prepping lunch. While I painted, I had a GoPro time lapse camera set up in the midst of the scene. (Direct link to video).

What attracted me was the cool light coming from the window and bouncing off the stainless steel surfaces of the stove, in contrast with the relatively warm light of the indoor fluorescents. 

I painted it in casein on an 8x10 acrylic-primed masonite panel. I used half-inch and 3/4 inch flat synthetic travel brushes, with just a few touches with the smaller rounds.

This is how the casein looks when it's handled with thicker impastos than I would normally use on a sketchbook page. On a panel you don't have to worry about the emulsion cracking.

Casein is the most like oil painting of all the water media. The difference is that with the fast drying time, detail can be added to detail without previous layers picking up, so the medium is perfect for a subject like a kitchen counter with loads of overlapping details, and it's ideal for a plein-air quick-draw, because it encourages faster and more direct handling than oil painting.
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Susan Kathleen Black Foundation Workshop

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6. YA Author Kai Strand's Damaged Goods Blog Tour...



Hey everybody, my name is Kai Strand. I was unpacking books at a signing and came across a copy of King of Bad with a torn cover. Bummer. I can’t sell that! But my loss is your gain. Because I can hold a giveaway instead!

Along with a slightly damaged copy of King of Bad, I’m also giving away several sets of character trading cards. These cards have been specially designed for book one in the series. There will be a separate set of cards designed for each book – so be among the first to own a set.

About the book:

Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.

He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?

Available in print or electronic: Whiskey Creek Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble 

Excerpt:

Jeff admired the growth of the flames as they devoured wads of paper and fast food wrappers in the wire mesh trashcan. He slipped the book of matches into his pocket and sat back on his heels to admire his work. One side of the can merely smoldered so he blew gently to fan the guttering flame. It reminded him of how blowing on Jasmine’s neck the night before had resulted in a lovely arch of her back. He growled a throaty sigh, remembering Jasmine’s blissful distraction as he’d nibbled her earlobe.

“Hey!”

Jeff glanced over his shoulder. A man, who looked like he belonged behind a desk in a downtown high rise, jogged toward him.

“Ah, the sweet sounds of discipline.” Jeff stood, stuffed his fists in the front pockets of his jeans and shook the long bangs out of his eyes. He half expected the guy’s slick-soled business shoes to slip as he jogged across visitor parking. This was Jeff’s favorite part. Almost getting caught. When the guy was a baseball’s toss away, Jeff turned. He walked a couple steps then skipped up into a jog.

“Kid, stop!”

Jeff chuckled to himself and said, “Yeah, sure,” and loped across the soccer field.

“Wait a minute.”

Jeff stole a look over his shoulder. The guy was close even though he didn’t seem to be running very fast. Jeff grinned at him and increased his pace. A seven-foot tall chain link fence ringed in the far side of the field to prevent stray soccer balls from breaking the windows of passing cars on the street below. Jeff leaped onto the fence without slowing down and in two cat-like movements, launched himself over the top. He dropped to the ground, landing on a hill pocked with gopher holes, as easily as if he were jumping around in a bounce house. He smoothly transitioned back into a sprint and dashed across the street, startling a lady driving an SUV.

“Kid, hold up.”

Jeff almost tripped; the guy was half way across the street already. He smirked, finally a decent chase, but not for long. With little effort, Jeff stepped up to a blurring speed. He dashed up a peaceful street that ran perpendicular to the school, where kids rode bikes and ran through sprinklers. Jeff recognized one of the “good” kids from school, washing a ’57 step-side Chevy.

“Sweet ride,” Jeff called out. The kid looked up at him, but then snapped his head to the left. That guy cannot be that close! Jeff looked over his shoulder to find the guy was only a house length behind him. Holy crap, Batman. No one ever keeps up with me!

For the first time in a long time, Jeff worried. But only a little. With a deep, fortifying breath he pumped his thigh muscles harder. He whizzed past houses so fast he doubted anyone would be able to describe him if they were asked to later. Tears streamed sideways from the force of the wind his speed created. He’d only started to breathe a bit more heavily than normal. Jeff was built to run.

“Kid, hold on just a second.”

Jeff stumbled, but regained his footing again before becoming road rash. The guy sounded as if he was only a bus length away. How can that be? No one runs as fast as I do. Jeff’s lungs constricted. An alien emotion, panic, budded in his chest. Stay focused. Controlled, deep breaths allowed calming oxygen into his lungs and up to his brain and Jeff’s airways opened fully again.

Real speed required concentration. Jeff concentrated on his thigh muscles. Usually he only bothered to think about the front muscles in order to ignite his unusual speed, but this time he thought about the sinewy, sleek muscles that wrapped gracefully around the larger front muscles. He envisioned how the smaller muscles provided strength and support to the larger working muscle. He pictured that strength extending into his gluteus maximus to sustain a strong stride. The resulting speed was completely inhuman.

 Reviews:

I loved the world building! It made me wish I was part of it. Strand does a fantastic job of making the world of King of Bad seem like it's a real thing. -Heather

Kind of Bad sucks you in from the first page and doesn't let you go. I couldn't put it down! –Amazon Review

About the author:

When her children were young and the electricity winked out, Kai Strand gathered her family around the fireplace and they told stories, one sentence at a time. Her boys were rather fond of the ending, “And then everybody died. The end.” Now an award winning children’s author, Kai crafts fiction for kids and teens to provide an escape hatch from their reality. With a selection of novels for young adult and middle grade readers and short stories for the younger ones, Kai entertains children of all ages, and their adults. Learn more about Kai and her books on her website, www.kaistrand.com.


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7. TEN Giveaways plus New YALit Releases 9/22 - 9/28

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


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Skink - No Surrender
by Carl Hiaasen
Hardcover Giveaway (5 Copies)
Knopf Books for Young Readers; Advance Reader's Copy edition
Released 9/23/2014

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen serves up his unique brand of swamp-justice in Skink—No Surrender.

Classic Malley—to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard—he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink—he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Carl Hiaasen first introduced readers to Skink more than twenty-five years ago in Double Whammy, and he quickly became Hiaasen’s most iconic and beloved character, appearing in six novels to date. Both teens and adults will be thrilled to catch sight of the elusive “captain” as he finds hilariously satisfying ways to stop internet predators, turtle-egg poachers, and lowlife litterbugs in their tracks. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.

Purchase Skink - No Surrender at Amazon
Purchase Skink - No Surrender at IndieBound
View Skink - No Surrender on Goodreads

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In a Handful of Dust
by Mindy McGinnis
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 9/23/2014

The only thing bigger than the world is fear.

Lucy’s life by the pond has always been full. She has water and friends, laughter and the love of her adoptive mother, Lynn, who has made sure that Lucy’s childhood was very different from her own. Yet it seems Lucy’s future is settled already—a house, a man, children, and a water source—and anything beyond their life by the pond is beyond reach.

When disease burns through their community, the once life-saving water of the pond might be the source of what’s killing them now. Rumors of desalinization plants in California have lingered in Lynn’s mind, and the prospect of a “normal” life for Lucy sets the two of them on an epic journey west to face new dangers: hunger, mountains, deserts, betrayal, and the perils of a world so vast that Lucy fears she could be lost forever, only to disappear in a handful of dust.

In this companion to Not a Drop to Drink, Mindy McGinnis thrillingly combines the heart-swelling hope of a journey, the challenges of establishing your own place in the world, and the gripping physical danger of nature in a futuristic frontier.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about In a Handful of Dust?

The best part of writing DUST was revisiting this world ten years later. Lynn is an adult now, Lucy has become a teen. I got the chance to play with who they had become, how they had grown and changed, and what their relationship is like a decade after their lives in NOT A DROP TO DRINK.

Purchase In a Handful of Dust at Amazon
Purchase In a Handful of Dust at IndieBound
View In a Handful of Dust on Goodreads

* * * *


Survival Colony 9
by Joshua David Bellin
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 9/23/2014

In a future world of dust and ruin, fourteen-year-old Querry Genn struggles to recover the lost memory that might save the human race.

Querry is a member of Survival Colony Nine, one of the small, roving groups of people who outlived the wars and environmental catastrophes that destroyed the old world. The commander of Survival Colony Nine is his father, Laman Genn, who runs the camp with an iron will. He has to--because heat, dust, and starvation aren't the only threats in this ruined world.

There are also the Skaldi.

Monsters with the ability to infect and mimic human hosts, the Skaldi appeared on the planet shortly after the wars of destruction. No one knows where they came from or what they are. But if they're not stopped, it might mean the end of humanity.

Six months ago, Querry had an encounter with the Skaldi--and now he can't remember anything that happened before then. If he can recall his past, he might be able to find the key to defeat the Skaldi.

If he can't, he's their next victim.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Survival Colony 9?

I love the fact that two stories unfold simultaneously in my novel: the big, world-changing story of humanity’s battles against the Skaldi, and the small, intimate story of a teen coming to terms with his past and discovering his place in an extended family. Both of these stories are equally important to the book, and I believe they work together to enrich the reader’s experience: the Skaldi may be demonic, but Querry’s personal demons are just as hard to conquer.

Quick disclaimer before this next paragraph: I am NOT comparing myself to J. R. R. Tolkien! However, The Lord of the Rings was incredibly important to my development as a reader and writer, and one of the things I loved about LOTR when I first read it at age thirteen was how the epic story of the War of the Ring and the small-scale story of Frodo and Sam’s quest so perfectly complemented each other. I’m certain Tolkien’s trilogy influenced my decision to tell a story with a similar, dual focus.


Purchase Survival Colony 9 at Amazon
Purchase Survival Colony 9 at IndieBound
View Survival Colony 9 on Goodreads



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Afterworlds
by Scott Westerfield
Hardcover Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 9/23/2014

Darcy Patel has put college and everything else on hold to publish her teen novel, Afterworlds. Arriving in New York with no apartment or friends she wonders whether she's made the right decision until she falls in with a crowd of other seasoned and fledgling writers who take her under their wings…

Told in alternating chapters is Darcy's novel, a suspenseful thriller about Lizzie, a teen who slips into the 'Afterworld' to survive a terrorist attack. But the Afterworld is a place between the living and the dead and as Lizzie drifts between our world and that of the Afterworld, she discovers that many unsolved - and terrifying - stories need to be reconciled. And when a new threat resurfaces, Lizzie learns her special gifts may not be enough to protect those she loves and cares about most.



Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Afterworlds?

Afterworlds is two interleaved books, really. The odd-numbered chapters tell the story of Darcy Patel, a young writer moving away from home; the even chapters are the entirety of Darcy's first novel, which she's rewriting throughout that same year. The most exciting part of writing a dual novel was linking the two narratives, having things spill over from Darcy's day-today reality into her fiction. All writers steal from reality, so what Darcy experiences in her life always bubbles up in her novel, whether it's a setting, a realization about true love, or just a new word.


Collectively, the two books are my really long answer to the question that all writers dread, "Where do you get your ideas?"

Purchase Afterworlds at Amazon
Purchase Afterworlds at IndieBound
View Afterworlds on Goodreads

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Tabula Rasa
by Kristen Lippert-Martin
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
EgmontUSA
Released 9/23/2014

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this action-packed debut thriller with a Katniss-esque heroine fighting to regain her memories and stay alive, set against a dystopian hospital background.

Sarah starts a crazy battle for her life within the walls of her hospital-turned-prison when a procedure to eliminate her memory goes awry and she starts to remember snatches of her past. Was she an urban terrorist or vigilante? Has the procedure been her salvation or her destruction?

The answers lie trapped within her mind. To access them, she'll need the help of the teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, and a pill that's blocked by an army of mercenary soldiers poised to eliminate her for good. If only she knew why . . .

"This is a snap-the-whip story, dark and fast. The sparks of humor in the voice won me over. Bottom line: I think the cocktail of suspense and believable smart-assery adds up to an addictive dose of reader appeal." --Blythe Woolston, author of the William C. Morris Award winner The Freak Observer

Releases simultaneously in electronic book format (ISBN: 9781606845196).

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Tabula Rasa?

My favorite thing about Tabula Rasa is Sarah!

As things get worse and worse and worse for her -- not only does she take a physical beating, but an emotional one too -- she manages to find a way to rise to the occasion each time. Sometimes by being clever, sometimes by being vulnerable, and sometimes she does it even when she doesn't know what to do. She just grits her teeth and gets on with it. The girl's a fighter in the best possible way.


Purchase Tabula Rasa at Amazon
Purchase Tabula Rasa at IndieBound
View Tabula Rasa on Goodreads



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Unmade
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Hardcover Giveaway
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 9/23/2014

A modern, magical twist on the Gothic romance and girl detective genres, the Lynburn Legacy books will appeal to fans of both Beautiful Creatures and the Mortal Instruments series.

Powerful love comes with a price. Who will be the sacrifice?


Kami has lost the boy she loves, is tied to a boy she does not, and faces an enemy more powerful than ever before. With Jared missing for months and presumed dead, Kami must rely on her new magical link with Ash for the strength to face the evil spreading through her town.

Rob Lynburn is now the master of Sorry-in-the-Vale, and he demands a death. Kami will use every tool at her disposal to stop him. Together with Rusty, Angela, and Holly, she uncovers a secret that might be the key to saving the town. But with knowledge comes responsibility—and a painful choice. A choice that will risk not only Kami’s life, but also the lives of those she loves most.


Purchase Unmade at Amazon
Purchase Unmade at IndieBound
View Unmade on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


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Color Song
by Victoria Strauss
Hardcover
Skyscape
Released 9/16/2014

Winner - Marie Oliva

By the author of the acclaimed "Passion Blue," a "Kirkus Reviews" Best Teen Book of 2012 and "a rare, rewarding, sumptuous exploration of artistic passion," comes a fascinating companion novel.

Artistically brilliant, Giulia is blessed?or cursed?with a spirit's gift: she can hear the mysterious singing of the colors as she creates them in the convent workshop of Maestra Humilit?. It's here that Giulia, forced into the convent against her will, has found unexpected happiness and rekindled her passion to become a painter?an impossible dream for any woman in 15th century Italy.

But when a dying Humilit? bequeaths Giulia her most prized possession?the secret formula for the luminously beautiful paint called Passion blue?Giulia realizes she's in danger from those who have long coveted the famous color. Faced with the prospect of a life in the convent barred from painting as punishment for keeping Humilit s secret, Giulia is struck by a desperate idea: What if she disguises herself as a boy? Could she make her way to Venice and find work as an artist's apprentice?

Along with the truth of who she is, Giulia carries more dangerous secrets: the exquisite voices of her paint colors and the formula for Humilit s Passion blue. And Venice, she discovers, with its gilded palazzos and masked balls, has secrets of its own. Trapped in her false identity in this dream-like place where reality and reflection are easily confused, and where art and ambition, love and deception hover like dense fog, can Giulia find her way?

This stunning, compelling novel explores timeless themes of love and illusion, gender and identity as it asks the question: what does it mean to risk everything to pursue your passion?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Color Song?

Without a doubt, being able to set a novel in 15th century Venice. I visited Venice just once, but it made an indelible impression on me (as it has on so many people) and it was wonderful to become a time traveler for a little while, and imagine the glorious city as my heroine, Giulia, would have experienced it.

Researching COLOR SONG was so much fun--there are so many wonderful resources, including an amazing (and huge) map of the city created in 1500, which shows every street, square, canal, and building in Venice, and is so detailed that you can count the windows of the houses and see the wellheads in the squares. It was invaluable in helping me and Giulia find our way around. Giulia's experiences also reflect my own memories of Venice--from the magnificent yet crumbling palazzos, to the bustle of the Rialto, to the maze of squares and alleyways and canals in which it's incredibly easy to get completely lost. I'd love to set another book there some day.


Purchase Color Song at Amazon
Purchase Color Song at IndieBound
View Color Song on Goodreads

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Falls the Shadow
by Stefanie Gaither
Hardcover
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 9/16/2014

Winner - Sarah Koslowski

When Cate Benson was a kid, her sister, Violet, died. Two hours after the funeral, Cate’s family picked up Violet’s replacement. Like nothing had happened. Because Cate’s parents are among those who decided to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth—which means this new Violet has the same smile. The same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all of the same memories as the girl she replaced.

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.

At least, that’s what the paparazzi and the anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that. She’s used to defending her sister, too. But Violet has vanished, and when Cate sets out to find her, she ends up in the line of fire instead. Because Cate is getting dangerously close to secrets that will rock the foundation of everything she thought was true.

In a thrilling debut, Stefanie Gaither takes readers on a nail-biting ride through a future that looks frighteningly similar to our own time and asks: how far are you willing to go to keep your family together?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Falls the Shadow?

Besides the fact that it's an actual, real life book that I can now hold in my hands, lol? :) Hmm, I'd have to say it's the relationship between my protagonist, Cate, and her sister's clone, Violet. These two were so explosive anytime they ended up on the page together, and I loved bringing their complicated history and unconventional bond to life.


Purchase Falls the Shadow at Amazon
Purchase Falls the Shadow at IndieBound
View Falls the Shadow on Goodreads

* * * *


Get Even
by Gretchen McNeil
Paperback
Balzer + Bray; Original edition
Released 9/16/2014

Winner - Tammy Hughes

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars in Gretchen McNeil’s witty and suspenseful novel about four disparate girls who join forces to take revenge on high school bullies and create dangerous enemies for themselves in the process.

Bree, Olivia, Kitty, and Margot have nothing in common—at least that’s what they’d like the students and administrators of their elite private school to think. The girls have different goals, different friends, and different lives, but they share one very big secret: They’re all members of Don’t Get Mad, a secret society that anonymously takes revenge on the school’s bullies, mean girls, and tyrannical teachers.

When their latest target ends up dead with a blood-soaked “DGM” card in his hands, the girls realize that they’re not as anonymous as they thought—and that someone now wants revenge on them. Soon the clues are piling up, the police are closing in . . . and everyone has something to lose.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Get Even?

I think my favorite thing about the book is the mix of comedy and suspense. I was definitely influenced by Heathers, a movie that manages to be menacing and hilarious at the same time, and I worked really hard to gain the right balance between the two. I had so much fun with the humor, especially with some of the secondary characters like Ed the Head and Peanut, and I think it heightens the suspense to have moments of terror juxtaposed against moments of hilarity.

At least, I hope it is!


Purchase Get Even at Amazon
Purchase Get Even at IndieBound
View Get Even on Goodreads

* * * *


Hunt for Jade Dragon
by Richard Paul Evans
Hardcover
Simon Pulse/Mercury Ink
Released 9/16/2014

Winner - Natalie Hughes

Michael and his friends must rescue a child prodigy as the thrilling action continues in this electrifying fourth installment of the #1 New York Times bestselling series!

Michael, Taylor, Ostin and the rest of the Electroclan head to China in search of a girl who may have discovered why Michael and his friends became electric. Her name is Lin Julung, or Jade Dragon, and she’s a child prodigy with an IQ higher than Einstein’s—and Ostin’s.

But Hatch gets to her first, and the Elgen are holding her prisoner in their Taiwan Starxource plant. Now the Voice wants Michael and the Electroclan to go to Taiwan and free her before Hatch can realize his dreams of an army of electric children.

The hunt for Jade Dragon is on, and it’s a race against time!

Purchase Hunt for Jade Dragon at Amazon
Purchase Hunt for Jade Dragon at IndieBound
View Hunt for Jade Dragon on Goodreads

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Made for You
by Melissa Marr
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 9/16/2014

Winner - Shyanne Torres

Bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely books Melissa Marr’s first contemporary YA novel is a twisted southern gothic tale of obsession, romance, and murder. A killer is obsessed with Eva Tilling. Can she stop him, or will he claim her?

When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

For the first time, New York Times bestselling author Melissa Marr has applied her extraordinary talent to contemporary realism. Chilling twists, unrequited obsession, and high-stakes romance drive this Gothic, racy thriller—a story of small-town oppression and salvation. Melissa’s fans, and every YA reader, will find its wild ride enthralling.

Purchase Made for You at Amazon
Purchase Made for You at IndieBound
View Made for You on Goodreads

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The Vault of Dreamers
by Caragh M. O'Brien
Hardcover
Roaring Brook Press
Released 9/16/2014

Winner - Tayte Hunter

From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.



Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Vault of Dreamers?

My favorite thing about The Vault of Dreamers is likely to be its most controversial aspect, too, and that’s the ending. I can’t explain it without spoilers, but I can say that Rosie’s story is really a novel of ideas. The characters are artists at an arts school where creativity is highly prized, and they are urged to take risks and experiment. To be true to that premise, I felt that I needed to take risks, too, and since my art form is the novel, I played with the book itself. I wrote what fascinated me, even when that involved exploring unknown dimensions, and it became intense. So, my favorite thing is the last chapter. It’s the perfect ending for this particular book.

Purchase The Vault of Dreamers at Amazon
Purchase The Vault of Dreamers at IndieBound
View The Vault of Dreamers on Goodreads

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Wildlife
by Fiona Wood
Hardcover
Poppy
Released 9/16/2014

Winner - Hannah Clark

During a semester in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sib expects the tough outdoor education program and the horrors of dorm life, but friendship drama and an unexpected romance with popular Ben Capaldi? That will take some navigating.

New girl Lou has zero interest in fitting in, or joining in. Still reeling from a loss that occurred almost a year ago, she just wants to be left alone. But as she witnesses a betrayal unfolding around Sib and her best friend Holly, Lou can't help but be drawn back into the land of the living.

Fans of Melina Marchetta, Rainbow Rowell, and E. Lockhart will adore this endearing and poignant story of first love, true friendship, and going a little bit wild.


Purchase Wildlife at Amazon
Purchase Wildlife at IndieBound
View Wildlife on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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Lark Rising
by Sandra Waugh
Hardcover
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 9/23/2014

Full of romance and nature magic, this debut fantasy is perfect for fans of Shannon Hale, Juliet Marillier, and Kristin Cashore.

“A beautifully realized world, a unique voice, and a compelling, action-packed story. This is a striking debut novel with a lovely folkloric flavor.” —Juliet Marillier, author of Wildwood Dancing

Lark has foreseen two things—she will fall for a young man with sage green eyes,and he will kill her.

Sixteen-year-old Lark Carew is happiest close to home, tending her garden and gathering herbs for medicines. But when her Sight warns her that monsters called Troths will soon invade her village, Lark is summoned on a journey to seek help from the legendary Riders of Tarnec. Little does she suspect that one of the Riders, Gharain, is the very man who has haunted her visions. Or that the people of Tarnec have called her there for another reason: Lark is the Guardian of Life, the first of four Guardians who must awaken their powers to recover four stolen amulets. Together, the amulets—Life, Death, Dark, and Light—keep the world in Balance. To take back the Life amulet, Lark will have to discover her true inner strength and give in to a love that she swears will be her downfall.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Lark Rising?

Aside from immersing myself in another world, Lark Carew is my favorite part of my story.
I am all for kick-ass, sword wielding heroines, but I wrote LARK RISING in part to celebrate the quiet ones—those whose strengths are not apparent at first look, whose shyness might be dismissed as meaning too meek or weak to make a difference. I am always moved by the silent powers—resolve, the ability to endure, to be resilient. I love that these are Lark’s weapons.


Purchase Lark Rising at Amazon
Purchase Lark Rising at IndieBound
View Lark Rising on Goodreads

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The Bodies We Wear
by Jeyn Roberts
Hardcover
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 9/23/2014

A streetwise girl trains to take on a gang of drug dealers and avenge her best friend’s death in this thriller for fans of Scott Westerfeld and Robin Wasserman.

People say when you take Heam, your body momentarily dies and you catch a glimpse of heaven. Faye was only eleven when dealers forced Heam on her and her best friend, Christian. But Faye didn’t glimpse heaven—she saw hell. And Christian died.

Now Faye spends her days hiding her secret from the kids at school, and her nights training to take revenge on the men who destroyed her life and murdered her best friend. But life never goes the way we think it will. When a mysterious young man named Chael appears, Faye's plan suddenly gets a lot more complicated. Chael seems to know everything about her, including her past. But too many secrets start tearing her world apart: trouble at school, with the police, and with the people she thought might be her friends. Even Gazer, her guardian, fears she's become too obsessed with vengeance. Love and death. Will Faye overcome her desires, or will her quest for revenge consume her?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Bodies We Wear?

Oooo, that’s a tough one. I couldn’t possibly pick a favorite. Not just one! I really like Faye’s personality. Her tough as nails attitude on the outside, and her caring and nurturing feelings on the inside. I also really enjoy her relationship with both Gazer and Beth.

Purchase The Bodies We Wear at Amazon
Purchase The Bodies We Wear at IndieBound
View The Bodies We Wear on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Adrenaline Crush
by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 9/23/2014

When a daredevil teen pushes herself too far, she must choose between two boys: the one who wants to keep her safe, and the one who dares her to return to her old self.

Seventeen-year-old Dyna comes from a family of risk takers and is an avid thrill-seeker herself, until the day she splinters her ankle in a terrible fall. Her whole life goes from mountain biking and rock climbing to sitting at home and attending group sessions at the bizarre alternative healing center that her hippie mother found. The boy who witnessed Dyna’s accident believes her injury is a wakeup call and he encourages her mild new lifestyle, but a young Afghanistan War veteran she meets at the healing center pushes her to start taking chances again. Forced to face the consequences of her daredevil impulses, Dyna finds herself in danger of risking the one thing she’s always treated with caution—her heart.

Purchase Adrenaline Crush at Amazon
Purchase Adrenaline Crush at IndieBound
View Adrenaline Crush on Goodreads

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Firebug
by Lish McBride
Hardcover
Henry Holt and Co.
Released 9/23/2014

Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hitmen . . . and she doesn’t like it one bit. Not least because her boss, Venus, killed Ava’s mother. When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum, in Lish McBride's Firebug.

Purchase Firebug at Amazon
Purchase Firebug at IndieBound
View Firebug on Goodreads

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Messenger of Fear
by Michael Grant
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 9/23/2014

I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out . . .

Purchase Messenger of Fear at Amazon
Purchase Messenger of Fear at IndieBound
View Messenger of Fear on Goodreads

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On a Clear Day
by Walter Dean Myers
Hardcover
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 9/23/2014

Young heroes decide that they are not too young or too powerless to change their world in this gripping, futuristic young adult novel by the New York Times bestselling author of the Printz Award–winning Monster.

It is 2035. Teens, armed only with their ideals, must wage war on the power elite.

Dahlia is a Low Gater: a sheep in a storm, struggling to survive completely on her own. The Gaters live in closed safe communities, protected from the Sturmers, mercenary thugs. And the C-8, a consortium of giant companies, control global access to finance, media, food, water, and energy resources—and they are only getting bigger and even more cutthroat. Dahlia, a computer whiz, joins forces with an ex-rocker, an ex-con, a chess prodigy, an ex-athlete, and a soldier wannabe. Their goal: to sabotage the C-8. But how will Sayeed, warlord and terrorist, fit into the equation?

Walter Dean Myers was a prolific author for young people, writing over one hundred books and receiving every major award in the field of children's literature during his lifetime. He was the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature during 2012 and 2013.

Purchase On a Clear Day at Amazon
Purchase On a Clear Day at IndieBound
View On a Clear Day on Goodreads

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Remember Me
by Romily Bernard
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 9/23/2014

In the sequel to Find Me, Wick Tate, sarcastic teen hacker, is back and once again dealing with criminals and corrupt cops…and a brooding new love interest. Will Wick persevere when some secrets refuse to stay hidden?

Wick had thought her troubles were over.

But she should’ve known better.

Not only is she embroiled in a new murder case, which starts with a body with “Remember Me” carved into it and doesn’t stop there, but she also discovers new evidence surrounding her mother’s suicide…which leads her right back to her imprisoned deadbeat dad. And she has to deal with her flirty new hacker friend, Milo, sniffing around—which her boyfriend, Griff, isn’t too happy about.

The pressure might be too much as secrets—including Wick’s own—climb to the surface.

Remember Me is an edge-of-your-seat thrilling read that’ll have readers turning the pages at lightning speed! The paperback of Find Me is on sale simultaneously, and a digital original novella from Romily, featuring Griff, is on sale just a few weeks before!

Purchase Remember Me at Amazon
Purchase Remember Me at IndieBound
View Remember Me on Goodreads

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Salt & Storm
by Kendall Kulper
Hardcover
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 9/23/2014

A sweeping historical romance about a witch who foresees her own murder--and the one boy who can help change her future.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Roe wants only to take her rightful place as the witch of Prince Island, making the charms that keep the island's whalers safe at sea, but her mother has forced her into a magic-free world of proper manners and respectability. When Avery dreams she's to be murdered, she knows time is running out to unlock her magic and save herself.

Avery finds an unexpected ally in a tattooed harpoon boy named Tane--a sailor with magic of his own, who moves Avery in ways she never expected. Becoming a witch might stop her murder and save her island from ruin, but Avery discovers her magic requires a sacrifice she never prepared for.

Purchase Salt & Storm at Amazon
Purchase Salt & Storm at IndieBound
View Salt & Storm on Goodreads

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Tape
by Steve Camden
Hardcover
HarperCollinsChildren'sBooks
Released 1/30/2014

Record a voice and it lasts forever…

In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape.

This is their story.

Purchase Tape at Amazon
Purchase Tape at IndieBound
View Tape on Goodreads


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8. The Truth About Twinkie Pie: Review Haiku

Southern-fried cooking
comes to Long Island, packed with
family secrets.

The Truth About Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh. Little Brown, 2015, 352 pages.

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9. DESIGN LABEL - seasalt

Something else I discovered in Totnes was the Cornish label Seasalt. The business was founded in Cornwall 1981 but it wasn't until 2003 that they began to design their own exclusive prints. Their patterns feature lots of boats, Cornish flowers, and Seaside themes and are created in-house by designers Sophie Chadwick and Laura Watson. The colourful designs are put to good use not only on

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10. The Body Electric: An Interview With Author Beth Revis!

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My friends, I am in COUNTDOWN MODE. Beth Revis’s new novel The Body Electric is nearly with us, and it’s so close I can taste it! October 6th, you are so close! From the NYT bestselling author who catapulted us into space with Across The Universe, this is a new story that answers the question: what happened on earth while the Godspeed was making her way to a new world? Bring. It. On. I’ve already ordered my limited-edition copy! And today, I’ve got Beth here with us to answer all our burning questions!

But first, a little about The Body Electric…

The Body ElectricElla Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?

Beth, welcome! In Across The Universe and its sequels, you took us into space, trapped us on claustrophobic ships and landed us on incredible new planets. Tell us about your inspiration for The Body Electric! Where did this story start? A dream? A musical clip? Plain, old-fashioned brainstorming?

I first started getting the idea for The Body Electric while writing Shades of Earth, the last AtU novel. Amy and Elder have a little interaction with Earth, and it’s not positive. It made me start thinking: what was happening on Earth while Amy and Elder were in space? How did Earth change to become the kind of place where the events that happened in Shades of Earth happened?

Of course, I was also influenced by a lifetime of reading and SF movies–especially the works of Philip K. Dick. There are hints of Total Recall and Blade Runner in this book.

beth revis headshotThat’s insanely cool, and I think it’s a question more than one reader has wondered about– I certainly did! So, if you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?

NONE OF THEM OMG EVERYONE IS ALWAYS ABOUT A CHAPTER AWAY FROM DEATH IN MY BOOKS. I want to stay right here, pants-less and on my couch, thank you very much.

That is a point very well made. On to other things! Your decision to self-publish The Body Electric has given you a lot of freedom to release and promote the book exactly the way you want, from getting hands-on in cover design to the choice to include amazing swag with your limited-edition paperback. Can you tell us a bit about that decision and your journey?

I did not come to self-publishing lightly, although now it seems like the clear, obvious choice. My agent helped me a TON in making this decision and in realizing the potential I had with doing this book exactly the right way for my readers. A big part of my motivation to self publish came from wanting to thank the people who made my career what it is: my readers and indie bookstores. So I made the Limited Edition–it has 30 pages of extra content, full color art cards, a coupon for an ebook copy, swag, and more. And I was able to choose the price, and keep it at $14.99. And the Limited Edition is only available from my local indie bookstore, but the Special Edition–with all the same content, minus the art cards and my signature–is available from any bookstore in America.

Of course, the book is available in lots of other formats: a cheaper paperback available through Amazon, e-book editions, etc.

The freedom of this has been amazing. I love having such a voice in every aspect, from the cover design, to the price, to literally everything. It’s been so freeing.

Seriousness aside: Pub Brawl!!!!! What weapon are you wielding?

My weapon is Jayne from Firefly. I win.

Yes, yes you do. I have nothing to add on that count. What are you reading right now?

I’ve just started reading The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin. I’m so jealous I didn’t write this book. It’s been brilliant–an engaging plot, crafted masterfully. [Amie: On Beth's recommendation I've just picked up a copy, can't wait to get stuck in!]

Beth, thank you so much for visiting! We can’t WAIT for The Body Electric!

Beth Revis is the NY Times bestselling author of the Across the Universe series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth’s new science fiction novel for teens, The Body Electric, will release October 6, 2014. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram.

amie165c-twitterAmie Kaufman is the co-author of THESE BROKEN STARS, a YA sci-fi novel out now from Disney-Hyperion (US) and Allen & Unwin (Australia). Book two, THIS SHATTERED WORLD is out in December! Her new trilogy will start with ILLUMINAE, coming from Random House/Knopf in 2015. She is represented by Tracey Adams of Adams Literary. You can find her on Twitter or on Facebook, or visit the These Broken Stars website for exclusive sneak-peeks and contests. Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and rescue dog.

 

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11. STORE SNAPS - totnes

I have recently been on holiday in Devon and popped into the lovely town of Totnes which has a really cute high street full of independent shops. Here are some of the snap shots I took in stores such as Gazebo,  Penelope Tom and Paperworks. If you are ever in Devon then Totnes is a great place to visit and I can see why designers such as Jane Foster and Alice Apple chose to make it their home.

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12. Content Marketing - Just How Fast Can You Write an Article? (8 tips on how to speed up your article writing)

I don't know about you, but I can take a while to write an article, usually an hour and then some. Even if I have an idea, I still try to add extra value into the article by doing a bit of research and getting 'social proof' to back up what I'm saying. For this article I decided to time it, so I can see just how long it takes me to create a top-notch, error-free (relatively) piece of content.

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13. Mailbox Monday - 9/22/14

 
Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. (Library books don’t count, but eBooks & audiobooks do).    

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists!

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia @ A Girl and Her Books, has a permanent home now at Mailbox Monday.


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Every week Mailbox Monday will have a new linky posted for our Mailbox Monday links at Marcia's Mailbox Monday blog.

Here’s a shout out to the new administrators:

Leslie of Under My Apple Tree 
Vicki of I’d Rather Be at the Beach
Serena @ Savvy Verse And Wit 

THANKS to everyone for keeping Mailbox Monday alive. 

 ****************
I hope you had a good mailbox.  

I had a FANTASTIC mailbox.  :)

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On Tuesday, September 16, I received:

1.  WORTH BROWN'S DAUGHTER by Phillip Margolin, courtesy of Andrea Hackett of Harper Collins.

 

2.  AUNTY LEE'S DEADLY SPECIALS by Ovidia Yu, courtesy of Joanne Minutillo of Harper Collins.
 
This looks like a fun book.  :)

3.  VINTAGE by Susan Gloss, courtesy of Alaina Waagner of Harper Collins. 

   
Love the cover on this book.

On Thursday, September 18, I received:

1.  VILLAGE OF SECRETS by Caroline Moorehead, courtesy of Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.


This is for a TLC blog tour on November 7.

On Friday, September 20, I received:

1. THE KILLER NEXT DOOR by Alex Marwood, courtesy of Christopher Smith of Penguin Randomhouse.


2.  JULIET'S NURSE by Lois Leveen, courtesy of David Brown of Simon & Schuster.


**********
 How about your mailbox?   

Any titles in your mailbox that you were excited about seeing?
**********


 
 


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14. Picture Book Monday with a review of Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie

For as long as there have been books, there have been bookworms, people who love books and who are happy to spend hours reading them. Sometimes bookworms get so wrapped up in the books that they read that they have trouble connecting with the real world. In today's picture book you are going to meet a big who is just such a bookworm.

Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm BirdieCalvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie
Jennifer Berne
Illustrated by Keith Bendis
Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Sterling, 2010, 978-1-4027-7323-5
Calvin is a young starling and he lives under the eaves of an old barn with his siblings and all his cousins. When the young starlings explore the ground for the first time, Calvin’s siblings discover worms, grass, dirt, and water. Calvin discovers a book, and from that moment he is hooked on the written word. While Calvin’s brothers and sisters are chasing insects, Calvin is learning to read, and when they are taking flying lessons, Calvin is at the library reading books. Though Calvin does not know how to fly, “his mind soared” when he reads books. Books can take “him to places wings never could.”
   Though Calvin’s cousins tease him and called him names, Calvin does not give up his love of books. Instead he sadly goes to the library, the one place where he feels happy. He spends his summer reading and learning, soaking up information about everything and anything.
   Then summer turns into fall and the starlings prepare to fly south. There is just one problem. Calvin cannot fly, which means that he will have to stay in the barn for the fall and winter. All alone.

   In this wonderful picture book we see how important it is to follow your heart, even if it means that you don’t always fit in with your peers. Readers will be delighted to see that in the end, Calvin’s love of books turns out to be an asset for him and his extremely large family. Being a bookworm might not, in some people’s opinion, be ‘cool,’ but the rest of know better.

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15. New Adult: A Genre is Born

“Mixing romance with the life-changing experiences of early adulthood – college life, first jobs, independence, self-discovery and finding love – theses authors are defining the new genre of New Adult. New Adult fiction blazed onto the scene a few years ago and rapidly captured the hearts and minds of readers. YA readers love the contemporary settings and frank discussions of sometimes taboo topics, while older romance fans love the raw emotions.” – Publisher’s Weekly Promo Email for this Webcast

I’m getting back to the original roots of this blog – when I shared notes from workshops and conferences – and will be sharing some notes today! The following are my scribblings from the Publishers Weekly Webcast on Sept 17th, 2014.

**Disclaimer: None of these notes are direct quotes from the authors. Please listen the Publisher’s weekly archive of this webcast to hear exactly what the authors said.**

New Adult Authors

MODERATOR, Rose Fox (Reviews editor for Publisher’s Weekly) started off the cast by asking each author to introduce themselves and their books.

Cora Carmack is the author of the Loosing It Series and the Rusk University Series. She writes lighthearted and funny books about real people struggling with realistic problems. Her 18-25 year-old characters ask: who am I, and what do I want to do with my life. She has eight New Adult titles under her belt, and her series are companion novels so you can read them out of order.

Molly McAdams has three New Adult titles and writes the Taking Chances and Forgiving Lies Series. She likes to focus on the serious side of New Adult, and doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. For example her new title Sharing You explores what it means to be “the other woman” and involved with a married man. She considers herself an emotional writer, and wants to look at the things that have been swept under the rug.

Nichole Chase writes the Royals Series, which she calls happy fluffy romances. She has three New Adult titles and her latest book is her first foray into darker subject matter. She also writes Young Adult.

J.Lynn is a prolific writer who has published young adult, new adult, and adult books. She also writes under the name Jennifer L. Armentrout. She writes about secrets, which are a common thread in her New Adult work, and likes exploring how keeping secrets can shape your future. She has four New Adult titles, as well as some paranormal New Adult coming out.

Sophie Jordan writes the Ivy Chronicles Series, which was inspired by a news article about college Key Clubs that she and her agent were joking about, only to discover it was the great premise for a series. She has three New Adult titles in her repertoire, but also writes Young Adult and Adult Historical Romance.

Jay Crownover writes about all the stuff that got her into trouble when she was a new adult. Her books focus on counter culture: tattoos, metal, rock n’ roll, etc. With nine New Adult titles, she loves exploring opposites attract stories, and writes the Marked Men Series.

MODERATOR: New Adult has only existed for a few years. Can we define what New Adult is and what it isn’t?

Wait for youJ. Lynn: New Adult is not a market. New Adult means the characters are between 18 and 25 years in age. Sometimes the love interests are outside of that age range. New Adult is all about firsts without a safety net. It’s first love, first lust, first home, first job, etc. It’s not having your parents to fall back on. Instead these characters are becoming independent for the first time. It’s not sexed up Young Adult. It goes far beyond that. It’s also not a marketing ploy to attract 18 to 25 year-old readers. Our readers range from 15 to 75!

“New Adult is all about firsts without a safety net.”

Sophie: YA is read by adults, but YA teen readers don’t jump from young adult to adult books. New Adult has pulled from both the YA and adult readership and created a bridge between the two. YA is the first kiss or first love. New Adult is the first time that really matters. These are relationships that could last the rest of the character’s lives. In YA these romantic relationships have less weight.

MODERATOR: How has self-publishing been a part of your path as a New Adult author?

All lined upCora: My first book was self-published and then picked up by a traditional publisher. And now, I’m about to return to self-publishing with a New Adult paranormal series. I’ve decided to go indy because I’m ready for new sub-genres in New Adult. However, publishers are nervous to see anything in New Adult that’s outside of the current contemporary setting. It’s a shelving issue. Booksellers and librarians don’t know what to do with New Adult. The genre is just staring to find a mainstream audience. Going for digital self-publishing with this new series allows me to experiment. I can play with pricing, release dates, re-branding, etc. It creates a lot of great flexibility, and I only have to be worried about myself, rather than a whole company.

“When you self-publish as an individual you can front failure better than a publisher can.”

J.Lynn: My first New Adult book Wait for You was also self-published. Many of us on this panel actually self-published first. I am also working on a New Adult paranormal project that will be self-published. There’s a belief out there that paranormal is dead. But readers are still buying it. When you self-publish as an individual you can front failure better than a publisher can. Our readers are out there asking what’s next in New Adult. Is it paranormal, horror, New Adult without romance? But just because they’re asking for it doesn’t guarantee that they will buy it. Self-publishing allows us to experiment with lower risk.

RoyalNichole: My first New Adult book was paranormal and self-published. I think paranormal is something the market still wants to read. People who love the paranormal genre are still out there. They’re still reading it. I like paranormal because of the creativity it allows and how my imagination can run wild.

Jay: I always wanted to write what I wanted to read. I like exploring more grit, life hardships, and what it means to try to find your place. Not everyone’s journey is to the “sweeter places.” I like stories with a steel backbone.

MODERATOR: How has digital publishing and novellas influenced New Adult?

Molly: People like digital publishing and how they can get books quick. With a novella the publishing process is faster, and the product is cheaper for the reader. Novellas really are full-length novels that are branded as a novella. But they’re quick reads. My readers say they often read one book a day.

Taking ChancesJ.Lynn: New Adult is a digital phenomenon. The genre really took off in 2011 and 2012 with the explosion of e-readers. Books are priced at $3.99, which is considered the “impulse buy price.” And readers like the immediate download. The low price point allows readers to dip their toes in the water. There’s less risk that they’ve invested in something they won’t like. Often New Adult books are under 100,000 words, but I’ve seen them as high as 140,000 words.

“$3.99 is the juicy spot in e-book pricing.”

Cora: $3.99 is the juicy spot in e-book pricing. It means the reader will read it right after they buy it. Whereas a book purchased for $0.99 often languishes on their e-reader. A $3.99 purchase has more weight. It’s still under $5, but feels like enough of an investment to read the book. New Adult writers are really prolific, which has to do with the initial demand and boom of the genre. But there’s a lot of competition out there now, both from self-published books and trade publications. Pricing is a big deal where there’s so much content out there. I’ve heard some people say online that they won’t buy a book that’s over $2.99, and they’re waiting for my books to go on sale. But we’re constantly exploring what works.

Sophie: One of my favorite reviews said: “Great book. Don’t let the $2.99 price tag scare you.”

MODERATOR: Where should librarians shelve New Adult books? Some are afraid to put it with YA because of the sexy content, but others are afraid it will get lost in the adult section. Any advice?

jay cCora: Some libraries are doing New Adult displays. But they’re not committing to a whole section because they don’t know if there’s a readership for it. In bookstores you often see New Adult shelved in the romance section. It’s interesting, I went into Books-a-Million, which has a New Adult shelf, and noticed that a huge percentage of the books are bestsellers. There were more bestsellers in the New Adult section than any other part of the store. Libraries should give New Adult a chance, there is a readership!

J.Lynn: The label “New Adult” is also what can confuse readers. Anyone who isn’t on blogs or twitter may have never heard of this term. Books-a-Million relabeled their New Adult sections as “Summer Love” in the summer, and “Fall into Love” in the autumn. This is helping the mainstream readership learn what New Adult is.

MODERATOR: Is this a woman’s genre? Is there room for male reader and writers? What about diversity?

wildSophie: Right now the New Adult audience is a lot like the romance demographic. It is women of all ages. Some books are written in a guy’s POV, but most are in the female perspective. My Young Adult books have a higher percentage of male readers than my New Adult books do. But the YA books also explore other issues in them, where my New Adult is romance focused. It’s also about packaging and titles. A cover with a sexy guy kissing a girl is designed to only attract female readers.

Jay: I have more dude readers than most. I have a lot of college-age guys who email me and let me know they read my books. Fifty Shades has changed what is acceptable. Everyone bought Fifty Shades and read it on the bus or the subway.

“Reader purchasing habits speak for themselves. The power is really in the readers and librarians hands.”

J. Lynn: In terms of diversity, reader purchasing habits speak for themselves. The power is really in the readers and librarians hands. But yes, we do need awareness that these books exist. It’s taken a long time for diversity to make it into Young Adult books, I hope it doesn’t take as long to make its way to New Adult.

Molly: Readers do want mixed races in their New Adult books. I’ve had a lot of positive response to having an Asian character in one of my novellas.

Cora: Diversity is about getting the books into the readers hands, and then it comes down to buying power. We can say all day that New Adult has room for new subgenres (dystopian, sci-fi, etc.), and those books do exist. In fact, New Adult gets a lot of flak for being only romance. But those sub-genres are out there right now. But I can’t control what readers buy.

Moderator: I guess the genre really is what you make it! Thank you all for participating in this panel.

Learn more about this webcast, upcoming talks, and look through the archives here: Publisher’s Weekly Webcasts


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16. It's Monday! What Are You Reading?




Join Jen at Teach Mentor Texts for this week's link up!




I am trying to read everything I can by Mac Barnett and I somehow missed President Taft is Stuck in the Bath earlier this year when it was released.    It was a really fun book and I loved the endnotes about the real story of President Taft.  And if you are not a huge Mac Barnett fan yet, you MUST watch this Ted Talk that he did about the power of story. Thanks to @PaulWHankins for sharing this talk!





I discovered Winter is Coming by Tony Johnston during my last Cover to Cover visit.  This will be a great book to use during Writing Workshop-I love all of the amazing language and the idea of capturing things in a notebook.  Looking forward to sharing this one later this fall.



I've been hearing lots about The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc and was not disappointed when I picked up my copy.  This is a great story of friendship that will invite lots of conversation. It reminded me a bit of two of my favorite picture books, South and How to Heal a Broken Wing.  Definitely one I'll use to talk about universal themes. 



I reread Sisters by Raina Telgemeir this week.  I planned our first 3 Books and Breakfast events (book clubs before school around one book each month) and I chose Sisters as the 2nd book.  I wanted to include a graphic novel early on and this one seemed to give us lots to talk about.  I showed this book trailer to my students on Friday and there was a lot of interest in this book.





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17. Bee Time review

       The most recent addition to the complete review is my review of Mark L. Winston's Lessons from the Hive, in Bee Time.

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18. Mix It Up!

MixItUpCover

(image via here.)

by Hervé Tullet (Chronicle Books, 2014)

First of all. Welcome to the new Design of the Picture Book! I’m super excited to feature this particular book as the first spot in my face-lifted blog–its heart and soul of art and play is exactly what I think these new digs represent.

Do you see? The logo! The colors! The Book Party? THE BOOK PARTY?!! (If you are in a reader, click over and see all the goodies. And for the love, please join the Book Party. I mean really.)

Super huge thanks to Sara Jensen for, well, everything. (#taken)

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

It’s here. This highly anticipated follow up to the smash hit Press Here is muddled-up fun and completely magical.

Remember those rolls of endless butcher paper and squishing your fingers into as many paint puddles as possible? That’s what this book is. It’s a lesson in color mixing wrapped up in a hefty dose of play.

Mix It Up by Herve TulletMix It Up by Herve Tullet

Slam the book together so the yellow and blue make green. Shake it on its side and watch purple drips racing off the page. What happens when you add some white? Or black? Or stick your hand right in the middle of the mess?

Mix It Up by Herve TulletMix It Up by Herve Tullet

It’s a color theory primer and an invitation to get dirty. And isn’t that the best kind of creating?

Mix It Up by Herve Tullet

I’m a grownup. I get the gig here. And still I looked at my palm when I flipped the last page of this book, sure it would be dripping with paint.

Welcome back to childhood. It’s good here.

Want to win a children’s painting studio worth $500? Check out the details here, and tweet away using #MixItUpBook!

P.S – If you need more Hervé Tullet (and the answer is probably yes, yes you do) check out this other experiential art book for tiny, creative minds.

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I received this book from the publisher (right back atcha, #chroniclecrush!), but opinions are all mine.

 

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19. Emmanuel Carrère profile

       In The Observer Robert McCrum profiles Emmanuel Carrère: the most important French writer you've never heard of. [Aside: that sort of claim should really be reserved for the truly obscure, not someone who has been widely translated into English (six of his books are under review at the complete review ...); along with 'Lost in Translation' it's probably the single worst and most over/ab-used article headline in (pseudo-)literary journalism.]
       The occasion -- rather prematurely, as readers have to wait another month in both the US and UK -- is the publication of the English translation of Carrère's "non-fiction novel", Limonov (see the Farrar, Straus and Giroux publicity page [aside: that's a hell of a URL], or pre-order your copy at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk; I have a copy and should be getting to it in the coming weeks). It's based on the life of the: "wrecked, transgressive figure of Eduard Limonov" (who you might also remember from Arslan Khasavov's Sense) -- whom McCrum also devotes considerable space to.
       Disappointingly, McCrum doesn't discuss Carrère's new book, Le Royaume -- 640 pages about the early days of Christianity, and a book that has gotten much attention but failed to make even just the longlists for the biggest French literary prizes this fall, the Goncourt and the Renaudot (see the P.O.L. publicity page)
       As noted, six of Carrère's titles are under review at the complete review; The Adversary still strikes me as his best.

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20. एहसास हो गया


एक पल ही नज़रे हटाई हमने, तो वो ज़ालिम नाराज़ हो गया,
उसकी हँसी जो होंटो से लगाई, तो दिल-ए-गुलज़ार वो साज़ हो गया,

सूनी सी सर्दी में ठिठुरी राहें थी,तन्हाइयों की गर्म चादर ओढ़े,
ऐसी धुन में रमे हम उसके, जैसे वो अब दिल की आवाज़ हो गया,

भूले थे खुद को हम ऐसे, जैसे सुबह में रात घुली हो,
पर कुछ लगाए उसकी बातों ने, दिल अपना ऊँचाइयाँ छूता बाज़ हो गया,    

ना कभी किया वो एहसास, इस कदर दिल संभाले रखा था, 
बस नज़रे होते ही चार, उस प्रेम की व्यथा का आगाज़ हो गया

किसको हैं अब होश ज़माने का, उसमे ही डूबे है हम "ए दोस्त"   
अब तो हुस्न-ए-जहान वो,  मेरे पल पल का एहसास हो गया ||

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21. Quest, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker

Journey by Aaron Becker was definitely one of the most exciting picture books of 2013 and I was thrilled when it won a Caldecott Honor in January of this year. As someone who has read books out loud professionally and parentally for over 20 years and as someone who holds a deep appreciation for picture book illustrations, wordless picture books have always held a special place in my heart.

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22. The utter delight found in "Where My Wellies Take Me..."


Where My Wellies Take Me...
by Clare & Michael Murpurgo is one of those books that is so pretty and smart that I hesitate to do much of any kind of review because it's too hard not to lump the superlatives and make it sound impossible. I want to tell you it functions remarkably well as a poetry anthology, that Pippa's story of gentle outdoor adventure will appeal to kids and parents who enjoy a good jaunt and that Olivia Lomenech Gill's scrapbook style design and artwork is classic in all the best ways.

Oh heck. I love this book and I'm not afraid to just say tell you so.

The basic story is simple: Pippa sets off from her kind Aunt Peggy's on a trek through the countryside (hence the need to wear her wellies). She visits a local farmer, takes a ride on his horse, has a lunch, considers some birds, pigs and dandelions, plays Pooh sticks, spies a fisherman (and dwells on the end of life for a fish) and makes it back to the village in time to be crowned the unexpected victor of a race.

What elevates the book is the accompaniment of so many impressive poems from the likes of Ted Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Yeats, Rossetti and more. The poems are often short, easy to understand and directly applicable to the text. The combination, with the great scrapbook pages and Pippa's story, makes this a lovely read and also a book to pore over for hours while studying the art.

Some books are treasures and Where My Wellies Take Me... certainly fits that standard. The very young will like Pippa a lot but I think it actually might reach best for the 6 & up crowd - 8 -10 year olds could be the best age of all. Really, though, it depends on the child. You'll know when you look at it if it fits for the explorer in your life. I hope it does.

Here are a couple of spreads from the Olivia Lomenech Gill's website:


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23. Tap The Magic Tree, by Christie Matheson | Book Review

Tap The Magic Tree, by Christie Matheson, is a beautiful story about the changing seasons centered on a single tree that children are asked to interact with on the page.

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24. Egg & Spoon - an audio book review

I can save you some time today. If you'd like the short review of Egg & Spoon, click here to read my review for AudioFile Magazine. However, if you want to hear more about this wonderful book, read on!

Maguire, Gregory. 2014. Egg & Spoon. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance Audio.  Read by Michael Page.

Can what we want change who we are? 
Have patience and you will see.

Set in the tsarist Russia of the late 18th or early 19th century, Egg & Spoon is an enchanting mix of historical fiction and magical folklore, featuring switched and mistaken identities, adventurous quests, the witch Baba Yaga, and of course, an egg.

Narrator Michael Page is at his best as the self-proclaimed “unreliable scribe,” who tells the tale from his tower prison cell, claiming to have seen it all through his one blind eye. In a fashion similar to that of Scheherazade, spinning 1001 "Tales of the Arabian Nights," our narrator weaves fantastical stories together and wraps us in their spell.

Ekaterina and Elena are two young girls - one privileged, one peasant - yet so alike that their very lives can be exchanged. Page creates voices so similar that one can believe the subterfuge, yet the voices are also distinct - a necessity in a book written to respect the reader's (or listener's) ability to discern the flow of conversation without the constant insertion of "he said/she said."

One girl finds herself en route to see the tsar, a captive guest of  the haughty and imperious Aunt Sophia on a train to St. Petersburg.  The other finds herself a captive guest of the witch, Baba Yaga, and her curious home that walks on chicken legs. As Baba Yaga, Page is as wildly unpredictable as the witch herself, chortling, cackling, menacing, mothering.

Michael Page is wonderful.  He brings each of author Gregory Maguire's many characters to life with a distinct voice.  He never falls out of character, and his pacing is perfect - measured to keep the listener from being overwhelmed by the story's intricate plot.

Grand and magical, Egg & Spoon is a metaphoric epic for readers from twelve to adult.
Notes:
If you find the egg (or eggs) elusive, you will find the spoon even more so!
My copy of the book was supplied by the publisher. My copy of the audio book was supplied by AudioFile Magazine.  

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25. Tabula Rasa Blog Tour

 Thanks to Egmont USA for asking us to host a stop on the Tabula Rasa blog tour! Check out info about this new YA thriller below, a Q&A with author Kristen Lippert-Martin, and enter for a chance to win a copy of the book. 

   

About the Book

The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory, her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end. 

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who's trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.


Q&A with Kristen Lippert-Martin

 

RNSL: Did you have to do a lot of research for Tabula Rasa?

KLM: I guess I’d say I let the sci-fi stuff take precedent, but I definitely fact-checked the military-related elements. In other words, I didn’t let reality get in the way of the cool stuff at all. ;) But! One of my goals with the sci-fi elements in the story was to create a world and a scenario that felt like it could be real in the here and now.

Fortunately I have people in my life who can act as experts and give me advice. The scene in the opening where the helicopter arrives and starts shooting through the hospital windows—I had to fix that because I was told, “Oh, no way would a pilot get so close to the building. If a helicopter is going to fire a missile it’s got to back up and fire from a distance or else risk getting hit by the blowback and debris from the rockets it launches.” There were plenty of things like that I wanted to make sure were portrayed accurately.

 

RNSL: Tabula Rasa is your debut. How many books did you have to write before you got to this one, the one that sold? Do you write in a specific genre only, or in various genres?

KLM: I wrote two adult literary novels and two YA novels before selling Tabula Rasa. One of the YA novels was on submission for about a year and never sold.

 

RNSL: What were your biggest influences for coming up with this story?

KLM: A perhaps odd mix of things: an assortment of action movies and, believe it or not, Hamlet.

I loved the reboot of The Bourne Identity a few years back, and I thought that concept would be perfect for a YA novel. I thought the notion of “trying to figure out who you are while people are trying to kill you” a very apt metaphor for adolescence. ;)

As for Hamlet, I’m very much an over-thinker myself, and the idea of Hamlet as this character paralyzed by gloom and constantly mulling things over—yeah, that was something I was prone to doing as a teen. I wanted to create a character who was motivated to act, to save herself, as a way of snapping out of her apathy and indifference.

 

RNSL: Your bio says you like to rewrite endings to tv shows and books when you don't like the way they turn out. Can you give us an example? (I personally would have rewritten the ending of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so she ends up with Spike, though I admit that would have made for a much less compelling show.)

KLM: OMG! I would have done EXACTLY THE SAME THING. Spike was my favorite BtVS character. I was so rooting for the Buffy-Spike relationship… and uh, maybe we should get back to things!

See, this is what I’m talking about though. I think what I was doing as a kid, long before the internet, was what fans do now in writing fan fiction. You want to take this character you care about and create another dimension of reality for them. I was just a very sensitive kid, and I didn’t like seeing bad things happen, even to imaginary people, so I’d figure out ways for characters to get their happy endings. 

 

RNSL: Did you decide to write for teens and young people (and why), or is it one of those things where it just happened, and marketing placed your book in YA? 

KLM: For me it’s definitely case of “this is where I fit.” The kind of stories I write, the tone, the way I want my stories to end. I tell you, I’ve read enough books about bleak, middle-aged white guys unable to emotionally connect with the people in their lives to last the rest of my life. I know it’s not fair to say that’s what ALL adult literary fiction is but yikes, it sure takes in a lot of it.

I want to write action, sci-fi, humor, and romance—preferably all at once. And the place to do that, for me anyway, is YA. It just feels like home.

 

RNSL: When you were the age that your target audience is now, were you a reader? What were you reading?

I was an avid mystery reader—mostly Agatha Christie. But actually I think that happened when I was an older teen, say between 17-19. I’m embarrassed to say that I was not a big reader in high school. I mean, beyond what I had to read for school in English class. That might have been because the YA we know today just didn’t exist. It seemed like the whole of YA lit comprised two books: Catcher in the Rye, which I loved for the sarcasm but hated for the message (that growing up = tragedy), and A Separate Peace. I liked things about that story too, but I mean, come on. How many rich kid boarding school stories do we need?

 

RNSL: Cake or pie, or neither? What kind and why?

CAKE. I don’t even get pie. This is an argument that goes on in my household frequently. I find most pie to just be slimy fruit. My husband is a huge pie guy, but I’m like, “GANACHE, OK? When they make a pie with chocolate ganache, then we’ll talk!”

Cake preferences, depending on my mood: carrot, coconut, chocolate ganache, and lemon.

I spend weeks leading up to my birthday thinking about and planning for my cake. I am not screwing around with the cake, I tell you. ;)

 

About the Author

Kristen Lippert-Martin is a practicing geek. She holds an MFA from Columbia University. Her patronus is a platypus, and she prefers Star Trek to Star Wars. Do you really need to know more? I don't. (One of us! One of us!)

Tabula Rasa is her debut book. Her website is www.kristenlippertmartin.com and you can tweet her @KLipMart.


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