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1. Five Questions for Trent Reedy, author of BURNING NATION

(The first in a new series of brief interviews with authors of forthcoming books)

1. Tell us a little bit about your book.

Burning Nation is the second book in the Divided We Fall trilogy. It continues the story of seventeen-year-old Idaho Army National Guardsman PFC Danny Wright and his friends as they are stuck in the middle of a tense stand-off between the state of Idaho and the federal government of the United States. In the first book, Divided We Fall, Idaho has voted to nullify the Federal Identification Card Act. When Danny’s National Guard unit is sent to quell a protest/riot resulting from this nullification, he accidentally fires his rifle, which causes other people to shoot, leaving twelve dead and nine wounded. The president demands an investigation and prosecution. The governor of Idaho refuses to cooperate, saying that he gave a lawful order to the National Guardsmen under his command.

Burning Nation begins right where the first book left off, with the president sending the military to force Idaho to comply with federal law. Right from the beginning, Danny and his friends are caught up in the fight, but as the country descends into the chaos of the Second American Civil War, losses begin to take their toll. It becomes hard to understand what has been won, but easy to see what’s been lost. As the sacrifices mount and betrayals abound, Danny and his friends begin to think about the wounds they’ve suffered, inside and out.

It’s an action-packed book that continues to explore what happens when America’s current political divide widens into tomorrow’s nightmare, and it’s alarming how many real-life headlines seem to have been predicted by Divided We Fall and Burning Nation.

2. If this book had a theme song, what would it be and why?

Ten years ago, when my fellow soldiers and I were serving in Farah Province in Afghanistan, we were struck by how much the landscape resembled that featured in the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. That movie features a song by Tina Turner called "We Don’t Need Another Hero." My fellow soldiers would joke about this song, with one man saying, “We don’t need another hero” and another replying, “We don’t even know the way home.” The video is a bit dated and cheesy, but if you listen to the words, the song really fits as a commentary on the brutality and waste of war that is very appropriate for Burning Nation.

3. Please name and elaborate upon at least one thing you learned or discovered about writing in the course of creating this book.

When I began work on Burning Nation, I was under the naive assumption that writing the book would be easier because I had already finished Divided We Fall. I knew the characters, the setting, and at least the situation that led to the events in Burning Nation. I should have known that Burning Nation would be as significant if not a greater challenge than the first book. One of the challenges came from the situation the characters face. Throughout most of Burning Nation Danny and his friends must endure a federal military occupation of their small northern Idaho town. With U.S. soldiers hunting for them all the time, their movements, and thus my options for the kinds of scenes I could include, felt rather limited. I began to feel almost as claustrophobic as Danny and his fellow soldiers.

Another challenge with writing Burning Nation was that it was the second part of a story that already had its first part on the market. I was facing a situation that was new to me, that of having public feedback on characters and other aspects of the larger Divided We Fall story, while I was writing that story’s second installment. It felt like having many, sometimes too many, advisors in my office with me while I worked. Cheryl was wise, as she usually is, when she encouraged me to stop looking at reviews and reader comments as I worked on Burning Nation.

4. What is your favorite scene in the book?

I’m really quite happy with a lot of the scenes in Burning Nation, so I’m going to cheat and list two. First, since Burning Nation isn’t merely an action/war book, but is a piece which, I hope, encourages the reader to think about the terrible nature of war and its effects on those who live through it, I’d like to point out a scene that happens after Danny Wright has been through terrible physical and emotional torture. He is out of his mind from sleep deprivation and other torments, and when his one-time rival TJ bursts into his cell to rescue him, Danny isn’t sure if what is happening is even real. He’s confused and kind of cries, “Travis?” Travis Jones realizes that Danny is seriously messed up and it’s going to be harder to rescue him than he and his friends supposed. It’s a small moment, but I hope there’s a lot of emotion in that simple question, that exhausted and near-breaking-point, “Travis?”

And since I love some good action, I’m also quite happy with a hand-to-hand fight scene near the end of the book. It’s a fight between Danny and a U.S. Army major, a desperate fight to the death where Danny has to make an important decision about how deep into the war he’s willing to go, and how much of himself he wants to save. In addition to the moral question the fight raises, I just think it’s a clear scene, a tense and suspenseful fight. And the conclusion of the scene is really quite chilling.

5. What are you working on now?

I am hard at work on the third book in the Divided We Fall trilogy, entitled The Last Full Measure. The story follows America’s further final decline into a terrible civil war, and the difficult consequences this has for Danny Wright and his friends. I’m having lots of fun working on it, and it’s on schedule for a 2016 release.

For more about this book, including an excerpt, reviews, and purchase information, visit the Burning Nation page on the Arthur A. Levine Books website. 

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2. Wild - a bookwrap

Unwrapping an amazing book today.  This is Hawaiian artist, Emily Hughes debut book and personally, I hope she never stops creating.  It is one you will absolutely want to have in your collection. Storywraps audience...presenting..."Wild":

Unwrapping further...fasten your seatbelt these illustrations are truly amazing...take a few moments to get appreciate and get lost in the images.

This wonderfully, innocent, wild feral child knows the meaning of being free.  She was raised by creatures in the forest : taught to talk by birds, to eat by bears, to play by foxes, yes, she is truly unshamedly, irrefutable, and irrespressibly.....WILD! 

Then one day she is captured by some things that look oddly like her and taken out of happy, nurturing environment and brought into civilization.  These creatures don't talk right, don't eat properly, and certainly don't know how to play right.  They live in a no green green zone where animals are non-existent, there are no shady, protective trees and no rivers run through.  It is a concrete habitat called an apartment.  They try to tame her wild free-style hair-do, teach her to read and have proper table manners.  

The wild child will have none of it and she decides to take her fate into her own and with her unorthodox caretakers do and cat she escaped back to happy place, her happy life, the place where she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt she belongs.  The last sentence sums up perfectly: "Because you cannot tame something so happily wild." Period.

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3. Emily Brontë, narrative, and nature

Catherine’s removal from the plot (other than as a haunting presence in the background, much less potent hereafter than the waif-like child ghost whose wrist Lockwood rubs back and forth across the broken window glass till the blood runs freely (p. 21)) has seemed to some readers to weaken the second half of the novel. One modern critic has suggested, indeed, that the whole of the second-generation narrative was an afterthought.

The post Emily Brontë, narrative, and nature appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Five Biblical remixes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Civil Rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a theologian and pastor, who used biblical texts and imagery extensively in his speeches and sermons. Here is a selection of five biblical quotations and allusions that you may not have noticed in his work (in chronological order). 1. “And there is still a […]

The post Five Biblical remixes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Query question: former agent/when to reveal

My former agent and I recently parted company on good terms. Without going into details, we inherited each other when his partner left the business. and weren't really a good fit.

I am currently completing a non-fiction proposal, which was not completed at the time when we said "bonne chance and farewell" and which he did not send out. Do I mention previous representation in the query or bring it up later in the process?

You do not need to mention a former agent for a new project UNLESS you've been published before.

If you have been published, you'll need to mention the earlier works, the publisher and that the agent who handled the deal for you left the business.

If you haven't been published, you don't need to mention any previous agent relationships since this project did not go out on submission.

Make sure you update your website if you have the old agent's name on it.  That's one of the easiest ways for me to discover that someone has been represented/published before if they don't mention it in the query. And yes, I DO look. If I'm interested in reading your manuscript (or in this case proposal) I do some sniffing around ahead of time to see if there are any bumps in the road.

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6. Lisa Gail Green, author of SOUL CROSSED, on banning your inner editor

Today we're thrilled to interview one of our own. Lisa Gail Green is the Agent and Contest Coordinator here at Adventures in YA publishing. Proving that she loves to keep busy, she's currently running the Pitch Plus One contest while also releasing her latest novel SOUL CROSSED!

So, Lisa, what scene of SOUL CROSSED was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

Every scene where Cam does horrible things was difficult. It felt really creepy getting into his head. I just had to remind myself that he is supposed to be the potential Anti-Christ, so, you know, he has to have the makings for being excessively evil. The scene I’m most proud of though is probably the climax. I felt the anticipation and knew what had to happen, but I also knew it had to “bring the feels” as one reviewer said.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Obviously FALLEN or HUSH HUSH, which are two awesome Angel/Demon books. But also I think PERSONAL DEMONS, which I love.

How long did you work on SOUL CROSSED?

The initial draft was only two weeks! I was in the zone. LOL But that doesn’t mean I didn’t revise. Gosh, from inception to publication it was literally years. Of course I worked on it on and off during that time, but still, that ought to give you an idea.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

That challenging yourself is the best thing you can do as a writer! Ban that inner Editor and just write it.

What do you hope readers will take away from SOUL CROSSED?

The idea that good and evil aren’t as cut and dry as one might imagine. A short answer with a big meaning.

What are you working on now?

Oh so many projects. But right now I’m finishing the first revision of the sequel to SOUL CROSSED! It’s called SOUL CORRUPTED and is slated to release July 1st! I’m a busy bee, but I LOVE it!


Soul Crossed
by Lisa Gail Green
Full Fathom Five Digital
Released 02/25/2015

One Demon.

One Angel.

One Soul.

Josh lived a reckless, selfish life, so upon his death, escaping the eternal torments of Hell by assuming the role of a powerful, soul-corrupting demon is an easy choice. His first soul assignment doesn’t seem too hard: the mortal Camden is already obsessed with weapons, pain, and torture. If only Josh wasn’t distracted by Cam’s beautiful friend, Grace.

Grace never expected to die violently at age sixteen, but now she’s an Angel, responsible for saving a soul. She can already see past Camden’s earthly flaws, so the job should be be easy. If only that handsome, playboy Josh would stop getting in the way.

It’s forbidden for an Angel to be with a Demon, so if Josh and Grace stop resisting each other, the results would be disastrous.

And only one can claim Cam’s soul..

Purchase Soul Crossed at Amazon
View Soul Crossed on Goodreads


Lisa Gail Green lives with her husband the rocket scientist and their three junior mad scientists in Southern California. She writes books so she can have an excuse to live in the fantasy world in her head. She likes to share these with readers so she's represented by the lovely Melissa Nasson of Rubin Pfeffer Content. She has a parrot but would most definitely get a werewolf for a pet if she weren't allergic.

Lisa loves YA. She believes with all her heart that teen readers are ready and willing to experience things that some adults have closed their minds to, that books are the safest way to explore, learn, and escape, and that imagination is the key to just about everything.

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7. Summing Up Our 3 Favorite Manga We Read in February In A Paragraph

So it’s the end of the month, and it’s time to reflect a bit. In other words, reflecting on manga that we read this month and revealing that it was amazing. Let’s just say Justin continues to find absolutely weird manga on his reading list though and call it a day. Basara Justin: Despite all ... Read more

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8. Lynn Carthage, author of HAUNTED, comparing ideas to ice cream sundaes

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

There’s a plot twist in the book that occurs about midway through, and that was my “aha” moment. I felt all along there was something missing to the book, and it needed an extra boost: this plot development allowed me to explore deeper themes and hopefully give pleasure to those who didn’t see it coming.

As I write, Goodreads is exploding with readers who did see it coming, and are scornful that I thought anybody wouldn’t. Readers love figuring things out before characters do, and so I had hoped this would be a bit of a pleasure for savvy readers…if you haven’t read the book yet, I hope you can approach it with an open mind and enjoy the plot twist if you get it early…and please, no spoilers for those who haven’t read it yet!

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

My ritual is basically that I have to get out of the house. I work well in cafes so long as I’m not sitting by very loud people; I can generally tune out music and regular-volume conversations. Unfortunately, I’ve learned I cannot tune out country music, and once had to leave a café for its twangy, brain-incisoring soundtrack.

My favorite place to work, though, is the library. If I can manage to get one of those glassed-in private study rooms, I’m in heaven. All three of the libraries in driving distance for me have vistas of green trees (and in one case, a goose-adorned pond), so I look up periodically to gaze out at the fortifying view and puzzle out dialogue or “what comes next.”

I also love being surrounded by books. I let my eyes pass along the spines and occasionally get up to pull a book off the shelf and flip through it while I let my mind percolate. It’s heartening to know other writers’ words, ideas and carefully-constructed plots form my borders.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

A writer writes. Anybody can have great ideas, anyone can describe an incredible premise…but until it’s written down, it’s not any more valuable than someone talking about the ice cream sundae they’d love to eat. Until there’s ice cream in the bowl, it’s meaningless.

We joke about the A/C ratio (ass to chair): it really is about sitting down on a regular basis ---or standing, if you have a standing desk—and putting those words on paper. I believe pretty much anyone can have a spurt in which they write about 25 awesome pages…even that is not writing a novel.

You need a sustained practice in which you pass the hundred-page mark, in which you wallow in the despair of the middle-of-book doldrums, in which you eke your way towards 200 pages, in which you finally hit “the end.” The only way that will happen is if you calendar time for it. Put it in the calendar like a dentist appointment: “3:30-5:00, work on novel.” That way, you’ve set aside sacred time for your novel to grow. You won’t get detoured and wind up eating French fries with your friends at the corner diner. If you’re realistic with the time you can carve out and stick to it, you’ll be pleased by what you can accomplish in small spurts.

Finally, we’re all so electronic these days. On a regular basis, print out your pages. You’ll feel pride at how much is there: your book is tangible and real, and you believe in it more when you see the tower rise. I also find I catch errors more readily in hard copy form. Good luck!


by Lynn Carthage
Released 2/24/2015

Sixteen-year-old Phoebe Irving has traded life in San Francisco for her stepfather’s ancestral mansion in rural England. It’s supposed to be the new start her family needs. But from the moment she crosses the threshold into the ancient estate, Phoebe senses something ominous. Then again, she's a little sensitive lately—not surprising when her parents are oblivious to her, her old life is six thousand miles away, and the only guy around is completely gorgeous but giving her mixed messages.

But at least Miles doesn’t laugh at Phoebe’s growing fears. And she can trust him…maybe. The locals whisper about the manor’s infamous original owner, Madame Arnaud, and tell grim stories of missing children and vengeful spirits. Phoebe is determined to protect her loved ones—especially her little sister, Tabby. But even amidst the manor’s dark shadows, the deepest mysteries may involve Phoebe herself…

Purchase Haunted at Amazon
Purchase Haunted at IndieBound
View Haunted on Goodreads


Lynn Carthage, author of HAUNTEDLynn Carthage is a novelist living in Sacramento, California, near where the Gold Rush launched. Under her real name, she was a Bram Stoker Award finalist. Born in Vermont, Lynn has lived in Maine, Ireland, and Arizona. She reads voraciously, loves anything French, gets “itchy feet” to travel on a regular basis, and finds peace in the woods, in meadows, in nature. She has always been fascinated by how history allows us to imagine how people of the past lived and breathed and felt.

HAUNTED is her first young adult novel, and will be followed by the next two books in the Arnaud Legacy trilogy.

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9. Eileen Cook, author of REMEMBER, on being inspired by scientific experiments

What was your inspiration for writing REMEMBER?

I’d read an article about some scientific experiments being done with memory. The scientists were looking for a way to reduce the difficulty war veterans have with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It occurred to me if people could get rid of very traumatic memories, there would also be a market for people who wanted to get rid of all sorts of memories.

I began to wonder what types of things might go wrong once you begin messing around with someone’s memory. It can be relatively easy to confuse what is a real memory from what someone might tell you happened. What if something you were sure was true, suddenly seemed to be uncertain, possibly a lie?

Once all these questions were swirling around in my head I knew I had a book- all I had to do is write it!

How long did you work on REMEMBER?

It takes me about a year to write a book, that includes time spent thinking about the idea before I even start writing. I find I work best when I give myself a chance to let a book sit for a period of time. When I do that the ideas really start to come.  I’m lucky in that I enjoy the actual writing process. I don’t have difficulty making myself sit down and get words on the page- for me that’s the fun part. It’s the idea formulation and revisions that can give me headaches.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

I had confessed to a writing mentor that I was nervous about sending my work out and the rejection I knew would come. She told me “Eileen, you already aren’t published. The worst thing that will happen is that you still won’t be published.”  That’s when I got it- rejection isn’t fun, but it’s not life or death either. I realized I could survive hearing No, or someone telling me I was no good. What I couldn’t survive is knowing that I never took the chance.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Read. Read a lot. Books are the best teachers. If it is a book you like take it apart. Look at how the author told the story, whose point of view? What scenes did she include? Who are in those scenes? How does the story unfold? Writers are making choices all the time- you can learn from how they chose to tell the story what kind of options you might have to tell yours.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a new mystery that involves friendship, lies, some betrayal and Italy!


by Eileen Cook
Simon Pulse
Released 2/24/2015

A thrilling tale about what a girl will do to get back a memory she lost…or remove what she wants to forget.

Harper is used to her family being hounded by protestors. Her father runs the company that trademarked the “Memtex” procedure to wipe away sad memories, and plenty of people think it shouldn’t be legal. Then a new demonstrator crosses her path, Neil, who’s as persistent as he is hot. Not that Harper’s noticing, since she already has a boyfriend.

When Harper suffers a loss, she’s shocked her father won’t allow her to get the treatment, so she finds a way to get it without his approval. Soon afterward, she’s plagued with strange symptoms, including hallucinations of a woman who is somehow both a stranger, yet incredibly familiar. Harper begins to wonder if she is delusional, or if these are somehow memories.

Together with Neil, who insists he has his own reasons for needing answers about the real dangers of Memtex, Harper begins her search for the truth. What she finds could uproot all she’s ever believed about her life…

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


Head shot distanceEileen Cook is a multi-published author with her novels appearing in eight different languages. Her books have been optioned for film and TV. She spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. Her latest release, YEAR OF MISTAKEN DISCOVERIES came out in February 2014.

You can read more about Eileen, her books, and the things that strike her as funny at www.eileencook.com. Eileen lives in Vancouver with her husband and one very naughty dog and no longer wishes to be anyone or anywhere else.

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10. Drawing Portraits

I am lucky that my husband really doesn't mind when I draw him in a not-so-flattering way!

And also happy that, when I take my time, I can make drawings that do make a lot of sense.

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11. #DUBLIT15

I am a Michigan girl at heart, but there is something special about the educators in and around the Dublin, Ohio area. I had the privilege of presenting and attending the Dublin Literacy… Continue reading

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12. What If...? (2014)

What If...? Anthony Browne. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Joe was going to his first big party. It was at his friend Tom's house, but Joe had lost the invitation and didn't know the house number. "It's OK, Joe," said Mom. "Tom lives somewhere on this street. We'll find it." So they set off.

Premise/Plot: Joe is anxious about attending his friend's party. Not just anxious about finding his friend's house, but about the party itself. He's worried about who will be there, what kind of food there will be, what games he'll be expected to play, etc. He's not sure if he'll want to actually stay at the party. (If his mom wasn't insistent, Joe might even not go to the party to begin with.)  He is walking to the party with his mom, and, together they are looking into the windows of each house trying to find the party.

What If...? got starred reviews in Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publisher's Weekly.

My thoughts: I could relate to Joe's anxiety. So I wanted to like the book. But it was just a bit too odd for me to actually like it. What didn't I like? Well, the illustrations. They look into the windows of many houses on the street. These window scenes are illustrated in detail. And the scenes are just weird and slightly disturbing at times. It was hard to take them seriously. And since Joe's anxiety was real, I thought the illustrations were off. (In one scene, there's a man and woman sitting together reading. If you look closely, he's got antennas on his balding head. In another, there's an elephant in the house. In two more scenes, it looks like their are crimes being committed. Since readers are given two glimpses of each house, one from a distance, one up close, one is supposed to conclude that Joe's anxiety is getting the best of him perhaps and his imagination has run away with him. But I'm still not sure. I just don't like the illustrations.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. C.J. Omololu, author of THE THIRD TWIN, on listening to your story

What was your inspiration for writing THE THIRD TWIN?

When I was a kid, we had a family story about two identical twin cousins who made up a triplet in college to date boys that they wouldn't date as themselves. I took that basic story and threw in a murder mystery to make it an actual book.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There was one scene that was a surprise to me as I was writing it - I had no idea that this particular thing was going to happen to this particular character, but in the end I knew it was the right thing to do. I had to finish writing the scene through tears and even my editor was surprised. I hope readers like it as much as I do.

How long did you work on THE THIRD TWIN?

When I finally sit down to actually write a story, I give myself a minimum word count a day - usually 1,000 words a day. THE THIRD TWIN is about 90k words, so it took about three months to actually write the draft - I write very chronologically, from front to back. Then of course, it's nowhere near done. There are probably three or four drafts before I'm ready to show it to my editor.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE THIRD TWIN?

First off, I hope they enjoy it. That's why I read - to step into someone's life for a few hours. I hope they're surprised at the twists and turns the story takes - it really wrote itself. I just dictated.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Listen to your story and don't try to make it something it's not. I often find that if a story isn't working its because I'm trying to force it to be one thing. Once I listen to the characters and let them do their thing, the story usually picks right up and I'm able to continue.


The Third Twinby C.J. Omololu
Delacorte Books for Young ReadersReleased 2/24/2015

Identical twins. Identical DNA. Identical suspects. It’s Pretty Little Liars meets Revenge in this edge-of-your-seat thriller with a shocking twist.

 When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything. The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life. Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good.

As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect—Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer . . . or Alicia is real.

Purchase The Third Twin at AmazonPurchase 
The Third Twin at IndieBound
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Cynthia OmomoluC. J. OMOLOLU majored in English at U.C. Santa Barbara because she liked to read, not because she liked to write. She later discovered that the voices in her head often have interesting things to say. You can find out more about her on her website.

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Dove Glitch is embarrassed about everything above her knees and below her belly button. When she has to fill a delicate, embarrassing prescription the last thing she needs is a sexy-as-hell (and brand spanking new) pharmacist behind the counter.

Johnson Fitzwell’s first day of his dream career also happens to coincide with the exact moment Dove needs her feminine meds filled. His glorious voice is way too loud–as in, he should be counting down the hits with Ryan Seacrest kind of loud. Thanks to Johnson’s handsome face and gorgeous jaw line, Dove dives headlong into her waking nightmare and asks for a vagina-scented cream.

How could she not fall for him? Dove's only active goal now is to get Johnson to kiss her right on the lips. Either set. However, his horrible girlfriend is one of many obstacles preventing her from making that fantasy a reality. When Dove defends Johnson in the most unhygienic, unconventionally gross way in the middle of a crowded restaurant, their tender, slightly tantric relationship is off to a galloping, farting start.

Each print copy of this book will be dipped in holy water by my mom, and glared at by my father as he purses his lips. Neither will help. So, drop your pants and turn to the left and cough. I hope you're not allergic to latex, because it’s time to fill your prescription. Anally.

Oh God. We’re talking about me being naked, in the shower with cooter cream. Please world, end. Kill me.
“I know it’s not soap. I just… if it’s scented… I can’t do scented. Flowers and stuff
like that. Fruit-flavored soaps make… things… burnish.” She could tell from the
peeks at his face Mr. Fitzwell had never stepped foot in bath and lotion store,
wanting to try the array of fun fragrances. Nor had he purchased Peppermint
Candy shower gel, foamed up his nether regions, and felt like he had dipped
them in lava. Dove crossed and uncrossed her legs at the memory.
Mr. Fitzwell seemed concerned. “Okay, just a heads-up. It’s definitely not good to
put any fruits or plant life near your genitals.” He made a V with his hands
and formed his own pretend vagina in front of his pants.
Dove covered her eyes and tried to defend herself because now she could hear the
sickly older woman beating her supporters with a purse.
Dove’s mumbling got louder with her embarrassment. “I don’t put weird things down…
there. Just make sure that the cream’s vagina-scented. Just plain. For vaginas.” She kept her eyes on the counter. 

There are a lot of eyes in Debra Anastasia’s house in Maryland. First, her own creepy peepers are there, staring at her computer screen. She’s made two more sets of eyes with her body, and the kids they belong to are amazing. The poor husband is still looking at her after 17 years of marriage. At least he likes to laugh. Then the freaking dogs are looking at her—six eyeballs altogether though the old dog is blind. And the cat watches her too, mostly while knocking stuff off the counter and doing that internal kitty laugh when Deb can’t catch the items fast enough.

Debra has a smattering of books in a few genres. There are two in the Seraphim Series and three in the Poughkeepsie Brotherhood Series with a prequel, Poughkeepsie Begins in the near future. Fire Down Below is the first in the comedic Gynzaule Series. The second, Fire in the Hole, will be published in late 2015. The Revenger, a dark paranormal romance will debut this summer. And last, a novella called Late Night with Andres is special because 100% of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. (So go get it right now, please!) You can find her at DebraAnastasia.com and on Twitter @Debra_Anastasia. But be prepared...

Social Media Links:
This is one of the giveaways for US residents ONLY!

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15. Giveaway: Manwhore by Katy Evans

Today I have a giveaway for Katy Evan’s Manwhore!

Is it possible to expose Chicago’s hottest player–without getting played?
This is the story I’ve been waiting for all my life, and its name is Malcolm Kyle Preston Logan Saint. Don’t be fooled by that last name though. There’s nothing holy about the man except the hell his parties raise. The hottest entrepreneur Chicago has ever known, he’s a man’s man with too much money to spend and too many women vying for his attention.
Mysterious. Privileged. Legendary. His entire life he’s been surrounded by the press as they dig for tidbits to see if his fairytale life is for real or all mirrors and social media lies. Since he hit the scene, his secrets have been his and his alone to keep. And that’s where I come in.

Assigned to investigate Saint and reveal his elusive personality, I’m determined to make him the story that will change my career.
But I never imagined he would change my life. Bit by bit, I start to wonder if I’m the one discovering him…or if he’s uncovering me.

What happens when the man they call Saint, makes you want to sin?

Author Bio: Katy Evans is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Real series.

The first book in her adult contemporary series, Manwhore, is to release in March 2015.
To find more, please visit www.katyevans.net

US addresses only, please

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The post Giveaway: Manwhore by Katy Evans appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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16. Clarity about ‘the gay thing’

Sometimes, we say what we don’t really mean. ‘You look really tired’, for example, when we mean to be caring rather than disparaging of appearance. ‘I thought you were older than that!’ when we mean to applaud maturity rather than further disparage appearance. And so it is with the gay thing. The accidental difference between what people are saying or writing, and their intended meaning, is becoming perplexingly polarized.

The post Clarity about ‘the gay thing’ appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Character Talents and Skills: Regeneration

As writers, we want to make our characters as unique and interesting as possible. One way to do this is to give your character a special skill or talent that sets him apart from other people. This might be something small, like having a green thumb or being good with animals, to a larger and more competitive talent like stock car racing or being an award-winning film producer. 

When choosing a talent or skill, think about the personality of your character, his range of experiences and who his role models might have been. Some talents might be genetically imparted while others are created through exposure (such as a character talented at fixing watches from growing up in his father’s watch shop) or grow out of interest (archery, wakeboarding, or magic). Don’t be afraid to be creative and make sure the skill or talent is something that works with the scope of the story. 


Description: the ability to restore one’s physical condition to an optimal state, healing wounds and bodily damage at a cellular level.

Beneficial Strengths or Abilities: to achieve this ability, one would require an evolved level of mental control so that the healing progress could be triggered at will. Superior genes and intelligence would both be needed to direct the allocation of energy, ensuring that if necessary, calorie intake, stored fat and even muscle tissue could be refocused to repair tissue or organ damage. Being able to consume large quantities of high energy foods without getting sick and learning to sleep at will would both heighten one’s ability to regenerate and recover as needed.

Character Traits Suited for this Skill or Talent: focus, intelligence, determination, adaptability, gluttony, conservative, self-controlled

Required Resources and Training: While a large part of regeneration would have to be genetically imparted (unless it came about through taking a drug or some kind of nano technology), a great deal of concentration and study would be required to learn how to harness and focus healing, especially during times of high stress. Meditation and having a mentor who can lead one through exercises to boost one’s mental prowess would help one master this skill. Additionally, a deep understanding of the body, organ placement and how everything works in concert would be necessary to perform regeneration without over extending oneself and depleting energy stores beyond recovery. As well, a person with regenerative skills would have to have constant access to an energy source (food, sleep, a drug, etc.) to power one’s ability to regenerate.

Scenarios Where this Skill Might be Useful:

  • in battle, warriors could fight longer and harder, and not be slowed by injuries
  • people with this skill could fight off infections and disease, even if there was no known cure
  • those with this skill could work in hazardous environments that could kill a person normally (radiation leaks, sub zero temperatures, etc.)
  • If one suffered a major trauma in an accident (such as losing limb) regrowth would be possible

You can brainstorm other possible Skills and Talents your characters might have by checking out our FULL LIST of this Thesaurus Collection. And for more descriptive help for Setting, Symbolism, Character Traits, Physical Attributes, Emotions, Weather and more, check out our Thesaurus Collections page.

Photo: erikawittlieb @ pixabay

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18. Entertainment Round-up: Supergirl pulls a Smallville and casts Dean Cain and Helen Slater, Lucifer is cast, Thor and Aquaman speak out


Between some casting news and a few choice interviews, it was a busier 24 hours than most in the entertainment news cycle. Here are the headlines of interest for the weekend:

– CBS’ Supergirl added a few Superman franchise vets yesterday as both Dean Cain (Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) and Helen Slater (Supergirl, the movie) have signed on for the series. It isn’t the first time these two have re-joined the DC Universe, both appeared in Smallville at different times: Cain as a Vandal Savage-like immortal scientist, and Slater as Lara-El. Their roles are being kept under wraps this time around.

– FOX’s Lucifer has found its lead as well, as British thespian Tom Ellis (Rush, Miranda) will be playing the former Lord of Hell who now helps the LAPD punish criminals.

– On the Avengers: Age of Ultron side of things, we have some new character posters promoting the film including The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Nick Fury:






Collider also has a great interview with Chris Hemsworth that’s worth a look at if you’re curious where Marvel may be taking Thor specifically. There’s one bit of exchange I found interesting, where Hemsworth slightly hints at why Thor: The Dark World wasn’t as necessarily successful as the first Thor:

What’s something Thor gets to do in this film that he hasn’t done before in the other fims?

HEMSWORTH: He’s loosened up a bit. I think we lost some of the humor and the naïveté, that sort of fish out of water quality of Thor from the first film into the second one. There were things I loved about what we did in the second one too, tonally, but that sense of fun… I would have liked it to be there a bit more, and Joss I think felt the same way.  So there’s more humor in Thor or at least because he’s been on Earth, he’s a little more accessible now.  He’s off Asgard now so he doesn’t have to be as regal and kingly as he is in that world, which is nice. I enjoy that more.  It’s sort of a box, which is tough to step out of on Asgard.  You know, that stuff just looks out of place whereas here, he can have a gag with the guys and he can throw away lines and be a party scene with them in civilian clothes, which is nice.

– Speaking of regal superheroes, Jason Momoa chatted briefly with EW while promoting Sundance TV’s The Red Road, and of course Aquaman came up. At one point he compares his DCU experience with that of Conan The Barbarian:

The whole mythology of Aquaman is pretty amazing. There’s so many things to tell, and there’s a whole backstory that’s just amazing. There’s a lot of surprises coming. I think, yeah, he’s been cast aside. But, um [laughs] times are going to change now, buddy. Conan was really hard, because you have 15 different types of fans and so many things to respect and honor. To do it right it’s got to be bloody-bloody-bloody-bloody-bloody, and not a lot of people go see that anymore. It’s not the ’80s anymore. It’s a really hard format. We busted ass, but there were a lot of cooks in the kitchen on that one. What’s great about this is Zack, man. We don’t want to just reinvent it, but he’s a got a whole idea of what Aquaman should be and I’m really honored to be playing it. I’m excited for the world to see it.

He also more or less confirmed that Aquaman’s role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is fairly small and filming for Justice League has not begun yet.


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19. Darren Shan, author of ZOM-B BRIDE, on mixing various genres

What was your inspiration for writing ZOM-B BRIDE?

It was inspired by a dream scene in the very first book of the series – although, to be honest, I knew even at that stage that this book lay ahead of me, so perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the events of book 10 inspired that dream scene in book 1. While I didn’t know all the twists and turns of the main storyline when I started the series, this was one of the major arcs that I knew it would have to include. This is a key book, and one which answers a lot of questions, not least of which is why I chose to make my main character a girl as opposed to a boy...

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I’ve been influenced by all sorts of books, and although my work tends to get sold under the horror banner, it’s a real mix of genres. Some of my recommendations, which I hope would appeal to fans of Zom-B, would include The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, The Turbulent Term Of Tyke Tyler by Gene Kemp, The Stand by Stephen King, Bless The Beasts And Children by Glendon Swartout.

How long did you work on ZOM-B BRIDE?

I spent about three years at work on it, the same as I did on every other book in the series – but I juggled them around and worked on them at the same time, which is why I was able to release them so quickly.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

It taught me that I’d never make a living as an author of romance novels!

What do you hope readers will take away from ZOM-B BRIDE?

The bridal bouquet!!

What are you working on now?

I recently finished work on books 11 and 12 of the series (the last two books) and have written the first draft of what will hopefully be my next book after that. All I can say about it at the moment is that it won’t be a horror book, although it’s not a million miles removed from that field...


Zom-B Bride
by Darren Shan
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 2/24/2015

B Smith has been reunited with the murderous maniac clown, Mr. Dowling. To her shock and consternation, he's desperate to make B his partner in crime. Mr. Dowling disgusts her, but B thinks she can see a way to control him and maybe even save the world. But it will involve a sacrifice far greater and more surreal than any she has contemplated before...

Purchase Zom-B Bride at Amazon
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View Zom-B Bride on Goodreads


Darren ShanDarren Shan is the pen name of the Irish author Darren O'Shaughnessy, as well as the name of the protagonist of his book series The Saga of Darren Shan, also known as The Cirque Du Freak Series in the United States. He is the author of The Demonata series, as well as some stand-alone books, and a series of books for adults under the alternative name of D.B. Shan.

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Your hair




Your hair is nice

(touching hair)

Thank you.


I mean, your hair is reallynice. Who does it?


A local hair stylist where I live

(Turns her attention to a cell phone)


My children and my grandchildren have those electronic gadgets


My cell?


Is that what it’s called?


Very handy. Pick up my mail…see what’s happening in the world…


Hmmm… I still like a good, old fashioned phone that stays in one place


Hardly use mine


Can only use my good, old fashioned, black push-button phone in my apartment, though, but that’s okay. The way I see it, I don’t want the world to hear my conversations. Not that I have anything to hide.  Know what I mean?



(cell rings as FEMALE 2 watches FEMALE 1 speaking on the cell)


See? I heard everything you were saying. Not that I was trying to be nosy or anything. Point I’m making is there’s no privacy these days.


(staring down at her cell and involved in texting, somewhat ignoring FEMALE 2)



Know what? Before when I was in the bathroom, I heard a woman talking on those things while she was…well you know…peeing. That is like – so disgusting, don’t you think? I mean, couldn’t she live without that thing for the few minutes it would take to use the toilet? And she didn’t even flush! Probably didn’t even wash her hands, either, after!


…appointment tomorrow at 10 a.m. with John…


I’m sorry. You’re busy.

 (silence between them for 10 seconds)

(cont’d. FEMALE 2) You’re a coffee drinker I would guess?




Don’t you find that coffee loses flavor in a paper cup?




People don’t have time to take care of the little things in life, anymore, like taking the time to really talk one-on-one. Human communication is a lost art

(FEMALE 1 loads her tray and starts to get up, preparing to leave, her focus on her cell)


Nice talking to you. Have a great day


Same here.  (calling as she walks away) ‘Love her your hair…’

(a female (FEMALE 3) sits down at the table next to FEMALE 2 , drinking coffee and reading a newspaper)


Always good to keep updated with the latest news. I would give up lots of things before giving up a newspaper that I actually touch and flip the pages. Mind you, I think our kind are dinosaurs


Um – I guess…maybe…

(FEMALE 2 continues to talk waiting/hoping for a reaction from FEMALE 3)


Mind you, these days people get all their latest news and speak to each other on those cell phone gadgets but I don’t own one, though…  Don’t even have a computer…my kids wanted to get me one but then I’d have to learn to use it… By the way, your hair is really nice…who does it?

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21. Patrick Carman, author of QUAKE, on pushing through the hard days

What was your inspiration for writing QUAKE?

The PULSE series is a direct response to three stories I loved growing up: Star Wars, Spiderman, and Lord of the Rings. All three of those stories helped inspire PULSE, TREMOR, and QUAKE. The Force (from Star Wars) finds it's way into my story as the Pulse - the power to move things with your mind. Faith Daniels in particular deals with the primary lesson of Spiderman: with great power comes great responsibility. And the way a perilous journey changes characters is definitely from Lord of the Rings. Bilbo Baggins changes in many profound ways by the time he unloads that ring of power. Faith Daniels has a similar transformation in the PULSE series.

What do you hope readers will take away from QUAKE?

This trilogy is so much about transformation, so what I'm hoping readers get is that personal change is hard, but ultimately it's worth it. Faith, Dylan, and Hawk all have a lot of character work to do when the series begins. By the end, they've figured out what's holding them back and causing them pain. The journey they are on - not unlike the journey each of us is on - has the power to change them (and us) for the better.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Trilogies are hard! I never think I'm going to end up a thousand pages into a story when I start. I just think about how excited I am to tell a story. It's a long and arduous commitment to write a big, sweeping story over three books. I learned during the process there are going to be great days and lousy days. Sometimes it's just a lot of work and I have to stay with it. Other days, it's a pure joy. So I guess the big thing I keep learning as I go is that if I push through the hard days, I will eventually make it to the end. Perseverance baby!


Quakeby Patrick Carman
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 2/24/2015

Fans of I Am Number Four and The Maze Runner will clamor for Quake, the climactic finale to the Pulse trilogy by Patrick Carman—an epic dystopian story of love and revenge.

Faith Daniels and Dylan Gilmore have a special ability called a pulse: they can move things with their minds. They're caught in the middle of a deadly war with two other pulses: Clara and Wade Quinn, who have joined forces with Hotspur Chance, the most wanted man in the world. Outnumbered, it will take more than Faith's and Dylan's pulses to save them—it will take a miracle. 

But this isn't just about the States anymore; it is about finishing what they started. In a series of hair-raising battles, they discover an even greater strength: the power of their combined love. Together, Faith and Dylan might just be able to save the world with a quake that is big enough to change the course of history.
Purchase Quake at Amazon
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View Quake on Goodreads


Patrick CarmanPatrick Carman is the award-winning author of many books for young adults and children. He grew up in Salem, Oregon, and graduated from Willamette University. His birthday is February 27th, 1966. He spent a decade living in Portland, where he worked in advertising, game design, and technology. 

Patrick Carman writes books for young adults and children for Scholastic, Harper Collins, and Little Brown Books For Young Readers. His bestselling books and series includes The Land of Elyon, Atherton, Elliot’s Park, 39 Clues, Floors, Trackers, Thirteen Days to Midnight, Dark Eden, Pulse, 3:15, and Skeleton Creek. Mr. Carman’s books have been translated into approximately two dozen languages.

 Mr. Carman spends his free time supporting literacy campaigns and community organizations, fly fishing, playing basketball, golfing badly, doing crosswords, watching movies, dabbling in video games, reading (lots), and (more than anything else) spending time with his wife and two daughters.

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22. Step Into The Spotlight (2015)

The Amazing Stardust Friends #1: Step Into the Spotlight! Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Marlo's mom has just joined the circus: joined as a chef. Her and her mom will now be living on a circus train. There are several other children for Marlo to get to know: some are performers themselves, some are children of employees and/or performers. Marlo really wants to become friends with the three Stardust girls: Allie, the acrobat, Bella, the animal trainer, and Carly, the clown. She's been told she can join the Stardust Parade IF she can come up with an amazing act of her own. She has just TWO days until the next performance. She's very determined and quite ambitious. Perhaps she can learn to be an acrobat? or a clown? or work with animals? Or perhaps not. Can Allie, Carly, and Bella help Marlo find her own way of being amazing? And will Marlo become a Stardust girl too?

This is an illustrated chapter book. I liked it. I did. It's a fun book with a playful premise.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. Victoria Scott, author of SALT & STONE, on knowing your character's objective

What was your inspiration for writing SALT & STONE?

The Pandoras were my inspiration for this sequel. I wanted to give them ample opportunity to show just how able they are in assisting their Contenders. Until now, it's mostly been the Contenders who were challenged. In SALT & STONE, the Pandoras have to step up in a big way.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Know what your character's objective is, and make it crystal clear to readers within the first 30 pages. Keep that objective consistent, and remind readers of the goal a handful of times during the book. This keeps readers turning pages to find out whether the character ultimately succeeds.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on a stand-alone YA thriller called TITANS. It's about a teen girl who rides a steel, mechanical horse in a Detroit derby to win prize money to save her family's home, and keep her best friend close. The races take place at midnight in the woods, and are attended by rowdy men who place bets on the robotic horses. TITANS releases spring 2016 from Scholastic.


Salt & Stoneby Victoria Scott
Scholastic Press
Released 2/24/2015

What would you do to save someone you love? In Fire & Flood, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't quit--she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race. But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another? The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left--and only one can win.

Purchase Salt & Stone at Amazon
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Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe of the Harvey-Klinger Literary Agency. She’s the author of the FIRE & FLOOD series published by Scholastic, and the DANTE WALKER trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her first stand-alone young adult title, TITANS, will be published by Scholastic in spring 2016. Victoria’s books have been bought and translated in eleven foreign markets including the UK, Turkey, China, Poland, Israel, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Taiwan, New Zealand, and the Netherlands. She currently lives in Dallas, and hearts cotton candy something fierce.

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24. Cecil Castellucci, author of STONE IN THE SKY, on interviewing an astronaut

What was your inspiration for writing STONE IN THE SKY?

STONE IN THE SKY is the sequel to TIN STAR which was very loosely inspired by the film Casablanca.  For Stone, I wanted it to have a western kind of True grit / gold rush of 1849 feel.  So look to any western.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

A really hard scene for me to write I can't really talk about it, because it's a spoiler.  But it basically really shows you how horrible Brother Blue is.  I think when you are writing about the results of someone's evil, it's hard to write.  That darkness does not sit well with me, but as writers we must push through the darkness to get back to the light.  I also wrote a scene that takes place during a spacewalk.  I actually got to interview astronaut Rick Mastracchio, who is a space walking expert, about what that's like.  That was pretty cool, to get little details from a person who has actually walked in space.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I would say to check out John Christopher's The Tripod Trilogy.  That has always been a touchstone for me.  And the aliens in there are very alien, even if it's an earth based story.  I would also say that Deep Space Nine or Babylon Five are probably good watch alikes.

What do you hope readers will take away from STONE IN THE SKY?

I wanted it to be the story about a girl who sheds her humanity in order to survive and then rediscovers it.  So I hope that a reader thinks about what it means to be human.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I always say that it's about a ten year waiting list to be an artist of any kind.  You have to get in line, do your work, and do more work.  For me, it took about 7 years from the time I got serious about writing before I sold my first book.  That book was BOY PROOF, it's about a girl who is obsessed with a post apocalyptic film and dresses as the main character to go to school every day and how that affects her relationships when a new kid comes to school.  I wrote three full books before I sold that one.  And it came out two years after I sold it.  So, almost 10 years.  I say, just keep writing and putting stuff out there.  It's a marathon.  It's a long road.  And once you do get published, there are more roads to keep walking on.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I make a play list for every book that I write.  It's a bunch of songs that jump me straight into the vibe and emotional tone of the novel.  Here is the one I had for TIN STAR http://www.largeheartedboy.com/blog/archive/2014/02/book_notes_ceci_2.html I work at home and at coffee shops depending on where I am at in the process.  Sometimes I need to hole up in my house like a mad woman.  Become a troll, emerge a fairy.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Don't be afraid of making your work better by listening to good notes.  Anything that you have to cut you can always put in another project.  Nothing is ever wasted.

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a draft of a middle grade novel.  We'll see!  It's my first!  Always experimenting, that's my motto.


Stone in the Sky
by Cecil Castellucci
Roaring Brook Press
Released 2/24/2015

In this thrilling follow-up to Tin Star, Tula will need to rely on more than just her wits to save her only home in the sky.

After escaping death a second time, Tula Bane is now even thirstier for revenge. She spends much of her time in the Tin Star Café on the Yertina Feray—the space station she calls home. But when it's discovered that the desolate and abandoned planet near the station has high quantities of a precious resource, the once sleepy space station becomes a major player in intergalactic politics. In the spirit of the Gold Rush, aliens from all over the galaxy race to cash in—including Tula's worst enemy.

Purchase Stone in the Sky at Amazon
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View Stone in the Sky on Goodreads


Cecil Castellucci 2014 web_res-9382Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, First Day on Earth, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star and Odd Duck. Her picture book, Grandma’s Gloves, won the California Book Award Gold Medal. Her short stories have been published in Strange Horizons, YARN, Tor.com, and various anthologies including, Teeth, After and Interfictions 2. She is the YA editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus and a two time Macdowell Fellow. She lives in Los Angeles.

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25. Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of MARK OF THE THIEF, on understanding who your reader wants to be

What was your inspiration for writing MARK OF THE THIEF?

MARK OF THE THIEF started with two facts I stumbled upon. The first was that Emperor Julius Caesar used to claim he was a literal descendent of the Goddess Venus. He did this to make himself seem more powerful and invincible, but I began thinking, What if he was telling the truth? That would have made him a demigod, perhaps with some of their magic. The second fact was that ancient Roman boys used to wear a large golden amulet called a bulla, which was filled with gems in order to provide the boy good luck. So I thought, What if Caesar’s bulla was where he kept his magic? And what if that bulla became lost after Caesar’s death, only to be found nearly three hundred years later by a slave in the mines?

What do you hope readers will take away from MARK OF THE THIEF?

What an interesting question! I would love for readers to understand that there is a price for freedom. Nic wants that more than anything, but it won’t come easily or without a cost. I also think there’s a message for readers that every individual matters. Even those who society might determine are the lowest of the low.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I do most of my writing at home, but only because I’m lazy about going out! I enjoy editing to music, but the plotting and first draft needs to be in silence. That’s the time in which I really need to become absorbed in the story’s world.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

One thing I’ve learned in publication is to understand who your reader is. Readers who love a story will read themselves into the pages, as if they are going on the adventure in that character’s shoes. So once we understand our reader, then we write, not for who they are, but for who they want to be. Let them go on an adventure with a character they want to be more like.

What are you working on now?

My goodness - it’s a crazy time! As I type this, I am in the middle of edits for MARK OF THE THIEF 2, outlining the third book in the series, doing proofs for A NIGHT DIVIDED, a Cold War era historical coming this August, and plotting for another standalone book for fall of 2016. Needless to say, I’m not sleeping a lot. But I am having a great time!


Mark of the Thief
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Scholastic Press
Released 2/24/2015

Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of the NYT and USA TODAY bestselling Ascendance Trilogy, has woven an electrifying tale of greed and power, magic and destiny, and one boy's courage at the heart of it all.

When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern containing the lost treasures of Julius Caesar, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: He discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the Gods -- magic some Romans would kill for.

Now, with the deadly power of the bulla pulsing through his veins, Nic is determined to become free. But instead, he finds himself at the center of a ruthless conspiracy to overthrow the emperor and spark the Praetor War, a battle to destroy Rome from within. Traitors and spies lurk at every turn, each more desperate than the next to use Nic's newfound powers for their own dark purposes.

In a quest to stop the rebellion, save Rome, and secure his own freedom, Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.

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JenNielsen_color_smallNew York Times Bestselling author, Jennifer Nielsen, was born and raised in northern Utah, where she still lives today with her husband, three children, and a dog that won’t play fetch. She is the author of The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE; the MARK OF THE THIEF series, and the forthcoming A NIGHT DIVIDED. She loves chocolate, old books, and lazy days in the mountains.

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