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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: young adult, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Review: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter

I am quite pleased with Ally Carter‘s latest book All Fall Down. I had high expectations since her NYT bestselling series, Gallagher Girls, is such an excellently hilarious series, but All Fall Down definitely stands on it’s own! It features Grace, snarky and bitter, and granddaughter of a powerful ambassador. Oh and she’s looking for her mother’s […]

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2. Friday Feature: My Tethered Soul





It’s been months since Zadie faced her sister’s Reaper, months during which she’s been under her mentor’s magical protection. But now that she’s turning seventeen, that protection is about to run out.

When dark forces lure Zadie to wander at night, she’s manipulated into committing unspeakable acts. With her friends and family at risk, Zadie must try to use her powers to break free from the Reaper’s grasp, or surrender to the Reaper’s Rite, which can only lead to death.

Excerpt:

Swinging the door open, I held my breath. A few wire hangers hung on a rod, but otherwise it was empty.
Gavin stood and tapped his foot on the floor. “This floorboard is loose. Maybe there’s something under here. You know, like in The Tell-Tale Heart?”
I glanced at him over my shoulder. “Great, Gavin. That’s just what I need: a little scare to get me motivated.”
He let out a small laugh as he bent down to inspect the floorboard. While he prodded at it, I turned my attention back to the closet. It was deeper than mine was. More square than rectangular. Big enough to fit a large desk in. Stepping into the closet, I found a door to the right. Inside the closet.
That’s a strange place for a door.
This door didn’t have a knob, but a rotating handle. I ran my hand over the smooth metal of the handle, working up the courage to press down on it. The closet lit up as lighting flashed in the sky. I needed to find out what was behind the door, but I couldn’t seem to move my hand.
Just open it, Zadie. Swallowing my fear, I pressed the handle down and pulled on the door.
When my eyes adjusted to the lack of light, a set of stairs stood before me. Up to an attic, I presumed. Dull drywall flanked it, and a window at the top of the stairs let in a small amount of light.
I was about to turn around and get Gavin when another flash of lightning lit up the stairwell. Something glinted in the short blaze of light. A small, thin item halfway up the stairs.
My bracelet.
Was I here? I must have been. Why else would the bracelet be on the floor? What did I do here? Up here in the attic?
“Zadie?” Gavin called.
For a moment, I couldn’t speak. Swallowing hard, I forced sound to break free from my throat. “Just a second.”
“Where are you?”
Instead of answering him, I climbed the first step, focused on the bracelet. Was that what it really was? Or was my mind playing tricks on me again? The second my foot grazed the next step, the door slammed shut behind me.
“Zadie!” Gavin’s voice was muffled, and the handle jiggled. But the door remained closed.
I flew to the door, fighting with the handle and trying not to hyperventilate. Lightning flashed through the window above me. I banged on the door as Gavin called my name. And then, all at once, the temperature dropped.
My breath came out in a frosty mist. I spun and backed up against the door, my eyes searching. But the storm outside played with my senses. My thumb moved over my phone, and I held it up to light the stairwell. But as the next crash of thunder vibrated through the house, I started and dropped my phone.
The light from the window disappeared. Plunged into darkness, I crouched down and searched for my phone. Something moved at the top of the stairs.
It’s here.

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3. Martha Brockenbrough Summer Bulletin

As writers and illustrators of children’s books, we have the cutest fantasies. Who else dreams that their work will someday be decorated by a sticker?

And then there’s the conference fantasy, where the agent or editor of your dreams holds your manuscript overhead and says, “This is brilliant!” and she just happens to have a contract in her pocket, which you sign on the spot. It’s almost better than the sticker.

But here’s the thing. People are sometimes asked to send off stories or art, and there are similarly wonderful career-transforming moments. Usually, though, nothing quite so dramatic happens.

And yet… conferences are magic. Truly. Every picture book I’ve ever sold has come directly from my time at an SCBWI conference, specifically the one in Los Angeles. I’ve sold four picture books and have interest in a fifth; each one sprang from an idea or conversation I had at that summer conference, starting with my first one in 2008.

My future editor, Arthur A. Levine, had been in Seattle that spring for a conference, and through a happy accident of seating, we’d chatted through the evening, and he invited me to submit something to him someday. At the time, I was writing an epic novel about a pirate in part because I’d given up on picture books, and in part because, well, I can’t really remember why, which was ultimately the problem with that novel.

At our local spring conference, Arthur had offered sage advice from his then four-year-old son. “When in doubt, write about dinosaurs.” At the time, this didn’t strike me as anything other than adorable. (Who was I to write about dinosaurs, anyway? At the time, I was merely thirty-seven.)

When registration opened for the summer conference in Los Angeles, I really wanted to go. But I couldn’t. We had a family reunion that weekend. And what kind of jerk puts anything in front of family? As it turns out, I am that kind of jerk.

In Los Angeles, Arthur reassured us about the picture book market, which at the time was feeling kind of battered. On the flight home, I resolved to send him a thank-you note for being so encouraging. I looked out the window, and I thought about dinosaurs, and specifically their teeth, and even more fantastically, about who might love their teeth most of all.

Arthur ended up publishing the answer to that question—The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy—five years later. A year or two after I sold The DTF, I mentioned to Arthur at another Los Angeles conference a letter I’d written to my daughter when she asked for the truth about Santa. He said he thought it sounded like a picture book as well. A dear friend I’d met at the Los Angeles conference, Samantha Berger, gave me an idea for how it might be done. I wrote it. Arthur bought it.

Last summer, Samantha and I came up with an idea at the conference while we were eating pizza poolside. So far that has turned into a two picture book deal with Arthur.

These aren’t the sort of things you can predict when you’re thinking about going to a conference. The standard fantasy—that someone might love your work and buy it on the spot—pales in comparison to what really can happen. You go to these conferences and meet people who inspire you. You make friends. You hear words you didn’t know you needed to hear, things that make you laugh and cry, things that feed your mind in ways your everyday routine might not. All of this becomes the fuel of story.

I’d never thought to dream about what comes from inspiration and connection and friendship. And yet this combination is so much better than any contract, and why I’ll go to every SCBWI conference I can.

Fantasies are great and all. But real life? It’s better.

 

Martha Brockenbrough is the author of the YA novels The Game of Love and Death and Devine Intervention, and The Dinosaur Tooth Fairy, a picture book. Both are with Arthur A. Levine at Scholastic, as is her forthcoming picture book, Love, Santa, as well as two Bigfoot picture books written jointly with Samantha Berger. Martha also wrote the nonfiction middle grade Finding Bigfoot for Feiwel & Friends. In addition to her work on SCBWI's Team Blog, she is the founder of National Grammar Day and author of Things That Make Us [Sic]. Visit www.marthabrockenbrough.squarespace.com and on Twitter @mbrockenbrough.

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4. The Best of Australian YA

I’m an avid chewer of books but, surprisingly, I don’t read a lot of literature from my own country. Oh horror! Gasp with me! It’s an abominable shame. The reason for this is, a) I read mostly YA, b) most famous YA books are by American authors, and c) it seems much easier to get […]

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5. Monday Mishmash 6/29/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Signing at Books-A-Million  I'll be at Books-A-Million in the Stroud Mall (Stroudsburg, PA) this Saturday (July 4th) from noon until 3:00 p.m. signing copies of The Monster Within and The Darkness Within. If you're in the area, come see me.
  2. Fading Into the Shadows Edits  I'm getting edits today for my 2016 title Fading Into the Shadows. I can't wait to dive back into this book.
  3. Fading Into the Shadows Cover  So, my cover is finalized and can I just say WOW? It's awesome guys. The cover reveal probably won't be until September, but I'll keep you posted.
  4. Beth Fred's Blurb Writing Class  Beth is teaching The Art of Blurb Writing again. This time the course will run from July 6 to July 24. For details and to sign up, click here.
  5. Secret Goodness in the Works  I have some things up my sleeve that I'll be sharing soon. Stay tuned.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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6. How Losing Your Purse Can Improve Your Writing

If you’ve ever visited the DEPARTURES area of the airport, you probably know that it is not exactly an oasis of tranquility. There are cars trying to park; cars trying to double park, cars trying to squeeze out of where they’ve double-parked, orange cones, orange vests, whistles, and general chaos.

I was being dropped off at Burbank Bob Hope Airport by my mom and dad, 74 and 80 respectively, and wanted to debark as efficiently as possible so they could be on their way. Adjusting my new felt hat, I strapped my laptop bag across my chest, hauled out my suitcase, and hugged my parents a quick goodbye.

Approaching the Southwest counter, I reached for my purse.

And felt air.

My stomach dropped to my knees. I had made a big mistake. I left my purse in my parents’ car.

Stacey's troublesome vessel of all things crucial, circa 2004, Anthropologie.

Stacey’s troublesome vessel of all things crucial, circa 2004, Anthropologie.

Frantically, I searched my laptop bag, hoping I had jammed it in without realizing. But, no. My purse was in the carpool lane of the Five freeway, headed down to the OC. How the heck was I getting on a plane without my ID?

I couldn’t make a phone call, as I didn’t have a cell phone. I couldn’t even use a pay phone, as I had no money. (And btw, the sudden absence of money tends to amplify one’s hunger pains).

I could ask someone to loan me change, but would they think I was a panhandler? And my hat, which I thought was stylish, suddenly cast a shadow of suspicion upon me. Suspicious people always wear hats.

I might have started to hyperventilate. My flight was leaving in an hour.

A petite Japanese security guard asked if everything was alright.

“I left my purse in my parents’ car!” I blubbered.

She tsked her tongue, but then fished out a dollar’s worth in coins so I could use a payphone. After profusely thanking her, I dropped two quarters into the first phone. A metallic crunching and gargling followed, which I believe was the sound of the phone eating my change.

Trying not to panic, I moved onto the next phone. This time, the call went through.

But no one picked up. Remember how I mentioned the age of my parents? Well, with old age comes certain …realities, such as, hearing loss. Mom’s voicemail answered, but that didn’t help me because even if she heard the ding of voicemail, she doesn’t know how to check it (another age-related reality). I tried calling my husband collect, like, a billion times. But it turns out, since his company pays for his cell phone, its collect call feature is disabled.

I explained my situation to Southwest. I must have looked honest, as they issued me the ticket, with the caution that security still might refuse me. Shame-faced, I stepped to the security counter and tried to explain why I wasn’t carrying my ID.

He frowned, and I grew smaller. “Where do you work?”

“At home. I mean, I’m self-employed.”

Another frown, another inch shorter. “Occupation?”

“Writer.”

Another frown, this one with an upward flick of his pupils that says, isn’t everyone?

If only I had one of my books on me. I could show him my author picture.

Then it occurred to me, I could show him my author website.

After perusing the site, then conducting a thorough search of myself and my luggage, security finally did let me through.

Stephanie: When Stacey first told me this story, I felt horrible. But since I’m a teacher, I also thought this would make an awesome writing lesson.

The thing I loved about this story (from a writing perspective, because obviously I felt terrible that my friend went through so much stress) was that everything that could go wrong did go wrong. As Stacey said, everyone knows you can’t get on a plane without an ID. And this situation was so much worse because on top of not having her ID:

The hat of suspicion and lawlessness.

The hat of suspicion and lawlessness.

  1. Stacey did not have her phone.
  2. Or money.
  3. The only people who could help her (Stacey’s parents) were impaired, and therefore unable to come to her rescue.
  4. She was hungry.
  5. Her husband wasn’t answering the phone.
  6. On top of not having an ID, she was also wearing a hat, which made her highly suspicious to airport personnel.
  7. And the clock was rapidly ticking. Stacey only had one hour.

Now, imagine you’re writing a character and you’ve put them in this same situation. It could be really tempting to have another character (maybe the husband) make a miraculous appearance and save the day. Perhaps this husband calls in a favor with the head of security. And not only does your character get onto the plane, but they are upgraded to first class and handed a glass of champagne.

Unfortunately that did not happen to Stacey. But I believe what happened was even better. Stacey used her smarts to save herself, by directing the security to her author website, where her photo was able to confirm her identity.

Now if Stacey were a character, not only would readers think, wow this woman is smart! They would also know a little more about her character, because not only did this action save the day, it revealed more about her background, mainly, her profession.

People are always saying, put your characters in the worst situations possible, but then, too often, characters don’t use their intelligence to get out of those miserable scenarios. Because of this, writers often miss great opportunities to deepen their characters, and make their stories richer.

Think about whatever story you’re working on. Are there any scenes where you can pile on more conflicts? Are there scenes where you can show off your character’s strengths, instead of having someone else save the day?

Also, if any of you have stories similar to Stacey’s, we’d love to hear them:

 

 

 

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7. Friday Feature: Nobody's Goddess




In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn't in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.

Buy it on: 


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8. Review: When You Leave by Monica Ropal

Okay, wow, this book took me by surprise. It did look delicious, of course (I’m notorious for picking up books based on extreme cover love) and the promise of muuuurder (I’m normal, I swear) added an extra hook. But the first 30% was so much teen angst, cheating relationships, lying, and general meanness all round that […]

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9. Friday Feature: I Heart Robot




Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won't belittle her musical aspirations.


Q-I-99 aka 'Quinn' lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.

Tyri and Quinn's worlds collide when they're accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn's love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?



Praise for I Heart Robot:

"The tension between the groups, the obvious attraction between the main characters, the ticking time bomb of Quinn’s real identity and the secrets surrounding Tyri’s birth makes for compelling reading. The world building was exceptional and the characters well developed."~ The Australia Times Books






Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Sweden and is busy making friends with the ghosts of her Viking ancestors. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When she grows up, she wants to be an elf – until then, she spends her time (when not writing) wall climbing, buying far too many books, and entertaining her shiba inu, Lego.

Find Suzanne Online:


Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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10. Devoted Blog Tour

Join us and author Jennifer Mathieu for the Devoted blog tour! Check out Alethea's review of the audiobook and enter to win a hardcover copy of your own. US only, ends 6/29/2015. Please check out the hashtag #DevotedBook and follow @jenmathieu.

About the Book

Rachel Walker is devoted to God. She prays every day, attends Calvary Christian Church with her family, helps care for her five younger siblings, dresses modestly, and prepares herself to be a wife and mother who serves the Lord with joy. But Rachel is curious about the world her family has turned away from, and increasingly finds that neither the church nor her homeschool education has the answers she craves. Rachel has always found solace in her beliefs, but now she can’t shake the feeling that her devotion might destroy her soul.

Alethea's Review

Jen Mathieu's young adult novel Devoted explores the life of Rachel Walker, a 17-year-old girl whose inquisitive spirit clashes with her conservative fundamentalist upbringing. One of ten siblings, Rachel has begun questioning the strict patriarchal rules that govern her day to day life; her curiosity grows increasingly strong when her mother miscarries; her eldest sister, just a couple of years older than she is, announces her second pregnancy; and as the next-oldest sister she's next in line to be barefoot and pregnant. 

The tight restrictions on their lifestyle, including the way they dress, speak, and behave, are meant to keep her family and church members closer to God and away from worldly sins, and yet Rachel struggles with her faith because of these restrictions and the inevitable contradictions that arise between their church's and her own interpretation of the Bible. Surprisingly, Rachel is allowed to use a computer (to help manage the Walker landscaping service business) and drive (albeit only the ancient family van). But when her parents discover that she's been using these privileges to contact someone who's been, for all intents and purposes, excommunicated, she's given an ultimatum--leave, or attend Journey of Faith, a Christian brainwashing camp. 

Mathieu infuses Rachel's story with sensitivity and tries to approach aspects of this cultish religion from many sides: from her pious but loving little sister Ruth, her bossy older sister Faith, their fearful and depressed mother, as well as rebellious Lauren whose dramatic exit from the sect is still a verboten topic 6 years later. This treatment manages to acknowledge some good things, the best intentions of the people who came up with the Quiverfull movement's rules, but ultimately exposes its backwards and often draconian principles, too.

The aptly named Jennifer Grace narrates the audiobook beautifully, shifting easily from the holier-than-thou attitudes of the believers to Rachel's pained and often fearful or embarrassed inner monologues. Mathieu also manages to throw some levity into the mix, comic relief provided mostly by Mark, a boy whose secular upbringing creates a stark contrast between the lives of those inside and outside the Calvary Christian Church. 

I started out reading and listening to this book and questioning why I had even agreed to review it. As a lapsed Catholic, I'm not very comfortable with the topic of religion in general. I can barely stand to read factual stories (like the recent Duggars news) or even watch satirical TV shows (like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) about it, let alone listen to or read about a non-mainstream version of Christianity. However, I quickly became invested in Rachel's story. She's so torn between the world she knows and the world she wants to know. It's not so much that she doesn't believe in God, but that she can't reconcile her thoughts and feelings with the way she's forced to practice her faith. Mathieu steers clear of the more sordid implications behind the misogynistic dogma (child molestation, spousal abuse or polygamy, and other strange repercussions like Andrea Yates's drowning of five of her children to save their souls). Instead she focuses on autonomy, the rights of women and children, and Rachel's love for her family. All in all, Devoted is a compelling coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Biblical literalism movement.

5 Stars - Stay up all night Photo credit: Pablo Gamez

Photo credit: Pablo Gamez

About the Author

Jennifer Mathieu is a writer and English teacher who lives in Texas with her family. A native of the East Coast and a former journalist, she enjoys writing contemporary young adult fiction that treats teenagers like real people. She loves to eat and hates to cook. You can find more fun facts about her and her books at www.jennifermathieu.com. Tweet @jenmathieu and find her on Facebook.

Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

June 2: Ex Libris Kate | @exlibris_Kate
June 3: YAdultReview | @_ash
June 4: Jenuine Cupcakes | @cupcakegirly
June 5: MacTeenBooks | @fiercereads
June 6: Bookish Broads | @BookishBroads
June 7: My My Shelf and I | @MyShelfandI
June 8: Into the Hall of Books | @bookwormashley
June 9: I Read Banned Books | @jenbigheart
June 10: Rainy Day Ramblings | @rnydayramblings
June 11: Dana Square | @danasquare
June 12: Book Addict’s Guide | @bookaddictguide
June 13: ReadingTeen.net | @readingteen
June 14: ReadNowSleepLater.org | @mslbooks

Giveaway Time!

We're giving away a copy of Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu, US only, ends 6/29/2015.

  • Open to US only, ends 6/29/2015.
  • No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  • We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  • One set of entries per household please.
  • If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  • Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  • Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  • If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  • PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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11. Monday Mishmash 6/15/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. News!  Okay, I know I've been hinting at news, and I'm seriously bursting to share. I did tell my street team, Kelly's Coven, because they get to know everything first. Ah! I'm so hoping to be able to tell you all this week or next at the latest.
  2. Grandfather's 94th Birthday  Over the weekend, I went to see my grandfather to celebrate his 94th birthday. He really is an amazing man, who served in WWII and is a very compassionate person. It was great to be there with him on his birthday.
  3. Editing  I'm editing for clients again this week. :)
  4. Revising a Secret Project  I have a secret project in the works, and I'm finishing up revisions before sending it to a trusted beta reader.
  5. Summer Break!  My daughter finished second grade last Thursday. This is her first full week of summer vacation. We have big plans to swim, play tennis, play baseball, read, and of course play with Monster High dolls.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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12. Review: Me And Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

I’m the kind of bookworm that subscribes to “READ THE BOOK FIRST” when it comes to movie adaptions. Do I love movie adaptions? Oh definitely yes. But the original is first priority. So I had to read Me And Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews before the movie hit cinemas (which, actually, was just yesterday). The thing […]

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13. Friday Feature: Pieces of Revenge by Valia Lind




A weapon. A broken life. A humanity lost.

That is all Anastasia knows, that is all that she is. As an eleven-year-old, she witnessed her family's brutal murder and she's been on the run ever since. She's spent her life training and planning for the day when she can take her revenge.

Kallos Enterprises is a well respected corporation, set on improving the genetic structure of an individual. Or so they say. Anastasia knows, first hand, what kind of monsters lurk behind the pretty walls of those skyscrapers. Armed with combat skills and a beyond perfect memory, she heads to Chicago to uncover the answers to questions that plagued her for years.

After arriving in the city, she meets Logan, a boy from her past who changes all the rules. She doesn't remember him, but he remembers her. His position at Kallos Enterprises is useful, his presence is unnerving, and he makes her question everything she knows about herself to be true. If her perfect memory can't remember Logan, what else about her past is wrong?

Time is running out. Anastasia has nowhere to turn, but to trust the one person who's a memory she should have, but doesn't. With a madman threatening their every step, Anastasia and Logan must uncover the truths behind Kallos experiments and hope that the answers they find won't destroy the world forever.


Buy links:

Teaser - Chapter 1

Blood splatters against my cheek, dripping down my neck.
       I don't bother to wipe at it, swinging my arm as my elbow connects with the other side of his face. My mind is always calculating, like a computer, spitting out information as I duck another punch. The man in front of me is large, almost twice as wide as me, and just as deadly.
       Height: 6’3.
       Weight: 215 pounds.
       Arms like steel.   
      He grabs my hair, yanking my head back as his other arm connects with my left side. I grunt in pain, swallowing the scream that’s about to burst free. I slam my elbow into his stomach, twisting under his arm in the same motion. My knee connects with his manhood, before my fist connects with his jaw once more.
       My moves are precise.
       Practiced.
       Lethal.
      "Son of a—" I round kick him in the face before he can finish. He drops to the ground with a thud, and before he could stumble to his knees, my foot slams into his face, dropping him for good.
      "That's no language to use around a lady." I say, looking down at him, making sure he stays down. When I'm satisfied he's out, I grab my bag and run.
      I should've been more careful sneaking in, but I memorized the schedule and there shouldn't have been anyone here. The warehouse sits against the backdrop of an abandoned neighborhood, so when my feet hit the payment, there is no one to see me escape. I almost stop and go back to finish the job, but I don't. He's not worth the guilt I would carry if I kill him. He's not the one I'm saving the guilt for.
      I got what I came for, even though it took me a few more minutes than I planned on. He didn't see my face, but he sure will have himself a headache tomorrow. Strangely, I feel rejuvenated after the fight, and I grin as I run down the side alley.
      Finally. It’s finally time to make them pay.



About the Author:

Author. Photographer. Artist. Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, Valia Lind always had a love for the written word. She wrote her first full book on the bathroom floor of her dormitory, while procrastinating to study for her college classes. Upon graduation, she has moved her writing to more respectable places, and have found her voice in Young Adult fiction. Falling by Design is her debut young adult novel. You can visit her online at www.valialind.wordpress.comor follow her on twitter, where she spends way too much time, @ValiaLind.


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14. Spotlight and Giveaway: Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs

This morning I have an excerpt and giveaway for Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs.  Enjoy!

Book Information

Title: Powerless

Authors: Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal)

Series: The Hero Agenda, Book #1

Summary

Kenna is tired of being “normal.”

The only thing special about her is that she isn’t special at all. Which is frustrating when you’re constantly surrounded by superheroes. Her best friend, her ex-boyfriend, practically everyone she knows has some talent or power. Sure, Kenna’s smart and independent, but as an ordinary girl in an extraordinary world, it’s hard not to feel inferior.

So when three villains break into the lab where she interns, Kenna refuses to be a victim. She’s not about to let criminals steal the research that will make her extraordinary too.

But in the heat of battle, secrets are spilled and one of the villains saves her life. Twice. Suddenly, everything Kenna thought she knew about good and evil, heroes and villains is upended. And to protect her life and those she loves, she must team up with her sworn enemies on a mission that will redefine what it means to be powerful and powerless…

Excerpt

“You never answered my question. What are you doing down here so late?”

Those bright blue eyes sear into me as he takes a step back. “I have to go.”

His sudden evasiveness makes me suspicious, so when he starts to move past me, I sidestep into his path. “Excuse me,” I say, “but this is a secure level. Are you even authorized to be down here?”

“My dad,” he says, scowling at me. “He’s a security guard.”

A security guard? The facility might be so big that I can’t keep track of everyone who works in every lab, but I know all the guards by name. Especially the night guards, since I’m usually the last one here.

Travis and Luther are on duty tonight. Travis and his wife just had their first baby, a girl named Tia. Luther is old enough to be my great-grandfather and he never married.

I take half a step back as my suspicions turn to concern. “Who’s your dad?” I demand.

This guy definitely has the look of a villain.

What if he really is one?

He glances nervously over his shoulder. “He’s—”

I shake my head and start to walk away before he can finish the lie.

He reaches for me, but I shrug him off. My heart is beating way too fast. This could go way bad, way quick.

“Please, just listen.” He waits until I’m looking him in the eye before he continues. “You know me,” he says, his voice taking on this weird, hypnotic tone. “We’ve met before.”

His eyes start to burn brighter and brighter. Oh crap. He must be a villain, and one with a psy power. The vilest kind. Fear and anger collide inside me as I wonder what to do about him trying to mess with my head. How to play this? I can’t exactly tell him I’m—

Suddenly, the floor beneath my feet shudders violently, knocking me off balance. I lurch forward into Dark-and-Scowly’s arms. He catches me, grabs my upper arms, just as a concussion wave of air and sound hits us.

That sounded—and felt—like a bomb went off in the lab. If we weren’t a hundred feet underground and shielded by every protection science and superheroes can create, I’d think the supervillain Quake had struck. But that’s impossible.

Then again, impossible doesn’t always apply in the superhero world. After all, impossible didn’t keep Dark-and-Scowly from being where he doesn’t belong.

Suddenly, every alarm in the facility blares. I freak. The lab! All that research—Mom’s and mine—is priceless. The superhero blood samples alone are more valuable than anything else in the building.

Panic overrides judgment and I push away, but his grip only tightens. The jerk. A little super strength would be really useful right now.

“You can’t go in there.”

“Who are you?” I demand, struggling to get out of his grasp. If he really is a villain, I don’t want him near me or this lab. Not with what villains are capable of. “What have you done?”

He doesn’t answer. More pissed than ever, I fake left and pull right. He follows my fake-out, and as his hair swings with the momentum, I see the mark I’d been looking for earlier. Not under his right ear like the superheroes. Under his left.

Shit.

“You’re a villain.”

Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23314948-powerless

Buy Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/PowerlessAmazon

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/PowerlessBN

iBooks: http://bit.ly/PowerlessiBooks

Indie Bound: http://bit.ly/PowerlessIndieBound

Tracy Deebs

Tera Lynn Childs

Author Biographies

One fateful summer, Tera Lynn Childs and Tracy Deebs embarked on a nine hour (each way!) road trip to Santa Fe that ended with a flaming samurai, an enduring friendship, and the kernel of an idea that would eventually become Powerless. On their own, they have written YA tales about mermaids (Forgive My Fins, Tempest Rising), mythology (Doomed, Oh. My Gods., Sweet Venom), smooching (International Kissing Club), and fae princes (When Magic Sleeps). Between them, they have three boys (all Tracy), three dogs (mostly TLC), and almost fifty published books. Find TLC and the #TeamHillain headquarters at teralynnchilds.com. Check out Tracy and the #TeamVero lair at tracydeebs.com. Hang out with all the heroes, villains, ordinaries, and none-of-the-aboves at heroagenda.com

Social Networking Links

Website: http://heroagenda.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/heroagenda

Twitter: https://twitter.com/heroagenda

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15. Around The World With YA Books

One of my favourite things about reading is that you can literally see the world…and yet not move from your comfy reading nook. Well, okay, it doesn’t replace the “real thing”, but if one doesn’t have the ability to jet over the world trying Hungarian Goulash and Sushi, then reading books is a good replacement.   […]

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16. Friday Feature: Decree of Hope



When insecure eighteen-year-old Kailee Hill gets caught tagging Iraq war refugee, Abrahem Yohanna’s garage, she’s not expecting him to act as her designated driver, hold her hair back when she pukes, or offer to be a shoulder to cry on. But she’s failing chemistry and her life is falling apart, so she uses the number Abe leaves her and finds herself with a new tutor.

The two quickly find themselves falling hard for each other. Kailee attacks a local grunt when he calls Abe a “sand nigger” and fights with her veteran brother to be with him. When she learns Abe hasn’t told his family about her, she’s heartbroken and the couple risks losing everything they’ve worked to build. To make matters worse, Kailee’s previous acts make her the prime suspect in a serious crime. With Kailee behind bars and doubting his feelings for her, Abe must find a way to rescue the girl he loves and win back her affection. And to do that he’ll have to catch a crook… 


Add it on Goodreads.
Buy it on Amazon.

About the Author
I’m a full time ELF keeper and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. I like my tea hot, my romance sweet, and my guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma’am, make promises they keep, and aren’t afraid to profess their undying love. It’s not breakfast if there aren’t carbs (at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just few of my favorite things. Bet you can’t guess where I’m from ;)
Author Links:
Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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17. Guest Post and Giveaway: Rachel’s Deception by Karen Ann Hopkins

The Temptation series is like crack to me, so I am very happy to welcome Karen Ann Hopkins to the virtual offices this morning!

Top 5 things Karen would miss the most if she adopted an Amish lifestyle

Thank you for having me today!

I highly respect the Amish and their way of life, but I wouldn’t willingly choose to live the way they do. I think a lot of people have an extra cozy, peaceful vision of the Amish, but they are people, just like us, and they face many of same problems we do. Financial woes, troubled marriages, and rebellious children are part of their lives. But their strong religious faith, family ties, and community support help them deal with their issues remarkably well.

Here’s my list:

  1. I love riding my horse, but not in the rain and snow for the thirteen mile trek into town. I have ridden in a buggy, and honestly, I was completely terrified every time. The mixture of cars whizzing by at 60 MPH, and horse and buggies plodding along at 10 MPH on busy roads, is very dangerous to say the least. There are no seatbelts in those buggies, and they are made of thin wooden boards and a vinyl-type covering. My neighbor lost her daughter, her daughter’s fiancé, and her son was crippled, when a semi-truck crashed into their buggy. And there have been several other accidents in the last few years between buggies and cars in my community alone. Nope. I’m not giving up my SUV.

  1. My computer. Although, I’ve spent a lot of time looking up information for my neighbors, I wouldn’t want to be in that position myself.

  1. Electricity. My neighbors use natural gas to power their lights and appliances. But they still have to use a match to light those lantern lights. I have trouble enough locating my car keys, I can only imagine how irritated I’d get if I had to search for matches in the dark. My community has it much better than the Amish in the more rustic community about fifteen miles away, though. They have to fill up their bathtub with water they heat on the stove. They also still use icehouses to keep their food cold. And they have outhouses too, although sometimes the outhouse is actually in the house, but that’s a whole different story.

  1. Zippers. The Amish don’t ever use zippers. I’ve asked about it, but no one has given me a straight answer why not. Can you imagine fumbling with buttons ALL THE TIME?

  1. Freedom. There are just too many rules that every Amish person within a community has to adhere to. For example, some of the Amish girls started wearing lace up riding boots like the ones I wear. The entire community voted, and they decided that they were just too flashy for the girls to wear. So now they’re back to wearing black tennis shoes that won’t protect their foot if a horse steps on it. And riding boots are designed to slip easily from a stirrup for safety, while tennis shoes aren’t. The boots these girls were wearing were plain-old brown, and by the end of the day, they were covered with dirt and manure. How would you like to have your neighbor tell you what kind of shoes your family was allowed to wear? But it’s a rule, and the Amish follow the rules to a fault. Many of the girls returned to riding barefoot. Don’t even get me started on that.

Thank you so much for your interest in Rachel’s Deception, the Temptation series, and my other books: Embers (YA paranormal), Lamb to the Slaughter and Whispers from the Dead (adult Amish mysteries)! I love to connect with readers and I’d be happy to answer questions about the Amish way of life. Please contact me at my website: www.karenannhopkins.com or you can message me on FB, Twitter, and Instagram.

Happy Reading,

Karen Ann Hopkins

 

Karen Ann Hopkins returns with a gripping new book in the YA Temptation series. The powerful family saga continues with Noah’s little Sister in:

Rachel’s Deception

Growing up Amish is difficult…but leaving it behind is even harder.

Noah was Amish…Rose wasn’t. Being together should have been impossible. But somehow they found a way to make it work. They are finally a family, but their happily-ever-after is still a long off. Will Rose and her friends be able to force real change?

Karen Ann Hopkins returns with a gripping new book in the YA Temptation series. The powerful family saga continues with Rachel’s Deception, as events spiral out of control in the sleepy farming community of Meadowview. And Rachel Miller has her own secrets to hide. Noah’s younger sister has been living a double life. That is, until Justin Cameron, Rose’s little brother, catches her in the act. Rachel is not the obedient Amish girl that her sister was, and her rebelliousness takes her to a very dangerous world. A world that only her true friends can help her escape from.

As Rachel questions all she has been taught about love, family, and commitment, Rose discovers what it really means to be shunned. And an evil shadow looms on the horizon, threatening not only Rose, but everyone she holds dear.

About Rachel’s Deception:

About Karen Ann Hopkins:

 

 

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Karen Ann Hopkins resides in northern Kentucky with her family on a farm that boasts a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats. Karen’s main job is home schooling the kids, but she finds time to give riding lessons, coach a youth equestrian drill team, and of course, write. She was inspired to create her first book, Temptation, by the Amish community she lived in. The experiential knowledge she gained through her interactions with her neighbors drove her to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Rose and Noah.

Karen grew up about a mile from Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. She was bitten by the horse bug at the age of five, and after diligently taking riding lessons for several years, was rewarded with her first horse when she turned eleven. The feisty horse’s name was Lady, a Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, who became Karen’s steadfast companion. Through the years, the constant force in her life was horses. Eventually, she found her place as a riding instructor herself. Before accepting her fate in the barnyard, she worked a short stint as a paralegal, traveled abroad, and guided tourists on horseback riding tours in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Karen is currently working on her Amish mystery series, Serenity’s Plain Secrets, along with the YA paranormal/fantasy series, The Wings of War. Karen is also excited to announce the Temptation series has been optioned for TV by Pilgrim Studios and is available on Audible. More books in the Temptation series are in the works.

The Temptation Series on Audible! Here are some exciting news for all those audiobook lovers out there: The Temptation Series will be available April 21st and you can Pre-Oder your copy right now! Listen to a sample on audible.

Audiobook Karen’s other Books Adult Mystery, Serenity’s Plain Secrets

  • LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER (book 1): Available e-book now and in print March 2015
  • WHISPERS FROM THE DEAD (book 2): Available e-book now and in print March 2015
  • SECRETS IN THE GRAVE (book 3) Available in paperback and e-book in December 2015

YA Paranormal, Wings of War

  • EMBERS (book 1): Available in e-book now and in print March 2015
  • GAIA (book 2): Available in paperback and e-book in November 2015

Check out all of the stops on the blog tour!

Monday, May 18th – pageturnersblog – Guest Post

Tuesday May 19th – A Bookish Escape – Review

Wednesday May 20th – Books and Things – Guest Post

Thursday, May 21st – Sassy Book Lovers – Review together with Guest Post

Friday, May 22nd – Lose Time Reading – Review

Monday, May 25th – Literary Menaderings – Author Interview Tuesday, May 26th – Reading Lark – Review

Wednesday, May 27th – Sassy & Dangerous – Interview

Thursday, May 28th – Actin’ Up with Books – Review

Friday, May 29th – Her Book Thoughts – Review together with Guest Post

Monday, June 1st – Bittersweet Enchantment – Guest Post

Tuesday, June 2nd - Supernatural Snark –  Interview Wednesday, June 3rd – Curling Up With A Good Book – Interview

Thursday, June 4th – Manga Maniac Cafe – Guest Post

Friday, June 5th – Bewitched Bookworms - Guest Post

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18. The Darkness Within is HERE!

It's here!!!! Honestly, I can't believe it's June 2nd already. Where is 2015 going? But I am really excited for this release. I love Sam and Ethan. Actually, I love all the characters in this duology so much. It was tough saying good-bye to them, but I'm happy with how things wrapped up.



To celebrate my release week, Spencer Hill Press has lowered the price of The Monster Within to only $0.99! That's right! From June 1 to June 7, you can grab book one for less than a dollar. The price will go back up after June 7, so don't wait to grab your copy if you haven't already. You can get it here.

For anyone unfamiliar with The Monster Within, here's the blurb:

The moment seventeen-year-old Samantha Thompson crawls out of her grave, her second chance at life begins. She died of cancer with her long-time boyfriend, Ethan, by her side--a completely unfair shot at life.

But Ethan found a way to bring her back, like he promised he would. Only Sam came back wrong.

She's now a monster that drains others' lives to survive. And after she kills, she’s tortured by visions—glimpses into her victims would-have-been futures had she not killed them. Barely able to live with herself and trying to make things right, Sam ends up a pawn in a vicious game of payback within the local coven of witches.

But when the game reveals what Ethan had to do to save Sam, she must make a choice that will change all their lives forever.


My blog tour for The Darkness Within is underway, and here are some things you might be interested in:


After dying of cancer at seventeen and being brought back to life by an evil witch who turned her into a monster, Samantha Thompson thinks she's finally gotten past all the tragedy in her life. Now she's part of a coven of good witches who are helping her and her boyfriend, Ethan Anderson, learn to use the powers they received from other witches. Aside from the fact that Sam and Ethan are still in hiding from their old lives--the ones they had before Sam was brought back to life--things couldn't be better. Sam and Ethan are inseparable. What could go wrong? 

Magic. 

Ethan's magic came from a witch who'd turned as evil as possible, and though his coven thought he'd be fine, the more he uses his magic, the stranger he starts acting. The magic inside him is changing who he is. One minute he's Sam's sweet, perfect Ethan and the next, he's a complete stranger. Even with all her witchy power, Sam is helpless against the magic corrupting Ethan. Can Sam find out what's wrong with him before she loses him to dark magic forever?

Book Links:


Praise:

In this exciting continuation of THE MONSTER WITHIN, a teenage coven deals with the highs and lows of their magic. Within the pages of this suspenseful page-turner is a sweet romance, friendship, and witchy intrigue. Hashway is a master of paranormal tales. ~ Medeia Sharif, author of 52 Likes

Giveaway:
The Darkness Within SWAG pack, including bookmarks, a triquetra charm, and a mask.

Signed copy of any ONE of my books (winner’s choice).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Finally, thank you so much to everyone participating in the blog tour, release day blitz, and social media takeover going on this week. And thank you all for letting me share my release with you. 

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19. Slow Books

A note from Candy: I was truly wowed by the last book I read by Nicky Singer  -  Knight Crew, a retelling of the Arthur-Guinevere romance set in a gritty council estate and populated by heart-breaking teenagers. When Knight Crew came out, Nicky actively urged readers not to buy the book from Amazon. Last week I stumbled on Nicky's Kickstarter campaign to publish her play, Island, as a novel. I

0 Comments on Slow Books as of 5/25/2015 12:57:00 AM
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20. Guest Post and Giveaway: Captured by You by Amber Hart

 

Amber Hart dropped by with a guest post and a giveaway to celebrate the release of Captured by You.  Enjoy!

5 WAYS TO GET YOUR FICTION BOOK PUBLISHED

Stories need a lot of work to get to the publishing stage. Like, a whole lot. There’s an ocean of books out there and it’s hard to tell how, exactly, to become one of them. There’s not a “right” way, per say, but the general census boils down to these five things.

  1. WRITE YOUR BOOK IN ITS ENTIRETY

It’s super tempting to send your book off when it’s only partially done. I mean, you’ve achieved this monumental thing. You’ve written part of a book! That has to count for something, right? It does. Trust me. I’m with you. It’s lovely, but you still need to write the whole book before you send it off. Unless you are already published and/or are wildly popular in the business, agents and publishers like to know how the story started, progressed, and ended before they will sign you for the first time. It’s tough, but you’ll be glad you finished.

  1. EDIT

This step is so very important. Edit, edit, edit. Edit until you feel like it’s the most polished stone in the pond. Edit until you’re one million percent sure that the book is as good as it gets. Maybe, if you can afford it, even let a freelance editor rake through it. And then, celebrate! You’ve just finished a book, after all.

  1. LET TRUSTED PEOPLE BETA READ

There’s only so many times you can edit and read your own book before you become blind to the story and words. It’s important to have someone else, someone who is not in your own head, read it. They are looking at it with fresh eyes. They might be able to point out that you skipped too far ahead in one section, or that a part is dragging, or that a certain character needs more fleshing out. Beta readers can see bigger picture issues that you’ll want to correct before you send your baby novel off to an agent and/or publisher.

  1. WRITE A KILLER QUERY

How are you possibly going to hook an agent and/or publisher in one page? It’s the same question all authors have had, the one that keeps them up at night sweating bullets. It’s impossible, you say. Something-hundred pages can’t be contained in a simple paragraph, you say. It has to. And it all starts with a hook. Make the reader want to know more. Explore the books on your own shelves. Look at the back jackets. What drew you to them? What one-lines did they drop to snag your interest? Now, it’s your turn to create one of your own. Follow it up with a few sentences about your book. Don’t be afraid to infuse your voice in it. Actually, that can be the difference between getting signed or not.

  1. BE PREPARED FOR REJECTION

It’s a hard part of the business. Someone is bound to say no. All the greatest writers will tell you the same. But I think you should know that rejection can also be gold. Sometimes agents and publishers include reasons why the book wasn’t strong enough for them. Those reasons can be used to better your book. If you feel they might be dead on, fix the problem areas and then query more agents and/or publishers. The point is, rejection WILL happen. Don’t loose hope. Don’t give up. It only take one “yes.” Don’t quit before you get yours.

And, as always, be respectful. Thank that agent and/or publisher (by name) for taking time out of their day to read your words. Know that your time will come as long as you keep writing. There are many paths to cross to get to the finish. Find yours. Don’t forget that some books never get published. Write another one. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. Never stop.

Captured By You
Until You Find Me # 2

By: Amber Hart

Releasing May 19, 2015

Loveswept: Flirt

Blurb

In the passionate, gut-wrenching sequel to Amber Hart’s Until You Find Me, Raven and Jospin must fight for each other in a world where love is never safe—and power is deadly.

Raven, a college girl from Michigan, came to the jungles of Cameroon searching for closure. Falling for Jospin, a handsome, charismatic hunter with dark secrets of his own, was never part of the plan.

But despite their differences, their attraction is addictive, as exhilarating and wild as the rain forest itself—and also as dangerous. For the sake of both their lives, their heated affair must remain a secret.

Raven wants justice for her conservationist father’s death; to help her, Jospin must turn his back on his own father and the only life he has ever known. Together they risk being hunted by a band of ruthless poachers, but they take the chance anyway, working to bring down their enemies between each stolen kiss. But when one slip puts Raven’s life at stake, Jospin knows he must act.

He has captured Raven’s heart—now can he set her free

Link to Follow Tour: http://www.tastybooktours.com/2015/02/captured-by-you-until-you-find-me-2-by.html

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22675554-captured-by-you?from_search=true
Goodreads Series Link:
https://www.goodreads.com/series/132345-until-you-find-me

Buy Links: Amazon | B & N | iTunes | Kobo

Author Info

Amber Hart is the author of Before You and Until You Find Me. She grew up in Orlando, Florida, and Atlanta, Georgia, and now resides on the Florida coastline with her family. When not reading, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or dipping her toes in the sand.

Author Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Rafflecopter Giveaway (Loveswept Mug, Flirt Mug and Select Ebook Bundle)

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21. Monday Mishmash 5/25/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Memorial Day  Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope you have a fun and safe holiday.
  2. Editing  I've been editing a lot lately, which is nice because I just finished a big writing binge before these edits rolled in.
  3. Secret News  I'm going to have news to share hopefully soon. I'm really excited. :)
  4. The Darkness Within  June 2nd is just around the corner, which means it's almost time for the release of The Darkness Within. I love that Ethan has a bigger part in this book. I've got a release day blast, a blog tour, and a social media takeover planned for release week. Wow!
  5. Feeling Thankful  I've said it before but I have to say it again. I have the best street team. I'm always completely amazed at how my street team members take it upon themselves to find new ways to promote my books. They do a lot on their own, and I couldn't be more grateful. I love Kelly's Coven!
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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22. Review: Paper Towns by John Green

With the infamous John Green’s Paper Towns movie releasing so soon (July 16th! So close! Cue ecstatic excitement!), how about we take a small peek at the book?! I read The Fault in Our Stars first and fell completely in love with the way John Green mashes humour and angst together. Relatable? I think yes. And, pfft, you […]

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23. Friday Feature: Don't Call Me Kit Kat



Junior high is where things really start to happen. Cliques form and break apart. Couples are made and destroyed. And a reputation is solidified that you won’t ever be able to escape. Everything you do and say, and everyone you spend your time with, matters. 

Katie Mills knows that. She gets it. That’s why she tried so hard to get in with the cool girls at school. And why she was so devastated when those efforts found her detained for shoplifting and laughed out of cheer squad tryouts. 

But Katie has more to worry about than just fitting in. Her parents are divorced and always fighting. Her sister never has time for her. And her friends all seem to be drifting apart. Even worse? The boy she has a crush on is dating the mean girl at school. 

Everything is a mess, and Katie doesn’t feel like she has control over any of it. Certainly not over her weight, which has always topped out at slightly pudgier than normal—at least, according to her mother. 

So when she happens to catch one of the popular girls throwing up in the bathroom one day, it sparks an idea. A match that quickly engulfs her life in flames. 

Is there any going back once she gets started down this path? 

And would she even want to if she could?

Find it on Amazon.

Check out this trailer:


Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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24. Case Cracked: The Process of Editing Mystery Novels

trixie belden book cover
Trixie Belden

I’ve long been a fan of mysteries. Trixie Belden was my BFF as a third and fourth grader. Nancy Drew was another favorite. Veronica Mars updated the teen sleuth idea, bringing the storytelling form to a new generation.

When I got the chance to work on Valynne Maetani’s Ink and Ashes, our new YA mystery which comes out in June, all of those mysteries and more were going through my mind. Claire, the main character, has the spunk and curiosity of Veronica Mars and all of her predecessors, but she’s also a little different. And to honor those differences in the editing process, I needed to refresh myself on what’s out there right now in the teen mystery/suspense genre, and the mystery genre in general.

As I was editing Ink and Ashes over the course of about a year and a half (which spans two developmental edits and a line edit), between edits I was reading mystery after mystery. I stocked up on Agatha Christie, I rewatched Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and read the first book of the series it’s based on (Cocaine Blues by Kerry Greenwood), I read multiple YA suspense, spy, and murder mysteries.

Miss Fisher ABC
Miss Fisher from the TV show “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”

That reading reminded me that a great mystery read requires the same elements as any good read: well-paced plotting, characters the reader cares about enough to want to know what happens next; even world-building, though that’s a term we generally associate with speculative fiction, is tremendously important in setting the stage in a mystery. But my rereading of classic and contemporary mysteries also showed me that more than in any other genre, a sense of suspense and danger must permeate the mystery book, must drive the reader to breathlessly wonder what will happen next.

Ask probing questions

One of the biggest challenges in this edit—with any edit, really, especially with an author you’ve never worked with before—was discovering how to bring the author’s vision of the characters fully to life. An editor’s job is often to just ask questions: Why is this happening right now? Why would that character decide to do this? What is the goal here?

In that way, figuring out the goal allows the editor to ask further probing questions on what the solution might be—figuring out how current plot points and character decisions hamper the desired effect.

“The plot thickens” turns out to be trueink and ashes cover

The biggest thing I learned while editing Ink and Ashes and reading all these mysteries is the importance of plot escalation. In the original draft, clues did of course build up into a frenzied final few pages of conflict that were very enjoyable—that’s one of the reasons the book won our New Visions Award. But comparing the early manuscript to mysteries I enjoyed the most, I realized that there were so many ways that the narrative could be complicated. (Valynne was on the same page. As she waited for the results of the contest, she was also already thinking of ways to improve the manuscript. That kind of editor-writer synergy makes a huge difference in any book project like this.)

We looked at the end goal, and discussed the plot points that got Claire and her friends to that point. In particular, we discussed how the inciting incident—the moment that gets Claire to veer her course to investigating whether her father and her stepdad ever knew each other—might be complicated and how those complications would have a ripple effect that would improve multiple other plot points, and increase the pacing.

In other words, escalation. If the reader didn’t feel the suspense at every page turn, we had work to do.

Valynne worked very hard on making that happen, and I’m very happy with the results! In answer to all my probing questions, Valynne improved on an already-well written manuscript to bring what was an interesting read to the level of an exciting page-turner that’s getting readers hooked. That’s the end goal for any editor and author: Creating a final book that readers can’t put down. I’m happy to say, we succeeded with Ink and Ashes.

stacy whitmanStacy Whitman is Editorial Director and Publisher of Tu Books, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS that publishes diverse science fiction and fantasy for middle grade and young adult readers.

0 Comments on Case Cracked: The Process of Editing Mystery Novels as of 5/29/2015 10:35:00 AM
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25. Monday Mishmash 6/1/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. The Darkness Within  Tomorrow is release day! Yay! I have a release day launch, a blog tour, and a social media takeover going on this week. Wow, I'm going to be busy. I'm excited!
  2. Editing  I have four client edits booked so I'll be busy for a while with those. I'm most likely going to get edits back on one of my own books too. Eek!
  3. PTO Luncheon  Since I help out with the PTO at my daughter's school I'm invited to the luncheon on Wednesday. Should be fun.
  4. Campus Crush  My NA romance, Campus Crush (written as Ashelyn Drake) had another great day last Friday. This happened:
  5. Free Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter goes out tomorrow. Why tomorrow instead of today when I always send it out on the first Monday of the month? Because tomorrow is release day and I can cover that and my monthly newsletter in one instead of doing two. :) If you aren't signed up but would like to receive a newsletter, click here.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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