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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.
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 true
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 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.
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?
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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:
Memorial Day Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope you have a fun and safe holiday.
Editing I've been editing a lot lately, which is nice because I just finished a big writing binge before these edits rolled in.
Secret News I'm going to have news to share hopefully soon. I'm really excited. :)
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!
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!
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
When Colin Leventhal leaned out his bedroom window on the night of May 12th and said goodbye to his girlfriend, he never expected it would be forever. But when Sarah Evans goes missing that night, Colin’s world unravels as he transforms from the boyfriend next door to the main police suspect. Then one year later, at her memorial service, Colin makes a phone call that could change everything. Is it possible that Sarah is still alive? And if so, how far will he go to bring her back?
I get up early to run, because it’s easier in the morning. There's no one up yet at five am, and the streets belong to me. I don’t even bring music anymore. I only want to hear the steady thwack of my sneakers on the pavement, the rustle of leaves in the breeze and the huff of air coming out of my lungs. It sets up a rhythm that allows my brain to shut off for a while so my mind stays empty.
Not thinking feels good. It’s one of the few things that still feels good.
I crest the hill at the top of Cedarhurst and pick up speed going down. My lungs feel clean and clear, and I think about sprinting the last five or six blocks back to my driveway. My energy seems a little low, but I figured I can probably push it.
The sound of my feet hitting the pavement intensifies and I pump my arms hard, small tears forming in my eyes from the wind. I clear my mind. I am no longer Colin. I’m just muscle, tissue and bone; a complex and delicate machine pushing its way against gravity and inertia, covering distance on this rock floating in the darkness of an ever-expanding space.
When Claire pulls her bike alongside me I nearly jump out of my skin. Where the hell did she come from? She pedals hard, riding off the seat, her blonde hair whipping back. She passes me and looks back and smiles. As the distance between us grows, I’m overcome with loss, and a sort of panic, like I need to catch up to her. I’m not sure what it is, but I watch her move away from me, her blonde hair streaming, her legs working the pedals and every muscle in my body screams to catch her.
Suddenly Claire is everything in the world, everything beautiful, alive, peaceful, and good, and it’s all getting away from me.
The farther she gets from me, the closer she gets to the monsters and all I want in the world is for Claire to always be safe.
Jesus Christ, I just want to be able to save one of them.
She looks back at me once and smiles before pumping the pedals again. In that moment, that small bright moment, her hair and her smile reflecting the early morning sun, she looks just like Sarah. Just like Claire looked that day in the hallway.
Suddenly I feel so hollow and empty, carved out like the husk of some dead cicada. I watch her get away from me and feel more lost than ever before. She rounds the bend and disappears from my line of sight, something inside of me snaps and I stumble forward. My feet now clumsy, my balance thrown off, until I stop, bent, heaving, coughing, spitting foam, my heart wild inside me. In my head, an image forms of Sarah when I made her laugh so hard she nearly choked on her sandwich at the diner.
That was Sarah.
Sarah and me, in a moment we won’t have again. A moment that was once real but now feels like it belonged to another life. Neither of us foresaw it ending this way.
The year before or the week before or the day before. We never saw it coming.
If I knew when she stood on that driveway, staring up at me, with me hanging out of the window looking down at her, if I knew, I would have told her everything.
The Wrath and the Dawn is a retelling of A Thousand and One Nights. I was curious to read it, because how do you make a guy who kills a young girl before dawn breaks a sympathetic character? And why does a young woman with her whole life ahead of her volunteer to be one of the Caliph’s doomed brides? When I first started reading this, it did not hold my attention, and I thought that Shazi’s stories weren’t compelling enough to save her from her ghastly fate. But once Shazi and Khalid started doing something other than staring warily at each other in Shazi’s quarters, the plot took off. Both characters were given depth and faults and reasons for their behavior. After a romantic interlude in the market, I couldn’t put it down.
Shazi has volunteered to become Khalid’s latest bride. She knows that she probably won’t live to see the dawn, since he has been murdering scores of young brides for weeks. Her best friend was one of his victims, and Shazi wants revenge. She gives up her old life, and her old love, in an attempt to find out why Khalid is killing his wives. She wants to stop him, so no one else will have to suffer the fate of those innocent girls. During her wedding night, she begins to tell her murderous husband a story, stopping at a cliffhanger and refusing to speak any further until the next evening. Her ploy works, and Khalid doesn’t have her killed. Score one for the clever Shazi.
Khalid has been cursed, and he frets that if he doesn’t take a new life every dawn, his people will suffer. There is something about Shazi that stays his hand, however, and makes him tempt fate. She proves to be incredibly clever and brave, and she is everything that the Caliph’s spouse should be. She cares about the welfare of his subjects, and as she gets to know Khalid, she begins to care about him. It did drive me crazy that they both kept so many secrets from each other, and that it took until almost the end of the book for him to tell her why he was killing the girls, but I am not known for my patience.
While Shazi is attempting to solve the mystery behind Khalid’s behavior and put a stop to it, her task is complicated by her childhood friend, Tareq. At first I was afraid there would be a love-triangle, but thankfully it was more one-sided. Shazi was too intent on obtaining her revenge to spare romantic thoughts for Tareq. Yes, she felt guilty once she was drawn to Khalid, and yes, she was torn by her loyalty to Tareq, but once he shows up on the scene, he only seems to get in the way of Shazi’s plans. He keeps interfering, and she just wants him to go back home. What she doesn’t know is that he has started a rebellion against the Caliph. There are many people upset by the murders, as well as power hungry individuals just waiting for their chance to make a power grab.
I liked Shazi because she doesn’t just sit around waiting for someone else to solve her problems. She’s courageous and willing to put her life on the line to stop Khalid from killing again. I liked Khalid, too, because it’s obvious that he’s suffering horribly from the things he’s done, but he doesn’t know how to put things to rights. Add in some action, lots of angst, and a couple who come to care for each other despite all of the challenges facing them, and you have a book that is hard to put down. Fair warning: this doesn’t end so much as it just stops. If I had realized it was a series, I probably would have waited until it was finished before I started it.
Grade: B / B+
Review copy provided by publisher
A sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.
She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. A fresh, clean bracket has names neatly penciled into open slots, representing optimism and promise for excitement. Meanwhile, the sweetness of the beginning is quickly thrown into tumult, as surprises abound and unpredicted losses become the talk of Twitter. The competition is fierce, and the stakes are high. Naturally, I’m talking about March Picture Book Madness!
I was scouring through my daily dose of teacher blogs (a heavily addicting recreational activity, though I highly recommend it) when I came across an article in one of my absolute favorites. The Nerdy Book Club (yes, that’s its real name) was advocating for countrywide participation in a March Madness book battle. Over 700 schools across the US were putting in their picks for top-seeded picture books, middle grade novels, or young adult fiction. The website would then generate a bracket, with classrooms everywhere participating in the “madness!” My class just had to get in on all the fun — what an exciting excuse to indulge into picture books, and providing a fun incentive for read-aloud time!
Worried that your school may not have the funds to take on this challenge? Have no fear! Our grade level team didn’t enter the actual pool. We decided to use the list of books selected on the website as guide, and see which ones we could find in our school library. For ones that we could not find, we simply supplemented with other incredible picture books that we found! I put on my artistic hat and created my own bracket out of a large piece of card stock.
Just as the March Madness basketball brackets stem from different regions, the picture book bracket had two distinct categories: books written prior to 2014, and books written throughout the 2014-2015 season. This created a wonderful opportunity for all of us to explore the latest in children’s literature, as well as revisiting some old favorites. Check out the picture below for our classroom picks (click to see it larger). I know we’re past March now, but the fervor is still in the air as we come to our top pick. I hope you’ll consider an activity like this next year as it really isn’t that maddening to organize!
I've finally finished my ANZAC manuscript so I can give more attention to this blog. Lorraine Orman has been ploughing through the books but I haven't had a minute spare to put them up. I will rectify that from today onwards.
Havoc by Jane Higgins, Text Publishing
This is the sequel to The Bridge, which was published in 2011 after winning the 2010 Text Prize. Sequels can be difficult – how much should the author rely on readers’ abilities to recall a book read up to four years ago? My ageing brain (yes, I know I’m not the target audience) did have trouble remembering the characters in the first book. I could have done with more past events and character reminders woven into the beginning of this story. But teens who have good recall or have read The Bridgerecently will be keen to re-engage with Nik (the narrator) and his close friend Lanya as they contemplate their new lives in Southside. The action starts almost straight away as a ceasefire fails and Cityside missiles start demolishing the settlements of Southside.
However, before all this, in the Prologue we meet a new character, Nomu, who’s suffering a terrible imprisonment in a Cityside fortress. Nomu returns later in the story, enabling Nik and Lanya and the Southside brigade to understand the biological weapons programme being planned by their enemies. At the same time Nik battles to discover secrets about his parents and his own background.
It’s an exciting read - there’s plenty of action and suspense to continue the momentum of The Bridge. However I recommend that readers make sure they read The Bridge before Havoc – it won’t make much sense otherwise. Also available as an e-bookG
Julie here! Today, Melody Simpson is stopping by to talk about YA Runs A 5K, which this year is supporting We Need Diverse Books. Read the post to learn how you can win books, critiques, and other great prizes while supporting an important cause!
Hi, everyone! I’m Melody Simpson, blogger at Hollywood the Write Way and co-creator of YA Runs A 5K which promotes diverse reading and healthy living. With the success of YA Runs A 5K last year, I have decided to host the event once more!
There are writing critiques, (signed) books, and more up for grabs for anyone who donates $30 or more. I am so excited to have Publishing Crawl contributors participating again this year! You can win a writing critique from Julie Eshbaugh or a signed book from Adam Silvera! Thank you, Julie and Adam!
Also up for grabs, signed Suspicion Nation by Lisa Bloom, signed Relish by Daphne Oz (The Chew), signed books from TV writer and author Attica Locke (Fox’s Empire) as well as a writing critique from TV writer and author, Kira Snyder (The CW’s The 100) among others. Speaking of The 100, we’re giving away signed books from author, Kass Morgan!
Plus, I will be attending Book Expo America and I will be giving away the majority of the ARCs that I receive to those who donate as well. I will be sharing photos of the books on Twitter as I receive them during the expo, so feel free to follow.
See the entire list of books, critiques, etc… here. The physical items are U.S. only and the writing critiques are open to everyone. After donating, be sure to fill out this form to select the writing critique, book, or other item that you want!
Also, anyone who donates $1-$29 will be entered into the raffle where one person will receive a $100 Kindle gift card + an Epic Reads book bundle! After donating, be sure to fill out this form to enter the raffle!
To donate to We Need Diverse Books, visit the YA Runs A 5K GoFundMe page.
The Super Run 5k will take place in Philadelphia on 6/6/15. If you do run/walk with us in Philly and have YA books you’d like to donate to a local library, please bring your books to the run so that YA Runs A 5K can donate them after the run! Also, since the 5k is superhero themed, you are more than welcome to cosplay! The 5k is cosplay friendly and family friendly.
We’re also hosting a virtual 5K! Anyone who donates at least $15 and pledges to run/walk their own 5K will get YA Runs A 5K bookmarks! Let us know if you plan to join the Virtual YA Runs a 5K.
For more information, visit YA Runs A 5K and please help us spread the word using the #YARunsA5K hashtag!
Thank you to Publishing Crawl contributors, Susan Dennard and Kat Zhang for offering writing critiques (which have already been claimed!) and Erin Bowman for the logo.
Huge thank you to everyone donating critiques, books, and more as well as those who donate and run with us!
Melody Simpson was born and raised in New Jersey. She is a YA writer, literary intern, and blogger at Hollywood the Write Way where she blogs about TV, movies, music (mainly Broadway), and books. You can find her on Twitter and Goodreads.
“She’s not who I thought she was, but that doesn’t matter. Maddy is my sister, my twin sister, and I’ll do anything for her, including losing myself.”
Twin sisters. A fatal accident. A devastating lie. Which girl survived?
Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.
When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves Maddy dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she isMaddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. And everyone believes her. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options--confess her deception and risk devastating those who loved Maddy, or give up her own dreams and live her sister's life.
*"Leaver's brilliant novel is the high school version of What Happened to Janie? The compelling premise will attract readers and the strong characterization will keep them enthralled." -VOYA, STARRED REVIEW
"Trisha Leaver crafts a powerful and haunting novel that will keep you up long after you read the last page. Full of twists and turns and FEELS, this book questions how far a person will go for her family . . . even if it means losing herself." - Lynne Matson, author of NIL
“THE SECRETS WE KEEPis a book who truly earns the title “gripping,” and refused to be put down until the very last page.” ~ Cuyler Creech, Teen Library Toolbox
TRISHA LEAVER lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather irreverent black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life.
She writes Young Adult Contemporary fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. For more details, check out her website at:www.trishaleaver.com
What agents are selling young adult (YA) novels? Publishersmarketplace.com does a great job of monitoring the business of selling manuscripts to publishers. If you’re looking for an agent, you’ll want to spend a lot of time there doing research on agents to find the perfect match for you and your stories. Here’s just one way to look at the agents for young adult novels. This list includes information on the agent, links to his/her agency and the number of young adult deals made in the last twelve months. Please note that the agent/agency may have made many other deals in addition to these; these are limited to those self-reported by the agent/agency in the category of middle grade. For more information, go to Publishersmarketplace.com (you must pay to join to see full information).
I did a similar report on YA agents in 2013. At that time, I only listed the top 10 YA agents, who represented 72 deals. This time, the top 10 agents report 85 sales. This could be due to a couple reasons: first, Publisher’s Marketplace relies on agents to self-report. This means that the agents are, for the first time, in a sort of competition for rankings. Reporting more sales means they are ranked higher, which gives prestige and possibly brings in more prospective clients. Second, it could mean that sales are up for picture books. We hope the latter is the case, but suspect the first reason has much to do with the increased number of sales.
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:
Campus Crush Reached 360 on Amazon! Last week this happened and I nearly fainted. lol Totally unexpected and I'm thrilled. This book is perma-free so feel free to grab your copy here if you haven't already.
Editing I'm editing a book for Leap Books this week. :)
Review of the Touch of Death Series The entire Touch of Death series was reviewed on Hello Jenny Reviews. Jenn also interviewed me. You can check it out here.
Marketing I've made a new goal to do at least one thing a day to market my books. So far I've averaged about three things, whether it be contacting someone for a speaking engagement, reaching out to bloggers, or finding sites to promote my books. Hopefully these efforts will pay off.
The Darkness Within ARC Giveaway My ARCs have arrived! Yay! That means it's giveaway time. Enter on the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a signed ARC.
[Manga Maniac Café] Good morning, Rachelle! Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Rachelle Dekker] Curious, goofy, free-spirited, and fearful (I hide the last one well, but I’m working on it).
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about The Choosing?
[Rachelle Dekker] The Choosing is a story about identity. Carrington Hale is a girl that lives in a society where worth is based on your ability to be picked as a bride. We find Carrington at the beginning of the story having failed to be picked and the turmoil that follows. Is a person’s worth based on the titles and roles society places on them, or can they discover their true worth, given to them by their Father. That is the journey Carrington will go on.
[Manga Maniac Café] Can you share your favorite scene?
[Rachelle Dekker] There is a scene between Aaron and Carrington that comes towards the end of the novel that I love. They talk about being a bird, being able to fly. It’s a dream sequence that’s half nightmare, half hopeful and I identify because I’m a dreamer myself. I think dreams give us incredible insight and can show us things about ourselves we may have forgotten. It was a fun scene to write.
[Manga Maniac Café] What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
[Rachelle Dekker] The lessons learned. I write to discover, to explore an idea that I think is intriguing or terrifying, or both. I have told my husband several times, if nothing ever came from writing this novel other than the physical words on paper it would still have been worth it because of the personal journey it took me on.
[Manga Maniac Café] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?
[Rachelle Dekker] My cell phone, it’s sad but how will I play Trivia Crack, or FarmVille without it?
[Manga Maniac Café] Name three things on your desk right now.
[Rachelle Dekker] Harry Potter pen, pickle duct tape, and the outline for my next project
[Manga Maniac Café] What’s your favorite snack when you’re working on a deadline?
[Rachelle Dekker] Apples and peanut butter, or Cheez-It’s.
[Manga Maniac Café] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?
[Rachelle Dekker] Anna Kendrick: she’s beautiful, can sing, quirky, funny, and she got to be in Pitch Perfect, Into The Woods, and ParaNorman
[Manga Maniac Café] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week. Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?
[Rachelle Dekker] I feel like the ability to fly would be pretty awesome, but I wonder if after a couple of days I would get board. I’m also not a huge fan of heights, so maybe Telepathy would be better. Then I could go into random coffee shops and freak everybody out by moving things with my mind. Clearly I’m really mature.
[Manga Maniac Café] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?
[Rachelle Dekker] Looking for Alaska – John Green, Shadow and Bone – Leigh Bardugo, And The Mountains Echo – Khaled Hosseini, and Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs… I would recommend them all!
[Manga Maniac Café] How can readers connect with you?
[Rachelle Dekker] My Website: www.rachelledeker.com
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.
But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.
Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.
Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.
Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?
Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.
When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.
With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms.
Unbeknownst to the Ethereals or the Vanguards, a slumbering menace stirs in the south, awakened after centuries. The mysterious Outlanders, a force shadowed in mystery, sit poised to tip the balance of power, sending ripples of fear throughout both warring kingdoms.
Elder Werrick proved a formidable foe, but Layla may yet meet her match in the monstrous Outlander queen. This mistress of the dark’s plans, rooted in revenge and ancient lore, now threaten the livelihood of all three kingdoms.
Racing against time, Layla travels to the Borderlands—home of the Voltons and Ecclesiastics—to discover as much as she can about the war, the First Ones, and the prophecy itself. Lives teeter in the balance, kingdoms sit on the cusp of ruin, and a beast, greater than any she’s ever faced before, plots a catastrophic attack.
Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.
The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton)
The first thing to say about this stunning story is that it’s a classic crossover novel, ie. it can be enjoyed by both adults and older teenagers. It’s a debut novel by the author, whose previous publication is a book of poetry. However when you read that she also has an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters (Wellington) you begin to understand why readers and reviewers are full of praise for this unusual and challenging book.
The basic tenets of the futuristic, dystopian London in which the story is set are these: the written word has been forbidden and forgotten; personal memory has also been destroyed so that the past is a mystery to most people; and both memory and the written word have been replaced by music. Music is used for communication, directions, identification, social interaction and societal control.
The story is challenging because the reader initially has little idea how this society operates – when we read on the first page about the main character (a teenage boy called Simon) standing by the side of the road we share his bewilderment and fear because none of us has any idea what is going on. Simon is eventually given a ride to London where he joins a gang who make a living by scavenging a precious metal called palladium.
From this point the story unrolls both backwards and forwards so we eventually understand why Simon’s abilities are so special, and what has to happen to mend this broken society. It’s not an easy read but once you relax and put yourself in the author’s hands you appreciate the poetic delicacy of the style and the originality of the story concept. Recommended for older secondary students, especially those with an interest in writing.
Please welcome Tyler Jolley and Sherry Ficklin to the blog today! Tyler and Sherry are amazing people as well as amazing writers, and they have a video for you all today. But first, check out their books.
Two journeys. One inescapable outcome. No time to lose.
What should be a routine mission leaves Ethan with a serious problem. He's fractured—a break between mind and body that leaves him at the mercy of his Rifter abilities, which are quickly tearing him apart. He will have to trust the only person who might know how to fix him, a mysterious Rifter named Stewart Stills, who seems to have a special connection with the time stream.
Forced to face his dark past and a decision he may never forgive himself for, he will be trained unlike any of the others, to become a true guardian for time. If he accepts, it will mean leaving everyone he loves behind. If he refuses, time itself could unravel. After a glimpse of the dark future awaiting them all, he will have to choose between destiny and desire. Will he rise up and take his place as a defender of the natural order, or will he watch as all of time burns at the hands of the girl he loves?
Welcome to the time war.
Stein has been with the Hollows for as long as she can remember. Taken as a child, she has no memories of her past—and that's always been fine by her. Until the day she stumbles across a hidden journal containing the devastating truth about her paternity. Now everything she thought she knew—and everyone she thought she could trust—has changed. The truth about who she is and where she came from is a secret so deep, it will rock the Hollows and the Tesla Institute alike.
During a test to verify her bloodlines, Stein makes a terrible discovery. She is carrying a rare genetic mutation that is slowly killing her. Unsure who to turn to and running out of time, she has no choice but to turn to Tesla—her most hated enemy—for help. But can she trust the man who she's been fighting against her whole life, or will she end up another piece in his deadly game of cat and mouse with the people who betrayed her so long ago?
Tyler H. Jolley is a sci-fi/fantasy author and full-time orthodontist, periodontist (see: Overachiever). He divides his spare time between writing, reading, mountain biking, and camping with his family.
Sherry D. Ficklin is a full-time writer and internet radio show host with more mouth then good sense. She has a serious book addiction, but continually refuses treatment, much to her husband’s chagrin.
Tyler and Sherry met one fateful day and bonded over their love for books, science fiction, and donuts. Their first co-written novel came shortly after. Now, they still do all those other things, but also go to various steampunk conventions and events under the guise of ‘research’. They can often be found lurking on the Lost Imperials Facebook page or over on the official website, www.thelostimperials.com.