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1. New Releases this week 12/26-1/01

Happy Monday! There is only one new release this week with an interview, THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE by Stacey Lee! Don't forget to check it out below!

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, Anisaa, and Kristin

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Cursed by R.L. Stine: Melissa P.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


* * * *


The Secret of a Heart Note
by Stacey Lee
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 12/27/2016

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs.

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Secret of a Heart Note?

My favorite thing in writing Heart Note was coming up with novel ways to describe smells. My main character, Mim, with her super sensitive nose, processes the world through smell. Unfortunately, the English language is quite limited when it comes to describing smells. The same thing is true with taste. My inlaws often use Chinese words to describe a particular taste (we do love our food!), and when I ask for the English translation, frequently, none exists. For more exacting descriptions of taste or smell, we must rely on comparisons (e.g., this medicine tastes like a skunk died in my mouth; that perfume smells like cotton candy.)

For Heart Note, I used comparisons, but I also tried to stretch the language to 'suggest' smells, like, "there's a buttery roundness to the scent, like it's used to sunshine." Another thing I did was to read wine descriptions. Enologists are experts in the art of describing taste, and my descriptions often have a 'wine' feel: "It had a dominant of miso soup, osha beats, a lick of buffalo weed, not too spicy, with a silvery finish."


Purchase The Secret of a Heart Note at Amazon
Purchase The Secret of a Heart Note at IndieBound
View The Secret of a Heart Note on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


* * * *


Endgame: Rules of the Game
by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 12/27/2016

The explosive final novel in the Endgame trilogy. Two keys have been found. The strongest Players are left. One final key remains to win Endgame and save the world.

For Sarah, Jago, Aisling, Maccabee, Shari, An, and Hilal, Endgame has reached its final phase. The third key, Sun Key, is all that stands between one Player saving their line—or perishing along with the rest of the world. And only one can win.

West Bengal, India: Maccabee is Playing to win. He has Earth Key and Sky Key and he is determined to find Sun Key. But in Endgame, fate can turn in the blink of an eye. He must Play carefully. He must watch his back.

Kolkata, India: An Liu is Playing for death. His goal: stop Endgame, and take the world down with him.

Sikkim, India: For Aisling, Sarah, Jago, Shari, and Hilal, their mission is to stop Endgame. Sun Key must not be found.

No matter what they’re Playing for, all of the remaining Players have one thing in common: they will end the game, but on their own terms.

Purchase Endgame: Rules of the Game at Amazon
Purchase Endgame: Rules of the Game at IndieBound
View Endgame: Rules of the Game on Goodreads



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2. YALLFest interviews with Stephanie Kuehn, Justine Larbalestier, Amie Kaufman, and Caleb Roehrig

Today is the second installment of the on-the-fly interviews I did with some of the YALLFest authors. Between panels and signings and catching up with friends, they all had hectic schedules, so I truly appreciate that they indulged me and my silly questions.

Here's what I asked:

What real-life adventure would you most like to go on?

What fictional adventure would you most like to crash?

Besides storytelling, what skill(s) would you contribute to the group on an adventure quest?

As a writer, what do you think is your strongest skill? And do you have any tips for getting better at it?


And then if they had time, I gave them some markers and a paper with "YA Books = " and had them get creative for their picture.

Today's featured victims are Stephanie Kuehn, Justine Larbalestier, Amie Kaufman, and Caleb Roehrig.

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3. A Short Interview with Shannon Messenger

We're pleased to welcome Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of The Lost Cities and the Sky Fall series, to the blog today for a short interview on her first publishing experience. I had the privilege of meeting Shannon at one of my local book stores earlier this year. When I heard about her first publishing experience, I knew it was meant to be told on this blog. She wrote and rewrote her first novel a whopping 20 times before it was published! To me, her story screams, "If I can do it, than so can YOU!!!" I hope you as a reader will take comfort from her story that persistence and perseverance will always be the keys to achieving your goals. 




1) You mentioned that you wrote your first novel, Keeper of the Lost Cities 20 times, got an agent on draft 16, sold the book at draft 18 and published draft 20. What was the one thing you changed between drafts in order to achieve publication?

(Actually it was draft 13 that got me an agent and then we sold draft 18)

Ha—I wish there was only one thing that changed between all those drafts. But they were five seriously major revisions. I’d never written a book before, so I had a LOT to learn. Thank goodness my agent had faith in me—and gave incredible revision notes—to help me shape the book into what it needed to be. 



2) 20 drafts later, you have a published book. What motivated you to keep on going?

I really, really, REALLY wanted to be a published author. And I firmly believed that if I just kept trying, I’d find a way to get there. Which was true—I really think the only difference between someone who reaches their dream and someone who doesn’t is that the person who doesn’t gave up. If you keep pushing and learning and practicing, eventually you’ll get there.



3) After your experience, what advice on revision would you give aspiring authors who are in the process of drafting and redrafting their work?

The best advice I can give is, “remember, it’s part of the process.” It’s so easy to look at your hot mess of a draft and think it’s proof that you’re just not good enough—but it’s not. Revision is a part of writing, even if you have to do it multiple times. Just keep pushing yourself and you’ll get there. (and work with critique partners!)



4) How do you think your experience has taught you to be a better writer?

It taught me tons of important things, and pointed out a ton of mistakes I was making. But I think the most important thing it taught me is how to sort through edit notes. I never want to dig in my heels and ignore changes that would make my book better. But not every note ends up being a helpful note either. And going through so many rounds of revision really helped me develop a gut sense for when I need to take a note to heart and when I can disregard—or, more importantly—how to get to the heart of the issue and find a different, better fix to address the problem.



5) What would you tell other authors in the querying process?
The same thing I already said above—don’t get discouraged or give up. I know it can be a stressful, discouraging process. But if you believe in yourself, work hard, and keep trying, you will get there eventually. I promise!


ABOUT THE BOOK


Let The Wind Rise
by Shannon Messenger
Hardcover
Simon Pulse
Released 4/26/2016

The breathtaking action and whirlwind adventure build to a climax in this thrilling conclusion to the “remarkably unpredictable” (BCCB) Sky Fall trilogy from the bestselling author of the Keeper of the Lost Cities series.

Vane Weston is ready for battle. Against Raiden’s army. Against the slowly corrupting Gale Force. Even against his own peaceful nature as a Westerly. He’ll do whatever it takes, including storming Raiden’s icy fortress with the three people he trusts the least. Anything to bring Audra home safely.

But Audra won’t wait for someone to rescue her. She has Gus—the guardian she was captured with. And she has a strange “guide” left behind by the one prisoner who managed to escape Raiden. The wind is also rising to her side, rallying against their common enemy. When the forces align, Audra makes her play—but Raiden is ready.

Freedom has never held such an impossible price, and both groups know the sacrifices will be great. But Vane and Audra started this fight together. They’ll end it the same way.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned--among other things--that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She's studied art, screenwriting, and film production, but realized her real passion was writing stories for children. 

She's the NYT and USA Today bestselling author of the middle grade series, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, and the SKY FALL series for young adults. 

Her books have been featured on multiple state reading lists, published in numerous countries, and translated into many different languages. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats.


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4. New Release this week 12/19-12/25 and a giveaway!

Happy Monday! Surprisingly (or maybe unsurprisingly), we only have one new release to share with you this week, CURSED by R.L. Stine! We also have a giveaway of it below so don't forget to enter!

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, Anisaa, and Kristin

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


* * * *


Cursed
by R.L. Stine
Paperback Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 12/20/2016

From the beloved and bestselling author of the Goosebumps series comes three haunting and terrifying Fear Street Saga novels—now available in one chilling paperback edition.

Fear Street is cursed.

It’s been that way for hundreds of years. Unspeakable horrors haunt those who’ve walked on its terrifying path. And it all started with one family—the Fears.

Go back to how it all began and discover why the heir to the Fear name attempted to escape the family curse, how a young woman fell victim to the haunted Fear mansion, and why marrying into the Fear family means being trapped in a world of death and horror.

And how Fear Street became the evil place it is today.

Purchase Cursed at Amazon
Purchase Cursed at IndieBound
View Cursed on Goodreads


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5. Sasha Stephenson, author of ICELING, on learning how to live with the people you're writing about

We're thrilled to have Sasha Stephenson join us to share more about his debut novel ICELING.

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

The hardest thing to write from like a technical perspective was the big Arctic Showdown towards the end. I've never written a scene that big or with that much incessant action before, and to spread one scene out over a few chapters, to try to encompass this huge event ... it was a lot of work. 

In terms of the scenes I'm proudest of, one would have to be the end of chapter 11. Balancing Lorna's interior narrative with the actual description of the events unfolding in front of the car was real challenging, and plus I got to include some references to The Edge. Writing it felt like this tightrope act of conveying the genuine terror Lorna feels at this scene via the ways in which she was reacting to it, which was equal parts denial and bad jokes and cussing and panic, while at the same time needing to describe things from both inside and outside of her perspective, to let the reader see both what was happening and what she felt was happening, to blur them without losing track of her feelings or the situation itself, which was, quite rapidly, escalating way out of hand. 

But, for me, the scene I love the most is at the end of chapter 25. [I'm trying to talk about all of this without spoiling anything! It is not the easiest thing!] It was a big scene, for me, emotionally, to try to get myself to understand what Lorna would feel in that moment, and how she'd want to express it. The scene just came tumbling out at first, and then I had to wrench the rest of it out word by word. It felt very important to try to feel every single thing that Lorna would be feeling in that moment, and to render it as painfully and tenderly as possible. To watch someone's dreams die, and then to imagine what that would feel like, and then to look over, and to see what their eyes look like watching all this, and to realize that you maybe understood a fraction of that hurt... I remember it was real late at night, in December of 2014, and as soon as I finished that scene I went outside, and the air was freezing, and I was sort of just walking around, stunned and spent.

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6. YALLFest interview with Sara Shepard

The last of my pre-scheduled interviews during YALLFest is with Sara Shepard, the NYT bestselling author of the series PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and THE LYING GAME. Not only are her books addicting, but so are the TV shows based on them. And it sounds like she might have more TV excitement in store for us. How has she achieved all this success? Through a lot of hard work and outlines and schedules that keep her on track. Keep reading to find out what it takes to turn your book into a show.


Since it’s National Novel Writing Month, I was wondering if you’ve ever participated?

Not in any sort of official way, but in unofficial ways, sure. I sort of challenge myself, "Like, alright, we’re gonna try to get this done within the month." November or other months. But, no, I’ve never officially participated.

When NaNo rolls around each year, it reignites the pantser versus plotter debate – where do you stand on this vital matter?

I’m a plotter, for sure. Writing mystery/thrillers you kind of have to know, otherwise you’ll just go on bad tangents. You kind of have to figure out your clues. And then usually I work backwards, so I know who the killer is, for example, and then go backwards from there. I have very, very detailed outlines - twenty pages, single spaced. I do a lot of behind the scenes – what the killer is thinking – manuscripts. What the killer wants everybody else to think. What the police think. A whole bunch of different documents that never make it into books, that are just supplemental material that I refer to.

I wish I could just follow the flow, but it doesn’t work very well for me. Because I’ve tried it, and it just leads to a lot of agony. *laughs* So, yeah, I’m a plotter.

What's your writing ritual like? What’s your day in the life as a writer?

It used to be before I had kids, I wrote whenever. But now I have two little kids and somebody comes to watch them from nine to five, Monday through Friday, and I am dedicated. I make myself write from nine to five. I mean, do I take breaks? Yeah. Do I leave my computer? Yeah. But I feel like this is my time to work.

I have an outline, and I’m writing to the outline. Or I’m doing something related. Maybe I’m writing the outline, maybe I’m editing, maybe I’m revising, but it’s something regarding the books.

After you finish a first draft, what does your revision process look like?


Well, it depends on if I have time. If I’m at the deadline, then it goes to the editor. Is this a really, really rough first draft or a pretty polished first draft? Because even my first drafts have like six drafts. So once it’s a polished first draft, then it goes to the editor.

Within polishing the first draft, there’s a lot of – most of my books are multi POV, so for example PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, I’ll take all of Aria’s chapters and read them to make sure that they work. Then all of Spencer’s chapters. And then sort of go over it again, making sure that it works as a story. It’s like layers, different layers of how does this story work.

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

The thing that I have realized is that I have bad writing days – I’m not getting ideas, everything that I’m doing is not working – but those days pass. You have better days after those days. So just try to write something in those days and don’t doubt yourself. Being a writer, unfortunately, your life is full of self-doubt. Insecurity. Paranoia. Ya know, horrible feelings. *laughs* But it’s just sort of the faith in, “Well, I have done this for long enough that I kind of know my story works, and I’m going to work through it, and it’s eventually going to make sense.” And it has always worked. And I have good editors, too.

But there’s never been like one single moment of, “Oh, this is the key.” Because all books are different, every single book I write is different, and it’s a different challenge, and they’re all hard, and I’ve never written one that’s easy. Unfortunately.

I read on your website that you create projects with your sister, which I think is so cool because I write screenplays with my brother. So what kind of projects do you guys do?

Well, this was when we were younger. Unfortunately. I have been trying to get her to work on a couple of print projects with me. She’s an artist, she works as an art director at a record label, and I want to write a picture book and I want her to be the artist for it. I don’t have an idea yet, but I just think it would be fun if we teamed up.

When we were little, we had a lot of imaginary worlds, and we both loved to draw, so we would draw those worlds too. We created whole societies and franchises within these worlds. We had this one world and there were these creatures with square heads, and they were pretty much like people, but they had square heads. And we made up video games for them. We made up catalogues that you would get in the mail for clothes that they would wear. We had many, many novels. We had board games. We had a website for them. And that continued well into our twenties. Well, well into our twenties. We were going to do an art installation at a music festival, which was frightening, and I’m glad we didn’t do it. We were accepted into it, and we made these big papier-mâché replicas of them, and then we found out all the other artists were serious artists and we were just being ridiculous.

We were the kids that didn’t play outside. We just sat at our coffee table and drew and talked to each other and drove our parents crazy. But I feel like we need to come together – maybe just doing them as a picture book because they were very, very fun. But, yes, well into our twenties we would still talk about this world. We realize anybody else would think this is crazy, like your childhood little universe, imaginary friends, are still part of your dialog. But it’s fun to have that. I think a lot of people don’t have that creative relationship with their sibling, and it’s fun to have it.

I saw that THE AMATEURS has been optioned for TV – congrats! This is now your third after PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and THE LYING GAME, right?

The THE PERFECTIONISTS was optioned for TV as well, but it’s just floating around in TV land. It’s great for things to be optioned for TV, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to be made. It’s a really long process. The person that is developing a pilot, I think he has a really good idea of how it could become a TV show. He made a couple of really minor changes, but mostly it’s the same. So we’ll see. It’s all about, “We’ll see.” PRETTY LITTLE LIARS was optioned for TV in 2005 and then in 2010 it became a show, so it’s a long waiting process. But it would be really fun to see it as a show.

I know authors don’t have much control about getting a show optioned or input once it does, but our readers dream of seeing their book become movies or shows, so can you pull back the curtain for our readers about the process?

I have agents in LA, who that’s what they do – they pitch the ideas to studios and networks. It’s a lot of me not really doing anything. Unless … I’m now involved in trying to do an adult pilot. I sort of have a pilot deal, which is not related to THE AMATEURS or anything like that – it’s not book-to-screen, it’s a pilot idea. But I have script deal with Warner Horizon, and so I know a little bit more. There are a lot of steps. You have to create this pitch document where you have your core idea, you have your characters, you have like why do people want to see this as a show, you have all these things and you kind of have to explain it in four minutes. Because you have to go to the studio and they get bored, and then you have to go to the networks and they really get bored. I’m in the process of putting that together and getting ready to go and present it, which sounds very nerve-wracking. But that’s, I think, how it works.

I think getting a good agent that specializes in that kind of stuff is helpful because they know how to get your material out there. But I think it’s also great for writers who want their book to go to TV to be involved in it because I was not that involved in PRETTY LITTLE LIARS or really even with THE AMATEURS I wasn’t involved with getting it out there for TV. But I think it’s kind of fun to see how the process works – it makes you sort of empowered and, I don’t know, it’s an interesting angle to see how it all unfolds.

Since you’re so successful at having your books optioned, do you have any advice for people while they’re writing a novel to facilitate getting it optioned?


It’s hard to say. For commercial TV you want a story with a world that will build beyond just a season – that has a compelling reason to continue beyond a single arc. Which is hard to come up with. I’m thinking about very, very network TV, not like the HBOs of the world, not like Netflix, where you can kind of branch out a little bit. I think you want relatable characters that enough people can relate to and they’re not completely out there, you know, way too quirky. Or like relatable situations that a lot of people are going through. PRETTY LITTLE LIARS was lucky in that it was the right time for a lot of the issues that the characters were going through, like Emily coming out. It was the right time for that to be on TV. Now it being on TV maybe wouldn’t be as impactful, but in 2010/2011 it was. So it’s timing it right, and getting your characters right and relatable and that kind of stuff. It’s hard. Its’ hard to kind of figure out what’s going to make a good show. Fortunately, I deal with a lot of people who have worked in the industry for a long time, so they kind of are like, “Yeah, this will make a good show” or this won’t.

What are you working on now?

I am working on THE AMATEURS 2, which is called FOLLOW ME. And there’s going to be a third Amateurs, which I haven’t even thought of yet. And I’m working on this unnamed pilot thing that’s sort of in the atmosphere. And I’m trying to figure out my next YA series because I love YA, and I never want to not be doing a YA something. I have a couple of early ideas, but I’m not sure yet. But, yeah, I’m pretty busy!


Thank you, Sara, for taking the time to chat with me!

As we wait for FOLLOW ME, make sure you've read her latest, THE AMATEURS.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The Amateurs
by Sarah Shepard
Freeform
Released 11/1/2016

As soon as Seneca Frazier sees the post on the Case Not Closed website about Helena Kelly, she’s hooked. Helena’s high-profile disappearance five years earlier is the one that originally got Seneca addicted to true crime. It’s the reason she’s a member of the site in the first place.

So when Maddy Wright, her best friend from the CNC site, invites Seneca to spend spring break in Connecticut looking into the cold case, she immediately packs her bag. But the moment she steps off the train in trendy, glamorous Dexby, things begin to go wrong. Maddy is nothing like she expected, and Helena’s sister, Aerin Kelly, seems completely hostile and totally uninterested in helping with their murder investigation.

But when Brett, another super user from the site, joins Seneca and Maddy in Dexby, Aerin starts to come around. The police must have missed something, and someone in Dexby definitely has information they’ve been keeping quiet.

As Seneca, Brett, Maddy, and Aerin begin to unravel dark secrets and shocking betrayals about the people closest to them, they seem to be on the murderer’s trail at last. But somewhere nearby the killer is watching . . . ready to do whatever it takes to make sure the truth stays buried.

Purchase The Amateurs at Amazon
Purchase The Amateurs at IndieBound
View The Amateurs on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


For as long as she can remember, Sara Shepard has been writing. However, when she was young she also wanted to be a soap opera star, a designer for LEGO, a filmmaker, a claymation artist, a geneticist, and a fashion magazine editor when she grew up. She and her sister have been creating joint artistic and written projects for years, except they’re pretty sure they’re the only ones who find them funny.

She got her MFA at Brooklyn College and now lives outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and dogs. Her first adult novel is called The Visibles/ All The Things We Didn’t Say.

Sara’s bestselling young adult series, Pretty Little Liars, is loosely based on her experiences growing up on Philadelphia’s Main Line…although luckily she never had any serious stalkers. The series has also inspired the ABC Family television series of the same name.

---

Which Sara Shepard books have you read? Do you write documents of supplemental material that never make it into your books? Do self-doubt, insecurity, and paranoia plague you and how do you push them away? Did you/do you have a creative relationship with a sibling? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn

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7. The Truth about Roadblocks and Quicksand


We're excited for Carol Lynch Williams, author of The Messenger, to join us today to shed some light on two popular writing myths. 

"I don't believe in writer's block...I also don't believe in the muse."


What a pleasure to write something for Adventures in YA Publishing! I love young adult novels. 
Aren't we lucky to be able to go to a library or a bookstore and have thousands of choices at our fingertips?


I also love to write (I mean, once my project is finished I love to write. Or when I'm thinking of the next novel I'm going to work on and haven't put anything down on paper yet.). And I love to share about writing. Lucky me! :)


There are lots of things I could say that other writers might disagree with. Like . . .
I don't believe in writer's block. The truth is, writing is just hard work. And that means pushing through the tough times of your novel. Perhaps you made a wrong turn somewhere and now you feel stuck. 


It's like when you get caught in quicksand.


My mother said when I was little: Stop running around the woods with your cousins.
Me:
Why?
Mom: You'll step in quicksand.
Me: We have quicksand here in Florida?
Mom: (Solemn head nodding) Yes. And then what will you do?
Me: Die?
Mom: Exactly.


Now I know, after a recent google search, if I get caught in quicksand I shouldn't struggle.
It's the same with writing. If you feel you've hit a roadblock in your novel, back up. Reread. Do you know the direction you should be going? Have you run off the path and into quicksand? If so, don't struggle. Take a breath and find where you took the wrong turn. Trust yourself. Trust your story.


I also don't believe in the muse. I don't sit around waiting for some idea to bonk me on the head. I think, remember people I knew (or know), read the news, wonder at odd things, look into history, listen to people talk, read other books etc then settle on a character and write.


This leads me to some of the best advise I've been given.
My dear friend, Rick Walton, just died. (He had a brain tumor, and I'm pretty sure he felt, toward the end of his life, he was caught in quicksand and he couldn't get out.)
Rick was a prolific writer, publishing more than a 100 books (mostly picture books). He went after ideas. He never sat around waiting for them.
His best advise to me? Don't give up. No matter what, go after what you want as a writer.


We met when my first novel was coming out.
He had a few joke books out with Lerner publishing and was awaiting the publication of his first picture book.

"Keep writing," he told everyone he met who had the dream of holding a book of their own. "Keep writing. It will happen."


That's the key to it all. Keep writing. Keep trying. Get past the roadblocks. Stay away from the quicksand. Put the words on paper. Work.


You will succeed.


ABOUT THE BOOK


The Messenger
by Carol Lynch Williams
Hardcover
Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman BooksReleased 10/18/2016

From PEN Award–winning author Carol Lynch Williams comes an eerie and atmospheric coming-of-age tale about a girl who can talk to the dead—even if she would rather not.

Evie Messenger knows that her family is different from other families. But it isn’t until her fifteenth birthday that the Messenger gift is revealed to her. Evie has the family’s gift—a special power. Soon she realizes she is able to see and talk to the dead—ghosts—often with no idea who the person was. Or as Evie says: “I see Dead People. It’s a Messenger gift.” That doesn’t mean she wants the Messenger gift. So Evie tries to ignore it but soon she finds she cannot. Can Evie find a way to live her life without letting her power take over?And what if the dead person is someone close to Evie’s family?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Carol Lynch Williams, who grew up in Florida and now lives in Utah, is an award-winning novelist with seven children of her own, including six daughters. She has an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College, and won the prestigious PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship. The Chosen One was named one of the ALA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and Best Books for Young Adult Readers; it won the Whitney and the Association of Mormon Letters awards for the best young adult novel of the year; and was featured on numerous lists of recommended YA fiction. Carol’s other novels include Glimpse, Miles From Ordinary, The Haven, Waiting, Signed, Skye Harper, and the Just in Time series.


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8. 10 Favorite Quotes to Inspire You to Write

I'm taking until the new year to recharge my blogging batteries a bit, my lovelies, so no real craft posts for a bit. It's hard to stay inspired at the end of the year, but that writing bug doesn't leave you. When it's hard to keep thinking about my manuscript, I like to look to other writers for inspiration. Here are a few of my favorite quotes on writing. I hope you love them as much as I do!


“Don't get it right, get it written.” ―Ally Carter

"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." Anton Chekhov

"The first draft of anything is shit." Ernest Hemingway

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”—Samuel Johnson

"Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly." Franz Kafka

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”—Larry King

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.” —Stephen King

“Don't say it was delightful; make us say delightful when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers Please will you do the job for me.” C. S. Lewis

"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning." Mark Twain

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." William Wordsworth

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9. New Releases this week 12/12-12/18

Happy Monday! Unfortunately we don't have any new giveaways this week but don't forget to check out all the new releases and add them to your TBR.

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, Anisaa, and Kristin


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Mind Games by Heather W. Petty: Amanda M.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


* * * *


Iceling
by Sasha Stephenson
Hardcover
Razorbill
Released 12/13/2016

Seventeen-year-old Lorna loves her adoptive sister, Callie. But Callie can’t say “I love you” back. In fact, Callie can’t say anything at all.

Callie is an Iceling—one of hundreds of teens who were discovered sixteen years ago on a remote Arctic island, all of them lacking the ability to speak or understand any known human language.

Mysterious and panicked events lead to the two sisters embarking on a journey to the north, and now Lorna starts to see that there’s a lot more to Callie’s origin story than she’d been led to believe. Little does she know what’s in store, and that she’s about to uncover the terrifying secret about who—and what—Callie really is.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Iceling?

Lorna's voice. I get the feeling it may not be everyone's favorite thing about the book, but it felt like the biggest thing I was able to bring to it. I feel that I was able to work in a great deal of syntactical rhythms and some turns of phrase that I am deeply proud of. I wanted her to speak in a way that could lull the reader into unpacking some larger ideas. I wanted her to be fun, and a little bit difficult, and incredibly strong.

Purchase Iceling at Amazon
Purchase Iceling at IndieBound
View Iceling on Goodreads

MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Crystal Storm
by Morgan Rhodes
Hardcover
Razorbill
Released 12/13/2016

An epic clash between gods and mortals threatens to tear Mytica apart . . . and prove that not even the purest of love stands a chance against the strongest of magic.

MAGNUS and CLEO are forced to test the strength of their love when Gaius returns to Mytica claiming he's no longer the King of Blood but a changed man seeking redemption.

LUCIA, pregnant with the child of a Watcher, has escaped the clutches of the unhinged fire god. Her powers are dwindling as she goes forth to fulfill a prophecy that will keep her baby safe . . . but could mean her demise.

JONAS treks back to Mytica with a plan to overtake Amara, but fate takes hold when he runs into the beautiful Princess Lucia and joins her on her perilous journey.

AMARA has taken the Mytican throne, but with no way to unleash the water magic trapped within her stolen crystal, she'll never be able to seize glory and get sweet revenge.

And what kind of darkness will descend--and who will be safe--after Prince Ashur reveals the dangerous price he paid to cheat death?

Purchase Crystal Storm at Amazon
Purchase Crystal Storm at IndieBound
View Crystal Storm on Goodreads

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Forever, Again
by Victoria Laurie
Hardcover
Disney-Hyperion
Released 12/13/2016

Lily Bennett is less than thrilled to be the new kid as she starts her junior year in high school.

But soon after classes begin, she meets a classmate, Cole Drepeau, with whom she forms an immediate and intimate bond. As Cole and Lily grow closer, Lily learns about the murder that divided the town more than thirty years before. In 1985, graduating senior Amber Greeley snapped, killing her boyfriend Ben—Cole’s uncle—and taking her own life.

Lily feels inexplicably linked to Amber, and she can’t help but think that there’s more to the girl’s story. Determined to investigate the truth about Cole’s uncle’s death, Lily and Cole are pulled into a dark mystery—one that shakes the constraints of the world they’ve always believed in.

Masterfully told by best-selling author Victoria Laurie, this novel alternates voices between Lily and Amber, a generation apart, as decades of dark family secrets and treacherous betrayals are woven into the most epic of love stories.

Purchase Forever, Again at Amazon
Purchase Forever, Again at IndieBound
View Forever, Again on Goodreads


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10. Romina Russell, author of BLACK MOON, on your story singing through your bones

BLACK MOON is the third book in the Zodiac series, and we're thrilled to have Romina Russell here to chat about writing.


Romina, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

Harry Potter, Lunar Chronicles, Starbound series, Illuminae Files, Hunger Games

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

It took me nearly a decade to land my first book contract: Before the publication of ZODIAC, my debut novel, I'd completed five other manuscripts that were all rejected by the publishing industry.

Read more »

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11. YALLFest interviews with Carrie Ryan, Diana Pho, C. Alexander London, and Alex Gino

Although I had several pre-scheduled interviews at YALLfest (with Jonathan Stroud, Dhonielle Clayton, and next week's guest), I was also able to catch on-the-fly interviews with some of the YALLFest participants. Between panels and signings and catching up with friends, they all had hectic schedules, so I truly appreciate that they indulged me and my silly questions.

Here's what I asked:

What real-life adventure would you most like to go on?

What fictional adventure would you most like to crash?

Besides storytelling, what skill(s) would you contribute to the group on an adventure quest?

As a writer, what do you think is your strongest skill? And do you have any tips for getting better at it?


And then if they had time, I gave them some markers and a paper with "YA Books = " and had them get creative for their picture.

Today's featured victims are authors Carrie Ryan, C. Alexander London, Alex Gino, and an editor from Tor Books - Diana Pho.
Read more »

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12. The Zen of Accepting Bad Reviews

We're excited to welcome Carol Riggs, author of THE LYING PLANET, to the blog today to discuss the value in accepting negative reviews.

"Reading reviews can be eye-opening, a constructive learning experience for some (warning: not all) authors. If I choose to, I can incorporate any relevant feedback I happen to come across."


Reviews: The Danger Zone. 


Before my debut book, The Body Institute, was about to release in September of 2015, I vowed never to read the reviews about my “baby.” I figured the last thing I needed was other people’s feedback at that late point, and I knew I’d obsess over the negative reviews instead of the positive ones. That was just the way I was wired as a perfectionist, fussing over things that weren’t “perfect” about myself and my creations. Many wise, already-published authors advised against looking at reviews. They cautioned that negative reviews could burn a hole in a writer’s psyche for weeks, months—even years. This negativity could derail future writing and cripple creativity, because doubts would lodge in the brain about one’s supposed lack of skill. I totally saw how that was possible.


Sidling up and sniffing the danger. But then the ARCs went out for my debut, and advanced reviews started coming in on Goodreads. I had to look. My friends—even strangers—gave me great reviews. I floated on the high. This was fun! And when some negative reviews came in with 1-star and 2-star ratings, I dared to take at peek. After all, my “skin” was pretty thick, since I had extensive experience with critique partner feedback as well as a long submission process before I found my publisher, in which one editor would love one thing and dislike another, while another editor loved and disliked exactly the opposite thing. Reading reviews was pretty much the same experience, I figured.


Did the low-starred reviews still sting? Yes, indeed. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how some readers felt so adamantly negative. I anguished when reviewers condemned the book for a simple misunderstanding (or sloppy reading) or for some random thing no one else had a problem with. It was puzzling, agonizing, and morbidly fascinating all at the same time. 

"One reviewer said the book was “fast-paced” while another said it “dragged.” Which one was right?"


Dabbling in the danger. It went downhill from there. 


A cat’s curiosity gripped me. I kept reading the reviews: the good, the bad, and the ugly. On one hand, I saw my writing described as “delectable” while another reviewer said: “The. Writing. Was. Horrible.” One reviewer said the book was “fast-paced” while another said it “dragged.” Which one was right? I tossed those contradictory comments around in my mind for a while, until I finally decided this: It really doesn’t matter. Authors can’t please everyone, and it’s all subjective. I’d known that in my head, but I began to experience it in full force.


It helped immensely to look up the first Harry Potter book on Goodreads and see that JK Rowling had more than 64,000 one-star reviews. Whoa! That’s a staggering number of dislikes and negativity, even when compared to her nearly 2,539,000 five-star reviews for balance. I reminded myself I was in good company. The good reviews helped even out the negative ones; the praise of the higher-starred reviews helped soothe my ruffled writer ego.


Going in neck-deep. The reviews for my debut kept rolling in, and periodically, I would hop online and read them…I actually saved most of them in a Word document so they’d all be in one place (will I ever read them again? eh, probably not). In July 2016, I published Bottled, my YA fantasy. Reading those reviews was a lot easier on my toughened, now-more-relaxed psyche. When a low rating would pop up, I was like, “Oh look—there’s my first 2-star review.” While one person couldn’t bear to finish the book, others raved and wanted a sequel. It was so subjective! 

"So, after three published books, I’ve concluded readers have incredibly different tastes, and the best thing I can do is accept that subjectivity."


Close on the heels of that summer release, in September 2016 The Lying Planet came out, and I got an amusing range of reactions there too: is the concept unique and creative, or is it cliché science fiction, derivative of books like Divergent and The Giver? (There’s a Testing in it, so that bit is admittedly similar.) People’s tastes were so varied.


I’m quite Zen with it. So, after three published books, I’ve concluded readers have incredibly different tastes, and the best thing I can do is accept that subjectivity. For me, reading reviews also was beneficial in that I saw some comments cropping up repeatedly, and I analyzed whether or not I thought they were valid. Just like any other feedback from agents or editors or critique partners, I had to trust my gut. Be objective. Did the criticism strike a chord and feel true? Did I need to tighten up the pacing of my new novels, or work more on rounding out my secondary characters? Yes, maybe I did. I don’t believe authors should be chameleons who change their writing to please the critics, but reading reviews can be eye-opening, a constructive learning experience for some (warning: not all) authors. If I choose to, I can incorporate any relevant feedback I happen to come across. 

"My new goal now is to go back to my writer cave and write more books, improving my craft and doing the best I possibly can. I treasure the readers who do connect with my writing. My writing isn’t for everyone—and it doesn’t have to be. In the end, as long as people are reading and enjoying my book; those are the ones I’m writing for. My true fans." 


ABOUT THE BOOK


The Lying Planet
by Carol Riggs
Paperback
Entangled Teen
Released 9/19/2016


Promise City. That’s the colony I’ve been aiming for all my life on the planet Liberty. The only thing standing in my way? The Machine. On my eighteenth birthday, this mysterious, octopus-like device will scan my brain and Test my deeds. Good thing I’ve been focusing on being Jay Lawton, hard worker and rule follower, my whole life. Freedom is just beyond my fingertips.

Or so I thought. Two weeks before my Testing with the Machine, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality. The truth. In a single sleepless night, everything I thought I knew about the adults in our colony changes. And the only one who’s totally on my side is the clever, beautiful rebel, Peyton. Together we have to convince the others to sabotage their Testings before it’s too late.

Before the ceremonies are over and the hunting begins.


View The Lying Planet on Goodreads
Purchase The Lying Planet at Amazon
Purchase The Lying Planet at Indiebound

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carol Riggs is an author of young adult fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her books include her sci-fi debut, The Body Institute, as well as her fantasy, Bottled, and her recently released sci-fi, The Lying Planet. 

She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.





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13. New Releases this week 12/5-12/11 plus Giveaway of MIND GAMES

Happy Monday! Don't forget to check out all the new releases and enter to win below.

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, Anisaa, and Kristin


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


* * * *


Mind Games
by Heather W. Petty
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon & Schuster Books
Released 12/6/2016

Sherlock Holmes and Miss James “Mori” Moriarty may have closed their first case, but the mystery is far from over in the thrilling sequel to Lock & Mori, perfect for fans of Maureen Johnson and Sherlock.

You know their names. Now discover their beginnings.

Mori’s abusive father is behind bars…and she has never felt less safe. Threatening letters have started appearing on her doorstep, and the police are receiving anonymous tips suggesting that Mori—not her father—is the Regent’s Park killer. To make matters worse, the police are beginning to believe them.

Through it all, Lock—frustrating, brilliant, gorgeous Lock—is by her side. The two of them set out to discover who is framing Mori, but in a city full of suspects, the task is easier said than done. With the clock ticking, Mori will discover just how far she is willing to go to make sure that justice is served, and no one—not even Lock—will be able to stop her.

Purchase Mind Games at Amazon
Purchase Mind Games at IndieBound
View Mind Games on Goodreads

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Avalanche by Melinda Braun: Theresa S.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


* * * *


Black Moon
by Romina Russell
Hardcover
Razorbill
Released 12/6/2016

One final secret stands between Rho and the enemy. But will the devastating truth be enough to destroy her first?

Rho, the courageous visionary from House Cancer, lost nearly everything when she exposed and fought against the Marad, a mysterious terrorist group bent on destroying balance in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now, the Marad has disappeared without a trace, and an uneasy peace has been declared in the Zodiac Galaxy.

But Rho is suspicious. She believes the Master is still out there in some other form. And looming over all are the eerie visions of her mother, who died many years ago, but is now appearing to Rho in the stars.

When news of a stylish new political party supported by her best friend, Nishi, sends Rho on another journey across the galaxy, she uses it as an opportunity to hunt the hidden master and seek out information about her mother. And what she uncovers sheds light on the truth--but casts darkness upon the entire Zodiac world.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Black Moon?

My favorite thing about BLACK MOON is that I finally got to create my very own royal ball! In addition to young adult fiction, I love the Victorian novel, so I’ve always longed to script an over-the-top ballroom scene riddled with gaudy gowns, decadent decorations, and cryptic conversations—a night rife with romantic and political entanglements—and now I finally have! Plus, the ball takes place on a new planet, so it was extra fun playing around with the setting, technology, and fashion. 

Purchase Black Moon at Amazon
Purchase Black Moon at IndieBound
View Black Moon on Goodreads



MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK



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Spindle
by E.K. Johnston
Hardcover
Disney-Hyperion
Released 12/6/2016

The world is made safe by a woman...but it is a very big world.

It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen drove the demon out of her husband and saved her country from fire and blood. Her family has prospered beyond the borders of their village, and two new kingdoms have sprouted on either side of the mountains where the demons are kept prisoner by bright iron, and by the creatures the Storyteller Queen made to keep them contained.

But the prison is crumbling. Through years of careful manipulation, a demon has regained her power. She has made one kingdom strong and brought the other to its knees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with the final blow: a curse that will cost the princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her life.

The threads of magic are tightly spun, binding princess and exiled spinners into a desperate plot to break the curse before the demon can become a queen of men. But the web of power is dangerously tangled--and they may not see the true pattern until it is unspooled.

Purchase Spindle at Amazon
Purchase Spindle at IndieBound
View Spindle on Goodreads


* * * *


True Power
by Gary Meehan
Hardcover
Jo Fletcher Books
Released 12/6/2016

The War
After battling their way across Werlavia, Megan and her companions have sought the promise of safety in the mountain city of Hil . . . but the army of the True lies in wait for their arrival.

The Threat
Megan knows they can't ignore the witch menace any longer. Empowered by their guns and their allies, the True are coming for her, for her young daughter, and for everyone else she loves. Nothing less than the soul of Werlavia hangs in the balance.

The Power
Now deep into her quest, which began when she suddenly found herself a refugee from her destroyed village, Megan is no longer an ordinary miller's daughter. As her destiny has unfolded through her travels, she has taken on the role of Mother, Apostate, and Countess. And now it is up to her to protect the people of the Realm from evil. But she will have to risk everything and everyone she loves if she has any hope of succeeding against the savage forces of the True.

Purchase True Power at Amazon
Purchase True Power at IndieBound
View True Power on Goodreads



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14. Melinda Braun, author of AVALANCHE, on writing in long hand

We're thrilled to have Melinda Braun stop by to tell us more about her latest novel AVALANCHE.

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

I think the hardest scene for me to write was the actual avalanche. Trying to describe it, not just what it looks like, but what it might feel like to be in one, was difficult. I have never been in an avalanche - I NEVER want to be in an avalanche. Being buried alive is definitely in my top three worst fears so writing that scene almost made me sick! While I have done my share of downhill skiing, I have never done that type of back country mountain skiing so I was fortunate to know some people who have. One of my friends even survived this type of avalanche (thanks to her airbag she was wearing at the time, which is an inflatable device that you deploy if you find yourself going under). She told me she would not have survived without it.

While that scene was the most terrifying to write, some of my favorite scenes are from the perspective of the mountain lion. When I first started the book, I had no idea those perspectives were going to show up, but now I love them. I also like how the ending turned out. I was stuck for awhile on how the story should end. It was bugging me because I usually know my beginnings and endings. It's the stuff in the middle that's the hard part!

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15. Red Light/Green Light Contest: Announcing the Top 50 Submissions!

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Below are the top 50 entries in our Red Light/Green Light contest, where writers are vying for the prize of a phone call with fabulous agent Patricia Nelson at Marsal Lyon Literary.


Be sure to check back next Thursday, when we'll post our agent judge's top 25 selected entries!

CONGRATS to all who made it in, and good luck going forward!

And now, presenting:

THE TOP 50 ENTRIES
Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Terry Bell
Young Adult Fantasy
1
Pa was taking too long to cut the boys’ throats.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Amber Duell
Young Adult Fantasy
2
War is beautiful chaos.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
D Lollis
Middle Grade Contemporary
3
"Mom, Brandon is smelling his dirty underwear—again," my older sister Bethany yelled as I crawled on the cold marble tile of the third floor laundry room.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
KD Proctor
New Adult Romance
4
If it’s possible for a tray of pastries to blackmail me, I think I might need to file a restraining order against The Steamy Bean’s cinnamon chip scones.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Kara Reynolds
Young Adult SciFi
5
The universe should have a rule that bad news can't arrive over breakfast, but it doesn't.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Mary Hallberg
Young Adult Paranormal
6
As Penny walked inside the funeral home doors, the cold air stung her skin.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Traci Kenworth
Young Adult Fantasy
7
Of all the things Karrie Hunter's mother missed about Earth, color remained the biggest.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Ellie Luken
Young Adult Fantasy
8
Only fools or the desperate wandered beyond the city walls by themselves.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Jennifer Schafer
Young Adult Contemporary
9
Dad says the empty spaces in our lives, like moments of silence in music, amplify or accentuate the importance of the people we hold closest.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Devyn B. Makin
Young Adult Magical Realism
10
Routine is what predators look for in their prey.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Laura McFadden
Young Adult Contemporary
11
I tug out two wipes and inhale the sharp bleach and lemon scent.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Sarah Vance-Tompkins
Young Adult Magical Realism
12
Not every fairy's tale begins with once upon a time.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Gabby Gilliam
Young Adult Other
13
My name is a bit of a joke, a cruel trick of nature to punish my parents.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
VV Sinnott
Young Adult Magical Realism
14
My parents were whispering in the living room, a sure sign they were talking about something they didn’t want me to hear.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Dill Werner
Young Adult SciFi
15
I was born to a woman who never loved me.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Michele Blood
Young Adult Contemporary
16
A bead of sweat nestled itself beneath the bandages pinching Alex's skin.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Anikó Rajci
Young Adult Fantasy
17
The thick string of dark red fury slips out of my fingertips in quick waves.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Olivia Hinebaugh
Young Adult Magical Realism
18
There wasn’t a funeral.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Angela Dahle
Middle Grade Fantasy
19
There aren't any unlucky numbers, only unlucky people.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Mare Hagarty
Young Adult Paranormal
20
The first time I saw her, she was a pink and black blur, all sharp edges and hollows.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Heather Lea
Young Adult Dystopian
21
Though humanity watches with apprehension and bated breath, I find myself drawn to this mysterious matter blanketing our world in gray.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Laurine Bruder
Young Adult Fantasy
22
Ivy Greenhill's mind ticked as the prison wagon trundled along the dirt road.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Gillian Libby
Young Adult Romance
23
I didn’t know it was possible to screw over your entire family after you’ve been dead for two hundred years, but it turns out you’re never too dead to ruin a legacy.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Dana Nuenighoff
Young Adult Fantasy
24
Purple mountains jutted into the sky before me as I choked back tears and instead a smile spread across my ocean-weathered face: the Pass.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Patricia Nesbitt
Middle Grade Historical
25
Last year, when I was nine, things were a good sight better.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Tiffany Dawn Munn
Young Adult Fantasy
26
Alorna Mirone studied her tiara, her nose crinkled in an expression of distaste.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Joan Albright
Young Adult Steampunk
27
Silas clung to his tiny chainskiff, arms wrapped around the rail while it rocked and pitched and finally settled against the chain that held it in the sky.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
PJN
Young Adult Fantasy
28
Four years ago no one knew my name.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Carol Baldwin
Young Adult Historical
29
Dead bodies don't bother me none.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Mae Parker
Young Adult Fantasy
30
Henbane Tower pierced the night like a dagger thrust into the heart of my kingdom.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Holly Pettit
Young Adult Historical
31
In the dark part of the city – the Soviet sector – a garden party was just breaking up.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Cindy Williams Schrauben
Young Adult Paranormal
32
It's a challenge to breath in a vacuum.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Cass Newbould
Young Adult Fantasy
33
Heat, intense but not unpleasant, hits my face as flames flicker along the wooden floor of my bedroom.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Lana Pattinson
Young Adult Historical
34
Ominous clouds hovered over the loch, and Rowan Sinclair was about to lose his chance at freedom.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
KPKnupp
Young Adult Suspense
35
For the first time since the accident, she felt comfortable in her own skin.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
TL Sumner
Young Adult Contemporary
36
I could do anything for fifteen seconds.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Gabi Snyder
Middle Grade Contemporary
37
After the funeral, I fall asleep and dream of snow.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Leslie Hauser
Young Adult Contemporary
38
They say music is the key to the soul or maybe it’s the heart.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Jennifer Pickrell
Young Adult Contemporary
39
I couldn’t stop staring at Chase Lewis.

Author:
Genre:
Entry #:
Entry:
Holly M. Campbell
Young Adult Paranormal
40
The man standing in the kitchen had not been dead long.

Author:
Genre:
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ML VIllax
New Adult Fantasy
41
I hated Mother’s day, always had, always would.

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Jodi Cardillo
Young Adult Contemporary
42
I hate it when bad music gets stuck in my head.

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Marcy S. Hatch
Young Adult SciFi
43
I paddle out, breathing evenly in the early dawn, mist rising from the water.

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Hess Oster
Middle Grade Other
44
Once there was a man who loved children.

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Marva Dasef
Middle Grade Fantasy
45
A dark figure dropped silently from the window ledge to the alley below.

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Cassidy Taylor
Young Adult Fantasy
46
Sounds of revelry drift up to Ruby's sitting room, but she wants no part of it.

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Jenny
Middle Grade Fantasy
47
Deep in the forest, where the trees grew crooked and the wind whispered tales of woe, there was a tower, and in the tower there lived a girl.

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Mary Bartek
Middle Grade Contemporary
48
Applause for the previous speaker was still dying down when the headmaster returned to the podium on the auditorium stage.

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Lizz Huerta
Young Adult Fantasy
49
The stink of the Fire Warrior reached Indir before he spoke.

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Amanda Perry
Young Adult Fantasy
50
The ship screams in protest as it skips over treacherous waves.

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16. Beth Revis and Cristin Terrill on women writing science fiction

It’s Jocelyn sneaking in a non-weekend post because Lindsey was kind enough to let me borrow one of her WoW slots for an interview with Beth Revis and Cristin Terrill. A while back, I attended one of their Wordsmith Workshops and Retreats, and it was amazing! In between craft sessions, critiques, writing, fellowship, and delicious food, I found time to chat with these delightful ladies. See what they had to say about being women who write science fiction.


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17. Secrets, Lies, Mistakes, and Wounds: The Trick to Creating Engaging Characters in Fiction (Part One)

We all lie. We may not admit it, we may not even know it, but we do. And those of us who are loudest to proclaim our honesty are often those who lie the worst. All we have to do is look at the current political campaign with a clear eye to see human nature in all its brutal glory. There are  candidates so convinced of their superiority that they can't see or (at least admit) the complexity of any issue or implementation. Other candidates are so eager to achieve a goal that they will bend the truth in any way necessary. Still others have studied what to say to sway voters to the point where they can hardly find their own voices, and others are so mired in proclaiming that the system is broken that they cannot offer viable solutions. And for every message, there is a willing ear who is able to tune out the doubts and filters that automatically alert us to the lies.

Why is that?

The reasons are as unique as fingerprints. Each of us measures truth according to our own individual barometers. Our definitions of truth bend and flex in ways that shield us from the lies we cannot bear to face. That's what makes us interesting as human beings, and that, also, is what makes for fascinating characters in fiction.

Fascinating Characters Are Wounded Characters

Whether we are writing commercial fiction, or literary fiction, or something in between, we have to understand the importance that wounds and self-protection mechanisms play for both our characters and our readers.

Wounds make our characters:


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18. New Release Giveaway, Interview, and Round Up for 2/8-2/14

It's a quiet week in YA Fiction, but that doesn't mean that the books that are releasing are any less great. This week, we're giving away a copy of Nicole Castroman's BLACKHEARTS for our US readers.

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Martina, Lindsey, Erin, Susan, Sam, Shelly, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK

Blackhearts
by Nicole Castroman
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 2/9/2016

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

Purchase Blackhearts at Amazon
Purchase Blackhearts at IndieBound
View Blackhearts on Goodreads

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Almost Midnight by C.C. Hunter - Ellie M.
Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little - Kimberly V.
Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane - Caitlin O.
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell - Stephanie H.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS

Red Ink
by Julie Mayhew
Hardcover
Candlewick
Released 2/9/2016

A sharp-witted teenager discovers surprising truths after her mother’s death in a wry and heartrending novel touching on denial, identity, and family lore.

When her mother is knocked down and killed by a London bus, fifteen-year-old Melon Fouraki is left with no family worth mentioning. Her mother, Maria, never did introduce her to a living, breathing father. The indomitable Auntie Aphrodite, meanwhile, is hundreds of miles away on a farm in Crete, and she is not likely to jump on a plane to come to East Finchley anytime soon. But at least Melon has The Story. The Story is the Fouraki family fairy tale. A story is something.

Balanced with tenderness and humor, this time-shifting novel offers a narrator by turns angry and vulnerable, hurt and defiant as she struggles with sudden grief—and the unfolding process of finding out who she really is.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Red Ink?

I am endlessly intrigued by the stories we tell and, in particular, the stories we tell ourselves to make life feel achievable and bearable, and sometimes to make it magical. So this is the part of Red Ink I love the most, the story that Maria tells and also the story that Melon tells herself. I’m fascinated by what happens when people realise the stories they have told themselves are not true. Many of the characters I write in my books and plays are emerging from denial and are forced to make change. It can feel like a disaster when it’s happening to you but it’s actually a brilliant beginning. A butterfly moment. The other reason I love this aspect of the book is because I enjoy hearing other people’s family anecdotes. You know they’ve been embellished over the years to make them bigger and funnier, but I don’t care. That it’s a good story is what matters.

Purchase Red Ink at Amazon
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MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


Glass Sword
by Victoria Aveyard
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 2/9/2016

Mare Barrow’s blood is red—the color of common folk—but her Silver ability, the power to control lightning, has turned her into a weapon that the royal court tries to control.

The crown calls her an impossibility, a fake, but as she makes her escape from Maven, the prince—the friend—who betrayed her, Mare uncovers something startling: she is not the only one of her kind.

Pursued by Maven, now a vindictive king, Mare sets out to find and recruit other Red-and-Silver fighters to join in the struggle against her oppressors.

But Mare finds herself on a deadly path, at risk of becoming exactly the kind of monster she is trying to defeat.

Will she shatter under the weight of the lives that are the cost of rebellion? Or have treachery and betrayal hardened her forever?

Purchase Glass Sword at Amazon
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View Glass Sword on Goodreads

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Little White Lies
by Brianna Baker and F. Bowman Hastie
Hardcover
Soho Teen
Released 2/9/2016

Seventeen-year-old honors student Coretta White's Tumblr, Little White Lies--a witty commentary on race and current events, as well as an exposé of her brilliant-yet-clueless parents--has just gone viral. She's got hundreds of thousands of followers; she's even been offered a TV deal. But Coretta has a confession: she hasn't been writing her own posts. Overwhelmed with the stress of keeping up with her schoolwork and applying for colleges, she has secretly hired a forty-one-year-old ghostwriter named Karl Ristoff to help her with the Tumblr. His contributions have helped make it a sensation, but unable to bear the guilt, Coretta eventually confesses the scandalous truth to a select few to free herself of the burden.

The fallout is almost instantaneous. Before she knows it, her reputation has been destroyed. The media deal disappears. Even her boyfriend breaks up with her. Then Karl is thrust into the limelight, only to suffer a precipitous fall himself. Ultimately, the two join forces to find out who is responsible for ruining both of their lives . . . someone who might even have had the power to fuel their success in the first place. And to exact justice and a clever revenge, they must truly come clean to each other.

Purchase Little White Lies at Amazon
Purchase Little White Lies at IndieBound
View Little White Lies on Goodreads

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Peas and Carrots
by Tanita S. Davis
Hardcover
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 2/9/2016

A rich and memorable story from a Coretta Scott King honor award-winning author about a teenage foster girl looking for a place to call home.

Dess knows that nothing good in life lasts: her mother’s sobriety will inevitably fade, her abusive father’s absence is never long enough, and her brother Austin—the one bright spot in their family—was put into foster care when he was still a baby. Disappointment is never far away, and that’s a truth that Dess has learned to live with.

Dess’s mother’s arrest is just the latest in a long line of disappointments, but this one lands the teen with Austin’s foster family. Dess doesn’t exactly fit in with the Carters. They’re so happy, so comfortable, so normal, and Hope, their teenage daughter, is so hopelessly naïve to the harsh realities of the world. Dess and Hope couldn’t be more unlike each other, but Austin loves them both like sisters. Over time their differences, insurmountable at first, fall away to reveal two girls who want the same thing: to belong.

Purchase Peas and Carrots at Amazon
Purchase Peas and Carrots at IndieBound
View Peas and Carrots on Goodreads

* * * *


Reign of Shadows
by Sophie Jordan
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 2/9/2016

Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.

But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.

With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.

Purchase Reign of Shadows at Amazon
Purchase Reign of Shadows at IndieBound
View Reign of Shadows on Goodreads

* * * *


Where Futures End
by Parker Peevyhouse
Hardcover
Kathy Dawson Books
Released 2/9/2016

Five teens.
Five futures.
Two worlds.
One ending.

One year from now, Dylan develops a sixth sense that allows him to glimpse another world.

Ten years from now, Brixney must get more hits on her social media feed or risk being stuck in a debtors' colony.

Thirty years from now, Epony scrubs her entire online profile from the web and goes “High Concept.”

Sixty years from now, Reef struggles to survive in a city turned virtual gameboard.

And more than a hundred years from now, Quinn uncovers the alarming secret that links them all.

Five people, divided by time, will determine the fate of us all. These are stories of a world bent on destroying itself, and of the alternate world that might be its savior--unless it's too late.

Purchase Where Futures End at Amazon
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View Where Futures End on Goodreads

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19. Kimberley Griffiths Little, author of BANISHED, on the importance of determination and perseverance

BANISHED is the second book in the Forbidden series, and we're delighted to have Kimberley Griffiths Little here to chat about it.

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

Chapter 20 ended up being added after I already had a complete draft of BANISHED. I’d foreshadowed treason with two other characters and hadn’t carried it through to its climax. I still needed to write the BIG confrontation. Somebody had to die, but who, and how?

I quickly drafted the chapter in a frenzy since my editor’s deadline was looming within days. It stunned me when all the plot pieces came together. The chapter didn’t suffer too many revisions either, which is always a bit astonishing.

I particularly love the emotional scene between Jayden and Kadesh at the end of Chapter 20. Kadesh is tearing himself into pieces over the fact that he had to carry out capital punishment on the traitor and the king’s son, his unwitting accomplice. It’s the first time the burdens and weight of responsibility as heir to the throne comes into full force and it almost does him in emotionally because he had to punish men he’d known his entire life. The tender scene between Kadesh and Jayden made me cry for him. It was also a great opportunity to show a new side to their deepening relationship.

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

I’ve always worked at home—in dead silence—except for three yelling, wrestling boys in the background. Somehow I manage to tune them out unless someone is bleeding. Then I began drafting Banished and immediately became overwhelmed by so many characters and plot threads.

I kind of freaked out. Stared at my screen for hours. Ate way too many cookies—including cookie dough by the heaping spoonful. My daughter told me about Pandora so I checked it out. The Downton Abbey “station” is surprisingly a good one, a great mix of instrumental from dozens of artists. I adore the Secret Garden, an Irish/Norwegian duo, they are soooo good! and piano solos. I’m a pianist and listening to piano music just *does* something for me.

I found out for the first time in my life that I liked listening to music while I wrote. It took me into the mood of my story. After a few weeks struggling to start each new writing session I’d turn on Pandora on my Ipad—and the music turned a switch on in my brain. I was like Pavlov’s dog. I found myself writing when the music began. A few weeks later I’d written 80,000 words and finally typed The End. It was a miracle.

Now I flounder around until the music goes on and voila(!) my fingers and brain finally get going. It was the only thing that got me through the drafting of Book 3, too.

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


Finish the book! I know SO many writers who get bogged down in the middle—and honestly, we ALL get bogged down. Too many aspiring writers have files full of half-done manuscripts, first chapters, bits and pieces of great ideas, but no completed manuscript.

True Story: I have a friend who was convinced that she had to get an MFA degree in writing (which she did) in order to learn how to become a better writer and get published—and yet, she has yet to finish a full, complete manuscript so that she can even begin querying agents and editor.

Sadly, she is remarkably talented and every time she attends a writer’s conferences her first pages are read by an editor who loves it and wants to see the book when it was done. But she’s never submitted the book because she hasn’t finished it.

Striving for perfection or not disciplining yourself to stay in the chair and get through to the end can be your doom. Twenty years after I first met this friend, she has yet to finish her YA novel. My heart bleeds for her.

It doesn’t take enormous talent to write a book, it takes a bigger dose of determination and perseverance. Yes, it’s hard. Every single book I write is hard in its own way, but it’s possible. There are writers across the country, sitting in their solitary rooms, pounding away at their keyboards (and sometimes pounding their heads), and finishing. When you have a complete manuscript you have a chance at publication, it’s that simple.

The other half of this advice is that after you finish the first manuscript, begin your next book within months or at least a year. The writer who keeps writing new stories (as opposed to revising the same one ad nauseam) will automatically become a better writer. I promise you that is true. I wish someone had told me this twenty years ago.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Banishedby Kimberley Griffiths Little
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 2/2/2016

She thought she’d lost everything . . .

After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.

But the trek to Sariba is fraught with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that will change everything. This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden, is full of love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.

Purchase Banished at Amazon
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View Banished on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kimberley Griffiths Little was born in San Francisco, but now lives in New Mexico with her husband and three sons in a solar adobe home on the banks of the Rio Grande. Her award-winning writing has been praised as "fast-paced and dramatic," with "characters painted in memorable detail" and "beautifully realized settings."

Kimberley adores anything old and musty with a secret story to tell and makes way too many cookies while writing.

She's stayed in the haunted tower room at Borthwick Castle in Scotland; held baby gators in the bayous/swamps of Louisiana, sailed the Seine in Paris; ridden a camel in Petra, Jordan; shopped the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; and spent the night in an old Communist hotel in Bulgaria.

Kimberley's Awards include: Southwest Book Award, Whitney Award for Best Youth Novel, Bank Street College Best Books of 2011 & 2014, Crystal Kite Finalist, and New Mexico Book Award Finalist.

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Have you had a chance to read BANISHED yet? Does music help you write or does it distract you? Do you continue to write new stories to become a better writer? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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20. C.C. Hunter, author of ALMOST MIDNIGHT, on secondary characters auditioning for a lead part

We're thrilled to have C.C. Hunter stop by to tell us about ALMOST MIDNIGHT, her collection of novellas.

C.C. , what was your inspiration for writing ALMOST MIDNIGHT?

My Shadow Fall fans were the real inspiration and reason this book came to be. Since Turned at Dark, an e-story about Della Tsang becoming a vampire, was released in e-print I’ve been getting emails from readers wanting it to come out in paperback. The story wasn’t long enough to put in hard print. Then, St. Martins published Saved at Sunrise, another e-novella about Della, Unbreakable, an e-novella about Chase Tallman, and Spellbinder, an e-novella about Miranda Kane. Finally, due to many more requests from fans, my editor decided to put these stories in a paperback anthology. Then we decided to add a bonus novella in the mix. But who was this novella going to spotlight? There had been a character knocking on my mind and asking for her story to be written. I tried to ignore her because frankly, she wasn’t exactly a likely candidate. She wasn’t even likable for most of the series. She was Kylie’s archenemy in the first four books. But Fredericka Lakota wouldn’t give up, so I gave in. As I started brainstorming Fredericka’s story, Fierce, the inspiration for this piece quickly became overcoming obstacles in our lives.

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

While I’ve always been a writer who fleshes out my secondary characters, writing the short novellas about secondary characters has taught me to dig deeper. You never know when a secondary character isn’t just auditioning for a lead part. For example, I always knew Fredericka had a story to tell, but I had created her to be Kylie’s nemesis and hadn’t planned on delving deeper into her point of view or showing her growth. But in Whispers at Moonrise, the fourth book in the Shadow Falls series, Fredericka started evolving. Her character just set out to redeem herself. I gave her some page space to do it, but then gently shut the door on her.

That was a mistake. That girl just kept knocking. Writing Fierce really showed me that no time is wasted when developing those secondary characters. I never guessed that Fredericka would end up with her own story or wind up being one of those characters who I cared so deeply about.

What do you hope readers will take away from ALMOST MIDNIGHT?

I think every story in Almost Midnight carries a message of friendship, of picking yourself up by your bootstraps, and overcoming hurdles.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on Miranda’s book. It’s so fun getting into that witch’s head.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Almost Midnightby C.C. Hunter
Paperback
St. Martin's Griffin
Released 2/2/2016

Nestled deep in the woods, Shadow Falls is a secret camp where teens with supernatural powers learn to harness their abilities and live in the normal world. 

Independent and strong-willed Della Tsang did not believe in vampires...until she became one. Chase Tallman is the newest member of Shadow Falls, but what made him into the sexy, mysterious vampire he is today? And what led him to Della Tsang? And for Miranda Kane, magic has always been something she's struggled with, but when an opportunity to test her powers takes her to Paris, she'll have to prove that she's a witch to be reckoned with and belongs at Shadow Falls.

Fans won't want to miss these four remarkable stories of love, magic and friendship.

Purchase Almost Midnight at Amazon
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View Almost Midnight on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

C.C. Hunter grew up in Alabama, where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and regularly rescued potential princes, in the form of Alabama bullfrogs, from her brothers. Today, she's still fascinated with lightning bugs, mostly wears shoes, but has turned her focus to rescuing mammals. She now lives in Texas with her four rescued cats, one dog, and a prince of a husband, who for the record, is so not a frog. When she's not writing, she's reading, spending time with her family, or is shooting things-with a camera, not a gun.

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Have you had a chance to read ALMOST MIDNIGHT yet? Do you write novellas starring your secondary characters? How do you know when a secondary character deserves their own novel? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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21. Sorry but the 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Closed!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry but the Free First Five Pages Workshop is now closed. Once again, we filled up in under a minute! I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month!

Erin

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22. Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now open!

Our February workshop is now open! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have author Brian Katcher and agent Christa Heschke!

So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute - and good luck!

Erin

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23. Diane Duane, author of GAMES WIZARDS PLAY, on never being afraid that you won’t be original enough

GAMES WIZARDS PLAY is the latest novel in the Young Wizards series, and we're thrilled to have Diane Duane with us to chat about writing.

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

I do love to work away from home when I can, and some of my favorite books have been written that way. I’ve written a Spider-Man novel in a Bavarian country beer hall and an X-Men book in a medieval townhouse in Bruges, and I’ve outlined a Star Trek novel in a flat buried inside the walls of a Scottish castle. My all-time record daily word count (13,000 words and a bit) happened when I was writing in a chocolatier/cafe in the Swiss capital city of Bern, while I was working on the fantasy novel A Wind from the South. …But I also get good results at home, which is probably just as well, as that way I get to see my husband a lot more. (Of course he has his own writing to do too, so when we're not working at home, sometimes we wind up in the same city but different cafes…)

Generally speaking I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, these days, because I find it interferes with me clearly hearing character voices when creating dialogue. I do listen to it, though, when writing action scenes or when I need to get myself into the mood to do a particular kind of emotionally loaded scene.

In terms of ritual, the only one I’ve got is that I do my best to write something every day, whether it’s contracted work or one of the too-many-other-projects presently choking my to-do list. A good day’s writing for me varies widely in terms of word count: it might be as few as a thousand words or as many as ten, but about four thousand would be average — a couple thousand in the morning, a couple thousand in the afternoon/evening. For screen work, since for me that's much harder work than prose, ten pages of screenplay would be a good day. Either way, I alternate between composing at the computer via keyboard, or dictating using Dragon Naturally Speaking (sometimes I do this while out walking).

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

Never be afraid that you won’t be original enough. At one level, it’s simply impossible for you not to be original. You occupy a unique position in spacetime. By definition, no one else can be right where you are, right when you are, with your unique worldview, your outlook, your developmental history, your “tone of mind”, your reading and writing history. But more to the point, our craft is such that you could give two writers exactly the same idea for a novel and turn them loose to write, and their works would still be significantly different and unique. (In fact I’m betting that you could give two writers the same outline for a novel and each work would still be radically different.) …If you’ve honestly done your homework—if you’re clear about what you want to be writing and what effect you mean to produce—your voice, and your writing’s uniqueness, will inevitably show through. Just concentrate on telling your story.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to GWP (still untitled), the fourth and final book in my first fantasy series (The Door Into Starlight), a third book that unfortunately I can’t talk about, and a miniseries screenplay (ditto).

ABOUT THE BOOK

Games Wizards Playby Diane Duane
Hardcover
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 2/2/2016

Every eleven years, Earth's senior wizards hold the Invitational: an intensive three-week event where the planet's newest, sharpest young wizards show off their best and hottest spells. Wizardly partners Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan, and Nita's sister, former wizard-prodigy Dairine Callahan, are drafted in to mentor two brilliant and difficult cases: for Nita and Kit, there’s Penn Shao-Feng, a would-be sun technician with a dangerous new take on managing solar weather; and for Dairine, there's shy young Mehrnaz Farrahi, an Iranian wizard-girl trying to specialize in defusing earthquakes while struggling with a toxic extended wizardly family that demands she perform to their expectations. 

Together they're plunged into a whirlwind of cutthroat competition and ruthless judging. Penn's egotistical attitude toward his mentors complicates matters as the pair tries to negotiate their burgeoning romance. Meanwhile, Dairine struggles to stabilize her hero-worshipping, insecure protégée against the interference of powerful relatives using her to further their own tangled agendas. When both candidates make it through to the finals stage on the dark side of the Moon, they and their mentors are flung into a final conflict that could change the solar system for the better . . . or damage Earth beyond even wizardly repair.

Purchase Games Wizards Play at Amazon
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than thirty years.
Besides the 1980's creation of the Young Wizards fantasy series for which she's best known, the "Middle Kingdoms" epic fantasy series, and numerous stand-alone fantasy or science fiction novels, her career has included extensive work in the Star Trek TM universe, and many scripts for live-action and animated TV series on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as work in comics and computer games. She has spent a fair amount of time on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has picked up various awards and award nominations here and there.

She lives in County Wicklow, in Ireland, with her husband of twenty years, the screenwriter and novelist Peter Morwood.

Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is a weird kind of Swiss scrambled-potato dish called maluns, she was born in a Year of the Dragon, and her sign is "Runway 24 Left, Hold For Clearance."
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Have you had a chance to read GAMES WIZARDS PLAY yet? How fun does it sound to write in all these exotic places? Do you make sure to tell your story in your voice? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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24. Will McIntosh, author of BURNING MIDNIGHT, on not boring readers during quiet scenes

We're honored to have Hugo-Award-winning Will McIntosh here to talk about his first YA novel BURNING MIDNIGHT.

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

For me, the hardest scenes to write tend to be the quiet ones, the ones where characters are talking, planning, getting to know each other. They’re essential to the story, but you always risk boring readers. One of the hard scenes to write in Burning Midnight involved an argument between the two main characters, Sully and Hunter. Sully accuses Hunter of being closed off and secretive, and Hunter, furious, reveals the secret that drives her to keep to herself. I had to rewrite it a few times to bring out each character’s emotions in what I hope is a realistic and emotionally powerful manner.

The scene I love, the one I tend to read when I’m doing a public reading, is where Sully and Hunter find a very, very rare sphere in the middle of winter in a very unlikely place. It made me very happy to give my poverty-stricken characters that moment.

What was your inspiration for writing BURNING MIDNIGHT?

When I was twelve, my sister, a cousin, and I stumbled on a 60 year-old dump in the woods. We spent a summer hunting for antique bottles, and built a collection of something like 200 that we displayed on the porch. Those great memories led me to want to create a story about hunting and discovering incredibly valuable things in the wild. 

How long did you work on BURNING MIDNIGHT?

Five months. I write Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with a one hour break for lunch and exercise, so I write relatively fast. I resigned a tenured university position when my family moved to Williamsburg, and now writing is my profession, so I take it very seriously. Fortunately, there are few things I love more than writing. I never get tired of it, so having all those hours each day to write makes me very happy.

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


This is my first Young Adult book, but I’ve published four adult SF books, and this was by far the easiest road to publication one of my books has experienced! I delivered it to my agent, he emailed to say he was sending it out to editors, and we should hear back in four to eight weeks. Two days later, he called to say the editor at Delacorte Press had made a two-book preempt offer. I was thrilled, and we made a deal that same day!

What are you working on now?

My next Young Adult novel. It’s about the lies and deception that are such a big part of modern society. I want to title it The Future Will Be Bull**** Free, but I’m guessing that would stifle sales a bit. For now, that’s all I can say.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Burning Midnightby Will McIntosh
Hardcover 
Delacorte Press 
Released 2/2/2016 

Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere. 

When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them. 

There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will McIntosh’s debut novel, Soft Apocalypse, was a finalist for both a Locus award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He is a frequent contributor to Asimov’s, where his story “Bridesicle” won the 2010 Reader’s Award, as well as the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Short Story. His third novel, Love Minus Eighty (based on “Bridesicle”) was published by Orbit books in June, 2013, and was named best Science Fiction novel of the year by the American Library Association. His upcoming novel, Defenders has been optioned by Warner Brothers for a feature film. Will recently moved to Williamsburg, Virginia with his wife Alison and twins Hannah and Miles. He left his position as a psychology professor in Southeast Georgia to write full time, and still teaches as an adjunct, at the College of William and Mary. Will is represented by Seth Fishman at The Gernert Company. Follow him on Twitter @WillMcIntoshSF
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Have you had a chance to read BURNING MIDNIGHT yet? How do you keep the quiet scenes interesting? Do you incorporate childhood memories into your stories? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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25. This Month for Writers - January 2016


A new year brings new writing goals and a swath of information to help writers develop their craft and challenge themselves with each new project. This past month, in addition to celebrating the authors honored with the American Library Association's YMA awards, we were also excited to find articles with tips on writer self-care, as well as loads of advice on how to keep readers turning pages and coming back for more, and encouragement for writers to stop following "rules" and forge their own writing path. Read on, and keep writing!



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