Saturday, December 20, 2014

0 Announcing the Free January First Five Pages Workshop Featuring Literary Agent Tracey Adams

I was sad to see the First Five Pages December Workshop come to an end.  What a talented group! Everyone worked hard on their revisions, gave thoughtful comments, and connected on the workshop’s Facebook page. A huge thanks to our guest mentor, Peter Salomon (if you haven’t read his fabulous book, ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS you should!) and also to super agent Ginger Clark. Both provided great feedback.

Our January workshop will open for entries at noon EST on Saturday, January 3, 2015. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have our own Lisa Gail Green, whose new novel, SOUL CROSSED, will be published on February 25, 2015 (how gorgeous is that cover?!!) and agent Tracey Adams of Adams Literary!

So get those pages ready – First Five Pages January Workshop opens in two weeks. 
Click here to get the rules!

by Lisa Gail Green

One Demon.

One Angel.

One Soul.

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

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

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

And only one can claim Cam’s soul.

Add to Goodreads  | PreOrder 

Friday, December 19, 2014

10 Craft of Writing: What Does Strong Mean to You? by Tracy Banghart

Today we welcome Tracy Banghart to the blog whose newest book, Storm Fall, released Tuesday from Alloy Entertainment. Tracy has insightful ideas about creating strong female characters that will help you consider a variety of ways to challenge your heroine toward her full potential. Tracy is also giving away Kindle copies of each of her books, both Rebel Wing, the first in the series, and Storm Fall. So be sure to check the Rafflecopter giveaway at the bottom of the page!

What Does Strong Mean to You? by Tracy Banghart

People use the phrase “strong female character” a lot these days, particularly in describing the protagonists of young adult books. But so often they seem to mean characters that embody a certain type of strong. The strong female characters listed most commonly in Goodreads’ lists and Top 10s are characters like Katniss and Tris, or Graceling’s Katsa, who are all physically strong, skilled with weaponry, and often emotionally closed off.

But I think “strong” can – and should – mean a lot more than that.

In my Rebel Wing series, the main character, Aris, has gotten some flack from reviewers for being “weak” at the beginning of the first book. She begins her journey with a pronounced limp, a dependence on her boyfriend, and a fear of life turning out differently from the perfect future she expects. A fear, of course, that’s justified. But, in writing her, I never saw her “weakness” at the beginning. I saw the seeds of the strength that would carry her through the challenges she’d face. I saw her out-of-whack priorities, sure, her immaturity. But she transforms. She grows up. She discovers her own self-worth.

What I find interesting is how many readers were surprised – and delighted - to see her change. The badasses of today’s young adult fiction have conditioned readers to expect relatively static characters. To me, the journey – the transformation – of a character, from weakness to strength, from naivety to knowledge, or from arrogance to humility – is the sign of an interesting, complex, strong character. I’m not talking the geek-to-pretty-girl makeover – I’m talking real change, real growth.

Some of my favorite novels growing up were the stories of teenaged girls who had no clue who they were. What they wanted. Where they belonged in the world. They were trapped within the predictability of their lives or beaten down by the expectations of others. Because hey, I could relate to that.

The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery, features a main character who’s never spoken up to her mother in her entire life…until she receives devastating news and realizes she doesn’t want to spend the little time she has left being proper and afraid. Just because she doesn’t think she has anything left to lose doesn’t make her bravery, her strength, any less impressive. She transforms her entire life – and finds more joy and beauty than she ever hoped for.

On Fortune’s Wheel, by Cynthia Voigt, has a protagonist who begins her story inexpressibly bored with her life, chained by the limitations of being a women in a medieval world, who makes rash, ridiculously immature decisions. She’s foolish, not strong. But her experiences, the thread of steel she finds within herself in the darkest of circumstances, transform her into a mature, self-sufficient, and empathetic woman.

These two books meant so much to me as a teenager – and echo the kinds of stories that resonate most with me now. As a writer, transformation stories can be difficult. We get a lot of flack for writing “unsympathetic characters,” for asking our readers to stick with our whiny / weak / insecure / obnoxious main character long enough to see her grow up / grow into herself / become worthy of the “strong” moniker.

But I also think those kinds of stories can be really valuable, particularly at a time when “strong” still seems to mean “masculine” or “physically badass” to many. Being strong isn’t about wielding knives or a witty barb; it’s about how your characters respond to the challenges life throws at them. A girl in a wheelchair, overcoming discrimination and dismissal, is damn strong. A woman moving past bullying or rape, a girl defying stereotypes to become a scientist in a male-dominated industry – these characters are no less strong for not wielding a sword or a gun.

For me, the Katniss’s and Tris’s represent an opposition to the physical weakness and sexism I struggle with daily. I love reading about girls physically kicking ass because I can’t…those stories make me feel less helpless and impotent. But watching a girl transform – from weak to strong – whether physically, emotionally, or mentally, is aspirational. It gives me hope. I too can be strong. I too can grow into a better version of myself.

After all, even the original Chosen one, Buffy, began her story as a stuck-up, Valley girl cheerleader…and look how she turned out. ;-)

If you’d like to read more about the different opinions on strong female characters, I recommend the following articles:

“A Plague of Strong Female Characters” by Carina Chocano

“The Best New Strong Female Characters Are the Weak Ones” by Tasha Robinson

Question: What does “strong female character” mean to you? What characters do you feel best embody the moniker? What books have you read and loved with characters that embark on transformative journeys?

About the Author

Award-winning author, Army wife, and mom, Tracy Banghart has an MA in Publishing and an unhealthy affection for cupcakes. Her quiet childhood led to a reading addiction, writing obsession, and several serious book boyfriends. She writes novels featuring strong women, realistic romances, and tight female friendships because she believes in cultivating worlds where women support rather than compete with one another, and first kisses happen en route to new adventures, instead of in lieu of them. Her fourth novel, Storm Fall, the sequel to Rebel Wing, was just released by Alloy Entertainment.

Website |  Twitter |  Facebook |  Goodreads

About the Books

In the action-packed sequel to Rebel Wing, Aris battles for life and love . . . and not everyone will survive.

Aris Haan gave up everything to join the Atalantan Military: her family, her boyfriend, even her identity. In the end, though, it didn’t matter that she was a war hero. When the all-male Military discovered that she was actually a woman, she was sent home and erased from history.

Now she has a chance to go back to the battlefield—as herself. But as hard as it was to be a soldier in disguise, it’s even more difficult now. The men in her unit undermine her at every turn. The Safaran army has spies everywhere, perhaps even on Aris’s stationpoint. And she’s falling for her mysterious superior officer, Milek. But their relationship is forbidden, just stolen moments between training sessions and missions. There’s no room for love in war.

Then Aris discovers that Safara’s leaders have set their sights on her, Atalanta’s hero. And she must find them before they find her . . .

Storm Fall on Amazon  | Goodreads

The Dominion of Atalanta is at war. But for eighteen-year-old Aris, the fighting is nothing more than a distant nightmare, something she watches on news vids from the safety of her idyllic seaside town. Then her boyfriend, Calix, is drafted into the Military, and the nightmare becomes a dangerous reality.

Left behind, Aris has nothing to fill her days. Even flying her wingjet--the thing she loves most, aside from Calix--feels meaningless without him by her side. So when she's recruited to be a pilot for an elite search-and-rescue unit, she leaps at the chance, hoping she'll be stationed near Calix. But there's a catch: She must disguise herself as a man named Aristos. There are no women in the Atalantan Military, and there never will be.

Aris gives up everything to find Calix: her home. Her family. Even her identity. But as the war rages on, Aris discovers she's fighting for much more than her relationship. With each injured person she rescues and each violent battle she survives, Aris is becoming a true soldier--and the best flyer in the Atalantan Military. She's determined to save her Dominion . . . or die trying.

Rebel Wing on Amazon  | Goodreads

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

3 News to Share: An Interview With Contest Winner Rosalyn Eves and Her New Agent, Josh Adams of Adams Literary!

You may all remember a little contest we did a few months back called Pitch Plus Five. Well, we have some good news to share! Grand Prize Winner, Rosalyn Eves, went on to receive multiple offers of representation. And since we always enjoy sharing the love,  we've asked both Rosalyn and her new agent, the amazing Josh Adams of Adams Lit, to join us for an interview. 

1. Rosalyn, How long have you been seriously writing?

That’s kind of a hard question to answer. I first started thinking of myself as a writer when my fifth grade teacher told me I had a talent for it. I wrote all kinds of things through junior high and high school (including an inflated fantasy trilogy that is now safely trunked), but in college I got sidetracked by academics. After I graduated with a BA in English, I continued on, earning an MA and a PhD, also in English. These degrees required a lot of writing, but very little of it was creative. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I started writing fiction again. My sister was writing, and watching her made me realize that my goal of publishing a book wasn’t going to happen unless I started now.

2. Did you ever have a moment when you thought you were going to give up?

A few—I imagine most writers do! One of those moments, oddly enough, was shortly before I got my first call offering representation. I just felt overwhelmed and discouraged by recent rejections. I think sometimes we can’t see how close we are to success until it happens. Luckily, most of those moments don’t last long for me. One of the nice things about having finished a lot of degrees is that I’ve learned I’m stubborn: I have a hard time letting go of things once I start them. I might not reach my goal as quickly as I’d like, but I do eventually get there.

3. How did you decide to enter Pitch Plus Five? What was the contest like?

I saw an announcement on twitter and thought it sounded interesting. I’d recently had a little bit of luck in one of Miss Snark’s First Victim’s Secret Agent contests and I was waiting to find out the results of Pitch Wars (I didn’t think I had much hope of getting in), so I entered. I was hopeful of making it into the second round, but I didn’t really expect to get past that—I was mostly looking for feedback on my opening pages: what worked, what didn’t.
I had a great experience: I got some positive feedback from readers and other contestants, and several of us connected on twitter. Honestly, I think getting to know other aspiring writers is one of the best parts of contests like this!
I was excited to make it into the second round, thrilled to make it into the top ten, and stunned to actually win—much less get serious requests. I think I wound up with requests from six of the participating agents.

4. Tell us about your offer(s).

Here, I need to back up just a little. In addition to Pitch Plus Five, I wound up getting into Pitch Wars, and between the two contests I had over a dozen agent requests. I queried some as well. Just before Thanksgiving, I heard back from one of the agents from Pitch Plus Five: she’d loved my manuscript and could we talk?
I have to admit that I was really anxious going into that talk: I wasn’t sure what to expect, and part of me was afraid she’d admit she made a mistake if she actually talked to me. Luckily, that didn’t happen. Instead, we had a delightful conversation. She was smart, savvy, and incredibly, she loved my book. So I sent out emails to the other agents who had my manuscript—even just those who had my query.  This last turned out to be a good move, as I ended up with more full requests (even a couple of offers) out of those queries.
Then came the hard part. This is the dark side of getting an offer that not very many people seem to talk about: I had to make a decision. I ended up with five offers (two of them from PP5!)—and every one of those agents was a terrific individual who loved my book enough to want to represent it. I talked to their clients, scoured information about them and their agency, and agonized over which agent to go with. I’m confident that I could have had a good career with any one of them—but I could only pick one. Turning down nice people who loved my book was one of the hardest things I have ever done.
In the end, I went with the agent I personally connected with the most—I think it helped that I’d met him at a conference earlier that year, and he represents a good friend of mine so I knew what I could expect of him. I accepted an offer of representation from Josh Adams, of Adams Literary (

What’s next?

Josh has already gotten back to me with some suggestions to strengthen my manuscript before we go on submission, so I’m tackling those revisions and writing up synopses for possible sequels. I’m also trying to get started on an entirely new manuscript.
I’m a little sad that my contest days are over—I had a lot of fun with them—but I’m excited to move on to the next stage of publishing.

Josh: what was it about Rosalyn and her writing that made you decide to extend an offer of representation?

I had the opportunity to meet Rosalyn last April at the LDStorymakers conference—and the chance to read the opening chapter of her novel, THE BLOOD ROSE REBELLION. I was immediately taken with the strength of her writing and the concept behind the novel. The world she created was intriguing, atmospheric and fresh, and the writing lush, lyrical and engaging. It seemed to be the perfect blend of the type of YA I love to read—at once literary and commercial, with a setting I hadn’t seen before and a pace that made me want to keep turning the pages. I remember clearly that I struggled to come up with constructive feedback on the first chapter, as it was already in such great shape. When we discussed the manuscript in an open critique forum, and I learned that Rosalyn was a professor, it reinforced what I could already tell from her writing: that she’s a smart person and a conscientious writer.
When Rosalyn queried six months later, I was excited to read the full manuscript, as the opening chapter had lingered with me all those months. It didn’t surprise me when she wrote back a few days later to let me know she already had an offer of representation (which would ultimately turn out to be many offers of representation). The novel didn’t disappoint, but continued to impress page after page until its satisfying conclusion. Speaking with Rosalyn on the phone, I was equally impressed with what an intelligent, well-spoken and thoughtful person she is, and I could tell not only that she was committed to her craft, but also willing and able to make her work as strong as possible, with an eye toward a longterm career—exactly the things we look for in an author. I thought we’d be an excellent fit, and it didn’t hurt that she’s friends with some of our extremely talented authors in her area, so I felt confident we’d also be a good personality match.

I am incredibly thankful to be working with Rosalyn, and look forward to sharing her debut with editors—and helping her launch what I believe will be a spectacular career. Rosalyn is someone special—and I know her writing will find a dedicated following who, like me, will both savor and devour every page of her work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

7 Jessie Humphries, author of RESISTING RUBY ROSE, on knowing when to move on to a new story

What is your favorite thing about RESISTING RUBY ROSE?

The shower scene! Haha, that sounds scandalous, doesn’t it? I write YA after all. But for srsly, there are two things you can expect out of any Ruby Rose book: 1) kissing; and 2) killing. Which one do you think happens in the “shower scene?” Mwahahaha…

Do you want a more serious answer now? Okay, good. I’m really excited to introduce a few new characters into Ruby’s world. Especially this one hot male character with a British accent and impeccable taste in shoes. Enough said? I think so.

What was your inspiration for writing RESISTING RUBY ROSE?

Jason Bourne, Homeland, Heist Society, Dexter (and chocolate).
In all these stories, the characters grow, evolve, sometimes devolve, and surprise us. In the sequel to KILLING RUBY ROSE, I wanted Ruby Rose to live on, face new challenges, and surprise.

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

This book was my 2013 NaNoWriMo book (National Novel Writing Month-where you commit to write 50,000 words in one month). Though I had already meticulously plotted out the story in a “Beat Sheet” (the method taught in the SAVE THE CAT writing books), I shocked myself that I could write a story so fast and seamlessly. I attest this victory to three things: 1) A large bulk of it was written at a writer’s retreat in Park City, Utah wherein a great deal of hot-tub-brainstorming took place; 2) I already knew Ruby and the world she lived in; and 3) I didn’t do it alone—I have two amazing writing partners and three talented editors at my pub house. In summary, writing a sequel doesn’t suck at all! (As long as there’s a hot tub involved).

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

Yes, why yes, I did. I was at a writer’s conference in 2012 where agent Sara Crowe was speaking about the state of the industry and a few exciting books which she had recently sold. It occurred to me that the books she was describing weren’t anything like the book I was querying. Her words bounced through the echo chambers of my mind until something connected with something in my gut. I had been feeling like I needed to move on from the same story I’d been writing and rewriting for over two years. (Technically, I’d written two separate books with the same basic magic system and setting, but whatevs). I NEEDED TO MOVE ON! Sometimes letting go of the “story of your heart” NEEDS TO HAPPEN.

My AHA! moment was this: I knew I had to write a NEW story. One I felt passionate about, but also one an agent can sell. I KNOW THIS SUBJECT CAN BE CONTROVERSIAL. So let me be clear, I’m not saying, “write to the trends.” At all. I’m saying, “If publication matters to you, it would behoove you to know what the publishers want/don’t want to maximize your chances of representation and acquisition.”

So I dropped my paranormal story and I wrote a contemporary thriller, inspired by stories I loved. I felt refreshed with new characters, a different world, and a clean palate. It wasn’t long after that I landed one of the best-selling agents in the YA market (Sarah Davies) and she sold KILLING RUBY ROSE in a two-book deal. Sooo…it worked out pretty well ☺ Just sayin’.


Resisting Ruby Rose
by Jessie Humphries
Released 10/28/2014

Still reeling from the heartbreaking events that unfolded on Grissom Island, Ruby Rose is trying to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone from a vigilante in killer shoes to a stone-cold killer. Everyone from her therapist to her smoking-hot boyfriend keeps trying to convince her that she hasn’t crossed over to the dark side, but Ruby isn’t so sure. It doesn’t help that her nemesis, Detective “Mastermind” Martinez, is still out there, waiting for another chance to take her down.

When an alleged CIA agent named Skryker shows up and asks for a meeting, Ruby figures it just means more questions about her case. But he has information of an entirely different nature and a job offer: join an elite force of young assassins, including Skryker’s right-hand guy, Quinn Donovan. Quinn is distractingly charming, handsome—and deadly. Ruby resists becoming a killer again, but as she becomes more ensnared in a web of deceit, no one around her is safe.

Purchase Resisting Ruby Rose at Amazon
Purchase Resisting Ruby Rose at IndieBound
View Resisting Ruby Rose on Goodreads


Jessie Humphries is the bestselling author of the YA thriller Killing Ruby Rose, the first book in the Ruby Rose series. In addition to writing, she is a part-time attorney and a mother. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and four children.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

2 Basket of Books Winners! 20 Baskets Donated to Deserving Schools and Libraries

The basket of books nominations have come to a close. Sadly, I've had to choose among all the great nominees.

I couldn't choose just twenty, though. The nominees were too deserving. I'd send books to every one of them, if I could, and there was just no way that I could pick between all the schools and libraries where the students were extremely disadvantaged, or the libraries who have lost their funding, or the schools and libraries where teachers and librarians enter giveaways just to get recently published books into the hands of readers.

With choosing impossible, I narrowed the selection down to a hundred nominations, and then chose at random from there. That's a small drop in the bucket, but hopefully, it will help a little bit.

Honestly, I couldn't have more respect and honor for all the teachers and librarians and volunteers who spend their time getting books into the hands of readers by any means they can.

To continue to help, in addition to the many giveaways that we and the generous authors and publishers with new books out provide each week here on Adventures--which I hope librarians and teachers will continue to enter--I will donate a basket of books to a school or library each month to a school or library.

Without further ado, here's the list of donations I'll be sending out as soon as possible:
  1. Neva Lomason Memorial Library, Carrollton, GA
  2. Lee Williams High School, Kingman, AZ 
  3. Central Virginia Regional Library, Farmville, VA
  4. Spencer Penn Centre, Spencer, VA 
  5. Mosheim Public Library, Mosheim, TN
  6. The Wardlaw-Hartridge School, Edison, NJ
  7. Alameda High School Library, Lakewood, CO
  8. Mount Pleasant Regional Library, Mt Pleasant, SC
  9. Bridgeport Library, Old Mill Green Branch, Bridgeport, CT
  10. Franklin High School, Livonia, MI
  11. Loveland Public Library, Loveland, CO
  12. Safety Harbor Library, Safety Harbor, FL
  13. Saratoga Springs Public Library, Saratoga Springs, UT
  14. Moorpark High School, Moorpark, CA
  15. Lewisville High School, Lewisville, TX
  16. Columbus Metropolitan Library-Martin Luther King Branch, Columbus, Ohio
  17. St. Stephens High School, Hickory, NC
  18. Kanawha County Library, Charleston, WV 
  19. White Station High School, Memphis, TN
  20. Gramercy Arts High School, NY, NY
Thank you ALL for your nominations and your help in getting books out to these wonderful institutions. Please come back and nominate again the first Tuesday of every month in 2015! : ) 

Happy reading!


Monday, December 15, 2014

2 New YALit Releases 12/15-12/21

Well, we have one lonely little release this week. Are you picking it up? Reading something else? Let us know in the comments!

~The ladies of AYAP
Martina, Alyssa, Lisa, Susan, Shelly, Jocelyn, Becca, and Jan


* * * *

The Lost
by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown and Company
Released 12/16/2014

It's Witch versus Wizard this time, in the fifth and final installment of James Patterson's bestselling magical series!

Whit and Wisty Allgood have fought and defeated their world's most pernicious threats: the evil dictator, The One Who Is The One, as well as his wicked father and son. But just as the heroic witch and wizard start to settle into their new roles in governance, a deadly crime wave grips their city, with all signs pointing to a magical mastermind every bit as powerful and heartless as The One. Now the siblings find themselves persecuted as the city turns against all magic users, and questioning everything, including each other--and, for the first time, their abilities. Can they confront the citizens' growing hostility and their own doubts in time to face the new enemy barreling toward their gates?

James Patterson brings the Witch & Wizard saga to a head by exposing the nature of power-and what it means for the heroes that have it.

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


* * * *

Little White Lies
by Katie Dale
Delacorte Press
Released 12/9/2014

Winner - Kira Budge

Fans of Pretty Little Liars will be ensnared in this tale of deceit. Christian is hiding terrible secrets from his girlfriend, Lou. But Lou has told lies as well. What if their accidental meeting wasn’t an accident?

The first time Lou meets mysterious Christian, she knows he is The One. But Christian is hiding a terrible secret. Why does he clam up every time Lou asks about his past? Why doesn’t he have any family photos, and why does he dye his blond hair black? When Christian’s house goes up in flames, his tires are slashed, and he flees for his life, Lou insists on going with him. But as Christian’s secret is unveiled in front of the whole world, it seems everything he’s ever told Lou is a lie. Can what the media are saying about him really be true? Should Lou trust him? Or is she in grave danger?

But Christian isn’t the only one keeping secrets. For what if their accidental meeting was no accident at all?

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

* * * *

Now That You're Here
by Amy K. Nichols
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 12/9/2014

Winner - Ashley Colby

NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE is a he-said/she-said sci-fi thriller told in the alternating voices of Danny, a street-smart graffiti artist who is jolted into a parallel world, and Eevee, the quietly alluring science geek he kissed once in his world, and finds himself falling for in this one. Together, they must figure out what caused Danny’s jump, before another jolt in the space-time continuum separates them forever.

Purchase Now That You're Here at Amazon
Purchase Now That You're Here at IndieBound
View Now That You're Here on Goodreads

* * * *

Princess of Thorns
by Stacey Jay
Delacorte Press
Released 12/9/2014

Winner - Danielle Bateman

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Princess of Thorns?

I’m a sucker for the “girl disguised as a boy” trope in fantasy. I’ve been wanting to write that into one of my novels for a long time, but PRINCESS OF THORNS was the first time it fit organically into the story. Having Aurora disguised for half the novel ended up being a wonderful challenge and also added a layer of sweetness to the love story. Having Aurora and Niklaas come to love each other as friends first made me root so much harder for them in the end. I just love both of these characters—feisty Aurora and heroic, handsome, funny Niklaas—and I hope my readers love them too.

Purchase Princess of Thorns at Amazon
Purchase Princess of Thorns at IndieBound
View Princess of Thorns on Goodreads

* * * *

by Alexandra Monir
Delacorte Press
Released 12/9/2014

Winner - Adelynne Chang

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

Purchase Suspicion at Amazon
Purchase Suspicion at IndieBound
View Suspicion on Goodreads

Saturday, December 13, 2014

0 Jaye Robin Brown, author of NO PLACE TO FALL, on getting out to have fun

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

The comp that I used when querying was Sara Zarr’s Story of A Girl and I think that still holds true. No Place To Fall is kind of gritty at times and Amber’s life isn’t easy. Some authors who I admire in contemporary are Nina LaCour, Sarah Dessen, Holly Cupala, Robin Constantine, and Emery Lord, to name a few. I would think if readers like contemporary, these might work.

How long did you work on NO PLACE TO FALL?

I’m a consistent drafter, and first drafts typically take me between 8-10 weeks. I write almost every morning for an hour or so and manage to get in, on average, 7k words per week. Then I usually go through one revision on my own, call in my first line reader, then revise as she reads, then on to a beta read or two, and now that I’m agented/editor’ed, on to one of the two of them. I probably wrote/revised the draft of No Place To Fall that my agent signed, in about 9 months. Then my editor and I worked on it for another six months before it went on to fun things like copy edits and first pass pages. I realize that’s not a compartmentalized time line, but publishing doesn’t really work like that.

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

That I’m more tenacious than I realized. I had a couple of pretty major revisions and though it would have been easy to curl into a ball and stay that way, I didn’t. I pulled myself up (after a weekend of horse back riding and forgetting about it) and got to work. And miraculously? I managed to make it through!

What do you hope readers will take away from NO PLACE TO FALL?

That small-town girls from Appalachia have dreams as big as anyone else. And just because your family screws up, or you screw up, it doesn’t have to mark your future actions and choices. Oh. And that banjo players can be super cute!

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

One of the biggest things we can do as writers is continue to live our lives. It’s hard to bring anything to your stories if your entire worldview is the bright screen of a laptop. Get out. Have fun. Take classes unrelated to writing. One of the best things in my life was a couple of years when a group of my friends had a sort of challenge. We would search for the most interesting and unusual places and experiences to share with each other. It got us off our beaten paths and into parts of our surroundings we might not otherwise have experienced. All of that stuff is great fodder for storytelling!


No Place to Fall
by Jaye Robin Brown
Released 12/9/2014

Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

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Displaying Jaye Robin Brown author photo.png


Jaye Robin Brown, Jro to her friends, lives on a fourteen acre farm in the mountains  north of Asheville, North Carolina. She is fond of dogs, horses, the absurd and the  ironic. She truly believes laughter and music are the best medicine. When not writing you can find her in the art room of the high school where she teaches.

1 Amy K Nichols, author of NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE, on transitioning previous work into a published novel

What was your inspiration for writing this book?

Back in my early writing days, I wrote a novel about a girl and her relationship with her sister. It wasn’t very good. In fact, it was terrible, as many early novels are. But there were a couple of characters in the story that I really liked: the girl, who was then named Janie, and her best friend, Warren. I decided to spend more time with them, so I began writing what I thought would be a short story. In it, Janie was sitting in her English class when the boy next to her startled awake and didn’t know where he was. I kept following the story, trying to figure out who this boy was and where he’d come from. Before long I’d written another novel. Janie became Eevee, and it turned out the boy, Danny, had jumped to her world from a parallel universe. Warren, Eevee’s best friend, survived the transition from terrible first novel to short story to published novel as well, and is one of my favorite characters in Now That You’re Here.

How long did you work on the book?

I began writing Now That You’re Here sometime around 2009. It sold in the fall of 2012. In all, I spent about two or three years writing and revising before sending out query letters.

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

A friend once told me it usually takes about ten years from the time you start writing to the time your first book gets published. Oddly enough, that was true for me. I started writing seriously in 2004. Here it is 2014 and my first novel will be released in December.  The most difficult part of the journey was getting out of my own way. I set a lot of land mines to trip myself up and keep me from writing. I’d over-schedule myself, taking on responsibilities and activities that kept me too busy to write. I’d set aside time to write but catch up on a TV show or go to coffee with friends instead. Anything to keep myself from actually doing the work. Fear and resistance were my constant companions. Over time, I learned how to write in spite of them.

In the fall of 2011, a writer-friend and I decided it was time to get off the revision hamster wheel and we set a spring 2012 deadline for querying agents. Having that deadline kept me motivated and accountable. In April of 2012, I began sending out query letters, and in August, I signed with Adams Literary. My agent called me over Thanksgiving weekend to tell me we had sold Now That You’re Here to Knopf. So, depending on how define “road to publication” my journey both difficult and easy. I’d put in years of hard work on my own; but the query process didn’t take very long, and once I signed with Adams, everything happened very quickly.

I drafted two other complete manuscripts before starting Now That You’re Here, and I’ve started at least ten others since. I’m hoping some of the others will be published, but I know most of the earlier ideas and partial drafts will never make that journey. They’re not a complete loss, though. Each one has taught me something about writing.

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

I’m the mother of two school-aged children, so sometimes having a regular routine or even writing location can be difficult (though usually I work at my kitchen table). I do try to write every day, and when I’m on deadline my family is very considerate about giving me space to work. If I have a ritual, I would say it’s music. I always listen to music when I write. Most of the time, I choose a song that fits the mood of the chapter I’m working on, then listen to it on repeat throughout that chapter. It probably sounds like a crazy idea, listening to the same song over and over, but I’ve found that as I work, the music sinks into the background and begins to function on a subconscious level. The mood of the song help me maintain the tone of the chapter. The quirky side effect of this, though, is that if I hear one of my writing songs when I’m out and about, in line at Starbucks, for example, or at the grocery store, my brain will automatically jump to the corresponding scene in the book I’m writing. If you see me scrambling in my purse for pen and paper, it’s likely a song came on over the store speakers and triggered my writing brain into action

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

I have two pieces of advice. The first is to give yourself a deadline and stick to it. We writers are very good at making excuses, procrastinating, daydreaming instead of actually putting in the work. I fully believe giving myself a deadline was key in getting published. The second piece of advice is to give yourself some grace. It takes time to learn how to write, let alone finish, a novel. You’re going to make mistakes. You’re going to face rejection. You may find yourself discouraged or disappointed. Give yourself room to learn, to fail, and to grow. Try to find the balance between being hard enough on yourself that you get things done and being gentle enough with yourself that you keep going.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m on deadline with copy edits for my second novel, While You Were Gone, the follow-up to Now That You’re Here, which will be published in August 2015. As soon as I turn the edits in, I’m jumping into a rewrite of a manuscript I wrote a couple of years ago and have been anxious to get spiffied up to send to my agent. Can’t wait to dig into a new project.


Now That You're Here
by Amy K. Nichols
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 12/9/2014

NOW THAT YOU'RE HERE is a he-said/she-said sci-fi thriller told in the alternating voices of Danny, a street-smart graffiti artist who is jolted into a parallel world, and Eevee, the quietly alluring science geek he kissed once in his world, and finds himself falling for in this one. Together, they must figure out what caused Danny’s jump, before another jolt in the space-time continuum separates them forever.

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Amy K. Nichols has been crafting stories for as long as she can remember. She is the author of YA science fiction novel Now That You're Here, to be published by Knopf December 9, 2014. The follow-up, While You Were Gone, will be published in 2015. She is mentored by award-winning crime novelist James Sallis and lives on the edge of the Sonoran desert with her husband and children. Amy is a member of SCBWI and SFWA, as well as the Class of 2K14 debut authors. Visit her online at

0 Romina Russell, author of ZODIAC, on the subjectiveness of art

What do you hope readers will take away from ZODIAC?

 The most powerful insight the protagonist (Rho) gains on her journey—which I hope to impart to readers—is how integral our cultural differences are to our unity. As planet after planet is attacked and devastated, Rho learns that the more the Houses close themselves off to each other, the smaller their worlds grow—even their worldviews begin to shrink. She starts to understand that the reason the Zodiac has a dozen Houses isn’t so they can learn about each other, but from each other: Each sign brings a different strength to the galaxy because all twelve are meant to work together, not apart. I think the parallels to our world are easy to draw.

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

 Never stop writing. Even the best star readers can't predict what's going to get picked up. ZODIAC sold, but I have a book I've been working on for eight years that has yet to sell, and every few years I rewrite it and try again. Which brings me to my next thought— Rejections do NOT mean your book sucks. Art is subjective—it can’t be right or wrong. When you walk into a bookstore (or click into a virtual marketplace), you only leave with one or two (or a handful of) purchases. Even though you may not think of it this way, you're effectively "rejecting" hundreds of thousands of texts—most you never even looked at, some you glimpsed at briefly, a few you sampled and didn’t love. The ones you skimmed and set back down weren't bad books: They just weren't right for you, or maybe they weren't right for you right then, or maybe you just didn't have time to read everything you wanted and were forced to be a tough judge. Now think of the number of agents/editors you've queried with your manuscript—a number nowhere near the number of books you yourself have sampled and not loved in your lifetime—and keep querying!

 What are you working on now?

Right now I’m getting to do more of something I love—world building. Since I’m working on the sequel to ZODIAC, I’m creating the new Houses that Rho visits on this journey. The chance to build new worlds has been the best part of working on this series.


Zodiac by Romina Russell
Released 12/9/2014

 At the dawn of time, there were 13 Houses in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now only 12 remain….

Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.

When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancrian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.

Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.

But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?

Embark on a dazzling journey with ZODIAC, the first novel in an epic sci-fi-meets-high-fantasy series set in a galaxy inspired by the astrological signs.

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Romina RussellRomina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.