Monday, July 24, 2017

7 New Releases this week 7/24-7/30 plus 2 Giveaway

Happy Monday! This week we're featuring a swag giveaway of LITTLE MONSTERS and a giveaway of THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE AND BASH. Make sure to enter to win a copy below and check out all the other awesome books being released this week!

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Kelly, Laura, Emily, Anisaa, and Lori Ann


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Little Monsters
by Kara Thomas
Swag Only Giveaway
U.S. Only

Delacorte Press
Released 7/25/2017

For fans of Pretty Little Liars, Little Monsters is a new psychological thriller, from the author of The Darkest Corners, about appearances versus reality and the power of manipulation amongst teenage girls.

Kacey is the new girl in Broken Falls. When she moved in with her father, she stepped into a brand-new life. A life with a stepbrother, a stepmother, and strangest of all, an adoring younger half sister.

Kacey’s new life is eerily charming compared with the wild highs and lows of the old one she lived with her volatile mother. And everyone is so nice in Broken Falls—she’s even been welcomed into a tight new circle of friends. Bailey and Jade invite her to do everything with them.

Which is why it’s so odd when they start acting distant. And when they don’t invite her to the biggest party of the year, it doesn’t exactly feel like an accident.

But Kacey will never be able to ask, because Bailey never makes it home from that party. Suddenly, Broken Falls doesn’t seem so welcoming after all—especially once everyone starts looking to the new girl for answers.

Kacey is about to learn some very important lessons: Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes when you’re the new girl, you shouldn’t trust anyone.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Little Monsters?

I love that this is my first alternating points of view book. We get most of the story from the main character Kacey’s point of view, but every couple of chapters, the book flashes back to the point of view of Kacey’s best friend— one year before she went missing.

Purchase Little Monsters at Amazon
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View Little Monsters on Goodreads

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The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash
by Candace Ganger
Hardcover plus Swag Giveaway
U.S. Only

St. Martin's Griffin
Released 7/25/2017

Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash?

My absolute favorite part of this story, aside from the banter between Birdie & Bash, is that I've been able to re-write a tragic part of my family's history with a different ending. I also have a soft spot for Sarge because he's everything my grandmother was to me growing up.

Purchase The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash at Amazon
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View The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash on Goodreads


Fragile Like Us by Sara Barnard: Nicole O.
Song of the Dark Crystal by J.M. Lee: Laura D.
The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell: Rachel S.
What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy: Z M.


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First We Were IV
by Alexandra Sirowy
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 7/25/2017

It started for pranks, fun, and forever memories.
A secret society – for the four of us.
The rules: Never lie. Never tell. Love each other.

We made the pledge and danced under the blood moon on the meteorite in the orchard. In the spot we found the dead girl five years earlier. And discovered the ancient drawings way before that.
Nothing could break the four of us apart – I thought.

But then, others wanted in. Our seaside town had secrets. History.
We wanted revenge.
We broke the rules. We lied. We told. We loved each other too much, not enough, and in ways we weren’t supposed to.

Our invention ratcheted out of control.
What started as a secret society, ended as justice. Revenge. Death. Rebellion.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about First We Were IV?

FIRST WE WERE IV is about four best friends who invent a secret society and try to use it to get justice for an unsolved murder in their coastal town, until justice turns to revenge, secrets unravel, others want in, a rebellion is sparked, and the secret society gets beyond out of control, ultimately costing one of the friends their life. FWWIV’s ensemble cast – its four best friends Izzie, Viv, Graham and Harry – is my favorite element of the book. They're all really unique but fit together in this perfect little foursome. They're loyal and terrified of losing each other once they go off to college. They're the kind of friends I wish I'd had in high school, and I loved inventing them and then seeing them come alive, feeling their love, and cheering them on, even though I knew the tragic end they were spiraling toward.

Purchase First We Were IV at Amazon
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View First We Were IV on Goodreads

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by Ann Aguirre
Feiwel & Friends
Released 7/25/2017

The Razorland saga continues. Since the war ended, Tegan has dreamed of an epic journey, so when she has the opportunity to sign on as ship's doctor, she can't wait. It's past time to chart her course. Millie Faraday, the kindest girl in the free territories, also yearns to outrun her reputation, and warrior-poet James Morrow would follow Tegan to the ends of the earth.

Their company seems set, but fate brings one more to their number. Tegan will battle incredible odds while aiding Szarok, the Uroch vanguard, who has ventured forth to save his people. Szarok is strange and beautiful, like a flower that blooms only in the dark. She shouldn't allow him close, as such a relationship is both alien and forbidden. But through stormy seas and strange lands, she will become stronger than she ever knew.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Vanguard?

​The forbidden romance, of course! There's a vague Beauty and the Beast feel to it, but I really love that particular plot line. I've always wanted to write about two characters falling in love, who absolutely should not work together, but somehow they fit and complete each other. I want to make readers sigh and swoon over unlikely love interests. That's my favorite type of ship. ​

Purchase Vanguard at Amazon
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View Vanguard on Goodreads


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16 Ways to Break a Heart
by Lauren Strasnick
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 7/25/2017

Unfolding through letters, texts, and chats, Lauren Strasnick’s smart, sexy, page-turning new novel is the ultimate he said/she said breakdown of a relationship gone wrong.

Natalie and Dan were electric from the moment they met. Witty banter and sizzling chemistry made falling in love easy—even inevitable. He was in awe of her subversive art and contagious zest for life; she was drawn to his good-guy charm and drive to succeed as a documentary filmmaker.

But that was before. Before hot tempers turned to blowout fights. Before a few little lies turned to broken trust. Before a hundred tiny slights broke them open and exposed the ugly truth of their relationship.

And now Natalie wants Dan to know just how much he broke her.

Over the course of one fateful day, Dan reads sixteen letters that Natalie has secretly, brilliantly hidden in places only he will find. And as he pieces together her version of their love story, he realizes that she has one final message for him. One that might just send his carefully constructed life tumbling down.

Purchase 16 Ways to Break a Heart at Amazon
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View 16 Ways to Break a Heart on Goodreads

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A Promising Life: Coming of Age with America
by Emily Arnold Mccully
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 7/25/2017

For as long as he can remember, Jean Baptiste Charbonneau has been told that a promising future lies ahead of him. After all, his mother is the great Sacagawea, who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their expedition of discovery. And thanks to his mother, Baptiste's life changes forever when Captain Clark offers him an education in the bustling new city of St. Louis.

There, his mother charges him to "learn everything" - reading, writing, languages, mathematics. His life becomes a whirl of new experiences: lessons, duels, dances, elections. He makes friends and undertakes unexpected journeys to far-off places.

But he also witnesses the injustices Clark, as a US agent for Indian Affairs, forces upon the Osage, the Arikara, the Mandan, and so many others. He sees the effect of what some call "progress" on the land and on the people who have lived there for generations. And he must choose what path he will take and what place he will have in a rapidly changing society.

Purchase A Promising Life: Coming of Age with America at Amazon
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View A Promising Life: Coming of Age with America on Goodreads

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Daughter of the Burning City
by Amanda Foody
Harlequin Teen
Released 7/25/2017

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

Purchase Daughter of the Burning City at Amazon
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View Daughter of the Burning City on Goodreads

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Everything All at Once
by Katrina Leno
Released 7/25/2017

From the author of The Half Life of Molly Pierce and The Lost & Found comes a magical new YA novel about 24 dares, 3 weeks, and taking a leap into the unknown.

Lottie Reeves has always struggled with anxiety, and when her beloved Aunt Helen dies, Lottie begins to fear that her own unexpected death might be waiting around every corner.

Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the best–selling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers.

In her will, she leaves one last writing project—just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions designed to push Lottie out of her comfort zone. Soon, Lottie’s trying some writing of her own, leaping off cliffs, and even falling for a boy she’s only just met. Then the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series. Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice, one that will force her to confront her greatest fear once and for all.

This gorgeous novel is perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven, with the scavenger hunt feel of Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and a dash of magic that evokes Tuck Everlasting.

Purchase Everything All at Once at Amazon
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View Everything All at Once on Goodreads

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The Gallery of Unfinished Girls
by Lauren Karcz
Released 7/25/2017

A beautiful and evocative look at identity and creativity, The Gallery of Unfinished Girls is a stunning debut in magical realism. Perfect for fans of The Walls Around Us and Bone Gap.

Mercedes Moreno is an artist. At least, she thinks she could be, even though she hasn’t been able to paint anything worthwhile in the past year.

Her lack of inspiration might be because her abuela is in a coma. Or the fact that Mercedes is in love with her best friend, Victoria, but is too afraid to admit her true feelings.

Despite Mercedes’s creative block, art starts to show up in unexpected ways. A piano appears on her front lawn one morning, and a mysterious new neighbor invites Mercedes to paint with her at the Red Mangrove Estate.

At the Estate, Mercedes can create in ways she hasn’t ever before. But Mercedes can’t take anything out of the Estate, including her new-found clarity. Mercedes can’t live both lives forever, and ultimately she must choose between this perfect world of art and truth and a much messier reality.

Purchase The Gallery of Unfinished Girls at Amazon
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View The Gallery of Unfinished Girls on Goodreads

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The Wrong Train
by Jeremy De Quidt
David Fickling Books
Released 7/25/2017

Light the candles and shut the door, The Wrong Train is a deliciously creepy and scarily good collection of scary stories, complete with terrifying illustrations from Dave Shelton. Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness, R.L. Stine, and Emily Carroll.

Imagine you've just managed to catch your train and you realize it's the wrong one. You'd be annoyed of course, but not scared . . . Yet.

Imagine you get off the wrong train at the next station hoping to catch one back the way you came. But the station is empty. Again, you'd be annoyed, but not scared . . . Yet.

Imagine someone comes to the station, a stranger who starts to tell you stories to help pass the time. But these aren't any old stories--they're nightmares that come with a price to pay. And you want them to stop.

Scared yet? You will be.

Purchase The Wrong Train at Amazon
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View The Wrong Train on Goodreads

Sunday, July 23, 2017

0 YA Sunday Morning News: This Week for Writers 7/23/17

Howdy, writers! Thanks for joining me for this week’s Sunday Morning News. Without further ado…

Writing for Publication—Queries and Submissions:

Writing for Publication—Book Marketing and Social Media:

Author Interviews:

Adventures in YA Publishing Author Interviews:

Literary Agent News and Interviews:

Writing and Pitch Contests:

Writing Craft:

Writing Inspiration:

Publishing News & Trends:

New YA E-Book Deals:

New YA Book Giveaways:

YA New Book Deals and Releases:

Just for Fun:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

0 Lisa Maxwell, THE LAST MAGICIAN, on being inspired by the movie Newsies

We are pleased to have Lisa Maxwell swing by to share the magic of her latest novel, THE LAST MAGICIAN.

Lisa, what was your inspiration for writing THE LAST MAGICIAN?

I’ve had the idea for writing a thief who could see in bullet time (think: The Matrix) for five or six years now, and I’ve been playing with different plots during all that time… but I could never really figure out where the story was set or when. At first, I thought she was going to be a thief living in DC who rode motorcycles to get past the traffic—I even have a couple of early scenes with her pick-pocketing on the Metro. But it never really felt right. Then, one day, my kids were watching Newsies. I’ve always loved that movie. As a dancer and someone raised on old-school musicals, my 13 year old self was completely swept away when that movie came out. Which gave me the idea of setting THE LAST MAGICIAN at the turn of the century. I love time travel stories, and one of the things I love about them is their ability to immerse you into a different time and sweep you away. I wanted THE LAST MAGICIAN to be as immersive and fun (and filled with cute boys in suspenders) as Newsies had been for me once. Once I had the setting, everything else started coming together. I’m not sure that the book is really that much like Newsies, unless you took away the singing and mixed it with SIX OF CROWS.

What is your favorite thing about THE LAST MAGICIAN?

My favorite part about THE LAST MAGICIAN? Probably that it has ALL of my favorite things in it. It’s a great big, sweeping epic of a book with tons of twists and turns. There’s a larger, diverse ensemble cast, and many of those secondary characters stole my heart—I can’t wait to bring some of them more to the forefront in the sequel. I mean time travel, old New York, magical gangs, dangerous secret societies, boys with suspenders and historically accurate guy liner, real historical figures brushing up against my fictional characters, and enough twists and turns to keep everyone guessing—it’s kind of hard to pick just one thing.

What are you working on now?

I’m busy at work writing the sequel. It has a tentative title and I’ve seen a mock up of the cover art, which is AMAZING. I can’t wait to share it with everyone!


The Last Magician
by Lisa Maxwell
Simon Pulse
Released 7/18/2017

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta's training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

Purchase The Last Magician at Amazon
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View The Last Magician on Goodreads


Cameron Whitman PhotographyLisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep, and Unhooked. When she's not writing books, she's an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.


Have you had a chance to read THE LAST MAGICIAN yet? How have you decided where/when your book will be set? Do you want to feature your secondary characters in future books? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

0 Cory Putman Oakes, author of WITCHTOWN, on following a raw vegan diet to get details correct

We're excited to have Cory Putman Oakes stop by to chat about her latest novel, WITCHTOWN.

Cory, what was your inspiration for writing WITCHTOWN?

I’ve always really loved stories about witches – they tend to be outsider stories, about someone (a witch) who wants to fit in with the “normal folk” but can’t (and eventually discovers that fitting in is overrated). I thought it might be fun to tell that same “outsider” story but to flip the situation – what if all the “normal folk” were witches? What would that look like? What would be the story there? The idea of WITCHTOWN grew from there, but that idea (and the thought of being able to create a town inhabited solely by witches!) was what got me started.

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?

Two of the characters in WITCHTOWN are raw vegans and, without giving too much away, there’s a scene in the book where one of them eats pizza (decidedly non raw, non vegan, pizza). When I was researching this book, I followed a raw vegan diet for a week, just to make sure I got the details correct. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13 so I thought raw vegan would be easy – but I was WRONG! Not being able to eat anything that is cooked or processed with any sort of heat – it was kind of brutal, honestly, especially because of my deep and all encompassing love of cheese. I dreamed about pizza every night of that week. So when I needed to have a character fall off the raw vegan wagon, I knew the exact right food to do it with – PIZZA. Definitely one of my favorite scenes in the book!

How long did you work on WITCHTOWN?

I first emailed my agent about the idea in June of 2013 – before I’d written a single word. We sold the book in April of 2015 (to Houghton Mifflin Books for Young Readers) and it’s set to be published in July, 2017. So, almost four years – but during that time I was working on two other books as well, so I had to take breaks.

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

While I was writing WITCHTOWN, I was hyper sensitive to any mention of the word “witches” in publishing. I would hear one of two things: first, that witches were “totally hot right now” (which stressed me out because my book wasn’t done yet, so I was missing the “witch moment”) and second, that witches were “totally over” (which stressed me out because why was I wasting my time working on something that was never going to sell?) The fact that these two concerns were mutually exclusive did nothing to calm my nerves – because when you’re pouring your heart into something, nothing can alleviate your fear that nobody but you will ever love it.

Everything ended up being perfectly ok – I finished the book, we sold it quickly, and all was well. But I lost a lot of sleepless nights stressing over the timing. For the future, I’m going to try and recognize that I have no control over publishing trends. All I can do is concentrate on doing the best work I can. (And maybe limit my exposure to publishing news – at least when I’m really deep into a project!)

What do you hope readers will take away from WITCHTOWN?

For me, WITCHTOWN is about a girl discovering her own power. There’s a lot of cool stuff involved in that – heists, poltergeists, romance, spells, mysteries, etc. And all that stuff is (hopefully) lots of fun and entertaining to read about. But at its core, WITCHTOWN is a story about a girl discovering that she is more than what others have led her to believe she is – much more. I hope readers walk away from WITCHTOWN feeling empowered.

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

WITCHTOWN is my fourth published book, but I’ve written at least five others that, for various reasons, never quite “made it.” But I don’t regret writing those books – if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have learned what I needed to learn in order to write the books that did make it.

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

I’ve never had that ultimate AHA moment where I thought I had the key to everything – but I’ve had a lot of mini AHA moments. I can’t speak to every writer’s experience but for me, every book is different. The things that worked for me on previous books don’t necessarily work on later books. So I’m not sure if there is such a thing as an ultimate AHA moment. For me, it’s about adding tools to my writing toolbox. I may not have the key to writing a novel, but I like to think that each project I complete gives me another tool (or two) that will ultimately make my writing better.

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

I work at home (while my kids are in school and it’s quiet) and also in coffee shops. I get very superstitious about it – if I have a really great writing day at a certain table, in a certain coffee shop, I’ll go back there again and again while I’m working on the same project. Currently, my kitchen table is my lucky spot—which is convenient, since unlike coffee shop tables, I don’t have to worry about total strangers sitting in it and ruining my writing mojo!

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

There’s a lot of “stuff” about publishing that has nothing to do with writing – there’s pressure to be on social media, to promote yourself, to stay current on every publishing news story, etc. That stuff is important, to a certain extent. But that stuff is not writing. Writing is butt-in-chair time. It’s literally you with your butt in a chair sitting in front of your computer. More butt-in-chair time equals more words, more books, more tools in your writer tool box. Don’t sacrifice your butt-in-chair time for anything. Every other writer-related-activity pales in comparison to that.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on taking the advice I just gave above and getting my butt in the chair more often ☺

(And also, two books – one YA, one MG).


by Cory Putman Oakes
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 7/18/2017

When sixteen-year-old Macie O’Sullivan and her masterfully manipulative mother Aubra arrive at the gates of Witchtown—the most famous and mysterious witch-only haven in the world—they have one goal in mind: to rob it for all it’s worth.

But that plan derails when Macie and Aubra start to dig deeper into Witchtown’s history and uncover that there is more to the quirky haven than meets the eye.

Exploring the haven by herself, Macie finds that secrets are worth more than money in Witchtown.

Secrets have their own power.

Purchase Witchtown at Amazon
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View Witchtown on Goodreads


Cory Putman Oakes was born in Basel, Switzerland, but grew up in Novato, California and attended Marin Catholic High School. She then spent three fantastic years at the University of California at Los Angeles before graduating in 2001 with a B.A. in Psychology. In 2004, Cory graduated from Cornell Law School with a Juris Doctorate Degree and her husband, Mark (the first was the intended consequence of attending the school, the second was a bonus). Since then, she has been an associate at a big law firm, taught business law to undergraduates at Texas State University and written several books for young people.

Cory now lives in Austin, Texas with Mark and their two kids. In addition to writing, Cory enjoys reading, cooking, running, and hanging out with her family and pets.


Have you had a chance to read WITCHTOWN yet? Do you get caught up in trends discussions about your novel idea? Do you have superstitions that need to be followed to help with your writing mojo? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

0 Katie Kennedy, author of WHAT GOES UP, on writing books that she wanted to see

We are ready to join NASA ourselves after talking with Katie Kennedy about her latest novel, WHAT GOES UP.

Katie, what was your inspiration for writing WHAT GOES UP?

I was sitting in my car in my driveway, thinking about what I like in books—what brings the fun. And one thing I really enjoy is tests or trials, so I thought I’d write a book that started that way.

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 wrote a character, Rosa, into a corner. She’s a small girl who is required to fight a large guy. I love all the badass girls in YA who twirl swords and throw daggers and take down a dozen adult men without breaking a sweat. Those are great books! But real life isn’t like that for small girls who get jostled in high school halls. I wanted to write something for them—I wanted to let them win a fight. But I had no idea how to do it. I just wrote up until the decisive moment and told Rosa that she was going to have to figure it out because I had no clue what she should do. And she did it.

I’m also pretty proud of my knock knock jokes, although I really shouldn’t be.

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?

No, I still have no idea how to write a novel, but I had an Aha! moment for this book. It was when I realized that the inspiration for my guy MC, Eddie, was Scipio Africanus, Rome’s general in the Second Punic War. Then a whole lot of things fell into place. So basically I made Scipio a seventeen-year-old from Indiana and gave him a spaceship.

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

I work at home because the dog gets lonely if I’m gone. It can’t be too quiet for me, but Ernie gets bored with no stimulation so I’ve started playing classical music when he’s restless. Sometimes I sing to him, too.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing another sciency YA, revising a MG, and I have a secret project that’s really fun.


What Goes Up
by Katie Kennedy
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Released 7/18/2017

Action-packed and wildly funny, this near-future sci-fi features three teens on an inter-dimensional mission to save the world.

Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Multi-World Agency. After rounds of crazy-competitive testing they are appointed to Team 3, along with an alternate, just in case Eddie screws up (as everyone expects he will). What they don’t expect is that aliens will arrive from another dimension, and look just like us. And no one could even imagine that Team 3 would be the only hope of saving our world from their Earth-destroying plans. The teens steal the spacecraft (it would be great if they knew how to fly it) and head to Earth2, where the aliens’ world and people are just like ours. With a few notable exceptions.

There, the teens will find more than their alternate selves: they'll face existential questions and high-stakes adventure, with comedy that's out of this world.

Purchase What Goes Up at Amazon
Purchase What Goes Up at IndieBound
View What Goes Up on Goodreads


Katie KennedyKatie Kennedy is a college history instructor who lives in Iowa. She and her husband have a daughter, son, cat, and dog. She has a cornfield in her backyard, and hopes that someday Rosa and Eddie will land in it.


Have you had a chance to read WHAT GOES UP yet? Do you get caught up in trying to write what you think is "in demand"? Have your characters gotten themselves out of situations you had no clue how to help them with? Have you been writing and realized your character was a "reincarnation" of someone else? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

0 J.M. Lee, author of SONG OF THE DARK CRYSTAL, on thinking about your pitch

We are thrilled to be joined today by J.M. Lee, as he tells us more about SONG OF THE DARK CRYSTAL, the second book in The Dark Crystal series.

J.M., what was your inspiration for writing SONG OF THE DARK CRYSTAL?

Aside from the original film (THE DARK CRYSTAL, 1982) for which the book is a prequel, I took a lot of inspiration from current events. Song of the Dark Crystal, and the Dark Crystal book series in general, is my love letter to our living planet and the young heroes who populate it. I also wanted to show that not every hero has to be a cool fighter -- words are some of the most powerful magic.

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

Since Kylan, the main character, is basically a bard, I wanted to write a few songs for him to tell -- but I'm not really a song writer. So there was definitely a lot of extra time and effort put into those sections. I hope it paid off!

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

In tone, Song has been compared to fantasies like The Golden Compass and Jaleigh Johnson's The Mark of the Dragonfly. If you're hungering for more Dark Crystal stuff, a comic book series called Power of the Dark Crystal just came out in 2016, and of course there's always the Creation Myth graphic novels from BOOM!/Archaia.

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

If publication is one of your goals and priorities, it's important to think about your pitch -- before, during, and after you write the book. Knowing how you can sell someone else on the idea of your book in 15 seconds or less will really help you distill what's unique and important about your book, which will also help you drive those aspects home when you're writing.


Song of the Dark Crystal
by J.M. Lee
Grosset & Dunlap
Released 7/18/2017

The second original companion novel to Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal follows Naia and Kylan as they seek help from the Gelfling clans to prevent the Skeksis from implementing the next stage of their sinister plan.

Kylan of Sami Thicket is a skilled song teller, but singing the tales of long-gone heroes won't help his friends as they journey into dangerous, unknown lands. After uncovering the betrayal of the Skeksis Lords, he and his friend Naia are on the run, pursued by the Skeksis's underlings and outcast even among their fellow Gelfling. But Kylan knows the truth must be told, no matter how difficult the telling. Maybe there's use for a song teller after all . . .

Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal is one of the most beloved and enduring fantasy stories of the past thirty years. This series of young adult novels will both please the diehard fans and bring new fans in to the world of The Dark Crystal.

Purchase Song of the Dark Crystal at Amazon
Purchase Song of the Dark Crystal at IndieBound
View Song of the Dark Crystal on Goodreads


Photo of J. M. LeeJ. M. (Joseph) Lee is a novelist, writing mentor, illustrator, and graphic designer with a background in linguistics and film. As a writer, he finds the most rewarding stories in fusion genre, from nostalgic historical fantasies to gritty sci-fi westerns. On the side, he enjoys dabbling in experimental short fiction and drinking a lot of coffee. He is represented by Erzsi Deak/Hen&ink Literary Studio.


Have you had a chance to read SONG OF THE DARK CRYSTAL yet? Have you had to work extra hard on a detail so that your character could stay true to who they are and the talents they possess while writing? Have you considered your pitch, and do you keep your pitch in mind at all times? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Emily, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, and Lori Ann

Friday, July 21, 2017

0 The Semi-No-Fail Way to Fast Drafting for People Who Hate Drafting By Candace Ganger

Author Candace Ganger joins us today to share not one, but two! great methods of conquering that first draft. She's got one for both you pantsers and you plotters. Be sure to check out her upcoming release, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie and Bash, below the post! (And I'm adopting her last sentence as my motto for life!)

The Semi-No-Fail Way to Fast Drafting for People Who Hate Drafting

By Candace Ganger

The first draft is the actual worst. For real.

There’s no way around it. When writing something longer than a soup can label (and even then), it’s going to require revisions. Even though my YA debut, THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH, is out July 25th, I’ve been writing professionally for over a decade so I know a thing or two about drafts (thus, why I loathe them so much).

In writing for others for so long (particularly of the book-length kind), I managed to figure out shortcuts to the drafting process. It’s not because I’m lazy, but I don’t enjoy the beginning of every book journey. There’s too many unknowns, and that wreaks havoc on my anxiety. I’ll spend SIX CENTURIES on a single word choice if I don’t spit it out and move on (even then, I’ll lie awake at night and obsess over my decision).

For BIRDIE & BASH (for brevity), my drafting process was slightly unique. I’d had a vague initial concept floating around for many years — two teens fall in love, not knowing of each other’s connection to a local tragedy — because that tragedy was inspired by true events that happened to my extended family. However, the rest, was a blur until one day, the characters popped into my head almost fully formed. They were rough around the edges, but for the most part, I had a concept and two MCs. I scribbled some notes for an outline (more on that below), started writing, and suddenly, I had a (really rough) draft. Within 30 days. Gross, right? Ugh, I know.

With BIRDIE & BASH, I tinkered here and there, but before the sale, I only did one major rewrite (still gross; I know). Post-sale, some things changed, but nothing painstaking. While this book was unique for me in every way, each book is different, with a new feel and flow. I’ve learned it’s best to let the book tell me what will be the best approach.

In terms of productivity, there’s two ways to go about the dreaded first draft:
  • Get everything out on the paper and worry about it later (which can be time consuming in the after), or,
  • Edit as you go (which is time consuming in the present).

I’ve done both. For BIRDIE & BASH, I edited as I went because at the time, it felt right for this book and I was right to do it that way, as it saved time later on.

To go the other route (which I did for my forthcoming book after B&B and a lot of other projects in the past), I get all my thoughts into a notebook by hand, then transfer to Post-Its for a rough outline. Writing every detail by hand has a whole other energy to it and somehow helps me clear any blockages. The caveat is scribbling too much information (which I’ve also done!) and don’t know where to go from any of it. That’s fun (not).

Most books get at least half of a spiral notebook’s worth of thoughts before they get the Post-It treatment and a Word document. At most, I’d say this pre-phase takes about a week. This is because I’m detailed to a fault, and usually fall into an information spiral on the internet where I can’t make a decision and instead, adopt another cat (because that’s my anxiety calming thing).

But I digress.

Regardless of which method you think may work for your project, to get a fast draft done, you only have to commit to one scene at a time. Or one chapter. Or one page, if it all feels too big. But you have to commit, even when you’re spewing garbage (which I do, often!). My word count everyday tends to ride somewhere between 500-1,000/weekday, but on weekends, I do more if I’m able. I also have two children and a staff writing job. And it’s summer. So, basically, I’ve had to cut myself some major slack for getting next-to-nothing accomplished (except petting my fluffy cat) (and that’s OK).

Once you’ve committed to what you’ll do each day, and chosen your preferred method, you’re ready to go. Here’s the shortcuts to getting a fast draft done with each, whether you feel like it or not. Because usually for me, it’s not.

1) Method #1: Get everything on the paper and worry about it later
  • Grab your notebooks with all your weird, confusing thoughts
  • Transfer them to Post-It notes, then rearrange them into an order that makes the most sense for now
  • Choose a starting point (you can change it later) that happens in the action
  • Write whatever you committed to write, even if it’s the worst thing ever written
  • BUT, stop your scene or chapter (or whatever), in the middle of something that excites you. Whether it’s a hilarious incident of an awkward girl running into a tree branch, tripping up a curb (true story), or the electric first kiss between two cool characters (BIRDIE & BASH!), stop yourself from writing the whole scene. CUT IT OFF. You heard me. This way, you’re excited to get right back to where you left off the next day. This trick hasn’t failed me yet.
  • Continue this pattern every day until you have a semi-coherent finished draft of ramblings you can go back to, and revise later. You may be surprised at some of the whacked-out things you’ve managed to write, but there may also be some pretty great things. Promise.
  • For later: Save time editing by cutting and pasting all the “bad” pieces into a new document. They may come in handy at places you didn’t realize until your draft is done.

2) Method #2: Edit as you go (outline required)
  • No matter what your word count goal is, it’s important to remember that this route will take longer in the moment, but you’ll have less to “fix” later also. I’d advise having less of a word count goal with this method. That way you can be sure each piece flows the way you want it to. Once you get into “the zone,” it’ll go faster than it sounds.
  • Take the same notebook full of rambles and transfer to Post-Its. This time, create a solid outline to work from with a new scene on each Post-It. The more detailed, the better. Though, it’s OK if your characters want to take you in other directions, so be flexible. Move the Post-Its around until you’re comfortable with the sequence and pacing.
  • As you work each day, pay attention to word choice, checking all the boxes as far as character motivation, conflict, pacing, story arc, character growth, etc. You’ll be able to see if these things are included by your Post-Its (if you took the time to invest).
  • Again, this method takes more time in the moment, but if all is solid with your outline, and you have a firm grasp on how you want the characters and story to evolve, go for it. The worst that happens is, you revise = more time. Big whoop.
  • If your draft ends up like BIRDIE & BASH, you may need to cut some major things later — BUT — all the good writing in other places will stay in-tact.

There you have it! Those are my two go-to methods for fast-drafting. There’s pros and cons to both, so do what works for you. In over 10 years, each has helped me meet deadlines with less stress than other drafting techniques I’ve tried. However, you can’t revise a story that hasn’t been written yet, so most of the time, I go for the first method just to get the basics down as fast as possible (while editing things I think of in the days after, as I think of them). Good luck and may all the fluffy cats be with you!

About the Book:
Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

About the Author:

CANDACE GANGER is a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

0 WoW: Writing Guilt with Rebecca Phillips

Guilt is an emotion that most of us have to deal with to some extent but that can be difficult for us as writers to capture on the page. It takes particular finesse to show a young character experiencing and overcoming various degrees of guilt. Today, we're thrilled to have Rebecca Phillips discussing the process of writing THESE THINGS I'VE DONE, coming August 1st from Harper Teen, and how her main character deals with guilt throughout the novel. Here's Rebecca!

Creating Characters Dealing With Guilt
By Rebecca Phillips
We’ve all experienced guilt and regret to some extent in our lives. But there’s a huge difference between feeling some regret over, say, not choosing the right career choice, and debilitating, overwhelming guilt over something horrible we’ve done by accident.

Dara, the main character in my book These Things I’ve Done, is dealing with the second type of regret. After accidentally causing the death of her best friend, she’s mired in guilt that impacts every facet of her life. There’s guilt stemming from the affect her actions had on her friend Aubrey’s family and friends. There’s guilt over what she’s done to her own family, who has to watch her suffer with these feelings. And then there’s survivor guilt, which makes Dara wonder why she couldn’t have been the one to die instead.

Being in Dara’s head was very challenging. I had to put myself in her place. How would I feel if I inadvertently caused someone’s death? Especially the death of someone I loved? Contemplating this scenario was disturbing and uncomfortable, but writers are well-known for their active imaginations, so I could picture the scene all too clearly. But I had a hard time imagining how I’d go on and work toward a place where I could live a normal life. Is it even possible? Being a teenager is hard enough; living with this magnitude of guilt on top of all the normal teen problems seems insurmountable.

In the present chapters of the book, which take place about a year after the accident, Dara is basically just surviving. She’s still wracked with remorse and grief. She goes to therapy. She tries to get back to some semblance of normalcy, even though she knows her life will never be the same again. She has to see Ethan, Aubrey’s brother, every day, which adds more weight to an already heavy burden (for both of them). All Dara wants to do is atone for her mistake, not just for her own sake but for everyone else’s sake too.

Along with her incredible guilt, she also has to contend with the what ifs. What if things had happened differently? What if she and Aubrey had never gone to the place where the accident occurred? This line of thinking can take a real toll on a person’s mental health, but it’s almost impossible not to wonder. If only we could go back and do one thing differently, avoiding the moment that set everything in motion.

Living with something so huge hanging over your head, eating at you every day, is beyond intense. Accomplishing this with Dara’s voice required balance. In the past chapters, she’s an innocent, happy kid, secure in her belief that nothing bad can ever happen to her or anyone she loves. In the present chapters, after having witnessed one of the worst tragedies imaginable, she knows that nothing in life is secure, and happiness can be snatched away in an instant. The chapters alternate, which meant I had to change voice and tone depending on which chapter I was writing. This was by far the most challenging part.

Another challenge was injecting a feeling of hope into those present chapters, even as Dara struggles with her role in her best friend’s death. I wanted to show that life does—and will—go on. All the things that existed before the accident—family, friendship, interests, love—are still there, waiting to be rediscovered. The pain will never disappear, but it will eventually start to fade as the days pass, until finally, you realize you’ve grown strong enough to let go.

Rebecca Phillips has been writing YA since she was a YA herself. She's the author of:

The JUST YOU series
ANY OTHER GIRL (Kensington)
THESE THINGS I'VE DONE (HarperTeen, August 1, 2017)

Rebecca lives in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband, two children, and one spoiled rotten cat. None of them say "eh" or "aboot."

Visit Rebecca on her website and on Twitter @RebeccaWritesYA

A contemporary YA perfect for fans of Courtney Summers and Jessi Kirby, THESE THINGS I’VE DONE is the story of a seventeen-year-old girl who accidentally caused her best friend’s death and, a year later, is still grappling with the consequences.

Dara and Aubrey have been inseparable since they became best friends in sixth grade. However, as they begin their sophomore year of high school, cracks in their friendship begin to form, testing the bond they always thought was unbreakable.

It's been fifteen months since the accident that killed Aubrey, and not a day goes by that Dara isn't racked with guilt over her role in her best friend's death. Dara thought nothing could be worse than confronting the memories of Aubrey that relentlessly haunt her, but she soon realizes it isn't half as difficult as seeing Ethan, Aubrey's brother, every day. Not just because he's a walking reminder of what she did, but because the more her feelings for him change, the more she knows she's betraying her best friend one final time.

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads