Wednesday, May 23, 2018

0 WoW: Lisa Brown Roberts on Revisions and Where the Magic Happens

Today for Writers on Writing Wednesdays, we're thrilled to welcome award-winning author, Lisa Brown Roberts, whose latest book SPIES, LIES & ALLIES was released earlier this month by Entangled Teen. Lisa is here to tackle what is a love/hate topic for many writers – revisions. After the post, find out more information about Lisa and her new book! But first, read about how Lisa learned to love revising with Track Changes.

Revisions: Where the Magic Happens – Or How I Learned to Embrace Track Changes
by Lisa Brown Roberts

“I think the hard work of writing is just how long a book is terrible before it's good.” ― Leigh Bardugo

Revision’s one of those “ugh” topics, but I hope I can share some things I’ve learned that will help others. I don’t want to freak out new writers or make it sound like I know everything because believe me, I don’t. Revising is difficult, yes, but also transformative. Revision is when you dig in and find the heart of your story, when you make dialog sparkle, when you add layers of nuance, and discover that your subconscious planted hints and foreshadowing you didn’t even know about!

Aspiring writers hear over and over that they can’t edit a blank page, that they need to put their butts in chair and hands on keyboard (BICHOK), that finishing something- anything!- is the goal. All of which is true. When I was first chasing the writing dream, I started lots and lots of books, but finished none of them. It’s a common theme among writers – the shiny new idea that beckons like a siren’s call, distracting you from the mushy middle of your current project.

When aspiring writers ask me how to push through and finish a book, my advice is to write the first draft quickly without stopping to edit. That’s what works for me and YMMV, but I think it’s worth trying, especially if you’ve never finished a project. Typing “The End” is empowering and confidence-building. Celebrate your accomplishment – you finished a first draft! I keep a supply of mini bottles of Prosecco in my fridge for this very reason.

“I am hard at work on the second draft ... Second draft is really a misnomer as there are a gazillion revisions, large and small, that go into the writing of a book.” ― Libba Bray

I was in a serious critique group for ten years. We critiqued finished products- everything from picture books to novels. Most of the members were published, and wow, did I grow a thick skin. We mostly followed the “love sandwich” critique process, though not always. I learned just as much from my friends’ critiques as I did from my own. Sometimes there were tears and hurt feelings. Sometimes I didn’t want to go. And yeah, I learned A LOT. And it hurt. And pushed me. And brought me from aspiring newbie to multi-published.

That thick skin I grew in my critique group came in handy when my first book was contracted and I went through my first experience of the three-pass editing process with my publisher. I won’t lie- it was overwhelming and somewhat soul-crushing, and I found myself repeatedly wondering if I had the chops to do this writing thing professionally.

My editor is brilliant and blunt, and pushes me hard. We’ve done five books together; some revisions were relatively painless and some were brutal. I’ve learned to trust her instincts because in every single book she spots something none of my critique partners caught, and when I fix that “something” it makes the book so much better. I’ve also learned to trust my own instincts when my gut tells me a suggested change won’t work.

If there’s one thing I hope you take away from this, it’s that you and your editor (or critique partners) have the same end goal: to make the book as good as it can be. When I’m overwhelmed by the scope of my revisions, I remind myself that my editor and I both want to create a fantastic story that readers will love and booksellers can sell.

The good news is, the more you revise, the easier it gets – maybe not the actual process, but the mental piece in which you remind yourself that you’ve done this before and you can do it again. With each book, you strengthen your revision muscle and thicken your skin. No matter how daunting that first pass letter is from your editor, you know you can do this, and that the end result will be worth it.

So maybe it’s not magic, but once your book has gone through multiple revisions and you hold the final product in your hot little hands, it does feel like you’re a bit of a magician. That shiny cover wrapped around your fabulous words makes all the weeping and gnashing of teeth and hair yanking and whining to your writer friends worth it.

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media...and I’m afraid it's working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

Buy it now:

About Lisa Brown Roberts
Lisa Brown Roberts’ award-winning YA romantic comedies have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. Her latest book, SPIES, LIES & ALLIES, released 5/1/2018 from Entangled Teen. She occasionally emerges from her fiction-writing fog to forage for chocolate and spend time with her family, in which pets outnumber people.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

1 Practice Makes Pitch Perfect Challenge plus HUGE Giveaway

If you found your way here for the giveaway, here's where to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
If you're ready to join the Practice Makes Pitch Perfect Challenge, it's happening in the “Transmedia Mutts - Unleash Your Creative Bark” Facebook group, so sign up here:

If you still need some convincing, keep reading ...

What did you do when you were learning to drive?


What would you do if you wanted to get better at playing tennis?


How about learning to play the piano?


But have you ever practiced writing pitches?

Probably not.

Although we’ve been told since we were kids that practice makes perfect, I never practiced writing pitches either. I waited until I needed one and then spent hours stressing while I typed a few words and immediately deleted them.

And trying to condense our complex stories into a sentence or two is especially difficult because we are so invested in our own words that we can’t see the forest for all of our perfectly and poetically described trees. 

Since there are four – yes, four! – Twitter pitch parties happening in June, we need to start practicing our pitches. To help us prepare, I’m launching the free Practice Makes Pitch Perfect 7 Day Challenge on May 28th. Each day I’ll break down a component of the elevator pitch* and then provide fun prompts for practicing that section. Once we're experts on all the pieces, we’ll focus on putting together pitches for our own stories.

* An elevator pitch is the one to two sentences you share with someone to get them more interested in your story, whether that happens to be a novel, a picture book, a screenplay, or whatever. They’re sometimes called loglines, and they’re the perfect length for Twitter pitches. It’s more marketing hook than summary, but it still shows you can craft a story. You tell them just enough in an intriguing way to get them to ask for more.

Also, these short and sweet pitches can be used for more than just Twitter pitching or the rare instance you happen to get on an elevator with your dream agent (or sit next to them on the subway or meet them at your sister’s wedding). Crafting a pitch is a great exercise to do before you start writing your story. It helps you focus on the crucial elements and makes sure there’s actually a full story there before you start drafting.

So let’s get to practicing those pitches!

The challenge will take place starting May 28th in the “Transmedia Mutts - Unleash Your Creative Bark” Facebook group. Join the community so you can play along:

You’ll go from dreading the pitch writing process to popping out powerful pitches that grab people’s attention.

Here are the dates of the June Twitter pitch parties – check them out to see if you have a story that fits.

#PitMad - June 7, 2018 -

#PBPitch - June 21, 2018 -

#SFFpit - June 28, 2018 -

#FaithPitch - June 28, 2018 -

To celebrate the launch of the Practice Makes Pitch Perfect challenge, I’m doing a giveaway of these awesome books. One winner takes all. There are lots of different ways to enter, so increase your odds by sharing all over the interwebs!

If you haven't entered yet, what are you waiting for?!?

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Hope to see you over in the group!


Monday, May 21, 2018

4 New Releases this week 05/21 - 05/27 plus Giveaway of FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE

Happy Monday! This week is jam packed with new releases and a giveaway of FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE! Don't forget to check out all the books below and enter to win.

Happy Reading,

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


* * * *

From Twinkle, with Love
by Sandhya Menon
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 5/22/2018

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Purchase From Twinkle, with Love at Amazon
Purchase From Twinkle, with Love at IndieBound
View From Twinkle, with Love on Goodreads


Four-Letter Word by Christa Desir: Rosi H.
Nothing Happened by Molly Booth: Amy L.
We Are All That’s Left by Carrie Arcos: Tiffany E.


* * * *

The Academy
by Katie Sise
Balzer + Bray
Released 5/22/2018

Frankie Brooks knows what she wants in life: to become the world’s next great fashion editor. All she needs to do is get into the elite American Fashion Academy in New York City. If she gets in, her life plans will be going right on schedule. Anna Wintour, watch out.

But after Frankie messes up one too many times—hey, it’s hard not to prioritize her acclaimed fashion blog above all else—her parents come up with entirely different plans for her future: military school. How is Frankie, the least athletic person in the world, who knows absolutely nothing about the military, going to survive a whole semester at the famed—and feared—Academy?

With classmates who seem to be totally uninterested in her, a course load that’s even more difficult than her old school’s, and the weird War Games competition she has to join, Frankie finds that her life is way tougher than it used to be. And no one, including her roommate Joni, seems to understand Frankie at all.

As she learns how to cope with impossible military drills and intimidating specialized classes and is maybe even falling for super-hot and super-smart cadet Jack Wattson, can Frankie prove to everyone that being a fashionista doesn’t mean she can’t succeed?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Academy?

My favorite thing about The Academy is showing a very different life--that of military academy, and high school military training--and seeing it through the eyes of a slightly spoiled (but hopefully lovable!) teenage girl. Many of my family members serve in the US Military, but it was always a life I felt like I didn't know enough about. Writing this book made me feel closer to it, especially imagining how I would feel if I were in the main character Frankie's situation. After making one too many mistakes, Frankie's parents decide she's off to military academy to learn discipline. She's then submerged in a world she knows nothing about--a fish out of water. She's lived a very sheltered life, and suddenly she's challenged in every way possible at military academy--academically, physically, emotionally, even romantically--and she has to find inner strength to pull through it. I like that she stays true to herself while on this journey, but also learns so many lessons from her new environment, and from the courage and discipline imparted by her instructors at the Academy. And I admire Frankie's ability to make true friendships while she's there--something so important in life!

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

* * * *

The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
by David Arnold
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 5/22/2018

This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → sees changes: his mother has a scar on her face that wasn’t there before; his old dog, who once walked with a limp, is suddenly lithe; his best friend, a lifelong DC Comics disciple, now rotates in the Marvel universe. Subtle behaviors, bits of history, plans for the future—everything in Noah’s world has been rewritten. Everything except his Strange Fascinations . . .

A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik?

Probably the friendships. In both of my prior books, the main character spent the majority of the novel with found families and new friends. In Noah, the main characters have serious history, which was really fun to write. Noah’s best friends are twins, Alan and Val Rosa-Haas, and we see early on the depth of their relationship, the sort of shorthand they live by, which only comes from years of friendship. I love stories where friends save each other with nothing more than loyalty. (I’m like 95% Hufflepuff, shocking, I know.) So I wanted to write a story where the main character mistreats his friends, but they stick around to save him anyway.

Alan Rosa-Haas, specifically, is based on my friend Adam Silvera. It’s the only time I’ve ever based a character on a real person, but I just couldn’t help myself. There are a bunch of text threads in the book which are probably a little too close to reality.

Purchase The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik at Amazon
Purchase The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik at IndieBound
View The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik on Goodreads


* * * *

by Kelley Armstrong
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 5/22/2018

Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there's no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn't a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don't heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend--Skye.

Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can't resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.

Purchase Aftermath at Amazon
Purchase Aftermath at IndieBound
View Aftermath on Goodreads

* * * *

Always Never Yours
by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley
Penguin Books
Released 5/22/2018

Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It's not a curse or anything, it's just the way things are. and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream school's acting requirement in the smallest role possible. But her plans quickly crumble when she's cast as none other than Juliet--yes, that Juliet--in her high school's production. It's a nightmare. No--a disaster. Megan's not an actress and she's certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script. Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen--thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn't a girl get to play the lead in her own love story?

Purchase Always Never Yours at Amazon
Purchase Always Never Yours at IndieBound
View Always Never Yours on Goodreads

* * * *

Anger Is a Gift
by Mark Oshiro
Tor Teen
Released 5/22/2018

Moss Jeffries is many things―considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else―someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school―he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations―it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change―but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Purchase Anger Is a Gift at Amazon
Purchase Anger Is a Gift at IndieBound
View Anger Is a Gift on Goodreads

* * * *

Driving by Starlight
by Anat Deracine
Henry Holt and Co.
Released 5/22/2018

Sixteen-year-olds Leena and Mishie are best friends. They delight in small rebellions against the Saudi cultural police―secret Western clothing, forbidden music, flirtations. But Leena wants college, independence―she wants a different life. Though her story is specific to her world (a world where it's illegal for women to drive, where a ten-year-old boy is the natural choice as guardian of a fatherless woman), ultimately it's a story about friendship, family, and freedom that transcends cultural differences.

Purchase Driving by Starlight at Amazon
Purchase Driving by Starlight at IndieBound
View Driving by Starlight on Goodreads

* * * *

Monday’s Not Coming
by Tiffany D. Jackson
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/22/2018

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried.

When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

Purchase Monday’s Not Coming at Amazon
Purchase Monday’s Not Coming at IndieBound
View Monday’s Not Coming on Goodreads

Saturday, May 19, 2018

0 Carrie Arcos, author of WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT, on associating writing with coffee

We're thrilled to have Carrie Arcos with us to share more about her latest novel, WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT.

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

The scenes that take place in Bosnia, especially the ones in Visegrad. I wanted to capture Nadja as a regular 1990s teenager caught up in a night mare. She had dreams and was just like teens in the States. And then her world was destroyed. I cried many times through the scenes. Her story became very real to me because it was bits and pieces of the stories I had heard from refugees themselves. I didn't want to sentimentalize it or glorify it--just tell it straight. I feel the most proud of those scenes.

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

My writing ritual has changed a bit over the years. In the beginning, I was a straight, get up early, go to the coffee house and crank out 2 hours. That was when I had babies and really needed to work around their schedule. Now, I have an almost full time job, so I'm not as steady. I don't write every day. I have to block off specific chunks of time. I'm trying to find more of a steady rhythm, because that's how I work best. I just haven't wanted to wake up at 5 am yet. I usually listen to instrumental music when I write, more to drown out noise. It helps me focus. And coffee. I like coffee just to sip on every now and then. It's probably from when I wrote in the coffee shops. I always associate writing with coffee.

What are you working on now?

I just sold another novel to Philomel called SKYWATCHERS, coming summer 2020. It was pitched as IN THE WOODS meets STRANGER THINGS. In the early 1950s, under President Harry Truman, the program Operation Skywatch was created. Ordinary citizens around the country manned towers and acted as radar for potential atomic attack from Russia. My story centers around a group of teenagers from Monterey, CA who spy something strange in the sky in one such tower, a UFO. Looking like something has landed in the pines behind them, they decide to investigate. A couple of days later, all of them are found except one. I'm very excited about this one. I've wanted to write a UFO story forever.


We Are All That’s Left
by Carrie Arcos
Philomel Books
Released 5/15/2018

Two lives. Two worlds apart. One deeply compelling story set in both Bosnia and the United States, spanning decades and generations, about the brutality of war and the trauma of everyday life after war, about hope and the ties that bind us together.

Zara and her mother, Nadja, have a strained relationship. Nadja just doesn't understand Zara's creative passion for, and self-expression through, photography. And Zara doesn't know how to reach beyond their differences and connect to a closed-off mother who refuses to speak about her past in Bosnia. But when a bomb explodes as they're shopping in their local farmers' market in Rhode Island, Zara is left with PTSD--and her mother is left in a coma. Without the opportunity to get to know her mother, Zara is left with questions--not just about her mother, but about faith, religion, history, and her own path forward.

As Zara tries to sort through her confusion, she meets Joseph, whose grandmother is also in the hospital, and whose exploration of religion and philosophy offer comfort and insight into Zara's own line of thinking.

Told in chapters that alternate between Zara's present-day Providence, RI, and Nadja's own childhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, We Are All That's Left shows the ways in which, no matter the time and place, struggle and tragedy can give way to connection, healing and love.

Purchase We Are All That’s Left at Amazon
Purchase We Are All That’s Left at IndieBound
View We Are All That’s Left on Goodreads


Carrie Arcos ( was born in Albany, New York, and still mourns the day her family left for the West Coast. She earned an MA in creative writing and English literature and writes young adult fiction. She has taught English--both high school level and college. She is also the author of National Book Award finalist Out of Reach; There Will Come a Time; and, most recently, Crazy Messy Beautiful. Carrie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children. Follow her on Twitter @carriearcos.


Have you had a chance to read WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT yet? Have you made yourself cry while writing? Do you have a steady rhythm for your writing time? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Friday, May 18, 2018

0 Molly Booth, author of NOTHING HAPPENED, on the moment when everything else sort of melts away

We're excited to have Molly Booth stop by to chat about her latest novel, NOTHING HAPPENED.

Molly, what was your inspiration for writing NOTHING HAPPENED?

I wrote NOTHING HAPPENED out of the pure love in my heart for its source material, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, the original romantic comedy by Shakespeare. I loved the whole story, but I really adored Beatrice and her fierce protectiveness of her cousin, Hero. I wanted to write a version of MUCH ADO where that was showcased as a primary relationship. I also wanted to write a MUCH ADO that felt modern and inclusive.

In terms of the setting, I grew up going to and working at summer camp! For SAVING HAMLET, I’d drawn on my theatre nerd knowledge, and for NOTHING HAPPENED, I drew on my summer camp dorkiness. I have such fond and DRAMATIC memories of summer camp, and I felt like this would be a perfect setting to explore a retelling of a play with so many feelings.

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?

There are so many scenes I loved in NOTHING HAPPENED, it was a truly a blast to write, but one that came fast and organically is the flashback scene when Ben’s describing a fight that happened in his house, and how he took his sisters, put them in the car, and drove to Camp Dogberry in the middle of the night. I won’t spoil the rest of it, but that scene unlocked Ben for me as a character. My sibling Nellie calls him, “The Best Mom.”

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

I would definitely recommend NOTHING HAPPENED for fans of Stephanie Kate Strohm’s TAMING OF THE DREW! That’s one of my favorite Shakespeare-y YA books ever and a great, hilarious summer read with so much heart.

What do you hope readers will take away from NOTHING HAPPENED?

I hope readers will have had a super fun time hanging out with these characters for 300+ pages. I hope Shakespeare/MUCH ADO nerds will enjoy seeing how I’ve translated the play into a book, and I hope those not into Shakespeare will still love the book AND maybe go look up the original plot. I hope educators will be able to use this book to help teach MUCH ADO. I hope everyone will engage with the ideas in the book about toxic masculinity and queerness. And I hope everyone swoons!

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 think the only moment I could describe as “aha!” was realizing how much I loved the process of such a long and harrowing project xD. I was writing my first book, SAVING HAMLET, and between the second and third drafts, suddenly everything else sort of melted away. I wanted to spend all my time writing this book. It was difficult, and it made me cry, and I frequently felt lost. But I realized I would still rather be working on it than doing nearly anything else. So I think for me, the key is that writing books is the thing I love the most.


Nothing Happened
by Molly Booth
Released 5/15/2018

This modern-day retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing takes place at the idyllic Camp Dogberry, where sisters Bee and Hana Leonato have lived their whole lives. Their parents own the place, and every summer they look forward to leading little campers in crafts, swimming in the lake, playing capture the flag and Sproutball, and of course, throwing legendary counselor parties.

This year, the camp drama isn't just on the improv stage. Bee and longtime counselor Ben have a will-they-or-won't-they romance that's complicated by events that happened-or didn't happen-last summer. Meanwhile, Hana is falling hard for the kind but insecure Claudia, putting them both in the crosshairs of resident troublemaker John, who spreads a vicious rumor that could tear them apart.

As the counselors juggle their camp responsibilities with simmering drama that comes to a head at the Fourth of July sparkler party, they'll have to swallow their pride and find the courage to untangle the truth, whether it leads to heartbreak or happily ever after.

Purchase Nothing Happened at Amazon
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View Nothing Happened on Goodreads


Molly Booth writes books about Shakespeare and feelings. She's the author of Young Adult novels SAVING HAMLET (2016) and NOTHING HAPPENED (5.15. 2018), both published by Disney Hyperion. In high school, she was a stage manager for three different community theatres, which almost killed her. She graduated from Marlboro College and went onto study more Shakespeare (twist!) at University of Massachusetts Boston. Molly is a freelance writer and editor and has been published on,,, and various other websites. She co-hosts a Bardcentric podcast, Party Bard, and directs a lovely, hilarious, and fierce group of homeschooling teen Shakespearean actors. She also speaks and teaches workshops at schools, colleges, bookstores, book fairs, camps, and libraries. Molly lives in Massachusetts, where she spends a lot of time with family and friends, and the rest attending to her queenly cat and loaf-of-bread-shaped dog. You can visit her (please do!) on her website,

Have you had a chance to read NOTHING HAPPENED yet? Have any of your stories been inspired by Shakespeare? Is writing books the thing you love the most? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Thursday, May 17, 2018

0 Nisha Sharma, author of MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE, on being a careful and patient writer

We are thrilled to have Nisha Sharma answer our questions about her debut novel, MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE.

Nisha, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE taught me about patience. I rushed through writing the book, but when it came time to editing, the process was slow. I needed to take the anxiety of just racing to the end of the story to finish it, and set that aside. I was forced to examine my novel in a way that I hadn’t before, and I think that’s taught me how to be a more careful and patient writer.

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

SOOOOO LONG. I have three finished YA novels that I completed and queried and went out on sub with before I even wrote MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE. The process of writing, selling, editing and releasing MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE was also an exciting, yet very long four years that started when I wrote a draft for my MFA program back in 2013.

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

My writing ritual is writing whenever I have the time to get a few words in. I work long hours and whenever I have a few moments, I take the time to work on my new project. Sometimes that’s at lunch at my day job, while at other times, I’m toiling away at 2 in the morning.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my second book with Crown Books for Young Readers! The story is tentatively called RADHA’S RECIPE FOR BOLLYWOOD BEATS, and it’s about Bollywood dance teams and a joy for cooking. The main character moves to Princeton, New Jersey from Chicago because her parents got divorced, and she has to relocate with her mother. She finds Jai, the head of the Princeton Academy of the Arts and Sciences Bollywood dance team, and begins this new relationship with him, with dance and with food.


My So-Called Bollywood Life
by Nisha Sharma
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 5/15/2018

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there's Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she'd pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Purchase My So-Called Bollywood Life at Amazon
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Nisha Sharma grew up immersed in Bollywood movies, eighties pop culture, and romance novels, so it comes as no surprise that her first novel My So-Called Bollywood Life features all three. Nisha credits her father for her multiple graduate degrees and her mother for her love of Shah Rukh Khan and Jane Austen. She lives in New Jersey with her cat, Lizzie Bennett, and her dog, Nancey Drew. You can find her online at or on Twitter and Instagram at @nishawrites.


Have you had a chance to read MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE yet? Do you race to get to "the end"? Have revisions taught you how to be a more careful and patient writer.? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

3 WoW: Erin Cashman with How Her Mother Inspires Her Writing

Today, I am so excited to present a very special guest post by AYAP's own, Erin Cashman. Many of us spent this past Sunday celebrating Mother's Day. While some of us are in the lucky position of being able to spend the day happily brunching with mom, for others it's a day to acknowledge loss or deal with heartbreak. Here Erin has a poignant post where she discusses the loss of her mother and how their relationship influenced her storytelling in UNCHARTED. Stay tuned for more info about Erin and UNCHARTED after the post. But now, here's Erin:

How My Mother Continues to Inspire My Writing
by Erin Cashman

Mother’s Day is a bittersweet day for me because my mother passed away the day before Mother’s Day several years ago. I think about her often, but with my novel, UNCHARTED releasing in September, I’ve especially been thinking about her lately. UNCHARTED was inspired by my mother, by the stories she told me about growing up in Ireland, by her love of Irish myths and legends, and by her own battle with mental illness.

My mother was what people often called “a character.” She grew up very poor and left school after sixth grade to help her parents with her very large family (she had ten siblings). When her chores were done, she loved to spend her time on Galway Bay where she was fed a steady diet of myth and legend. Even as an adult, she believed in all of it – ghosts, premonitions, kelpies, fairies, changelings, angels, Sea Maidens, etc. My mother’s love of myth and legend has influenced much of my writing, but UNCHARTED is inspired by a particular incident she swore was real. One day when we were walking on a Cape Cod beach with the fog swirling off the water like spirits rising from the sea, she recounted a time when she saw an island suddenly appear through the fog off the coast of Galway. A minute later, it simply disappeared. A local fisherman told her that island was the legendary island of Hy-Brasil, where time passed at a different rate, and people lived forever.

Years later, after my mother had died, I was researching Irish mythology for a middle grade story I was writing, and I came upon a reference to that same mythical island. Intrigued, I started researching Hy-Brasil, and I was surprised to find that it appeared on maps from 1325 through the mid-1800s with numerous people claiming to have gone there. The legends surrounding the island were fascinating as well: it was shrouded in fog, it only appeared once every seven years, the roads were paved with gold, the Fountain of Youth was located on the island, it was home to an advanced civilization, and it was an earthly paradise. In 2016, the Boston Public Library had an exhibit on Hy-Brasil that I couldn’t resist going to see, and I was fascinated to see the old maps! (There are some map images on my UNCHARTED Pinterest board if you want to check them out!

Beyond inspiring the mythology of UNCHARTED  my mother was also the inspiration for Annabeth, my main character. My mother was one of the strongest people I’ve ever known, but she was simultaneously plagued by bipolar disorder, depression, and fear. Among her phobias, she was particularly terrified of flying, which made returning home to Ireland to see her family fraught with stress and difficulty, as well as thunderstorms. Her phobias became so bad, she was hospitalized at McLean hospital. Like Annabeth, she was treated with electroconvulsive therapy. My mother was deeply grateful for the care she received at McLean but, like Annabeth, she rarely talked about her condition due to the stigma associated with mental illness.

On one of the rare occasions when my mother opened up to me about her illness, she told me that depression felt like being inside a dark tunnel, unable to see the end or the beginning, and having no idea how long the tunnel would turn out to be. I thought about that often when I was writing Annabeth, and I tried to capture both her fears and her strength. There are many different types of strength, and too often, I think, we focus on physical strength. I realized, in writing Uncharted, how strong my mother was. She refused to let her illness define her even though it was part of who she was. She had to learn to accept all of herself, all of the good traits as well as the trials and hardships of mental illness.

Annabeth has a similar struggle in UNCHARTED. Her guilt over the role she played in her mother’s death leads her down a dark tunnel of mental illness and treatment, and just as she is beginning to recover from the worst of the effects, the story forces her to plumb the depths of her physical, emotional, and mental strength and to accept her past missteps and the resulting guilt and darkness.

Inspiration surrounds us in the form of current events, history, dreams, books, television shows, songs, and everyday life, but often inspiration alone isn’t enough to create something meaningful in our writing. A song we’ve heard a thousand times might inspire us on a particular day because of a current state of mind or a recent experience of love, heartbreak, or loss. I tried to write UNCHARTED years ago but, at the time, my mother’s death was still too raw, too painful. When I was able to come back to the story recently, all of the elements came together and the story poured out. I hope I succeeded in bringing to life not only a fascinating Irish legend, but also a heroine as complex, strong, and fearless as my mother.

Seventeen-year-old Annabeth prefers the fantasy of her books and paintings to reality—because in reality, her mom is dead, and it was all her fault. When she accompanies her father to the funeral of some family friends who drowned, she’s surprised to find her grief reflected in the face of Griffin Bradford, the son of the couple who died. Griffin is nothing like the carefree boy she once knew. Now he’s irritable, removed, and he’s under police investigation for his parents’ deaths.

One night following the memorial service, Annabeth’s dad goes missing in the woods, and she suspects Griffin knows more about the disappearance than he’s letting on. He refuses to answer her questions, particularly those related to the mysterious “expedition” his parents took to Ireland, where they went missing for seven months.

Annabeth fears her father isn’t lost, but rather a victim of something sinister. She launches her own investigation, tracing clues that whisper of myth and legend and death, until she stumbles upon a secret. One that some would die to protect, others would kill to expose—and which twists Annabeth’s fantasy and reality together in deadly new ways.

UNCHARTED is available September 4 - but you can preorder it now!

Amazon Barnes & Noble IndieBound

About Erin Cashman:
Erin Cashman is AYAP's 1st 5 Pages Workshop coordinator, and a permanent mentor. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three kids, and an energetic rescue dog. She writes YA fantasy. UNCHARTED is coming September 4, 2018, and THE EXCEPTIONALS, a Bank Street College of Education best book of the year, is available now. Follow Erin on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads, and for more news, like an upcoming pre-order contest, check her website

0 Mindee Arnett, author of ONYX & IVORY, on changing up your writing process

We're delighted to have Mindee Arnett join us to share more about her latest novel, ONYX & IVORY.

Mindee, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

I learned so much during the writing process for this book, way more than any other so far. Part of the reason for that is that I did so much wrong in the early drafts. This is my first book with multiple points of view, and I went into that structure believing I knew how to do it. I was wrong. So, so wrong. But fortunately, my editor was able to give me just the right advice on how to fix the issues with it. But it took a lot of painful and strenuous rewriting. That said, what I primary learned is how critical it is to know two things when starting a story. First, you need to know your character’s arc. Or, when writing multiple-POV, all the arcs. Second, you need to know your antagonist’s motivations clearly and early. These two pieces—character arc and character motivation—are critically when writing a multiple POV book. Well, they’re critical in every book, of course, but a little easier to get a handle on in a single POV book.

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

Like most it was a long, hard slog. I started off writing short stories in the sixth grade, and I focused on those all the way through college. I even managed to publish a few shorts. Then finally I turned my hand to my true love—novels. For some insane reason, I started writing my first book while working on my master’s degree. I completed it, revised it, and sent it out to agents and editors, only to receive universal rejections across the board. I then shelved the book and started on the next one to the same result—and the next one, and the next. I wrote four complete novels only to have everyone rejected. Before starting my fifth book, I decided that I needed to make a change in my writing process. Before, I simply sat down and wrote, completely by the seat of my pants. But for the fifth book, I decided to go into with a plan. Rather than rush through, I carefully planned things out as I went. This proved to be the magic formula. That book became the one that landed me my agent and my first book deal.

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?

For sure, as I mentioned above, the key for me was realizing that being a complete pantser didn’t work for me. I had made the mistake of taking Stephen King’s writing advice in On Writing completely to heart. Although it’s a great book, King makes it seem like that to be a good writing all you need to do is just sit down and write your book. I felt that if I did any kind of planning or outlining at all that the book would be wooden and predictable. I was wrong (and he is wrong as well). I’ve since learned that all writers outline. We all do. Some of us do it by writing a first full draft like King. And some of us do it in actual outline form. The key to breaking through is to find the process that works for you. That said, if the process you’ve been using hasn’t gotten you through the door yet, then it’s time to change things up. Try a new approach and see if that doesn’t prove to be the solution.

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

The most important advice I think any writer needs to hear is that you must protect your love of the story itself. In this business, there is a lot of discouragement. Even once you’ve been published, the discouragement and rejections don’t go away. In fact, they get harder. You’ve got to learn to love the writing process simply for the story itself and not for anything else. The story never disappoints or rejects. Not when it comes from you.

What are you working on now?

Up next, I’ve got the sequel and conclusion to Onyx & Ivory. Right now I’m in the early stages of a pretty amazing collaboration on a YA contemporary fantasy/paranormal, and I’m also doing prewriting for a middle grade fantasy. I hope to have more to share soon.


Onyx & Ivory
by Mindee Arnett
Balzer + Bray
Released 5/15/2018

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.

Purchase Onyx & Ivory at Amazon
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View Onyx & Ivory on Goodreads


Mindee Arnett is the author of the critically acclaimed sci-fi thriller Avalon as well as the Arkwell Academy series and the upcoming Onyx and Ivory. An avid eventer, she lives on a farm near Dayton, Ohio with her husband, two kids, and assorted animals. When not telling tales of magic, the supernatural, or outer space, she can be found on a horse, trying to jump anything that will stand still.

A literacy advocate, Mindee is available for school and library visits, both in person and online, as well as writing workshops for both teens and adults. For more information on available presentations, click here.


Have you had a chance to read ONYX & IVORY yet? What form do your outlines take? Do you protect your love of the story? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

2 Christa Desir, author of FOUR-LETTER WORD, on taking 19 years to complete a novel

We're thrilled to have Christa Desir stop by to chat about her latest novel, FOUR-LETTER WORD. 

Christa, how long did you work on FOUR-LETTER WORD?

This book took me 19 years to complete! Yes, 19 years! Most of my readers weren’t even born yet when I started! For me, it was a timing issue. I kept coming back to this idea and then putting it aside again. It was a story I felt like I had to write but I needed the right moment and the right frame of mind. This story has been on my mind for so long and now I finally have it out in the world!

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

The sex scene. Surprisingly. I wanted it to be authentic so that meant I had to take my time while writing it. It was important that everything flowed and that the scene matched the tone of the story. I hope I achieved that. If anything, I feel like it’s honest and awkward, which was what teenage sex was for me:)

What’s with the nail biting in your MC?

I have a horrible nail bitting habit. While writing my main character I felt that she and I share that disgusting (and pretty embarrassing) habit. I made hers much worse than mine but I felt it helped to make her character stand out.


Four-Letter Word
by Christa Desir
Simon Pulse
Released 5/15/2018

Eight friends. One game. A dozen regrets. And a night that will ruin them all, in this high stakes gripping story of manipulation and innocence lost, from the author of Bleed Like Me.

Chloe Sanders is ready for a change. She’s tired of watching her best friend Eve turn away from her for the more interesting and popular Holly Reed, and tired of living with her grandparents while her parents volunteer overseas. Chloe spends her days crushing on a guy named Mateo, being mostly ignored by Eve and Holly, and wishing the cornfields of Iowa didn’t feel so incredibly lonely.

Then a new girl transfers to her high school—Chloe Donnelly. This Chloe is bold and arty and instantly placed on a pedestal by Eve and Holly. Now suddenly everyone is referring to Chloe Sanders as “Other Chloe” and she figures the only thing to do is go with it.

Chloe Donnelly introduces all her friends to a dangerous game: a girls vs. guys challenge that only has one rule—obtain information by any means necessary. Chloe Donnelly’s got power over everyone—secrets she’s exploiting—and she uses it to keep them all playing. When the game turns nasty, soft-spoken Mateo chooses Other Chloe to help him expose everything Chloe Donnelly has done. But neither realize just how much the truth could cost them in the end.

Purchase Four-Letter Word at Amazon
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Christa Desir writes contemporary fiction for young adults. Her novels include FAULT LINE, BLEED LIKE ME, OTHER BROKEN THINGS, LOVE BLIND, and the forthcoming FOUR-LETTER WORD. She lives with her husband, three children, and overly enthusiastic dog outside of Chicago. She has been working as a rape victim activist for nearly twenty years, both in hospital ERs as an advocate and as a public speaker. She is a founding member of the Voices and Faces Project, a nonprofit organization for rape survivors that conducts an international survivor-based testimonial writing workshop, including working with incarcerated teens. She also works as an editor and part-time bookseller at an independent bookstore. editor website:, author website:


Have you had a chance to read FOUR-LETTER WORD yet? Do you have a story idea that you keep coming back to but haven't written yet? Have you given your main character any of your bad habits? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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