Saturday, November 22, 2014

0 First Five Pages December Workshop Opens November 29

The First Five Pages November Workshop has come to an end.  This group worked so hard on their revisions, and it showed! A huge thanks to our guest mentor, J.R. Johansson (I can’t wait to read CUT ME FREE!), to Pam Glauber, my editor for The Exceptionals, and now a free lance editor, and of course to all of our fabulous permanent mentors! You can check out the final revisions here: First Five Pages November Workshop

Our December workshop will open for entries at noon on Saturday November 29, 2014. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have the talented PETER SALOMON, author of HENRY FRANKS and ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS, and agent GINGER CLARK!  

So get those pages ready – First Five Pages December Workshop opens in one week. Click here to get the rules!

Friday, November 21, 2014

2 Preparing for Release Month by Kate Brauning

Today we welcome Kate Brauning to the blog to share a different type of craft article -- the rewards of doing the craft well.  Publication!  But with publication comes its own stress, and Kate is in a great position to tell us how to handle it as not only did her first novel, How We Fall, release this month, but she's also an editor with Entangled Publishing, guiding many other writers through their first release month and beyond.

Preparing for Release Month by Kate Brauning

Release month is almost always a hectic, stressful time for authors. As an editor, I’ve seen my clients go through it, and my first novel just released on the 11th, so I’m going through it myself! Especially with all the different opportunities and strategies available to authors now, it’s easy to get bogged down, worry about what you aren’t doing, stress over what you are doing, and lose the excitement of it altogether.

One thing seasoned authors kept telling me was that this one is special because it’s the first. Enjoy it.
Do something for yourself. Celebrate in market-smart ways, but also celebrate in personal, zero-stress ways.

One of the things I did to personally celebrate my release week was to go on a weekend writing retreat with my critique partners. It was so, so much fun, and a great stress relief. I planned as if my release day was 3 days earlier than it was, so 95% of what I needed to do, I already had done. I took very little work on the retreat with me. Also, it was tremendously good stress relief to not think about the launch and get back to actually writing that next book. And of course, my critique partners are the ones who have been through this with me, and getting to celebrate with them was so meaningful and just plain fun.

Aside from celebrating for yourself, authors can do a few simple things to prepare for a book release that will make that week and month a little less stressful.

image credit: thepenandinkblog.blogspot.com

Marketing:

Get started on major marketing elements as soon as possible. As soon as you have a book deal/decide to self-publish, (or even before) you can get started on these things:

1. Author photos. Many authors have a friend take a photo, but there’s a big difference between a snapshot and a professional headshot. If you know someone talented, that’s great and definitely take the less expensive route. But first, look at the author photos of major authors in your genre and aim for that kind of result. Author photos are a significant piece of your marketing, and a great photo helps you look like a professional, and it might end up on your book jacket. It can take several months to line up a photographer, schedule the session, and get your edited photos back, so do this ASAP. I was interviewed by my own photographer, Jenni O Photography, where I discussed what I looked for in my author photos, so check that out if you’re interested.

2. Author website. Every author needs a website, even if you don’t blog. A site where readers can see your book and read a bit about you is definitely something you need as an author. You can design it yourself, but if you don’t have experience and talent there, hire someone. Friends who will cut you a deal can work out well, but again, look at the sites of authors in your genre who are doing well. See what’s possible for professional, clean layouts and informative, interesting content. Decide what kind of site you want, and then hire someone who can do that. Your website is another major piece of marketing, so to me, it’s worth spending a little money to have a quality website. Design, revisions, and launching the site can take a long time, too, so get started right away.

3. Street team. Many authors assemble a street team from fans, friends, book bloggers, and fellow authors. Not everyone wants a street team, and it’s important to be grateful, courteous, and reasonable with your team members, but they can be a huge help. Many authors have street team members get the word out through book blasts, reviews, and social media, and they can help word about your book break out of your own circle of friends and fellow writers. Start building that street team immediately—you can start this as soon as you have a book deal. Keep in mind street team members need to be able to reach people you can’t, so look beyond friends and family members, though they can certainly be enthusiastic supporters, too. It’s also great to let your team earn some value for their work. I sent each of mine a welcome package with swag and an ARC, and prizes along the way. It has definitely paid off.

4. Think about your dedication and acknowledgements. A lot of writers take a long time to get these done because they mean so much to the author. These don’t have to wait until your editor asks for them, and waiting to do them until then can make edits even more hectic, so you can definitely start them early. At the very least, you can start a list of who you need to thank and what you need to thank them for—don’t lose track of those early beta readers. And keep in mind there are a lot of people behind the scenes at your publishing house who are working hard for your book. It’s not a bad idea to email to ask who has been working on it, so you can specifically thank people besides your editor and publicist.

5. Conferences. Talk to your editor and publicist (or figure out for yourself) what the plan is for appearances and conferences leading up to and after your book release. Early-bird pricing and promotional opportunities are a great reason to get started on this early, and if you know you have a conference during a certain week, it can be something you plan your other launch preparations around. That way you don’t have to cross conference days off an already-full schedule. Conferences, even just for the connections, are wonderful marketing. I’ve never been to a conference that hasn’t paid off well for my investment.

6. Launch Party. There are so many options here! An in-person party, an online Facebook or Twitter party, a bookstore signing as your party, etc. As far as I know, those are the three main models, and they all have pros and cons. Online parties can be impersonal, and I’ve seen a lot of online parties that are poorly attended, even though hundreds or even thousands of people were invited. Authors work hard on their launch parties to make them have fabulous content, but it is really hard to engage a crowd online for a long period of time. They tend to drop by, learn a bit about you and your book, play a game, and then move on. And that’s great if that’s how you want to reach your readers. In-person & bookstore launch parties can have the same drawbacks—a small crowd, and difficulty reaching new readers. They can also be expensive, depending on what you do, and they are limited to people within traveling distance. Of course, there are pros to both—reaching fans who can’t travel to you and lower costs for online parties, and more personal connections with in-person parties, etc. I did a blend of both, and hosted 9 other authors at a livestreamed book party, so readers could ask questions, see, hear, and interact with all 10 of us. The combined draw meant we had a large audience, and we discussed everything from publishing paths to movie adaptations. Can you blend models to limit cons? Release vlogs during an online party, for example, or host other authors to draw on combined platforms.

image credit: http://jasouders.blogspot.com

Launch Month:

Prepare for launch month events ahead of time. There are so many things authors can do: book blasts, blog tours, book giveaways, book hunts, library appearances, book signings, etc. Debut authors are often encouraged to say yes to much of it, but that can lead to stress and burn-out, and it can take a toll on that next book you need to be writing. So here’s how to keep it manageable:

1. My advice is immediately start researching the opportunities and identifying your goals.

  • What’s possible? Realistically—what will you have time and money for? Can you re-prioritize to change any of that? What are your boundaries?
  • What sounds fun? Ideas you’re enthusiastic about will feel like less work than ones you’re already dreading, and they’re more likely to get done.
  • What meets your specific goals for your book release? Some authors want the launch to build their platform, some want to push for ranking high on Amazon or bestseller lists, and some want a stress-free way to celebrate with friends and family.

See what’s out there before you settle on anything, and think creatively. Talk to other authors about what worked for them. Do you want a book trailer? Can you do something high concept for your launch party?

2. When you do decide what you’d like to do, and when someone comes to you with an opportunity, calculate the time and financial investment, and choose wisely where you’re putting your hours and money. Keep in mind it will almost always cost more and take more time than you’re figuring. Chose the things that sound fun to you, because they will automatically be less stressful and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate on them! Also, choose the opportunities that reach a wide audience or allow for deeper connections with readers.

3. Order swag/promotional items ASAP. Calculate amounts you’ll need, and as soon as you have the information and images you’ll need for on any paper products (like postcards, bookmarks, and business cards), order them. Printing and shipping can take a while, and rush shipping costs can be expensive. This is something that can be done early and stored safely until you need them. My personal advice is to not spend a ton of money on swag. Thick, professional business cards and bookmarks that won’t crease are a great idea. (As soon as it creases or crumples, people tend to throw it out. Moo.com does fabulous, high-quality work.) Swag can be expensive, especially considering how much authors make per book sold, so keep that in mind when you’re laying out your budget—calculate what you make per book, and balance that against the value the swag will provide. Some of it depends on the book, of course, but I went with nice business cards, postcards, and book pins. I haven’t found myself needing anything else so far, though I might do a mix of postcards and bookmarks next time.

4. Don’t leave preparing for a few weeks before release. Treat it a bit like wedding planning. Make a to-do list for each event you’re doing for your launch, right down to items to purchase and announcements to make, and figure out which items can be done ahead of time. Schedule them into a certain day or week on your calendar. For example, if you’re doing a blog tour, start writing the posts three months in advance. One or two a week means you don’t have to scramble and you can keep your schedule balanced. You can even write your release day post early and have it saved as a draft to make changes to as the event gets closer. If you’re doing a book blast/blitz, you can write that material far in advance, too.

Stress Management:


This whole post is about stress management, really, but there are a few specific things you can do to help keep balanced and to enjoy your book release instead of dreading it.

1. Schedule R&R. And I actually mean plan it into your day. An hour for reading, an evening or two a week where you catch up on that show you love, time with your family and friends. You aren’t a machine, and if you act like one, you’ll break down. The most efficient, productive thing you can do during busy, demanding times is take care of your brain and your body. So rest well, eat well, and take that R&R. I’m not kidding. If I push myself hard a few days in a row with a stressful project, it takes me several days to feel like I’m functioning at 100% again. And don’t forget to schedule R&R for after your release—staying balanced will help reduce those nerves.

2. Disconnect. If you don’t need to be on Twitter or your email, close them. As it gets closer to my release date, I feel more and more bombarded by stats, reviews, emails, and questions. It’s overwhelming. Closing up email and social media frees up my concentration and lowers my stress levels. It can be tempting to stalk relatively meaningless rankings and count reviews, but don’t do it. Let yourself look once in a while if you have to, but several times a day or even once a day is usually both a time drain and a cause of stress.

3. Keep writing. One of the best things you can do for your book is to write another one. A new book is great marketing for the old book. Writing also lets us invest somewhere else, and helps us see that not everything hangs on this one book. And it can be fun and inspiring to keep working on a new project, and it can take our minds off everything about release day. Writers write, so keep writing!

About the Author:


Kate Brauning grew up in rural Missouri and fell in love with young adult books in college. She’s now an editor at Entangled Publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she'd want to read. Visit her online at www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning, and order How We Fall from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or IndieBound.









About the Book:

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle's sleepy farming town, she's been flirting way too much--and with her own cousin, Marcus.

Her friendship with him has turned into something she can't control, and he's the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for...no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn't right about this stranger, and Jackie's suspicions about the new girl's secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus.

Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else's lies as the mystery around Ellie's disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

Barnes & Noble  | Amazon  | IndieBound | Goodreads

Thursday, November 20, 2014

1 Agent Patricia Nelson of Marsal Lyon Lit on Writing Communities and Marketability


Patricia Nelson started at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency as assistant to Kevan Lyon, and became an agent in September 2014. Previously, she interned at The Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency and in the children’s division at Running Press.

Patricia represents adult and young adult fiction, and is actively looking to build her list. On the adult side, she is interested in literary fiction and commercial fiction in the New Adult, women’s fiction, and romance genres. For YA, she is looking for contemporary/realistic fiction as well YA mystery/thriller, horror, magical realism, science fiction and fantasy. She is also interested in finding exciting multicultural and LGBTQ fiction, both YA and adult. In general, Patricia loves stories with complex characters that jump off the page and thoughtfully drawn, believable relationships – along with writing that makes her feel completely pulled into these characters’ lives and worlds.

Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the world of publishing, she spent four years as a university-level instructor of literature and writing.

Follow Patricia on Twitter at @patricianels.



What are some things you love to see in a query?

Of course, the most important things that I look for are an engaging voice, fluid writing, and a protagonist that goes on a compelling journey with clear stakes. 

But beyond that, I really love to see a query that lists 2-3 interesting and unique comparable titles - if done right, this gives me a sense of the book's tone, subject matter, style, and whether it's the kind of story that I might love to read. It also lets me know that the author is an avidreader as well as writer, which all of the best authors are. (A warning about this: many queries make comparisons to runaway bestsellers - THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, etc - which tends to just read as meaning that you think your book could be very successful. We would all love that, but success on a John Green or JK Rowling scale is not a phenomenon that anyone can really set out to replicate. To really grab my attention, be more original and thoughtful with your comparisons.)

One more thing that's not necessary, but I do like to see: if you're a member of SCBWI or another writer's organization, be sure to include that! Getting involved in writing communities conveys a seriousness about eventually making writing your career that is definitely a plus for me in considering whether to request a manuscript.


What is it about a manuscript that excites you? 

A surprising main character who feels like he or she could step right off the page; well-developed supporting characters; compelling and complicated relationships (this could come in the form of friendships, a family dynamic, and/or a romance); a tightly-plotted and well-paced story that pays off with a satisfying ending; distinctive voice; gorgeous, striking sentences - and then that unexpected something special that makes this book feel unique. When that magic happens and I find a manuscript that I fall in love with and just have to clear my schedule to finish, there is no better feeling!
Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability? 
​Both are very important. There are certain genres that are so tough to sell right now that even if I really loved a book in that genre I would have to think very hard about taking it on. But I would also definitely never choose to represent something just because it was marketable, if I didn't feel a strong connection to the book. As an author, you want an agent who both has a clear vision of how they'll pitch your book to appeal to the current market and who loves and emotionally connects to your story and voice.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

2 WoW Wednesday: Moving On by Sandra Waugh

Sandra Waugh is the debut author of LARK RISING, a brilliant opening to the Guardians of Tarnec series and I am absolutely in LOVE! Full of incredibly rich world building and fantastic characters, Sandra's debut novel is fabulous. Sandra is a spinner of beautiful words and her guest post below is gold to any writer. 

Moving On

Or: In which I navigate from Francis Ford Coppola to a rollercoaster to Stephen Sondheim and try to have it all make sense.


I write in the morning before anyone has the chance to hurt me.

That’s not the exact quote, but this was Francis Ford Coppola’s response when he was asked about his writing process during an interview.

I’ve held onto that statement ever since I heard it.  Originally I liked it because I too wrote in the morning, something I attributed to being an early bird and that I preferred morning light and the relative quiet.  Later, I agreed it was true: that once you let the day in, then all sorts of little things would get in the way of work, not the issues themselves but how they affected the ups and downs of mood.  And whatever mood I was in utterly affected my ability to write. I could easily procrastinate if I felt unsettled, if those ‘hurts’ had started to filter in. And then a day became about avoiding: Oh, yuck, the dog rolled in something and needs a bath, and oh hell I just wasted HOW MUCH TIME?—I only meant to check the weather on TV but discovered Ice Road Truckers were careening across some frozen lake and I had to see how they would not crash even though I have never cared to watch Ice Road Truckers before, and damn my tea’s gone cold so while I’m waiting for a new pot I’ll just check that email again… and grrr just forget it.

And then I got published. And that was when I realized that my go-to quote should read a little more like this:

I write in the morning before I have the chance to hurt myself.

Those little annoying interruptions that I blamed for any procrastination were nothing compared to the moment when my work was laid open for public response—loved, hated, enjoyed, or slogged through, Goodreads ratings, Amazon rankings…. I so wanted to know how people were responding. Curiosity became a daily fix—and then not just a daily fix, but a MORNING fix, like: make tea, check Amazon and Goodreads—because ‘hey, I should learn to handle the ups and downs.’ And soon, ‘hey, you have to handle the ups and downs.’ And then it became a morning, afternoon, evening, and sometimes in-between fix, and before I knew it I was riding a rollercoaster of joy and disappointment—not just riding, but endlessly repeating, hanging on with heart in throat, and with that same mindset that I’ve assumed keeps any plane I’m on flying (I don’t like flying): that somehow if I concentrate hard enough on surviving, I will. 

Funny how what began as a love for writing was the first thing that fell off the rollercoaster.  Funny how I was the one who put myself on that rollercoaster. 

And then none of it was funny. 

I’ve heard author friends talk about the challenge of beginning a second book, because it did not (yet) hold the emotional importance of their first book, their baby. I came to a dead halt not because the next book didn’t matter as much, but because it mattered too much. Why? I was scared. More to the point: I’d scared myself. I’d begun grading my ability to write based on anyone else’s opinion but my own.  And then it was not just my ability to write but being able to write at all. When I faced the blank page I could only wonder: what makes you think you have the right?

It’s not about right… or privilege, or anything else I could use to talk myself into procrastinating.  It’s about desire. I’d forgotten that part.


It took a few friends, and my patient husband, to help me get off the roller coaster and back on more solid ground. It’s not that fear doesn’t rear its ugly little head, but that’s when I sternly re-focus on what my job is: to write. And then I focus on why I wanted that job: because I love to write. So if any part of this rings true for you, and if—and I hope you don’t—find yourself heading for the amusement ride of inertia, I pass on a few things worth remembering:

  1. Give your book the same way you give a gift.  You hope that the recipient likes it, but beyond that there are no strings attached. For you the part that matters is that you cared enough to share. 
  2. There will be differing opinions on your book. Loved, hated it’s the same book.
  3. Reviewers’ reviews speak more about them than your work—how they’ve interpreted your story is as personal as what you’ve written. With that in mind, there’s always something to be learned if you choose to look.
  4. Good response or not, someone was inspired to read your work. YOUR work! How cool is that?
  5. The book will/will not sell with or without you watching.
  6. If you are just DYING to see what’s happening on Amazon, take a look at someone else’s book stats and cheer them on instead.  Honestly, that works.  All you debut authors out there, you have no idea how happy I am to see your rankings climb toward #1!
  7. Now go back to work.
  8. Accept that you are going to have self-doubts, but go back to work. 
  9. Still feeling that self-doubt?  Set a goal—however many words or pages per day. Set a deadline for all those words and pages to collect.  STICK TO IT.
  10. Need a nudge? National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a great option.  I’m taking the challenge this year as many author friends have raved about the inspiration from a group collectively working.  Here is the link: http://nanowrimo.org


And so… move on.

Here is where Stephen Sondheim comes in.  There’s a song from the second act of Sunday in the Park With George aptly titled “Move On” with lines that speak truly to what you can say to yourself: “…Look at what you want, not at where you are, not at what to be…” 
And perhaps something even better to say: “…Look at what you’ve done, then at what you wantLook at all the things you’ve done for me.

Life will get in the way, mood will get in the way, despair will get in the way, as much as joy.  But move on, move forward, move beyond.  And write… before you make any time to hurt yourself.  


ABOUT THE BOOK

Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh Hardcover Random House Books for Young Readers Released 9/23/2014

Full of romance and nature magic, this debut fantasy is perfect for fans of Shannon Hale, Juliet Marillier, and Kristin Cashore.

“A beautifully realized world, a unique voice, and a compelling, action-packed story. This is a striking debut novel with a lovely folkloric flavor.” —Juliet Marillier, author of Wildwood Dancing

Lark has foreseen two things—she will fall for a young man with sage green eyes,and he will kill her.

Sixteen-year-old Lark Carew is happiest close to home, tending her garden and gathering herbs for medicines. But when her Sight warns her that monsters called Troths will soon invade her village, Lark is summoned on a journey to seek help from the legendary Riders of Tarnec. Little does she suspect that one of the Riders, Gharain, is the very man who has haunted her visions. Or that the people of Tarnec have called her there for another reason: Lark is the Guardian of Life, the first of four Guardians who must awaken their powers to recover four stolen amulets. Together, the amulets—Life, Death, Dark, and Light—keep the world in Balance. To take back the Life amulet, Lark will have to discover her true inner strength and give in to a love that she swears will be her downfall.

Purchase Lark Rising at Amazon
Purchase Lark Rising at IndieBound
View Lark Rising on Goodreads

 About The Author

Sandra Waugh grew up in an old house full of crowded bookshelves, in walking distance of an old library that allowed her to drag home a sack of six books at a time.  It goes without saying, then, that she fell in love with the old house in Litchfield County, Connecticut, because of its many bookshelves, and she lives there now with her husband, two sons, and a dog who snores.  Loudly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

1 Win a Basket of Books for an Underfunded School or Library, Plus #ATPOY and #Talon #Giveaways

Even before Compulsion released, I had a slew of contacts on Facebook, Goodreads, and my website asking for donations of the book for a school or library.

I love libraries. I love teachers who keep books in the classrooms, most often at their own expense. But I can't possibly send books for every request.

I do want to do what I can though, especially for the holidays.

So I'm hosting a Win a Basket of Books giveaway.


Want to win a basket of best-selling books for your school or library? I’ve been getting requests for donations of Compulsion, and with the holiday season coming up, I’ve decided the best present I can give myself is to give something back to schools, teachers, libraries, and librarians. Without them, Compulsion would not exist.
If you know an underfunded school or library in the United States that could use a little help, please nominate them using the form below.
On December 15th, I’ll choose twenty (20) schools or libraries from the nominations, and mail them each a basket of six (6) popular books in time for the holidays. : )
Please help by getting the word out! And if you’d like to donate books, let me know. I’d love to be able to send out more baskets to even more schools and libraries!

News and Squeees!

There have been many lovely moments recently. The whole Compelling Reads tour was amazing, and so many people have been more than kind.

Speaking of Paying It Forward

This week's giveaways include some hot Compulsion swag plus A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU by Claudia Gray plus TALON by Julie Kagawa.





ABOUT THE BOOK


A Thousand Pieces of You
by Claudia Gray
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 11/4/2014

Every Day meets Cloud Atlas in this heart-racing, space- and time-bending, epic new trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Claudia Gray.

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.

Purchase A Thousand Pieces of You at Amazon
Purchase A Thousand Pieces of You at IndieBound
View A Thousand Pieces of You on Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK


Talon
by Julie Kagawa
Hardcover
Harlequin Teen
Released 10/28/2014

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.

Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.

Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey: and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him: and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Purchase Talon at Amazon
Purchase Talon at IndieBound
View Talon on Goodreads


COMPULSION Charm Bookmark, Necklace, and Swag



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 17, 2014

33 Mystery YA Box Giveaway plus New YALit Releases 11/17-11/23

Can you believe there's only one book out this week? It sure is a good one! Since it's a slow week, we're doing a special giveaway.


We're giving away a Mystery Box of recent YA books!!
(released in the last 6 months)

Use the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of the post to enter.

~The Ladies of AYAP
Martina, Alyssa, Lisa, Erin, Jocelyn, Shelly, and Jan

YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Stolen
by Melissa de la Cruz
Hardcover
Putnam Juvenile
Released 11/18/2014

Nat and her drakon are the last of their kind—sworn to protect what their enemies seek to control—and she’s risked her life for their reunion. But fighting for the majestic Blue meant saying goodbye to Wes, breaking both their hearts. Back in New Vegas, citizens are threatened by the resurgence of magic and declare war on all the marked. Wes and his team travel to the extravagant indoor city of El Dorado looking for his sister, but when they are caught on the wrong side of the RSA’s strict new laws, Wes is forced to do the unthinkable—surrender and rejoin the military's quest to uncover the magical source, the same land Nat is struggling to protect. Now he and Nat find themselves on opposing sides of a war that could potentially destroy what’s left of the world.

Purchase Stolen at Amazon
Purchase Stolen at IndieBound
View Stolen on Goodreads

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


* * * *


Revolution
by Jenna Black
Signed Paperback Giveaway
Tor Teen
Released 11/11/2014

Winner - Kimberly Vaccaro

Nadia Lake and Nate Hayes find themselves at the center of a horrifying conspiracy in this action-packed finale of Jenna Black’s SF romance series that began with Replica.

From the author of the Faeriewalker series comes the stunning conclusion to the young adult science fiction thriller series that began with Replica and continued in Resistance.

At the conclusion of Resistance, Nadia Lake and the Replica of her best friend, Nate Hayes, found themselves at the center of a horrifying conspiracy. Framed for murder and wanted by the government, they have no choice but to go underground and seek refuge in the dangerous, gang-ridden slums of the Basement.

Jenna Black brings readers an action-packed final installment that will have them racing to the finish.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Revolution?

My favorite thing about REVOLUTION (at least that I can talk about without giving away horrible spoilers) is how side character Agnes grew and changed throughout the story. When I first introduced her in RESISTANCE, I was expecting her to last only for one book, but then she ended up taking flight with Nate and Nadia. When I was starting REVOLUTION, I was almost looking for a way to get rid of her, because I felt she was something of a distraction. But the more I wrote about her, the more I started to like her and started to see ways that she could take an active role rather than being someone who has to be protected. I loved taking a shy, meek, rule-following girl and making her into a hero.

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The Halcyon Bird
by Kat Beyer
Hardcover Giveaway
EgmontUSA
Released 11/11/2014

Winner - Sara Stevens

For fans of Lauren Kate and Cassandra Clare, a romance with a paranormal streak.

Mia has settled into her life with the Della Torres -- Milan's premier demon-catching family, accompanying them to exorcisms and even learning some way to be useful in the family trade. Then Bernardo comes into her life, handsome, well-mannered, someone who makes her forget her impossible crush on Emilio, her cousin. But always lurking in the background is the demon who possessed Mia once before, and who has not given up on possessing her again--this time for good.

*"Mia has a strong gift for the family trade, which, like the novel's other elements...are portrayed in exquisite, affectionate detail. This one goes to the head of the class." - Kirkus, starred review

"Sets the stage for a thrilling sequel. By the book's close, Mia is armed and ready--she whispers to the demon lurking beyond, 'You'll have to wait. But I'm coming. Believe me, I'm coming.' Readers will be ready, too." - Booklist

"A supernatural novel with a fresh promise, worthy of note." - School Library Journal

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The Name of the Blade
by Zoe Marriott
Hardcover Giveaway
Candlewick
Released 11/11/2014

Winner - Jeanette Green

Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this first book of an epic trilogy from acclaimed fantasy writer Zoë Marriott.

When Mio sneaks the family's katana -- a priceless ancestral sword -- from her parents' attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio -- and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Name of the Blade?

It's a toss up, really. I adore the Kitsune - those are shapeshifting foxes from Japanese myth who can live for thousands of years and also shoot lightning out of their tails. They're reluctant allies of my protagonist, Mio, and I loved writing about them, their strange fascination with humans, their knotty, snarky politics, and their amazing underground kingdom in the spirit realm. However, there's also a moment in the book which I had to fight quite hard with my editors to keep, in which the heroine grows four inches in about thirty seconds and her pants split, revealing her Hello Kitty underwear. I wanted to show that you can like cute pink underwear and also be incredibly kick-ass. And I did eventually win, and the Hello Kitty underwear stayed. So I'm really fond of that, too.


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View The Name of the Blade on Goodreads



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Autumn Falls
by Bella Thorne
Hardcover Giveaway
Delacorte Press
Released 11/11/2014

Winner - Brenda Hoffman

With her fiery red hair, new-girl outsider status, and tendency to be a total klutz, Autumn Falls definitely isn’t flying below the radar at Aventura High. Luckily, she makes some genuine friends who take her under their wing. But she also manages to get on the wrong side of the school’s queen bee, and then finds out the guy she’s started to like, funny and sweet Sean, hangs with the mean crowd. Now her rep and her potential love life are at stake.

When Autumn vents her feelings in a journal that belonged to her late father, suddenly her wildest wishes start coming true. Is it coincidence? Or can writing in the journal solve all her problems? And if the journal doesn’t work that way,  is there a bigger purpose for it—and for her?


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* * * *


Stone Cove Island
by Suzanne Meyers
Advance Review Copy Giveaway
Soho Teen
Released 11/11/2014

Winner - Clarisa Ramirez

The Stepford Wives meets Stephen King in this debut mystery: a sleepy New England beach town is wrecked by a hurricane that reveals an unthinkable 30-year-old secret.

When a catastrophic hurricane devastates Stone Cove Island, a serene New England resort community, everyone pulls together to rebuild. Seventeen-year-old Eliza Elliot volunteers to clean out the island’s iconic lighthouse and stumbles upon a secret in the wreckage: a handwritten, anonymous confession to a thirty-year-old crime.

Bess Linsky’s unsolved murder has long haunted the island, and the letter turns the town inside out. Everyone who knew Bess is suddenly a suspect. Soon Eliza finds herself in the throes of an investigation she never wanted or asked for. As Stone Cove Island fights to recover from disaster, Eliza plunges the locals back into a nightmare they believed was long buried.

Purchase Stone Cove Island at Amazon
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View Stone Cove Island on Goodreads

* * * *


Stranger
by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown
eBook Giveaway 
Viking Juvenile
Released 11/13/2014

Winner - Hannah Clark

Many generations ago, a mysterious cataclysm struck the world. Governments collapsed and people scattered, to rebuild where they could. A mutation, "the Change,” arose, granting some people unique powers. Though the area once called Los Angeles retains its cultural diversity, its technological marvels have faded into legend. "Las Anclas" now resembles a Wild West frontier town… where the Sheriff possesses superhuman strength, the doctor can warp time to heal his patients, and the distant ruins of an ancient city bristle with deadly crystalline trees that take their jewel-like colors from the clothes of the people they killed.

Teenage prospector Ross Juarez’s best find ever – an ancient book he doesn’t know how to read – nearly costs him his life when a bounty hunter is set on him to kill him and steal the book. Ross barely makes it to Las Anclas, bringing with him a precious artifact, a power no one has ever had before, and a whole lot of trouble.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Stranger?

Rachel: My favorite thing about Stranger is that, as its review in Kirkus said, it's a "utopian dystopia" - a post-apocalyptic world that you might actually want to live in. Sure, it has little technology, scarce water, giant tarantulas, nosy neighbors, encroaching empires, and killer trees. But it also has telekinetic squirrels, flying cats, illusion-casting rabbits, live music, lavish parties, and really great food. And while some people will be prejudiced against you if you're poor or have mutant powers, there is absolutely no prejudice on the basis of race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. I'm not sure I'd want to live there, but I'd definitely like to visit. 

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

2 Suzanne Meyers, author of STONE COVE ISLAND, on the meaning of black sweaters

What was your inspiration for writing STONE COVE ISLAND?

STONE COVE ISLAND grew out of a couple of ideas, but here are two things I was thinking about: One was, I wanted to have the main character Eliza put herself in the point of view of her parents at her age, uncovering secrets about who they were then and what was going on in their lives. Eliza gets to understand them as people, beyond seeing them as parents.
 
I’ve also always been curious about what island life is like for the year-rounders who stay after the summer tourists go home. I’d heard stories about an island where the residents live by an unspoken code, and anyone who breaks that code is sent away from the island. On this particular island, if you are sent a black sweater, that means it’s time to go. I thought the idea of these islanders communicating with silent symbols instead of speaking directly was fascinating.

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 used to think action scenes were the hardest to write, but in this book I really enjoyed writing the scenes where Eliza was in danger. There’s one scene where she gets trapped late at night at the marina with a creepy guy, and another where she and Charlie steal a sailboat and have to sail in cold, stormy weather to get off the island. While I was writing both of those, I felt like I was really in it.

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

I guess I would say that if you read this and primarily enjoy the mystery, I would steer you toward classic mysteries by writers like Agatha Christie, PD James, or Dorothy Sayers, all writers I discovered when I was in high school.  If it’s more the atmosphere and characters that appeals, you might like some of E. Lockhart’s books, like WE WERE LIARS and THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS (one of my favorites), or Judy Blundell’s WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED.

How long did you work on STONE COVE ISLAND?

About a year. I spent a long time thinking about the story before I actually started writing.

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

That’s a good question. This was my first mystery (other than screenplays. I’d written a few of those that were mysteries) and I loved how the puzzle of the mystery itself really gave me a solid thread to hang on to. I had to really put myself in Eliza’s shoes and picture what she would know at each point in the story and what her next logical steps would be.

What do you hope readers will take away from STONE COVE ISLAND?

I hope they will like the characters and enjoy the twists and turns.

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

Well, as I said, I had written screenplays and TV scripts and also directed a movie before this.  And I had started another YA book set in a New England boarding school. That one is coming out soon from the same publisher, Soho Press. It’s not exactly a sequel, but there are connections and overlaps with this book.

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?

There was definitely a moment when I switched from writing screenplays to writing novels when I decided this was the thing I had always wanted to do, and I decided to make it my top priority.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc? What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Okay, I’m going to combine these, because my answer kind of addresses both. I don’t have a certain time of day or place where I write. I mostly write at home, unless I feel too distracted or need a change of scene; then I go to a coffee shop across the street where I have been going for about 5 years and have made a point of never learning the WiFi password. But I do try to write every day. I think people create a lot of mystery and superstition around writing that can make writers feel like it’s something magical that’s out of their hands. For me, it was key to figure out that it’s habit more than anything else. It’s like working out or running. It’s really hard to do it once in a while, but if you do it every day and your muscles are used to it, you miss it if you don’t do it. I think writing is a really muscle too. If you are having trouble writing, try setting a number of words to write every day, or an amount of time you are going to sit at your desk and write (even if you just stare at a blank page the whole time). You could also sign up for something like NaNoWriMo (http://nanowrimo.org/), which happens every November.  Whenever I feel discouraged, I think of Graham Greene, who wrote just 500 words a day, every day, and ended up writing more than 25 novels.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a really fun book about a group of kids who live in downtown Manhattan. They get on the subway one day and find their way into a parallel world. It’s very different from the other books I’ve written, more in the tradition of Narnia and fantasy books of that kind.


ABOUT THE BOOK


Stone Cove Island
by Suzanne Meyers
Hardcover
Soho Teen
Released 11/11/2014

The Stepford Wives meets Stephen King in this debut mystery: a sleepy New England beach town is wrecked by a hurricane that reveals an unthinkable 30-year-old secret.

When a catastrophic hurricane devastates Stone Cove Island, a serene New England resort community, everyone pulls together to rebuild. Seventeen-year-old Eliza Elliot volunteers to clean out the island’s iconic lighthouse and stumbles upon a secret in the wreckage: a handwritten, anonymous confession to a thirty-year-old crime.

Bess Linsky’s unsolved murder has long haunted the island, and the letter turns the town inside out. Everyone who knew Bess is suddenly a suspect. Soon Eliza finds herself in the throes of an investigation she never wanted or asked for. As Stone Cove Island fights to recover from disaster, Eliza plunges the locals back into a nightmare they believed was long buried.

Purchase Stone Cove Island at Amazon
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View Stone Cove Island on Goodreads


ABOUT THE AUTHORSuzanne Myers was born in Philadelphia and grew up in Toronto, Canada. She is a graduate of Princeton University and USC Film School. Her film Alchemy won the Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature at the SXSW film festival. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. Stone Cove Island is her first novel.

0 Zoe Marriott, author of THE NAME OF THE BLADE, on writing since the age of eight

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about THE NAME OF THE BLADE?

It's a toss up, really. I adore the Kitsune - those are shapeshifting foxes from Japanese myth who can live for thousands of years and also shoot lightning out of their tails. They're reluctant allies of my protagonist, Mio, and I loved writing about them, their strange fascination with humans, their knotty, snarky politics, and their amazing underground kingdom in the spirit realm. However, there's also a moment in the book which I had to fight quite hard with my editors to keep, in which the heroine grows four inches in about thirty seconds and her pants split, revealing her Hello Kitty underwear. I wanted to show that you can like cute pink underwear and also be incredibly kick-ass. And I did eventually win, and the Hello Kitty underwear stayed. So I'm really fond of that, too.

What was your inspiration for writing THE NAME OF THE BLADE?

The first spark of an idea came from a poem called The Bedpost by Robert Graves. It's about a legendary warrior who is enchanted by a vengeful witch and turned into a post of wood. The post ends up becoming the end of a bed, and the warrior's only hope of escaping from the spell is to whisper stories to the young lady who sleeps in the bed, to try and get her to fall in love with him. Only the poem ends with the warrior still trapped, which I found extremely unsatisfying! I thought 'Someone needs to give that story a better ending!' And then promptly decided the someone should be me.
   
However, the idea for my version of the tale - in which a katana belonging to a British-born-Japanese teenager living in contemporary London contains the spirit of an ancient warrior boy, whom she accidentally frees after taking the sword without her parent's permission to wear to a costume party - evolved due to all the research into Japanese folklore I'd done for my previous book Shadows on the Moon. I didn't really get the opportunity to use many mythical or folkloric elements in that book, and I was dying to. Once I had connected the poem with Japanese mythology in my head, the idea for the whole trilogy exploded in my head.

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?

Normally, I have a list of difficult scenes as long as my arm, and they do tend to be the ones I'm most proud of. THE NAME OF THE BLADE was different. It was what a lot of writers call a 'gift' book, which means it really does feel as if someone has given you a lovely present of this story which unwraps itself in your head as you start to write. So, for me, the most difficult scene was the last section of the book - the final battle where the heroine and her friends go to confront a nine-tailed nekomata to save London - because I was so in the zone that I wrote for nearly eight hours straight and finished the book in one go. I write everything longhand for the first draft, and by the time I'd finished I was in agony. My hand actually swelled up and I had to apply ice. This, by the way, was how I triggered a Repetitive Stress Injury that continues to cause me pain today. However, I still feel so happy and proud of that scene, that I feel as if it was totally worth it!

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

I think this is a difficult one for a writer to answer. Readers often see completely different things in my work than I do. However, I know which stories influenced and inspired me to write THE NAME OF THE BLADE - my first urban fantasy - so probably the best I can do is to list those: The War For the Oaks by Emma Bull, Diana Wynne Jones' urban fantasies including Archer's Goon, The Demon's Lexicon trilogy by Sarah Rees Brennan. Holly Black's Tithe books, and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series.

How long did you work on THE NAME OF THE BLADE?

An astonishingly short time, for me - about four months. Before that, my record was six months, but my average was more like a year.

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

It highlighted something that I already sort of knew about myself, which is that plot is my main weakness as a writer. I love so many aspects of writing, but keeping a sprawling, multi-viewpoint, multi-volume story with three complete plot arcs and too many character arcs to count under control? I hated it. I'm the kind of writer who creates lovingly detailed synopses before beginning work and then completely ignores them. I always have to go back and make drastic changes to the beginning of my books so that they match the endings. Guess what? If the beginning is already published, you can't do that! By book #3 (which is now in edits) I had tied myself into a pretzel trying to keep everything working together and under control. So my lesson is that if I want to write a series or trilogy in the future, I need to make sure each piece is self-contained rather than full of ongoing storylines, for the sake of my own sanity.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE NAME OF THE BLADE?

Well, one of my main aims in writing this trilogy was to create a piece of urban fantasy which was as diverse as possible, which was shaped and informed by that diversity, but without ever being ABOUT diversity. The cast of this book is made up entirely of people of colour. My heroine is British-born-Japanese. Her best friend (who is a viewpoint character in later installments) is mixed race, and is a lesbian. There is a genderfluid, bisexual character (also a viewpoint character in later books). Other genderfluid characters show up later on. But the story is not in any way about the status of any of the characters, nor is it about their so-called 'issues'. It's just about a realistically diverse group of young Londoners having amazing, scary adventures, falling in love and kicking a lot of ass. So hopefully young readers from all backgrounds and living all kinds of lives will take away a message that stories can and should include them, and people different from them too, without exoticising or singling differences out. Everyone deserves to see themselves reflected in fiction, and everyone has stories which deserve to be told. That's a message I'd like to disseminate as widely as possible.

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

Gosh, this is going to make me sound a little sad and obsessed. But here goes. I decided I wanted to be a published writer at the age of eight. I finished my first manuscript (a romantic comedy) at age sixteen. That, and the two further romantic novels I wrote in college, were all summarily rejected (thank heavens!) too, before I realised, aged eighteen, that what I really wanted to write was YA fantasy instead. I completed my first YA novel when I was twenty - it was called BLOOD MAGIC - and that was rejected by every publisher in the UK and two in Australia, too, for good measure. However, an editor at one of the publishing houses that rejected me got in touch, personally, to tell me that he had really liked the manuscript, and that I had a lot of potential. He asked me to send my next book to him when it was finished, and then went on to stay in touch with me for the following year, encouraging me and offering me advice while I wrote 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?
   
Not really! I'm pretty sure that if I ever honestly believe I have figured out the key to writing a novel I'll drop dead the next day. Every novel is different, and so they all have different locks to figure out how to pick. However, the moment when I realised that I needed to be writing fantasy for young people was a huge Eureka! moment. I was reading In the Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce (still my writing hero) at the time, and it felt like being hit with a bolt of lightning. I've never changed my mind about that decision, either, so it was a pretty significant moment for me!

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

This is something which tends to evolve and change a lot, depending on the book, on my mood, on where in the book I am and how well it's going. Usually I try to be in my Writing Cave (which is a tiny box-room in my house) by nine or ten and I'll write through, with a short break for a snack and coffee mid-day, until three or four in the afternoon. I do listen to music. In fact, I usually have a couple of different playlists specifically created for each book, as well as generic playlists called 'Sad' or 'Fight'. I write everything longhand first (I am a stationery addict, and own over fifty blank notebooks at any one time) in bursts of forty minutes to an hour, to try and be kind to my hand and its RSI. After each burst of scribbling I type up and revise my handwritten notes, then go back to scribbling again. An ideal day produces somewhere upwards of two thousand words. However, if I'm feeling blocked or stuck or I need to work something out, I'll often make a change - go hang out in a coffeeshop with my notebook and pencil, or sometimes take a train journey somewhere, since something about train journeys seems to set my creative brain off like nothing else. And sometimes if I have a burst of inspiration I'll type directly into my manuscript and then print it out to revise it later. Being flexible is a good idea. Any routine that becomes too essential can turn into a roadblock later on.

What are you working on now?

We're still revising the final book of THE NAME OF THE BLADE trilogy, but aside from that, my current work in progress is a companion novel to Shadows on the Moon, set in a faerytale version of Japan called the Moonlit Lands. Just as Shadows on the Moon was a revisionist retelling of Cinderella, the new book is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, in which I attempt to reconcile the traditional ideas about that story - that it's about seeing past appearances and falling in love with a person's true, inner self - with the actual events of the tale, which seem to offer a different message about male power and patriarchy. In my version, Beauty is an ordinary village girl who takes to the dark forest to hunt down the beast that attacked her father, in order to save his life. She intends to kill it and free her people from the spell that has held them prisoner for a hundred years. But the beast is harder to find than she expected, and the dark forest holds secrets and spirits far more dangerous than she could ever have imagined.

ABOUT THE BOOK


The Name of the Blade
by Zoe Marriott
Hardcover
Candlewick
Released 11/11/2014

Ancient Japanese gods and monsters are unleashed on modern-day London in this first book of an epic trilogy from acclaimed fantasy writer Zoë Marriott.

When Mio sneaks the family's katana -- a priceless ancestral sword -- from her parents' attic, she just wants to spice up a costume. But the katana is much more than a dusty antique. Awakening the power within the sword unleashes a terrible, ancient evil onto the streets of unsuspecting London. But it also releases Shinobu, a fearless warrior boy, from the depths of time. He helps to protect Mio -- and steals her heart. With creatures straight out of Japanese myths stalking her and her friends, Mio realizes that if she cannot keep the sword safe and learn to control its legendary powers, she will lose not only her own life . . . but the love of a lifetime.

Purchase The Name of the Blade at Amazon
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View The Name of the Blade on Goodreads


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zoe Marriot is the author of YA fantasies The Swan Kingdom, Daughter of the Flames, Shadows on the Moon, and FrostFire, and the upcoming first in the urban fantasy The Name of the Blade trilogy, The Night Itself (Walker Books, Candlewick Press).

Zoe's known that she's wanted to be a writer since she finished reading her first book; 'The Magic Faraway Tree' by Enid Blyton. She was about eight, but she's never changed my mind in all the years since then.

She got her first publishing contract when she was twenty-two, but had to wait until she was twenty-four to see that book published (it was The Swan Kingdom).

She lives in a little house in a town by the sea, with my two rescued cats, one called Hero after a Shakespearian character and one Echo after a nymph from a Greek myth. She also has a springer/cocker spaniel called Finbar (otherwise known as The Devil Hound). You can find out more about her on her website.