Friday, March 27, 2015

0 Free First Five Pages Workshop Opens on April 4!

The First Five Pages March Workshop has come to an end.  This talented group worked so hard on their revisions, and it showed! And they provided great feedback and support to each other, as well. A big thanks to our guest mentor, Patricia Dunn and our guest agent mentor Kimberly Brower, who both gave great comments and suggestions, and of course to all of our fabulous permanent mentors!  

Our April workshop will open for entries at noon, EST, on Saturday April 4, 2015. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements.  Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes right here, and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hasthag #1st5pages.

In addition to our talented permanent mentors, we have the wonderful Becca Puglisi as our guest mentor.  Becca has helped countless writers with her books, website and workshops. I always have her books with me when I write and revise, they are so helpful! And we have my agent, the lovely Amaryah Orenstein of GO Literary, as our guest agent mentor. Amaryah is an editorial agent with great insight and suggestions. So get those pages ready!

April Guest Mentor - Becca Puglisi
Becca Puglisi is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others. This is one of her reasons for writing The Emotion ThesaurusThe Positive Trait Thesaurus, and The Negative Trait Thesaurus. Her website, Writers Helping Writers, is a hub for all things description, offering tons of free resources to aid writers in their literary efforts. A member of SCBWI, she leads workshops at regional conferences and teaches webinars online.

April Guest Agent Mentor - Amaryah Orenstein
Amaryah Orenstein is the founder of GO Literary.  Amaryah has always loved to read and provide editorial advice and, as a literary agent, she is thrilled to help writers bring their ideas to life. She is particularly drawn to narrative non-fiction and memoir but enjoys any book that connects the reader to its characters and evokes thought and feeling. Amaryah began her career at the Laura Gross Literary Agency in 2009 and, prior to that, she worked as an Editorial Assistant at various academic research foundations.

0 Author Andrea Hannah Answers Questions on Ask a Pub Pro

Welcome to our monthly Ask a Pub Pro feature where a publishing professional answers readers and writers' questions regarding the stories they love or their work in progress. This month, Andrea Hannah, the critically acclaimed author of Of Scars and Stardust joins us to answer questions on insta-love, incorporating unusual elements, and writing high action.

We'd love to have you send in your questions for next month's column. Please send questions to AYAPLit AT and put "Ask a Pub Pro Question" in the subject line. If your question is chosen, you'll get to include a link to your social media and a one to two sentence (think Tweet size) blurb of your WIP.

Come on! Get those questions in!

Author Andrea Hannah Answers Questions on "Ask a Pub Pro"

1) I've known a couple of writer friends who have designed unusual elements into their stories, elements they thought helped make the story fresh and unique. But then reviewers would complain that these elements were weird or poorly researched because they didn't understand it. Is it better to avoid any element that's not commonly known so that you don't throw the reader off? Or is this just a problem with some reviewers and not the general reading public? (asked by Sara from TX)

Andrea responds: You can’t write to avoid criticism. Trying to dodge critique will drive you bonkers and cause you to lose an important piece of yourself within your story. Also, where would we be without Harry Potter’s Polyjuice potion, or the Hunger Games’ tracker jackers? Fresh, unique elements are both fun and necessary in story-telling, and world-building would be a lot less fun without them.

That being said, everything in your story needs to have a purpose, one that can’t possibly be replaced by another element. Example: We need that Polyjuice potion in HP, because without it we lose the scene where Harry and Ron sneak into the Slytherin common room, which is critical to the overall narrative. We need those lethal tracker jackers in HG, because they are the catalyst that allow Katniss to get some leverage by grabbing the bow and arrow, and demonstrates Rue’s loyalty to her.

When you’re developing your unique elements, make sure to clearly establish the function and rules of those elements (Ex: we knew right off the bat that the Polyjuice potion had an expiration time) and that it’s clear within the narrative why those elements were essential to those characters, and that their choice to use or destroy them is in line with their character. And above all else, stay true to who your character is, the world they inhabit, and who you are as a writer.

2) I've heard writers say that in high intensity/high action scenes that you decrease the level of detail. I've also heard the opposite, that you should show more detail as if things are happening in slow motion. What do you think? (asked by Anonymous)
image credit

Andrea responds: I think it’s a combination of both. Firstly, if you’re writing from a first person POV, that means you’re writing every scene as if we’re experiencing in real time, with your character. If your character is in the midst of kicking some butt, they probably aren’t stopping to notice the color of the sky or the flecks in their attacker’s eyes. It’s called mimic writing, and it’s where you mimic the actions of the writing through the length of your prose. High action usually means short, clipped sentences. Think of how you’d talk if you were out of breath.

But what really brings an action scene to life is the specific details you do choose to incorporate, not the amount. Choose your details carefully to convey as much about the scene as you can in a powerful way. The spots of blood dotting his chin. The crumpled patch of grass where his sword fell. Really be there, and observe the details in your scene. Then bring us with you!

3) I've heard a lot of people complaining about the insta-love in a lot of young adult books. Yet readers seems to really want the romance to heat up quickly. How do you incorporate the romance without making it insta-love? (asked by Renee in NC)

Andrea responds: I don’t think insta-love is the problem, especially since we’re writing about and for teens, and sometimes, this is how they fall in love (and adults, too)! I think readers are generally sick of feeling that insta-love is used as a plot device instead of an actual experience the character is going through. Look, people fall in love in all sorts of ways in all sorts of timeframes, and all are plausible. When you’re writing your characters, just make sure you know who they are, if it would make sense for them to have that kind of reaction to another human being, and stay true to that. Your readers will be able to feel the genuineness of your characters, and they’ll appreciate your writing for it.

About the Author:

Andrea Hannah lives in the Midwest, where there are plenty of dark nights and creepy cornfields as fodder for her next thriller. Her critically-acclaimed debut novel, Of Scars and Stardust, was published by Flux in October 2014. She graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in special education. When she’s not teaching or writing, she spends her time chasing her sweet children and ornery pug, running, and dreaming up her next adventure. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @andeehannah, and at

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:
After the attack that leaves her little sister, Ella, close to death in a snowy cornfield, Claire Graham is sent to live with her aunt in Manhattan to cope. But the guilt of letting Ella walk home alone that night still torments Claire, and she senses the violence that preyed on her sister hiding around every corner. Her shrink calls it a phobia. Claire calls it the truth.

When Ella vanishes two years later, Claire has no choice but to return to Amble, Ohio, and face her shattered family. Her one comfort is Ella’s diary, left in a place where only Claire could find it. Drawing on a series of cryptic entries, Claire tries to uncover the truth behind Ella’s attack and disappearance. But she soon realizes that not all lost things are meant to be found.

Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

-- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2 Agent Lydia Moëd of The Rights Factory On Getting to the Point and Why It's All About World Building

Lydia Moëd is an associate agent at The Rights Factory in Toronto. She came to Canada from the UK, where she worked as a foreign rights executive for UK children’s publishers. She has also worked as a freelance literary translator and editor, and as a bookseller at Foyles in London. In addition to handling foreign rights for The Rights Factory's children's and YA list, she is also building her own list of clients for representation. You can read her blog at, and follow her on Twitter as @LydiaMoed.

What genres are you drawn to most?

I’m drawn to books in any genre that transport me - to another world, another planet, a different time or a foreign country. I have been known to read books set here and now occasionally, but every book on my list is set in some form of Elsewhere, and that’s how I like it.

What is on your wish list?

I say this all the time, but I think it’s important so I’m saying it again: I’m looking for different perspectives. Anybody who is interested in making my favourite genres less white, straight, and abled/ablist, who can contribute religious diversity or neurodiversity or any other kind of diversity, is particularly welcome to query me.

I’m interested in YA science fiction and fantasy as long as it isn’t too trope-y (no love triangles please). I’m always looking for well-researched historical fiction set in a less familiar time and place, and I’d be interested to see some alt-history with an unusual point of divergence from actual history. I keep a specific wish list on my blog here:

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

I love it when people get straight to the point. I don’t need any ‘I am querying you because…’ or any waffle about potential marketing opportunities or why you think your book would be successful – just hit me with your pitch and let it speak for itself. I need to see good writing, obviously, and I like a bio that gives a hint of the author’s personality – I want to know that you’re the kind of person I’ll enjoy working with.

What are some of the worst things you've seen in a query?

This is more of a ‘pet peeve’ than a ‘worst thing’, but I really hate insincere personalisation. When people have read somewhere that personalising your query is paramount, but they haven’t really stopped to think about how to do it effectively, they’ll often open their query with ‘I am querying you because of your love of urban fantasy’ or whatever (NB I don’t actually like urban fantasy and yet I see this exact opener pretty regularly). If you don’t have a real reason why you think we would be a good fit for one another, shoving in a throwaway sentence like that is not going to convince me that you do. As I said above, I don’t actually care that much about whether a query is explicitly personalised or not, so if you’re going to say something, say something sincere.

Character, world, or plot? 

Obviously all three are important, blah blah, but the one that grabs my attention most as an agent is actually world. Plenty of writers can write a good plot, a decent number can create characters that readers can connect with, but a unique and immersive world shows up in my slush pile very rarely, and when one does I find it hard to let it go.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

11 The Found-Art Mosaic of Storytelling, a WOW-Wednesday Post by S.P. Sipal

Gabi & her crows
Did you hear the news story that was going the rounds a couple of weeks ago about the young girl in Seattle who has been feeding the crows in her backyard for years and they repay her kindness with gifts? From buttons to broken beer glass to paperclips to a Lego piece, the crows bring the mini-human who feeds them faithfully the plunder of their scavenging. And she saves, documents, and treasures each one.

Perhaps it is because I have a backyard full of crows, or because my own daughter has always had a fascination with birds (or any animal for that matter), but this story really touched my heart. However, when I looked at the picture of some of Gabi's prized gifts, it was my imagination that was stirred. I saw something else...pieces for a mosaic.

crow gifts
Mosaics, traditionally made from shards of colored glass or stones, may have always been a product of recycling, even in ancient times. But recently, a new practice of "found-art" mosaics has grown in popularity. Taking bits and pieces of our discarded culture, of items considered worthless trash, these artists create stunning images that also say something about the way we live.

Much as Gabi's crows have done for her and the people who've heard her story. From birds usually seen as pests, comes a collection of debris a young girl treasures as priceless. A lovely mosaic is formed of the surprising connection that is still possible between human and nature when we pay attention.

So much of storytelling, it seems to me, is built upon feeding the crows. In the beginning, as fledgling writers, we flit about on the changing winds of craft and market, trying to find our way. We gather nuggets of advice, some good, some bad, and hoard it close, hoping to come upon the one piece that will transform us from ugly duckling to published author.

For most of us, time passes...and passes...and passes. Yet if we keep faithfully feeding our muse, writing new stories, making connections with other writers, living a full live, and always observing the people we interact with...then somewhere down the line, our crow of a muse may just gift us with one shiny, ocean-rubbed piece of glass. A request for a full. Or perhaps a sale of a short story.

Encouraged that this muse we thought had bird brains has finally been paying attention, we seek her guidance faithfully. And, eventually, the scattered shards of our writer's life comes together to form a beautiful picture. A sale of a novel. A touching letter from a fan.

By Found-Art Artist: Jane Perkins
And this is the point, it seems to me, where the gathering transcends our personal interests. For while we have been crafting our writer's life, we have also been gluing together the elements of our story. The tip of the hat from the old man at our corner grocer that works its way into our character's goodbye. The clean trace of a tear (last seen on our child) through a soot-covered cheek of our firefighter hero. The rough shards that make up the work we create are brought forth from a faithful feeding of of our muse. Authentic storytelling emerges from the life we live...more fully when we pay attention...and touches the lives of people beyond ourselves.

Writing can be a long and lonely road. But gradually, if we're patient, and if we keep feeding the crows, and value the bits and pieces of experience and connection they bring us, then one day we can piece together all these shiny discards into something harmonious. An amazing found-art mosaic of Story.

To celebrate the release of Southern Fried Wiccan, I am giving away a beautiful bee pendant. The honey bee was a symbol of Artemis of Ephesus, who greatly influenced my young heroine, Cilla. This handcrafted pendant also symbolizes the shards of inspiration that come together to form a a beautiful mosaic.

Pendant Crafted by Minerva Mosaics

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And "bee" sure to check out another giveaway on my home blog for a Turkish tea set!

About the Book:
Southern Fried Wiccan by S.P. Sipal
Cilla Swaney is thrilled to return stateside, where she can hang up her military-brat boots for good. Finally, she'll be free to explore her own interests--magick and Wicca. But when she arrives at her grandma's farm, Cilla discovers that life in the South isn't quite what she expected. At least while country hopping, she never had to drink G-ma's crazy fermented concoctions, attend church youth group, make co-op deliveries...or share her locker with a snake-loving, fire-lighting, grimoire-stealing Goth girl...

...Who later invites her to a coven that Cilla's not sure she has the guts to attend. But then Emilio, the dark-haired hottie from her charter school, shows up and awakens her inner goddess. Finally, Cilla starts believing in her ability to conjure magick. Until...

...All Hades breaks loose. A prank goes wrong during their high school production of Macbeth, and although it seems Emilio is to blame, Cilla and Goth may pay the price. Will Cilla be able to keep the boy, her coven, and the trust of her family? Or will this Southern Wiccan get battered and fried?

Amazon | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About the Author:
S.P. Sipal

Born and raised in North Carolina, Susan Sipal had to travel halfway across the world and return home to embrace her father and grandfather’s penchant for telling a tall tale. After having lived with her husband in his homeland of Turkey for many years, she suddenly saw the world with new eyes and had to write about it.

Perhaps it was the emptiness of the Library of Celsus at Ephesus that cried out to be refilled, or the myths surrounding the ancient Temple of Artemis, but she’s been writing stories filled with myth and mystery ever since. She can’t wait to share Southern Fried Wiccan with readers.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

15 Leave Room for Magic in Plotting by Writing a Short Discovery Draft PLUS a Giveaway of ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER

I was doing a panel at the fabulous New York City Teen Author Festival last week, and I mentioned that my current writing process includes a short discovery draft rather than a traditional outline. I received several tweets asking about that, so I promised to provide a brief how-to.

My first pass pages (the first read-through of a typeset manuscript) is due today for PERSUASION, so this is going to be very quick and dirty, but that's probably appropriate. The whole point of a discovery draft is to pour the story out.

I'll admit, too, that I used to call the discovery draft an outline. I would start writing it based on the my Plot Complications Worksheet, but I only seem to be able to outline action, so wherever I had to reveal information or have an emotional scene between characters, I had to write the dialogue out to see what would happen.

Long story short (or not, as the case may be) my "outlines" ran thirty to forty thousand words! That sounds crazy, but there are a number of benefits.

  1. The draft is still short enough to allow for easier analysis after the words have all spilled out.  
  2. I have an opportunity to really discover my characters.
  3. I don't have to censor myself or worry about editing words as I write.
  4. I can get the story out in a matter of days or weeks and know whether it is going to work.
  5. I can easily boil down the discovery draft into a standard synopsis.
  6. The draft is easy to expand into a full manuscript that's far less messy than a standard first or second draft.
For me, the discovery draft is really the best of both the plotting and pantsing worlds.

Now that I have some experience under my belt, I've also found that I can guide myself through the story with ten simple story plot points:

  1. Snapshot of BEFORE -- a scene or two that introduces the main character within her current environment, shows us who she is, what she dreams of, what she is up against, and also suggests what she needs to change.
  2. Jumpstart for Action -- also called the "inciting incident," the jumpstart is the event that will (in the next section) lead to a decision to aim for change. This sets the story goal, and the jumpstart is where you first get to show whether you are going to have a reluctant protagonist or an active one. Is your character the one who discovers that change is necessary and goes after it because she has set a goal for herself? Or is she pushed into change by outside forces or other characters?
  3. New Direction and No Going Back -- this is the first turning point, where the character is now aware that change is necessary because she cannot live in the status quo and she must do whatever is necessary to achieve the goal that was revealed in the jumpstart. This is also where we first see that she understands (or thinks she understands) the stakes and the consequences for failure. In making the decision, she demonstrates that what she has encountered has altered her perception of herself and her world in some way, so that she takes some action that she would not have taken before, and that action is irrevocable.
  4. Testing the Waters -- Having crossed the point of no-return so that she cannot extricate herself without dire consequences, the protagonist has to keep going. Step by step, she works toward the goal, meeting helpers and mentors who will assist her, meeting antagonists and minions who will work against her, and amassing knowledge that will bring her closer to her goal.
  5. The Big Twist -- At the midpoint of the story, what the protagonist thought she knew is suddenly turned on its head. The goal proves to have been only part of what is necessary, or it proves to be a false goal, or the situation is far more dire than the protagonist originally thought. But there's no way that she can get out of it now.  
  6. False Hope and Disaster -- Despite the added complications, the protagonist thinks she has a chance to win and wrap things up. Her plan is lining up nicely, she's almost there, but oops. Not so fast. The antagonist or forces working against her prove to be far more powerful and complicated than she expected. 
  7. Overcoming Deep Despair -- Having pretty much ruined everything, the protagonist wallows in despair and sees no way out. Before she can find a real solution, she has to get through the emotional black moment that pushes her into the character change she will need in order to finally achieve success. This is the crucible in which her new (winning) character is forged and she finds the strength within herself to keep on fighting.
  8. The Battle Royale -- The final battle between the protagonist and the forces allied against her. She must summon everything she has, every internal strength and external weapon. Will she succeed? Partially succeed? Lose but live on to fight another day?
  9. Cleaning it Up -- What happens after the battle? What are the consequences and the remaining steps to be taken after the big bad has been defeated or your protagonist has failed? Here's where you wrap up all the loose ends and minor plots.
  10. Snapshot of AFTER -- What does the world look like with the Big Bad gone? What is life like for your protagonist in this new world and how is this a change from the snapshot of BEFORE?  This is where you get to show your audience what "happily ever after," "more work to do," or "damn, I've really screwed this up" looks like for your protagonist. 

So that's it. The no-outline outline that leaves plenty of room for the magic of pantsing. It seems to work for me, and I hope you may find it helpful as another option for your writing toolbox. Ultimately, obviously, there's no right or wrong way to write. We all have to do what feels comfortable for us, and sometimes that can change from book to book.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? How do you leave room for magic?


by Stephanie Perkins

Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last? 

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart. 

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 23, 2015

17 FIVE Giveaways plus New YALit Releases 3/23 - 3/29 with Author Interviews

Now that Spring is officially here, we hope it's starting to warm up in your area so you can enjoy reading outside. There are a lot of great books releasing this week. Which one would you like to read while soaking up some sun? Leave a comment and let us know!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Martina, Jan, Shelly, Susan, Lisa, and Erin


* * * *

by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan
Hardcover Giveaway 
Released 3/24/2015

This heart-pounding final book in the Wasteland trilogy is filled with dramatic twists and turns!

No one dares leave the District—the towering structure of glass and steel that is their protection against the unruly bands of Outsiders that roam Mundreel and the deadly rain that carries the disease that kills all over the age of nineteen.

This skyscraper stands amid the urban devastation, the city rumored to have once been called “Montreal.” Esther and her allies have created a haven on the rooftop, a garden that flourishes, and a home for her new baby, hidden from all but the very few who know her secret.

But as Gideon’s power grows and factions form, an unlikely leader learns to control every action of the District’s people. As the ultimate darkness is born from greed, Esther must find a way to save the citizens from themselves.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Guardians?

Susan: I have to say, while we’ve had a bunch of pretty nasty villains in the first two books, I really love the bad guys in GUARDIANS. Gideon and Saith are different from each other in many ways: he’s a cool and logical teenaged boy and she’s an emotionally manipulative little girl. In fact, he doesn’t even take her seriously at first. But both of them are ruthless and actually pretty brilliant, despite their differences; and even though they don’t really like each other, they recognize that together, they can be an unstoppable team, exploiting the fears and weaknesses of others. They’re even capable of sizing up Esther and nearly bringing her to her knees… but not quite! 

Laurence: Of course, I agree about the villains, because their parts are juicy and entertaining. At the same time, I like that we were able to show Esther “doing good” while still keeping her a flawed and recognizable human being, as she has been all along. To show someone trying to help others and not be an ideal or a cliché is a challenge. I’m glad that we gave equal weight to the light and dark parts of the story, and that we kept the light parts from getting too sappy and the dark from getting too ugly. It’s a balance, as it is in life.

Purchase Guardians at Amazon
Purchase Guardians at IndieBound
View Guardians on Goodreads

* * * *

Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You
by Todd Hasak-Lowy
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. and Canada 
Simon Pulse
Released 3/24/2015

A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!

Darren hasn't had an easy year.

There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.

Then one Thursday morning Darren's dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.

Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy's debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:
1. painful
2. unavoidable
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You?

So this is an unusual book, in that the entire thing is written in lists. Which is how I wrote it from the beginning. And that was a lot of fun for me, especially early on. In many ways it was my main focus during the first draft (Okay that list is done, what list should be next?). I wanted to know--after stumbling upon the technique: Is it possible to write an entire novel in lists?

Well, the answered turned out to be "yes." What was less obvious was the answer to a more crucial question: Is it possible to write a good novel in lists? Or to be more specific: Is it possible to write this kind of unconventional novel and still tell an engaging story populated by characters that feel real? It took a while (about seven substantive drafts) until I got to the point where I could answer that second question in the affirmative. And so that's my favorite thing about this book, it tells a story in a highly unusual way, but not at the expense of the story itself. Just the opposite, in fact, as I like to think many readers will find that the reading experience changes their ideas about the possibilities of otherwise "realistic" YA fiction.

Purchase Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You at Amazon
Purchase Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You at IndieBound
View Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You on Goodreads

* * * *

Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves
by Ann Angel
Hardcover Giveaway 
U.S. Only
Released 3/24/2015

Fifteen top young-adult authors let us in on provocative secrets in a fascinating collection that will have readers talking.

A baby no one knows about. A dangerous hidden identity. Off-limits hookups. A parent whose problems your friends won’t understand. Everyone keeps secrets—from themselves, from their families, from their friends—and secrets have a habit of shaping the lives around them. Acclaimed author Ann Angel brings together some of today’s most gifted YA authors to explore, in a variety of genres, the nature of secrets: Do they make you stronger or weaker? Do they alter your world when revealed? Do they divide your life into what you'll tell and what you won't? The one thing these diverse stories share is a glimpse into the secret self we all keep hidden.

With stories by:
Ann Angel
Kerry Cohen
Louise Hawes
Varian Johnson
erica l. kaufman
Ron Koertge
E. M. Kokie
Chris Lynch
Kekla Magoon
Zoë Marriott
Katy Moran
J. L. Powers
Mary Ann Rodman
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Ellen Wittlinger

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves?

My favorite thing about the book is the diversity of the stories and the way they demonstrate that some secrets define a character, and some determine who the characters believes they are or who they will become. But I also am so totally in love with the art on this book's cover that the first time I saw it, my reaction was to get totally teary.

Purchase Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves at Amazon
Purchase Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves at IndieBound
View Things I'll Never Say: Stories About Our Secret Selves on Goodreads

* * * *

Boarding School Girls
by Helen Eve
Hardcover Giveaway 
U.S. and Canada
St. Martin's Griffin
Released 3/24/2015

Siena, older sister to Stella, battles to fulfill her mother's vicarious ambitions and to retain her place at Temperley High's social epicentre.

Worshipped, envied, desired, and feared by all, Siena Hamilton reigns over Temperley High, the embodiment of the Hamilton legacy. She and the Starlets may still be healing from the unfortunate and horrible events of that night, at the end of last year, but nothing can shake her place as the head of Temperley’s elite any longer. The Starlets are nothing if not adept at dealing with traitors, and Siena is her mother's daughter: she knows how to be perfect, and she will not disappoint. There is only one person who could possibly get in her way…

Romy, former Starlet, is back—back from a mutually-agreed-upon term away, in France—and no one is happy about it, least of all herself. She's changed now, though. She's trying harder to be normal, to dress appropriately, to blend in, to keep her head down and keep the secret of what really happened that night safe and hidden. But when your former best friends are untouchable, and you've betrayed them, you don't just get to come back—even if you're beginning to think they might not have been your friends in the first place.

In this prequel to Helen Eve's first novel Stella, revenge runs deep, old wounds break open, and the past can never, never be outrun.

Purchase Boarding School Girls at Amazon
Purchase Boarding School Girls at IndieBound
View Boarding School Girls on Goodreads

* * * *

The Tightrope Walkers
by David Almond
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only 
Released 3/24/2015

International award winner David Almond draws on memories of his early years in Tyneside, England, for a moving coming-of-age novel, masterfully told.

A gentle visionary coming of age in the shadow of the shipyards of northern England, Dominic Hall is torn between extremes. On the one hand, he craves the freedom he feels when he steals away with the eccentric girl artist next door, Holly Stroud—his first and abiding love—to balance above the earth on a makeshift tightrope. With Holly, Dom dreams of a life different in every way from his shipbuilder dad’s, a life fashioned of words and images and story. On the other hand, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to the brutal charms of Vincent McAlinden, a complex bully who awakens something wild and reckless and killing in Dom. In a raw and beautifully crafted bildungsroman, David Almond reveals the rich inner world of a boy teetering on the edge of manhood, a boy so curious and open to impulse that we fear for him and question his balance—and ultimately exult in his triumphs.

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Pretty Wanted
by Elisa Ludwig
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 3/17/2015

Winner - Christina Condomaros

Pretty Wanted is Elisa Ludwig’s rollicking finale to the Pretty Crooked trilogy, a series filled with moxie, romance, and heart that’s perfect for fans of Ally Carter or Sara Shepard.

When Willa skipped probation and hit the California highway to find her mom, she discovered a dark family secret: Joanne Fox is not who she says she is—and neither is Willa. Now Willa and her hot partner in crime, Aidan, must race to St. Louis, Missouri, where they hope to find answers about Willa’s past. But uncovering the truth requires solving a decades-old murder case. Unfortunately, the perps are still out there . . . and willing to do whatever it takes to keep the case cold.

Willa’s only hope is to find the truth before it finds her first.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Pretty Wanted?

My favorite thing about PRETTY WANTED is the way the story widens into a much bigger mystery, and the ways Willa grows as she's challenged to figure out the truth.

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by Lydia Kang
Kathy Dawson Books
Released 3/24/2015

For fans of Uglies and The Maze Runner comes a complex, thrill-filled love story that will make you question exactly what it means to be human.

In the past year Zel lost her father, the boy she loves, her safety, and any future she might have imagined for herself. Now she, her sister, and the band of genetic outcasts they've come to call their family are forced on the run when their safe house is attacked by men with neural guns. But on the way to a rumored haven in Chicago, Zel hears something--a whisper from Cy, the boy who traded himself for her sister's safety. And when she veers off plan in order to search for him, what she finds is not what she expected. There's more to their genetic mutations than they ever imagined...aspects that make them wonder if they might be accepted by the outside world after all.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Catalyst?

Sometimes I like to hide Easter Eggs inside my books (as I did with CONTROL, which is full of Pride and Prejudice references). In CATALYST, I paid homage to my high school English teachers who had us read lots and lots of plays. Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie is the Easter Egg in CATALYST. You don't have to look hard to see the symbolism and references to the play. :)

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Liars, Inc.
by Paula Stokes
HarperTeen Released 

For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV's How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

Can Max find the real killer before he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit? In a story that Kirkus Reviews called "Captivating to the very end," Paula Stokes starts with one single white lie and weaves a twisted tale that will have readers guessing until the explosive final chapters.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Liars, Inc.?

LIARS, INC. is a dark mystery about kids who lie and lies that lead to murder. All of the main characters in this book have secrets. All of them behave deplorably at times. I know in the real world people sometimes do bad things or commit crimes for what feels like random reasons, but that doesn't work for me as a reader. My favorite thing about LIARS, INC. is the motivations that drive each of my main characters, and how at the end of the book when all has been revealed, their actions feel like natural consequences of their personalities, histories, and previous experiences. Nothing in this book is random. Everything is calculated or connected in some way.

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We All Looked Up
by Tommy Wallach
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 3/24/2015

Four high school seniors put their hopes, hearts, and humanity on the line as an asteroid hurtles toward Earth in this contemporary novel.

They always say that high school is the best time of your life.

Peter, the star basketball player at his school, is worried “they” might actually be right. Meanwhile Eliza can’t wait to escape Seattle—and her reputation—and perfect-on-paper Anita wonders if admission to Princeton is worth the price of abandoning her real dreams. Andy, for his part, doesn’t understand all the fuss about college and career—the future can wait.

Or can it? Because it turns out the future is hurtling through space with the potential to wipe out life on Earth. As these four seniors—along with the rest of the planet—wait to see what damage an asteroid will cause, they must abandon all thoughts of the future and decide how they’re going to spend what remains of the present.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about We All Looked Up?

If you're asking what I'm most proud of in WALU, I think it's the interplay of the various perspectives. When I've gone back and re-read the book for copy edits, I'm a little amazed at how well it all came together. Basically, I didn't want to show the same event from multiple angles (it worked well in Rashomon, but it's a recipe for boredom in most fiction), but I liked the idea that we were still occasionally getting two people's take on the same event. The fragmentation of the narrative pretty much required the structure and order of chapters that I ended up with, so in many ways, it's just dumb luck that I was able to create exactly the thing I wanted from the beginning. I love those little moments where you suddenly realize you're reading a line of dialogue you read in another chapter, and you've just caught up with some earlier scene that now makes a bit more sense.

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Boys Don't Knit
by T. S. Easton
Hardcover Feiwel & Friends
Released 3/24/2015

Knitting is a man’s game.

After an incident regarding a crossing guard and a bottle of Martini & Rossi (and his bonehead friends), 17-year-old worrier Ben Fletcher must develop his sense of social alignment, take up a hobby, and do some community service to avoid any further probation.

He takes a knitting class (it was that or his father’s mechanic class) under the impression that it's taught by the hot teacher all the boys like. Turns out, it’s not. Perfect.

Regardless, he sticks with it and comes to find that he’s a natural knitter, maybe even great. It even helps ease his anxiety and worrying. The only challenge now is to keep it hidden from his friends, his crush, and his soccer-obsessed father. What a tangled web Ben has weaved . . . or knitted.

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Finding Mr. Brightside
by Jay Clark
Henry Holt and Co.
Released 3/24/2015

Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell.

To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.

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Half Wild
by Sally Green
Hardcover Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 3/24/2015

"You will have a powerful Gift, but it’s how you use it that will show you to be good or bad."

In a modern-day England where two warring factions of witches live amongst humans, seventeen-year-old Nathan is an abomination, the illegitimate son of the world's most powerful and violent witch. Nathan is hunted from all sides: nowhere is safe and no one can be trusted. Now, Nathan has come into his own unique magical Gift, and he's on the run--but the Hunters are close behind, and they will stop at nothing until they have captured Nathan and destroyed his father.

The Half Bad trilogy has been translated into 47 languages. TIME Magazine calls it "highly entertaining and dangerously addictive." Kate Atkinson says it's "brilliant and utterly compelling." London's Daily Telegraph has named author Sally Green "the new J.K. Rowling." Discover the story that readers all over the world are raving about.

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In the Time of Dragon Moon
by Janet Lee Carey
Hardcover Kathy Dawson Books
Released 3/24/2015

An epic fantasy about dragons, dark secrets, Pendragons, and magic.

On the southernmost tip of Wilde Island--far from the Dragonswood sanctuary and the Pendragon Castle--live the native Euit people. Uma, who is half Euit and half English, and not fully accepted by her tribe, wants to become a healer like her Euit father. But the mad English queen in the north, desperate for another child, kidnaps Uma and her father and demands that he cure her barrenness. After her father dies, Uma must ensure that the queen is with child by the time of the Dragon Moon, or be burned at the stake.

Terrified and alone, Uma reaches out to her only possible ally: the king's nephew Jackrun, a fiery dragonrider with dragon, fairy, and human blood. Together, they must navigate through a sea of untold secrets, unveil a dark plot spawned long ago in Dragonswood, and find a way to accept all the elements--Euit, English, dragon, and fairy--that make them who they are.

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The Door in the Moon
by Catherine Fisher
Hardcover Dial Books
Released 3/24/2015

This New York Times bestselling author once again shows us that she is a master of world-building and surprising plot-twists. The vast, intricate world, fascinating revelations, and unexpected turns in the final book of the Obsidian Mirror trilogy will appeal to readers of Cassandra Claire, and will satisfy existing fans fully.

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The Walls Around Us
by Nova Ren Suma
Algonquin Young Readers
Released 3/24/2015

“Ori’s dead because of what happened out behind the theater, in the tunnel made out of trees. She’s dead because she got sent to that place upstate, locked up with those monsters. And she got sent there because of me.”

On the outside, there’s Violet, an eighteen-year-old dancer days away from the life of her dreams when something threatens to expose the shocking truth of her achievement.

On the inside, within the walls of the Aurora Hills juvenile detention center, there’s Amber, locked up for so long she can’t imagine freedom.

Tying their two worlds together is Orianna, who holds the key to unlocking all the girls’ darkest mysteries . . . What really happened on the night Orianna stepped between Violet and her tormentors?

What really happened on two strange nights at Aurora Hills? Will Amber and Violet and Orianna ever get the justice they deserve—in this life or in another one?

In prose that sings from line to line,Nova Ren Suma tells a supernatural tale of guilt and of innocence, and of what happens when one is mistaken for the other.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

0 N. K. Traver, author of DUPLICITY, on fun side projects

We're delighted to have N. K. Traver here today with her debut novel DUPLICITY.

N. K. , how long did you work on DUPLICITY?

I’m not entirely sure, to be honest. When the idea for DUPLICITY struck me, I had just finished a major round of edits on what was supposed to be my “real book” – a YA fantasy I was certain I would debut with. DUPLICITY was the fun side project I was going to write just for me. I wrote two-thirds of it in a month, over the Christmas holidays (I still want to go back to my past self and yell, HOW DID YOU DO THIS?), then I went back to the “real book” for more edits. It would be 10 more months before I returned to DUPLICITY, rewrote the opening, and finished it. I then worked on revising it with my critique partners for about five months before it caught my agent’s eye. Considering the edits I did with her, and my editor, I think that’s a really long way of saying 9-10 months?

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

Writing DUPLICITY was really freeing. Because it started as a fun side project, I didn’t worry about what my family/friends might think or whether everything I was writing was perfect. I had recently finished Patrick Ness’s phenomenal CHAOS WALKING series, which had me thinking a lot about voice and how to infuse it into my own work. So I played around with that, too. I switched DUPLICITY from third person multiple to first point of view, and suddenly I had a character that sounded unlike anything I’d ever written.

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?

If someone finds this key, please, please let me know because I’m still looking. Each book I’ve written so far has had its own challenges, and each involved a drastically different level of planning and revision. HEY WAIT. I think I just found it! It’s a pretty brass thing and on the side it says, DON’T GIVE UP.


Duplicity by N. K. Traver
Thomas Dunne Books
Released 3/17/2015

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both. 

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

 Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something—washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

 And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and no one will even know he's gone. 

Huffington Post lists N.K. Traver's Duplicity as part of one of the great YA book trends to look for in 2015!
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As a freshman at the University of Colorado, N.K. Traver decided to pursue Information Technology because classmates said "no one could make a living" with an English degree. It wasn’t too many years later Traver realized it didn’t matter what the job paid—nothing would ever be as fulfilling as writing. Programmer by day, writer by night, it was only a matter of time before the two overlapped. Traver's debut, DUPLICITY, a cyberthriller pitched as BREAKING BAD meets THE MATRIX for teens, releases from Thomas Dunne Books on 3/17/15.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

0 Lisa Freeman, author of HONEY GIRL, on Tragedy, Hawaii, and Writing

Please welcome Lisa Freeman with her debut novel HONEY GIRL.

Lisa, what was your inspiration for writing HONEY GIRL?

Although I never lived in Hawaii, my father’s business took us there so frequently that it felt like my home away from home. I learned to hula, listened to Hawaii calls, and played a ukulele. When I was 16, my father died after several heart attacks. It was an inconceivable loss. My whole world turned upside down and Hawaii was erased off the map. Although my family didn’t live on Oahu, it was the place I felt most at home. I confidently fit in with my dark hair, eyes, and skin from spending day after day in the tropical sun. Where I grew up in Southern California, the beach was dominated by blonde-haired, blue-eyed locals. My journey of learning to assimilate while coping with the loss of my father was the inspiration behind Honey Girl and what makes this novel semi-autobiographical.

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?

In the early drafts of Honey Girl, Nani’s father died toward the end of the book. Writing the scene was impossible, and I finally remedied the whole situation by having him die before the book starts. One of my favorite scenes is in Chapter 26 when Rox starts actually ingesting food. Don’t want to be a spoiler, so excuse my generality.

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 very simple. When I have time, I do it without apology. I work in a studio split between one very bright room under a 100-year-old pepper tree, and a dark room with one small window, which my family has fondly nicknamed “The Cave.” That’s where I write. Every morning I go into The Cave, sit down at my desk with blank white paper and a pen, and turn on music without lyrics or in another language to help me focus. When I was working on Honey Girl, I watched surf movies and hula competitions such as the Merrie Monarch Festivals to remind me of the place I love most in the world: Hawaii.

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

Write every day, even if it’s only a sentence.

What are you working on now?

Currently, I am working on a paranormal romance called Prove 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?

My AHA! moment was when I finally agreed with what every publisher was telling me. Honey Girl was YA.


Honey Girl
by Lisa Freeman
Sky Pony Press
Released 3/17/2015

How to survive California's hottest surf spot: Never go anywhere without a bathing suit. Never cut your hair. Never let them see you panic.

The year is 1972. Fifteen-year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is transplanted from her home in Hawaii to Santa Monica, California after her father’s fatal heart attack. Now the proverbial fish-out-of-water, Nani struggles to adjust to her new life with her alcoholic white (haole) mother and the lineup of mean girls who rule State Beach.

Following “The Rules”—an unspoken list of dos and don’ts—Nani makes contact with Rox, the leader of the lineup. Through a harrowing series of initiations, Nani not only gets accepted into the lineup, she gains the attention of surf god, Nigel McBride. But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it. Nani is keeping several secrets that, if revealed, could ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Secret #1: She’s stolen her dad’s ashes and hidden them from her mom. Secret #2: In order to get in with Rox and her crew, she spied on them and now knows far more than they could ever let her get away with. And most deadly of all, Secret #3: She likes girls, and may very well be in love with Rox.

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Lisa Freeman started her work as an actor and has been in numerous TV productions and films (Mr. Mom and Back to the Future I & II to name a few). She performed at the Comedy Store, which led to her writing career in radio and spoken word. Freeman has a BA in liberal studies and creative writing, an MFA in fiction, and a certificate in pedagogy in writing from Antioch University. Inspired by the LA region and semiautobiographical, Honey Girl reminds Freeman of a time when she was the color of tan-before-sunscreen, when she drank Tab by the six-pack and smoked Lark 100s, and when girls were not allowed to surf. Honey Girl is her debut novel.

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0 Elisa Ludwig, author of PRETTY WANTED, on always learning and growing

We're thrilled to have Elisa Ludwig here with her novel PRETTY WANTED, the last book in the Pretty Crooked trilogy.

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

The hardest scene was the climax of the book. Without giving too much away, I knew Willa had to face a lot of danger, more danger than in any other previous scene in the trilogy, and let's face it—girlfriend is always getting into dangerous situations! I also needed to make the threats feel more intense and personal to her. That scene required at least three rewrites as I went back and forth with my amazing editors at HarperCollins and each time they pushed me to make it more intense and more satisfying for my readers.

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

This book taught me that the deeper you feel about your characters, the more deeply your readers will respond. After having spent so much time with Willa, Aidan, Tre et al, my affection for them has only grown deeper, and it has been rewarding to see that many of my readers feel the same way!

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

There's never a time when you get to be an "expert" but don't let that get you down. Unlike many other activities, there's no one right way to go about it. Honor the fact that writing is a lifelong pursuit, and you're always learning and growing—that's really the beauty of it!


Pretty Wanted
by Elisa Ludwig
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 3/17/2015

Pretty Wanted is Elisa Ludwig’s rollicking finale to the Pretty Crooked trilogy, a series filled with moxie, romance, and heart that’s perfect for fans of Ally Carter or Sara Shepard.

When Willa skipped probation and hit the California highway to find her mom, she discovered a dark family secret: Joanne Fox is not who she says she is—and neither is Willa. Now Willa and her hot partner in crime, Aidan, must race to St. Louis, Missouri, where they hope to find answers about Willa’s past. But uncovering the truth requires solving a decades-old murder case. Unfortunately, the perps are still out there . . . and willing to do whatever it takes to keep the case cold.

Willa’s only hope is to find the truth before it finds her first.

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Elisa Ludwig studied writing at Vassar College and Temple University, but she wanted to be a writer long before all of that. Technically since she started writing, editing and publishing The Elisa Bulletin which she printed out on a dot matrix printer and sold for ten cents a pop.

In the intervening years she has worked as a freelance writer, covering the following topics: hot dogs, insurance, cyber theft, penny-pinching, drug development, weddings, other people’s books, music, movies, restaurants, mental health issues, diets, engineering, whiskey, furniture, real estate and travel. But writing about teenagers is her favorite subject.

She has been pick-pocketed twice, and once caught someone mid-pocket. Other than occasional jaywalking, she’s a law-abiding citizen. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and her cat Beau. PRETTY CROOKED is her first novel, and will be followed by PRETTY SLY in 2013, and PRETTY WANTED in 2014. You can visit her online at

1 Jenn Marie Thorne, author of THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT, on driving the story in a visceral way

THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT is Jenn Marie Thorne's debut novel, and we're happy she stopped by to share more about it.

Jenn, what scene in THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT 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?

Without giving away any spoilers, there's a scene late in the book when Kate is sitting in her room with her stepmother, Meg, basically hashing out all of the things that have gone wrong over the course of the story. She's really raw and vulnerable in that scene--the trick was to find the right balance of Kate being strong and needing answers and also being young and lost and apologetic. There were a lot of scenes that hurt my heart to write, but that one just had so much tension without any easy answers or resolutions.

How long did you work on THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT?

I wrote the first draft of TWSoR during NaNo, after spending that October prepping, researching and outlining extensively. Then I did a quick December revision and sent it to some beta readers. I did two more revisions before sending it to agents. Then another revision before it went out to editors. And then, of course, an unbelievable number of revision rounds with my editor. This is something I don't think many pre-pubbed authors realize--once you get a book deal, your work is just beginning.

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

I learned a ton from working with my editor. You get a really clear picture of your writer tics and habits that you didn't even know you had. One big adjustment I've made to my writing is that I used to put in quick exposition sections, in order to, I thought, pick up the pace in the story. My incredible editor quite rightly pointed out that they were "tune out" moments for the reader, doing the opposite of what I'd intended for them to do. Now, when I catch myself cheating by writing those sort of bridge sequences, I hit delete and replace them with action-dialogue scenes that get the information across and drive the story in a more visceral way.

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?

At some point, working on the novel I wrote before THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT, I realized that I personally needed to write every single day, so that it became a constant habit. Some days I only wrote one sentence--but it was enough to keep my mind whirring, so that everything reminded me of my book. I would think about my book while I was driving, in the shower, walking the dog. I was constantly working, even if I wasn't sitting at that keyboard. But if I skipped a day, my brain turned itself off. So now, when I'm drafting or doing a big revision, I make sure to at least open the document and type one thing before I'm allowed to go to bed each night.


The Wrong Side of Right
by Jenn Marie Thorne
Dial Books
Released 3/17/2015

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick will enjoy this smart debut young adult novel, equal parts My Life Next Door and The Princess Diaries—plus a dash of Aaron Sorkin.

Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?

Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.

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At Solar by CaitlynJenn Marie Thorne writes YA fiction from her home in beautiful Gulfport, Florida, alongside her dashing husband, her two daring toddlers, and her trusty hound Molly. An NYU-Tisch grad with a BFA in Drama, Jenn still enjoys making a fool of herself on at least a weekly basis. Other hobbies include writing about herself in the third-person, studying classical voice, learning languages, and traveling the world with her family.

Her debut novel, THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT, is coming March 17, 2015 from Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin).

0 Moriah McStay, author of EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU, on throwing yourself into something new

We're excited to have Moriah McStay join us with her debut novel EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU.

Moriah, what was your inspiration for writing EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU?

When I was little, I was in an accident that left me blind in one eye. You can’t notice much now, but at the time it felt significant. People could tell. I got lots of questions, couldn’t play sports, had to wear big glasses. Later on—in high school and college—I began to wonder which parts of my personality that accident shaped. If it never happened, who would I be? And what about my brother and sister? My parents? How did the accident shape their lives?

I’d throw out the idea to friends, and everyone had some moment, some significant thing that changes their direction. One friend’s father died when she was young. A girl got cancer when she was ten. Someone moved and changed schools in twelfth grade. I had a boyfriend that wasn’t great for me—we dated almost two years. What other choices might I have made in that same time span?

There are so many “what ifs”--we all have them. I thought it would be an interesting question to explore.

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

I could talk books for days. I wouldn’t dare put myself in the same category as these writers, but I love Hilary Smith’s WILD AWAKE, Jandy’s Nelson’s I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN & THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE. I’m a big fan of Gayle Forman, Maggie Stiefvater, Laurie Halse Anderson and e. lockhart. Readers can’t go wrong there!

How long did you work on EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU?

I sat on the idea for fifteen years. When I finally started drafting, it took about a year before I had a draft to submit to agents. My agent Steven Chudney didn’t ask for significant changes, so it was submitted to editors pretty much as-is. It took about four months between signing my agent’s contract and signing my editor's.

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

I wrote two, terrible novels before ETMY, both of which I thought were amazing and submitted to agents. Though I cringe that I ever let people read them, the process was critical. I learned necessary lessons, and I’m a better writer for it. Sometimes I go back to those earlier ideas, when I’m working on setting or character.

The submission process is a long one, so I started new projects while waiting to hear from agents. I did the same while submitting ETMY, and that bare-bones effort was the spring board for my second novel, which I’m revising now.

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

I have a home office now, but I didn’t while writing ETMY. Most of that was written at a coffee shop—Otherlands, which is featured in the book. Now, I mainly write at home,  either on my treadmill desk, standing at the kitchen counter, or sitting on the floor. Music is always blaring.

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

Going back to my comments on submission, I’d say the "Keep Writing" coping mechanism was the most helpful for me. While you’re waiting to hear from agents or editors on your current manuscript, throw yourself into something new. Not only will it keep you too busy to refresh your inbox 80 million times a day, but if bad news comes in, you’ll be excited and focused on a new project. It helps takes out some of the sting.

What are you working on now?

I’m revising my second book for Katherine Tegen. It’s been a long road, but I’m pleased with the direction the book’s taken. I’m not sure when it’ll release, but it will be another standalone, contemporary YA.


Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 3/17/2015

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

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Moriah McStayMoriah McStay grew up in Memphis, TN, where she acquired a come-and-go drawl and a lifelong love of cowboy boots and fried pickles. She attended Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Two graduate degrees and seven jobs later, she finally figured out what she wants to be when she grows up. EVERYTHING THAT MAKES YOU is her first novel, and she's probably at home right now working on another one.