Saturday, December 29, 2012

6 This Week for Writers 12/22-12/28

Hi everyone! I really, really wanted to resurrect the weekly round-up of articles for writers, and Martina graciously said I could. Since this is my first week posting, I'm going to cheat a little and sneak in a few links from earlier in December. Enjoy!


Is Your Manuscript Ready To Submit?  - Mary Keeley at Books & Such Literary gives you ten things to address before submitting.

What I Learned From 10 Queries in 10 Tweets - lessons learned from Sara Megibow's #10queriesin10tweets.

Successful Query Letters - Galley Cat links to 23 query letters that worked.

Writing Groups: A Field Guide - Jane Lebak talks about writing groups on the Query Tracker blog.

K.M. Weiland's Structuring Your Story's Scenes:
Part 1 - Mastering the Two Different Types of Scenes
Part 2 - The Three Building Blocks of the Scene 
Part 3 - Options for Goals in a Scene 

Unleashing the Internal Editor: A Self-Editing Checklist - Jody Hedlund shares the checklist she uses when editing.

How I Fast Draft - Leigh Ann at YAMisfits talks about fast drafting.

Is Hubris Holding You Back? - Lorin Oberweger guest posts on Writer Unboxed about ego.

How an Agent Spends Her Holidays - Stacey Donaghy of Corvisiero Literary Agency tells about her holidays. 

Pub Crawl's Best of 2012 - a round-up of the best posts on Publishing Crawl this year.


Read with Purpose  - DIYMFA posts their best articles on how to read like a writer.

Underrated YA Books of 2012 - a list of books that didn't get as much attention as they deserved this year.

Other Weekly Round-Ups

Twitterific 12/23/12 by Elizabeth Craig 

Cynsational News & Giveaways by Cynthia Leitich Smith 

Do you have any great links you want to share? Suggestions for things you would like to see on this weekly post? Let us know in the comments!

Friday, December 28, 2012

10 New YALit Releases 12/29-1/4 Plus Giveaways of THE FIRE HORSE GIRL and SHADOWS IN THE SILENCE

Did everyone have a wonderful holiday? I hope it was relaxing and full of fun and family. And I hope you got lots of lovely, lovely writerly gifts, including a recharge of mojo to get you through the current book, or the next book, or both. Are you writing or revising? Whatever you're up to, I wish you the best. Don't forget we have a new 1st Five Pages Workshop starting on 1/5/13. Our guest mentor will be Kim Sabatini, so get your first 1200 words ready and jump in for a great opportunity to kick off the year with great critiques.

In other FABULOUS news, did you see the great post on Monday? We have a new member of the blog! Jan Lewis is jumping in to help with craft stuff, coordinate guest posts, author interviews, and giveaways and generally make things run MUCH more smoothly than I can manage them. Please give her a big, warm welcome!

Hugs to you all,



Please complete the form at the bottom for a chance to win.

The Fire Horse Girl
by Kay Honeyman
Signed Hardcover

A fiery and romantic adventure, perfect for fans of Grace Lin, Kristen Cashore, or Lisa See!

Jade Moon is a Fire Horse -- the worst sign in the Chinese zodiac for girls, said to make them stubborn, willful, and far too imaginative. But while her family despairs of marrying her off, she has a passionate heart and powerful dreams, and wants only to find a way to make them come true.

Then a young man named Sterling Promise comes to their village to offer Jade Moon and her father a chance to go to America. While Sterling Promise's smooth manners couldn't be more different from her own impulsive nature, Jade Moon falls in love with him on the long voyage. But America in 1923 doesn't want to admit many Chinese, and when they are detained at Angel Island, the "Ellis Island of the West," she discovers a betrayal that destroys all her dreams. To get into America, much less survive there, Jade Moon will have to use all her stubbornness and will to break a new path . . . one as brave and dangerous as only a Fire Horse girl can imagine.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Fire Horse Girl?

The character Jade Moon is my favorite thing about the book. While she is rooted in her historical time and culture, there is also something wonderfully familiar about her. I think a lot of us have a little bit of Fire Horse girl inside us.

Order The Fire Horse Girl on Amazon

View The Fire Horse Girl on Goodreads

* * * *

Shadows in the Silence (Angelfire)
by Courtney Allison Moulton

Your strength in heart and hand will fall. . . .
Ellie knows that the darkest moments are still to come, and she has everything to fight for:
She must fight for Will.
The demonic have resorted to their cruelest weapons to put Will in mortal danger, and Ellie makes an unlikely alliance to save him and to stop Lilith and Sammael, who seek to drown the world in blood and tear a hole into Heaven.
She must fight for humanity.
As the armies of Hell rise and gather for the looming End of Days, Ellie and her band of allies travel to the world's darkest and most ancient regions in her quest to come into her full glory as the archangel Gabriel.
And Ellie must save herself.
Her humanity withers beneath the weight of her cold archangel power, but Ellie must hold tight to who she is and who she loves as she prepares for the ultimate battle for Heaven and Earth.
In this final installment in the Angelfire trilogy, Courtney Allison Moulton brings her dark world of epic battles and blistering romance to a blazing bright conclusion.

Order Shadows in the Silence (Angelfire) on Amazon

View Shadows in the Silence (Angelfire) on Goodreads


The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals)
by Michelle Cooper

Winner: Regina Linton

Michelle Cooper completes her heart-stealing epic drama of history and romance with The FitzOsbornes at War.

Sophie FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Nazis attacked. But as war breaks out in England and around the world, nowhere is safe. Sophie fills her journal with tales of a life during wartime. Blackouts and the Blitz. Dancing in nightclubs with soliders on leave. And endlessly waiting for news of her brother Toby, whose plane was shot down over enemy territory.

But even as bombs rain down on London, hope springs up, and love blooms for this most endearing princess. And when the Allies begin to drive their way across Europe, the FitzOsbornes take heart—maybe, just maybe, there will be a way to liberate Montmaray as well.

Order The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals) on Amazon

View The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals) on Goodreads


Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles)
by Ellen Oh

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms . . . is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira's the only female in the king's army, and she's also the prince's bodyguard. She's a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she's their only hope. . . .

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King's prophecy, but the legendary lost ruby treasure just might be the true key to victory. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, an evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles)?

I would have to say Kira. Because she is to me the embodiment of girl power. She is strong, smart, brave, and caring and she doesn't need a man to save her. She is the hero of her own story. I wrote a book for my daughters to read because I was so sick and tired of the whole Disney "Someday my prince will come" set up. I am all about Girl Power and I'm so glad that we've seen this great movement of girl heroes in kid lit. It makes me proud to be a writer. But most importantly, I want to reach all the 12 and 13 year old girls out there and tell them "You are stronger than you know! You can be the hero of your own story!" And that's what having strong girl heroes in books and movies does for young girls. It empowers them. And I hope, in some small way, that Kira and Prophecy can empower young girls everywhere.

Order Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles) on Amazon

View Prophecy (The Dragon King Chronicles) on Goodreads

* * * *

The Dead and Buried
by Kim Harrington

A haunted house, a buried mystery, and a very angry ghost make this one unforgettable thriller.

Jade loves the house she's just moved into with her family. She doesn't even mind being the new girl at the high school: It's a fresh start, and there's that one guy with the dreamy blue eyes. . . .

But then things begin happening. Strange, otherworldly things.

Jade's little brother claims to see a glimmering girl in his room. Jade's jewelry gets moved around, as if by an invisible hand. Kids at school whisper behind her back like they know something she doesn't.

Soon, Jade must face an impossible fact: that her perfect house . . . is haunted.

Haunted by a ghost who's seeking not just vengeance, but the truth. The ghost of a girl who ruled Jade's school -- until her untimely death last year. It's up to Jade to put the pieces together before her own life is at stake. As Jade investigates the mystery, she discovers that her new friends in town have more than a few deep, dark secrets.

But is one of them a murderer?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Dead and Buried?

THE DEAD AND BURIED is a standalone YA mystery, but my favorite thing about the book is the haunted house setting. I've loved the ghost sub-genre as long as I've been a reader, and I had a lot of fun putting a fresh contemporary spin on it.

Order The Dead and Buried on Amazon

View The Dead and Buried on Goodreads

* * * *

The Essence (Pledge)
by Kimberly Derting

“Danger, dread, mystery, and romance” (Booklist) continue in the second book of The Pledge trilogy, as Charlie’s reign is under siege from the most unusual of enemies.

At the luminous conclusion of The Pledge, Charlaina defeated the tyrant Sabara and took her place as Queen of Ludania. But Charlie knows that Sabara has not disappeared: The evil queen’s Essence is fused to Charlie’s psyche, ready to arise at the first sign of weakness.

Charlie is not weak, but she’s being pushed to the brink. In addition to suppressing the ever-present influence of Sabara, she’s busy being queen—and battling a growing resistance determined to return Ludania to its discriminatory caste system. Charlie wants to be the same girl Max loves, who Brook trusts, but she’s Your Majesty now, and she feels torn in two.

As Charlie journeys to an annual summit to meet with leaders of nearby Queendoms—an event where her ability to understand all languages will be the utmost asset—she is faced with the ultimate betrayal. And the only person she can turn to for help is the evil soul residing within.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Essence (Pledge)?

My favorite thing about THE ESSENCE is that even though it’s a book based on the idea that change—even change for the better—isn’t always met with open arms, to me, it’s really all about relationships. I love the bonds between Charlie and her family, and the friendships and blossoming love stories. These smaller, more intimate details are what mean the most to me. And did I mention there’s kissing???

Order The Essence (Pledge) on Amazon

View The Essence (Pledge) on Goodreads

* * * *

Falling for You
by Lisa Schroeder

Affection turns to obsession—and love means both devastation and redemption—in this gripping novel from the author of I Heart You, You Haunt Me.
Rae’s always dreamed of dating a guy like Nathan. He’s nothing like her abusive stepfather—in other words, he’s sweet. But the closer they get, the more Nathan wants of her time, of her love, of her…and the less she wants to give.

As Rae’s affection for Nathan turns to fear, she leans on her friend Leo for support. With Leo, she feels lighter, happier. And possessive Nathan becomes jealous. He’s not about to let her go. And with danger following her every move, Rae must fight for the life and love she deserves if she’s going to survive.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Falling for You?

Such a hard question, but I think I'll go with the flower shop where Rae, the main character, works. It's called Full Bloom and it's a cute little shop with walls the color of sunshine and wonderful people who work there. It's a special place where Rae feels safe and loved. Falling For You is very much a novel with darkness and light, so readers will be thankful, I think, that Full Bloom is a part of Rae's life.

Order Falling for You on Amazon

View Falling for You on Goodreads

* * * *

by K.M. Walton

A girl tumbles into a downward spiral when a romantic encounter turns violent in this heartwrenching novel from the author of Cracked.

Dell is used to disappointment. Ever since her dad left, it’s been one let down after another. But no one—not even her best friend—understands all the pain she’s going through. So Dell hides behind self-deprecating jokes and forced smiles.

Then the one person she trusts betrays her. Dell is beyond devastated. Without anyone to turn to for comfort, her depression and self-loathing spin out of control. But just how far will she go to make all of heartbreak and the name-calling stop?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Empty?

My favorite thing about EMPTY is my main character. Dell was such a inwardly complicated character to write, so privately vulnerable. Being her creator, I felt all of Dell’s feelings as I wrote her. Countless times I wanted to jump into my computer, “Mary Poppins style” and embrace Dell with the love I had for her. I hope readers will want to do the same.

Order Empty on Amazon

View Empty on Goodreads

* * * *

by A. G. Howard

This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Praise for Splintered:
"Attention to costume and setting render this a visually rich read..."
--Kirkus Reviews

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Splintered?

My favorite thing about SPLINTERED is the setting: the vivid and sometimes nightmarish landscapes. I LOVE painting pictures with my words, so writing this book was a dream come true for me. Because Wonderland is, by definition, a land of Wonder and illusion, my only boundary was my imagination. It makes for a very big playing field when the sky’s the limit. :)

Order Splintered on Amazon

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Ali's Pretty Little Lies: 2 (Pretty Little Secrets)
by Sara Shepard

Before there was A, there was Alison DiLaurentis. Boys wanted to date her, girls wanted to be her, and somebody wanted her dead. . . .

It's the end of seventh grade, and Alison DiLaurentis and her friends are the girls of Rosewood Day. Ali runs her clique with an iron fist, and she's got enough dirt on Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer to keep them in line. But Ali's hiding a dark secret of her own, something so huge it would destroy everything if it ever got out. She's desperate to keep the perfect life she's worked so hard to build, but in Rosewood deadly secrets have deadly consequences. . . .

Set in the weeks leading up to Ali's murder, this special Pretty Little Liars tale is told by the prettiest little liar of all: Ali herself. For the first time ever, we see how the mystery began . . . and how Alison DiLaurentis's life ended.

Order Ali's Pretty Little Lies: 2 (Pretty Little Secrets) on Amazon

View Ali's Pretty Little Lies: 2 (Pretty Little Secrets) on Goodreads

* * * *

by Hannah Moskowitz

A gritty, romantic modern fairy tale from the author of Break and Gone, Gone, Gone.

Be careful what you believe in.

Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.

Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.

Order Teeth on Amazon

View Teeth on Goodreads

* * * *

Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters
by Suzanne Weyn

A new generation is creating a monster....

When Doctor Victor Frankenstein died, he left behind a legacy of well as two unacknowledged, beautiful twin daughters. Now these girls are seventeen, and they've come to Frankenstein's castle to claim it as their inheritance.

Giselle and Ingrid are twins, but they couldn't be more different. Giselle is a glamorous social climber who plans on turning Frankenstein's castle into a center of high society. Ingrid, meanwhile, is quiet and studious, drawn to the mysterious notebooks her father left behind...and the experiments he went mad trying to perfect.

As Giselle prepares for lavish parties and Ingrid finds herself falling for the sullen, wounded naval officer next door, a sinister force begins to take hold in the castle. Nobody's safe as Frankenstein's legacy leads to a twisted, macabre journey of romance and horror.

Order Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters on Amazon

View Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters on Goodreads

* * * *

Victoria Rebels
by Carolyn Meyer

Queen Victoria’s personal journals inform this captivating first-person novel about of one of history’s most prominent female leaders.

Queen Victoria most certainly left a legacy—under her rule as the longest reigning female monarch in history, the British Empire was greatly expanded and significant industrial, cultural, political, scientific, and military changes occurred within the United Kingdom. To be a young woman in a time when few other females held positions of power was to lead in a remarkable age—and because Queen Victoria kept personal journals, this historical novel from award-winning author Carolyn Meyer shares authentic emotional insight along with accurate information, weaving a true story of intrigue and romance.

Order Victoria Rebels on Amazon

View Victoria Rebels on Goodreads

* * * *

by Jennifer Rush

They were made to forget. But they'll never forgive.

Everything about Anna's life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch, at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There's Nick, solemn and brooding; Cas, light-hearted and playful; Trev, smart and caring; and Sam . . . who's stolen Anna's heart.

When the Branch decides it's time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape. Anna's father pushes her to go with them, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs.

On the run, with her father's warning in her head, Anna begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about herself. She soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they're both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

Order Altered on Amazon

View Altered on Goodreads

Thursday, December 27, 2012

0 Character Bucket List: S.T. Underdahl and Dov Howard from NO MAN'S LAND

Bucket List for Dov Howard of No Man’s Land

by S.T. Underdahl

A year ago, I would have said it was stupid for a kid my age to even think about making a bucket list of things to do before I die, because I was going to live forever and my biggest worries were things like getting to the Poisoned Heart concert or who was leaving poetry bombs in my path. After everything that happened, though, I look at life through different eyes. The man in black ---and I don’t mean Marilyn Manson--- could come for you any day and the best thing to do is live in the moment.

Dov Howard’s Short-Term Bucket List

1. Profess my love for Ms. Twohey (just kidding…we’re both off the market.)
2. Put together a kick-ass portfolio of my artwork.
3. Take Miranda’s advice and talk to the school counselor about graphics arts schools.
4. Spend the summer following Poisoned Heart on tour.
5. Break the news to Mom about #4. (Start off by bringing up #3)
6. Figure out the recipe for the Red Pepper’s secret sauce.
7. Think about getting another gecko, even though no one could replace Leo
8. Become a person my brother can be proud of. Scratch that…he’s already proud of me.


Brian came home from Afghanistan…but he brought the war back with him.

If life were a movie, my role would be Emo Kid/Family Loser, while Brian’s would be Master of the Universe. You might think it would be easy to resent him, but my brother’s impossible to hate. Just like everyone else, I’m thrilled to have Brian back home in one piece. But why won’t anyone else see that he has a dark secret? What will it take for them to wake up and face the ugly truth?

Order No Man's Land on Amazon

View No Man's Land on Goodreads


Susan Thompson Underdahl is a clinical neuropsychologist who lives and writes in Grand Forks, North Dakota. She is the author of two other young adult novels, The Other Sister (2007), Remember This (2008), and the general commercial fiction novel, Summer on Lake Tulaby (2011.)

Visit S.T. Underdahl's webpage

Follow S.T. Underdahl on Facebook

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

3 WOW Wednesday: Robison Wells on What It Takes to Be a Writer

Today's WOW guest is Robison Wells, the author of the YA science-fiction thriller, Variant (HarperTeen 2011), and of Feedback (HarperTeen, Oct 2012). Variant was named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2011, and one of the YALSA Picks for Reluctant Readers. Those weren't his first published books, but they were the ones that let him start writing full-time. He lives in rural Utah, with his wife and three kids. To learn more about him, hop on over to his website, or follow him on Twitter as @robisonwells, to learn more about how he broke out, read on!

Want to be a Writer? Then WRITE

by Robison Wells

I've been writing seriously for thirteen years now, and I've read dozens of books (and probably hundreds of blog posts) on the subject of How To Write. But no advice I've ever read has been as important as the very first bit of wisdom I got, way back when I first decided to try my hand at writing.

At the time I was in college, working on a history/political science degree, and my brother (fellow YA author Dan Wells) was working on an English degree. At the time, he was very serious about writing and had always planned on a career as an author, but writing was very new to me: I simply had an idea for a book, and was casually telling him about it. The advice that he gave to me then, which has been more useful than any other advice I've ever heard, is this: "Everyone says they have an idea for a book. Everyone says that one day they're going to sit down and write the Great American Novel. The difference between writers and everybody else is that writers actually do it. Writers sit down, put pen to paper, and work. They WRITE."

And in the last thirteen years, I can truly say that whenever I have followed that advice, things have gone well. And when I have not followed that advice--when I've spent too long fiddling around with worldbuilding, or taking some time off to "relax", or getting caught up in the business side of writing--my productivity and personal happiness has always suffered.

I suffer from mental illness (from a whole pantheon of mental illnesses, actually), which has made writing very difficult at times, but I can still honestly say that forcing myself to write--even when the writing is terrible--has always been good for me in the end. It keeps me positive, and it keeps my head in the game. It keeps my skills sharp, and it gives me drive to continue moving forward.

And, of course, there's always the simple law that practicing something makes you better at it. Orson Scott Card famously said that your first million words are crap. I don't necessarily agree with the number, but the principle is definitely true: when you first start out writing you're not going to immediately be a master. My first manuscript was terrible. But I finished it, and pushed through and wrote "The End". And then I wrote another manuscript and that one was a little better, and then I wrote another and that one was a lot better.

So that's my advice: WRITE. And then finish what you're writing, and then write some more. And then some more after that. It may sound like simple, obvious advice, but I'm amazed at how effective it is. I go to a lot of annual writers conferences, and it's easy to spot the writers who are going to be successful: they're the ones who, after not seeing them for a year, tell you about the two manuscripts they've finished since the last conference. They're the ones who talk about getting up at four in the morning to get two thousand words written before they go to work. They're the ones with active writing groups, where they present chapters every single week, no matter what.

I realize that it's not very creative advice. It's not some secret revelation that will awe and thrill you. But I guarantee that it's more effective than any gimmick, more reliable than any trick, and will lead to more success than any other single piece of advice. Just write, and write, and write some more.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

1 Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas, Everyone!

Did you all get what you wanted this year? Was there a book contract under the Christmas tree? If not, it's coming. Soon. All you have to do is keep writing, reading, and sticking to your goals.

May you all have a wonderful holiday with friends, family, and loved ones, and may the warmth and joy of the season  last all year long.

Best wishes,


Monday, December 24, 2012

6 Imagery, Intrigue, and Danger in Novel Openings

Hi everyone! My name is Jan, and I’m a new contributor here at Adventures in YA Publishing. Martina asked me to post today and introduce myself. I live in Oklahoma with my husband, two kids, two cats, a dog, and my mom. I write YA fantasy, both contemporary and traditional. I am much better at rewriting and editing, so I usually spend an ungodly amount of time dragging myself through the drafting process. One of my favorite things in the world is critiquing, because I love the process of shaping a manuscript into a book.

Okay, enough about me. Let’s get to the real post: Inspired Openings. I figured what better way to mark my beginning with the blog than a post about beginnings.

As readers and writers, we all know how important openings are. They help you decide whether to buy a book or put it back on the shelf. They help agents and editors decide whether to read on or send a rejection. So what makes a great opening?

1. Imagery – It paints a picture with words, a picture beautiful enough that you want to see more of the author’s art.

Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day. It seemed like just another Monday, innocent but for its essential Mondayness, not to mention its Januaryness. It was cold, and it was dark—in the dead of winter the sun didn’t rise until eight—but it was also lovely. The falling snow and the early hour conspired to paint Prague ghostly, like a tintype photograph, all silver and haze.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Laini Taylor

The air in London was grey. This was no surprise; but the common eye could not see the particular heaviness of the atmosphere or the unusual weight of this special day’s charcoal clouds: the sky was pregnant with a potent wind, for The Guard was searching for new hosts.
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Leanna Renee Hieber

2. Intrigue – It makes you sit up and ask, “Ooh, I wonder what that’s about?” So you read on to find out.

I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves.
Maggie Stiefvater

I think I killed a girl who looked like this once.
Girl of Nightmares
Kendare Blake

My mother thinks I’m dead.
Obviously I’m not dead, but it’s safer for her to think so.
Marie Lu

Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she’d been told that she would kill her true love.
The Raven Boys
Maggie Stiefvater

3. Danger – It makes you worry about this character you know nothing about, because there is an immediate threat to them.

She grabbed the hilt of her knife and scrambled backward into the darkness, holding the baby close in her other arm. Beyond the fire, the wasteland was still, as if the wind and even the stones had frozen in the night to listen, and then she heard it again, a faint chink, like a footfall in pebbles. Someone or something was out there, watching her.
Caragh O’Brien

He didn't know how long he'd been clinging there. Long enough for the bone-cold water to drive the feeling from his legs. Long enough for his fingers to tire of holding his head above water. Somewhere in the distance, the eerie wail of the hounds quickened his heartbeat.
He closed his eyes, concentrating on keeping his hold on the old well's uneven sides, willing his heart to slow. They can't smell you in here. They'll lose your scent in the stream and they'll never find you here.
Maggie Stiefvater

4. Other – These are the openings that don’t really fit into one of the above categories. The ones you read and just know the book is going to be great.

She’s so lovely, so fragile. Those haunted eyes. Those rosebud lips . . . they’ll scream so prettily.
Poison Princess
Kresley Cole

All children, except one, grow up.
Peter Pan
J. M. Barrie

So, what kind of openings do you like? Share some of your favorites in the comments.

I am so happy to be a part of Adventures in YA Publishing. Thanks so much for having me, Martina!

I hope you all have a fabulous holiday!


Friday, December 21, 2012



The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals)
by Michelle Cooper

Michelle Cooper completes her heart-stealing epic drama of history and romance with The FitzOsbornes at War.

Sophie FitzOsborne and the royal family of Montmaray escaped their remote island home when the Nazis attacked. But as war breaks out in England and around the world, nowhere is safe. Sophie fills her journal with tales of a life during wartime. Blackouts and the Blitz. Dancing in nightclubs with soliders on leave. And endlessly waiting for news of her brother Toby, whose plane was shot down over enemy territory.

But even as bombs rain down on London, hope springs up, and love blooms for this most endearing princess. And when the Allies begin to drive their way across Europe, the FitzOsbornes take heart—maybe, just maybe, there will be a way to liberate Montmaray as well.

Order The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals) on Amazon

View The FitzOsbornes at War (The Montmaray Journals) on Goodreads


The Unfailing Light (Katerina Trilogy)
by Robin Bridges

Winner: Tore923

Lush and opulent, romantic and sinister, The Unfailing Light, Volume II in The Katerina Trilogy, reimagines the lives of Russia's aristocracy in a fabulously intoxicating and page-turning fantasy.
Having had no choice but to use her power has a necromancer to save Russia from dark forces, Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, now wants to forget that she ever used her special powers. She's about to set off to pursue her lifelong dream of attending medical school when she discovers that Russia's arch nemesis--who she thought she'd destroyed--is still alive. So on imperial orders, Katerina remains at her old finishing school. She'll be safe there, because the empress has cast a potent spell to protect it against the vampires and revenants who are bent on toppling the tsar and using Katerina for their own gains. But to Katerina's horror, the spell unleashes a vengeful ghost within the school, a ghost more dangerous than any creature trying to get in.

Order The Unfailing Light (Katerina Trilogy) on Amazon

View The Unfailing Light (Katerina Trilogy) on Goodreads

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The Opposite of Hallelujah
by Anna Jarzab

Winner: Nazarea Andrews

A riveting depiction of sisterhood, as one sibling's return home unleashes lies, a secret long buried, and emotional upheaval.
Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child--and she likes it that way. After all, her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro's parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah's a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can't understand why her parents cut Hannah so much slack, and why they're not pushing for answers.

Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate her new boyfriend, friends, and put her on the outs with her parents, Caro seeks solace from an unexpected source. And as she unearths a clue from Hannah's past--one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her--Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.

Order The Opposite of Hallelujah on Amazon

View The Opposite of Hallelujah on Goodreads


Full Moon Kisses: A Full Moon Novel
by Ellen Schreiber

Beware of the full moon.
A werewolf wants to take you into his world. Forever.
Celeste and Brandon know that Nash in werewolf form is bad news. But a new prediction from psychic Dr. Meadows has Celeste wondering: Which of them wants to turn her into a werewolf?
Still on Celeste's and Brandon's minds is the "cure" from Brandon's father. Brandon must face one dilemma he hadn't anticipated—if his dad's serum really does work, is he willing to give up being a werewolf for good? Is Celeste willing to give up her heroic werewolf boyfriend? And when Nash finds out there's a cure, will he try to take it from Brandon as they continue to deal with their rivalry, their competing affections for Celeste, and their struggles with their werewolf identities?
Then things grow still more complicated when a gang of sketchy guys from a neigh-boring town comes to Legend's Run just before the big Werewolf Festival. What, or whom, are they looking for?
The third installment in the sumptuous series about werewolves and the popular girl who loves one is full of danger, mystery, and undeniably romantic full moon kisses.

Order Full Moon Kisses: A Full Moon Novel on Amazon

View Full Moon Kisses: A Full Moon Novel on Goodreads

Thursday, December 20, 2012

0 Character Bucket List: Chris Howard

Introducing Banyan, the main character of ROOTLESS by Chris Howard

This was the original "character sketch" I made for the protagonist of what was then called THE TREE CATCHER… the first draft of my debut novel ROOTLESS. I originally was going to call my main character Jawbone, but I ended up giving that name to a different character, after I decided all the tree builders would be named after different types of trees. I actually don't always do these sort of character sketches… but they can be super useful! And this was really interesting for me to revisit!

Name: Jawbone.

Age: Late teens 
Occupation: Tree Builder - creates scrap-metal forests for rich clients who still crave nature in a world where there is none. His trees are beautiful - incredible works of art - wind-chime branches, velvet leaves and flickering LED lights…

Vehicle: An old station wagon - full of tools, scrap, boxes of popcorn (only engineered corn can grow).

Clothing: Tool belt, goggles, bandana for dust… rags. Nail gun (could be used as weapon). Old sombrero (father's?)

Physical Appearance: Ragged. Skinny. Trickster. Grin.

Diet: Microwave popcorn. (flavor??)

What makes him special: Tree building skills…he's "the best" / Desire to do more than just survive. Freedom/ Nomad. Kind. Respects people. Respects women. Craves beauty. Longs for nature. Noble savage. Artist.

What does he want at the beginning of story: To find his missing father (who was also a tree builder)

What does he want at THE TURN: To find the REAL TREES (promised land)… and find father. Can he find both? Does finding one mean losing the other??

What would he never do: Destroy a living tree. Hurt an innocent person.

And there you have it! So much of my original notes made it into the book… in fact, the very first thing (his name) was the only thing that really changed. My wife suggested Banyan, and it stuck right away :)


17-year-old Banyan is a tree builder. Using salvaged scrap metal, he creates forests for rich patrons who seek a reprieve from the desolate landscape. Although Banyan's never seen a real tree--they were destroyed more than a century ago--his missing father used to tell him stories about the Old World.

Everything changes when Banyan meets a mysterious woman with a strange tattoo, a map to the last living trees on earth, and he sets off across a wasteland from which few return. Those who make it past the pirates and poachers can't escape the locusts . . . the locusts that now feed on human flesh.

But Banyan isn't the only one looking for the trees, and he's running out of time. Unsure of whom to trust, he's forced to make an alliance with Alpha, an alluring, dangerous pirate with an agenda of her own. As they race towards a promised land that might only be a myth, Banyan makes shocking discoveries about his family, his past, and how far people will go to bring back the trees.

Order Rootless on Amazon

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Before he wrote stories, Chris Howard wrote songs, studied natural resources management, and led wilderness adventure trips for teenagers. He currently lives in Denver, CO, and ROOTLESS is his first novel. Join him at


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

10 WOW Wednesday: Caragh O'Brien Offers Not Your Normal Advice on Publishing

Today's WOW guest is Caragh O'Brien, author of the dystopian BIRTHMARKED trilogy. She writes fiction from a place fueled by her book-laced girlhood, her friendship with her best pal neighbor, her six wild, musical siblings, her love for her husband and three goofy kids, certain losses and fears, and many years of writing and teaching. Catch her on her blogher website, or as @CaraghMOBrien on Twitter.

Not Your Normal Advice on Publishing

by Caragh O'Brien

I long to be able to divulge one piece of advice that made a difference for me in becoming a published writer. I wish that my publishing hinged on one brilliant discovery, some Aha! that I returned to whenever I was about to tumble back into unpublishing land. But sadly, as I begin a sentence with a conjunction, I never did learn well by following the normal advice, so I don’t think it would be honest to pretend now that I did. Instead, let me mention the two big advice mainstays (write from the heart, and go learn about the publishing process on, and then gently suggest that advice might not be what you need anymore. You might be heading into your own territory.

Since the publication of Birthmarked, I’ve been earning a decent living as a writer, but it took decades of writing and fitful publishing to reach this point. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to know, back in my twenties, that it would take so long to find a regular stretch of writing work, and I hope decades won’t be required for anyone reading this post. But it did take me that long, and maybe some other writers are in for a long haul, too, so let me tip my hat to the slower bloomers, especially those of us subversive types who don’t feed well on advice.

Here goes:

It helps to understand why you’re writing. I figured out that nothing else satisfied me the way that writing could, and that doing it affirmed I was alive. I wrote whenever I could, as in, I typed with one finger while I was nursing my baby. I wrote because it made me happy. I wrote romance novels to smile and laugh, and I wrote artsy literary novels to experiment with points of view and explore misery. Half of those books I never published (hello, literary novels). When writing started to make me unhappy, it was because I wasn’t getting published enough, for enough money (hello, romance novels), and so I tried to quit. Then I missed the writing itself and when I no longer cared about ambition, I started writing again purely for its own sake. That’s the writing I do now. That’s the writing I would keep doing even if people stopped paying me for it.

It helps to be realistic about how good you are or aren’t. I have a dread of deluding myself, but I’m also not keen on seeking out feedback. I’ve never joined SCWBI and don’t have a writers’ group or critique partners. So, basically, I’m pretty convinced my writing is never good enough, and this means I always need to work at improving it. My favorite part is revising, and my favorite part of revising is when I step back and look at a conversation or passage and think, how can this go deeper? I’ve already thought of this idea at this level. Where can it go next? It means living in a state of doubt 95% of the time, but that feels right to me.

It helps to avoid the naysayers. We have no shortage of cynics saying that new writers don’t have a shot at getting published, and pessimists predicting a dire future for publishing in general. They say New York publishers don’t take risks on creative new novels and editors are just looking for the next big thing upon which to slap a shiny cover. But have you read a book you’ve liked lately? That book made it, right? The system is a meritocracy. When your novel is good enough, truly good enough, so good it glows, you will navigate through the query process to an agent and an editor who appreciate your work. They are looking, actively looking, for good new writers, and they love books. I came out of the slush pile, and I’m not alone. It happens.

It helps to recognize where writing and publishing fit in the whole scope of your life. This is a delicate matter, I say quietly, and something not every writer is ready to face. Writing is in your control. Publishing is not. The two are related, obviously, but not strictly through cause and effect. While writing happens in private, most people crave publishing because it is tied to income, respect, and prestige. Recognizing this can be very freeing. Which outcome do you actually want? If what you truly desire is income, respect, and prestige, you may be able to earn those more directly through a different job, like teaching. If what you want is the satisfaction of writing, don’t be confused or disappointed when you have artistic pleasure but not money. Enjoy your writing as the art it is, and don’t let it derail other things that also matter to you, like family time and a job. We aren’t in a race. The real goal is happiness, and that is achievable in many ways.

I have a few hours ahead of me here, and I know what I’m going to do with them. If you love to write, you already have the biggest gift, regardless of whether you’re publishing or not. No one can give that to you but yourself, and no one can take it away. It is part of who you are, always, so go do it. Go write.

Promised (The Birthmarked Trilogy)

by Caragh M. O'Brien

After defying the ruthless Enclave, surviving the wasteland, and upending the rigid matriarchy of Sylum, Gaia Stone now faces her biggest challenge ever.  She must lead the people of Sylum back to the Enclave and persuade the Protectorat to grant them refuge from the wasteland.  In Gaia's absence, the Enclave has grown more cruel, more desperate to experiment on mothers from outside the wall, and now the stakes of cooperating or rebelling have never been higher.  Is Gaia ready, as a leader, to sacrifice what--or whom--she loves most?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Promised (The Birthmarked Trilogy)?

What I like most about Promised is the way it feels real to me. I can feel the dry wind on my face when Gaia comes over a ridge in the wasteland to see her old home in the distance, with the weathered houses below the wall and the obelisk rising above the Enclave. Writing it, I felt like I was coming home myself, and at the same time, I was driven by a sense of discovery.

Order Promised (The Birthmarked Trilogy) on Amazon

View Promised (The Birthmarked Trilogy) on Goodreads

Monday, December 17, 2012

6 First Five Pages Final Revisions Are Posted!

Lisa and I invite you all to hop on over to the workshop site to read and comment.

It seems strange to be going on with business as usual today, doesn't it? I hope everyone is giving their children extra hugs and taking the time to say "I love you" to every meaningful person in their lives.

Reflecting on the tragic events at Sandy Hook, I'm going to take this opportunity to say thank you, too. Thank you to everyone I have met online since Marissa and I started this blog two years ago. You have all been such an inspiration, and I have had so much fun learning from and along with all of you. I don't always have time to stop by and comment on your individual blogs or tell you thank you in person, but it is important to stop and acknowledge gratitude while we can.

So thank you. Bless you, and may you all be safe with all your loved ones this holiday season.



Saturday, December 15, 2012

1 Literary Stocking Stuffer Winners

Here, thanks to the awesome folks at Random House, are the winners of the book tie-in stocking stuffers giveaway we've been running for two weeks. I'll mail these all out on Monday via Priority Mail, so they should arrive in time for Christmas.

Please note that ONLY the stocking stuffer was given away. The books themselves need to be purchased separately.

If you didn't win, or didn't enter, and are still thinking about what to get your young adult bookworm, consider these as options. Having seen them in my hot little hands, I have to say that they look like fun. I am buying some myself!

If you like the HOUSE OF NIGHT series by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast:

Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards: A 50-Card Deck and Guidebook


For the fans of the best-selling House of Night series, the Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards provides a unique interactive experience with the vampyre Goddess Nyx. Packaged in a keepsake box with a guidebook, the deck contains fifty gorgeously illustrated cards, many of which are based on characters in the books.

To begin, simply ask Nyx a question: What should I do in this situation? What is going on with my relationship? What will result from my next action? Then select a card and consult the guidebook to discover the message that Nyx intends for you. Just like Zoey Redbird and the other fledglings of the House of Night, you will be encouraged to trust your intuition and make powerful decisions about your life!

The Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle Cards is an original divination system, created by P. C. Cast and oracle expert Colette Baron-Reid. It draws inspiration from the Tarot, Norse runes, and the I Ching, but no special expertise is required to use these cards. The illustrations are by digital artist Jena DellaGrottaglia.

View or Buy on Amazon

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If you like KATANA by Cole Gibsen



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by Lauren Bjorkman



The best advice you’ll ever get may come from a cookie. Double Happiness note cards feature two cookies on each card, so you can send a double order of take-out wisdom and good fortune.

Slide the printed fortunes into the diecut cookies of these handsome note cards and send uncanny predictions and oddly apropos proverbs to a twice-blessed friend, family member, or loved one.

View or Buy on Amazon

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If you like THE INFECTS 

by Sean Beaudoin



Watch out as a mob of ravenous, flesh-eating undead comes to life. This lenticular journal cover sets in motion images of slithering, shuffling zombies from the bestselling graphic novel The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks.

Filled with lined pages, this all-purpose journal is perfect for jotting down notes, making to-do lists, plotting your own survival strategy, and is just the creepy thing for zombie fans everywhere.

View or Buy on Amazon



View or Buy on Amazon

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If you like PRADA AND PREJUDICE by Mandy Hubbard

WINNER: Maddie M.

For fashionistas, astrology-devotees, or anyone who is starry-eyed about shoes, this fabulous illustrated gift book reveals what your birthday shoe says about you.

Combining astrology with the chic art of shoe design, Shoestrology offers a trendy interpretation of your personality as defined by your birthday shoe. Astrologers Tali and Ophira Edut have identified 366 gorgeous shoes--from the Chanel ballet flat, to the Alexander McQueen Armadillo--and paired them with the personality type associated with each day of the year. Featuring original watercolors by noted fashion illustrator Samantha Hahn along with descriptions of the birthday shoes (and why they are fitting), this book provides insight and visual delight on very page.

View or Buy on Amazon


Edgar Allan Poe Flexi Journal

WINNER: Tracy R.

Be inspired by the bewitching world of Edgar Allan Poe, master of mystery and macabre.

This hauntingly handsome journal features imaginative quotes from the iconic author as well as plenty of pages for you to record the spellbinding details of your own life.

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The Art of Modern Conjuring Deck


Make sure you always have a trick up your sleeve with the one, the only, The Art of Modern Conjuring Deck!

Featuring fifty mesmerizing magic tricks that will amaze, perplex, and impress your friends and audiences, this collection of capital illusions reveals the secrets behind classic coin, card, hat, and ring tricks -- and more. Each card is illustrated with an enchanting engraving from the Victorian era to keep you inspired, and the portable format allows you to easily bring your magic wherever you go.

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Cat Yoga Mini Journal


Guide your feline down the path to spiritual enlightenment (or merely jot down notes for yourself) with this mini journal, featuring various and hilarious silhouettes of cats in paw-inspiring yoga positions as well as brief descriptions of the health benefits of each pose throughout its pages.

(No cats were harmed in the process of this endeavor)

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The Original Dog Tarot: Divine the Canine Mind

WINNER: Marie B.

For the 77.5 million dog owners (or "parents") in the United States, The Original Dog Tarot card set and booklet is an amusing tool that gives human beings essential insight into the canine psyche.
Want to know why your dog shreds your slippers but ignores his designer toys? Does your pooch really want a puppy for companionship, or are you delusional? The Original Dog Tarot is an entertaining, tongue-in-jowl deck of tarot cards and accompanying book affectionately written for dog lovers who want to divine their canine's mind. The 30 cards are a takeoff on the traditional tarot; they're divided into the Major Barkana and Minor Barkana. Each card offers advice for both canines and the humans in their lives. You don't have to be familiar with traditional tarot to use this deck. It is a witty and wise stand-alone oracle for anyone who has given up mastering the techniques of The Dog Whisperer.

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Lit Wit Deck: 100 Trivia Cards to Boost Your Book Smarts


Or find more stocking stuffer books, notebooks, and cards at

Happy shopping!