Saturday, August 31, 2013

23 YA Fiction Pick and Mix 8/31/13 Edition with Giveaway of TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan

Wasn't that wonderful news from Clara Kensie last week about her book deal with the new digital imprint of Harlequin Teen? I'm so happy she can finally announce it and start getting you all excited about her book. I don't know about you, but I'm fascinated by the idea that it will be released as a serial in three parts a week apart. I think back to the great books that started as serials and the cliffhangers that came out of the format. The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Christo are among my favorite books of all time, and I adore Sherlock Holmes. There's also Uncle Tom's Cabin, Madame Bovary, and Anna Kerenina. Having read Clara's book, I know it was a thriller to start with. I can't wait to see what happens in the editorial process.

What do you think of serials coming back? Is your opinion different as a reader than as a writer?

I'm in the editing cave for a few weeks, so the pick and mix is going to be shortened this week. I'm posting Clara's winners below this week's AMAZING new release from David Levithan, and I'll see you again next weekend with the regular format.

The good news is that things are happening with my book! The team at Simon Pulse has picked a cover designer, who is already working on a concept I'm thrilled about. I'm hoping to get the go ahead soon to share some of the designer's other work with you. They've also got a new title, which may change, so I'm not going to share yet. Most importantly, my editor has blown my mind with her insight into the story and into Barrie, Eight, Cassie, and the other characters. She's picked up on nuances and history that aren't even in the book. And her line edits are brilliant. In fact, looking at the pattern in her line edits, I came up with this week's writing tip. It's at the end of the post. :)

Have a wonderful week!

This Week's Giveaway

Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan
Hardcover Giveaway
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 8/27/2013

New York Times' bestselling author David Levithan tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record--all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS.

While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites--all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other.

This follow-up to the bestselling Every Day showcases David's trademark sharp-witted, warm-hearted tales of teenage love, and serves as a perfect thematic bookend to David's YA debut and breakthrough, Boy Meets Boy, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2013.

Purchase Two Boys Kissing at Amazon
Purchase Two Boys Kissing at IndieBound
View Two Boys Kissing on Goodreads

Clara's Special Giveaway Winners


TIGER’S CURSE by Colleen Houck

Winner: Heather Cranmer


COLD KISS by Amy Garvey (ARC)
THE SUMMONING by Kelley Armstrong
Winner: The Magic Violinist


THIS LULLABY by Sarah Dessen
Winner: Erica Haglund

Reader of the Week: Natalie Aguirre

Natalie is a gift to the online writing community. As a reader, she does fantastic reviews and giveaways of great young adult and middle grade books over at Literary Rambles

She is also a tireless friend to so many in the blogosphere. I don't know how she does what she does, but she's fantastic. Thank you, Natalie, for all you do, and for stopping by here so faithfully and supporting us!

Blogger/Writer of the Week: Carol Baldwin

Carol has been both a reader and a journal writer for more than 30 years. Her book, "Teaching the Story: Fiction Writing in Grades 4-8" (Maupin House, 2007) reflects these twin passions of reading and writing. "If you want to write, read!"

Carol is writing her first young adult novel, and she teaches and speaks as well. Hop on over to her blog to find posts like the following:

Writing Tip of the Week

Do a global search for the word "it" in your manuscript. Replace almost every instance with specific details. Readers use detail to keep them grounded in the story, and the more unique the details are, the better. Replacing that one little word lets me build in additional detail and insights into character. Each generic "it" is a lost opportunity!

Thought for the Week

Via Pinterest

Something Fun Things to Watch

Friday, August 30, 2013

27 SIX YA Book Giveaways plus New Releases 8/30-9/6


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The Outside
by Laura Bickle
Hardcover Giveaway
Harcourt Children''s Books
Released 9/3/2013

After a plague of vampires was unleashed in the world, Katie was kicked out of the safe haven of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. She enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two friends and a horse by her side. And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can they be trusted, and are they even people at all? In this sequel to The Hallowed Ones, it's up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to sacrifice in return?

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

I loved throwing my protagonist, Katie, into the Outside world. Katie is a young Amish woman who has longed to see the world beyond her own settlement for many years. Now, she gets her wish in a terrifying way. She's kicked out of her home and forced to face a plague of vampires on foreign turf. Katie is forced to draw upon her own strength and faith to protect herself and her friends in a newly-devastated landscape.

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

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Dead is Just a Dream
by Marlene Perez
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Harcourt Children''s Books
Released 9/3/2013

The people of Nightshade, California, are dying in their sleep, and fifteen-year-old warrior Jessica Walsh is determined to find the killer . . . or killers. Justice isn't the only thing on Jessica's mind, however. In fact, some days she's not sure which is worse--having a creepy clown lurking outside her window or having her rock star boyfriend's hot ex-girlfriend back in town. Nightshade is crawling with paranormal people like Jessica . . . and it's possible that the anti-paranormal group the Scourge is back to get rid of them. Or are the disturbing works of a strange painter somehow at the heart of the mystery? Jessica is losing sleep, but she's got to figure it out before the night terrors strike again.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Dead is Just a Dream?

I have so many favorite parts, but I love the cover. I also love that the idea for this book came from a question I received during a panel I was on for the Houston Teen Book Con. The panel consisted of Holly Black, DJ McHale, Gina Dimaco, and me. Someone in the audience asked us what we were afraid of and I mentioned clowns. Later on, it inspired the beginning of Dead Is Just a Dream. What if the thing we feared haunted our dreams?

Purchase Dead is Just a Dream at Amazon
Purchase Dead is Just a Dream at IndieBound
View Dead is Just a Dream on Goodreads

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Sweet Legacy
by Tera Lynn Childs
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 9/3/2013

The stunning conclusion of Tera Lynn Childs's Greek mythology–based Sweet Venom trilogy is perfect for teen fans of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series.

The girls cannot hesitate as they seek the location of the lost door between the realms, even as monsters and the gods of Olympus descend on San Francisco in battle-ready droves.

Greer must use her second sight to step up and prevent anything from stopping her sisters' mission, even though a god is playing with her mind. Grace wants to trust her adopted brother, Thane; but will his secret put the girls in even more danger? And Gretchen has trained her sisters to stop the monsters, but her role as a huntress comes with more responsibility than she ever imagined.What will the girls' immortal legacy be?

Three teenage descendants of Medusa must unite to restore balance to the world in this action-packed series with plenty of romance.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Sweet Legacy?

That I get to kill a main character! No, just kidding. (Mostly. (Not really.)) My favorite thing about SWEET LEGACY is that when I started the first scene of SWEET VENOM I knew exactly how I wanted the trilogy to end. I knew the exact scene in the exact location and the exact exchange that would happen. As most writers will tell you, sometimes books and series can go off the rails from the original plan, and I pretty much expected/feared that would happen with my Medusa girl. But it didn't! The final scene of the book is exactly the scene I expected it to be from the very beginning. And that's my favorite thing ever!

Purchase Sweet Legacy at Amazon
Purchase Sweet Legacy at IndieBound
View Sweet Legacy on Goodreads

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by Elizabeth Miles
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 9/3/2013

Secrets and revenge make for desperate measures and fateful choices in this gripping conclusion to the Fury trilogy.The weather is mild in Ascension, but beneath the surface, everything is burning up.

The nightmare Emily Winters has been living through for months shows no sign of ending, as the Furies stay on the peripheral, slowly driving her crazy. Em feels...different. She's angry, and never cold, and too strong. It's only a matter of time before she turns into the thing she hates the most. Em needs to take her fate into her own hands, but without Drea's help, or anyone to turn to, Em is quickly running out of options.

Crow's involvement with Em has grown more complicated. His visions are taking shape--and it doesn't look good for Em. But Crow has a plan, and he will do anything to save her. Anything.

JD misses the Em he used to know...and love. She doesn't seem like herself; it's like she's hiding something. When JD begins to learn the truth, he is as scared as he is determined to help her. And Em's survival may be dependent on his actions.

The Furies love to play games, but this time they're deadly serious--and they hate to lose.

Purchase Eternity at Amazon
Purchase Eternity at IndieBound
View Eternity on Goodreads

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Dead Ends
by Erin Jade Lange
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
Bloomsbury USA Childrens; 1 edition
Released 9/3/2013

Dane Washington is one suspension away from expulsion. In a high school full of "haves," being a "have not" makes Dane feel like life is hurtling toward one big dead end. Billy D. spends his high school days in Special Ed and he's not exactly a "have" himself. The biggest thing Billy's missing? His dad. Billy is sure the riddles his father left in an atlas are really clues to finding him again and through a bizarre turn of events, he talks Dane into joining him on the search.
A bully and a boy with Down syndrome makes for an unlikely friendship, but together, they work through the clues, leading to unmarked towns and secrets of the past. But they're all dead ends. Until the final clue . . . and a secret Billy shouldn't have been keeping.

As a journalist, Erin Jade Lange is inspired by hot button issues like bullying, but it is her honest characters and breakneck plotting that make Dead Ends a must-read.

Purchase Dead Ends at Amazon
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View Dead Ends on Goodreads

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by Kristi Cook
Hardcover Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 9/3/2013

True love and destiny collide in the conclusion to the Haven trilogy, which Booklist called "a blend of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, the Twilight saga, and Lois Duncan's thrillers."

Forced to endure the violent punishment of the Tribunal for murders he has no recollection of committing, Aidan is slowly rotting away in a Paris dungeon. Violet is all but an unreachable dream to him now.

But unlike Aidan, Violet has not given up hope as she works tirelessly with Matthew, her guardian and protector, to prove Aidan's innocence and unravel the haunting vision that plagues her thoughts--the death of someone closest to her.

Determined to set Aidan free, Violet discovers that a dangerous vampire war is brewing--and that Aidan may be at the center of it all. It's only when the war reaches the doors of Winterhaven and tragedy strikes the school that Violet has to finally accept her fate. But that could mean losing Aidan--forever.

With no other option, Violet must choose between true love and fulfilling her destiny--unless she can find a way to have them both.

Purchase Eternal at Amazon
Purchase Eternal at IndieBound
View Eternal on Goodreads


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Once We Were
by Kat Zhang
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway 
PLUS giftcard for What's Left of Me
Released 9/17/2013

Winner: Lori Lee 

"I'm lucky just to be alive"

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to "cure" the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva's soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she's falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

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

ONCE WE WERE was definitely a tough book for me. I'd heard about "second book syndrome" before, and how book 2s can wear an author into the ground. So I thought I was prepared--and I was, in a way, but being prepared for tons of self-doubt, wanting to tear your story to shreds, and days of being quite hopeless the thing will EVER come together isn't nearly the same thing as actually experiencing it.

This book put me through the wringer, guys. For a long time, I was afraid I'd bitten off more than I could chew. That I'd stretched too far, and that this story needed a better writer to pull it off. But somehow, somehow, I wrangled with it and got it into a shape I'm really darn proud of. And now, as I struggle with Book 3, I'm that much more confident in myself. ONCE WE WERE helped me (forced me, kicking and screaming, more like!) to grow as a writer, and that's my favorite thing about it. :)

Purchase Once We Were at Amazon
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View Once We Were on Goodreads

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by C.J. Redwine
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
Balzer + Bray
Released 8/27/2013

Winner: Janae V.

A rich, postapocalyptic YA fantasy perfect for fans of Graceling and Tamora Pierce, this sequel to C. J. Redwine's Defiance continues the story of warrior Rachel Adams and her love, Logan McEntire. With their city-state ravaged, their lives under constant threat from rival armies, and a band of survivors looking to them for leadership, Rachel and Logan must work to forge a new future for them all.
Abandoning the ruins of their home to take their chances in the Wasteland, the group soon realizes their problems have only begun: an unknown killer--possibly inside their ranks--has begun picking off the survivors one by one. And Rachel and Logan must question whether the price of freedom may be too great--and whether they can make it out of the Wasteland alive.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Deception?

My favorite thing about Deception is that we see Rachel start to heal. She has to finish breaking first, but then she learns some important lessons about how to face loss and grief and guilt, and we see her slowly start to put the pieces back together again. It was really important to me to get that right. At its heart, the Defiance trilogy is about finding redemption after being broken, and Rachel's journey in Deception was key to that. (On a lighter note, I also really loved that I got to write more kissing scenes in Deception than I did for Defiance!)

Purchase Deception at Amazon
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View Deception on Goodreads

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The Dark Between
by Sonia Gensler
Hardcover Giveaway
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 8/27/2013

Winner: Angela Brown

A supernatural romance about the powers that lie in the shadows of the mind, perfect for fans of Sarah Rees Brennan, Alyxandra Harvey, and Libba Bray.

At the turn of the twentieth century, Spiritualism and seances are all the rage, even in the scholarly town of Cambridge, England. While mediums dupe the grief-stricken, a group of local fringe scientists seeks to bridge the gap to the spirit world by investigating the dark corners of the human mind.

Each running from a shadowed past, Kate, Asher, and Elsie take refuge within the walls of Summerfield College. But their peace is soon shattered by the discovery of a dead body nearby. Is this the work of a flesh-and-blood villain, or is something otherworldly at play? This unlikely trio must illuminate what the scientists have not, and open a window to secrets taken to the grave--or risk joining the spirit world themselves.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Dark Between?

I've always gained inspiration from setting. When I began developing the idea for The Dark Between, I was interested in a story about the people who founded the Society for Psychical Research, or more specifically, the children of those people. I was particularly fascinated by the fact that many of the Society's early members were graduates of Cambridge University, and that one of them, philosopher Henry Sidgwick, even founded a women's college in Cambridge. I remember thinking "what could be cooler than a story set in one of the most famous university towns in the world?" It is an ancient and beautiful place, all spires and stone and meadows and gardens, with a gorgeous river winding throughout. It's a place of learning and grand ideas, but also of social and intellectual snobbery, and even crime. The more I worked on the book, the more the city became a character of its own. Cambridge is known for hatching famous writers, politicians, and scientists. It's not known, however as a center for paranormal research . . . and yet the Society for Psychical Research was founded by men who were once members of a Ghost Society at Trinity College. I fell in love with Cambridge through reading about it, but I did eventually manage to visit in person. Over the past few years, I've made four trips. The more time I spent there, the clearer my characters and conflicts came into focus. It may sound a little strange, but I'm so grateful to my book for introducing me to Cambridge! It has become one of my favorite places, and it definitely is one of my favorite things about The Dark Between.

Purchase The Dark Between at Amazon
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View The Dark Between on Goodreads

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To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story
by Sonya Sones
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
Simon & Schuster
Released 8/27/2013

Winner: Brooke A.

Her friends
have a joke about her:
How can you tell if Colette is lying?

Her mouth is open.

Fifteen-year-old Colette is addicted to lying. Her shrink says this is because she's got a very bad case of Daughter-of-a-famous-movie-star Disorder--so she lies to escape out from under her mother's massive shadow. But Colette doesn't see it that way. She says she lies because it's the most fun she can have with her clothes on. Not that she's had that much fun with her clothes off. At least not yet, anyway.

When her mother drags her away from Hollywood to spend the entire summer on location in a boring little town in the middle of nowhere, Colette is less than thrilled. But then she meets a sexy biker named Connor. He's older, gorgeous, funny, and totally into her. So what if she lies to him about her age, and about who her mother is? I mean, she has to keep her mother's identity a secret from him. If he finds out who she really is, he'll forget all about Colette, and start panting and drooling and asking her for her mother's autograph. Just like everyone always does.

But what Colette doesn't know is that Connor is keeping a secret of his own...

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story?

The thing I like best about TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST is the shocking twist in the story. It is also the thing I like least about the book. But only because I get so frustrated when people ask me what the book is about and I can't tell them about my favorite part. But that would spoil the surprise! And what's the point of having a shocking twist if the reader isn't shocked, right?
I can tell you that the book is about a big fat liar named Colette. Colette made her first appearance in one of my other books, ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES. Though I didn't even know she was a liar when I wrote that book. Colette didn't show me her true colors (or should I say "her untrue colors"?) until I wrote TO BE PERFECTLY HONEST. But even though she's a liar, I can't help loving her. I mean, you'd be tempted to do a little lying of your own if your mother was such a famous movie star that no one ever paid the slightest bit of attention to you. Wouldn't you? Just to make yourself seem more interesting than you actually are?

Purchase To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story at Amazon
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View To Be Perfectly Honest: A Novel Based on an Untrue Story on Goodreads

* * * *

Fire & Ash
by Jonathan Maberry
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
Simon & Schuster
Released 8/27/2013

Winner: Rebecca Schwarz

In the gripping conclusion to the action-packed "standard bearer" (Booklist) of zombie series, the threat of death is given new life.

Benny Imura and his friends have found the jet and Sanctuary--but neither is what they expected. Instead of a refuge, Sanctuary is a hospice, and the soldiers who flew the plane seem to be little more than bureaucrats who have given up hope for humanity's future. With Chong hovering between life and death, clinging to his humanity by a thread, Benny makes a startling discovery: A scientist may have discovered a cure for the zombie plague. Desperate to save Chong, Benny and his friends mount a search and rescue mission. But they're not the only ones on the hunt. The reapers are after the cure too, and they want to use it turn all the zombies into superfast shock troops--and wipe humanity off the face of the earth.

In this riveting conclusion to the Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is just beginning.

Purchase Fire & Ash at Amazon
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View Fire & Ash on Goodreads

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Don''t Look Now
by Michelle Gagnon
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Released 8/27/2013

Winner: Viviana Ortiz

The jaw-dropping sequel to breakout YA thriller Don't Turn Around, which Kirkus Reviews named a Best Book of the Year, calling it "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for teens, a surefire hit"

Noa Torsen is on the run. Having outsmarted the sinister corporation Pike & Dolan, Noa and her friend Zeke now move stealthily across the country, protecting runaways before they become test subjects for P&D's horrific experiments. Noa knows all too well what that feels like: Whatever they did to her has left her exhausted and scared.

Back in Boston, Peter anxiously follows Noa's movements from his computer, using his hacker skills to feed her the information she needs to stay alive. But he's desperate to do something more, especially when he learns what P&D has done to his ex-girlfriend Amanda.

Then, in an explosive confrontation, Noa and her team are trapped in the one place they thought was safe. It will take everything Noa and Peter have to bring down the corporation before it gets them first. And with no one to trust and enemies hiding at every turn, they may be the only people alive who can.

This stunning second book in the critically acclaimed Don't Turn Around trilogy raises the stakes to their absolute limit and will leave readers begging for the exciting conclusion, Don't Let Go.

Purchase Don''t Look Now at Amazon
Purchase Don''t Look Now at IndieBound
View Don''t Look Now on Goodreads

* * * *

The Morning Star
by Robin Bridges
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Released 8/27/2013

Winner: Anna Gergen

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1890

Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, wants to be known as a doctor, not a necromancer. But Tsar Alexander III forbids women to attend medical school; his interest in Katerina extends only to her ability to raise the dead. Twice now, Katerina has helped him by using her power to thwart the forces of darkness--vampires bent on resurrecting the lich tsar Konstantin Pavlovich so that he can take what he sees as his rightful place on the throne. Katerina thought she had bound Konstantin to the Greylands, the realm of the dead, but he has found a way out. Now he is searching for the Morning Star, a sword that will allow him to command a legion of supernatural warriors.

Katerina must find the sword before Konstantin does, and she must travel to Egypt to do so. Along the way, she puts up with unwanted attention from her former fiance, the nefarious Prince Danilo, and struggles with her feelings for her true love, George Alexandrovich. But with the looming threat from Konstantin, Katerina's focus remains on the sword. Russia's fate will be determined by whoever wields the Morning Star--and delivers the final blow.

Purchase The Morning Star at Amazon
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View The Morning Star on Goodreads


* * * *

Starry Nights
by Daisy Whitney
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 9/3/2013

They called it the killing day. Twelve people dead, all in the space of a few hours. Five murderers: neighbors, relatives, friends. All of them so normal. All of them seemingly harmless. All of them now dead by their own hand . . . except one. And that one has no answers to offer the shattered town. She doesn't even know why she killed--or whether she'll do it again.

Something is waking in the sleepy town of Oleander's, Kansas--something dark and hungry that lives in the flat earth and the open sky, in the vengeful hearts of upstanding citizens. As the town begins its descent into blood and madness, five survivors of the killing day are the only ones who can stop Oleander from destroying itself. Jule, the outsider at war with the world; West, the golden boy at war with himself; Daniel, desperate for a different life; Cass, who's not sure she deserves a life at all; and Ellie, who believes in sacrifice, fate, and in evil. Ellie, who always goes too far. They have nothing in common. They have nothing left to lose. And they have no way out. Which means they have no choice but to stand and fight, to face the darkness in their town--and in themselves.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Starry Nights?

Paris! Yes, I know that's a broad answer. But yet, it's true. I adore Paris with every bit of my heart and soul and I loved every minute of writing a novel set in my most favorite city in the world. I love the art, the cafes, the shopping, the food, the streets, the people, the river, the language. Paris is the most magical and wondrous place to me, and one of my hopes with Starry Nights is that I was able to bring alive this fantastic city that is itself a character in the novel.

Purchase Starry Nights at Amazon
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View Starry Nights on Goodreads

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The Shade of the Moon
by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Harcourt Children''s Books
Released 9/3/2013

The eagerly awaited addition to the series begun with the New York Times best-seller Life As We Knew It, in which a meteor knocks the moon off its orbit and the world changes forever.

It's been more than two years since Jon Evans and his family left Pennsylvania, hoping to find a safe place to live, yet Jon remains haunted by the deaths of those he loved. His prowess on a soccer field has guaranteed him a home in a well-protected enclave. But Jon is painfully aware that a missed goal, a careless word, even falling in love, can put his life and the lives of his mother, his sister Miranda, and her husband, Alex, in jeopardy. Can Jon risk doing what is right in a world gone so terribly wrong?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Shade of the Moon?

The Shade Of The Moon is the fourth book in a kind of unintended series I've written. When I wrote the first one, Life As We Knew It, I wanted to know what was going to happen next with the characters. I had to wait until the third book, This World We Live In, to get the answers to my questions.

But then I found out I wanted to know more, and so did many of the people who'd read all three books. So The Shade Of The Moon continues the story, but takes place a couple of years later, and is told from the point of view of a whole other character, Jon, who is just a kid in Life As We Knew It.

I love my characters and I love the dismal world I put them in. So my favorite thing about The Shade Of The Moon is getting to spend more time with them and finding out what happened next!

Purchase The Shade of the Moon at Amazon
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View The Shade of the Moon on Goodreads


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by Allison van Diepen
Simon Pulse
Released 9/3/2013

A teen infiltrates a drug ring to settle a vendetta in this fast-paced novel from the author of Street Pharm and Snitch.

Darren took the fall for Diamond Tony, the notorious head of the city's drug cartel. Two years later, Darren's finally out of juvie and determined to get even.

Working as an informant for the police, Darren infiltrates Diamond Tony's operation. But falling for sweet, innocent Jessica was not part of that plan. She's a distraction--and a liability. She's also everything Darren dreamed about while he was locked up, and with her, he has the promise of a fresh start.

When a deadly turf war breaks out between Diamond Tony and the Bloods, Darren gets caught in the crossfire. The cops think he's playing both sides, and any mistake could be his last. Darren has to stay on his game if he's going to protect Jessica--and if he's going to stay alive.

Purchase Takedown at Amazon
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View Takedown on Goodreads

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The Ghost in the Glass House
by Carey Wallace
Clarion Books
Released 9/3/2013

In a 1920s seaside town, Clare discovers a mysterious glass house in the backyard of her new summer home. There she falls in love with Jack, the ghost of a boy who can't remember who he was before he died. Their romance is a haven for her from the cruel pranks of her society friends, especially her best friend, Bridget, who can't wait to grow up and embark on romances of her own.

As Clare begins to suspect an affair between her mother and Bridget's father, she retreats to the glass house. But that haven begins to crack when she realizes that Jack has lied to her about his name . . . From a dazzling and fearless new voice comes a shimmering story full of wonder and mystery, in a world where every character is haunted by lingering ghosts of love.

Purchase The Ghost in the Glass House at Amazon
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* * * *

All Our Yesterdays
by Cristin Terrill
Hyperion Book CH
Released 9/3/2013

Marina has everything. She's got money, popularity, and a bright future. Plus, she's best friends with the boy next door, who happens to be a gorgeous prodigy from one of America's most famous families.

Em has nothing. Imprisoned in a small white cell in the heart of a secret military base, all she has is the voice of the boy in the cell next door and the list of instructions she finds taped inside the drain.

But Marina and Em have one big thing in common: they're the same person.

Now Em must travel back four years in time in order to avert the terrible future from which she's fled, and there's only one way to do it. She must kill the person who invented the time machine in the first place: someone from her past. A person she loved.

But Marina won't let them go without a fight.

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* * * *

Leap of Faith
by Jamie Blair
Simon & Schuster
Released 9/3/2013

Can true love be built on lies? A teen on the run seeks relief and redemption in this gripping, romantic read.

Leah Kurtz has finally found a place to call home, a town where she and baby Addy can live in peace, far from the drug-infested place she grew up. Chris is one of the best parts of her new life, the only person who's ever made her feel safe. And now that she's found him, there's no way she can tell the truth:

Her real name is Faith, not Leah. She's seventeen, not nineteen. And the baby isn't hers--Faith kidnapped her.

Faith's history catches up with her when a cop starts asking questions and Chris's aunt spots her picture in the newspaper. She knows it's time to run again, but if Faith leaves, she'll lose Chris. If Chris is in love with a lie, though, did Faith ever really have him in the first place?

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* * * *

Are You Experienced?
by Jordan Sonnenblick
Feiwel & Friends
Released 9/3/2013

Rich is fifteen and plays guitar. When his girlfriend asks him to perform at protest rally, he jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, the police show up, and so does Rich’s dad. He’s in big trouble. Again. To make matters worse, this happens near the anniversary of his uncle’s death from a drug overdose years ago. Rich’s dad always gets depressed this time of year, but whenever Rich asks questions about his late uncle, his dad shuts down.

Frustrated by his dad’s silence, Rich sneaks into his office and breaks into a locked cabinet that holds his dad’s prized possession: an electric guitar signed by Jimi Hendrix. Before he knows it, Rich is transported to the side of a road in Upstate New York with a beautiful girl bending over him. It will take him a while to realize it’s 1969, he’s at Woodstock, and the girl’s band of friends includes his fifteen-year-old dad and his uncle, who’s still alive. In Are You Experienced? by Jordan Sonnenblick, what Rich learns, who he meets, and what he does could change his life forever.

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* * * *

I Am Alice
by Joseph Delaney
Greenwillow Books
Released 9/3/2013

The twelfth book in the internationally best-selling fantasy adventure series that inspired the forthcoming major motion picture Seventh Son. Told from the point of view of Alice, best friend—and true love—to Tom, the Spook's last apprentice. Alice is the most powerful witch in the world, and she ventures into the dark itself. Will she return?

Alice Dean's destiny is intertwined with Tom Ward's. But he's going to be the next Spook, and she's a witch—possibly the most powerful one the world has ever seen. To rid the world of its greatest evil, the Fiend, Alice will venture into the depths of the dark for the final weapon Tom needs to defeat him. Will she survive? Or will she make the ultimate sacrifice for Tom? The Last Apprentice series is soon to be a major motion picture, Seventh Son, starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Barnes, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Olivia Williams, Antje Traue, Djimon Hounsou and Julianne Moore as Mother Malkin. It's a suspenseful thrill-ride that's "spine-tingling" (Publishers Weekly) and "anything but tame" (Horn Book). But don't read it after dark!

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* * * *

The 100
by Kass Morgan
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 9/3/2013

In the future, humans live in city-like spaceships orbiting far above Earth's toxic atmosphere. No one knows when, or even if, the long-abandoned planet will be habitable again. But faced with dwindling resources and a growing populace, government leaders know they must reclaim their homeland... before it's too late.

Now, one hundred juvenile delinquents are being sent on a high-stakes mission to recolonize Earth. After a brutal crash landing, the teens arrive on a savagely beautiful planet they've only seen from space. Confronting the dangers of this rugged new world, they struggle to form a tentative community. But they're haunted by their past and uncertain about the future. To survive, they must learn to trust - and even love - again.

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* * * *

by Kirsty McKay
Chicken House
Released 9/1/2013

Fresh meat! From a hospital of horrors to a runaway zombie train, it's an all-new onslaught of the slavering undead in the sequel to Kirsty McKay's killer debut!

Just when you think you're's the morning after the night of the return of the living dead. Or something like that. After running/bus-driving/snowboarding for her life alongside rebel Smitty, geeky Pete, and popular Alice, Bobby thought she'd found the antidote to the Carrot Man Veggie Juice that had turned the rest of their classmates into zombies. When Smitty (mmm...nom, nom) got chomped, Bobby pumped a syringe full of it into him herself.

But now Bobby's a prisoner in some hospital of horrors, with no clue how she got there. And Smitty is missing. What if he isn't cured after all? Bobby knows she's got to find him, even if it means facing Scotland's hungry hordes -- plus Alice's buckets of snark -- again. And this time, zombies aren't the only evil stressing her out. The brain-dead are bad enough, but how can Bobby stop the big pharma business behind the epidemic? Especially when her own mom works for the company?

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* * * *

by Marianne Mancusi
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 9/3/2013

Sixteen-year-old Trinity Brown is used to her grandfather's crazy stories, so she never believed the latest treasure he brought home was a real dragon's egg. Not until their home is invaded by soldiers trying to steal it and a strange boy who tells her the world as she knows it will be wiped out in a fiery dragon war--unless they work together to stop it. Meantime, there's a different voice whispering to Trinity, calling to her, telling her what to do...the dragon inside her egg is not ready to give up without a fight.

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* * * *

Game On
by Melanie Spring
Released 9/3/2013

Behind every squad, there's a story.Welcome to the world of high school cheerleading.

It's fall of their freshman year, and Chloe, Kate, and Emily are excited to take their places on the Northside High JV cheerleading squad. But when newcomer Devin arrives on the scene, she unwittingly shakes up the girls' tight friendship and rattles Chloe's confidence. With regional competitions right around the corner, though, this is no time for the squad to fall apart-building a human pyramid takes teamwork, after all!
Chronicling the dramas of best friends, first boyfriends, and freshman year, this spirited series has something for everyone-whether or not you can rock a high pony.
Get fired up for the first book in a brand-new series created in partnership with Varsity, the world's leading cheerleading brand.

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* * * *

The Lord of Opium
by Nancy Farmer
Released 9/3/2013

The new book continues the story of Matt, the boy who was cloned from evil drug lord El Patron in The House of the Scorpion. Now 14 years old, Matt rules his own country, the Land of Opium, the only thriving place in a world ravaged by ecological disaster. Though he knows that the cure for ending the suffering is hidden in Opium, Matt faces obstacles and enemies at every turn when he tries to use his power to help.

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* * * *

by Risa Green
Soho Teen
Released 9/3/2013

When 13-year-old Gretchen Harris's mother is murdered at Gretchen's 8th Grade graduation party, everyone in the town of Delphi, California, suspects a power struggle within the Oculus Society: Delphi's version of the Junior League. Gretchen's best friend, Jessica Shaw, might even hold the key to finding the culprit withThe Plotinus Ability: the Oculus Society's jealously guarded secret power to trade souls, which hinges on a kiss. Gretchen's hope at finding the murderer ends in tragedy when Ariel Miller--the class outcast--stalks Gretchen and Jessica and surreptitiously films them exchanging a kiss to test if the Plotinus Ability is real, not knowing their motives. The ensuing YouTube video ("Popular Girls = Secret Lovers") goes viral, Gretchen's and Jessica's lives are further shattered, and they vanish from Delphi.

Flash forward two years later: Ariel is suddenly the most popular junior in town, but wracked with guilt over what she did to Gretchen and Jessica. When both girls reappear after their mysterious absence, Ariel finds herself pawn, suspect, and key player in their scheme to bring the murderer to justice.

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* * * *

The Social Code
by Sadie Hayes
St. Martin''s Griffin
Released 9/3/2013

In a world where anyone can rise to the top, the only rule is... watch your back, in Sadie Hayes' The Social Code.

Eighteen-year-old twins Adam and Amelia Dory learned the hard way to rely only on each other, growing up in a small town where they understood the meaning of coming from nothing. But everything changes when both are offered scholarships to Stanford University – and catapulted into the dazzling world of Silicon Valley, where anyone with a good enough idea can skyrocket to fame and fortune in the blink of an eye…

Amelia is almost as pretty as she is smart – almost. A shy girl and genius, she is happiest alone in the computer lab, but her brother has other plans for her talents: A new company that will be the next Silicon Valley hit, and will thrust Amelia into the spotlight whether she likes it or not. Where Amelia’s the brains, Adam’s the ambition – he sees the privileged lifestyle of the Silicon Valley kids and wants a piece of what they have. He especially wants a piece of Lisa Bristol, the stunning daughter of one of the Valley’s biggest tycoons.

As Adam and Amelia begin to hatch their new company, they find themselves going from nothing to the verge of everything seemingly overnight. But no amount of prestige can prepare them for the envy, backstabbing and cool calculation of their new powerful peers.

Welcome to Silicon Valley, where fortune, success – and betrayal – are only a breath away…

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* * * *

Fire with Fire
by Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han
Simon & Schuster
Released 9/3/2013

When sweet revenge turns sour--Book two of a trilogy from New York Times, bestselling author Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian.

Lillia, Kat, and Mary had the perfect plan. Work together in secret to take down the people who wronged them. But things didn't exactly go the way they'd hoped at the Homecoming Dance.

Not even close.

For now, it looks like they got away with it. All they have to do is move on and pick up the pieces, forget there ever was a pact. But it's not easy, not when Reeve is still a total jerk and Rennie's meaner than she ever was before.

And then there's sweet little Mary--she knows there's something seriously wrong with her. If she can't control her anger, she's sure that someone will get hurt even worse than Reeve was. Mary understands now that it's not just that Reeve bullied her--it's that he made her love him.

Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth, burn for a burn. A broken heart for a broken heart. The girls are up to the task. They'll make Reeve fall in love with Lillia and then they will crush him. It's the only way he'll learn.

It seems once a fire is lit, the only thing you can do is let it burn...

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

1 Character Bucket List - Cate, Maura, and Tess from The Cahill Witch Chronicles by Jessica Spotswood

Here are bucket lists for Cate, Maura, and Tess. Of course - if the prophecy of the last oracle is correct, one of them will die at her sister's hand before the dawn of the 20th century...

1. Protect my sisters
2. Make New England safe for other girls like us
3. Marry Finn
4. Have adorable freckled children & teach them to climb trees
5. Have a sweet little house with my own garden and an apple tree
6. Help people with my healing magic

1. Wrest control from the Brothers
2. Lead the Sisterhood someday whether I'm the oracle or not
3. Make the entire world safe for girls like us
4. Show Cate she was wrong about everything
5. Kiss Elena again. Maybe.

1. Make peace between Cate and Maura
2. Tell Father the truth about us
3. Learn Chinese from Mei
4. Learn to make Sister Sophia's proper Christmas pudding
5. Beat Mei at chess
6. Read all the books in the Sisters' library
7. Write my own book someday - and not get arrested for it
8. Find someone who looks at me the way Finn looks at Cate

About the Book

With the Brotherhood persecuting witches like never before, a divided Sisterhood desperately needs Cate to come into her Prophesied powers. And after Cate's friend Sachi is arrested for using magic, a war-thirsty Sister offers to help her find answers—if Cate is willing to endanger everyone she loves.

Cate doesn't want to be a weapon, and she doesn't want to involve her friends and Finn in the Sisterhood's schemes. But when Maura and Tess join the Sisterhood, Maura makes it clear that she'll do whatever it takes to lead the witches to victory. Even if it means sacrifices. Even if it means overthrowing Cate. Even if it means all-out war.

In the highly anticipated sequel to Born Wicked, the Cahill Witch Chronicles continue Cate, Maura and Tess's quest to find love, protect family, and explore their magic against all odds in an alternate history of New England.

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About the Author

Jessica Spotswood grew up in a tiny one-stoplight town in Pennsylvania, where she could be found swimming, playing clarinet, memorizing lines for the school play, or—most often—with her nose in a book. She's been writing since she was little but studied theatre in college and grad school. Now she lives in Washington, DC with her brilliant playwright husband and a cuddly cat named Monkey.

She is the author of The Cahill Witch Chronicles. The first book in the trilogy, BORN WICKED, and the second book, STAR CURSED, are both available from Putnam. She loves reading books about independent girls who still get in a fair amount of swoony kissing, so that's what she tried to write.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

7 Lisa & Laura Roecker on Putting Yourself Ahead of the Game by Finishing

We are so excited to have Lisa and Laura Roecker on the blog today. They call themselves the Kardashians of the Young Adult writing world only smarter, funnier and with significantly smaller bank accounts. Thanks so much for being here, ladies!

Stop Messing Around and Just Finish
by Lisa & Laura Roecker

I called Lisa the other day in an effort to determine the best piece of writing advice we’d ever been given or could hope to give. As usual, an hour passed as we discussed our kids, our husbands, Lisa’s new puppy Gus, the weather, anything but the task at hand. We complained about how busy we were, how our houses were a mess, how there wasn’t time to do anything. For over an hour. And we hung up without ever deciding on advice.

We’re either the worst advice-givers on the planet or a couple of geniuses who are sacrificing our own productivity to serve as an example for writers everywhere. I prefer the latter. The advice is obvious: stop dicking around.

I’m sorry if this sounds harsh/crass/trashy/immature, but it’s the only word that appropriately describes what Lisa and I do on a daily basis, and what I imagine many other writers struggle with as well. If we’re not trolling the Internet for new light fixtures we’ll never end up buying or sinking into a Twitter abyss or being smothered by pins or talking on the phone for five hours a night, we’re sitting blurry-eyed in front of Love It or List It or Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis. If even a quarter of that time had been spent working on the outline we still have to write or a character sketch or, I don’t know, READING, we wouldn’t feel quite so dirty.

Writing, especially when it’s scheduled into a busy day, shoved in the beginning before anyone in the house is awake or tacked onto the end after everyone is sleeping, is a drug. It’s like a great workout when your body is so sore you can barely lower yourself onto the toilet. You might complain about the pain, moan while attempting to stand up or sit down, but deep down, you couldn’t feel more satisfied. Or proud.

We say it all the time. To be a writer the only thing you have to do is write. And write. And write. And read too, but mainly write. It’s our go-to advice and something we’ve struggled with all summer. Because it’s hard. Like that daily workout, it’s sometimes hard to find the time. Lisa has a day job, a busy day job. Laura has a son who climbs on drawer pulls and plays with cords. And don’t forget the rejection. No matter who you are, how famous, you’ve faced it. Bad reviews. Rejection letters. The no’s.The not for me’s.The start over’s.
But here’s the secret: The majority of people out there who say they want to write a book, only say they want to write a book. The majority of people who start a book, never finish. By finishing, just finishing, you’ll beat the odds. And you can worry about all the other stuff later.

Because I don’t know about you, but I am so in the mood to run a marathon. To train and have sore muscles and be in the best shape of my life. And not just a few jogs here and there, but the real-deal. I want to cross the finish line with everyone cheering me on and remember the feeling, so when I have a rough summer, when life gets so busy I’m not sure I’ll ever find my way back out, I can start scheduling in those early morning or late night jogs again, using the muscles, feeling the burn, writing the story.

About the Authors

Lisa and Laura Roecker are sisters-turned-writing-partners with a love of all things Young Adult. Some call it arrested development, but the sisters claim it keeps them young. Plus, its cheaper than Botox. Lisa and Laura live in Cleveland, Ohio in separate residences. Their husbands wouldn't agree to a duplex. THE LIAR SOCIETY and THE LIES THAT BIND are the result of too much Christopher Pike and Lois Duncan in their formative years. Their third novel, THIS IS W.A.R released in July 2013.

The sisters are represented by their favorite may-jah agent Catherine Drayton of Inkwell Management.


About the Book

This is not a story of forgiveness...

The mystery of their best friend's murder drives four girls to destroy the Gregory family. Emily Thorne would be proud.

Everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club saw Willa Ames-Rowan climb into a boat with James Gregory, the Club’s heir apparent.

And everyone at Hawthorne Lake Country Club watched him return. Alone.

They all know he killed her. But none of them will say a word. The Gregory family is very, very good at making problems go away.

Enter the W.A.R.—the war to avenge Willa Ames-Rowan. Four girls. Four very different motives for justice and revenge, and only one rule: destroy the Gregory family at any cost.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

3 Find What Works For You by Adrienne Kress

I remember in University as a theatre major there was this one fellow student in my class who would take copious notes as our instructors would explain the point of a certain acting exercise. He would then raise his hand and ask something along the lines of: “If I do this, will this make me a good actor?” The instructors of course could never answer “yes”. Acting, like anything in the arts, requires the artist to find his or her own best way to improve his or her skills. There is no one right way to becoming a good actor. There are exercises that can be suggested, techniques worth trying, but ultimately not everything works for everybody.

This is the inherent problem, and freedom, in working on any artistic pursuit. On the one hand there's no one right way to go about doing it. On the other . . . there's no one right way to go about doing it. This is where creativity meets frustration. And the latter can become paralysing. Especially when you look around and see so much advice offered that seems very black and white.

As an author I have come across every kind of advice from “You must write every day” to “Write what you know” to “Never use a passive voice” etc etc and so forth. And there is value in almost any advice out there . . . if it works for you.

The thing is, teachers, bloggers, fellow authors (points at self), for the most part our intentions are good. We want to help. We want anyone who wants to be a writer to find their way in to being a writer. So we offer tips and thoughts and things that worked for us, but we simply cannot tell you with any kind of certainty what will work for you. None of us has the magic wand, none of us can figure it out for you. All we can do is offer some tricks, some exercises, some metaphors that may or may not resonate with you. And then it is up to you to choose what works for you.

So how do you know what works for you? Ah, see there's the part of this piece where we introduce the twist. One might think the solution is to listen to no one and just push ahead with our own plans. But I suggest otherwise. I suggest: we try. We try as much as we can and then collect those things that really worked and discard those that didn't. Heck I wouldn't even say “discard”. It's more like put them away in a box just in case you find you might need them at some point when all your usual tools fail you (and oh, they will fail you at some point because that's the fun part of being creative :P). It means that while we need to approach advice with a healthy dose of skepticism, we also need an equal measure of openness. We need to set our ego aside even if we really do think there's no way this particular technique will work for us. We need to embrace trying.

We also need to embrace failure and the knowledge that if something doesn't work then that's awesome because we now learned something new.

Another story:

I once was in the audience for an event that featured authors Stephen King and John Irving. At the Q & A portion of the evening someone asked:

Audience Member: What method do you use for coming up with a story?
King: Well it's sort of like this - I see a string sticking out of a hole in the wall, and I pull and I pull and I pull until I find out what's at the other end of the string.
Audience Member: And Mr. Irving?
Irving (offering a sideways glance at Mr. King): Well I guess you could say I'm the opposite. I'm not pulling on that string until I know what's on the other end of it.

Basically what we have here is King describing himself as a seat of the pants kind of writer, just starting writing and seeing where it takes him, and Irving describing himself as an outliner, making sure he knows what he is going to write before he does. These techniques are polar opposites and yet have worked wonderfully well for both authors. I'm not sure how the audience member felt with this answer as it is the sort of answer that can drive people who are just starting out a bit crazy. Because basically it offers no help. It doesn't offer an obvious path. It doesn't wave a magic wand. But I loved it because it gave a kind of permission to just go with whatever felt right for you. To know that others out there likely use your same technique just as yet others do not. And that that's okay.

In the end you need to figure out what you'd rather do, pull on the string and see what's on the other end, or know what's there the whole time. Or, heck, a combination of both, know what's on the other end, but nothing about the string itself. Or maybe there was no string in the first place! The possibilities! Yay extended metaphors.

One of the hardest things we as authors face is self doubt. And we don't need to add the fear that we aren't really doing it right. That we are frauds, that other authors are more “real” for using certain techniques. In the end, what makes you a writer is writing. Is creating. However you get there, is how you get there. If you need to stand on your head for half an hour and then eat toast buttered on both sides, and then dictate a chapter into a 1980s tape recorder, then that's what you have to do.

Don't judge yourself.

Don't judge others.

Do the work.

Keep an open mind, be brave, revel in failure and celebrate your successes.

And just keep writing.

About the Author

Adrienne Kress is a Toronto born actor and author who loves to play make-believe. She also loves hot chocolate. And cheese. Not necessarily together.

She is the author of two children's novels: Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and Timothy and the Dragon's Gate (Scholastic) and is a theatre graduate of the Univeristy of Toronto and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in the UK. Published around the world, Alex was featured in the New York Post as a "Post Potter Pick," as well as on the CBS early show. It won the Heart of Hawick Children's Book Award in the UK and was nominated for the Red Cedar. The sequel, Timothy, was nominated for the Audie, Red Cedar and Manitoba Young Readers Choice Awards, and was recently optioned for film. She's also contributed to two anthologies in 2011: Corsets & Clockwork (YA Steampunk Romance short story anthology, Running Press Kids), and The Girl Who Was On Fire (an essay anthology analysing the Hunger Games series - Smart Pop).

Her debut YA, The Friday Society (Penguin), was released in the fall of 2012 to a starred review from Quill and Quire. And her quirky romantic YA, Outcast (Diversion Books), released in June.


About the Book

After six years of “angels” coming out of the sky and taking people from her town, 16-year-old Riley Carver has just about had it living with the constant fear. When one decides to terrorize her in her own backyard, it’s the final straw. She takes her mother’s shotgun and shoots the thing. So it’s dead. Or … not? In place of the creature she shot, is a guy. A really hot guy. A really hot alive and breathing guy. Oh, and he’s totally naked.

Not sure what to do, she drags his unconscious body to the tool shed and ties him up. After all, he’s an angel and they have tricks. When he regains consciousness she’s all set to interrogate him about why the angels come to her town, and how to get back her best friend (and almost boyfriend) Chris, who was taken the year before. But it turns out the naked guy in her shed is just as confused about everything as she is.

He thinks it’s 1956.

Set in the deep south, OUTCAST is a story of love, trust, and coming of age. It’s also a story about the supernatural, a girl with a strange sense of humor who’s got wicked aim, a greaser from the 50’s, and an army of misfits coming together for one purpose: To kick some serious angel ass.

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Monday, August 26, 2013

6 Start As You Mean To Go On by C.J. Daugherty

The best advice I ever heard about first lines came from a fairly famous literary agent in London. He said ‘Every book should start in the middle of something.’

He was absolutely right.

When you open a book you should feel like you walked into the room where everyone is already in the midst of a conversation, a discussion, a fight – it doesn’t really matter what they’re in the middle of. What matters is the action is underway.

As a reader, you’re caught up instantly.

My book, Night School, begins in the middle of a crime. Two teens are vandalising their school, spray-painting obscenities on their principal’s office door.

We join the story seconds before the police arrive.

“Hurry up!” is the first line.

I got there by writing all the exposition I had in my head – who the kids were, how they got to the school, where the school was – and then cutting every bit of it. Paring it down until all that was left were those two words: “Hurry up!”

The reader doesn’t need to know all that stuff yet. All they need to know is a crime is being committed. And someone is about to get busted.

The rest can be revealed over time. You have 400 pages to play with. You don’t need to dump much of anything on your readers in the first paragraph. You just need to set the stage. My book is a romantic thriller. It starts with a crime, a chase scene and an arrest.

Start as you mean to go on.

One of my favourite first lines is from City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare:

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the bouncer said, folding his arms across his massive chest.

That’s a first line after my own heart:right in the middle of the action. The presence of a bouncer tells us where we are – a club or bar. We soon find out we’re waiting in line to get into a crowded night club in Manhattan where all hell is about to break loose for main character Clary Fray.


The first line of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, is heavy with portent:

“Walking to school over the snow-muffled cobbles, Karou had no sinister premonitions about the day.”

That’s an elegant start. Cobbles equal Europe, so we guess we’re abroad. Snow means winter. She was going to school so we have a vague idea of her age. And what lovely use of the word, ‘sinister’. Saying she didn’t know it was there means it isthere. Lurking.

One of my favourite books is The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. I basically want to live in that book. And the first line sets the stage beautifully:

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.”

You don’t need to know who Bunny is, or which mountains she’s writing about, or what situation. The sense of dread is there. And you’re ready to read more.

Like I said: start as you mean to go on.

About the Author

A former crime reporter, political writer and investigative journalist, C.J. Daugherty has worked for several US newspapers, including the Dallas Morning News, and Reuters.
She quit journalism when she discovered travel writing was easier and would allow her to stay in posh hotels for free. She's written several books about travel for Time Out and Frommers.

Between book projects she also worked for the British government. But that’s another story.

Night School was her first novel. She wrote it all in one long, warmish English summer. The Night School series is now being translated into twenty languages. That fact amazes her.

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About the Book

Trust no one…

Allie Sheridan’s world is falling apart. Her brother’s run away from home. Her parents ignore her. And she’s just been arrested.


This time her parents have had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to boarding school, far from her London friends.

But at Cimmeria Academy, Allie is soon caught up in the strange activities of a secret group of elite students.

When she’s attacked late one night the incident sets off a chain of increasingly violent events. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, she finds out that nothing at Cimmeria is what it seems to be.

And that she is not who she thought she was.

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