Thursday, April 30, 2015

0 Agent Arielle Datz from Dunow, Carlson & Lerner on What Works When Writing, & What Doesn't

Arielle Datz is looking for fiction (adult, YA, or middle-grade), both realistic or fantasy/sci-fi. In nonfiction, she is looking for essays, unconventional memoir, pop culture, and sociology.

Arielle grew up in Southern California, and then attended the University of Chicago, where she majored in English. She lived in Paris her junior year of college, and then spent two years in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam after graduation, before venturing to New York.

She started as an intern at Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner in 2011, and then worked in the foreign rights department at WME, followed by 2 years at the Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency. She have now returned to DCLA full-time, and absolutely loves it there.

1.What are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?

In YA:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart: I love Frankie’s voice and her way with words.
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I love all of Rainbow Rowell’s work, particularly how well she writes girls and women. In Fangirl, the way she talks about fandom, and its relationship to writing and reading in general, is inspiring.
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: This book lit me up. The writing was just so, so beautiful.

In adult: I love Salman Rushdie, Italo Calvino, Neil Gaiman, and Margaret Atwood, to name a few. Recently I adored Station Eleven, Glen Duncan’s werewolf trilogy, The Bone Clocks, and Tigerman.

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

I love to see confidence in the book, and that the author has done their research – they are a reader of the genre in which they wish to be published, they know what they could be compared to in both books and other media, and they know why their book needs to exist.

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

I’ve contributed a few gripes to the #querytip thread on Twitter (and I recommend reading those), but here’s a few things. I can tell when a writer hasn’t done their research – both on me and my agency, or on the market they wish to enter. Moreover, I can tell when a writer isn’t a reader, and that breaks my heart.

4. Are you an editorial agent?

I’m still figuring out what kind of agent I am, but I think so – I like to work closely on revisions before submission. After a book has sold to a publisher, it’s case-by-case; I am happy to help an author work through revisions, and I am also happy taking a hands-off approach, if I feel like the author/editor relationship is solid and I’m not needed.

5. Character, world, or plot?

All are important. If one is conspicuously lacking, the others don’t click for me. This is not to say that all three are required – there are excellent books where nothing happens, or where the world doesn’t play a huge role – but those take impeccable writing.

6. Can you define voice for us?

I’m not sure I can! Here’s my attempt: in YA, the voice is the narration, and must be authentically the character’s. It must also feel real, and fully-defined. If the voice feels inauthentic, or I can feel the writer’s voice permeating their character, it can derail me as a reader.

7. What do you like to do for fun?

I sing in a semi-professional classical vocal ensemble. I watch far too much television; reading is not my only source of escapism. I consume stories. I also like taking walks.

8. What genres are you drawn to most?

I think I am most drawn to realism, or speculative fiction that is very subtle – where one element is unusual, but very believable. I like fantasy and sci-fi, but they have to be executed flawlessly. Total immersion in a purely fantastical world does not come easily for me.

9. Which is more crucial: emotional connection or current marketability?

The optimist in me wants to say emotional connection, because if that’s there and I get it in front of the right editor, hopefully it will take off. However, publishing is a business, and if I don’t think I’ll be able to sell it, I won’t take it on. I’m looking for that sweet spot: manuscripts that electrify me and that I think will electrify others.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

3 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Writing the Second Boook by Seth Fishman

We are pleased to welcome Seth Fishman back to the blog today. Writers get lots of advice on writing and publishing our first book, but Seth's here to share with us some inside perspective on points on writing the second book.

Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Writing the Second Book, a WOW-Wednesday Post by Seth Fishman

The Dark Water, the sequel to The Well's End, came out a few weeks ago and I have to say, things went much differently for that book. And I don't mean publication. Wow, I wish I knew some things before starting book two, some hints and rules and even a measure of expectations that really would have guided me differently.

I'm not sure most people think on it, but your first book can take two weeks or ten years to write. You can rewrite it fifty times, you can throw it away twice. But book two, especially in a series, you have to realize that there's a deadline. The book pubs ONE year after The Well's End and suddenly there's no wiggle room.

The first draft of The Dark Water was very rough and I had to rewrite most of it and found myself rewriting up until the moment my publisher pushed the magic 'publish' button. This scramble meant that my natural writing process no longer fit the schedule I worked in. Can you imagine working one way for fifteen years and then, suddenly, you have to change your style?

Before you work on book two, before you make a deal for a series, get your future life lined up in order. Keep it in mind, it matters!

Other tips: don't just throw Easter eggs into book one if you've no solid place for them in the outline of the future. They'll dangle like appendages. Can you find the one I left in The Well's End?

Finally, my son, Wes, was born three days before my book was due. DON'T do that. Just don't.


The Dark Water by Seth Fishman
Hardcover Putnam Juvenile
Released 3/3/2015

 To escape Blake Sutton’s army at the end of the enthralling The Well’s End, Mia and her friends jump into the newly gurgling fountain of youth and swim to its very bottom. When they resurface, an astounding world awaits them—an entire underground civilization of humans, the Keepers of the Well.

But instead of finding a safe haven, Mia and her gang are quickly embroiled in a dangerous, high-stakes battle royale. If Mia wants to save everyone she loves and make it back home alive, she’s got to get to the water’s Source before Sutton and his troops, who are still hot on her trail.

With new characters and new threats, Seth Fishman has upped the ante fantastically and delivers another tense, fast-paced adventure in a richly imagined world just below our feet.

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


1095.JPGSeth Fishman is a native of Midland, Texas (think Friday Night Lights), and a graduate of Princeton University and the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. He spends his days as a literary agent at The Gernert Company and his nights (and mornings) writing. He lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

-- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

18 Fearing What You Love -- The Scary Side of the Writing Life

Before I get to today's post, I have to tell you that Adventures has been honored by Writer's Digest Magazine with a listing in their 101 Best Websites for Writer's issue!

This is the third year in a row, and I want to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful team that we have in place here. Lisa Gail Green, Jocelyn Rish, Susan Sipal, Shelly Zevlever, Erin Cashman, and Jan Lewis, thank you all so much for the amazing work you do day in and day out. Thank you also to Alyssa Hamilton, who has unfortunately recently left us to concentrate on her studies, and to all the authors and publicists who provide the wonderful interviews, guest posts, and giveaways, and thank you to all of YOU--the readers. This is the best kind of team effort!

Fearing What You Love -- The Scary Side of the Writing Life

I've wanted to be a writer most of my life, but the word "author" really didn't enter into that equation. Not because I didn't want to be one, but because I had no perspective of what it meant. All I wanted was to get put words on a page and bring characters and ideas to life. Raise a few questions, connect a few thoughts.

Beyond publication, there is a whole world of things that go into being an author. I'm goodish at some of them. The things that are similar to the business world, those I can handle, and I love, love, love talking books and writing, anytime, anywhere. I love helping people. But the rest?

  • Pre-publication publicity and marketing
  • Interviews and guest posts
  • Getting and navigating reviews 
  • Pre-order giveaways
  • Blog tours
  • Launch parties
  • Book tours and events
  • Engaging with publicists
  • Ongoing post-publication publicity and marketing
  • Subbing to book festivals or responding to invitation

And that doesn't include writing the next book or editing the current one. Learning to write better books. All at the same time.

It's a lot.

It's also a mind-blowing honor and a wonderful opportunity, but there is no guidebook for this portion of the journey.

I'm going to the RT Convention in Dallas in a few weeks. And the more I think about it, the more I get hot flutters of panic. It's such a HUGE event. People dress up, and I don't really know anyone well. The social and the event side of publishing always make me feel completely inadequate.

Don't get me wrong, everyone I've met in the book world is truly nice. Really nice. But I'm a little shy, and when I'm nervous, I tend to babble, or fall back on things I know. What I know is business, and organization, and timetables, and how to get things packaged and put together. Which means that most of the time, working with other authors, I feel like an idiot.

Being an author is scary. It's a whole new career, and I'm on the bottommost rung, and the rest of the rungs are shrouded in mist.

Thinking about going to the RT Convention, it occurred to me that I haven't felt this way since I was a teen. Lost and confused and inadequate. Afraid. Convinced I would never be good enough. Afraid that people would laugh at me, or no one would talk to me. Afraid that I would fall on my face or make an idiot of myself.

Back when I was a teenager, I wouldn't have admitted those fears. Maybe that's the difference. I would have buttoned them inside myself.

Today, I know that everyone falls on their faces. I know that it's pulling myself up after I fall that makes me stronger.

Maybe this fear will be a good reminder for when I write. I'm writing some scary scenes for Barrie, and this third book has made me nervous. Stepping into the climax, it's important to connect back to being afraid. Hopefully, it will make me a better writer.

Thinking about going to the RT Convention, it has been tempting to cancel. I've considered it several times.

But I won't.

Because fear is good. Fear pushes us. New things stretch us.


So tell me. What are you afraid of?


SThe #1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen serves up his unique brand of swamp-justice in Skink—No Surrender.

Classic Malley—to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard—he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink—he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Carl Hiaasen first introduced readers to Skink more than twenty-five years ago in Double Whammy, and he quickly became Hiaasen’s most iconic and beloved character, appearing in six novels to date. Both teens and adults will be thrilled to catch sight of the elusive “captain” as he finds hilariously satisfying ways to stop internet predators, turtle-egg poachers, and lowlife litterbugs in their tracks. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.

Purchase Skink - No Surrender at Amazon
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Monday, April 27, 2015

13 FIVE Giveaways plus New YALit Releases 4/27 - 5/3 with Author Interviews

There are so many fantastic books coming out this week in a variety of genres that there should be something for every reading taste. Check out the descriptions to see which will be the latest additions to your 'to be read' pile. Plus make sure to enter to win one of the five great books we're giving away below.

Happy reading,

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


* * * *

In a World Just Right
by Jen Brooks
Signed Hardcover Giveaway

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 4/28/2015

Imagination takes on new meaning for a uniquely talented teen in this debut novel that is a breathtaking blend of contemporary, fantasy, and romance.

Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.

But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan…and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about In a World Just Right?

My favorite thing about IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT is the ending. It’s hard to say more without giving spoilers! I will say that although this is my first published book, it’s my third completed manuscript, and I think the way the ending came together was the result of a lot of things learned by writing manuscripts 1 and 2, whose endings didn’t have the pay-off I really wanted. But that’s how you grow as a writer (and a person!). You work at something until you get better at it. And, boy, as much as I enjoy it, writing is work for me. It’s been really rewarding to read reviewer reactions to the events in the final chapters.

Purchase In a World Just Right at Amazon
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View In a World Just Right on Goodreads

* * * *

The Secrets We Keep
by Trisha Leaver
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 4/28/2015

A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters.

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When—after a heated argument—Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves her sister dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. Soon, Ella realizes that Maddy's life was full of secrets. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options—confess her deception or live her sister's life.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Secrets We Keep?

In one word: Josh! Is it wrong to have a crush on one of your own characters!?! If so, then I am guilty as charged. He is quiet and loyal to a fault. He shares Ella’s passion for art, understands her quirks and is the one who eventually makes her see the truth—that she is as loved, as valued as her twin sister. He’s the kind of friend I wished I had growing up.

Purchase The Secrets We Keep at Amazon
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View The Secrets We Keep on Goodreads

* * * *

The Secrets of Attraction
by Robin Constantine
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Balzer + Bray
Released 4/28/2015

Set in the same world as The Promise of Amazing, this smart, surprising, and (of course) romantic follow-up to Robin Constantine’s debut novel follows two New Jersey teens as they become friends and fall in love.

Madison Parker is on fast-forward. Working toward a scholarship for a summer art program, she already has her future figured out. But when a visit from a family friend turns her life upside down, everything she thought she knew becomes blurred. All she wants is to stand still for a moment.

Jesse McMann is stuck on repeat. Reeling from a breakup that shattered his heart and his band, Jesse divides his time between working as a barista and trying to find the inspiration to write music again. All he wants to do is move forward.

The night Maddie strolls into Jesse’s coffee shop after yoga class, the last thing on his mind is hooking up, but her smile and witty comebacks are hard to ignore. The spark between them is undeniable, but once-a-week flirting is hardly the stuff of epic romance.

Kismet arrives in the unlikely form of Grayson Barrett. When Jesse discovers that Gray’s girlfriend is also Maddie’s best friend, he invites Gray to join his band as their new drummer, hoping this connection will give him more time around Maddie. Slowly but surely, Jesse and Maddie forge a friendship, but do they have what it takes to make their relationship truly sync?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Secrets of Attraction?

The Secrets of Attraction is a companion to my first novel The Promise of Amazing, and I loved having characters from the first book play an integral role in this book too. It’s Madison and Jesse’s story, but Wren, Grayson and Jazz are featured, and I enjoyed revisiting their world of private school and coffee shops and garage bands. I also love the swoony parts! Lots and lots of swoon in this one, which is always fun to write!

Purchase The Secrets of Attraction at Amazon
Purchase The Secrets of Attraction at IndieBound
View The Secrets of Attraction on Goodreads

* * * *

The Boyfriend Project
by Rachel Hawthorne
Signed Paperback Giveaway
U.S. Only

Released 4/28/2015

Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Lauren Barnholdt, and Susane Colasanti, The Boyfriend Project is a romantic read about a girl who wishes her sweet boyfriend had a little more edge.

Kendall and her boyfriend, Jeremy, have been together forever, and Kendall is starting to wonder if Jeremy is a little boring. . . . So she embarks on a boyfriend makeover. But as Jeremy learns to strut his stuff, other girls start to notice him and, what's worse, he's noticing them back. Then Jeremy breaks up with Kendall and she realizes her makeover project was the ultimate disaster. Is the sweet boyfriend she loved gone forever?

A companion novel to Rachel Hawthorne's paperback original Trouble from the Start, this title is perfect for fans of summer beach reads and sweet treats.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Boyfriend Project?

My favorite thing about THE BOYFRIEND PROJECT is that it explores the old adage that the grass is always greener on the other side. This book is a companion to TROUBLE FROM THE START. Kendall loves Jeremy but he seems a little boring compared with her best friend’s new bad-boy-turned-good boyfriend. So she starts suggesting ways that he might change. It was fun writing his metamorphosis and figuring out ways that he might change that didn’t really alter the essence of him. I think sometimes we all wonder what if or if we’re missing out on something. We search for what we think we will make us happy when it’s actually been with us all along.

I’ll also admit that I loved all the dogs in the story. Kendall works at a dog shelter. The various dogs featured in the story were part of my life at one time or another, so it was fun to visit with them again.

Purchase The Boyfriend Project at Amazon
Purchase The Boyfriend Project at IndieBound
View The Boyfriend Project on Goodreads

* * * *

Trouble from the Start
by Rachel Hawthorne
Signed Paperback Giveaway
U.S. Only

Released 4/28/2015

One of two companion novels from beach-read favorite Rachel Hawthorne, this cute, romantic paperback original is about a good girl who falls for a bad guy.

Avery knows better than to fall for Fletcher, the local bad boy who can’t seem to outrun his reputation. Fletcher knows he shouldn’t bother with college-bound, daughter-of-a-cop Avery. But when their paths cross, neither can deny the spark. Are they willing to go against everything and let their hearts lead the way? Or are they just flirting with disaster?

Trouble from the Start releases simultaneously with companion novel The Boyfriend Project. These heartwarming paperback originals are the perfect summer reads, great for fans of Jennifer Echols, Lauren Barnholdt, and Susane Colasanti.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Trouble from the Start?

My favorite thing about TROUBLE FROM THE START is the banter between the heroine Avery and the hero Fletcher. Avery is super-smart so she is really quick with comebacks. Fletcher has a bad-boy reputation and wants to be a loner so he will say things hoping that it’ll cause Avery to leave him alone. But she’s not having it. Due to mysterious circumstances that are revealed later, Fletcher is staying in the apartment above her family’s garage and she’s determined he’ll be part of the family, whether he wants to be or not.

I also love the attraction these two feel toward each other. They represent the opposites attract rule. Avery loves school; Fletcher just wants it to end. Avery never breaks the rules; Fletcher thinks rules exist to be broken. Avery has plans and dreams. Fletcher just wants to make it through to the next day. Avery wants to fall in love with Mr. Right. Fletcher is definitely Mr. Wrong.

Purchase Trouble from the Start at Amazon
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View Trouble from the Start on Goodreads


* * * *

Becoming Jinn
by Lori Goldstein
Signed Hardcover plus Swag
Feiwel & Friends
Released 4/21/2015

Winner - Alicia Ezell

Forget everything you thought you knew about genies!

Azra has just turned sixteen, and overnight her body lengthens, her olive skin deepens, and her eyes glisten gold thanks to the brand-new silver bangle that locks around her wrist. As she always knew it would, her Jinn ancestry brings not just magical powers but the reality of a life of servitude, as her wish granting is controlled by a remote ruling class of Jinn known as the Afrit.

To the humans she lives among, she’s just the girl working at the snack bar at the beach, navigating the fryer and her first crush. But behind closed doors, she’s learning how to harness her powers and fulfill the obligations of her destiny.

Mentored by her mother and her Zar “sisters,” Azra discovers she may not be quite like the rest of her circle of female Jinn . . . and that her powers could endanger them all. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Becoming Jinn?

I love the world that is BECOMING JINN, meaning that it is a contemporary fantasy. Jinn is steeped in and reads very much like a straight contemporary and yet there’s magic and granting wishes and teleportation, or apping as the Jinn call it, that make it a fantasy as well. The merging of these elements comes together in a way that I love writing and have always loved reading. It has the ability to bring contemporary fans into the world of fantasy and vice versa in a very accessible way. And it’s just fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to lounge on a beach in this world we live in but be able to conjure mint chocolate chip ice cream? I certainly do!

Purchase Becoming Jinn at Amazon
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View Becoming Jinn on Goodreads

* * * *

The Remedy
by Suzanne Young
Simon Pulse
Released 4/21/2015

Winner - Tammy VanScoy

Can one girl take on so many identities without losing her own? Find out in this riveting companion to The Program and the New York Times bestselling The Treatment.

In a world before The Program…

Quinlan McKee is a closer. Since the age of seven, Quinn has held the responsibility of providing closure to grieving families with a special skill—she can “become” anyone.

Recommended by grief counselors, Quinn is hired by families to take on the short-term role of a deceased loved one between the ages of fifteen and twenty. She’s not an exact copy, of course, but she wears their clothes and changes her hair, studies them through pictures and videos, and soon, Quinn can act like them, smell like them, and be them for all intents and purposes. But to do her job successfully, she can’t get attached.

Now seventeen, Quinn is deft at recreating herself, sometimes confusing her own past with those of the people she’s portrayed. When she’s given her longest assignment, playing the role of Catalina Barnes, Quinn begins to bond with the deceased girl’s boyfriend. But that’s only the beginning of the complications, especially when Quinn finds out the truth about Catalina’s death. And the epidemic it could start.

Purchase The Remedy at Amazon
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View The Remedy on Goodreads

* * * *

The Trials
by Stacey Kade
Signed Full Series
Released 4/21/2015

Winner - Kat Swank

After being on the run, Ariane Tucker finds herself back where she started—under the cruel control of Dr. Jacobs, head of the research facility that created her. Now she must participate in the upcoming trials; a deadly competition pitting her against other alien hybrids, each representing a rival corporation.

But Ariane is no one’s weapon. She is prepared to die if it means taking down those involved in Project Paper Doll. They destroyed all that she holds dear, including Zane Bradshaw, the one person she trusted and cared for the most—the person she was forced to leave behind, bleeding and alone.

As her plan takes shape Ariane will need to depend on, now more than ever, the other side of her heritage—the cold, calculated instincts born from her alien DNA. With Zane gone she has nothing left to lose.

With heart-pounding action, and plenty of surprises, the gripping conclusion to Stacey Kade's Project Paper Doll series delivers a powerful finish that will keep fans hooked to the very end.

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

I think the last book in a series or trilogy is always the most fun because that's when all the changes you've been working toward in the previous books become permanent. Characters succeed or fail, once and for all. And wow, those are some high stakes to play with!

With THE TRIALS, my favorite part was seeing Ariane embrace the different sides of herself, her alien and her human side. She's always felt torn between the two, and in this book, she gets to a point where she is more comfortable with who she is and knowing she'll never be just ONE thing and that's okay. It's actually to her benefit to be both human and alien.

I also really enjoyed writing the chase scene in the mall. I love writing action sequences! And there's a romantic scene in the book that made me blush.

Purchase The Trials at Amazon
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View The Trials on Goodreads

* * * *

The Revelation of Louisa May
by Michaela MacColl
Chronicle Books
Released 4/14/2015

Winner - Kira Budge

Louisa May Alcott can't believe it—her mother is leaving for the summer to earn money for the family and Louisa is to be in charge of the household. How will she find the time to write her stories, much less have any adventures of her own? But before long, Louisa finds herself juggling her temperamental father, a mysterious murder, a fugitive seeking refuge along the Underground Railroad, and blossoming love. Intertwining fact, fiction, and quotes from Little Women, Michaela MacColl has crafted another spunky heroine whose story will keep readers turning pages until the very end.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Revelation of Louisa May

My favorite thing about The Revelation of Louisa May (Chronicle 2015) is probably Louisa May Alcott herself. I just liked her so much! When I write these literary mysteries I always start with biography. I learn as much as I can about the writer who will be my main character. I feel a little bit like a sculptor – adding bits and pieces of my understanding of the character until she’s fully formed in my head. When I start to write, the voice comes naturally. But Louisa was special – I understood her from the beginning.  She was bright and contrary even as a toddler (her wacky parents did all sorts of educational experiments on them and documented the results!).  The most practical member of the family, even at 12 her harassed mother (Marmee) confided in her way too much about the disastrous family finances. Louisa’s response was to vow to earn enough money to support the family … with her pen.  And she did. Little Women was published in 1869 and has never gone out of print. Louisa was a millionaire and yes, she supported the whole family.  She had grit and I liked that.

Purchase The Revelation of Louisa May at Amazon
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View The Revelation of Louisa May on Goodreads


* * * *

Deception's Pawn
by Esther Friesner
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 4/28/2015

Fortune favors the bold in this adventurous tale of broken friendships, forbidden love, and a fiery heroine's journey to escape the role into which she was born. Perfect for YA fantasy fans of Shannon Hale, Malinda Lo, and Tamora Pierce.

Maeve, princess of Connacht, seems to have won her freedom. Her father, the High King, is finally allowing her to explore the world beyond his castle. But Maeve soon discovers that being the High King's daughter doesn't protect her from bullying or the attention of unwelcome suitors.

Struggling to navigate a new court, she must discourage the advances of her father's rival, who is vying with her host's son for her hand in marriage. Maeve is a pawn trapped between these two boys. Her bold defiance will bring her to the brink of disaster, but her clever gamble may also lead to her independence. Though she faces danger and intrigue, Maeve will also discover what kind of person-and queen-she's destined to become.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Deception's Pawn?

My favorite thing about writing DECEPTION'S PAWN was having the opportunity to address a subject that's been with us since the very ugly day when someone saw the advantage to making others feel worthless. Why strive to build yourself up when it's easier to tear someone else down? If you can't feel superior through real accomplishments, play it so no one else dares to outshine you. Welcome to the wonderful world of bullying.

I know, I know: Bullying is one of those subjects that make some people roll their eyes and groan,"Oh please, THIS again? Can't we move on? Talk about something else?" Sure, why not? It's a free country and a free internet. Close your eyes, turn your back, leave the real/virtual room whenever you like. I'll stay.

In case you're wondering, yes, I've been the victim of all sorts of bullies. I was fat, wore glasses, used big words, liked geeky stuff, was a late bloomer socially, and was an only child. (Translation to Bully-ese: "You're so spoiled, you think you're BETTER than us!") Some bullies I encountered used fists, some used words, some used persuasion or outright coercion to build their own little hunting parties to sic on their prey. Does it help, knowing that some of the chief bully's followers went along with the mob because they were afraid of becoming victims themselves if they refused? Perhaps. It doesn't lessen painful memories, but if insight and understanding help stop or prevent even one incident of bullying, the pain was a price worth paying.

The heroine of DECEPTION'S PAWN isn't fat or geeky or squinting at the world through thick eyeglasses. She's beautiful, accomplished, a king's cherished daughter and heir. She's still a bully's target. I want to remind you that anyone can be picked on and persecuted as long as we allow such things to be comfortably ignored, dismissed as "girls will be girls," "boys will be boys," and "If we don't make a big thing out of it, it'll go away."

It won't. It needs to be recognized, talked about, dealt with, thwarted, and--hopefully some day--ended. Remember: Trolls hate sunlight.

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* * * *

The Game of Love and Death
by Martha Brockenbrough
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 4/28/2015

Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Game of Love and Death?

This is a really tough question—I wove a lot of beloved things into this book: some of my favorite songs, art that influenced me when I was a teen, the appeal of swanky jazz clubs… It’s also set in my hometown, Seattle, which I adore, and during an era I find compelling—the Depression and run-up to World War II. Maybe an analogy is having an apartment in your favorite city and an unlimited decorating budget … it was all about creating a world I loved inhabiting.

But my favorite part, I’d say, has nothing to do with the decor and everything to do with Death, the villain. I grew to love her. She’s complicated and awful and kind of wonderful too.

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* * * *

The Girl at Midnight
by Melissa Grey
Delacorte Press
Released 4/28/2015

For readers of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones and Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone, The Girl at Midnight is the story of a modern girl caught in an ancient war.

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Girl at Midnight?

My favorite part of The Girl at Midnight is definitely the cast of characters. The protagonist, Echo, is the beating heart of the story, but she’s not alone in narrating it. I realized as I was writing the first draft that in order to best tell the story I envisioned, I had to show it from different angles. The best way to do that was to expand the pool of narrators and really try to get into each character’s head to find their unique voice. The process of discovering what made each character tick — be it Echo’s desire to find love and acceptance or Jasper’s quest for glory or Dorian’s unfailing loyalty — was a wild ride.

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* * * *

An Ember in the Ashes
by Sabaa Tahir
Released 4/28/2015





LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier— and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.

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* * * *

by Sarah Darer Littman
Scholastic Press
Released 4/28/2015

He says: You're an awful person.
He says: What makes you think I would ever ask you out?
He says: The world would be a better place without you in it.

Lara just got told off on Facebook.

She thought that Christian liked her, that he was finally going to ask her to his school's homecoming dance. They've been talking online for weeks, so what's with the sudden change? And where does he get off saying horrible things on her wall? Even worse - are they true?

It's been a long time since Lara's felt this bad, this depressed, this ugly. She's worked really hard to become pretty and happy - and make new friends after what happened in middle school.

Bree used to be best friends with overweight, depressed Lara, but constantly listening to Lara's issues got to be too much. Secretly, Bree's glad Christian called Lara out. Lara's not nearly as amazing as people think. But no one realized just how far Christian's harsh comments would push Lara. Not even Bree.

As online life collides with real life, things spiral out of control, and not just for Lara. Because when the truth starts to come together, the backlash is even more devastating than anyone could have ever imagined.

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* * * *

Be Not Afraid
by Cecilia Galante
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 4/28/2015

Marin spends a lot of time avoiding things. She avoids thinking about her mother's suicide and what she could have done to prevent it. She avoids looking at people directly-because she can see their pain as bright, colorful shapes. And she avoids Cassie Jackson, who used her in a sinister ritual months ago, although Marin's not exactly sure why.

When Cassie stands up at school, screaming, raking her nails down her cheeks, and pointing a finger at Marin, whispering "YOU," Marin's days of avoidance come to an abrupt end. Cassie's older brother believes that Marin holds the secret to Cassie's illness. So they team up to solve the mystery of what Cassie has unleashed. But as they look deeper into the darkness and things begin to go bump in the night, can Marin trust what she sees?

Cecilia Galante, author of The Patron Saint of Butterflies, presents a chilling story with horror-movie thrills and nail-biting suspense. Perfect for fans of American Horror Story, Paranormal Activity, and The Exorcist, and readers who love to feel goose bumps.

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* * * *

Encore to an Empty Room
by Kevin Emerson
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 4/28/2015

Summer always wanted Dangerheart—the band of talented exiles she manages—to find success. Now that they've become an overnight sensation, her hard work is really starting to pay off.

So how come her life seems to be snapping like an old guitar string?

Maybe it's because part of her knows that college applications are due soon, but another part of her can't imagine leaving her life behind—especially when the band is on the verge of a record deal and her relationship is becoming something more than she ever dreamed of. And especially when there's a chance of finding another missing song written by the famous dead rocker who is also Caleb's father.

But are Caleb, the band's future, and the lost songs more important than college? Summer will have to decide. It's time to choose who she wants to be, even if that might mean kissing Caleb good-bye.

Filled with infectious music, mystery, and romance, this electrifying sequel to Kevin Emerson's Exile doesn't miss a beat.

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* * * *

Flirty Dancing
by Jenny McLachlan
Feiwel & Friends
Released 4/28/2015

Full of humor and heart, this story of finding your confidence (and your jive!) is the first in a four-book series, The Ladybirds, by debut author Jenny McLachlan.

Bea Hogg is shy, but she has a fiery core that she doesn't let many see. When the national dance competition Starwars comes to her school looking for talent, she wants to sign up. It's just her luck that her best friend Kat ditches her and agrees to enter with school super-witch Pearl Harris (and Bea's former best friend).

Bea is determined to fight back! But when the school hottie, Ollie Matthews, who also happens to be Pearl's boyfriend, decides to enter the competition with Bea to jive dance, she will have more than a fight on her hands.

Jenny McLachlan weaves a warm and hilarious story of friendship and dance starring the refreshing and plucky Bea Hogg.

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* * * *

by Amy Reed
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 4/28/2015

The Fault in Our Stars meets Go Ask Alice in this dramatic romance about a teenage girl who survives a terminal cancer diagnosis, only to get trapped in the deadly spiral of addiction. Fans of Gayle Forman and Sara Zarr will be swept away by this gritty romance, the first in a duology.

Evie is living on borrowed time. She was diagnosed with terminal cancer several months ago and told that by now she'd be dead. Evie is grateful for every extra day she gets, but she knows that soon this disease will kill her. Until, miraculously, she may have a second chance to live.

All Evie had wanted was her life back, but now that she has it, she feels like there's no place for her in it--at least, not for the girl she is now. Her friends and her parents still see her as Cancer Girl, and her boyfriend's constant, doting attention is suddenly nothing short of suffocating.

Then Evie meets Marcus. She knows that he's trouble, but she can't help falling for him. Being near him makes her feel truly, fully alive. It's better than a drug. His kiss makes her feel invincible--but she may be at the beginning of the biggest free fall of her life.

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* * * *

Lying Out Loud
by Kody Keplinger
Scholastic Press
Released 4/28/2015

Kody Keplinger returns to the world of The DUFF in this brand-new companion novel!

Sonny Ardmore is an excellent liar. She lies about her dad being in prison. She lies about her mom kicking her out. And she lies about sneaking into her best friend's house every night because she has nowhere else to go.

Amy Rush might be the only person Sonny shares everything with -- secrets, clothes, even a nemesis named Ryder Cross.

Ryder's the new kid at Hamilton High and everything Sonny and Amy can't stand -- a prep-school snob. But Ryder has a weakness: Amy. So when Ryder emails Amy asking her out, the friends see it as a prank opportunity not to be missed.

But without meaning to, Sonny ends up talking to Ryder all night online. And to her horror, she realizes that she might actually like him. Only there's one small catch: he thinks he's been talking to Amy. So Sonny comes up with an elaborate scheme to help Ryder realize that she's the girl he's really wanted all along. Can Sonny lie her way to the truth, or will all her lies end up costing her both Ryder and Amy?

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* * * *

by Maria Dahvana Headley
Released 4/28/2015

Maria Dahvana Headley's soaring YA debut is a fiercely intelligent, multilayered fantasy where Neil Gaiman's Stardust meets John Green's The Fault in Our Stars in a story about a girl caught between two worlds . . . two races . . . and two destinies.

Aza Ray Boyle is drowning in thin air. Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn't think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who's always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—but as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war between Magonia and Earth is coming. In Aza's hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

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* * * *

by Sharon Cameron
Scholastic Press
Released 4/28/2015

A remarkable and utterly inventive novel bursting with intrigue and romance, from Sharon Cameron, acclaimed author of THE DARK UNWINDING, which USA TODAY called "spellbindingly imaginative."

Centuries after a shifting of the Earth's poles, the Sunken City that was once Paris is in the grips of a revolution. All who oppose the new regime are put to the blade, except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a red-tipped rook feather left in their place. Is the mysterious Red Rook a savior of the innocent or a criminal?

Meanwhile, across the sea in the Commonwealth, Sophia Bellamy's arranged marriage to the wealthy René Hasard is the last chance to save her family from ruin. But when the search for the Red Rook comes straight to her doorstep, Sophia discovers that her fiancé is not all he seems. Which is only fair, because neither is she.

As the Red Rook grows bolder and the stakes grow higher, Sophia and René find themselves locked in a tantalizing game of cat and mouse.

Daring intrigue, delicious romance, and spine-tingling suspense fill the pages of this extraordinary tale from award-winning author Sharon Cameron.

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* * * *

The Eternity Key
by Bree Despain
Released 4/28/2015

Fan-favorite author Bree Despain continues her modern-day romance trilogy inspired by the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades with this second book in her Into the Dark series.

Haden Lord, the disgraced Prince of the Underrealm, has chosen love over honor and will do everything in his power to protect Daphne Raines, the human girl he was supposed to bring to the Underrealm. Haden’s choice is put to the test as the Skylords and a figure from his past arrive in Olympus Hills with a plan that could destroy all of the realms.

Embracing her destiny as the Cypher, Daphne begins to understand the immense power of her musical ability to control the elements, but she must come to terms with her feelings for Haden and what she must sacrifice in order to protect him and her friends.

Believing the Key of Hades is the only thing that can stop the Underrealm Court from releasing the monstrous Keres on the mortal world, Haden, Daphne, and their friends set out to find the Key before Persephone’s Gate opens again on the spring equinox.

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* * * *

The Replaced
by Kimberly Derting
Released 4/28/2015

Romantic and action-packed, The Replaced is the gripping second installment in the Taking trilogy.

Kyra hasn't been the same since she returned from her mysterious five-year disappearance. Now, on the run from the NSA, Kyra is forced to hide out with others who, like her, have been Returned. Yet she is determined to find Tyler, the boy she loves who was also abducted—all because of her. When her group intercepts a message that Tyler might still be alive but is in the hands of a shadowy government organization that experiments on the Returned, Kyra knows it's a risk to go after him. What if it's a trap? And worse, what if the returned Tyler isn't the same boy she lost?

Perfect for fans of The Fifth Wave and the Body Finder series, The Replaced is both chilling and explosive, with creepy, otherworldly elements and twisty, psychological thrills that will have you questioning what exactly it means to be human.

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

0 Jessi Kirby, author of THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART, on setting up a little work station in the library

THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART is the latest novel by Jessi Kirby, and we're honored to have her here to tell us more about it.

Jessi, what was your inspiration for writing THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART?

The initial idea for this book actually came from an article I'd read about the concept of Cellular Memory--that is, the idea that some essence of a donor is retained within a donated organ, particularly the heart. The story was going to be much more focused on whether that was true in this case. But when I started researching donor/recipient relationships, I became more interested in those dynamics--why some write, or want to meet, and why some don't. That's where Colton came from.

How long did you work on THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART?

Jessi's writing set-up!
It took me close to 2 years, all told, to write this book. I also work full time as a middle school librarian and have a family, so my writing time is limited. The good thing about that is when I do have writing time, I am extremely focused.

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

I need quiet, so I usually go to the library to work.  I set up my little work station with everything I need so I won't have reason to get up. Usually that includes coffee, water, Cadbury mini eggs, if they're available. I also have a little talisman that sits next to me for each book. This one was a little blue heart that I got at Changing Hands Book Store in Arizona.


Things We Know by Heart
by Jessi Kirby
Released 4/21/2015

In this unforgettable teen romance that fans of Sarah Dessen and Susane Colasanti will devour, Quinn Sullivan falls for the recipient of her boyfriend's donated heart, forming an unexpected connection that will leave readers utterly breathless.

After Quinn's boyfriend, Trent, dies in an accident their junior year, she reaches out to the recipients of his donated organs in hopes of picking up the fragments of her now-unrecognizable life. But whoever received Trent's heart has mysteriously remained silent. The essence of a person, Quinn has always believed, is in the heart. If she finds Trent's, then in a way she still has a piece of him.

Risking everything to find peace once and for all, Quinn goes outside the system to track down nineteen-year-old Colton Thomas—a guy whose life has been forever changed by this priceless gift. But what starts as an accidental run-in quickly develops into more, sparking an undeniable attraction. She doesn't want to give in to it—especially since he has no idea how they're connected—but their time together has made Quinn feel alive again. No matter how hard she's falling for Colton, each beat of his heart reminds her of all she's lost . . . and all that remains at stake.

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Jessi Kirby is a former English teacher and librarian. She lives in Orange County, CA with her husband and two kids, where she writes stories and runs the beach every day. Well, almost every day.

You can contact Jessi at

What did you think of our interview with Jessi Kirby, author of THINGS WE KNOW BY HEART? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

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

0 Kristin Halbrook, author of EVERY LAST PROMISE, on avoiding 'easy' choices for characters

We're pleased to have Kristin Halbrook stop by to share more about her latest novel EVERY LAST PROMISE.

Kristin, tell us about your inspiration for writing EVERY LAST PROMISE.

My inspirations were, unfortunately, all over the place. Every time a town was up in arms because of a sexual assault, I was inspired. Every time a rape survivor was vilified, I was inspired. Every time a school or community backed a rapist or twisted processes to ensure he, for example, was still able to play sports, I was inspired. But I was also inspired by friends and colleagues who presented me with tough questions and ideas that made me think harder and deeper than I was, before. Stephanie Kuehn and Christa Desir, in particular, were wonderful for that.

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

Every scene in which Kayla didn’t “do” something was a hard scene to write. Because yes, as a human, I wanted her to act, and act quickly. I wanted her to choose the “right” thing, without having to think about it. But as an author who wanted even more to dig deeply into the experiences a person like Kayla might have, I knew “easy” choices didn’t exist. I particularly love the scenes with Kayla and her mom, and I’m particularly proud of the last line of the book (which I won’t spoil, here ☺).

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

I think readers would also love SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson, and ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers.

What do you hope readers will take away from EVERY LAST PROMISE?

By the end of the book, I hope readers will think more deeply about what it means to be a hero, what it means to hold onto secrets, and what it means to give those secrets up. I hope they’ll think about how pervasive and widespread rape culture is, and how the effects of it are rippling. And I hope, too, they’ll be more willing to stand up for rape survivors, be good friends, and also grow their empathy for the variety of reasons survivors don’t speak up about their assaults.


Every Last Promise
by Kristin Halbrook
Released 4/21/2015

Perfect for fans of Laurie Halse Anderson and Gayle Forman, Every Last Promise is a provocative and emotional novel about a girl who must decide between keeping quiet and speaking up after witnessing a classmate's sexual assault.

Kayla saw something at the party that she wasn't supposed to. But she hasn't told anyone. No one knows the real story about what happened that night--about why Kayla was driving the car that ran into a ditch after the party, about what she saw in the hours leading up to the accident, and about the promise she made to her friend Bean before she left for the summer.

Now Kayla's coming home for her senior year. If Kayla keeps quiet, she might be able to get her old life back. If she tells the truth, she risks losing everything--and everyone--she ever cared about.

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When Kristin Halbrook was little, she wanted to be a writer, the President of the USA or the first female NFL quarterback. Despite being able to throw a wicked spiral, she didn't really grow to the size needed for the NFL. Then, as she got older and studied more, she came to realize there were better ways to effect positive change than becoming president. The first one, however, stuck. Even when Kristin was pursuing other dreams, she always took time to write here and there. NOBODY BUT US was published by HarperChildren's in 2013.

When she's not writing or reading (which is what she does all day, in all of my work), she's spending time with pixies, her Mad Scot soulmate, and one grumpy cocker spaniel; traveling across oceans and time; cooking and baking up a storm and watching sunsets and waves crash on the beach. She currently lives, loves and explores in The Emerald City, though she occasionally make wispy, dream-like plans to move to New York, Paris or a Scottish castle one day (if just temporarily). You can reach her at

What did you think of our interview with Kristin Halbrook, author of EVERY LAST PROMISE? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

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

1 Meredith Zeitlin, author of SOPHOMORE YEAR IS GREEK TO ME, on writing what you're excited about

We're delighted to have Meredith Zeitlin with us to share more about her latest novel SOPHOMORE YEAR IS GREEK TO ME.

Meredith, what was your inspiration for writing SOPHOMORE YEAR IS GREEK TO ME?

I had a friend who mentioned that when she was a kid she used to live in Greece with her extended family for months at a time, during the school year. I thought that was such an interesting idea, to be IN school but not at YOUR school. Since the friend was Greek, I figured I’d make my character Greek, too - especially because, with all the recent economic issues in Greece in the last few years, there would be plenty for my character to discover and explore on her journey. I also wanted to continue writing the world I created for my first book (Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters) but through the eyes of a new main character.

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

I don’t want to give anything away, so this is a hard question to answer… but I will say that the scenes between Zona and her dad were both very enjoyable and very difficult for me to write. My own father died when I was 21, and we were very close when I was growing up. In imagining the character of David Lowell I had to think a lot about details I hadn’t reflected on in a long time, and that was not so easy. There’s a scene at the end of the book where Zona is in a very vulnerable position and truly terrified, and it was painful to put myself through those emotions to get the scene just right. I’m very proud of how it came out in the end.

Another scene I really love is the one in which a boy Zona likes puts an ice cream cone down - ice cream side first - on top of her head. That actually happened to me in college, and it was one of the most absurd moments ever. I have been dying to use it in a book!

How long did you work on SOPHOMORE YEAR IS GREEK TO ME?

Writing a book is a strange and very drawn-out process. I traveled in Greece for three weeks to research the book and craft the story around the people I met and the experiences I had, and I wrote maybe 40 pages while I was there. When I came home I wrote the rest of the book in about three months, and then sent it off to my editor. Every few months after that I’d get notes and do rewrites and send back a new draft. And for the last six months or so, the book has been finished but not actually FINISHED, i.e. printed. So the overall timeline from starting the book to publication was about two years, but the actual time spent writing it is more like five months overall.

What do you hope readers will take away from SOPHOMORE YEAR IS GREEK TO ME?

Excitement about travel. A desire to connect with new people. The knowledge that being brave and being scared aren’t mutually exclusive. All the main characters in this story are wrestling with being true to themselves, despite what other people are asking of them or expecting, and I hope their experiences might be helpful to young readers who are dealing with some of the same issues.

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

I am a terrible example for other writers and writers-to-be. I have no ritual. I’m the worst procrastinator, and will do almost anything to keep from actually sitting down and getting work done. I don’t even have a desk! I write on my couch or in bed (bad idea, obviously), and for short spurts before I get distracted by something and have to take a break. TV and Facebook are the worst distractions for me, so sometimes I’ll force myself to go to a coffee shop and sit there until I get pages done. I do write scenes in my head, though, often before I fall asleep at night, and then I might get up and finally type them up the next day. (Or a month later.) I find it easier to let ideas flow and develop when I’m drifting off instead of when I’m forcing myself to stare at a computer screen.

When I do listen to music, I usually put on one of my favorite Broadway scores - “Ragtime” and “Once on this Island” are two I always seem to go back to. Then sometimes there will be a magical moment when I realize the music has ended and I’m still working… which means I actually did it: I was a writer for two whole hours! Then I feel exceptionally proud of myself and eat a bunch of candy and refuse to do any work for a week.

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

Don’t worry about getting a publisher or writing something commercial or any of that stuff - just write. Write anything that you are interested in or excited about - even it’s sappy poems or memories from your childhood or retellings of books you love. You never know what you’ll be able to use someday for a project, and just getting into the habit of writing is the best exercise of all. Now if only I could take my own advice…

What are you working on now?

I should be working on Junior Year, and I do have thoughts about it. I’m also toying with an idea for something totally different, and not necessarily YA. But no promises!


Sophomore Year Is Greek to Me
by Meredith Zeitlin
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Released 4/21/2015

A laugh-out-loud high school adventure set in Greece, perfect for fans of Meg Cabot

High school sophomore Zona Lowell has lived in New York City her whole life, and plans to follow in the footsteps of her renowned-journalist father. But when he announces they’re moving to Athens for six months so he can work on an important new story, she's devastated— he must have an ulterior motive. See, when Zona's mother married an American, her huge Greek family cut off contact. But Zona never knew her mom, and now she’s supposed to uproot her entire life and meet possibly hostile relatives on their turf? Thanks... but no thanks.

In the vein of Anna and the French Kiss, Zona navigates a series of hilarious escapades, eye-opening revelations, and unexpected reunions in a foreign country—all while documenting the trip through one-of-a-kind commentary.

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mzphotosmallMeredith Zeitlin has written two books for young people (so far) and lots of articles for Ladygunn Magazine. She is also a voiceover artist who can be heard on commercials, cartoons, and TV shows (if you want to know more about that, go here:

She lives with two adorable feline roommates in Brooklyn, NY, and loves talking about herself in the third person. All of which, you have to admit, is pretty rad.

What did you think of our interview with Meredith Zeitlin, author of SOPHOMORE YEAR IS GREEK TO ME? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

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

Saturday, April 25, 2015

1 Claire LaZebnik, author of WRONG ABOUT THE GUY, on talking back to the negative voices in your head

We're delighted to have Claire LaZebnik join us to share more about WRONG ABOUT THE GUY, her fourth book to be loosely based on a Jane Austen novel.

Claire, what was your inspiration for writing WRONG ABOUT THE GUY?

Like my three previous YA novels, WRONG ABOUT THE GUY was inspired by Jane Austen—more specifically in this case by her novel EMMA, which is one of the great literary works of all time. Wait—that makes it sound stuffy—it’s not! It’s a wonderful read, romantic and funny and frustrating and satisfying all at once. I was also inspired by the Amy Heckerling movie CLUELESS, which took Emma’s story and updated it and made it relevant and modern and approachable. I didn’t want to reinvent the same old wheel, so I took my novel in a very different direction—instead of following the original beat by beat, I just borrowed elements of the plot--but my dream is to succeed in keeping the spirit of Emma alive as well as Heckerling did.

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

Having just gone on and on about how this book was inspired by Jane Austen, I now have to admit that the part of the book I’m most proud of is the part that has nothing to do with Austen. I added my own subplot about Ellie’s little brother, who isn’t talking yet and has some unusual behaviors. Ellie’s mother is worried about him, but her stepfather isn’t, and Ellie is torn: she adores Jacob just the way he is, but she also wants to be supportive of her mother. It’s always a struggle for families to tease out what’s really concerning about a child and what’s just overly-hysterical parenting, and I tried not to weigh the argument too much on one side or the other. And it dovetailed nicely with the romantic plot--we can all occasionally be wrong about the little guys too! Sibling love can be as complicated as romantic love.

What do you hope readers will take away from WRONG ABOUT THE GUY?

So for the most part, this book is just supposed to be FUN-- it’s romantic and written to bubble along entertainingly. You want to take it to the beach? It’s ready to get sandy. But I don’t think there’s an author in the world who doesn’t try to sneak in a little meaning along with all the fun. As I mentioned earlier, I worked in a storyline that’s near and dear to my heart, about the family trying to figure out whether the little brother is just a late talker or actually has special needs. And I’d like to think that anyone reading it would see that the goal isn’t to label anyone or leap to conclusions, but to be a supportive family in every sense of the word and to pull together instead of apart when a situation is both challenging and complicated.

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

I’m so all over the place! A lot of my work is done standing up with my computer on top of this closed cabinet in our dining room—the height is perfect for me to type while standing. If I sit down at a table or desk to work, my little dog will jump in my lap and fall asleep on my arms and it gets hard to type or to get up again—so I stand when I can. But I’m most efficient when I leave the house to work, which usually means a coffee shop. I like to walk to my local Starbucks—it’s a good half hour walk from my house, so I get exercise and a good work environment with just the right amount of white noise—and of course a nice hot Americano. I used to go to Krispy Kreme a lot but I can’t walk there, so it’s not as good. But . . . donuts!

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

Keep moving forward, like a shark. The biggest problem in writing is getting bogged down, both in the creative process and in the waiting-to-be-discovered phase (there’s a lot of waiting in this business—agents and editors take a while to read).

Years ago, I learned to talk back to the voices in my head that like to tell me that what I’m writing sucks. I respond politely to them that while they may be right, I can always go back and edit later, and right now I just want to get to the end of the rough draft, thank you very much. I know that sounds insane—I mean, here I am admitting not only that I Hear Voices, but also that I Have Conversations with Them, but most writers I know wrestle with self-defeating self-criticism and this is how I deal with mine. It keeps me from giving up or slowing down and I DO get through a rough draft eventually as a result.

And as far as the waiting process goes, the best advice I have is don’t sit around waiting to hear back from the people who are reading the thing you just finished—always start something new. It’s the best feeling in the world to say to yourself, “What’s next? I’m freed up to work on anything I want!” Don’t deny yourself that high just because you don’t know what’s happening with your previous work. Best case scenario, someone wants to represent or publish the finished product and you have two projects on your desk; worst case, no one says yes to that one, but you’re already invested in something new and thrilling and feeling hopeful about that one. Being creative keeps you going.


Wrong About the Guy
by Claire LaZebnik
Released 4/21/2015

Claire LaZebnik's latest twist on a beloved classic asks the age old question: Could the girl who knows everything be wrong about the guy?

As the stepdaughter of a TV star, Ellie Withers has it all: an amazing house in LA, a devoted friend who loved her before she even knew who Ellie’s stepfather was, and a burgeoning romance with handsome Aaron Marquand. But Ellie isn't the kind of person who’s content with simply having it all—the people in her life have to be equally happy. And, of course, she knows exactly what they need.

When Ellie’s plans for her family, her friends, and even her love life don’t turn out the way she imagined, she begins to wonder if maybe she could stand to learn a thing or two after all. Most surprising, though, is that the perfect person to teach her is the last person she'd expect.

With her signature witty narration and swoon-worthy romance, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail, The Trouble with Flirting, and The Last Best Kiss) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story: Jane Austen’s Emma.

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Claire LaZebnikClaire LaZebnik grew up in Newton, Massachusetts, went to Harvard and moved to LA. (Her name was Claire Scovell for a large part of all that.) She's written five novels for adults, Same as It Never Was, Knitting under the Influence, The Smart One and the Pretty One, If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now, and Families and Other Nonreturnable Gifts. She's also published two YA novels with Harper Collins: Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting (due out in winter, 2012/3). With Lynn Koegel (who’s absolutely brilliant), she co-wrote Overcoming Autism: Finding the Answers, Strategies and Hope That Can Transform a Child’s Life and Growing up on the Spectrum: A guide to life, love and learning for young adults with autism and Asperger’s. She contributed to an anthology play called Motherhood Out Loud, and have been published in The New York Times, Self, Vogue and other magazines.

She lives in the Pacific Palisades with my husband Rob (who writes for “The Simpsons”), her four kids (Max, Johnny, Annie and Will) and too many pets to keep track of.

What did you think of our interview with Claire LaZebnik, author of WRONG ABOUT THE GUY? Let us know in the comments!

Happy reading,

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