Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1 Divorcing Doubt Brought on By Rejection by C.C. Hunter

Today we're excited to welcome C.C. Hunter to the blog. C.C.'s Unspoken is the third book of the Shadow Falls: After Dark trilogy, and releases on October 28th. She's here to share advice about self-doubt and rejection. There are lots of useful tips, so read on and enjoy!

Divorcing Doubt Brought on By Rejection by C.C. Hunter

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

2 Three Steps for Nailing Your Author and Character Voice

I’m starting a new WIP, which is really exciting for me. I finally have the story nailed down, and now I’m writing actual pages. That’s both exhilarating and terrifying. I’ve been writing Barrie’s voice for so long that I wasn’t sure how hard it would be to slip into a new character’s head and speak in her words.

I’ve had a number of people ask me about “finding their voice,” so maybe it’s time to visit that question again.

The first thing that I have to say is that there is a difference between author voice and character voice. The author voice is something that expresses itself unconsciously across multiple works. It’s what enables someone to recognize an author’s work regardless of what they’re writing about. That’s not a bad thing. It’s similar to the way that we can identify the voice of a friend on the telephone. Author voice is unique and largely unconscious. It comes from your life, education, and point of view, and it includes:

Monday, September 28, 2015

13 THREE New Release Giveaways PLUS Author Interviews for this week of 9/28

There are nine new YA books coming into the world this week, and we're giving away copies of THE LOST GIRL, YOUNG MAN WITH CAMERA and ZEROES.

Happy reading,
Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Jen, Sandra and Anisaa

Sunday, September 27, 2015

0 Darren Shan, author of ZOM-B FUGITIVE, on knowing and appreciating the worth of your stories

ZOM-B FUGITIVE is the latest novel in the Zom-B series, and we're delighted to have Darren Shan stop by to tell us more about it.

Darren, 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? 

There’s a scene in Zom-B Fugitive, about halfway through, which provides one of the biggest shocks of the series to date. Originally I’d planned to have it at the end of one of the books, but it worked better here, where nobody was expecting it. It’s one of the most powerful, stomach-dropping scenes in the entire series, and while it was always going to be a powerful moment, I’m especially pleased with how it played out.

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

I think The Stand by Stephen King would be popular with Zom-B fans, as it was a big influence on me. Also, in a very different way, a book called The Turbulent Term Of Tyke Tyler by Gene Kemp, which is very certainly not a horror book, but had a big impact on these books regardless.

0 Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens Saturday, October 3, at noon EST!

Our October workshop will open for entries on Saturday October 3, 2015, at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have author Lee Bross and agent Saba Sulaiman!

And we have a new format! The workshop is three weeks, but the third week will now include a pitch. And Saba will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter of the manuscript!

October Guest Mentor – Lee Bross

LEE BROSS is the author of Tangled Webs, Fates and Chaos (as Lanie Bross), and she writes NA (Right Where you Are releasing 11/15/2015, and Whatever it Takes, releasing 12/15/15) as L.E Bross. She was born in a small town in Maine, where she spent the next eighteen years dreaming of bigger places. After exploring city life, she and her husband and two young sons ended up going right back to the wilds of Maine. They now live just one house down from where she grew up. Fate, perhaps? Lee loves chasing her rambunctious kids, playing tug-of-war with her ninety-five-pound Lab, and writing for teens. Visit her online at and follow her on Twitter.

London, 1725. Everybody has a secret. Lady A will keep yours—for a price. This sumptuous, scandalous YA novel is wickedly addictive.

Lady A is the most notorious blackmailer in the city. With just a mask and a gown to disguise her, she sweeps into lavish balls and exclusive events collecting the most valuable currency in 1725 London—secrets.

But leading a double life isn't easy. By day Lady A is just a sixteen-year-old girl named Arista who lives in fear of her abusive master, Bones, and passes herself off as a boy to move safely through the squalor of London's slums. When Bones attempts to dispose of his pawn forever, Arista is rescued by the last person she expects: Jonathan Wild, the infamous Thief Taker General who moves seamlessly between the city's criminal underworld and its most elite upper circles. Arista partners with Wild on her own terms in the hopes of saving enough money to buy passage out of London.

Everything changes when she meets Graeden Sinclair, the son of a wealthy merchant. Grae has traveled the world, has seen the exotic lands Arista has longed to escape to her whole life, and he loves Arista for who she is—not for what she can do for him. Being with Grae gives something Arista something precious that she swore off long ago: hope. He has promised to help Arista escape the life of crime that has claimed her since she was a child. But can you ever truly escape the past?

Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and add to Goodreads!

October Guest Agent - Saba Sulaiman

After double majoring in Economics and Middle Eastern Studies at Wellesley, Saba studied modern Persian Literature at the University of Chicago, where she got involved with editing the department’s academic journal. And it finally hit her—working closely with writers to hone their craft; seeing a piece of writing from its inception through to its eventual publication; and advocating for what she believed was stellar prose worthy of recognition—this was her calling. So she interned at various newspaper and magazine publications, worked as an editorial intern at Sourcebooks, and then wound up at Talcott Notch, where she’s excited to begin her career as a literary agent. She is looking for strong voices and unconventional narratives that really make her sit up, pay attention, and move her. Introduce her to unforgettable characters with complex, deep relationships, and show her worlds where things aren’t necessarily as they seem. Intelligent, sharp writing with soul is her biggest weakness, and if you can offer a fresh perspective on top of that, she’ll probably be sold.

0 Tracy Clark, author of ILLUMINATE, on not giving up as long as the process is joyful

ILLUMINATE is the last book in the Light Key trilogy, and we're excited to have Tracy Clark here to tell us more about it.

Tracy, 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?

There is a scene that takes place in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in which Cora does something incredible that she didn’t know she could do. It’s a beautiful act and the heart of this series—what of ourselves do we give to others and to the world?

What do you hope readers will take away from ILLUMINATE?

I hope readers will read carefully and perhaps see this book as a metaphor. I know that sounds cryptic and mysterious, but I love to use theme as an element in my stories. I think there’s a clear theme in ILLUMINATE and the series as a whole. Even if readers read for pure entertainment (I know I often do!) I hope they at least come away thinking about the energy we give and take from each other.

0 Mackenzi Lee, author of THIS MONSTROUS THING, on learning to appreciate your own journey

We're thrilled to have Mackenzi Lee join us to share more about her debut novel THIS MONSTROUS THING.

Mackenzi, what was your inspiration for writing THIS MONSTROUS THING?

My books never have a single “aha!” inception moment. Instead, a bunch of small things I’ve collected over the years all synthesize into one. The idea for This Monstrous Thing was a combination of seeing a production of Frankenstein at the National Theater that changed my perspective on the story, hearing Frankenstein misidentified as the first steampunk novel (which I knew was wrong, but it sounded like a good idea), a trip I took to Germany at Christmastime, and a lifetime of being the emotional older half of a pair of siblings. It all culminated in an email to my sister, the first line of which was ‘I think I just came up with an idea that’s too weird to write.’ Thankfully, she didn’t think so and told me to write it.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

0 Mikaela Everett, author of THE UNQUIET, on falling in love with the actual art of writing

THE UNQUIET is the debut novel from Mikaela Everett, and we're delighted to have her with us to chat about writing.

Mikaela, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I’ve seen The Unquiet compared to Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, both of which are incredible books and I’m so honored.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE UNQUIET?

That no one has the power to determine who you are, but you.

0 A. S. King, author of I CRAWL THROUGH IT, on writing inside the chaos

We're honored to have award-winning author A. S. King stop by to tell us more about her latest novel I CRAWL THROUGH IT.

What was your inspiration for writing I CRAWL THROUGH IT?

I’d quit writing. You can read more about that by clicking here.

So my inspiration was just energy that flowed through me, really. I am a writer and I have to write. What inspired me was a daily, moment-by-moment thing. The first page inspired the second. The second page inspired the third. The third inspired the fourth, etc. Once the book got going, the characters inspired me to tell their truths.

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?

0 October 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens in 1 Week!

Our 1st 5 Pages September Workshop has come to an end.  We had such a great group of talented and supportive writers. And wow, did they revise! A big thanks to our guest mentors, author JJ Howard and agent Danielle Burby! They both provided terrific comments and suggestions. And as always, thank you to all of our fabulous permanent mentors! Two of our mentors had books come out this month that you should check out – Hoodoo, by Ron Smith and Soul Corrupted by Lisa Gail Green!

Our October workshop will open for entries on Saturday October 3, 2015, at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have author Lee Bross and agent Saba Sulaiman!

And we have a new format! The workshop is three weeks, but the third week will now include a pitch. And Saba will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter (up to 10 pages) of the manuscript! 

So get those pages ready!


0 Rebekah L. Purdy, author of THE SUMMER MARKED, on breaking characters down to build them back up

THE SUMMER MARKED is the second book in the The Winter People series, and we're excited to have Rebekah L. Purdy here to tell us more about it.

Rebekah, 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 think writing the scenes with Kadie in Winter were a little grueling at times, just because it’s such a dark, dreadful place. And watching Kadie go from this strong, bad ass girl, to at times breaking. But sometimes we have to break characters down in order to build them back up. I think a lot of people will try to put themselves in her shoes to understand why she’s making some of the decisions she does. So for me, I think a lot of her scenes in Winter were the hardest to write.

As for a scene I love, I’d have to say the scenes with Salome and Lord Darach (who you will meet in this book). There’s a particular part where he helps her in a sword fight that I adore. LOL.

0 Kendare Blake, author of UNGODLY, on characters hanging out and harassing each other

UNGODLY is book three of The Goddess War series, and we're thrilled to have Kendare Blake stop by to share more about it.

Kendare, 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?

It's been awhile since I wrote UNGODLY, so this is hard to remember for certain. But I know that the scenes where Andie and Henry get close were tough. Andie is an easy character to write; she's sassy and will punch you if she really loves you. Henry isn't hard either. He's noble and full of honor and stoicism. But it's these same admirable qualities that make intimacy between them a challenge. Neither is in touch with their snuggly side.

As for scenes I love, the ones where my godly guys get to hang out and harass each other I could write for days. Put Hermes and Ares, or Athena and Ares in a room together and let them bitch. They're such prickly assholes.

Friday, September 25, 2015

0 Ask a Pub Pro: Author and Editor Erin Rhew on Branding, Cover Art, and Voice

We are thrilled to welcome editor and author Erin Rhew to the blog this month as our columnist for Ask a Pub Pro! Having worked with Erin, I'm amazed at how she tirelessly juggles so many hats. Not only is she an editor and the social media whirlwind for BookFish Books, but she's also the author of The Fulfillment Series, with the last book, The Fulfillment, releasing in just a few days!

Erin's here to answer your reader questions on how to brand yourself across genres, whether to send your own cover art in with submissions, and facing the fear of writing to a group younger than your age. Be sure to check out her newest release below!

If you have a question you'd like to have answered by an upcoming publishing professional, send it to AYAPLit AT and put Ask a Pub Pro Question in the subject line.

Ask a Pub Pro with Erin Rhew

1) I've heard the advice that if you want to build a fan base, you need to brand yourself. But my ideas don't all lend themselves to one category or genre, though they all have some similar themes. I'm wondering if you can brand yourself writing across categories and genres but by always exploring a similar type of story question or theme. Or even a similar type of story?

That’s a great question! When branding yourself, it’s important to remember you’re branding YOU, not a specific book or genre. If you have a cause that’s important to you or a theme/message you’re trying to disseminate, you could certainly include information about that in your branding. For example, let’s say you want to bring attention to animal cruelty. As you blog, perhaps blog about that particular topic once a month or so. Highlight and promote charities you feel exemplify the work you’d like done for animals.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

2 Agent Nicole Tourtelot of DeFiore and Company On What She's Seen Too Much & How to Query

Nicole Tourtelot is a literary agent at DeFiore and Company. Previously, she worked as an agent at Kuhn Projects, in the literary department at ICM, in the fiction department of Esquire, and as a researcher for the Freakonomics authors. She received her BA in English from Columbia University.

Submit to Nicole: nicole[at]defliterary[dot]com
Check out the website:
Follow her on Twitter: @NicoleTourtelot

Is there anything you’ve seen too much of in a submission? Lately, I’ve seen a lot of car crashes, which seems like an odd trend. On a more micro level, I see a lot of sample chapters that start with an over-written description of action, combined with a cliché (or many cliches). Here are two invented examples: “My eyes surveyed the landscape, which was dry as a bone.” or “My skin begins to sweat bullets.” In those two cases, the first problem is that the author is overthinking and overwriting. (You don’t need to specify that your eyes are looking; we know that you look with your eyes.) And the second problem is the cliché. Read your work out loud to yourself, especially the first page or the sample chapter, and take notice of anything that sounds unnatural as you say it. If it’s unnatural to your ear when you read it out loud, it will be unnatural to your reader’s ear as well. 

What is it about a manuscript that excites you? I’ve always read for an escapist thrill and that hasn’t changed even though I’m 33 years old now, and I no longer have to read with a flashlight under the covers. The manuscripts that excite me are the ones where I feel like the author is telling the truth to the point where I forget there’s an author at all, and I’m completely engrossed in the reality of the characters and the world. I appreciate writing that’s in service to the story and the characters, rather than the other way around.

What is on your wish list? 
Right now, I’m actively acquiring young adult, new adult, women’s fiction, upmarket commercial fiction, and accessible literary fiction. Across all those genres, I’m looking for well-drawn, relatable characters and a high-stakes story. That could mean a character in a dangerous situation or just high emotional states. I’d love to see a story in any of those genres that deals with food or with music, as those are two passions of mine.

What are some of your favorite authors/books and why do you love them?
Roald Dahl has been my favorite author since I learned to read and he still holds the number one spot. I poured my heart into a letter to him when I was nine years old and got a letter back from his estate that he had just passed away. That was heartbreaking, of course, but it
 taught me something beautiful about great stories—they live on into eternity with or without the authors who created them. I really like bad kids or extraordinary kids who buck the system. That explains the Roald Dahl loyalty but extends to my other favorite books and authors, too—from Salinger’s Franny & Zooey and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon to The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg and everything John Green has ever written, but particularlyLooking for Alaska.

What are some things you love to see in a query?
I enjoy a query that plainly states what the book is about. I’ll take a crisp, clear, direct description of a story over a long and complicated pitch any day. People talk about an elevator pitch, but I’m fond of the bus metaphor and it works for fiction and non-fiction. You’re at a bus stop as the bus is pulling away, and your friend is on the bus with her head out the window. Tell your friend what your book is about before she can’t hear you any longer. If you can do that, you’ve got your pitch. (Please don’t try this on an actual bus.)

Can you define voice for us?
For me, voice means that the writing has integrity. You’re entirely yourself and no one else could tell your story the way you’re telling it. You’re telling the truth, even if it’s your own particular, weird, wacky truth. I’m allergic to snobbish or “posturing” writing where the fact that the author is a Writer and the reader is Reading is apparent on each page. Even when you’re reading a memoir, you should feel like you’re hanging out with an endlessly fascinating and articulate friend. You shouldn’t think about the author’s ambitions and what they’re trying to have you think about them. Plenty of people would disagree with me on that (especially those who favor experimental or tricky fiction). That’s just my opinion and it’s what works for me as a reader.

What do you like to do for fun?
I sing in a cabaret-type of show every once in awhile. Sometimes, it’s just me and a friend with a guitar and sometimes I get to sing with an extraordinary jazz band. That’s a real treat. I like to ride my bike, go the beach, do hot yoga, and cook stuff. Like most (all?) Vitamix owners, I'm obsessed with mine, and like blending things. Is that a hobby? 

Sure! Why not. Why did you become an agent?
I started in journalism, but ultimately ended up in publishing because in my bones, I’m an agent, and not a writer. I’ve always wanted to bring books into the world, and now I get to do that every day for some of the most talented and interesting people in the world. For non-fiction, we sometimes act as midwives for people’s stories, helping to bring their lives or their life’s work to the page. But in fiction, the author has already spent hours alone crafting an entire world from scratch. It’s my job, then, to help that story find the best version of itself, and to take it into the marketplace and advocate on its behalf. I can’t think of a better job than going out to a group of very intelligent and well-read editors and banging down their doors to say “You have to read this book!” It’s a dream job.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

3 When to Break the Rules by A.J. Steiger

We're excited to welcome A.J. Steiger to the blog today. A.J.'s debut, Mindwalker, was released on June 9th of this year. Today, A.J. is joining us with advice on breaking the rules.

When to Break the Rules by A.J. Steiger

On my long road to publication, I’ve taken numerous fiction classes, read plenty of “how to write” books, and participated in critique sessions with other writers. There’s no shortage of do’s and don’ts on the subject of writing, and wading through these seas of information can be overwhelming. But the most useful piece of advice I’ve ever received is also the simplest: “Trust your gut. No matter what the rule is, someone is going to break it and break it well.”

Fiction is not an exact science, it’s a primal art which often emerges from a deep, intuitive place. Stories have been a part of human culture since we were painting them on cave walls. Yes, guidelines are useful. But if you treat them as immutable laws, they can easily become a gag muffling your own voice. The key is knowing when to deviate from the standard principles.

With that in mind, here are a few common rules I recommend throwing out the window (at least sometimes).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

19 Writing Does Not Equal Publishing: Five Reasons You Write and How to Reclaim the Joy

I wrote about guilt last week, and I had several responses in the comments and in private messages and phone calls that were in line with what I'd been hearing from other authors. Many of those responses are heartbreaking. So I want to revisit this topic today.

Let's celebrate the fact that there are SO many people who have a burning need to write. For many, it's a form of escape from a life that's structured, stifling, and emotionally draining. Which is to say pretty much all modern life.

I don't mean to say that escape is bad. It isn't. Those of us who write were blessed to be born with imaginations, creative instincts, and the drive to make something beyond ourselves. And yes, that includes something beyond money and our children.

Those of us who write for the love of writing grew up as readers. We dove heart-first into worlds populated by hobbits and dragons, by princesses, witches, and vampires--sparkly or otherwise. We saw, and still see, romance and heartbreak, justice and injustice swirling all around us, and we want to do something about that. Firing up our imaginations isn't a hobby; it's an imperative.

Now here's the tricky part. We're entitled to write. We should write. We have to write.

We should't feel guilty about writing. Exercising our imaginations is just as critical as exercising our bodies.

1) It keeps us sane.
2) It keeps us (somewhat) emotionally engaged and balanced.
3) It keeps our brains active and alive and, medically, there's evidence that will keep them young.

Why then is writing so filled with angst and guilt?

Here's my theory. Eh hem. Somewhere in the last decade of Amazon, we all got the idea that writing equals publishing. That somehow, it's not valid to write UNLESS you publish. And these days, let's face it, that means that we're essentially saying that you can't write unless you want to spend money and time and energy to also market what you've written.

I call bullcrap. Isn't it time someone did?  You know who is making money off this model? Amazon, honestly. Not us. Not the vast majority of the authors who indie pub. Not the VAST majority of authors who publish traditionally. Not even the traditional publishers or the other booksellers. And the thing is, I'm not sure that all the effort really sells many books.

I've done a lot of marketing for my series, and I don't regret it. I could afford to do it, because I've been very lucky in publishing. But truly, that's the giant claw of luck picking me out of the pile, not because of anything that I've done specifically. That could have been anyone else just as easily once the manuscript got to a certain level.

I do cringe though when I hear the stories about how much time and heartache and money my friends are spending on the business of getting published. I get questions all the time about whether they should quit and give up. Where should they spend the marketing dollars? What events should they go to? Will they fall behind if they don't do a blog tour or a physical tour or getting into this or that? Bleh. I think marketing is great if writers WANT to be marketers. I think it sucks if someone who wants to write feel they have to be a full time marketing person in order to be a writer.

Writing does NOT equal publishing. There is joy, such marvelous, spinning, swirling, uplifting joy, in pouring words onto a page and writing to connect with the world. Of course, we fall in love with our characters and our worlds and our themes as we write. We want to share all that with others. We want our work acknowledged and appreciated.

But here's where we have to ask ourselves about the rest of it. If what we love is the writing, then shouldn't we find a way to reclaim the writing, the joy of writing? Wouldn't we be happier if we let go of any of the rest that doesn't bring us joy?

The answer to that isn't universal. It's going to be a different answer for everyone. But if you're struggling with whether to write, and you're struggling with the decision whether to indy pub or try for traditional publication, I'm going to suggest that you put the Amazon-factor aside for a moment and ask yourself a few questions.

Why are you writing? 

  • Is it because you love to write? Then write. Write the best damn book you can write. If you don't like revision or worrying about whether readers will love it, then write, finish, and go on to the next book. Think of this like painting. Or playing the violin. It's okay to do it because you love it.
  • Is it because you love revision and the process of making the book the best it can be? Then spend your money on taking workshops, classes, and getting the best critique group you can put together. Go the traditional publishing route, because getting an agent and an editor WILL make you better. Again, think of this as painting. How many great painters ever got to hang in galleries? A few were lucky to get to hang on the walls of people's homes, and that small success made it all worthwhile. It doesn't matter if your book deal is big or small. You shared your work with readers, and you grew as a writer.
  • Is it because you love connecting with readers and talking to them about your writing? You want to reach as many readers as you can without the publishing side of the equation? Take advantage of Wattpad or similar sites and put your words out there. Or join a fanfic site and build a following for your work. You can get the creative outlet and the joy of writing there combined with the reader connection, without the gatekeepers of traditional publishing or the expense of indie pubbing.
  • Is it because you want to control the process of publication and get a bigger risk for the reward of publishing? If you want to hire editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and spend time, energy, and money becoming a promoter and marketer because you love doing that, then indie pub. But know that at that point, you're an entrepreneur, not just a writer. It's a different thing. A grand thing, to be sure, but at that point, you're opening a small business. And most small businesses fail. There are greater reward for those who succeed, but that's the nature of the business. 
  • Is it because you want to make a ton of money writing? Seriously, the odds aren't in your favor. You'd be better off playing the lottery, and realistically, that's what this is. It's a lottery. Or a crap shoot. And the business of publishing is damn hard work. 

    Luckily, writing does NOT equal publishing.

    We have to be honest with ourselves about why we're writing. Writing doesn't have to cost much to do. It doesn't have to be something we give ourselves permission to do. It should be something we do for our mental health, not something we do that steals our mental health.

    Stand up, writers. Reclaim the joy of writing. Own it. Give yourself permission to take joy in pouring words on a page.

    This Week's Giveaway

    I'm thrilled and honored to be able to give a shout out to Kim Liggett, whose beautiful book comes out today. You want this one, guys. Truly you do!

    Blood and Salt
    by Kim Liggett
    G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
    Released 9/22/2015

    Romeo and Juliet meets Children of the Corn in this one-of-a-kind romantic horror.

    “When you fall in love, you will carve out your heart and throw it into the deepest ocean. You will be all in—blood and salt.”

    These are the last words Ash Larkin hears before her mother returns to the spiritual commune she escaped long ago. But when Ash follows her to Quivira, Kansas, something sinister and ancient waits among the rustling cornstalks of this village lost to time.

    Ash is plagued by memories of her ancestor, Katia, which harken back to the town’s history of unrequited love and murder, alchemy and immortality. Charming traditions soon give way to a string of gruesome deaths, and Ash feels drawn to Dane, a forbidden boy with secrets of his own.

    As the community prepares for a ceremony five hundred years in the making, Ash must fight not only to save her mother, but herself—and discover the truth about Quivira before it’s too late. Before she’s all in—blood and salt.

    Purchase Blood and Salt at Amazon
    Purchase Blood and Salt at IndieBound
    View Blood and Salt on Goodreads

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Your Turn

    What do you think? Are you writing? Thinking about writing? Thinking about quitting? Why do you want to write? What's your story?

    About the Author

    Martina Boone is the author of Compulsion and Persuasion, out now in the romantic Southern Gothic Heirs of Watson Island trilogy from Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse. Illusion, the final book, will be out in October of 2016. Martina is also the founder of, a three-time Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers Site, and, a site dedicated to encouraging literacy and reader engagement through a celebration of series literature. She's on the Board of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia and runs the program to distribute books to underfunded schools and libraries.

    Monday, September 21, 2015

    19 SEVEN New Release Giveaways, plus author interviews and what's new this week of 9/21

    There's a wonderful set of new releases this week, and we have a whopping total of twelve books to give away, including three copies each of UNGODLY and THE MURDSTONE TRILOGY! Which of this week's new releases are you most looking forward to?

    Happy reading,
    Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Jen, Sandra and Anisaa

    Sunday, September 20, 2015

    0 Heather W. Petty, author of LOCK & MORI, on being a delicate flower when it comes to violence

    We're thrilled to have Heather W. Petty stop by to tell us more about her debut novel LOCK & MORI.

    Heather, what was your inspiration for writing LOCK & MORI?

    I read an article about nemesis relationships in literature that used the relationship between Sherlock and Moriarty as one of the examples. The writer pointed out that the only information we have about Moriarty from the canon comes from Sherlock, because no one else meets Moriarty, not even Watson. I hadn't noticed that when I read the books and stories as a kid, so I went back and reread that story. I started to think, what if Sherlock lied to Watson for some reason? What if Sherlock and Moriarty had known each other in their past, had maybe even been close friends? What if something had happened in their past that turned them into enemies?

    And, of course, that morphed and changed until it eventually became LOCK & MORI. But that article was definitely the inspiration!

    Saturday, September 19, 2015

    0 Kat Spears, author of BREAKAWAY, on overcoming the fear of exposing a deeper part of yourself

    We're excited to have Kat Spears stop by to tell us more about her latest novel BREAKAWAY.

    Kat, what was your inspiration for writing BREAKAWAY?

    There were two main inspirations for writing BREAKAWAY. First, it is set in the area of south Arlington, Virginia where I attended high school. High school was a tumultuous time of life for me and I have many strong memories attached to the same locations where Jason and his friends spend their time. The diversity of Arlington is reflected in the cast of BREAKAWAY, diversity of race and socio-economic status. My family fell squarely in the middle-class, but Arlington at that time exhibited shocking extremes between the haves and the have-nots. I tried to do that diversity justice with the cast of BREAKAWAY, but I’m afraid an accurate depiction could never fully be captured in words.

    Second, I was trying to tell a story about life transitions and their effect on friendships. In BREAKAWAY, the boys are preparing to leave high school and enter the rest of their lives. And not everyone is going in the same direction. In real life some friendships survive beyond high school while others don’t. Jason, the main character, is exploring the idea of what constitutes real friendship. In the case of the four boys in BREAKAWAY the commonality is that they are each outcasts in their own way. Mario resists his Hispanic heritage; Jason has a broken, complicated family history; Jordie does not feel at home among his wealthy, white neighbors because he is of mixed heritage; and Chick is mentally ill.

    0 Leila Sales, author of TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS, on not feeling jealous or inferior

    We are thrilled to have Leila Sales join us to share more about her latest novel TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS.

    Leila, what do you hope readers will take away from TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS?

    That just because someone's life seems perfect online, that doesn't mean it actually is, and you shouldn't feel jealous or inferior for your real life not measuring up to the instagram version of somebody else's.

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

    In between THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE and TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS, I pitched a minimum of four YA novels to my editor. It wasn't until I came up with TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS that we both felt good enough about the concept to move forward with it. And even then I wound up completely rewriting the pre-roadtrip section like five times!

    0 Sarah Prineas, author of ASH & BRAMBLE, on persevering through rejection

    We're delighted to have Sarah Prineas join us to chat about her latest novel ASH & BRAMBLE.

    Sarah, what was your inspiration for writing ASH & BRAMBLE?

    A couple of years ago I was hemming a pillowcase (I am not a seamstress), and kept pricking myself with the needle, and got a stiff neck, and was basically not enjoying myself very much at all, and it occurred to me (as happens, with writers) that the fairy godmother gives this gorgeous ball gown to Cinderella, but where did the dress come from, exactly? Who makes the fancy dresses? And for that matter, who makes all the other stuff you find in fairytales: Snow White's glass coffin, the gingerbread for the witch's cottage, the bed piled with mattresses (and a pea)... The sweatshop/fortress of the Godmother was the obvious conclusion, and from that the seamstresses and Pin, and the idea that being caught in a fairy tale might not be the best thing ever.

    Friday, September 18, 2015

    3 Having Fun with Editing by Skylar Dorset

    If you're like most writers I know, you just LOVE revisions and edits. ;-)  So you'd probably appreciate some good ideas as to how to make the process less painful. Skylar Dorset, author of The Girl Who Never Was, is here with us today to share how she turns the process into an enjoyable game!

    Having Fun with Editing: A Craft of Writing Post by Skylar Dorset

    Here’s the thing everyone will tell you about a first draft: Don’t worry about it! Don’t try to fix it! Just get through it! Write without judgment! You’ll deal with it all later!

    I embrace all of this. I *love* first drafts. First drafts are the best. First drafts are when you sit down and you get to just *write.* All of your writing in a first draft is pure creation. I am addicted to the no-judgment idea. Once you get yourself to accept it—and learning not to be too hard on ourselves is hard; for just general life advice, I recommend learning how not to be too hard on yourself. Give yourself a break! You’re a nice person!—it’s marvelously freeing. First drafts flow easily from my fingers. Is that a continuity error? Worry about it later! Is the tone a little off? Worry about it later! Did you foreshadow this too little or too much? LATER!

    I breeze my ways through my first drafts, and then when I’m done, I look back on a desolate landscape littered with trash I’ve left behind in my wake. “Oh,” I say, looking at the heaps of run-on sentences, the confetti of commas, the neglected secondary characters roaming through the wasteland giving me the evil eye. “Did I do that?” It’s like waking up the morning after you host a party. That party seemed like a good idea at some point in your past but on the morning after you’re cursing Past You for all you’re worth.

    Thursday, September 17, 2015

    0 Seventeen YA writers collaborate to create the powerful VIOLENT ENDS

    Unfortunately, mass shootings have become an all too common occurrence, which makes VIOLENT ENDS an important novel to showcase.

    Shaun Hutchinson had the idea to tell the stories of students impacted by a school shooting from multiple viewpoints. He assembled a group of seventeen incredibly talented YA writers to create the stories of the victims who are brought together by a tragic event. With seventeen perspectives on events leading up to and after the violence, this is sure to be a novel that stays with you.

    We are very fortunate and extremely honored to have many of the VIOLENT ENDS authors join us to share their inspiration for their part of the story, as well as answer other questions. Click an author's name to be redirected to their website to learn more about them or scroll down to learn about the entire anthology.

    Shaun Hutchinson, The Perfect Shot/Editor

    What is your favorite thing about VIOLENT ENDS?

    My favorite thing about Violent Ends is that it offers no easy answers. 

    The Secret Service compiled a report after the shootings at Columbine in an attempt to create a profile of the type of person most likely to become a school shooter. According to the report (The Final Report and Findings of the Safe School Initiative: Implications For the Prevention of School Attacks in the United States, which you can and should read at: "There is no accurate or useful 'profile' of students who engaged in targeted school violence."

    That was the thing that struck me the most while researching school shootings. When a violent attack happens, survivors, the media, amateur arm-chair psychoanalysts attempt to figure out why. Inevitably they find something they can blame—goth music or violent video games or mental illness or lax gun control laws—and they become so myopically focused on that one thing they lose sight of the bigger picture. 

    Instead of trying to offer explanations for what Kirby did by telling stories about a school shooter, Violent Ends offers a multifaceted picture of a real person. Because I strongly believe that if we want to stop school violence before it happens, we need to stop trying to profile children and viewing them as potential shooters, and start seeing them as real and whole people. And it's my sincere hope Violent Ends does that.

    How long did you work on VIOLENT ENDS?

    Actually, this book came together pretty quickly. I think it was 16 months from the day we sold it to the day it hits shelves. Considering how slow publishing usually moves, that was practically light speed. Maybe 16 months sounds like a lot of time, but we had to plan and write the stories, edit them, copy edit them, figure out the story order. It was a lot of work, but I am thrilled with the finished book, and I couldn't have done any of it without my brilliant agent, my amazing editor, and the exceptionally talented and hard-working authors who signed on to my crazy idea. 

    Wednesday, September 16, 2015

    1 Showing Up by Jackie Lea Sommers

    We're excited to welcome author Jackie Lea Sommers back to the blog today. Jackie's debut Truest hit shelves earlier this month. Today she's going to share with us what made the most difference in getting herself from aspiring author to published author.

    SHOWING UP by Jackie Lea Sommers

    My debut Truest, a contemporary novel for young adults, was released at the beginning of the month—a dream come true, the result of years of hard work. I work for a university, and sometimes young writers will ask me for writing advice or what made the difference in the journey to publication. I always have the same answer: showing up.

    I’m convinced that’s about 90% of writing a book right there: showing up to write, putting in the work. I have learned not to wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is abundantly available when I show up. Inspiration learns my routine and meets me there.

    Often writers become paralyzed by the fear of failure, but the truth is that we will fail. We will. But if we keep showing up to work, day after day after month after year, we will have a finished manuscript.

    Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” In other words: show up, show up, show up.

    Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. We have to show up continually.

    Stephen King wrote, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” He’s right: you’ve got to show up.

    Tuesday, September 15, 2015

    11 Writer's Guilt: The Honest Truth about Gender, Creative Cycles, and Making a Positive Change

    by Martina Boone

    I actually get paid to write. That's still amazing to me. Someone gives me money to use my imagination, which makes me one of the most privileged people on the planet.

    I write, edit, or research for at least eight hours a day at least five days a week. That is my job. That's how I look at it. But you know what? I STILL feel like my writing time is illicit, somehow stolen from other things.

    Which is crazy.

    I know I have to find a way to get myself past that mental block, but in talking to some other authors, I've discovered that a lot of us feel the same. Like we have to squeeze the writing time in between family and the business side of being an author, the marketing, social media, and just about anything else.

    You know who overwhelmingly don't feel writer's guilt? The male authors with whom I've spoken.

    Monday, September 14, 2015

    16 THREE New Release Giveaways, plus author interviews and what's new this week of 9/14

    There's a wonderful set of new releases this week, and we have three books to giveaway! Two of these are new releases - Katherine Howe's The Appearance of Annie van Sinderen and Dawn Kirtagich's The Dead House, as well as one slightly older release, Alexandra Sirowy's The Creeping.

    Happy reading,
    Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Jen, Sandra and Anisaa

    Sunday, September 13, 2015

    2 Best of AYAP: Character

    Character is one of the most important aspects of a compelling story... but sometimes they can be ridiculously hard to get right. Character is intrinsically tied to plot, and it can be difficult to separate the two. Yet a character that resonates with readers can stand on his or her own.

    There's a lot of discussion on how to create a relatable character in the posts below, as well as essays on what makes character's strong, and ideas on how to create well rounded characters. There are analyses on the relationship between character and plot, the breakdown on when it's okay not to have a huge character arc, and on building your main character through secondary characters. As always, there's a wealth of information in the AYAP archives... and we've collected the best of it below.

    1 Lisa Gail Green, author of SOUL CORRUPTED, on not letting others squash your burning need to write

    We're super excited that our very own Lisa Gail Green has released SOUL CORRUPTED, the next book in her Of Demons and Angels series. 

    Lisa, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

    I learned that I am capable of writing a series, so hooray!! Seriously though, that middle book I think is the hardest in a trilogy. I was concerned about plot vs. cliffhangers, vs. overarching plots for the series, etc and I’m not known for being much of an outliner. So let me assure others out there that it is indeed possible. I’m quite proud of the result and am so excited for the final book!! I have to thank my editor, Samantha, as well because she worked so closely with me on this. There were so many details in the rules of the world and characters that it was difficult to make sure it all worked smoothly, but again, I’m super happy with the result.

    What do you hope readers will take away from SOUL CORRUPTED?

    I hope that readers question everything just like Josh and Grace. I hope that the many, many shades of grey when it comes to good vs. evil make people question the status quo – just like we always should in real life. I hope that readers feel like my characters are real and root for them.

    5 Stephanie Diaz, author of EVOLUTION, on evolving from a dystopian story into a space opera

    EVOLUTION is the final book in the Extraction series, and we're pleased to have Stephanie Diaz here to tell us more about it.

    Stephanie, what was your inspiration for writing EVOLUTION?

    When I began writing the Extraction series, my goal was to create a premise and world that would evolve from a dystopian story into more of a space opera by the end. EVOLUTION hits that mark with the appearance of alien forces that bring war to the people of the planet Kiel and force Clementine and her friends to fight harder for their survival than ever before. I loved getting to bring more elements of sci-fi series I love--like Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica--into the game.

    2 Shalanda Stanley, author of DROWNING IS INEVITABLE, on taking the preciousness out of writing

    We're delighted to have Shalanda Stanley stop by to chat about her debut DROWNING IS INEVITABLE.

    Shalanda, what was your inspiration for writing DROWNING IS INEVITABLE?

    A tombstone, a 150-year-old tree, and the saying “I’d do anything for you.”

    I was visiting St. Francisville and touring one of their graveyards, because that’s a thing normal people do, when I came upon a tombstone of a young girl who died on her eighteenth birthday. I thought the odds of that being coincidental were pretty low, and that spawned the idea of how Olivia’s mom dies. On that same trip, I found a magnificent live oak tree, more than a century and half old, that I fell in love with on sight. I knew that tree had seen some amazing things and would have a few stories to tell. The branches on these trees are so huge and heavy that some of them lay on the ground. If you’ve never seen one, they’re worth a Google search. They are perfect climbing trees and the ideal hiding spot for Olivia when she needs somewhere to watch life from instead of live it. The tree has a pretty special place in Olivia’s heart and the story as a whole. And finally, I often hear people say that they’d do anything for the friends in their lives, but they don’t really mean anything. I thought it would be interesting to write about two people who really mean it. Olivia and Jamie would go any distance for the other.

    1 David Oppegaard, author of THE FIREBUG OF BALROG COUNTY, on naps and playing with his cat

    THE FIREBUG OF BALROG COUNTY is the latest novel from David Oppegaard, and we're excited to have him stop by to tell us more about it.

    David, what was your inspiration for writing THE FIREBUG OF BALROG COUNTY?

    My mother died when I was twenty-one. It took me about twelve years, but I finally felt ready to tell her story in a meaningful way without making it too dark or heavy. By featuring a smart aleck main character who was up to no good, I was able to tell a story filled with action (as opposed to a series of hospital visits) that balances humor with the sorrow of losing a parent at a young age. The Firebug of Balrog County is easily the most autobiographical of all my novels, the one novel I knew I’d have to write sooner or later. The one I wrote for my mom.

    1 Christopher Barzak, author of WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD, on capturing the essence of his youth

    WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD is the latest novel by Christopher Barzak, and we're thrilled to have him here to tell us more about it.

    Christopher, what was your inspiration for writing WONDERS OF THE INVISIBLE WORLD?

    I was initially inspired by my own family, and specifically my grandparents' farm, where I grew up. Many of the setting details for the Lockwood homestead are taken from there, with some embellishments. My grandparents have passed away, sadly, and the farm is fading now too. So I wanted to capture the place and some essence of my youth there, before it all goes away and slips through my fingers.

    5 Laura Amy Schlitz, author of THE HIRED GIRL, on her writing self being a hysterical, imaginative little goblin

    We are honored to have Newbery Medal winner Laura Amy Schlitz join us to share more about her latest novel THE HIRED GIRL.

    Laura. 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?

    My favorite scene to write was the scene at the opera. Writing that scene allowed me to relive my first opera (Andrea Chenier!) and the night when I fell in love with that sublime and absurd art form.

    The hardest scene was the penultimate scene, when Joan braves the storm and goes to see David. There are seven characters on stage in that scene—in general, the more characters are on stage, the harder a scene is to write. Joan is the narrator and is intensely preoccupied with her own feelings, but she has to drop enough clues so that the reader can infer what’s going on with the other six characters. It was also a scene where many secrets are revealed, which mean I needed all my organizational skills. It took me many drafts to figure out when a certain character would say X, so that another character would respond with Y, enabling secret Z to be brought to light.

    It hadn’t occurred to me to think about whether or not I’m proud of that particular scene. When I’m actually at work on a novel, I’m too busy fussing to be vainglorious. The pleasures of conceit come later, when my publisher has added a gorgeous cover, and the pages look so crisp and clean and official.

    Saturday, September 12, 2015

    21 Hillary Monahan, author of MARY: UNLEASHED, on scaring herself while writing

    We're glad Hillary Monahan could swing by to share more about her latest novel MARY: UNLEASHED.

    Hillary, 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 can't go too far into detail without giving something away, but there is a scene toward the end of the book where Dell is in her kitchen with Mary. It's scary and gruesome and I love it because, when I was writing it, I was actually shuddering behind my desk. It takes a lot to get that reaction out of me. I've seen so many horror movies/read so many stories that to get me to jolt is a good thing.

    6 Kendall Kulper, author of DRIFT & DAGGER, on scrapping a book and restarting from scratch

    We're happy to have Kendall Kulper join us to share more about her latest novel DRIFT & DAGGER.

    Kendall, 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?

    Everything involving Mal, my character, and Essie, his best friend/worst enemy/love interest, was especially challenging. Their relationship is very complicated—they love and trust one another, and yet that closeness makes them uniquely capable of hurting each other. Mal has a lot of confused ideas about love and hate and how closely they can be intertwined, and I knew I needed to be very careful in how I portrayed that. Too strong on either side, and Mal could come off bitter and cynical or like a love-sick puppy. It was very, very challenging and their scenes by far went through the most changes, but I am definitely proud of the result. I think it shows a complicated relationship in all its most vulnerable, shifting ways.

    And going along with that, I especially love the last paragraph. It was the first thing I wrote and stayed completely unchanged. I don’t want to say too much more or I’ll give it away!

    4 Marci Lyn Curtis, author of THE ONE THING, on her formal and stuffy writing ritual

    We are pleased to have Marci Lyn Curtis here to tell us more about her debut novel THE ONE THING.

    Marci, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

    I was shocked and flattered to see that Kirkus recently listed The Fault in Our Stars as a similar title. I have such deep respect for John Green that I get sort of blinky-eyed just being mentioned in the same sentence as him. Aside from that, readers who enjoyed Sea of Tranquility might also like The One Thing, because both stories have stubborn, flawed heroines struggling with loss.

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

    I toyed around with my first story 6 or 7 years ago. It was horrible—wow, it was horrible—so I ended up completely annoyed, cramming the manuscript into the back of the closet and stomping off. Naturally it was then, when the last thing I wanted to do was write, that the storyline for The One Thing came to me. So I did what every red-blooded, self-respecting, stubborn writer would do: I tried to ignore it.

    It didn’t work.

    The story picked at me for a good year-plus before—if only to get it out of my head—I started making notes. Within six months or so, those notes grew to a giant stack of papers that were the building blocks of The One Thing. Once I was finally ready to sit down and write, The One Thing just rolled right out of me. After I had a finished draft, everything else moved quickly. I found an agent within a couple months. We did a few rounds of revisions, and then she submitted it to a handful of publishing houses. Within six weeks, the story sold.

    3 Courtney Sheinmel, author of EDGEWATER, on not waiting for signs

    EDGEWATER is the latest novel from Courtney Sheinmel, and we're thrilled to have her stop by to chat about writing.

    Courtney, was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

    All through childhood and adolescence, whenever anyone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said “a writer.” In college, I majored in English with a concentration in creative writing. And then, as graduation loomed, I worried about whether I could really make a professional go of my childhood dream, or if I should apply to law school. You need a recommendation from one of your teachers for the law school application, and I decided to ask Professor Mary Gordon, who ran the creative writing program of my school. I was star-struck by Mary because she was (and remains) one of my favorite writers. She was also the greatest teacher I’d ever had. In my head it was a secret test: If she said yes, she would write the recommendation, then it meant I should go be a lawyer. But if she said no, I can’t write that because you need to be a writer—well then obviously that would be a sign of what was meant to be.

    These days, every Tuesday, I teach a writing workshop to teenagers at an afterschool program called Writopia. I tell my students that one of the most important things I’ve learned is: You need to ask for what you want. You may not get it; but you definitely won’t get it if you never ask. But it took me a long time to see that for myself. Mary Gordon said yes to writing my recommendation. I went to law school and became a lawyer and it was a few years later, when I was out to dinner with my friend Allyson talking about how I really wanted to be a writer, that a light went off in my head: If I wanted to be a writer, I had to stop making up secret tests and waiting for signs and actually start writing. I went home that night and wrote the first part of the first chapter of what became my first published book.

    I don’t think I’ve yet discovered the key to writing a novel. Each time, it feels like a small miracle when I get to the end of a first draft of a book. But that moment in the restaurant with Allyson was the key to getting started. And when I called Mary Gordon, years after I’d graduated college, to tell her I’d finished a book of my own, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

    3 Pat Schmatz, author of LIZARD RADIO, on the power of Both and Neither

    LIZARD RADIO is the latest novel by Pat Schmatz, and we're excited to have her stop by to tell us more about it.

    Pat, 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?

    My favorite scene in the book is the one where Kivali sheds her lizard skin. I wrote it very quickly, and it didn’t change much through the seven or eight drafts. I loved writing it, and yes, I’m proud of it. I wanted to capture the wild confusion and intense “everything-is-different-now” sensation of fully connecting with another human for the first time in a (very young) adult way. There’s no way to put it into words, but I think I at least caught the tail of the feeling.

    4 Donna Jo Napoli, author of DARK SHIMMER, on being bold

    We're delighted to have Donna Jo Napoli join us to share more about her latest novel DARK SHIMMER.

    Donna Jo, what was your inspiration for writing DARK SHIMMER?

    I never understood the queen in Snow White.  I don't understand fixations on bodily beauty.  But I was talking to my editor, Wendy Lamb, and she mentioned how beautiful Venice's mirrors are... and somehow I found I had met Dolce in my head. Bodily beauty was a complex issue for Dolce, and it was connected to feelings of loss.  This I had to explore.

    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?

    It was very hard for me to write the scene in which the queen gives Snow White an apple and the girl just bites right in, when she's already had attempts on her life 3 times.  I didn't feel the psychological reality of it; I mean, what kind of idiot would take the bait a fourth time? And I didn't understand what poison the queen could use that would allow Snow White to appear dead and then would allow her to awaken without permanent damage.  So I looked into various neurotoxins and discovered that the red tide that hits shellfish was exactly the right kind of toxin.  But, of course, I couldn't have Dolce just happen to think of the right toxin at the right moment.  So that meant I had to go back and figure out where I could tie in that neurotoxin... and that's how I came to delve into the death of Dolce's mother.  It all finally came together.  And Biancaneve wasn't dumb at all... she didn't choose to bite the apple.  She doesn't in fact even bite it.  She merely inhales the toxin from the fumes in the air.  All of this was a huge challenge, and I'm happy with how it gelled finally.

    Friday, September 11, 2015

    5 The Writing Life by J.J. Howard + #Giveaway

    We are pleased to welcome author J.J. Howard to the blog today. Her YA novel, Tracers, pictured below, was released as a film in March starring Taylor Lautner from Twilight.

    J.J. is here today to share with us some of her insight and advice on the writing life learned from her years of experience. She's also giving away two books, so be sure to check the Rafflecopter at the end of the post!

    The Writing Life by J.J. Howard

    1) Get a dog

    The writing life is lonely. It’s nice to have company during the long process of writing and the long, long, long process of revision

    Cats are classic, but I say go dog. First, dogs are more the encouraging type. When it’s hour nine of a work slog and you look like a person who lives in a box and forgot how to shower, dogs will still look at you like you’re a rock star. At a moment like this, I’m thinking the aloof and, let’s face it, slightly judgmental cat is not your best bet. Also, dogs need to be walked, and this forces you to take a break once in a while to go be with the outside people.

    Thursday, September 10, 2015

    11 5 Reasons Why Supporting Other Writers is Important to YOU + A Signed 10 book Mega-Giveaway with Bestselling Authors!

    My second book is now out!!! SOUL CORRUPTED, the second book in the Of Demons and Angels Series has hit the Internet and to celebrate I'm doing another HUGE giveaway for you!!! TEN SIGNED BOOKS from authors like Ransom Riggs, Scott Westerfeld, and Kiera Cass.

    Why do I do it? Because I like to share the happiness! The single most surprising and wonderful part of being a young adult author is the company I keep. This community overwhelmingly supported me as I struggled my way (and continue to struggle my way) through and I am ecstatic that I can help support others on their way as well.

    Yes it's a nice thing to do, but it's also a bit selfish.

    Wait. What? Let me explain why it's a good idea to give back.

    1. Being a Part of Something Bigger Than You. You might argue that writing is a classically lonely profession, but I disagree. Even before the Internet! To be a writer means you are a reader. We love books. We love the smell, the sight, the feel, the experience of a good book. And each of those books was written by a writer like you. I dare say each book is a tiny piece of my soul (no not a horcrux), and by reading it, I've shared part of myself with you. therefore in a room full of books, electronic or paper, you can never truly be alone. And now that the Internet DOES exist, we can take it one step further and actually interact with each other. What a wonderful experience! To take part in and get to know the people behind your favorite pastime!
    2. When You Do Well, I Do Well. That's right. We all win. This isn't a giant competition. As far as I'm concerned there can and should be a thousand runaway bestsellers at any given time! Books should take over the world! Or at least movies and TV. The more good books there are out there, the more people read, the better we all do. It's a win-win. Not an I win - you lose. 
    3. When You Teach, You Learn. It's a proven fact. If you take the time to talk through something or help teach someone else, you are actually learning. When I offer critiques, I not only get to read some cool pages, I also get to practice my skills. Hone my eye. When I do a craft post, I refresh and consolidate the information I'm sharing with you in my own head. This is a big deal, folks.
    4. It Feels Good. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it's actually very important. You know those huge ups and downs we feel as writers? The elation of finishing the first draft? The low of the form rejection? Well, this is one way to give yourself a "high" when you need it. Feel better by helping someone else. Then you both win. 
    5. Karma. Yes I believe in it. Even if you don't, you have to admit that doing the opposite -- leaving negative feelings and sentiments on the Internet -- is the fastest way to ruin your reputation and career. So it stands to reason that doing nice things can only be good for your reputation, right? 
    So now that you know WHY, I'd love for you to tell me HOW you spread the love! Encouragement? Critiques? Giveaways? Smiles? 

    If that's not enough incentive I'll give you one MORE reason to do something nice for someone else: 

    You know. The one where you can win 10 signed books + swag. Enter below! United States Only Please (sorry, guys but I'm a poor author).

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tuesday, September 8, 2015

    3 RL/GL - Announcing Your Winners

    Our Red Light, Green Light contest has come to its very end... which means it's time to announce our top three. We had some amazing entries in this contest, and we wish each and every one of our contestants the best in their future writing! At the end of the day, however, you - our amazing community - and the judges have spoken.

    10 How to Write a Novel (and Actually Finish It!) in 8 Simple Steps -- Plus a DAMAGE DONE by Amanda Panitch Giveaway

    Writing a novel isn't magic. I'd like to say that anyone can write a book--and truly, almost anyone can. The trick is sticking with it, making it good, and getting it published.

    Ah, there's the rub. Frequently when someone asks me "How do you write a book?" what they're really asking is "How do I get a book published?"

    There are a thousand ways to answer that, but the most honest one is that once a book is at a certain level of competency, no matter how good it is, or how many books you've written or previously published, sometimes luck is what separates a book that gets a book deal from one that doesn't.

    You can't control luck. But there are a number of things that will make it easier if you want to write a book that has a chance of traditional or successful indie publication. You can boil that down to eight basic steps.

    Monday, September 7, 2015

    21 FIVE New Release Giveaways, plus author interviews and what's new this week of 9/7

    There are a bunch of great YA novels releasing this week, including the latest offering from our very own Lisa Gail Green: Soul Corrupted! There are also five giveaways happening, perfect to get you over that back-to-school hump. Have a great Labor Day!

    Happy reading,
    Lindsey, Martina, Sam, Jocelyn, Erin, Lisa, Shelly, Susan, Elizabeth, Kristin, Jen, Sandra and Anisaa

    Sunday, September 6, 2015

    17 This Month for Writers - August 2015

    September has begun, which means it's time once again to sum up the month that was. This month, our attention was captured by massive fundraising efforts, cutting huge posts of our novels, and changes to the NYT bestseller lists.

    Take a look over the links below, and, as always, tell us of the amazing writing links you find throughout the month by leaving comments below!

    6 Jackie Lea Sommers, author of TRUEST, on understanding the writer-editor relationship

    We're delighted to have Jackie Lea Sommers join us to share more about her debut novel TRUEST.

    Jackie, what do you hope readers will take away from TRUEST?

    Whatever they need. Truest is ultimately a book about rescue—it is more about questions than about answers, and even the answers are more like scaffolding from which to properly view the questions. I hope readers will learn the joys and pleasures both of certainty and of uncertainty.

    Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

    My AHA! moment came near the end of editing Truest. This is my debut novel, and I’m still learning to navigate the relationship between author and editor. My editor is the sweetest, sassiest, most brilliant woman ever, and I adore her—but I had to learn that we were on the same team, that we were partners. For much of the process, my instinct was that we were either on two separate teams or else that she was the boss and I was the underling. Note that she never made me feel that way—it was just my own false assumptions. Toward the end, we were able to make jokes about what percentage of the time I was allowed to disagree with her, and I finally realized: we're together in this. I’m so excited I get to work with her again on my next story.

    8 Nicola Yoon, author of EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, on finishing what you start

    We're excited to have Nicola Yoon drop by to tell us more about her debut novel EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING.

    Nicola, what was your inspiration for writing EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING?

    I started writing Everything, Everything when my daughter was just four months old. Like any new mom, I worried about everything. I worried about her eating dirt, getting a cold, bumping her head. If I could worry about it, I did! It got me thinking: what if there was a girl who needed constant protection — not just as a little baby, but throughout her whole life? How would a girl like that see the world? What would that kind of illness do the relationship between the mother and daughter? How would their relationship change as the daughter got older and started to form other relationships?

    Saturday, September 5, 2015

    2 1st 5 Pages Workshop Is Now Closed

    Hi Everyone,

    Sorry but the Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop is now closed. Once again, we filled up in under a minute! I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month!


    2 Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop is Now Open!

    Our September workshop is now open! We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our permanent mentors, we have author JJ Howard and agent Danielle Burby!

    And we have a new format! The workshop is three weeks, but the third week will now include a pitch. And Danielle will select one participant as the “workshop winner”- and the prize is that she will review and comment on the first chapter of the manuscript! So get those pages ready!

    September Guest Mentor – JJ Howard

    If you’re looking for J. J. Howard, you’ll probably find her in Central Florida, but she wishes you’d find her in New York City. NYC, along with books, TV, music, coffee, and her mini-dachshund Willow are on top of her list of favorite things. By day she teaches English and Humanities at a small private high school, and by night she writes, edits, or Netflixes.

    Howard’s debut YA, That Time I Joined the Circus, tells the story of Lexi, who accidentally joins the circus (and falls in love) while searching for her missing mother. Her second YA, Tracers, follows Cam, a NYC bike messenger who meets a beautiful stranger named Nikki who pulls him into the world of parkour. Her debut Middle grade, Sit, Stay, Love is coming from Scholastic this January.


    Cam is a New York City bike messenger with no family and some dangerous debts. While on his route one day, he runs into a beautiful stranger named Nikki—but she quickly disappears. When he sees her again around town, he realizes that she lives within the intense world of parkour: an underground group of teens who have turned New York City into their own personal playground—running, jumping, seemingly flying through the city like an urban obstacle course.

    Cam becomes fascinated with Nikki and falls in with the group, who offer him the chance to make some extra money. But Nikki is dating their brazen leader, and when the stakes become life-or-death, Cam is torn between following his heart and sacrificing everything to pay off his debts.

    In the vein of great box-office blockbusters, the high-stakes romance here sizzles within this page-turning thriller that will leave readers feeling like they are flying through the streets of New York.

    Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble

    September Guest Agent – Danielle Burby

    Danielle graduated from Hamilton College with honors and a double major in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies. Before finding her home at HSG, she interned at Writers House, Clarion Books, Faye Bender Literary Agency, Dunow Carlson and Lerner, John Wiley and Sons, and SquareOne Publishers (along with stints as a waitress and a farmers’ market vendor).

    Her passion lies in YA, Women’s Fiction, and mysteries. She gravitates toward stories with a strong voice and particularly enjoys complex female characters, narratives that explore social issues, and coming-of-age stories. Genres that appeal to her include contemporary YA, medieval fantasy, historical fiction, cozy mysteries, and upmarket Women’s Fiction. She finds it hard to resist gorgeous writing and is a sucker for romantic plotlines that are an element of the narrative, but don’t dominate it. You can follow her on twitter at @danielleburby.