Tuesday, May 31, 2016

6 F.E.E.L.ing Your Way through the World as a Fictional Character plus GIVEAWAY of the 4-Book Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater

Ready to write better characters? You need to F.E.E.L. them first.

Your character isn't you. And she isn't neutral. She has feelings and experiences that color everyone she meets and every situation she encounters, and sharing those feelings and experiences is a big part of the reason that people want to read about her. Reading puts us into another person's skin more deeply than any other medium. That's what allows reading to build empathy.

But how do we get that deep into our characters as we write them?

We have to F.E.E.L.:

FOCUS: Everything every character in the book encounters will be interpreted through that character's eyes, and every character will see the same thing in different ways. When we look at a person or an object, we all notice different things. We smell different things. We touch things in different ways. We think and remember different things. We envision ourselves in ways different from the way the world may see us. As writers, when we create a story, we need to consider every action and each scrap of dialogue individually for every character, and we need to show the way in which that specific character would act and speak. The truth for that character, the genuineness and honesty, may come only after many drafts, but the more quickly we immerse ourselves into the deep viewpoints of each of the characters in the story, the stronger our story will become.

EXPERIENCE: Part of defining our characters, certainly our main characters, is going back into their pasts to reveal the experiences that make up the building blocks of their consciousness. This doesn't mean coming up with a list of experiences in advance, on a worksheet, and then looking for places to plug them into the story. It means finding connections between the present story and experiences in the past, places where that specific past experience, wound, or moment of growth will make that character think, reflect, or behave in a specific way. At that moment, the reader is eager for that insight and they will appreciate knowledge of the backstory. In any other place, the backstory interferes with the forward momentum, and a percentage of readers will skim or at least feel restless.

EMOTION: From experience comes emotion. Every character will react to a situation in a way that is dictated by their personality and their past, as well as by their goals and hopes and fears. We need to reveal that emotion in some way, however small, for every character in a scene in order to make a scene or event feel true.

LOVE: As authors, we need to love our characters, all of them, in order for our readers to care about that. Yes, that means we have to love our villains. We have to understand what motivates them and we have to sympathize, or at least empathize, with that motivation. 

As authors, we have a whole book--or several books--to create deep knowledge of our characters. But every step, every page, has to provide clues to who the characters are and why they behave and think the way they do. Ideally, every bit of dialogue and every thought should be unique to that character, but it should also feel inevitable. 

Character Begins In the First Line

When an author knows the character, that comes out with the very first sentence. It goes beyond an intriguing sentence to voice.

Here is the next installment of my Openings video series, featuring New York Times bestselling author Beth Revis and author Lori Goldstein.

What About You?

How do you FEEL characters as you write or read?

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 about three plantations, two wishes, and an ancient curse. Illusion, the final book, will be out in October of 2016. Martina is also the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a three-time Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers Site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, 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 CompulsionForReading.com program to distribute books to underfunded schools and libraries.


This week's giveaway is a complete set of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. All four fabulous books. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

10 FIVE Giveaways plus New Releases and Author Interviews for this week 5/30-6/5

Can you believe May is over? It's hard to believe. With the end of May comes a ton of giveaways apparently! Don't forget to browse and read about all this week's latest releases and enter the giveaway at the bottom.

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Lindsey, Martina, Jocelyn, Erin, Susan, Sam, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa


* * * *

Beware That Girl
by Teresa Toten
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Delacorte Press
Released 5/31/2016

The Haves. The Have Nots. Kate O'Brien appears to be a Have Not. Her whole life has been a series of setbacks she's had to snake her way out of--some more sinister than others. But she's determined to change that. She's book smart. She's street-smart. And she's also a masterful liar.

As the scholarship student at the elite Waverly School in NYC, Kate has her work cut out for her: her plan is to climb the social ranks and land a spot at Yale. She's already found her "people" among the senior class "it" girls--specifically in the cosseted, mega-wealthy yet deeply damaged Olivia Sumner. As for Olivia, she considers Kate the best friend she's always needed, the sister she never had.

When the handsome and whip-smart Mark Redkin joins the Waverly administration as head of fundraising, he immediately charms his way into the faculty and students' lives--especially Olivia's, although she doesn't share what's going on. It becomes increasingly obvious that Redkin poses a threat to Kate, too, in a way she can't reveal and can't afford to ignore. Mark has his own plan for a bright future and never doubts that he can pull it off. How close can Kate and Olivia get with Mark without having to share their dark pasts?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Beware That Girl?

I loved, loved, loved writing about the relationship between Olivia and Kate!! I believe in the core of me that there is no more complex relationship on earth than that of two girl best friends. It’s an intense roller coaster of wants and needs. It’s almost romantic though not necessarily sexual. There’s the courtship ritual at the beginning of a friendship that is not that unlike the boyfriend/girlfriend dance. There’s a wooing that goes on, jealously, joy, protection and on occasion . . . obsession.

In the case of Kate and Olivia—who wants what from whom? Both girls have gifts to offer the other but both have agendas that are hidden and murky. Beware That Girl gave me the unbridled freedom to explore the best and worst in an intense female friendship that is threatened by a very real danger. Every single chapter was exhilarating to write!

Purchase Beware That Girl at Amazon
Purchase Beware That Girl at IndieBound
View Beware That Girl on Goodreads

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Life Is Funny
by E.R. Frank
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Atheneum Books for Young Reade
Released 5/31/2016

E. R. Frank’s seminal first novel weaves together the stories of eleven teenagers in one city over seven years in this groundbreaking and “impressive debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).

Why does Gingerbread always have a smile on his face? “Because life is funny,” he tells Keisha. But for her—and almost everyone else in her Brooklyn neighborhood—there doesn’t seem to be much to laugh about.

China, Ebony, and Grace are best friends, but Grace’s mother isn’t crazy about her being friends with two girls who aren’t white, and each cut Ebony makes on her wrist seems to drive them even further apart.

Just across the schoolyard there’s Eric who has to raise his younger brother Mickey, even though no one expects him to amount to anything. Meanwhile, Sonia’s Muslim parents expect everything of her, and it may be more than she is able to give after she suffers a shattering loss.

When Drew brings his father’s Jaguar into Sam’s family’s auto body shop across town they seem to be from opposite sides of the tracks, but Drew’s the one hiding a dark family secret. And he’s not the only one.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Life Is Funny?

My favorite thing about Life Is Funny is how each character is both different and the same. What I mean is, whether it’s badass Eric or confused Drew or earnest China or crass Molly or cool Keisha or the nutty Gingerbread or whomever else. They are all teenagers who care about love – all kinds of love, like brother and sister love, parent love, friend love, and yes: sex love. And even though some are rich, some poor, some black or white or Muslim or mixed… even though they should be outsiders, they have all experienced pretty much the same things about love lost, love found, and love complicated.

Purchase Life Is Funny at Amazon
Purchase Life Is Funny at IndieBound
View Life Is Funny on Goodreads

* * * *

Please Don't Tell
by Laura Tims
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Released 5/31/2016

Joy killed Adam Gordon—at least, that’s what she thinks. The night of the party is hazy at best. But she knows what Adam did to her twin sister, Grace, and she knows he had to pay for it.

What Joy doesn’t expect is that someone else saw what happened. And one night a note is shoved through her open window, threatening Joy that all will be revealed. Now the anonymous blackmailer starts using Joy to expose the secrets of their placid hometown. And as the demands escalate, Joy must somehow uncover the blackmailer’s identity before Joy is forced to make a terrible choice.

In this darkly compelling narrative, debut author Laura Tims explores the complicated relationship between two sisters, and what one will do for the other. It’s a story that will keep readers turning pages and questioning their own sense of right and wrong.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Please Don't Tell?

I drew on a lot of my own experience with anxiety and depression to write it, so one of my favorite things so far is when readers respond to that and tell me they relate. On one level I’m glad I succeeded, but it’s also just nice to be reminded I’m not alone! One of the most important things I tried to do with the book itself is show what a harrowing experience it is to try and be young and get through high school and have friends if you have anxiety, and if I did that right, that would be my favorite thing about the book.

Purchase Please Don't Tell at Amazon
Purchase Please Don't Tell at IndieBound
View Please Don't Tell on Goodreads

* * * *

by Thomas E. Sniegoski
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 5/31/2016

Sidney and her friends must race to find the origin of a storm that has hit their small island home—turning every animal into savage weapons—in this suspenseful thriller from New York Times bestselling author, Thomas E. Sniegoski.

The future is looking bright for Sidney Moore as she gets ready to leave the small island of Benediction behind for one of Boston’s top veterinary schools. Only a few small bumps in the road to navigate before she can go—her father’s recovery from a debilitating stroke, and her own guilt for ending her relationship with her high school sweetheart. But she’s always been strong willed, and she’s not about to let anything stop her from achieving her goals.

Now a storm is bearing down on Benediction, a hurricane that will bring devastating winds and rain, rising tides...and something else. Something deadly; something that will transform all the things that creep, crawl, and flutter into instruments of terror and death.

The future is looking bright for Sidney Moore…if only she can survive the storm.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Savage?

SAVAGE is a type of book that I've always wanted to write. When I was a kid, growing up in the seventies one of the major paperback book publishers used to publish this series of books that were all based around some sort of animal going wild for some strange, and unexplained reason, and lashing out at the human main characters that just so happen to be around. We had books about killer rats, bats, craps, bugs of all kinds, cats, dogs, alligators . . . You name it, they did a book about them and I absolutely loved them. When I started writing professionally I said that I always wanted to write one of those cool, scary books ... And SAVAGE is it, and I'm quite proud of it.

Purchase Savage at Amazon
Purchase Savage at IndieBound
View Savage on Goodreads

* * * *

The Language of Stars
by Louise Hawes
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 5/31/2016

Sarah is forced to take a summer poetry class as penance for trashing the home of a famous poet in this fresh novel about finding your own voice.

Sarah’s had her happy ending: she’s at the party of the year with the most popular boy in school. But when that boy turns out to be a troublemaker who decided to throw a party at a cottage museum dedicated to renowned poet, Rufus Baylor, everything changes. By the end of the party, the whole cottage is trashed—curtains up in flames, walls damaged, mementos smashed—and when the partygoers are caught, they’re all sentenced to take a summer class studying Rufus Baylor’s poetry…with Baylor as their teacher.

For Sarah, Baylor is a revelation. Unlike her mother, who is obsessed with keeping up appearances, and her estranged father, for whom she can’t do anything right, Rufus Baylor listens to what she has to say, and appreciates her ear for language. Through his classes, Sarah starts to see her relationships and the world in a new light—and finds that maybe her happy ending is really only part of a much more interesting beginning.

The Language of Stars is a gorgeous celebration of poetry, language, and love from celebrated author Louise Hawes.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Language of Stars?

One thing I reveled in, while I wrote this novel, was the chance to write in three different formats: prose, poetry, and play scripts. I hope that readers, too, will get a kick out of switching in and out of these "modes," and that each will give them special insights into the story and its characters.

I used prose because, well, the book is a prose novel, and I'm most at home with telling a story that way. But I needed to include poetry as well, since my main character, 16-year old Sarah, is a poet in the making; my all-but-main character is a world-famous celebrity poet; and nearly everyone else in the story is attending a poetry class in lieu of serving jail time!

Finally, I used play scripts because Sarah is a wannabe actress and, like her poet mentor, she hears the whole world talking—not just people, but squeaky furniture, hissing grills, and sand crabs under her beach towel. Such fun to try to capture all those sounds!

Purchase The Language of Stars at Amazon
Purchase The Language of Stars at IndieBound
View The Language of Stars on Goodreads


* * * *

26 Kisses by Anna Michels: Kathryn F.
Exile for Dreamers by Kathleen Baldwin: Kimberly B.
The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda: Stephanie T.

Congratulations to everyone who won!


* * * *

The Inside of Out
by Jenn Marie Thorne
Dial Books
Released 5/31/2016

When her best friend Hannah comes out the day before junior year, Daisy is so ready to let her ally flag fly that even a second, way more blindsiding confession can't derail her smiling determination to fight for gay rights.

Before you can spell LGBTQIA, Daisy's leading the charge to end their school’s antiquated ban on same-sex dates at dances—starting with homecoming. And if people assume Daisy herself is gay? Meh, so what. It's all for the cause.

What Daisy doesn't expect is for "the cause” to blow up—starting with Adam, the cute college journalist whose interview with Daisy for his university paper goes viral, catching fire in the national media. #Holy #cats.

With the story spinning out of control, protesters gathering, Hannah left in the dust of Daisy’s good intentions, and Daisy's mad attraction to Adam feeling like an inconvenient truth, Daisy finds herself caught between her bold plans, her bad decisions, and her big fat mouth.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Inside of Out?

As much affection as I have for the protagonist, Daisy, mess that she is, my favorite thing about writing the book was creating the supporting cast of characters. It was so fun to come up with a big group of people with wildly differing family backgrounds, personalities, flaws, interests and personal struggles, and watch them all come together around a common cause. As the story begins, the characters are not exactly the closest of friends, but by the end, they're tight-knit, with their own newly forged ties to one another and a fresh, complex rapport within the group dynamic. I really enjoyed developing that as the author--it was almost like creating a new society just for them, but then getting a VIP pass to hang out in it, too. I miss these characters desperately already, so don't be surprised if you see some of them pop up in future novels.

Purchase The Inside of Out at Amazon
Purchase The Inside of Out at IndieBound
View The Inside of Out on Goodreads


* * * *

Crow Mountain
by Lucy Inglis
The Chicken House
Released 5/31/2016

A sweeping tale of love, legacy, and wilderness set between the present day and 1866 in the dramatic landscape of modern-day and territorial Montana.

While on a trip to Montana with her mom, British teen Hope meets local boy Cal Crow, a ranch hand. Caught in a freak accident, Hope and Cal take shelter in a cabin, where Hope makes a strange discovery in an abandoned diary. More than a hundred years earlier, another British girl -- Emily -- met a similar fate. Her rescuer, a horse trader named Nate. In this wild place, both girls learn what it means to survive and to fall in love, neither knowing that their fates are intimately entwined.

Purchase Crow Mountain at Amazon
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View Crow Mountain on Goodreads

* * * *

Every Exquisite Thing
by Matthew Quick
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 5/31/2016

Nanette O'Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bugglegum Reaper--a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic--the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

Purchase Every Exquisite Thing at Amazon
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View Every Exquisite Thing on Goodreads

* * * *

Frannie and Tru
by Karen Hattrup
Released 5/31/2016

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–-rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

Purchase Frannie and Tru at Amazon
Purchase Frannie and Tru at IndieBound
View Frannie and Tru on Goodreads

* * * *

Lies I Live By
by Lauren Sabel
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/31/2016

Romance, intrigue, and action collide in this psychic twist on the classic spy novel.

Callie Sinclair is literally out of her mind; as the government’s youngest psychic spy, she finds valuable information for top-secret missions. Her work keeps her headaches at bay, but it means she must lie to everyone she loves, including her longtime boyfriend, Charlie.

When a new psychic arrives at the office, Callie can’t help but flirt; Jasper already knows her in a way Charlie never will.

But as her love life gets more complicated, so do her visions. People halfway around the world seem to be in danger...and people in her own backyard, too. If Callie can’t find a way to alter future events, she could lose the people she loves—and her mind. Literally.

Lauren Sabel’s enthralling, romantic novel captures the thrill of exploring a unique power in a dangerous world.

Purchase Lies I Live By at Amazon
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View Lies I Live By on Goodreads

* * * *

Meet Me Here
by Bryan Bliss
Greenwillow Books
Released 5/31/2016

In a single night—graduation night—Thomas has to decide: Do what everyone has always expected of him? Or forge an entirely new path? Bryan Bliss’s absorbing examination of one boy struggling with expectations and realities will appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Chris Crutcher.

Thomas is supposed to leave for the army in the morning. His father was Army. His brother, Jake, is Army—is a hero, even, with the medals to prove it. Everyone expects Thomas to follow in that fine tradition. But Jake came back from overseas a completely different person, and that has shaken Thomas’s certainty about his own future. And so when his long-estranged friend Mallory suggests one last night of adventure, Thomas takes her up on the distraction. Over the course of this single night, Thomas will lose, find, resolve, doubt, drive, explore, and leap off a bridge. He’ll also face the truth of his brother’s post-traumatic stress disorder and of his own courage. In Bryan Bliss’s deft hands, graduation night becomes a night to find yourself, find each other, find a path, and know that you always have a place—and people—to come back to.

Purchase Meet Me Here at Amazon
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View Meet Me Here on Goodreads

* * * *

Nil on Fire
by Lynne Matson
Henry Holt and Co.
Released 5/31/2016

Despite Rives and Skye's attempt to destroy Nil, the island remains. And back in this world, Nil won't let Skye go. Haunted by a darkness she can't ignore, Skye wrestles with Nil nightmares that worsen by the day and threaten to tear her apart. As Skye fights to keep her mind intact, she realizes that to finally break free of Nil, she must end Nil's vicious cycle once and for all--and she can't do it alone.

Who will return to Nil, and in the end, who will survive? In this thrilling final installment of the Nil series, the stakes have never been higher: everyone's fate hangs in the balance, including Nil's own--and Nil will fight to the death. When the full force of the island is unleashed, Skye faces an impossible choice, a cruel one she'd never imagined she'd have to make. Soon one Nil truth becomes painfully clear: only one side can win.

Losing isn't an option, but winning will cost Skye everything.

Perfect for fans of Lost and survivalist stories, NIL ON FIRE is a stunning conclusion to the Nil trilogy that will leave readers breathless.

Purchase Nil on Fire at Amazon
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View Nil on Fire on Goodreads

* * * *

by Vivi Greene
Released 5/31/2016

America’s most famous pop star flees the spotlight to recover from her latest break-up in Maine—only to fall for a local boy and be faced with an impossible choice at the end of the summer: her new guy, or her music.

Multiplatinum pop icon Lily Ross’s biggest hits and biggest heartbreaks (because they are one and the same):

1. AGONY. (That feeling when her ex ripped her heart out of her chest and she never saw it coming.)

2. GHOSTS. (Because even famous people are ghosted by guys sometimes. And it sucks just as much.)

3. ONCE BITTEN. (As in: twice shy. Also, she’s never dating an actor or a musician ever again.)

But this summer’s going to be different. After getting her heart shattered, Lily is taking herself out of the spotlight and heading to a small island in middle-of-nowhere Maine with her closest friends. She has three months until her fall tour starts-three months to focus on herself, her music, her new album. Anything but guys.

That is . . . until Lily meets sweet, down-to-earth local Noel Bradley, who is so different from anyone she’s ever dated. Suddenly, Lily’s “summer of me” takes an unexpected turn, and she finds herself falling deeper and harder than ever before. But Noel isn’t interested in the limelight. She loves Noel--but she loves her fans, too. And come August, she may be forced to choose.

Purchase Sing at Amazon
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View Sing on Goodreads

* * * *

The Art of Being Normal
by Lisa Williamson
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 5/31/2016

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he's gay. The school bully thinks he's a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth: David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal: to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in his class is definitely not part of that plan. When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long , and soon everyone knows that Leo used to be a girl.

As David prepares to come out to his family and transition into life as a girl and Leo wrestles with figuring out how to deal with people who try to define him through his history, they find in each other the friendship and support they need to navigate life as transgender teens as well as the courage to decide for themselves what normal really means.

Purchase The Art of Being Normal at Amazon
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View The Art of Being Normal on Goodreads

* * * *

The Hunt
by Megan Shepherd
Balzer + Bray
Released 5/31/2016

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

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

* * * *

The Sleeping Prince
by Melinda Salisbury
Scholastic Press
Released 5/31/2016

Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater's Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more.

Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin's life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.

When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won't reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.

Purchase The Sleeping Prince at Amazon
Purchase The Sleeping Prince at IndieBound
View The Sleeping Prince on Goodreads

* * * *

Without Annette
by Jane B. Mason
Scholastic Press
Released 5/31/2016

A gorgeously written, witty, and poignant YA novel, about a girl who must forge her own path in the wake of a crumbling relationship.

Josie Little has been looking forward to moving halfway across the country to attend Brookwood Academy, a prestigious boarding school, with her girlfriend, Annette, for ages. But underneath Brookwood's picture-perfect image lies a crippling sense of elitism that begins to tear the girls apart from the moment they arrive.

While Josie struggles to navigate her new life, Annette seems to fit in perfectly. Yet that acceptance comes with more than a few strings. And consequently, Annette insists on keeping their relationship a secret.

At first, Josie agrees. But as Annette pushes her further and further away, Josie grows closer to Penn, a boy whose friendship and romantic feelings for her tangle her already-unraveling relationship. When Annette's need for approval sets her on a devastating course for self-destruction, Josie isn't sure she can save her this time -- or if Annette even wants her to try.

Purchase Without Annette at Amazon
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View Without Annette on Goodreads

Saturday, May 28, 2016

0 Thank You to the Participants and Mentors of our 1st 5 Pages May Workshop!

I am sad to say that our 1st 5 Pages May Workshop has come to an end. Congratulations to all of the participants who worked so hard! And a big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, author Ann Jacobus and agent Sue Miller! They both provided such helpful critiques. If you haven’t checked out Ann's fabulous YA debut, ROMANCING THE DARK IN THE CITY OF LIGHT you should – I loved it!

And as always, thank you to our talented and fabulous permanent mentors, who read, comment, and cheer on our participants every month. Congratulations to our mentor Wendy Spinale, whose debut YA, EVERLAND, is now available from Scholastic. I adored this Peter Pan re-telling!

Our June workshop will open for entries on Saturday, June 4 at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) 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 the very talented Nancy Holder, a NYT bestselling author, and a real sweetheart, as our author mentor, and Pete Knapp of New Leaf Literary as our agent mentor. So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!

Happy writing (and revising!)


0 Kathleen Baldwin, author of EXILE FOR DREAMERS, on powering up what is uniquely yours

EXILE FOR DREAMERS is the second novel in the Stranje House series, and we're excited to have Kathleen Baldwin here to tell us more about it.

Kathleen, what was your inspiration for writing EXILE FOR DREAMERS?

My books are usually centered around girls who don't fit into society very well. They are the Odd Thomases of the worlds they inhabit. I suppose this comes from the fact that I'm a bit peculiar myself.

In EXILE FOR DREAMERS Tess has prophetic dreams and, (true confession here), I’ve had dreams that predict future events. It freaks my kids out when I call them already knowing something has happened.

Friday, May 27, 2016

0 Janice Warman, author of THE WORLD BENEATH, on taking all the advice you can get

We're thrilled to have Janice Warman join us to share more about her novel THE WORLD BENEATH.

Janice, what was your inspiration for writing THE WORLD BENEATH?

My inspiration for writing The World Beneath was twofold: First, to write a book that would inform and inspire children around the world about the evil system of apartheid – which happily is far in the past for them, but which like the Holocaust of the Second World War, should never be forgotten. I believe that like many classic children’s books (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee comes immediately to mind), books can be a far more powerful way to teach history than a dry textbook. And second, the inspiration for Joshua came from the daughter of our housekeeper, Beauty, whose name I used for the maid in the book. Although her little girl didn’t live with her, she visited for a few days and I remember as a small child myself trying to teach her to read. It made me think how much Beauty must miss her when she went home to the Transkei, where her grandparents looked after her and her siblings. I was shocked that white children were given free schoolbooks, but that black children had to pay for them. Beauty worked so hard to feed and clothe children she hardly saw, and to pay for their school uniforms. Then, in 1976, my last year at school, the Soweto riots broke out, and it was devastating to hear of all the children who were shot and killed. The house in the book is really my house (although luckily the Malherbes were not my parents!) and we too had a Basset Hound called Betsy.

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

Take all the advice you can get. Share your writing. Do writing courses, join writers’ groups, carve out time for your writing, and give yourself a daily target (keep it low, so you will generally surpass it). Write everywhere - in coffee shops, on trains, planes and beaches. And never give up, no matter what life throws at you. I started out on a local paper in Sussex and then worked for national papers including The Guardian and The Observer, and had a previous non-fiction book published in 2007, so I wasn’t afraid of writing. But as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you are making other plans," and plenty of ‘life’ happened on the path to publication of The World Beneath. For financial reasons I had to work full-time and write The World Beneath and Class of 79, a non-fiction book about my fellow journalism students who fought apartheid, in my spare time - every evening, weekend, and holiday for four years, to meet the publishing deadlines. During that time I was extremely ill for six months. Most devastating, however, was the illness and death of my beloved mother, who lived far away in South Africa. My sister and I would fly out to see her at each crisis, and on the last occasion, she died an hour after I arrived. There is nothing to compare with the loss of a parent, and we both felt very guilty that we could not have been with her more in her hour of need. Then, in 2014, the year both books came out in the UK, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, although happily I am absolutely fine now. I would add that perhaps it might be wise to avoid accepting two publishing contracts at more or less the same time; however, that was just the way it happened for me!

What are you working on now?

Following the cancer I have made a big change in my life - giving up a career in business publishing for a Creative Writing PhD at Goldsmiths College in London. For the degree, I am working on another young adult novel, The Tree House, about a young boy who realizes that across the valley from his eyrie in the yew tree outside his house, there is a girl being held captive in a hidden cottage in the woods. Little does he realize that soon he and Lea will be on the run in a race against time to solve a family secret - a vicious attack in France that tore her family apart two years before. Are her mother and baby brother dead or alive? Who can they trust? I am also writing a literary thriller, The Escapist, the story of two women whose husbands are wife abusers: rich, beautiful Helen, and slight, fair Sarah, who disappears. Was she murdered by Steve? Can Helen escape? And who killed Steve, found dead in the road outside the village?

I am also planning another non-fiction book, Place of Hope, for which I will take a series of black-and-white portraits and record life stories in their own words of the inhabitants of a township in South Africa. The PhD is part-time so that I can work as a freelance journalist too. Having previously done a Creative Writing MA at the University of Sussex, where I wrote the first version of The World Beneath, I would recommend these degrees to aspiring writers. They provide the structure and discipline you need, plus the inspiration not only from your tutors but importantly, your fellow students.


The World Beneath
by Janice Warman
Released 5/24/2016

At the rise of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, a boy must face life decisions that test what he believes—and call for no turning back.

South Africa, 1976. Joshua lives with his mother in the maid’s room, in the backyard of their wealthy white employers’ house in the city by the sea. He doesn’t quite understand the events going on around him. But when he rescues a stranger and riots begin to sweep the country, Joshua has to face the world beneath—the world deep inside him—to make heartbreaking choices that will change his life forever. Genuine and quietly unflinching, this beautifully nuanced novel from a veteran journalist captures a child’s-eye view of the struggle that shaped a nation and riveted the world.

Purchase The World Beneath at Amazon
Purchase The World Beneath at IndieBound
View The World Beneath on Goodreads


6798586Janice Warman is a South African–born journalist whose career spans the Observer, the Guardian, the Spectator, the Daily Mail, and the BBC. She has published two nonfiction books for adults, including The Class of ’79, about three students who risked their lives to help abolish apartheid. She lives in England.


Have you had a chance to read THE WORLD BENEATH yet? Do your stories draw on events from your childhood? Do you write in various places? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Anisaa, Sam, Erin, Susan, Michelle, Laura, and Kristin

Thursday, May 26, 2016

4 Red Light/Green Light Contest Schedule & Resources For Crafting A Strong Opening

As you may remember from last week, on June 23rd we will be running another round of our Red Light/Green Light contest, in which participants will be judged on their opening lines. The fabulous Kelly Peterson of Corvisiero Literary is serving as our fearless judge, and the prize she's offered is a FULL request with general editorial notes. So if you want an agent's eyes and feedback on your entire MS, this is the contest to enter!

Our full schedule for this round of Red Light/Green Light will be as follows: 

June 23rd--Contest opens!

June 30th--50 first round participants announced, first sentences posted here on the AYAP blog

July 7th--25 second round participants announced, first and second sentences posted

July 14th--10 third round participants announced, first pages posted

July 21st--5 fourth round participants announced, 3 paragraph pitches posted

July 28th--Prize winner announced, along with a few words from Kelly on why she chose that entry

As you can see, Red Light/Green Light is scheduled to conveniently end prior to Pitch Wars, so if you're thinking about entering the Big One ;) your eligibility for Pitch Wars will NOT be adversely impacted by participating in Red Light/Green Light. In fact, Red Light/Green Light might help you shine up your opening in preparation for Pitch Wars entry!

Other dates to take note of include June 9th, when we will be hosting a live chat with agent Kelly Peterson here on Twitter. It will start at 9pm EST on the contest hashtag #GreenLightWIP. If you have any questions you'd like an agent's perspective on, this is an excellent opportunity to get them answered. Note: you do NOT need to participate in Red Light/Green Light in order to participate in the live chat.

On June 16th, we'll hold another live chat with Kelly, this time on Facebook. It will also begin at 9pm EST. Let your writer friends know, and we can't wait to see your great questions!

To help you prepare for the contest start date on June 23rd, I've compiled a list of resources to help you polish up those openings. An opening is the first impression your manuscript makes on the reader, and as such it's very important to get it right. It's often the most revised part of a novel--to date, the first chapter of the novel I'm querying has been revised over 25 times! Here are some of my favorite resources for creating an opening that grips your reader from the very first sentence...the list is certainly not exhaustive, but it should give you a great place to start.

 AYAP Resources For Crafting A Strong Opening

Inspired Openings Have A Distinct Personality On The Page

Author Lucy Connors discusses how to use the five senses in creating an opening with impact.

How To Hook An Agent: 16 Agents Share What Gets Them Reading
A discussion of what publishing industry professionals find compelling in opening pages.

Jacqueline Green's Checklist For Novel Openings
A seven part checklist to evaluate if your opening will rope a reader in. According to Jacqueline, if you can hit 3 out of 7, you're well on your way!

Five Thoughts On Inspired Openings And Five Brilliant Opening Pages
Points to consider while crafting your opening, and examples of books that got it right.

The Dos And Don'ts Of Great Openings
Five things NOT to do with your opening, and one very important thing TO do.

General Resources For Crafting A Strong Opening

How To Start A Novel
Holly Lisle on things you should do before you even draft that first sentence, to lay the groundwork for a solid opening.

7 Ways To Create A Killer Opening Line
Unpacking the format of many famous opening lines: does your opening line follow one of the above formulas?

7 Keys To Write The Perfect First Line
Truth, humor, surprise, voice: all can be conveyed by a well-crafted first line.

How To Write The Perfect First Page
Delivering on the promise of your first line throughout the first page and beyond.

How To Start A Novel: First Lines, First Paragraphs
On the natural segue from a great first line to great first paragraphs, with examples from the pros.

Practical Help For Perfecting First Pages

1st 5 Pages Workshop

If you've got your opening pages as shiny as possible on your own, it always helps to have additional feedback on them. That's why we started the 1st 5 Pages Workshop here at AYAP. It runs monthly, beginning on the first Saturday of each month, and is a great opportunity for you to work together with mentors who'll help you polish your opening pages until they sparkle. Details can be found here, but be aware that the workshop fills up very quickly.

YayYA Critique Hop

Run semi-annually by Rachel Stevenson, the YayYA critique hop is a fantastic way to get feedback from multiple writers on your opening pages. Space is limited, so watch Rachel's blog for opening dates. This hop comes highly recommended by yours truly--I've met some great writing friends through the YayYA critique hop, and was even introduced to one of my invaluable critique partners through it. Numerous participants from last summer's hop have gone on to find agents--definitely check this out!

I hope you found something above to help you with your opening chapter revisions. Can't wait to see those first lines come June 23rd! If you have some favorite writing resources I didn't mention, feel free to share them in the comments below, and as always...

Happy writing!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

4 Strong Female Characters No Longer Need to Prove Themselves

We're thrilled to have a post with that title--don't you agree? And we're honored to have Sara Wilson Etienne, the author of HARBINGER and LOTUS AND THORN join us today to explain how the battle of female characters needing to prove themselves has already been won. 

“My girls no longer spend their energy proving that they are “as good as””

For a long, long, loooooooong time, in order to kick ass our heroines had to prove themselves first. They had to cut their hair and stuff themselves into suits of armor. Or defy society’s patriarchal rules and become THE FIRST. These characters had to be faster, stronger, braver, and smarter than the boys. For years, the mantra of girl-power books went something like sharp-shooter Annie Oakley’s song in the musical Annie Get Your Gun… “I can do anything you can do, better. I can do anything better than you!”

I love these girls. I grew up cheering them on. Chanting their names. Wanting to BE them. But there’s a new girl in town. And I have to say… as a reader, a movie watcher, a writer, as an ass-kicking woman myself… I’m pretty freakin’ psyched about her.

I’m talking about Katniss. I’m talking about Rey from Star Wars. I’m talking about Furiosa from Mad Max. Just to name a few. Not only do these girls and women not feel the need to prove themselves to the men around them, they seem genuinely confused when men show up trying to save them.

Seeing these characters living comfortably in their own skin, with their own power, has shifted the way that I write my own stories. My girls no longer spend their energy proving that they are “as good as.” They are too busy battling sandstorms and plagues and magic.

Please do not misunderstand me. That is not to say that I ignore gender in my writing. In fact, it is the exact opposite. Once we stop having to prove ourselves, we stop having to deny or erase our gender identities. Being female becomes a unique and nuanced force… different for each character, for each community, for each story. And this shifts the conversation and the story dramatically.

Because the truth is.... “I can do anything”

For girls and women, there are still many, many obstacles in our path—within the real world and fiction—but the conversation is no longer CAN a woman do a “man’s job.” Women have. We have done the jobs and we have excelled at them. Proving the point is no longer the issue. We have entered the next phase of the discussion.

Women do not need to be men in disguise. We are our own beings. Our own characters. As a writer, it’s exciting to create a strong girl character who is not defined by her relationships with the men in her life. She’s not scarred by the father who rejected her or wished she was a boy. She’s not trying to be a guy. She’s not trying impress one or make one fall in love with her. There may be love, but it will be on her own terms and merely one of the adventures along the path.

My girl is a powerful young woman, like the ones living in the world today. Already certain in the knowledge that she has the ability to do anything and be anything. Certain that, yes, there will be obstacles in her way. But just as certain that she will use her strength and smarts to haul it out of the way, build a bridge over it, or blow the hell out of it. Because the truth is.... “I can do anything.” End of song.


Lotus and Thorn
by Sara Wilson Etienne
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Y
Released 6/7/2016

Ravaged by a plague known as Red Death, the planet Gabriel, a former colony of Earth, is a barren wasteland. Since being abandoned by Earth 500 years ago, resources are scarce and life is cheap. To stay alive, the survivors, the Citizens, scavenge the remains of a now dead city, trading for food with the resource-rich Curadores, the only other survivors on Gabriel. Every old computer, every piece of wire, every scrap of metal counts. To steal is the ultimate sin. So when tough-as-nails seventeen-year-old Leica is caught doing just that, she’s exiled and left to the mercy of Gabriel’s unforgiving desert for the rest of her life.

While in exile, Leica discovers a mysterious shuttle, which may not only lead her home, but even more impossible—reestablish contact with Earth. Then Red Death rears its head again, killing her entire work crew, leaving Leica all alone until a handsome Curador offers her refuge in the Dome—the only place on Gabriel untouched by Red Death, where a decadent and sultry life awaits. But there’s a catch: Leica can only enter the Dome as his concubine—his Kisaeng. When a rogue group of Citizens see their chance for revolution in Leica’s good fortune, she finds herself unraveling a deadly mystery with chilling answers to the true origin of Red Death and the reason Earth really abandoned them so long ago.

A richly imagined fantasy in the vein of Tamora Pierce, Lotus and Thorn, is a magnificent, epic adventure.

Purchase Lotus and Thorn at Amazon
Purchase Lotus and Thorn at IndieBound
View Lotus and Thorn on Goodreads


Sara Wilson Etienne went to school to become a marine biologist... but when her research transformed itself into a novel, she realized she loved fantasy more than fact. Now she enjoys combining both to create stories that ask "What if?"

Sara writes in Seattle alongside her artist husband and her two dogs. Her favorite days are spent disappearing into different universes, whether it's traveling with Dr. Who, popping into a parallel world with Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett, or writing her own stories. Or sometimes just taking a nap.

Sara is the author of HARBINGER and LOTUS AND THORN.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

-posted by Michelle Taylor-

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

10 A Word of Inspiration for Every Writer Who Despairs

It is a thing universally acknowledged that a talented writer in possession of an excellent manuscript must be in want of an agent. But not for long.

I'm SO excited to spread the news that our own Erin Cashman, my beloved Erin, has a new agent for her brilliant high fantasy King Arthur retelling. She has signed with Caitie Flum at Liza Dawson after receiving several offers.

Erin is one of the best, hardest working, and most humble authors I have ever met. She has proved to me, once again, that if you have a solid manuscript, it will be picked up by an agent without any gimmicks or special access. Erin queried, she got tons of requests, and she got multiple offers.

This is truly how it happens, so if it isn't happening for you--yet--don't despair. Writing is a process. We have to learn our craft, and that takes time. It requires persistence, and a willingness to follow the rules, and an ability to learn when and how and why to break rules. It means writing with our hearts pouring out onto the page and believing in our books while being willing and able to see our work with a critical eye. It means listening as hard as we can to advice that will help to make it better, and it means seeking out learning opportunities. 

Most of all, it means continuing to live our lives out loud and believing that we have more than one manuscript in us--because no one book is ever the end.

Laini Taylor had an incredible article of Five Writing Tips in Publisher's Weekly yesterday. Read them all, but take this especially to heart:

"Be an unstoppable force. Write with an imaginary machete strapped to your thigh. This is not wishy-washy, polite, drinking-tea-with-your-pinkie-sticking-out stuff. It’s who you want to be, your most powerful self. Write your books. Finish them, then make them better. Find the way. No one will make this dream come true for you but you."

So. Be inspired. Be motivated. Cheer for Erin, and cheer for yourself if you are writing--whatever you are writing. 

Have a great week!

Monday, May 23, 2016

12 THREE Giveaways plus New Releases and Author Interviews for this week 5/23-5/29

Another week with three giveaways! Up for grabs this week is EXILE FOR DREAMERS, THE SAFEST LIES and 26 KISSES. Don't forget to browse and read about all this week's latest releases and enter the giveaway at the bottom.

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Lindsey, Martina, Jocelyn, Erin, Susan, Sam, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa


* * * *

Exile for Dreamers
by Kathleen Baldwin
Full Series Giveaway
U.S. Only

Tor Teen
Released 5/24/2016

A School for Unusual Girls is the first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure "completely original and totally engrossing."

Tess can't run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man she loves, and her friends at Stranje House from Lady Daneska and her lover, the Ghost-agent of Napoleon, who has escaped from Elba. Can the young ladies of Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands of the power-mad dictator?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Exile for Dreamers?

I love that Tess is so incredibly athletic in a world where women were usually tame, mild-mannered, girly-girls. Her dreams are so stressful that she has to run in order to maintain her emotional balance.

Purchase Exile for Dreamers at Amazon
Purchase Exile for Dreamers at IndieBound
View Exile for Dreamers on Goodreads

* * * *

The Safest Lies
by Megan Miranda
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 5/24/2016

Can fear be inherited?

Kelsey was raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with Kelsey growing inside her.

Kelsey knows she’s supposed to keep a low profile for their own protection, but that plan is shattered when she drives off a cliff and is rescued by volunteer firefighter and classmate Ryan Baker.

A few days later, she arrives home to face her greatest fear: her mother is missing. She and her mother have drilled for all contingencies—except this one. Luckily, Ryan is as skilled at emergency rescues as Kelsey is at escape and evasion.

To have a chance at a future, Kelsey will have to face all her darkest fears. Because someone is coming for her.

And the truth about the past may end up being the most dangerous thing of all.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Safest Lies?

THE SAFEST LIES is about a girl named Kelsey who has been raised to see the danger everywhere, by a mother who hasn’t left the house since Kelsey was born. So my favorite thing about the book was creating a house with this vision in mind—and then using it as the main setting for a thriller. At the beginning, Kelsey’s home is seen as a layer of protection, with gates, alarms, cameras, and a safe room; and then, as the story progresses, Kelsey has to find a way to use only those elements to either protect herself, fight back, or escape. I loved seeing Kelsey grow from a girl ruled by fear, to a girl who channels those fears into strengths.

Purchase The Safest Lies at Amazon
Purchase The Safest Lies at IndieBound
View The Safest Lies on Goodreads

* * * *

26 Kisses
by Anna Michels
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 5/24/2016

Kasie West meets Morgan Matson in this hilarious and heartwarming debut about a girl’s summer mission to get over her ex-boyfriend by kissing her way through the alphabet.

Getting dumped by her boyfriend is not how Veda planned on starting her summer. When Mark makes it clear that it’s over between them, Veda is heartbroken and humiliated—but, more importantly, she’s inspired. So she sets out on the love quest of a lifetime: use the summer to forget about Mark, to move on, and move up. All she has to do is kiss twenty-six boys with twenty-six different names—one for each letter of the alphabet.

From the top of the Ferris wheel at her hometown carnival to the sandy dunes of Lake Michigan, Veda takes every opportunity she can to add kisses (and boys) to her list, and soon the break-up doesn’t sting quite as much. But just when Veda thinks she has the whole kissing thing figured out, she meets someone who turns her world upside down.

Purchase 26 Kisses at Amazon
Purchase 26 Kisses at IndieBound
View 26 Kisses on Goodreads


* * * *

100 Days of Cake by Shari Goldhagen: Nicole S. & Kira B.
Circle of Jinn by Lori Goldstein: Emma M.
Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff: Kami C.


* * * *

The Hunt
by Megan Shepherd
Balzer + Bray
Released 5/24/2016

They’ve left the cage—but they’re not free yet.

After their failed escape attempt, Cora, Lucky, and Mali have been demoted to the lowest level of human captives and placed in a safari-themed environment called the Hunt, along with wild animals and other human outcasts. They must serve new Kindred masters—Cora as a lounge singer, Lucky as an animal wrangler, and Mali as a safari guide—and follow new rules or face dangerous consequences. Meanwhile, Nok and Rolf have been moved into an enormous dollhouse, observed around the clock by Kindred scientists interested in Nok’s pregnancy. And Leon, the only one who successfully escaped, has teamed up with villainous Mosca black-market traders.

The former inhabitants of the Cage are threatened on all fronts—and maybe worst of all, one of the Hunt’s Kindred safari guests begins to play a twisted game of cat and mouse with Cora. Separated and constantly under watch, she and the others must struggle to stay alive, never mind find a way back to each other. When Cassian secretly offers to train Cora to develop her psychic abilities—to prove the worthiness of humanity in a series of tests called the Gauntlet—she’ll have to decide fast if she dares to trust the Kindred who betrayed her, or if she can forge her own way to freedom.

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

Each book in the CAGE series puts a twist on the different types of relationships that exist between animals and humans--only in the world of THE CAGE, the humans are the ones behind bars, and the all-powerful alien Kindred are the ones pulling the strings. In the first book, THE CAGE, the kids found themselves in a "human zoo" where they were kept in a zoo-like habitat, forced to perform tricks, and were experimented on. In THE HUNT, the kids have left the cage but now find themselves the quarry in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse in a safari-type enclosure. This time, they're paired with actual wild animals taken from Earth just like them. I loved playing around with the concepts of hunted vs hunter.

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

* * * *

The World Beneath
by Janice Warman
Released 5/24/2016

At the rise of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, a boy must face life decisions that test what he believes—and call for no turning back.

South Africa, 1976. Joshua lives with his mother in the maid’s room, in the backyard of their wealthy white employers’ house in the city by the sea. He doesn’t quite understand the events going on around him. But when he rescues a stranger and riots begin to sweep the country, Joshua has to face the world beneath—the world deep inside him—to make heartbreaking choices that will change his life forever. Genuine and quietly unflinching, this beautifully nuanced novel from a veteran journalist captures a child’s-eye view of the struggle that shaped a nation and riveted the world.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The World Beneath?

My favorite thing about The World Beneath is that it has given me the chance to tell the story of apartheid through a child’s eyes, at a pivotal moment in the country’s history - the Soweto uprising in 1976. Joshua is an extremely brave boy who risks his life to save the wounded freedom fighter he shelters in the garden. I grew up in South Africa as a privileged white child, surrounded by poverty and deprivation that I didn’t see, and it took me until my teenage years to realize the extent of the horror that was the system of apartheid. With this story, I hope to bring to children around the world the reality of life there in a way that a history book could not.

Purchase The World Beneath at Amazon
Purchase The World Beneath at IndieBound
View The World Beneath on Goodreads


* * * *

by M.G. Reyes
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/24/2016

There’s trouble in paradise. Six teens legally liberated from parental control—the bad boy, the good girl, the diva, the hustler, the rocker, and the nerd—all share a house in Venice Beach and they all have one thing in common: murder.

After a streak of hookups, heartbreaks, and bad decisions, the housemates’ once perfect life is falling apart. One is caught in a forbidden romance with a Hollywood hearttrob while another puts her dreams on the line for one little kiss. One harbors a dark truth that could save a life while another’s risky business puts all their lives on the line. And before they know it, the friends are fighting like family.

But when an uninvited houseguest and a deadly accident entangle them in a conspiracy none of them saw coming, pulling together is the only way out. Alone, none of them can cover up the lies. Together, none of them can be trusted.

Packed with conspiracies, intrigue, and scandalous romance, this gripping sequel told from multiple perspectives will have readers suspecting them all.

Purchase Incriminated at Amazon
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View Incriminated on Goodreads

* * * *

Outrun the Moon
by Stacey Lee
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Y
Released 5/24/2016

San Francisco, 1906: Fifteen-year-old Mercy Wong is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown, and an education at St. Clare’s School for Girls is her best hope. Although St. Clare’s is off-limits to all but the wealthiest white girls, Mercy gains admittance through a mix of cunning and a little bribery, only to discover that getting in was the easiest part. Not to be undone by a bunch of spoiled heiresses, Mercy stands strong—until disaster strikes.

On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can't sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the 'bossy' cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?

Purchase Outrun the Moon at Amazon
Purchase Outrun the Moon at IndieBound
View Outrun the Moon on Goodreads

* * * *

The Last Star
by Rick Yancey
G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Released 5/24/2016

We’re here, then we’re gone, and that was true before they came. That’s always been true. The Others didn’t invent death; they just perfected it. Gave death a face to put back in our face, because they knew that was the only way to crush us. It won’t end on any continent or ocean, no mountain or plain, jungle or desert. It will end where it began, where it had been from the beginning, on the battlefield of the last beating human heart.

Master storyteller Rick Yancey invokes triumph, loss, and unrelenting action as the fate of the planet is decided in the conclusion to this epic series.

Purchase The Last Star at Amazon
Purchase The Last Star at IndieBound
View The Last Star on Goodreads