Wednesday, August 31, 2016

2 Surviving Act II

Please join us in welcoming Cristin Bruggeman, represented by Thao Le from the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, to the blog today as she discusses the importance of surviving Act II and why you shouldn't ever take the easy way out.

"There's always a period of time between what you set out to do and achieving your goal, and that period is filled with struggle...and the eventual realization that there is no shortcut to a dream fulfilled. This is Act II"

My favorite blog posts are those 'how I got my agent' stories. It's wonderful to see perseverance rewarded, struggles and rejection given meaning. I follow those writers on Twitter, and I'm rooting for them to get a book deal and great sales. I care about them because they shared their stories, and because their struggles reflect what we all endure for our art.

There's always a period of time between what you set out to do and achieving your goal, and that period is filled with struggle. It holds the restlessness of hope unrealized, the sting of rejection, and the eventual realization that there is no shortcut to a dream fulfilled. This is Act II, and maybe you're in it right now. I still am. Even after I signed with a really great literary agent, I had to face the challenge of ripping the seams out of my manuscript and starting over—multiple times. (As many times as it takes!)

"Consider what we put our characters through in Act II. We toss them in the deep end, so they realize they can't swim...They look for every easy way out, but we close those doors...until the only path forward is the road of hardship."

Consider what we put our characters through in Act II. We toss them in the deep end, so they realize they can't swim. They learn that they aren't smart enough or strong enough to resolve the conflict. They look for every easy way out, but we close those doors on their faces until the only path forward is the road of hardship. In the School of Hard Knocks, they're refined and empowered—they earn their passage into Act III.

That's why telling writers to grow a thick skin is such bad advice. Avoiding the suffering of Act II will only prolong it. We're here to learn what we need to carry us into the next part of our stories. Don't just brush off that rejection you received, let it ache. Let that disappointment make you cry, and then pour your heartbreak into your manuscript. Dust yourself off, and then consider what brave thing you're going to do to move forward.

Maybe it's getting in touch with another aspiring author on Twitter and asking to trade manuscripts for critique. Maybe courage is reading craft books and articles, truly considering how you need to improve. It might mean setting your precious manuscript on the operating table, slicing it open, and being honest with yourself about what's gone wrong. It might mean starting over.

"Maybe your brave response to that rejection letter is sending out your next batch of queries"

There was a point in my journey that felt like my dream had died. I spent seven years researching, writing, and revising my first manuscript. It was an historical epic about ancient Armenia, and I loved it with all my heart. I still do. When I sent it out at first, there were only form rejections. I entered contests and didn't place. So I revised more. I studied the craft, reading everything I could get my hands on and attending every workshop and conference within my means. I found gut-honest critique partners and worked until my manuscript was my absolute best work. Then I entered another contest, and won first place. 

When I queried it, the rejections still trickled in. Some of them were personalized, praising my characters and prose—but still no's. I exhausted my options, and my last full request came back as a rejection with the note: "I don't think I can sell this, but please send me whatever you write next."

Even though I had the seed of an exciting idea, it broke my heart to shelve that manuscript. I had to wade through the grief and sense of failure before I could face the daunting task of starting over. But I picked myself up and wrote another manuscript I loved. Seven drafts later, I believe it's 'The One'. 

"A story's ending is only as significant as the struggle endured in its pursuit, and my dream of being a published author will mean so much more to me because of how hard I fought to bring it about"

If writing is your passion (and I define passion as the thing you're willing to suffer for), don't despise Act II. Learn as much as you can. Find allies. Take risks. Keep at it until you achieve your goal. One day you'll have a story worth sharing, and we'll all be rooting for you


Cristin Bruggeman is a rootless adventurer whose work in the non-profit sector has taken her all over the world. 

If you ever meet her in person, be sure to ask about the bus crash in the Turkana Desert or the time she accidentally got drunk with the presidential guard of the Republic of Georgia just before they were due to start their shift (there was a coup a few months later. Go figure.). 

 She now resides in the Belgian Ardennes where she splits her time between writing historical fantasy and having her French pronunciation corrected by small children. She is represented by Thao Le from the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency,

Website | Twitter |

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

0 Eight Tips to Combine Research and Family for a Great Working Vacation by Erika Lewis

One of the pleasures that comes along with attending writer's retreats and workshops is that you get to meet with amazing people I had the pleasure of meeting Erika Lewis at a retreat in Charlotte, NC a couple of years ago, and I've been dying for her book to come out (next year!!!). She's also the queen of juggling a thousand different things. So many of us struggle to balance family and work and writing, so when she went off on a recent trip to research the second book and took her kids, family with her, I asked her to give us some survival tips. Here's she is with some great suggestions!

The Road to Research

by Erika Lewis

Let’s face it. It’s never easy mixing business with pleasure. Even through for many of us doing research for our books is just that. But when you bring the family along, it becomes something else entirely; two competing agendas that must be melded together, and shredded apart throughout the journey.

As I started to outline book two of my GAME OF SHADOWS series for Tor, I realized that a trip to Scotland and Ireland was what I needed. My husband had never been, and neither had the kids (ages 10 and 12,) so we decided to make it a 2-week adventure.


Mix a good bit of work with a little bit of pleasure. I tried to make both weeks start off with fun and end with a bit of trudging around looking at ruins, listening to historians, and scanning mythology books for what I needed for work.

The kids were tasked with taking pictures. They seemed excited about it and we made sure they had their own cameras.

As they say, the best laid plans…yeah, we had to make modifications along the way, but hey, everyone needs a place to start, and for us, that was in Scotland.


It started with three days in Edinburgh, much of the time spent adjusting to the time zone and dealing with a lot of jet lag. 

TIP 1: Allow a couple of days to get used to the time zone and get over the long flight. Take naps, eat late, and keep touring to a minimum.

TIP 2: CONSIDER RENTING AN APARTMENT. We rented a two-bedroom apartment on Prince Street. The views from every window, Edinburgh Castle!

It was much less expensive than two rooms at a hotel for 3 days, and it had a kitchen. My kids get sick of eating at restaurants, so having a kitchen was a lifesaver! Also, many apartments, like ours, have washing machines! Now washing machines in Europe are generally washer-dryer machines. And the take FOREVER to dry clothes, but beggars can’t be choosy!

TIP 3: MIX IN A CHALLENGE WITH THE TOURING. We hiked Arthur’s Seat, which was definitely the highlight of the city for the family. Making it to the top was exhausting and a big accomplishment; one we’ll always remember. One note—put your hair up. It’s very windy at the top.

4-Day Excursion to the Isle of Skye, through the highlands: This was a big part of my research. I needed to see something specific on the Isle (no spoilers here ☺.) Our tour guide was an expert on the landscape, the ruins we went to and on the mystical lore of Scotland. Here’s just on of the hundreds of places we stopped and explored Eilean Donan Castle.) Howling wind, sideway rain, and haunted hallways all made this a truly Scottish experience!

I peppered her with a ton of questions and asked her to take us to specific sites (again no spoilers,) and, even though the group had 10 on the small bus, she was more than accommodating. The tour company, Viator,  was well organized. They picked an easy meeting spot for the start of the journey. They took care of the reservations on where to stay at the various overnight stops, picking the perfect B&B’s for our family. I highly recommend it.

TIP 4: REMIND THE FAMILY THAT THIS IS THE HARDEST PART OF THE TRIP EVERY FEW MINUTES! This was tough for them. My husband’s back ached from getting on and off the wee bus. We moved from Fort William to the Isle of Skye, which meant three different beds in 5 days. Kids were troopers. The Bed & Breakfasts were the Holy Grail. Our caretakers were warm and friendly, and really made us feel at home. To start off the day’s adventures, there was a family table for breakfast filled with farm fresh eggs, salty European-style bacon, toast and fruit.

TIP 5: TAKE A LITTLE TIME FOR YOURSELF. Trade off with your spouse and go do something on your own. My alone time was spent getting up early and going for a run. I did this a few times. On the Isle of Skye, I ran over the bridges that connect the Isle to Scotland. It was one of the most incredible runs of my life. 

The pristine island has been touched in over 3,000 years. It’s magical, mystical, enchanting.

For my husband, this meant finding a new pub every night to talk to locals. He always finds friends wherever he goes, one of the things I love about him.


Kilkenny, Ireland was the perfect spot for us to go for a little R&R. It’s a very kid friendly town. The Newpark Hotel where we stayed was reasonable and had so much for the kids to do. This was the time for us to relax, not do a lot of research for me, but let them have fun. The town itself is medieval, literally, and had 12th century buildings filled with candy stores, toy stores, trinket stores, and even a GameStop, making my son happy.

TIP 6: HOTEL CHILDCARE SERVICES ARE GOOD FOR PARENTS AND KIDS. By this time we were all so sick of each other, we needed a break. The kids went to the camp at the hotel for two of the days and hung out with other kids, and we had some adult time, driving around Ireland, still doing a little research for me but enjoying the scenery and each other, without worrying about the kids’ needs.

TIP 7: PERHAPS LEAVING THE FAMILY WHILE YOU WORK ISN’T A BAD THING. By the time we got to Dublin, our last stop in terms of moving, they were done with seeing ancient sights. But I wasn’t. I had a 2-day tour booked with a local expert to see some of the most important places. The kids opted to do things with Dad in Dublin. It was great for me. I could spend all my time focusing on work, seeing everything I needed too, and not being interrupted during lengthy conversations on history and mythology.

For them, it meant relaxation. We had an apartment in Dublin, and again they loved not having to go out for every meal. We could do much needed laundry as well. We found a place for the kids to swim, which was the gym across the street from the apartment, and they had a great time doing that, as well as shopping.

TIP 8: KNOW WHEN TO SAY WHEN. After 2 weeks, my husband and I still had places we wanted to go, and things we wanted to do, but it was time to go home. The kids had school starting in a week. We missed our house and dog, and beds. So my husband downed his last Guinness. I, a “wee” bit of Scottish whiskey, and the kids, a final bar of Dairy Milk Chocolate, and then boarded the 11-hour flight home.


Where there’s a will, there’s a way. This was a journey of discovery for us as a family. We’d never traveled to so many places and for such a long time before. The kids, being a bit older now, learned valuable life-lessons, like navigating foreign cities, understanding the value of your currency in a different country, and even how to survive with dirty laundry as long as you have clean underwear and socks. For me, it was a magical time, both finding all the places for the book series, and hearing the mythology behind them from the experts, but also having my family with me to see many of them. I’ll leave this blog post with one final image. A 3,000 year-old stone circle we found on a sheep farm between Cork and Killarny.

About the Author:

ERIKA LEWIS graduated from Vanderbilt University and went on to earn an Advanced Certificate in Creative Writing from Stony Brook University. She has had a successful career in television production for the past seventeen years, working with Sony (V.I.P, Strong Medicine,) with Fireworks Television (La Femme Nikita, Andromeda, Mutant X, Strange Days at Blake Holsey High) with Fox (On Air with Ryan Seacrest, Ambush Makeover) and with G4 (Attack of the Show, X-Play). Lewis is the author of The 49TH Key, currently running in Heavy Metal Magazine, and Firebrand with Legendary Comics. Game of Shadows is her debut novel.

About Game of Shadows:

A young man plagued by the ability to see ghosts races to save the mythological land of Tara from a terrible fate in Erika Lewis's stunning debut, Game of Shadows.

Thousands of years ago in Ireland, an ancient race fought a world-changing battle―and lost. Their land overrun, the Celtic gods and goddesses fled, while the mythical races and magical druids sailed to an uncharted continent, cloaked so mankind could never find it. This new homeland was named Tara.

In modern day Los Angeles, Ethan Makkai struggles with an overprotective mother who never lets him out of her sight, and a terrifying secret: he can see ghosts. Desperate for a taste of freedom, he leaves his apartment by himself for the first time―only to find his life changed forever. After being attacked by dive-bombing birds, he races home to find the place trashed and his mother gone.

With the help of a captain from Tara who has been secretly watching the Makkais for a long time, Ethan sets out to save his mother; a journey that leads him to the hidden lands, and straight into the arms of a vicious sorcerer who will stop at nothing until he controls Tara. With new-found allies including Christian, the cousin he never knew he had, and Lily, the sword-slinging healer who’d rather fight than mend bones, Ethan travels an arduous road―dodging imprisonment, battling beasts he thought only existed in nightmares, and accepting help from the beings he’s always sought to avoid: ghosts. This L.A. teen must garner strength from his gift and embrace his destiny if he’s going to save his mother, the fearless girl he’s fallen for, and all the people of Tara.

To buy the book:

Monday, August 29, 2016

7 New Releases this week 8/29-9/04 plus FOUR Giveaways

Happy Monday! Can you believe it's almost September? August flew by! We have great giveaways for you to enter this week but don't forget to read more about all the new releases.

Happy Reading,

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


Don't You Trust Me?
by Patrice Kindl
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway
U.S. Only

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Released 8/30/2016

A teenage girl switches identities with a stranger and pulls off a long-term scam in this smart, sarcastic thriller perfect for fans of Ally Carter.

Don’t you trust me? I mean, look at me. Blond, blue-eyed, the very image of innocence. Pretty enough, if you care about that kind of thing. I don’t.

But would a normal person switch identities with some wet mess of a girl at the airport, just to get her to stop bawling about being separated from her loser boyfriend and sent to live with some distant relatives? Nope, she wouldn’t. Yet I did. I’m not as normal as you think. And you’ll just have to trust me on that.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Don't You Trust Me??

Getting into the head of someone very unlike myself. Morgan knows neither fear nor love. I am frankly a coward; I am afraid of heights, loud noises, scary movies, clowns, and mean people. While those I love are few, they are essential to my happiness. Yet the words that come to mind to describe the experience of channeling Morgan are: "exhilarating" and "liberating."

Purchase Don't You Trust Me? at Amazon
Purchase Don't You Trust Me? at IndieBound
View Don't You Trust Me? on Goodreads

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Girl in Pieces
by Kathleen Glasgow
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Delacorte Press
Released 8/30/2016

For fans of Girl, Interrupted, Thirteen Reasons Why, and All the Bright Places comes Kathleen Glasgow’s debut novel about a girl who has lost everything—almost even herself.

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

A deeply moving portrait of a teenage girl on the verge of losing herself and the journey she must take to survive in her own skin, Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Girl in Pieces?

My favorite thing about GIRL IN PIECES is the relationship between Charlie and Ellis, and Charlie and Blue. I really wanted to portray how complicated friendships between girls (and women) can be and I feel like I got it right. It’s a combination of intense love, intense jealousy, protection, anger, sadness, coveting, pride, and love, again. Sometimes you just fall in love with your best friend so hard you almost think you’re the same person, and when you find out you aren’t, it’s the most painful thing in the world. I feel like Charlie’s relationship with Ellis is one side of the friendship coin, and her relationship with Blue is the other. 

Purchase Girl in Pieces at Amazon
Purchase Girl in Pieces at IndieBound
View Girl in Pieces on Goodreads

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by M. Verano
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 8/30/2016

In the tradition of Paranormal Activity and The Exorcist, an ordinary girl with a strange illness that doctors can’t seem to diagnose recounts her experience with the dark and ancient entity that’s making her sick in this chilling diary that features photos and images of what she experienced.

All her life, Laetitia Jones has only wanted to be a star. It’s more than an ambition—somewhere deep inside, she knows that she was born for greatness.

But her path to stardom now seems to be halted by a mysterious, undiagnosed illness that’s taken over her body. Doctors don’t have a clue and most days, she’s stuck at home documenting her strange symptoms—symptoms that start with fevers and chills, but soon escalate to bizarre bodily reactions.

Laetitia’s only escape from her illness is following the news—and the race riots that are moving closer and closer to her neighborhood. But when horrific visions begin to invade her mind, even the media can’t distract her and she begins to wonder—is her illness something biological…or is it something more? Are the voices she hears and the notes she finds in her own handwriting signs of insanity…or signs of something much more sinister and demonic? Or, perhaps, signs of something benevolent…something holy even.

Laetitia has always known she’d be famous…she just didn’t know it would happen this way.

Purchase Possession at Amazon
Purchase Possession at IndieBound
View Possession on Goodreads

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The Form of Things Unknown
by Robin Bridges
Paperback + previous novel Giveaway
U.S. Only

Released 8/30/2016

Honest, nuanced, and bittersweet, The Form of Things Unknown explores the shadows that haunt even the truest hearts…and the sparks that set them free.

Natalie Roman isn’t much for the spotlight. But performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a stately old theatre in Savannah, Georgia, beats sitting alone replaying mistakes made in Athens. Fairy queens and magic on stage, maybe a few scary stories backstage. And no one in the cast knows her backstory.

Except for Lucas—he was in the psych ward, too. He won’t even meet her eye. But Nat doesn’t need him. She’s making friends with girls, girls who like horror movies and Ouija boards, who can hide their liquor in Coke bottles and laugh at the theater’s ghosts. Natalie can keep up. She can adapt. And if she skips her meds once or twice so they don’t interfere with her partying, it won’t be a problem. She just needs to keep her wits about her.

Purchase The Form of Things Unknown at Amazon
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View The Form of Things Unknown on Goodreads


Persuasion by Martina Boone: Stephanie T.
Scavenger of Souls by Joshua David Bellin: Nic W. & Jenelle R.
Under the Lights by Abbi Glines: Danielle H.


Just Kill Me
by Adam Selzer
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 8/30/2016

From the author of Play Me Backwards and I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It comes a dark comedy about one teen’s unusual summer job as a ghost tour guide in Chicago.

Megan Henske isn’t one to heed warnings…

When the last letters in her alphabet cereal are D, I, and E, she doesn’t crawl right back into bed. When her online girlfriend won’t text a photo, she just sends more of herself.

And when she realizes that Cynthia, her boss at a Chicago ghost tour company, isn’t joking about making stops more haunted by killing people there, she doesn’t quit her job—she may even help.

But who is responsible for the deaths of prominent figures in the murdermonger industry? Could it be the head of the rival tour company? Or could it be someone near and dear to Megan?

Soon after she learns that she has an uncanny resemblance to a flapper who disappeared in 1922, Megan receives a warning she can’t ignore: the next ghost on the tour might be her…

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Just Kill Me?

My favorite thing about JUST KILL ME is the lingering mysteries that never get cleared up - some of them are slipped into the background enough that people might not even notice them. The plot resolves itself and all, but I take a sadistic pleasure in leaving a few things dangling. Some of them have solutions built it, but it’s also full of real historical mysteries, like “Who’s buried in the tomb at the south end of Lincoln Park?” and “Did Virginia Harrison burn the Wind Blew Inn to the ground?” I like people to have to argue about things and look for clues.

Purchase Just Kill Me at Amazon
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View Just Kill Me on Goodreads

* * * *

by Mary Hooper
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Released 8/30/2016

Set against the backdrop of World War I, this romantic novel is equal parts sweeping and heartbreaking.

England, 1914. Poppy is 15, beautiful, and clever, but society has already carved out her destiny. She will become a servant to the aristocratic de Vere family . . . and bury her feelings for their youngest son, Freddie. He could never marry a girl like her.

But the path for Poppy's life changes when it becomes clear that the war isn't going to end soon. England needs every able bodied person to serve in battle, which, for Poppy, means volunteering on the front lines as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse. As she experiences what people are capable of--the best of humanity and the worst--Poppy will discover how to be her own person.

This sweeping drama vividly blends swoon-worthy romance with the story of a girl looking for her place in a war-torn world is perfect fans of Elizabeth Wein and Ruta Sepetys.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Poppy?

My favourite thing about my book is that everything Poppy encounters while she’s working as a volunteer nurse: people, places, incidents and emotions – really did occur. They may not have happened to the same girl in the same place, but they did happen. I hope that when you get to the end of the book, you’ll know what it was like to live a hundred years ago and be an inexperienced girl doing her level best to care for dreadfully injured soldiers. It’s not all horror stories, however, and my very favourite thing is that amidst all the blood and bandages, Poppy manages to fall in love.

Purchase Poppy at Amazon
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View Poppy on Goodreads

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Tell Me Something Real
by Calla Devlin
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Released 8/30/2016

Three sisters struggle with the bonds that hold their family together as they face a darkness settling over their lives in this masterfully written debut novel.

There are three beautiful blond Babcock sisters: gorgeous and foul-mouthed Adrienne, observant and shy Vanessa, and the youngest and best-loved, Marie. Their mother is ill with leukemia and the girls spend a lot of time with her at a Mexican clinic across the border from their San Diego home so she can receive alternative treatments.

Vanessa is the middle child, a talented pianist who is trying to hold her family together despite the painful loss that they all know is inevitable. As she and her sisters navigate first loves and college dreams, they are completely unaware that an illness far more insidious than cancer poisons their home. Their world is about to shatter under the weight of an incomprehensible betrayal…

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Tell Me Something Real?

I wanted to explore how, in a shared trauma, some people can manage to move on, surviving to a certain degree, while others can be left irreparably broken. I thought sisters would be a great way to do that. Vanessa and her two sisters, Adrienne and Marie, are very different from one another, and have a strong bond and fierce love. The girls experience a profound betrayal and are forever changed, and each copes in a unique way.

Purchase Tell Me Something Real at Amazon
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View Tell Me Something Real on Goodreads

* * * *

by Chris Vick
HarperCollins Children's Books
Released 8/30/2016

A heart-pounding love story that grips like a riptide, and doesn’t let go…

Fifteen-year old Sam has moved from the big city to the coast – stuck there with his mum and sister on the edge of nowhere.

Then he meets beautiful but damaged surfer-girl Jade. Soon he’s in love with her, and with surfing itself. But Jade is driven by an obsession: finding and riding a legendary huge wave no one has ever ridden.

As the weeks wear on, their relationship barrels forward with the force of a deep-water wave – into a storm, to danger … and to heartbreak.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Kook?

The themes: love, beauty, danger, the sea. Oh yeah, and surfing.

And the MC's: innocent, wide-eyed Sam, and damaged, dangerous fireball Jade.

Purchase Kook at Amazon
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View Kook on Goodreads


A Torch Against the Night
by Sabaa Tahir
Released 8/30/2016

A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

Purchase A Torch Against the Night at Amazon
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View A Torch Against the Night on Goodreads

* * * *

Been Here All Along
by Sandy Hall
Swoon Reads
Released 8/30/2016

Gideon always has a plan. His plans include running for class president, becoming head of the yearbook committee, and having his choice of colleges. They do NOT include falling head over heels for his best friend and next door neighbor, Kyle. It’s a distraction. It’s pointless, as Kyle is already dating the gorgeous and popular head cheerleader, Ruby. And Gideon doesn’t know what to do.

Kyle finally feels like he has a handle on life. He has a wonderful girlfriend, a best friend willing to debate the finer points of Lord of the Rings, and social acceptance as captain of the basketball team. Then, both Ruby and Gideon start acting really weird, just as his spot on the team is threatened, and Kyle can’t quite figure out what he did wrong…

Purchase Been Here All Along at Amazon
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View Been Here All Along on Goodreads

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For This Life Only
by Stacey Kade
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 8/30/2016

A young man struggles to move forward after the death of his twin brother in this gripping, coming-of-age tale about loss, redemption, love, and the moment you begin to see the world differently.

Three minutes.

Jacob Palmer died for three life-changing minutes.

And when he woke up, nothing was the same. Elijah, his twin brother, is dead, and his family is broken. Jace’s planned future is crushed, along with his pitching arm. Everyone keeps telling him that Eli’s in a better place, but Jace isn’t so sure. Because in those three minutes, there was nothing.

Overwhelmed by guilt and doubt, Jace struggles to adjust to this new version of the world, one without his brother, one without the certainties he once relied on. And then Thera comes into his life.

She’s the last girl he should be turning to for help.

But she’s also the first person to truly see him.

Purchase For This Life Only at Amazon
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View For This Life Only on Goodreads

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Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit
by Jaye Robin Brown
Released 8/30/2016

Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.

Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?

Purchase Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit at Amazon
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View Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit on Goodreads

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In-between Days
by Vikki Wakefield
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 8/30/2016

Seventeen-year-old Jacklin maneuvers her way through a summer of family drama and first—and second—loves in this gorgeous, lyrical novel from the author of Friday Never Leaving.

Sixteen-year-old Jacklin Bates (aka “Jack”) believes the only way to soar beyond her life is to drop out of school and move in with her free-spirited sister, Trudy. But Jack quickly discovers her sister isn’t the same person she used to be. And when Jack loses her job and the boy she loves breaks her heart, she becomes desperate for distractions.

She strikes up an unlikely friendship with Pope, a lost soul camping in the forest behind her house. And then there’s Jeremiah, the boy next door with a kind, listening ear and plenty of troubles of his own. Together, over an endless summer, Jack and Jeremiah fix up the abandoned drive-in theater at the edge of town. But even as a fragile romance builds between them, Jack knows deep down that she can’t stay in limbo forever.

When Jack faces losing Jeremiah, she searches for a way to repair their relationship—beginning with the other broken pieces in her life. Only, sometimes the hardest part of starting over isn’t choosing a path … it’s figuring out how to take that first step forward.

Purchase In-between Days at Amazon
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View In-between Days on Goodreads

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Into the Abyss
by Stefanie Gaither
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 8/30/2016

Violet has lost her memory, and her sense of self—but can she decide who she wants to be in time to save the world? Find out in this sequel to Falls the Shadow, which Kirkus Reviews called perfect “for fans of Divergent and The Hunger Games.”

Violet Benson used to know who she was: a dead girl’s clone, with a dead girl’s memories. But after Huxley’s attempt to take over the government left her memories and personality wiped, all she has left is a mission: help the CCA fight back against the rest of Huxley’s deadly clones that are still at large.

But when a group of clones infiltrate CCA headquarters, Violet is blamed. Already unsure of where her loyalties should lie, Violet finds herself running away with an unlikely ally: Seth, Jaxon’s unpredictable foster brother. With Seth at her side, Violet begins to learn about a whole new side of her city’s history—and her own.

But when she learns the shocking truth about cloning, Violet will have to make a choice—and it may be one that takes her away from everyone she ever loved.

Purchase Into the Abyss at Amazon
Purchase Into the Abyss at IndieBound
View Into the Abyss on Goodreads

* * * *

Scary Out There
by Jonathan Maberry
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 8/30/2016

Multiple Bram Stoker Award–winning author Jonathan Maberry compiles more than twenty stories and poems—written by members of the Horror Writers Association—in this terrifying collection about worst fears.

What scares you? Things that go bump in the night? Being irreversibly different? A brutal early death? The unknown?

This collection contains stories and poetry by renowned writers such as R. L. Stine, Neal and Brendan Shusterman, and Ellen Hopkins about what they fear most.

Purchase Scary Out There at Amazon
Purchase Scary Out There at IndieBound
View Scary Out There on Goodreads

* * * *

Tales of the Peculiar
by Ransom Riggs
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Released 8/30/2016

Before Miss Peregrine gave them a home, the story of peculiars was written in the Tales.

Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in Tales of the Peculiar—the collection of fairy tales known to hide information about the peculiar world, including clues to the locations of time loops—first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.

Riggs now invites you to share his secrets of peculiar history, with a collection of original stories in this deluxe volume of Tales of the Peculiar. Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned artist Andrew Davidson, this compelling, rich, and truly peculiar anthology is the perfect gift for not only fans, but for all lovers of great storytelling.

Purchase Tales of the Peculiar at Amazon
Purchase Tales of the Peculiar at IndieBound
View Tales of the Peculiar on Goodreads

* * * *

The Fixes
by Owen Matthews
Released 8/30/2016

Gossip Girl meets Heathers in this wicked YA novel about a group of high school A-listers on a mission to root out phoniness in their sun-drenched beachside town.

Eric Connelly is crumbling under the weight of his dad’s expectations. He can’t seem to live up to the “Connelly Man” standards—but when he meets the mysterious, free-spirited Jordan Grant, his dad’s rules seem so much less important than they used to.

Jordan and Eric—now “E”—join up with two of the most popular girls in school to combat their rich-kid boredom by cruising their beachside hometown of Capilano. But as Jordan seduces E further into this depraved life, the group starts to kill time in more nefarious ways.

It’s Jordan who escalates the pack’s dares from mostly harmless jaunts like joyrides in boosted cars and Bling Ring–style luxury shoplifting sprees into more violent activities. Eric is intoxicated . . . swept up in the pack’s activities, even as Paige and Haley start to have reservations about what they’ve been doing. When Jordan starts talking big—can E help him build a bomb, he wonders?—E must decide if he’s too far down the rabbit hole to back out now.

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

* * * *

The Lost Girl, Can You Keep a Secret?
by R.L. Stine
A Thomas Dunne Book for St. Martin's Griffin
Released 8/30/2016

In one volume, R.L. Stine presents two bone-chilling stories of teens in terror in his worldwide bestselling Fear Street series, which has sold 80 million copies around the world.

In "Party Games," Rachel is thrilled to be invited to Brendan Fear's exclusive birthday party on Fear Island. When Rachel arrives at the island, a scavenger hunt turns up some horrifying surprises. Soon, Rachel has to fight to survive the deadliest game of all -- the game of murder.

In "Don't Stay Up Late," Lisa is plagued by nightmares and hallucinations after a horrible accident that landed her in the hospital for weeks. Lisa is happy to take a babysitting job to get her mind off of the terrible events of the past. But then her friends begin dying one by one. Are Lisa's nightmares coming true?

With double the fear and double the fun, this Fear Street Super Chiller will appeal to fans of the original Fear Street series as well as the countless young adults who have grown up reading R.L. Stine.

Purchase The Lost Girl, Can You Keep a Secret? at Amazon
Purchase The Lost Girl, Can You Keep a Secret? at IndieBound
View The Lost Girl, Can You Keep a Secret? on Goodreads

* * * *

The Monster on the Road Is Me
by JP Romney
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 8/30/2016

It starts with the crows. When you see them, you know he's found you.

Koda Okita is a high school student in modern-day Japan who isn't very popular. He suffers from narcolepsy and has to wear a watermelon-sized helmet to protect his head in case he falls. But Koda couldn't care less about his low social standing. He is content with taking long bike rides and hanging out in the convenience store parking lot with his school-dropout friend, Haru.

But when a rash of puzzling deaths sweeps his school, Koda discovers that his narcoleptic naps allow him to steal the thoughts of nearby supernatural beings. He learns that his small town is under threat from a ruthless mountain demon that is hell-bent on vengeance. With the help of a mysterious - and not to mention very cute classmate - Koda must find a way to take down this demon. But his unstable and overwhelming new abilities seem to have a mind of their own.

Purchase The Monster on the Road Is Me at Amazon
Purchase The Monster on the Road Is Me at IndieBound
View The Monster on the Road Is Me on Goodreads

* * * *

The Thousandth Floor
by Katharine McGee
Released 8/30/2016

New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Debut author Katharine McGee has created a breathtakingly original series filled with high-tech luxury and futuristic glamour, where the impossible feels just within reach. But in this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall….

Purchase The Thousandth Floor at Amazon
Purchase The Thousandth Floor at IndieBound
View The Thousandth Floor on Goodreads

Sunday, August 28, 2016

0 Free 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop Opens in 1 Week!

Our September workshop will open for entries in one week, on Saturday, September 3 at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young 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 wonderful permanent mentors, we have Mackenzi Lee as our author mentor, and Sarah Manning as our agent mentor. So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!

Happy writing (and revising!)


September Guest Author Mentor - Mackenzi Lee

Mackenzi Lee is a reader, writer, bookseller, unapologetic fangirl, and fast talker. She holds an MFA from Simmons College in writing for children and young adults, and her short fiction for children and teens has appeared in Inaccurate Realities, The Friend, and The Newport Review. Her debut young adult historical fantasy novel, THIS MONSTROUS THING, which won the PEN-New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, is out now from HarperCollins. Her second book, The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue, a queer spin on the classic adventure novel, will be released in June of 2017.
In 1818 Geneva, men built with clockwork parts live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life shattered to bits. His brother, Oliver—dead. His sweetheart, Mary—gone. His chance to break free of Geneva—lost.

Heart-broken and desperate, Alasdair does the unthinkable: He brings Oliver back from the dead.

But putting back together a broken life is more difficult than mending bones and adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man, and Alasdair’s horror further damages the already troubled relationship. Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

Order a signed copy through Porter Square Books!
Order it through HarperCollins!
Order it on Amazon!
Add it on Goodreads!

September Guest Agent Mentor - Sarah Manning

Sarah Manning is a literary agent in the UK Literary Division of United Talent Agency. She is looking to actively build her list and represents both fiction and non-fiction. Sarah’s taste is varied and she enjoys crime, thrillers, historical fiction, commercial women’s fiction, accessible literary fiction, fantasy and YA. She likes big ideas that look at events or characters from new perspectives.

To query, please send your cover letter in the body of your email, with synopsis and first three chapters as an attachment

Saturday, August 27, 2016

2 Martina Boone, author of PERSUASION, on taking time to be kind to yourself

PERSUASION is the second book in the Heirs of Watson Island series, and it is now available in paperback. We're excited for AYAP blog founder Martina Boone, so we asked her to join us for a chat.

Martina, what was your inspiration for writing PERSUASION?

A deadline. : ) It’s amazing how that can light a fire under your butt. Seriously, since this is the second book in the series, I had so much material to work with, and I kept finding more and more as I discovered new areas of research and new questions and conflicts between the characters that I wanted to explore. Putting Barrie and Cassie into a scenario where they had to learn to understand each other, however uncomfortably, and having Barrie and Eight delve deeper into their relationship, having them face the hard things that come after the first flush of attraction, and having Barrie and her aunt settle into an understanding of the magic of Watson’s Landing, all of that drew me in. The book took on a life of its own, and that provided the inspiration.

0 Nicole McInnes, author of 100 DAYS, on working on multiple projects at once

We're delighted to have Nicole McInnes join us to share more about her latest novel 100 DAYS.

Nicole, what do you hope readers will take away from 100 DAYS?

I hope readers will take away a sense of how important it is to hold on to the people who are there for us in life when we’re at our worst as well as when we’re at our best. And even though it can take a lot of courage to reconnect with once-valuable friends we’ve lost touch with due to misunderstanding or some other reason, doing so can be life-changing, and maybe even life-saving. Time passes so quickly, and I’m a firm believer in connecting with and cherishing good people above all else.

0 Joshua David Bellin, author of SCAVENGER OF SOULS, on focusing on what you can control

SCAVENGER OF SOULS is the sequel to SURVIVAL COLONY 9, and we're thrilled to have Joshua David Bellin here to tell us more about it.

Joshua, what was your inspiration for writing SCAVENGER OF SOULS?

Since SCAVENGER OF SOULS is a sequel, the best way to answer that is to say that I really wanted to continue the story I began in SURVIVAL COLONY 9. There were some mysteries left only partially resolved at the end of the first book: Querry’s forgotten past, the history of the survival colonies, the origin of the monstrous Skaldi. I was very happy with how SURVIVAL COLONY 9 wrapped up, but I wanted to bring Querry’s story to a close, and the sequel gave me an opportunity to do that.

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 wrote a blog post earlier this year on that very question, so I’ll refer readers to it here. But the short answer is: I’ve been writing for my entire adult life, and during that time, I’ve written or partially written far more novels than I’ve published. That’s just the reality for many, maybe most, maybe all writers.

Friday, August 26, 2016

1 Joshua David Bellin on Cleaning out Clutter in Both Life and on the Page

We are happy to welcome Joshua David Bellin back to the blog. He's celebrating a new release. Be sure to check out Scavenger of Souls below his great post on getting rid of clutter both in life and on the page.

Cleaning up Clutter by Joshua David Bellin

I’m a little bit of a neat freak. (Okay, my wife and kids will tell you I’m a big bit of a neat freak.) Recently, I rearranged my desk to clear it of extraneous stuff: books, knickknacks, the enormous, ancient computer I use for writing. (I tucked it under the desk, out of sight.) Unlike many writers, I don’t listen to music while I work; the extra stimulation interferes with the flow of ideas. For whatever reason, I need an uncluttered environment to free up my mind.

For the same reason, I recently went through a bunch of old Word documents, half-finished story ideas and such, and deleted the ones there’s no realistic chance I’ll complete. Some people say you should never get rid of anything you write; I believe it’s important to let go of old junk that’s bogging you down. Holding onto something “just in case” you might get to it ten years down the road can turn into an excuse for avoiding what you should be working on right now.

Clutter, I’ve found, is the enemy of creativity.

When it comes to manuscripts, there are many things that produce clutter, thereby impeding the writer’s (and, if it gets to that point, the reader’s) progress. Superfluous scenes, clever but unproductive plot complications, lengthy descriptions and backstory, exposition disguised as dialogue, and all the rest of it can get in the way of the story you’re trying to tell, and it’s important to recognize clutter and be willing to root it out.

At the level of individual words, many books I read (especially YA books) strike me as needlessly cluttered. For example: I find lots of YA writers who overuse the words “start” and “begin” (or variants thereof). So instead of, “I ran away from the monster,” it’s, “I started to run away from the monster.” Or instead of “I kiss him,” it’s, “I begin to kiss him.” These are problematic constructions for at least two reasons: one, they put the emphasis on the starting or beginning and not on the action that has started or begun; and second, they’re largely redundant, since every action starts (and ends) and thus there’s no need to call attention to it. Occasionally, you might need to mark the start or end of an action—say, if a character’s been on a respirator for a long time and one day starts breathing independently. But for the most part, you should simply let the action speak for itself. The reader will figure out that it started and ended by the fact that, well, it started and ended.

You might also be surprised how many “little” words clutter up manuscripts (as well as published books). Sentences stuffed with one- and two-syllable words can hobble the reader’s rhythm, forcing her/him to slow down and work through the thicket of niggling words. Recently, I searched through an 85,000-word manuscript for common words I suspected I’d overused in the course of writing: words like “just,” “even,” “ever,” “about,” “around,” “still,” “yet,” and so on. (I also overused “huge” for some reason. Don’t ask why.) It took me two days to run all those searches, and it resulted in the elimination of roughly 200 words. That might not seem significant. But it did spare me from sentences like: “I still wondered if I’d ever find just what I was looking for.” Much better to write: “I wondered if I’d find what I was looking for.” Cleaner, faster moving, less cluttered.

I wish there were a magic formula for reducing clutter, but of course there isn’t. Trimming individual words in the manner I’ve described above is obviously easier than, say, cutting out an entire character who’s doing nothing to advance the story. For mega-clutter like that, I’m grateful to the many readers and editors who’ve been happy to point out elements my manuscripts don’t need. But whether we’re talking about macro clutter or micro clutter, it’s important for the writer to possess three qualities:

• The capacity to recognize that most manuscripts (unless they happen to be written by Hemingway) will possess clutter;

• The willingness to admit that your own manuscript does possess clutter; and

• The courage to get rid of the clutter in your own manuscript, even if that means getting rid of stuff you really like.

Experience has helped me cultivate the above qualities: for every character or scene or word I’ve agonized over cutting before the fact, not a single one has seemed like a yawning absence after the fact. Quite the contrary, I’ve invariably found that the things I thought my manuscripts couldn’t live without feel completely unnecessary after I’ve disposed of them. If I’m right that most manuscripts start out cluttered, it would follow that most manuscripts improve markedly once the clutter’s gone.

Speaking of which, I’m sure there’s something I don’t need in this blog post, but I’m starting to get tired. Or, wait, I mean I’m getting tired. Or, no—I’m tired.

Much better.


Querry Genn must face the truth about the past and fight to save humanity and the future in this stunning sequel to Survival Colony 9, which New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry called “a terrific novel.”

Querry and the members of Survival Colony 9 have defeated a whole nest of the creatures called Skaldi, who can impersonate humans even as they destroy them. But now the colony is dangerously low in numbers and supplies. Querry’s mother is in command, and is definitely taking them somewhere—but where? Some secret from her past seems to be driving her relentlessly forward.

When they do finally reach their destination, Querry is amazed to discover a whole compound of humans—organized, with plenty of food and equipment. But the colonists are not welcomed. Everything about them is questioned, especially by Mercy, the granddaughter of the compound’s leader. Mercy is as tough a fighter as Querry has ever seen—and a girl as impetuous as Querry is careful. But the more Querry learns about Mercy and the others, the more he realizes that nothing around him is as it seems. There are gruesome secrets haunting this place and its people. And it’s up to Querry to unearth the past and try to save the future in this gripping conclusion to the Survival Colony novels.

Purchase Scavenger of Souls at Amazon
Purchase Scavenger of Souls at IndieBound
View Scavenger of Souls on Goodreads


Launch party portraitI've been writing novels since I was eight years old (though admittedly, the first few were very, very short). I taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to writing fiction. SURVIVAL COLONY 9 is my first novel, and the sequel, SCAVENGER OF SOULS, is due out in August 2016!

I love to read (mostly YA fantasy and science fiction), watch movies (again, mostly fantasy and sci-fi), and spend time in Nature (mostly catching frogs and toads). I'm the world's worst singer, but I play a pretty mean air guitar.

Oh, yeah, and I like monsters. Really scary monsters.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

-- posted by S.P. Sipal, @HP4Writers

Thursday, August 25, 2016

2 Post-Pitch Wars Critique Partner Match Up

Well, last night was the big Pitch Wars reveal! Whether you made it into the contest or not, you've got work ahead of you to get your novel ready for querying. A great critique partner will be an invaluable resource and here at Adventures in YA Publishing, we've got you covered!

Over the last week we've taken in entries from eager writers of Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult Fiction looking for CPs to swap pages with. A sample of their work is available here. If you see something you like and want to exchange sample chapters, just leave the author a comment on their contest entry page with a way to contact you.

Authors, please check your pages regularly! You never know when CP love may strike!

Once again, the master list of CP Match Up entries is available HERE.

Happy critiquing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

1 Eight Steps to Writing a Coherent Novel

We're continuing our Writers on Writing Wednesdays with another new writer! Please welcome Monica Hoffman, represented by Laurie McLean and Tricia Skinner of Fuse Literary, today as she shares eight steps to writing a novel.

First time placing a string of words on the page in your very first attempt at writing a book? It's scary, yes? You're thinking, "Where do I start? Do I really have what it takes to write a coherent novel?" 

The answer is YES! You do have what it takes...

...but there are many steps you must take so one day you will see your name on your own book, nestled between works of art you love and admire! So…

Step one: 

Write the book you were meant to write. What does this mean exactly? Write the book you would want to read. It doesn't matter how crazy or wacky. If you are passionate about werewolves and clowns, go for it. Writing to a trend is never a good idea. Back when vampires were hot, I know many thought they would write the next Twilight series. By the time you write your own vampire book, revise it, and possibly snag an agent, the trend is long gone. Trends pop up out of nowhere and disappear almost as fast. Write a book that inspires you!

Step two: 

Read. I know you're thinking, why do I have to read when I want to write? In many ways, this should be the number one thing you should do. Read in the genre you want to write in, be it young adult science fiction or even middle grade fantasy. Whatever it is, read and read A LOT! By getting the sense of what's out on the market, what's popular, you're able to apply the common tropes within your genre and give it a major twist. And many would say, read outside of your genre too. If you write young adult, read some adult books. Explore and expose your mind to as many books as you can. You won't believe the ideas you can gain by doing so!

Step three: 

Make mistakes. Pretty simple, huh? Back when I was a baby writer and sat down to write my first novel about superheroes (yes, you heard it correctly…superheroes), I thought at the time I had learned enough to construct a proper sentence, I knew a story had to have a climax and a satisfying ending. That was about it. I wrote and wrote to my heart's content, not thinking about the rules, what a trope really was and how to make it unique. I did everything wrong. Let's just say after sending out a dozen query letters for a book that was far from ready, I quickly got my wake up call. This leads me to…

Step four: 

Read everything you can about the craft of writing! When I say everything, I mean everything. Read about how to structure a novel using a beat sheet, how to write compelling dialogue, what dialogue tags are and how to make them pop. Read about the art of revision and find the best system for you! Figure out what a query letter should have and a synopsis. Ask questions. If you don't understand something, find someone who does. There is no stupid question because if you ask it, you are one step closer to refining your craft and that's great!

Step five: 

Explore. I'm not talking about exploring the world, though that would be pretty awesome. I'm talking about exploring your writing voice. I know you hear this a lot, agents are looking for voice within a book that makes them beg for more. Believe it or not, when you go into a bookstore, you're looking for that as well even if you aren't aware of it. If you have an irresistible premise, but your voice is lacking, it doesn't matter how awesome your story is. So with that said, experiment and explore with your style of writing. In many ways, this cannot be taught. This is why reading is so important. Study how other writers construct their prose. Learn from seasoned authors.

Step six: 

So you have written a book. Give yourself a pat on the back. It’s an accomplishment that you should be proud of because so many people say they should write a book but never do! What do you do next? Truth, put it away for at least 3 to 4 weeks. What?! Yes, no joke. If you jump into your freshly baked manuscript with the intent of revising, trust me, nothing will happen. You will reread your masterpiece and think everything should stay and nothing needs to change. WRONG! You need to walk away from your baby. You both need space. Because when you come back to it, you'll see it in a new perspective, and killing your darlings (words) will make more sense. And ultimately, your story will thank you.

Step seven: 

You have done a few rounds of revisions and with each draft, you start to see your story evolve into something you never thought possible. FANTASTIC! Are you ready to start querying? NO! When you think you are ready to start querying, you aren't. What will make you ready? You can start by getting a handful of beta readers or a few CPs (critique partners) to give you constructive feedback. You need someone other than you to read your manuscript and look at it with objective eyes. Where can you find beta readers and CPs? If you are on the social network, try Twitter or even Facebook. Goodreads has a forum where you can find beta readers. I wouldn't pay for this service, however. You can find them at writing conferences and the SCBWI website. Usually where writers congregate, someone is also looking for a CP or a beta reader. Don't be afraid to reach out!

Step eight: 

Once you have received and incorporated feedback from your CPs/beta readers, you may be ready to query. But before you do, I'm serious about this, get feedback on your query letter. And find people who know nothing about your book. A little tip, the best time to write a rough draft of a query is BEFORE you sit down to write your book. Having a solid reference with the core plot of your story will keep you true to what your story is about, especially if you're a panster and you don't follow an outline. Send out your query letter to a handful of writers and polish it until it shines. 

Nothing in publishing is fast. Patience is a virtue that you will gain whether you like it or not. Stay positive and write. Write as much as you can. Because nothing distracts you more than a new story! Good luck!


Monica M. Hoffman is a Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy author represented by Laurie McLean and Tricia Skinner of Fuse Literary. She is an active member of SCBWI and the writing community. 

She dislikes getting up early, but a good cup of coffee can usually motivate her. She enjoys any movie/book (particularly fantasy and Sci-fi) that can make her cry, laugh, or gets her blood pumping from an adrenaline rush. 

She’s a Trekkie, Dr. Who, and Star Wars fanatic, and a PC gamer when she’s not writing or reading. You can find her tweets about all things YA lit & entertaining GIFs on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

4 Paperbacks, Progress, and Gratitude

I was chatting with readers at the recent book festival I attended about the frustration of mxing paperbacks and hardcovers. I'm strictly a matchy-matchy girl when it comes to books. If I buy hardcovers of a series, I want all hardcovers. If I buy paperbacks, I want all paperbacks. And it seems I'm not alone. We readers are a picky bunch. We love the vanilla and paper scent of books, the way they look on the shelf, the feel of the paper between our fingers.

Today marks the official release of the PERSUASION paperback, which seems terribly strange to me somehow. Paperbacks are odd ducks. It may technically be the same old book, but this whole process of being published still feels so miraculous to me that I can't help celebrating every milestone. Honestly, when I got news that I had a three-book deal, I never thought of it in terms of books on the shelf, but it's a shelf all on its own with all the different versions. And each one is a new reason to be grateful. Each one is a mark of progress, not only for the series, but also for my own growth as a writer. I feel like I learn a lot between every release.

Anyway, here's the paperback in all its glory:

And here's a glimpse of the ILLUSION teaser from inside:

Buy It Now:


And since I haven't done this in a while, I'm going to do a handful of giveaways with some of my favorite bloggers to celebrate. 


Because the series is gothic and southern and magical, anyone who loves it is likely to enjoy BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, HOURGLASS, and BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA. And I'm throwing in SIX OF CROWS, because like the characters on Watson Island, Leigh Bardugo's characters all share a certain brokenness, but in finding each other they create a family.


Because COMPULSION and the other books in my series have been called BEAUTIFUL CREATURES meets THE RAVEN BOYS, and because I love the series so much, I'm giving away a full set of Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle books. 

Go here to enter (Opens at 10 am CST 8/23/16)


Because there are trapped souls and beautiful people, I'll be giving away THE JEWEL and its sequel, THE WHITE ROSE, together with REBEL BELLE which shares a love of killer heels with COMPULSION. And BLOOD MAGIC features heavily all all three books of the Heirs of Watson Island series.


Because the HEIRS of Watson Island are ONE to a family, and the families are ELITE, and because ILLUSION is all about THE SELECTION, I'll be giving away signed copies of Kiera Cass' series over at YA Books Central. Check back soon for more details!