Saturday, January 30, 2016

1 Melissa Gorzelanczyk, author of ARROWS, on focusing on writing a new book

We're pleased to have Melissa Gorzelanczyk swing by to tell us more about her debut novel ARROWS.

Melissa, how long did you work on ARROWS?

I started the first draft of ARROWS in October 2012. I finished in January and started the revision process—a few passes on my own, then sending it to beta readers for critique. By September 2013, I had started to query agents. I found mine, Carrie Howland of Donadio & Olson, via the #PitMad pitch contest at the end of September 2013, and in January 2014, she sold my book to Delacorte Press.

0 Rebecca Podos, author of THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES, on the million ways to doubt yourself

We're honored to have Rebecca Podos join us to talk about her debut novel THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES.

Rebecca, what was your inspiration for writing THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES?

My inspiration for HOLLOW PLACES actually began with my day job as a YA and MG literary agent, where I was on the hunt for a mystery. I’ve always adored the genre, in part because, as Imogene says in the book, you know that whatever burning questions you have, they’ll be answered if you just hang in there till the last page. That’s such a satisfying narrative, when you think about it! So then, I was looking for something more specific in this book: a detective who truly believes in that comforting narrative structure, to the point where she uses it as a guide to navigate her own story. But as she goes along, real life intrudes, challenging what she thinks she knows about mysteries and about herself as well.

And because I’d fallen in love with this pretty particular idea, in the end, I thought I’d write the book myself. So that’s what I tried to do.

1 Kim Culbertson, author of THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW, on trying too hard to make a book “important”

THE POSSIBILITY OF NOW is the latest novel by Kim Culbertson, and we're delighted to have her stop by to chat about writing.

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

I’ve been a high school teacher for 18 years. When I started out to write this book, I knew I wanted to explore our current educational culture and the pressure I see on young people right now to be constantly busy and perfect and forward-thinking. However, my first draft fell flat. My editor, agent and I brainstormed and they both showed me that, honestly, I was trying too hard to make the book “important” or “serious” in that first draft. Because of this, I was missing my voice, my sense of humor and, in many ways, the hopefulness I had in my earlier novels. Once they encouraged me to go back and explore the same subject matter but also employ all of my strengths as a writer that were missing, I truly found the heart of the novel.

0 Kali Wallace, author of SHALLOW GRAVES, on poking at things with every writerly stick you have

We're excited to have Kali Wallace with us to share more about her debut novel SHALLOW GRAVES.

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

I don't want to spoil the specifics, but there is an extended sequence toward the end of the book that's the build-up to and final confrontation with the main monster at the center of the story. All along as I was writing, through many different versions and drafts, I always knew at the back of my mind that this sequence of scenes (it's a few chapters long in total) had to be really powerful. You can't spend an entire novel building up to a confrontation and have it fall flat.

But that's exactly what it did the first 3454354 times I tried to write it. It wasn't as scary as it needed to be. It felt too small, too fast. The build-up was great, because that kind of dread-inducing, tension-increasing build-up is 99% atmosphere, and atmosphere is one aspect of writing that comes easily to me. (The only aspect. Hey, we all get one freebie.) But the confrontation itself--it was awful. I rewrote it, and it was still awful. Rewrote it again. Still awful. I couldn't get the dialogue right. I couldn’t picture the physicality of the characters, how they were moving relative to each other in a very particular kind of space. I couldn't figure out which details were important.

But I kept trying. I kept rewriting it. When my editors came back on the first edit letter and said exactly what I was expecting--that scene needed to be better--I did it again. There was no trick. There was no moment of realization, no flash of inspiration. It was just a whole lot of brute force trial and error, but I think it worked in the end. I am damn proud of that scene now, and I am proud of myself for poking it with every writerly stick I had at my disposal until it came out as scary and unsettling and weird as I had always imagined it could be.

0 Jennifer A. Nielsen, author of RISE OF THE WOLF, on asking questions about details

RISE OF THE WOLF is the second book in the Mark of the Thief series, and we're thrilled to have Jennifer A. Nielsen here to tell us more about it.

Jennifer, what was your inspiration for writing RISE OF THE WOLF?

RISE OF THE WOLF was the natural extension of the story of Mark of the Thief, the first book of the series. However, since Nic experienced the amphitheater (Colosseum), I really wanted to take readers to a different part of Rome, and the chariot races seemed like the best possibility. In Rome, the chariot races were on the scale of the Superbowl. Nearly 1 in 4 Romans in the city attended, and most had a favorite faction (charioteers raced as one of four team colors). The fandom was so intense that sometimes Romans would hammer curses into lead tablets and then bury them beneath the chariot track, hoping that if for some reason their God didn’t grant the curse, at least the tablet might trip another rider’s horses. With so much excellent material, how could I not love writing this book?

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

Our February workshop will open for entries on Saturday, February 6 at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have author Brian Katcher and agent Christa Heschke!

February Guest Mentor – BRIAN KATCHER

Brian, a Stonewall Book Award-winning author, is the author of THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAKALMOST PERFECTEVERYONE DIES IN THE END, and PLAYING WITH MATCHES. Brian’s worked as a fry cook, a market researcher, a welding machine operator, a telemarketer (only lasted one day), and a furniture mover. He lived on an Israeli military base one summer, and once smuggled food into Cuba. When he’s not writing, he works as a school librarian. He lives in central Missouri with his wife and daughter.

THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…


Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online. And add it to your shelf on Goodreads!


February Guest Agent – CHRISTA HESCHKE

Christa started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s. For YA, she is especially interested in contemporary fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror. She is always on the lookout for a compelling voice combined with a strong, specific hook that will set a YA novel apart in its genre and the flooded market. She is open to all types of middle grade and especially enjoys adventure, mystery, and magical realism, whether in a voice that is more light and humorous or one with more of a timeless, literary feel. For both YA and MG, she is particularly interested in unique settings and cultural influences, interesting storytelling structure, complicated romances, diverse characters, sister or friendship-centric stories, and stories that feature artists of any kind.

Friday, January 29, 2016

2 Announcing New Who's Making Waves in Publishing Monthly Column


The team here at Adventures in YA Publishing is excited to announce a new monthly column! Starting next month, we'll be highlighting an author and publisher in our Who's Making Waves in Publishing highlight. But we'll do this in a personal and in-depth way by hosting an interview or dialogue between one of the publisher's authors and their editor.

The interview will focus both on the editing process and the publisher's vision for their books. Our aim is to give writers insight into what happens in publishing from the inside.

So be sure to check back at the end of every month to see what exciting new ventures are happening within publishing!



 -- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers

0 Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop Opens Saturday, February 6!

Our February workshop will open for entries on Saturday, February 6 at noon, EST. We'll take the first five Middle Grade, Young Adult, or New Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. Click here to get the rules. I will post when it opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have author Brian Katcher and agent Christa Heschke!

February Guest Mentor – BRIAN KATCHER

Brian, a Stonewall Book Award-winning author, is the author of THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAKALMOST PERFECTEVERYONE DIES IN THE END, and PLAYING WITH MATCHES. Brian’s worked as a fry cook, a market researcher, a welding machine operator, a telemarketer (only lasted one day), and a furniture mover. He lived on an Israeli military base one summer, and once smuggled food into Cuba. When he’s not writing, he works as a school librarian. He lives in central Missouri with his wife and daughter.

THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak is Stonewall Book Award-winning author Brian Katcher’s hilarious he said/she said romance about two teens recovering from heartbreak and discovering themselves on an out-of-this-world accidental first date.

It all begins when Ana Watson's little brother, Clayton, secretly ditches the quiz bowl semifinals to go to the Washingcon sci-fi convention on what should have been a normal, résumé-building school trip.If slacker Zak Duquette hadn't talked up the geek fan fest so much, maybe Clayton wouldn't have broken nearly every school rule or jeopardized Ana’s last shot at freedom from her uptight parents.

Now, teaming up with Duquette is the only way for Ana to chase down Clayton in the sea of orcs, zombies, bikini-clad princesses, Trekkies, and Smurfs. After all, one does not simply walk into Washingcon.

But in spite of Zak's devil-may-care attitude, he has his own reasons for being as lost as Ana-and Ana may have more in common with him than she thinks. Ana and Zak certainly don’t expect the long crazy night, which begins as a nerdfighter manhunt, to transform into so much more…


Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online. And add it to your shelf on Goodreads!


February Guest Agent – CHRISTA HESCHKE

Christa started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively acquiring for all age groups in children’s. For YA, she is especially interested in contemporary fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror. She is always on the lookout for a compelling voice combined with a strong, specific hook that will set a YA novel apart in its genre and the flooded market. She is open to all types of middle grade and especially enjoys adventure, mystery, and magical realism, whether in a voice that is more light and humorous or one with more of a timeless, literary feel. For both YA and MG, she is particularly interested in unique settings and cultural influences, interesting storytelling structure, complicated romances, diverse characters, sister or friendship-centric stories, and stories that feature artists of any kind.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

2 Red Light/Green Light Contest Schedule, and Announcing Our Agent Judge!

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Here are the details for our upcoming contest, which we announced last week!


First, the SCHEDULE:

On February 4: We will open for submissions! There will be one submission window at Noon Eastern (9:00 am Pacific), which will close once we have the first 30 entries--25 entrants and 5 alternates--so be ready if you want a spot! Another submission window will open at 3:00 pm Eastern (Noon Pacific), and will accept the first 30 entries--again, 25 entrants and 5 alternates--at that time before closing. Please be sure to follow the rules and use the entry form correctly to ensure your spot in the contest.

Here's the link to the submission form:

http://martinaboone.com/contests/index.asp

On February 11: We will post 50 first sentences on the website, so everyone can see who made it! While our agent judge is reading and making his or her selection of the top 25, YOU can give your opinions on the best first sentences in the comments section!

On February 18: The top 25 will be announced! These 25 entries will be posted on the website with their first and second sentences.

On February 25: The top 10 will be announced! You'll see the first pages of each of the top 10 entries, shared on the blog.

On March 3: The top 5 will be announced! You'll see the pitches of the top 5 entrants (the agent will see these too, along with their first chapters to determine the winner).

On March 10: The winner will be announced!

Next, here are the RULES:

1. We will take the first 50 entries submitted via the form we'll be posting on February 4th, as described in the schedule above. 25 will be from the first entry window, and 25 from the second entry window.

2. Any currently unagented person may enter this contest with an unpublished YA or MG manuscript! The manuscript does not have to be complete, but again, it does have to be unpublished.

3. For the purpose of this contest, here's how we'll define a sentence in your manuscript: when a period, exclamation point, or question mark appears, that signifies the end of a sentence. Period. (See what we did there?)

And here's a reminder of the PRIZE:

The winner of this contest will have their choice of a 30-minute phone call with one of the following authors: Martina Boone, author of the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy; Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the forthcoming Fear the Drowning Deep; or, a 15-minute phone call with our agent judge! During this call, you can discuss your work or book ideas, any questions you have about querying and submission, or anything about writing in general--it's up to you!

Now that all those fun things are out of the way...we're thrilled to introduce you to our agent judge for this contest:

PATRICIA NELSON OF MARSAL LYON LITERARY!

 
Patricia Nelson joined Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in 2014. She represents adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction, and is actively building her list.

In general, Patricia looks for stories that hook her with a unique plot, fantastic writing and complex characters that jump off the page. On the adult side, she is seeking women’s fiction both upmarket and commercial, historical fiction set in the 20th century, and compelling plot-driven literary fiction. She’s also looking for sexy, smart adult contemporary and historical single title romance. For YA and MG, Patricia is open to a wide range of genres, with particular interest in contemporary/realistic, magical realism, mystery, horror, and fantasy. She is interested in seeing diverse stories and
characters, including LGBTQ, in all genres that she represents.

Patricia received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in 2008, and also holds a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Before joining the world of publishing, she spent four years as a university-level instructor of literature and writing.

Good luck to all who choose to enter the contest next Thursday, February 4th!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

0 The Magic of Setting Intentions by Chandler Baker

Today, we're welcoming Chandler Baker to the blog. Chandler is the author of ALIVE, and TEEN FRANKENSTEIN, which came out last week. She's writing today about an amazing technique she uses to ensure she keeps her writing goals. 

The Magic of Setting Intentions by Chandler Baker

At the start of 2012, I’d been writing—or at least trying to write and by that I mean interneting—seriously for 5 years. I’d been agented for 4 of those. But I hadn’t yet sold a book. In fact, I’d only managed to write 1 manuscript of my own plus a number of half-baked short stories that I found little joy in other than the fact that they were short and therefore done.

By the end of 2012 I had 4 books under contract—a YA novel with Disney-Hyperion and a YA series with Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan (the first in that series, Teen Frankenstein, comes out this week!) So what happened to cause such a dramatic change in such a short amount of time?

The simplest answer is: I wrote more. A lot more.

But there was also some magic involved. I met a fellow writer, Charlotte Huang (author of For the Record) online. We started a plan to write an email every weekday morning in which we’d set out what we hoped to get done for the day and another one at night relaying what we’d actually accomplished. That was it. Sometimes we wrote what we said we would and sometimes we fell short. It didn’t really matter. The point was in the saying of the thing. To each other. Out loud.

Within months we’d finished whole books. We each got a book deal. We each debuted in 2015. We each have second books coming out in 2016. Is this coincidence? I really don’t think so.

In 2012, remember, I’d written 1 book of my own. I’ve written and revised 4 since beginning our daily emails.

Because these emails are a wish and a prayer that we answer ourselves every day. And they just plain work.

ABOUT THE BOOK



High school meets classic horror in this groundbreaking new series.

It was a dark and stormy night when Tor Frankenstein accidentally hit someone with her car. And killed him. But all is not lost--Tor, being the scientific genius she is, brings him back to life...

Thus begins a twisty, turn-y take on a familiar tale, set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

About the Author

Chandler Baker got her start ghostwriting novels for teens and tweens, including installments in a book series that has sold more than 1 million copies. She grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband. Although she loves spinning tales with a touch of horror, she is a much bigger scaredy-cat than her stories would lead you to believe.

You can find Chandler as the books contributor on the YouTube channel Weird Girls.




Tuesday, January 26, 2016

0 Four Keys that Unlock Your Fictional World and Make Your Story Bigger

One of the books I’m working on now is a full on fantasy. Beyond the first, wild sweet rush of the initial chapters where I didn’t know anything but the broadest strokes of where the heck I was going, I had to figure out the inner workings and clock pieces of the world. Honestly, that’s true of anything you write. 

It may not seem like it, but whether the worlds are contemporary and non-magical or something entirely fantastic and unfamiliar, the process of creating where your characters live and how they became who they are is essentially the same.

It can be daunting to think of everything at once, and if you're like me, doing the step-by-step can feel like it's going to hold up the creative process. When it comes down to it, there are four groupings of information that can act like keys to open up your story.

The Differences in Time, Place, Weather, and Atmosphere: Of course you want to know the basics, but instead of asking yourself an endless list of questions about how your every aspect of your world looks, smells, sounds, and feels in real life, you want to know how the people who live there make it different and made it their own. Know the big picture things, sure, but then then focus on the details that make it personal and make it unique, as well as on the way in which the characters see these details. Think about how the details change during the seasons and how that impacts them the rest of the year. Consider the small questions you wouldn't normally think of, and that will help the big things snap in place.

The Discriminators in Economy, Technology, Religion, and Social Structure: The place in which the characters move involves how they are positioned in society and everything that entails. But it’s not just a matter of thinking how and where they get their food, shelter, and clothing, or even what they believe, but also how they pay for it. What are the jobs and hobbies or extra activities that take away or add resources? It’s important not only to think about what is available to purchase or barter, but what isn’t. What can’t your characters afford or have? Why and how do they make do? What would happen if something changed? How do those who have feel about those who don’t have, and vice versa? How do different characters or factions within society believe in different things and how does this make them feel about each other? What are the biggest discriminators in your story? What creates allies and enemies?

The Recent or Upcoming Change: Obviously something has changed, or you have no story. Something is brewing. But why? What caused the situation? What could have avoided it? What would or will make it worse? And how would solving it make something else go so awry that it would be a nearly impossible decision between the two?

The Past Change and Differentiation: In fiction as it life, there is planning, but there is also luck—both good and bad. Nothing is wholly uniform and nothing goes entirely according to plan. For each of your society as well as your characters, things have gone awry or unexpectedly at some point in the past. Something that set them on some path that wasn’t the one they would have logically chosen. What was it? For what reason? By whose design? How do they feel about it? What does it change for the future and how do different factions from within the story benefit or lose from this?

There are no hard and fast rules, no insert tab A into slot B instructions, for how to create a world, contemporary or otherwise. But a fantasy world must be as complete as the real world in which we live, and the contemporary world of your characters must reflect all the aspects of the world that they’d encounter.

What Do You Think


For me, the best way into a world is through the characters. Once I know what’s important to them and how they live their lives, I can begin to push the boundaries of their immediate world out, and then start to squeeze them walls of the world back in around them.

The push and pull, the squeezing of worlds and characters, that’s what shapes them both. The harder we squeeze, the more we temper them and develop something truly unique and strong.

Building a fantasy world? Here are some resources you might find useful.

https://onestopforwriters.com First and foremost, for all things setting and character, not to mention a lot of other things, try the collaboration between the authors of the Emotion Thesaurus and the Character Thesaurus and the creator of Scrivener for Windows. It’s fully searchable by keyword and concept and gives you an enormous wealth of tools and libraries.

http://donjon.bin.sh/fantasy/world/ Want a map generator, fantasy name generator, or medieval demographics generator—or a few other things? Here you go.

http://www.sfwa.org/2009/08/fantasy-worldbuilding-questions/ Need a huge tool to help you think of every question before you begin to write? Patricia C, Wrede has this phenomenal resource at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America site.

http://kittyspace.org/leviathan0.html The World Building Leviathan by Kitty Chandler is a huge 52 step process for building your world alongside your story.

http://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com Need a place to ask questions as you build your world? Try here.

About the Author


Martina Boone is the author of Compulsion and Persuasion, out now in the romantic Southern Gothic Heirs of Watson Island trilogy from Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse. Illusion, the final book, will be out in October of 2016. Martina is also the founder of 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.

Monday, January 25, 2016

17 THREE Giveaways; Author Interviews; and New Releases for this week of 1/25

It's another great week for YA new releases! We have giveaways of two new releases, and a swag giveaway for a third. PLUS there are interviews from five authors below, to help you get even more excited by the books coming your way this week.

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

Saturday, January 23, 2016

1 Jennifer Longo, author of UP TO THIS POINTE, on writing the best version of your book

We're thrilled to have Jennifer Longo with us to chat about her latest novel UP TO THIS POINTE.

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

There is a scene where Harper admits to another person the most severe, kind of violent thing she has done to her body in her life-long attempt to secure her dream. And in this moment she understands it made no difference, that is was for nothing. Then the person she’s giving this information to responds, essentially, “Okay. Well, so what now?” It’s confusing and heartbreaking for Harper, both the admission and the reaction, and she can’t pretend anymore. It was so hard to write – I love that moment.

What do you hope readers will take away from UP TO THIS POINTE?

The Shackleton family motto: Fortitudine vincimus: By Endurance we conquer.

0 Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, authors of SANCTUARY BAY, on how they write together

We're delighted to have Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz join us to share more about their latest novel SANCTUARY BAY.

Laura and Melinda, what was your inspiration for writing SANCTUARY BAY?

Too many to name! Shutter Island, The Secret History, every boarding school book we ever read as teenagers…

What do you hope readers will take away from SANCTUARY BAY?

We just hope readers will think this is a fun, surprising book. It plays with several different genres, and we want to keep people guessing about what exactly is going on. We talk about Sanctuary Bay being like an onion—every time you peel back one layer, you find another one beneath it.

0 Jordana Frankel, author of THE ISLE, on trusting yourself as a writer

THE ISLE is a sequel to THE WARD, and we're excited to have Jordana Frankel here to share more about it.


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


I think the hardest scene also happened to be the easiest one, once I jumped "the hurdle." (The hurdle being letting go of what I thought *would* happen, so I could write what needed to happen.) I'm talking about one of the final chapters, where Ren dies. I realized after sitting with that scene for a good long while that what I wanted and what the story wanted were not the same thing. And so I had to adjust. Once I did that the words flowed and I wrote both those two chapters in a few hours. And I am quite proud of those pages!


0 Shaun David Hutchinson, author of WE ARE THE ANTS, on inspiration coming from different places

We're honored Shaun David Hutchinson stopped by to tell us more about his latest novel WE ARE THE ANTS.


Shaun, what was your inspiration for writing WE ARE THE ANTS?

There wasn’t any single inspiration for WE ARE THE ANTS. Like with most books, different parts came from different places. I was definitely inspired by Kurt Vonnegut and by Andrew Smith’s GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, but I wear my inspirations on my sleeve, so those are pretty obvious in the book. I even gave a shout out to Andrew’s book in one of the end-of-the-world scenarios in WE ARE THE ANTS. The less obvious inspirations came from my partner forcing me to watch Big Brother, stories my mom told me about her own mother, some of my own experiences in high school. But I think the biggest inspiration that isn’t readily apparent was my own attempted suicide. For the longest time, I only really considered how my suicide attempt had affected me personally. But I eventually began to think about how it had affected my loved ones. My parents, my best friend. That’s how Jesse’s story was born. I wanted to explore the ripples his suicide caused in Henry’s life and in Audrey’s life. How those ripples could become tidal waves that threatened to drown the people in their path, and how they learned to swim.

Friday, January 22, 2016

3 Alexander Gordon Smith on Chucking Your Routine & Awakening Your Creativity

We wish to give an especially warm welcome today to our guest blogger, Alexander Gordon Smith. Not only did he bring some great writing advice to share, but HE ALSO BROUGHT HIS BABY! I know you'll join with me in congratulating Gordon on his beautiful new arrival not only because she's just so adorable (check out pic below), but because she also inspired this wonderful post you're about to read. If you've had kids....or any other schedule altering lifestyle change...then you'll greatly identify with what Gordon's about to share.

And, Gordon, we're so glad you brought Elspeth along...and that she didn't get punted!

Don't Punt the Baby: A Craft of Writing Post by Alexander Gordon Smith


Hi everyone! It's an absolute pleasure to be back here on Adventures in YA Publishing! I have been looking forward to writing a Craft Friday post for a while now, and I had planned exactly what I wanted to say. Then life flung a spanner in the works. Well, not so much a spanner as a 9lb 8oz baby with the sleeping patterns of a walrus (Google it!) and the lungs of a soprano. It's pretty awesome, but it means I'm sitting here with said baby splatted across my chest a day after the deadline for my post trying to plumb the depths of my sleep deprived (depraved?!) mind for whatever it is I'd wanted to talk to you about.

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

Our 1st 5 Pages January Workshop has come to an end. We had such a great group of talented and supportive writers. And we were all so impressed with their revisions! A huge thanks to our fabulous guest mentors, author Sharon Cameron and agent Laura Crockett! And as always, a big thanks to our wonderful permanent mentors, who volunteer their time each month!

If you were one of the many who did not get into the January workshop, remember the February workshop opens on Saturday, February 6! So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!


January Guest Mentor –  SHARON CAMERON

SHARON CAMERON is the author of The Dark UnwindingA Spark Unseen and Rook. She was awarded the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Sue Alexander Award for Most Promising New Work for The Dark Unwinding, which was her debut novel. Sharon lives with her family in Nashville, Tennessee, and you can visit her online at www.sharoncameronbooks.com.


ROOK

History has a way of repeating itself. In the Sunken City that was once Paris, all who oppose the new revolution are being put to the blade. Except for those who disappear from their prison cells, a single, red-tipped rook feather left in their place. The mysterious Red Rook is the savior of the innocent, and a criminal in the eyes of the government.

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

Who needs a wedding ring when you can pick up a sword?


Purchase it at your local bookstore, or online at:

Rook by Sharon Cameron at AmazonRook at Barnes & NobleRook at Powell's BooksRook by Sharon Cameron at Indiebound

January Guest Agent – LAURA CROCKETT

Laura Crockett, an agent at Triada US, is interested in a variety of YA and adult fiction. In YA, she is interested in contemporary realistic fiction (such as study abroad experiences, strong female friendships, falling in love, anxiety and abuse), high and low fantasy, and gothic horror. In adult fiction, she is interested in WWI and WWII historical fiction, gothic horror, neo-Victorian mystery, contemporary women's fiction, and fantasy.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

1 Announcing a New Red Light/Green Light Contest!

With a new year under way, many people are focused on achieving goals and starting the year off strong, and that's exactly what our next writing contest is all about: starting strong with your next book! This contest will focus on developing the strongest possible idea or manuscript--whether it’s at the beginning of the writing process, or the final polish before submission. That's right: while writers who are currently trying to snag an agent are welcome, your manuscript doesn't have to be query-ready to enter this contest!

How the Contest Works: On entry day, contestants will submit the first sentence of their manuscript via the entry form we'll post, and the first 50 entries will be given a spot in the contest--25 from our Eastern Standard Time window, and 25 from our Pacific Time window! Then, an agent judge will choose the top 25 entries from the contestants' first sentences. The top 25 will be narrowed down to 10 based on the first two sentences of their manuscript. Next, the agent will read the top 10 contestants' first pages to narrow the contestants down to 5. Lastly, in the final round, the agent will read a pitch + first chapter from the top 5 contestants to determine the winner. Contestants and observers alike will be able to see which manuscripts start with a great first sentence and continue to build a strong foundation all the way through their first five pages, and will hopefully be able to learn something new about what makes a strong start to a manuscript!

Prize: The winner of this contest will have their choice of a 30-minute phone call with one of the following: Martina Boone, author of the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy; Sarah Glenn Marsh, author of the forthcoming Fear the Drowning Deep; our agent judge (TBD!). During this call, you can discuss your work or book ideas, any questions you have about querying and submission, or anything about writing in general--it's up to you!

Remember to check back next Thursday, when we'll announce the contest schedule, rules, and the name of the agent judge!

And remember also: First 5 Pages Workshops open the 1st Saturday each month, and the participants get feedback on those vital opening pages of their manuscript from 3 authors and a literary agent. This is a great opportunity to further polish the beginning of your story to make sure you're starting strong. You can check out the workshops here!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

1 Fail Big by Shaun David Hutchinson

Today we're welcoming Shaun David Hutchinson, author of the newly released WE ARE THE ANTS, to talk about ideas of failure, success, and what it all really means. 

Fail Big by Shaun David Hutchinson

I'm probably not qualified to give you advice. My first book, The Deathday Letter, was, by pretty much every account, a failure. My second book, fml, though it sold better, took three years to make it to shelves, and there's still a lot about it I wish I could change. My third, The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley, almost ended up in a trunk. I can't take credit for my fourth book, the anthology Violent Ends, because everything that's great about it is due to the amazing work of the authors who agreed to write stories for me. And my fifth book, We Are the Ants, isn't out yet, and though it's getting some of buzz, I worry it's a fluke.

I'm probably not qualified to give you advice. I'm just making it up as I go along. Hell, I'm not even making it up as I go, I'm just going and making it up after the fact so that hopefully no one realizes I have no freaking clue what I'm doing.

It's true. I don't know what I'm doing. Every time I sit down in front of my computer to start a new book, I feel like my fingers are made of sausages and that every word I write is scraped from the underside of a sewer grate. I don't have a plan, I don't have a clue. I can't even buy a vowel. For me, writing each book is like paddling against the current in a leaky canoe on the edge of Niagara Falls. Paddle, paddle, paddle. Bail some water. Paddle some more. Pray I finish the draft before my canoe sinks or I go tumbling over the edge of the waterfall.

I'm definitely not qualified to give you advice. No one should listen to anything I have to say about writing. Because I'm making it all up.

I spend countless hours between the time I sign a book contract and the time it finally hits shelves wondering when my publisher is going to phone me and tell me they've made a horrible mistake and they hadn't actually intended to publish my book. Each book release for me is filled with relief. Whew! I've snuck another one past my publisher. But I figure they'll probably realize their error with the next one, and the countdown of terror begins anew.

But being a hack, being a fraud...it's kind of freeing. Sounds counterintuitive, but it's true. For me, anyway. See, the thing about making it all up and about being a fraud is that I assume every book I write is going to be my last. When I start a new manuscript, I say to myself, Okay, kid...(and, yes, I still oddly see myself as a kid...like I never grew up but only got strangely older and rounder and achier)...this is probably going to be the last book you write before they figure out you have no idea what you're doing. Fail big.

Fail big.

If my publishers and readers are going to figure out I'm a fraud and if I'm never going to sell another book, then there's no point holding back. There's no point trying to write what I think people want to read. There's no point trying to gauge the market or chase the trends or even to try to please the people—and by "people," I mean my mom—who've read my previous books. If this book is going to be my last, then I'm going to write the weirdest, most honest book I can write. I'm going to fail big.

When people read the last thing I write, I don't want them to say "Not bad" or "Meh" or "I've read worse." I want them to shake their heads and say, "What in the name of all that is holy was he thinking?" I want people to hold rallies in town squares and build bonfires from the unsold copies of my books. I want to fail so hard puppies cry.

I don't want to go out with a whimper. I want to go out with a bang that kickstarts a universe.

I'm not sure there's a point to writing otherwise.

I don't really like reality television, but I do watch Top Chef and Project Runway. I can't cook or sew, and watching the contestants do things in an hour that I couldn't do in a lifetime seems like magic to me. But the one thing that bothers me about both of those shows is that often when a contestant is eliminated they'll say something in their exit interview along the lines of, "I'm just sad I never got to show the judges who I really am as a designer (or chef)." No. "Bother" isn't the right word. It doesn't bother me; it pisses me off. I inevitably yell at the television (because, yes, I frequently yell at my TV), "Then what the heck have you been doing for the last six weeks? Why have you wasted my time and yours?"

Don't settle for the middle of the pack. Don't try for "good enough." Show people who you really are. Write every book like you could be eliminated. That way, if it does turn out to be your last, during your exit interview you can say, "Well, at least I went out on a book I believe in."

Fail big. Write like it's the last book you'll ever write. When you sit down in front of your computer or notepad, don't write the story that makes you think, "This is nice. I bet my grandma would like it." Write the story that you know will make your tenth-grade English teacher weep into his bourbon-laced coffee. Write the story that will make the Pope excommunicate you and book reviewers everywhere throw up their hands and say, "I could've been eating waffles instead of reading whatever mind-boggling mess this is." Write the story that makes you want to throw up from fear to tell. Crack open your chest, scrape out your insides, and smear them on the pages.

Fail big. Fail huge. Because, you never know...you might just actually succeed. And if you don't, at least you won't go out on a book reviewers might call, "tenaciously mediocre."

But you probably shouldn't listen to me. I'm a failure, a fraud. I have no idea what I'm doing. My next book is probably going to be my last before my publisher realizes they've made a horrible mistake. And I'm absolutely, positively not qualified to give you advice.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Shaun is a major geek and all about nerdy shenanigans. He is the author of The Deathday Letter, fml, and the forthcoming The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. He can be reached at shaun@shaundavidhutchinson.com. He currently lives in South Florida with his partner and dog and watches way too much Doctor Who.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

8 The Search for the Unexpected -- The Key to Voice and Plot in Fiction

I remember a few years ago, the quest for voice was like the search for the Holy Grail. You'd think that would get easier after you'd sold and written a trilogy, wouldn't you? 

Nope.

Spending a lot of time in one character's head makes it just as hard to switch up as it does to start from scratch as a beginning writer. Possibly it's even harder because you've got the weight of expectation, the gremlin sitting on your shoulder looking at the screen and shaking his furry head derisively at every awkward sentence. After you've sold a book, you should know how to do it, right? It should be easy. Right? RIGHT?

Nope.

So I've been thinking about voice and its relationship to story. And honestly, I think that often, voice is the story. But not the bald, bare bones story that anyone can give you.

Voice is the secret side of the story, the insight. The narrator who invites you in and cuts himself open to lay bare the things we really want to know.

Voice can lift a small or mediocre tale into something that has you wanting to prop your eyes open with toothpicks so you can finish the last few chapters, or it can make a brilliant story blah. And I'm not talking about the writing. 

Repeat after me. Writing and voice and story are different.

Here's why.


Monday, January 18, 2016

15 THREE New Release Giveaways PLUS Author Interviews for this week of 18th January

We have three amazing new releases to give away this week, including Jennifer Longo's UP TO THIS POINTE, Shaun David Hutchinson's WE ARE THE ANTS, and Laura J Burns and Melinda Metz's SANCTUARY BAY. Check out the other new releases below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


Up to This Pointe
by Jennifer Longo
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 1/19/2016

A refreshingly original contemporary YA, unlike anything readers have seen before. Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, John Corey Whaley, and Libba Bray.

She had a plan. It went south.

Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.

Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Up to This Pointe?

I love this question. Because while sometimes it’s hard to parse out one favorite aspect of a novel, UP TO THIS POINTE gives me a simple answer: I love that it is a story woven of three seemingly disparate things I love most in this world that, as the story unfolds, reveal themselves to be inextricably thematically bound: Ballet, the city of San Francisco, and the early exploration of Antarctica. To me, all three embody resilience and brutal beauty not to be conquered, but loved in perfect submission and acceptance. (Meaning take them or leave them, because they’re not changing for any human – it is the human who will change for loving that city, that art form, that continent.) By extension I can say also that my very favorite thing about this book is how fortunate I am have an agent and an editor who, when presented with the story, simply said “Ballet and Antarctica? Okay, show me how it works.” These are two women who are determined to make unique books, and I think their willingness to say 'yes' to a challenge instead of treading only in safe waters is a gift to their writers and, most importantly, to readers.

Purchase Up to This Pointe at Amazon
Purchase Up to This Pointe at IndieBound
View Up to This Pointe on Goodreads



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We Are the Ants
by Shaun David Hutchinson
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 1/19/2016

Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about We Are the Ants?

There are so many things I love about WE ARE THE ANTS. The relationship between Henry and his mom, the end of the world scenarios peppered throughout the book, Henry’s dark humor, the sluggers, Diego (who is probably my favorite love interest I’ve ever written), Diego’s art. But the thing I think I love most about WE ARE THE ANTS is the science. Henry is a scientist to his core, and he views everything in his life through that lens. I made a huge effort to portray the science in the book accurately (and any mistakes are definitely my own), though Henry does make some dubious leaps, like trying to figure out the gravitational force between two people making out, but science is in the DNA of this book. I loved contrasting the hard lines of science against the blurry, absurdist lines of Henry’s philosophical journey. Science is what keeps him grounded.

I went so overboard on the science with this book. Though I ended up cutting it, I even invented a base-12 counting system based on geometrical patterns used by the aliens in the book. The only remnant of that system is the number of days Henry has to press the button (144, which is the square of 12). But in the end, all that science is still my favorite because I think Henry might have crumbled without its solidity. As the hero of Andy Weir’s awesome book THE MARTIAN, Mark Watney, might have said: I scienced the shit out of this book.


Purchase We Are the Ants at Amazon
Purchase We Are the Ants at IndieBound
View We Are the Ants on Goodreads



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Sanctuary Bay
by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

St. Martin's Griffin
Released 1/19/2016

In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson's shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?

When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country--Sanctuary Bay Academy--it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn't sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate's dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay's glossy reputation.

In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah's new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this "school" is something much more sinister.

Purchase Sanctuary Bay at Amazon
Purchase Sanctuary Bay at IndieBound
View Sanctuary Bay on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Other Broken Things by C. Desir - Shannon M.
Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker - Ishta
The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth - Danielle H.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


Burn
by Elissa Sussman
Hardcover
Greenwillow Books
Released 1/19/2016

After helping to rescue Princess Aislynn, Elanor has finally rejoined the rebel camp she calls home. Stolen from her parents at a young age and forced into service by the Wicked Queen, Elanor now wants nothing more than to see the queen removed from power. But Elanor has secrets, mistakes she’s spent years trying to forget, and the closer the rebels get to the throne, the harder it is for Elanor to keep her past hidden away.

With fellow rebels on her side—including Princess Aislynn, Thackery, and the handsome and mysterious Matthias—it is time for Elanor to make a decision. Will she protect her secrets? Or risk everything to save the people she loves?

The thrilling companion to Elissa Sussman’s masterful and original fairy tale, Stray, that will appeal to readers of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and fans of Wicked, Into the Woods, and the Disney princess movies.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Burn?

My favorite thing about BURN was that it gave me a chance to explore a new character and a new aspect of the world that was introduced in STRAY. And even though BURN is Elanor's story, Aislynn features prominently and it was really fun to see how she adjusts to a culture that is so different from hers and has a completely separate view of magic.

Purchase Burn at Amazon
Purchase Burn at IndieBound
View Burn on Goodreads

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The Isle
by Jordana Frankel
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 1/19/2016

The heart-racing and thrilling sequel to The Ward about a teenage female drag racer who will do anything to save her sister—and a flooded futuristic Manhattan.

Drought season is coming....

The Ward is in trouble—its streets filled with seawater after a devastating flood and its impoverished inhabitants suffering from a deadly disease called the Blight.

Ren, with the help of her scientist friend, Callum, and her racing buddy, Derek, has discovered a cure—miraculous spring water—administering it to her sick sister, Aven. But when Aven is kidnapped by Governor Voss, the malevolent dictator of the United Metro Isles (UMI), Ren must go on a dangerous mission to save her sister, again.

The mysterious healing water is the only source of freshwater throughout the entire UMI—water that Ren had been tasked by the government to discover. Although she refuses to give up the water’s location, Governor Voss has his own selfish reasons for wanting it. And he will do anything to satisfy his thirst for unquenchable power.

But Ren and Aven have more enemies than the governor. An ancient order, the Tètai, has been guarding the magical water for hundreds of years. And they will kill to protect it. With the Ward in desperate need of freshwater and wracked by disease—and deadly enemies at every turn—the sisters face a dangerous journey, marred by mysterious secrets and horrifying truths, to save their friends and neighbors, and a city.

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

Oh goodness. I'm not sure I know how to answer this! I love the end...it was very satisfying pulling all those threads together and realizing that, while I sort of knew how it would come together, the way it came together was very unexpected. And also obvious? Both? I also love Aven. Aven may be my favorite thing about THE ISLE. (Can she be my favorite thing if she's a person?)

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


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


Concentr8
by William Sutcliffe
Hardcover
Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Released 1/19/2016

In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn't it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What's good for society is good for everyone.

Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They're not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick - the only one Blaze really trusts. They're not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random - a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn't even have a good phone - hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They've got a hostage, but don't really know what they want, or why they've done it.

Across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they - and we - begin to understand why. Gripping and controversial reading for fans of Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness.

Purchase Concentr8 at Amazon
Purchase Concentr8 at IndieBound
View Concentr8 on Goodreads

* * * *


My Second Life
by Faye Bird
Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 1/19/2016

A pacy pageturner that asks: Can you be held responsible now for something you did in a previous life?

Fifteen-year-old Ana has a good life--she has friends and a boy she likes and a kind mother--but still, she's haunted by her past; she knows that she lived once before as a girl named Emma, and she still misses her old family. When, by chance in her life now, Ana meets a woman she knew in her previous life, a terrifying memory flashes through her mind of a young girl drowning. Was Emma responsible? And should Ana pay the price? Consumed by guilt, Ana sets out to find out as much as possible about the person she was before and what she had done, only to discover that the family she misses so deeply had dark secrets of its own. To come to terms with her life now, Ana must figure out how to let go of the past.

Purchase My Second Life at Amazon
Purchase My Second Life at IndieBound
View My Second Life on Goodreads

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Shade Me
by Jennifer Brown
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 1/19/2016

Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.

Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.

The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?

As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.

Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill.

Purchase Shade Me at Amazon
Purchase Shade Me at IndieBound
View Shade Me on Goodreads

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Sword and Verse
by Kathy MacMillan
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 1/19/2016

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Purchase Sword and Verse at Amazon
Purchase Sword and Verse at IndieBound
View Sword and Verse on Goodreads

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The Capture
by Tom Isbell
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 1/19/2016

This second book in the Prey trilogy is a harrowing story of survival as Book and Hope travel back to the eerie Camp Liberty, where Book was once raised to be hunted for sport, to save those left behind. With new twists, new turns, and a new love triangle, The Capture is a gripping adventure for fans of The Maze Runner.

Every night it was the same: dreaming of those Less Thans shackled in the bunker beneath the tennis court. I couldn’t let it go. As bad as the memory was, my dreams only made it worse....

It was why we had to get back to Camp Liberty. Why we had to free those Less Thans.

Book, Hope, and Cat cannot live with themselves—they cannot settle into a new free life knowing the rest of their fellow Less Thans and Sisters are still imprisoned. Now the teens must retrace their steps to save the others, destroy the compound, and thwart the evil plans of the Republic.

With new enemies lurking—deranged Crazies and ominous Skull People among them—the group must put their fate in the hands of unexpected allies, including the woman with the long black hair and Miranda, the daughter of the Skull People’s Chief Justice, who is drawn to Book. Both may come to their aid, but at what cost? As the teens race toward Camp Liberty, they must ask themselves what they’re willing to do to free their friends, for the path back is filled with even more danger as motives are questioned and relationships tested.

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

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The Radiant Road
by Katherine Catmull
Hardcover
Dutton Books for Young Readers
Released 1/19/2016

And sometimes the Strange came to visit Clare, and dreams walked through her waking life.

After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they’ll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they’re both in great danger from an ancient foe.

Fast-paced adventure and spellbinding prose combine to weave a tale of love, loyalty, and the strength we carry within ourselves.

Purchase The Radiant Road at Amazon
Purchase The Radiant Road at IndieBound
View The Radiant Road on Goodreads

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Will to Survive
by Eric Walters
Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 1/19/2016

As this apocalyptic trilogy hurtles to a chilling conclusion, Adam is pushed to the edge of his endurance and sanity.

Adam has killed again. It had to be done, part of him knows that, but murder changes a person. It can certainly change a teenager who's already grown up too quickly, too harshly, in the wake of the catastrophic global blackout five months ago. In the name of safety and survival, Adam and his neighbors have turned their middle American suburban neighborhood into a fortress, defending against countless enemies. But what's lurking in the dark is a greater danger than ever before: somebody who wants to destroy the neighborhood and Adam at any cost. Soon, the hunted will have to become the hunter . . . and Adam hates himself for what he will have to do. Because sometimes even the dark is not cover enough for things that would never happen in the light.

Purchase Will to Survive at Amazon
Purchase Will to Survive at IndieBound
View Will to Survive on Goodreads

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Sunday, January 17, 2016

1 Best of AYAP: Choices

Writing is all about choices - a story is made or broken by what the author chooses, how they choose to convey it, and even the ways holes they leave behind. Whether conscious or not, the very act of writing involves making millions of tiny choices, and they all matter.

Which is why it's often super interesting to step back and pin down some of those choices, and take a minute to understand why we made them, and what other options might be. So read through the articles below (indeed, any of those in our archives), and take a moment to think about those choices, and how they might be questioned to make something bigger.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

0 Arwen Elys Dayton, author of TRAVELER, on tearing out a piece of yourself and sharing it with others

TRAVELER is the second book in the Seeker series, and we're excited to have Arwen Elys Dayton here to chat about it.

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

Writing TRAVELER, I discovered that your characters really do have an existence outside of yourself, and the more story you write for them, the more strong-willed and individual they become. When I wrote SEEKER, the first book in the series, it felt like Quin Kincaid listened to me at least some of the time. By the time I wrote TRAVELER, Quin and Shinobu and John (and even Maud) told me how things were going to be. As punishment, I really put them through the wringer in this book. We have to see what they’re made of, right?

0 Jan Gangsei, author of ZERO DAY, on not being afraid to chuck something and start over

ZERO DAY is the debut novel from Jan Gangsei, and we're thrilled she's here to tell us more about it.

Jan, what was your inspiration for writing ZERO DAY?

This is a tough question, because actually, I've had a lifetime of inspiration! I've always been addicted to thrillers, stories about spies and intrigue, and characters who may or may not be what they seem. As a kid, I even formed a "spy club" with a couple of my best friends. I don't think we really successfully spied on too much (but we did perfect our communication in Pig Latin). And as an adult, I had the thrill of attending the DIA's attache training program for spouses, where we learned the ins and outs of the international intel business (including everything from diplomatic protocol to how to detect--and behave--when being surveilled). Also, DC is literally in my back yard, and I studied political science in college and covered politics as a newspaper reporter. So yeah, I guess my whole life has basically been leading to writing a spy thriller :).

0 Jennifer Bosworth, author of THE KILLING JAR, on writing the action and the heart

We're delighted to have Jennifer Bosworth join us to chat about her latest novel THE KILLING JAR.

Jennifer, what was your inspiration for writing THE KILLING JAR?

Kenna Marsden, the main character in THE KILLING JAR, has the power to absorb energy from nature, which has a psychedelic effect on her. I got the idea after watching a video on YouTube of a proper, ladylike 50’s housewife trying LSD under the supervision of researchers. She went from uptight and shy to euphoric as she described the effects of the drug. She said she had never seen such infinite beauty in her life, and that she felt sorry for the scientist interviewing her because he could never understand the beauty she was seeing.

I was fascinated by the video, and began to imagine a group of people with the power to enter this kind of state through supernatural means. People have written about so many different kinds of supernatural powers (invisibility, flying, strength, shape-shifting, telepathy, telekenisis), but I couldn’t think of anyone who’d written about the power to enter a psychedelic state of euphoria and beauty. Considering how many people in the world seek out such experiences, it seemed like an untapped realm of supernatural possibilities.

0 Chandler Baker, author of TEEN FRANKENSTEIN, on setting a stopwatch

We're excited to have Chandler Baker stop by to tell us more about her latest novel TEEN FRANKENSTEIN.

Chandler, what was your inspiration for writing TEEN FRANKENSTEIN?

I think it goes without saying that Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was the spark of inspiration behind Teen Frankenstein without which it wouldn't exist. But if it was just that, I still wouldn't have had a story to tell at all. Or at least not a fresh one. The angle that drew me into the story and held me there during the months and months I toiled over this book was the notion of exploring female ambition in a modern setting. It was something I was--am--still struggling with. We're used to seeing the tortured male artist, suffering for his heart, sometimes becoming a recluse. In him, it's often revered, though I'm not sure it should be. Meanwhile in real life, I think women are often still supposed to nurture art while they themselves are expected to be nurturing. Single-minded ambition is often viewed as shrill, bossy, overly demanding. I grapple with how much ambition for my art is too much ambition and at what cost. That was my emotional access point into the story, which then, of course, took on a life of its own.