Saturday, December 16, 2017

0 YALLFest Interview with Patrick Ness

I'm not gonna lie, when I heard Patrick Ness had agreed to an interview with me at YALLFest, I felt a bit like this:
Excited - because he's the man responsible for A Monster Calls, the Chaos Walking trilogy, my personal favorite The Rest of Us Just Live Here, and the Doctor Who spin-off Class.

Panicked - because see above! Plus he's won two Carnegie Medals. How was I supposed to talk to him without sounding like a babbling idiot?

But there was nothing to be worried about. Patrick was down to earth and funny, and I think I only embarrassed myself once or twice. Check out his interview below for lots of great advice about writing and the writing life.

Patrick, what did your journey to publication look like? 

It was quite a while ago. The thing I always say is that the first thing you need to do if you want to publish a book is to write a book. A lot of people think they’re going to get a deal on a few chapters – that happens once in a while, but 99% of the rest of us have to write the whole thing. So I did, I wrote a whole book. I tried to make it the best book I possibly could.

There’s something in England (even though I’m American, I live in England) called the Writers & Artists Yearbook. There is something similar in the US, and it’s just a list of all the agents. So I got my sample chapters, and did my cover letter, and did my synopsis. Synopses are hell on earth - I hate them. But I did them all, and I sent it off to every single even remotely plausible agent. I think I sent it to like 60 or 65. I think five or six people requested the whole manuscript. And two of them were interested, and I signed with one, and that’s all it takes. And she got that book published. It’s that easy and that difficult. But that was the process.

That was an adult book, and I like to say that it sold in its dozens to friends and family, but that’s okay, I didn’t care, I’d published a book. And that’s how it started. Really, I am nobody special. I’m just a guy from a tiny town outside of Tacoma, and all I did was write a book. I always say that real writers don’t write, they write anyway. So I thought, nobody’s going to ever publish a book, but I’m gonna write one anyway. No one’s ever going to film a screenplay, but I’m gonna write one anyway. So, yeah, just keep going.

You write both YA and adult novels – what’s your favorite thing about each category? Biggest challenge? 

My whole career has been kinda trying to shrug off category. It starts with the principle that a great story can be told anywhere and that snobbery will kill you. It’s gonna kill your art. So don’t be a snob. Don’t be a snob with what you read. Don’t be a snob with what you write.

As a part of a process of trying to put that into practice, I think that stories reveal themselves with more joy because you’re more susceptible. And if I’m willing – not willing, willing sounds more reluctant, it’s not reluctance at all – but if I’m feeling a story and it’s like, “Ah!” Because The Knife of Never Letting Go was my third book, and I was writing in voice and I thought I have this idea and it feels like it should be in voice. It felt like a great challenge because I hadn’t done it before. And as I slowly, slowly got to the voice – and voice is mystical, it’s just suddenly there on the page one day and you don’t know what you did, but there it is – and I thought, “Oh, this is probably for teenagers.” And I thought, “Well then, great. Great!” And I put the exact same amount of effort, the exact same amount of emotional investment, the same amount of intellectual investment.

When I was young I hated books that talked down. I was so happy to reach up. I read The Color Purple when I was about twelve, and I didn’t understand half of it, but I didn’t care. It was like this is what’s possible in literature. And also, you know, what a great shock to the system for a twelve-year-old kid to read The Color Purple. So I thought, nah, there will be kids that wouldn’t want that but that’s what I would have wanted. So I just don’t see a difference. I know it’s helpful for publishing, and I have no problem with that, and I’m not trying to downplay YA at all.

I think my impression has always been like, okay, I’ll take your boundaries. Because I was raised in a really religious family, and so how I rebelled was how can I follow the letter of the law and still get away with murder? So it’s always been my approach to writing. It’s like how can I take your boundaries and still do exactly what I want? So it’s just really what the story needs. And if it’s for teenagers, great. The key thing is don’t be a snob about it. And don’t think it’s going to be easier because it’s one or the other – they’re all hard.

You adapted your own novels into screenplays, which I know is a dream come true for many writers but also very rare. Did that experience change the way you write novels?

You know, if you’d asked me in theory I would have said yes, but what happened in practice is that I wrote A Monster Calls screenplay, I wrote Chaos Walking drafts, I wrote a bunch of other screenplays, I wrote eight episodes of Class, and then I wrote my most internal, smallest timeframe, intense novel, so I don’t know if that’s a reaction against that. So if you’d asked me in theory, I would have said, “Sure! Blah blah blah,” ya know, but maybe not. It’s different muscles. I’m always encouraging other YA writers to like, “Do it, do it do it!” You can tell a story. The rules can be learned.

Yeah, it’s exciting. I’m always looking to be challenged – I’m so afraid of complacency because you can tell a complacent book. I find it insulting and an arrogant assumption of the privilege of writing, so I want to be challenged every time. So Release was a challenge to make that tiny timeframe and really intense focus compared to everything else I’d done up to that point, and so screenplays and teleplays are another way of doing that. Being scared and going, “Ya know, this might be a disaster, but I’m going to give it a try.”

Always a part of my storytelling is pace, and pace doesn’t mean fast, it just means the rate. It can be slow, but it needs to have a heartbeat, I always think. Or rhythm, rhythm is how I always put it. Since screenplays are so beat oriented, it’s interesting – how can I use this? So even in a story where something ostensibly isn’t necessarily going wrong, you’re still making beats and that I think is a really valuable, valuable tool for any writer.

You mentioned Class earlier - how much did you geek out at getting the chance to write a Doctor Who companion series?

The thing is I’m American, I was living in England, so it’s not quite the same as if I’d been say - do you want to write for Voyager or something? It didn’t have quite the impact on my childhood. They came and asked if I’d write for Doctor Who, and in the nicest possible way I thought, “Maybe not right now.” Because I feel like I’ve written plenty of stuff for other people because that’s what you do for screenplays, you’re writing for other people. And novels are yours, that’s why I’m a novelist first. And they said, “We’ve got this other idea, maybe a spinoff.” And they told me, and I went, “Ding!”

You never know where a good idea is gonna come from, and if it’s a good idea, run with it wherever it takes you. Celebrate that. I could see in half an hour how I was going to tell the entire series. And that’s rare! That’s rare! So when that happens, you don’t question it, you just run after it as fast as you can. And so I thought, “Okay, I haven’t done this before, but I’m gonna just say, ‘Sure, I can do it!’” And, you know, what the hell. I’m really, really lucky, and I’m really proud of the show.

Has there been an AHA! moment during your publishing adventure where you felt you had the key to writing a novel?

God no. My husband says this – there’s not a single time I’ve written a book where I don’t go, “Oh my God, I’ve completely forgotten how to do this. How did I do this?” And I’ve done ten books. And every time, I’m like, “Oh my God, I’ve completely forgotten.” I think that’s okay. I so worry about complacency. I so worry about taking it for granted. Being scared is unpleasant, but it makes me do good work.

AHA moments come in like micro-moments, like when you write a good sentence, you go “Ah, okay! That feels good.” That makes up for all the days where nothing much happens, when you suddenly hit on something really, “Okay, nobody would have said that like that,” and that’s a nice feeling. And you should be able to embrace that feeling. I have a friend who describes it as ego with a capital E versus ego with a lowercase e – capital E, that’s the problem. But a lowercase e, when you recognize what you can do and sometimes you do it well, that’s okay. The “Ahh!” will keep you going through the next ten days where you’re just writing a bunch of crap. We can all fix it in rewrite.

What do you think your greatest weakness is as a writer, and what have you done to address it.


Well, like all writers, I’m easily distracted. I put things off. But I’ve gotten off Twitter, for example.

I feel like I’m not so great at scene setting. I can feel the world kind of vaguely in my head, and I always trust that if you have it in your head and the characters will speak the right things and they’ll create the universe. Mostly. The best editing advice I can give is that I have my editors and my agent ask me questions. Because they can give me notes, which are useful, but questions I can start to hear, “Ah, I left that out and I left that out.” And that has been very, very useful, that has really helped my weaknesses, where I go, “They’re not getting that, so that’s what I’ve left out, that’s what I haven’t done.”

I suppose the one thing I notice myself that is most irritating is that I’m always worried you’re not getting the point I want to make, so I make it over and over. So I get that note frequently – cut it down, cut it down, your reader is an intelligent reader, they are paying attention.

What are you working on now?

Nothing I can share, but I should have a new book out next year. I try to keep it private, but I can’t wait to tell the world about it. I should be able to tell the world about it soon. It’s kind of a cool thing, so fingers crossed, it should be soon. And I’m trying to work on more movie and TV stuff. I’ve got a movie that I think’s gonna shoot next year called Anya’s Ghost, which is based on a graphic novel by Vera Brosgol. It’s really a wonderful graphic novel, so fingers crossed. Fingers crossed!

We definitely have our fingers crossed and can't wait to find out more about your new projects. Thanks for chatting with me, Patrick!

Readers, have you ever tried writing screenplays? Did it affect your novel writing? Do you always try to challenge yourself with your writing? Do you embrace the micro-moments when you are proud of your writing to help you through the tough times? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn

ABOUT THE BOOK

Release
by Patrick Ness
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 9/19/2017

Inspired by Judy Blume’s Forever and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, this novel by award-winning author Patrick Ness is a new classic about teenage relationships, self-acceptance—and what happens when the walls we build start coming down.

Adam Thorn doesn’t know it yet, but today will change his life.

Between his religious family, a deeply unpleasant ultimatum from his boss, and his own unrequited love for his sort-of ex, Enzo, it seems as though Adam’s life is falling apart. At least he has two people to keep him sane: his new boyfriend (he does love Linus, doesn’t he?) and his best friend, Angela.

But all day long, old memories and new heartaches come crashing together, throwing Adam’s life into chaos. The bindings of his world are coming untied one by one; yet in spite of everything he has to let go, he may also find freedom in the release.

From the New York Times-bestselling author of A Monster Calls comes a raw, darkly funny, and deeply affecting story about the courage it takes to live your truth.

Purchase Release at Amazon
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View Release on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patrick Ness was born in Virginia, lived in Hawaii, and went to junior high and high school in Washington. He then lived in California for college (at USC) and moved to the United Kingdom in 1999, where he’s lived (mostly in London) ever since. He has written nine books: two novels for adults (The Crash of Hennington and The Crane Wife), one short story collection for adults (Topics About Which I Know Nothing), and six novels for young adults (The Knife of Never Letting Go, The Ask and the Answer, Monsters of Men, A Monster Calls, More Than This and The Rest of Us Just Live Here).



Tuesday, December 12, 2017

2 YALLFest Interview with Jeff Zentner

I can't believe YALLFest was over a month ago already! It was another fabulous weekend, and the festival just gets bigger and better every year. This year it pretty much consumed the entire city of Charleston. I'm honored that for the third year I got to interview some of the charming and talented authors who were there. 

However, I must apologize for taking so long to get the interviews posted. November did its usual chaotic thing and had me feeling like this:
and like this:

I've finally had a chance to transcribe my interviews and will be posting them over the next few weeks. Luckily, these authors were worth the wait!

First up is Jeff Zentner, who won the William C. Morris Award and was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal for his novel The Serpent King

Not this kind of Serpent King
This kind! 

Jeff, I know you started as a musician - so what did your journey to publication look like?

I did music for a long time, and I started volunteering at Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp, and through that I kind of just fell in love with young adults and wanted to make art for them. By that point, I was too old to make the kind of music that gets marketed to young adults, and so I decided to switch horses and try something else. So I tried my hand at writing a young adult novel to reach young adults, and I gave it to a friend to read, and she had a literary agent, and she said I think my agent would like this, so she passed it on to him, and he liked it and took it and sold it to Random House.

Wow, that’s one of the easier journeys to publication we’ve heard about here at AYAP! So do you think being a songwriter impacted your writing in any way?

Yeah, it did. It made me have an appreciation for economy of language and for musicality of language and the way words flow. And more than anything else, it gave me confidence in my ability to create original stories and ideas.

Do you still write songs?

No. Nope, totally retired.

Besides the setting itself, does being a Southern writer affect your writing?

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, obviously the place influences my writing greatly – all my books are set in the South – so the setting kinda becomes almost like a character. And I read a lot of Southern writers, and I love the way they write about place and they way they write about unique cultural quirks of the South and Southern people. Southern people are just really kind of like natural storytellers, and so it’s fun to write about them.

Has there been an AHA! moment during your publishing journey where you finally felt you had the key to writing?

No, no, I would love for that moment to come, but every time I go to write a novel it’s like I don’t know what I’m doing there. I have no clue. I have no idea how to write a novel. I always feel like a fraud. Like I just somehow found my way into this, and I have no idea how.

Can you tell us more about your next book, TV Six?


Yeah, so it was pitched as Wayne’s World meets Ghost World, and I have to give David Arnold credit for that piece of brilliance. It’s about two girls who have a TV show on their local public access station where they show cheesy horror movies from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and they dress up like vampires and do little skits and puppet shows and interludes during the movie. One of the girls wants to use the show to reconnect with her father, who abandoned her when she was young and left behind his trove of horror movies on VHS. And the other girl wants to use the show to springboard her TV career. The book is really about whether each one of them will be able to use the show to do what they want to do or if they’re gonna have to go their separate ways. 
 
What is your greatest weakness as a writer, and what have you done to improve that?

I used to be really afraid to write dialog. I just didn’t think I could write dialog. So I read a lot of books with really good dialog and really studied it, really started listening to people talk, and studying the way people talk. And just practicing writing dialog to where my new book, TV Six, is mostly dialog. It’s probably like 80% dialog at least.

So you just dove right in?

Dove right in, yeah, just forced myself.


Thanks for chatting with me, Jeff!

Readers, do you have a musical background? Has it affected your writing? What about the region where you live - has it become a character in your novels? How are you at writing dialog - is it a strength or weakness for you? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn

ABOUT THE BOOK

Goodbye Days
by Jeff Zentner
Hardcover
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 3/7/2017

Can a text message destroy your life?

Carver Briggs never thought a simple text would cause a fatal crash, killing his three best friends, Mars, Eli, and Blake. Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident and even worse, there could be a criminal investigation into the deaths.

Then Blake’s grandmother asks Carver to remember her grandson with a ‘goodbye day’ together. Carver has his misgivings, but he starts to help the families of his lost friends grieve with their own memorial days, along with Eli’s bereaved girlfriend Jesmyn. But not everyone is willing to forgive. Carver’s own despair and guilt threatens to pull him under into panic and anxiety as he faces punishment for his terrible mistake. Can the goodbye days really help?

Purchase Goodbye Days at Amazon
Purchase Goodbye Days at IndieBound
View Goodbye Days on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Jeff Zentner is the author of the William C. Morris Award winning and Carnegie Medal longlisted book The Serpent King (2016) as well as Goodbye Days (2017). He lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others.

Now he writes novels for young adults. He became interested in writing for young adults after volunteering at the Tennessee Teen Rock Camp and Southern Girls Rock Camp. As a kid, his parents would take him to the library and drop him off, where he would read until closing time. He worked at various bookstores through high school and college.

He speaks fluent Portuguese, having lived in the Amazon region of Brazil for two years.

Monday, December 11, 2017

1 New Releases this week 12/11-12/17!

Happy Monday! We hope your December is treating you alright so far. Make sure to check out the awesome books being released this week!

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Kelly, Laura, Emily, Anisaa, and Lori Ann


YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Freed by Flame and Storm
by Becky Allen
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 12/12/2017

Revolution is nigh, and one seventeen-year-old girl stands at the head of it all.

Jae used to be a slave, laboring with the rest of her people under a curse that forced her to obey any order she was given. At seventeen, she found the source of her people’s lost magic and became the only person to break free—ever. Now she wants to use her power to free the rest of her people, but the ruling class will do anything to stop her.

Jae knows that breaking the curse on her people would cause widespread chaos, even unimaginable violence between the castes, and her caste would likely see the worst of it. Many would die. But to let them remain shackled is to doom them to continue living without free will.

How is one girl, raised a slave and never taught to wield power, supposed to decide the fate of a nation?

Purchase Freed by Flame and Storm at Amazon
Purchase Freed by Flame and Storm at IndieBound
View Freed by Flame and Storm on Goodreads

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The Truth Beneath the Lies
by Amanda Searcy
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 12/12/2017

Fight or Flight.

All Kayla Asher wants to do is run. Run from the government housing complex she calls home. Run from her unstable mother. Run from a desperate job at No Limit Foods. Run to a better, cleaner, safer life. Every day is one day closer to leaving.

All Betsy Hopewell wants to do is survive. Survive the burner phone hidden under her bed. Survive her new rules. Survive a new school with new classmates. Survive being watched. Every minute grants her another moment of life.

But when fate brings Kayla and Betsy together, only one girl will live.

Purchase The Truth Beneath the Lies at Amazon
Purchase The Truth Beneath the Lies at IndieBound
View The Truth Beneath the Lies on Goodreads


Saturday, December 9, 2017

0 Pintip Dunn, author of SEIZE TODAY, on not giving up after rejection

SEIZE TODAY is the third book in the Forget Tomorrow series, and we're thrilled to have Pintip Dunn stop by today to tell us more about it.

Pintip, what is your favorite thing about SEIZE TODAY?

SEIZE TODAY is the third and final book of my FORGET TOMORROW series, so it is the culmination of everything I've been building toward since the first moments of the first book! In this book, we get to see Olivia Dresden, the only true precognitive of her time, have a showdown with her mother, the evil Chairwoman Dresden, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

This series features a world where memories can be sent back to your younger self. (For instance, in FORGET TOMORROW, my heroine Callie sees a vision of her future self killing her little sister!) The books are filled with memories that the characters receive from their future selves. One of my very favorite things about this series is that the reader gets to see each and every memory play out, in one way or the other. It might be in the second book or the third book or even the novella, but every memory has a purpose in this story. You might just have to wait until the third book to understand it's true meaning!

What was your inspiration for writing SEIZE TODAY?

SEIZE TODAY is the third and final book in the FORGET TOMORROW series.

I had been writing seriously for years and was getting frustrated with the publication process, namely the rejections. My editor friend said to me: "I wish I had a crystal ball. Then, I could tell you five years from now, you will definitely be published and you wouldn't worry about it so much."

A few days later, I was taking a nap with my toddler son and in that hazy state between being sleep and awake. "Wouldn't it be great," I thought, "if we could send memories to our younger selves? Then I could see myself as a successful author and know that all this sweat and blood and tears were worth it." My next thought was: "Hey, that would make a great idea for a book!" And presto: the FORGET TOMORROW series was born!

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?

In FORGET TOMORROW, we meet a character named Angela, who refuses to marry the love of her life because she received a vision of her future child crawling off a cliff. After Callie proves to the world that the future can be changed, Angela relents, marries Mikey, and has a baby named Remi.

One of my favorite scenes in SEIZE TODAY is when we see Angela's memory play out. It is -- and isn't -- what we assume, and I think it was both heart-pounding and teary for me to write that scene!

How long did you work on SEIZE TODAY?

Approximately six months for the first draft, although I was probably actively writing for about four months.

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

My path to publishing was long and twisty. It was fifteen years between the time I wrote my first manuscript and the day my debut novel released. I found an agent after writing my fourth book (querying my third), and after I signed, I was on submission for three years with three different books. All in all, from agents and editors, I received 150 rejections before I got my first offer. At that point, things began to happen very quickly, and I sold 7 books in approximately 7 months. This is why it is important to write the next book when you are on submission!

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

Persevere. If writing is in your heart, if being a published author is your dream, don't give up. Earlier, I mentioned that I had been rejected 150 times before I got my first offer. If I had given up after any one of those rejections, I wouldn't be where I am today. I wouldn't be living my dream.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Seize Today
by Pintip Dunn
hardcover
Entangled: Teen
Released 10/3/2017

The third book in the New York Times bestselling and RITA award winning Forget Tomorrow series is a thrilling conclusion to an epic trilogy.

Seventeen-year-old precognitive Olivia Dresden is an optimist. Since different versions of people's futures flicker before her eyes, she doesn't have to believe in human decency. She can literally see the path to goodness in each person—if only he or she would make the right decision. No one is more conflicted than her mother, Chairwoman Dresden, and Olivia is fiercely loyal to the woman her mother could be.

But when the Chairwoman captures Ryder Russell, a boy from the rebel Underground, Olivia is forced to reevaluate her notions of love and faith. With Ryder's help, Olivia must come to terms with who her mother is in the present—and stop her before she destroys the world.

Purchase Seize Today at Amazon
Purchase Seize Today at IndieBound
View Seize Today on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pintip Dunn is a New York Times bestselling author of YA fiction. She graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School.

Pintip’s novel, FORGET TOMORROW, won the RWA RITA® for Best First Book. It is also a finalist for the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire, the Japanese Sakura Medal, the MASL Truman Award, and the Tome Society It list. In addition, THE DARKEST LIE was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her other books include REMEMBER YESTERDAY, SEIZE TODAY, and GIRL ON THE VERGE.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland.

Social Media Links:
Website  Facebook  Twitter  Instagram   Goodreads

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Have you had a chance to read SEIZE TODAY yet? Have you ever been struck by a story idea while waking up from a nap? Are you inspired by Pintip's journey from 150 rejections to selling seven books in seven months? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Anisaa, Halli, Martina, Charlotte, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

Monday, December 4, 2017

1 New Releases this week 12/04-12/10!

Happy Monday! We hope your December is treating you alright so far. Make sure to check out the awesome books being released this week!

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Kelly, Laura, Emily, Anisaa, and Lori Ann



YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

R.I.P. Eliza Hart by Alyssa B. Sheinmel: Stephanie D.B.
Ready to Fall: A Novel by Marcella Pixley: Kayeleen H.
Run Away With Me by Mila Gray: Shannon M.
The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody: Theresa S.

MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK

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Foolish Hearts
by Emma Mills
Hardcover
Henry Holt and Co.
Released 12/5/2017

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn't supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn't know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they're both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

Purchase Foolish Hearts at Amazon
Purchase Foolish Hearts at IndieBound
View Foolish Hearts on Goodreads

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Instructions for a Secondhand Heart
by Tamsyn Murray
Hardcover
Poppy
Released 12/5/2017

A moving novel about grief, guilt, and the unpredictability of love, for fans of Everything, Everything and All the Bright Places.

Jonny knows better than anyone that life is full of cruel ironies. He's spent every day in a hospital hooked up to machines to keep his heart ticking. Then when a donor match is found for Jonny's heart, that turns out to be the cruelest irony of all. Because for Jonny's life to finally start, someone else's had to end.

That someone turns out to be Neve's twin brother, Leo. When Leo was alive, all Neve wanted was for him (and all his glorious, overshadowing perfection) to leave. Now that Leo's actually gone forever, Neve has no idea how to move forward. Then Jonny walks into her life looking for answers, her brother's heart beating in his chest, and everything starts to change.

Together, Neve and Jonny will have to face the future, no matter how frightening it is, while also learning to heal their hearts, no matter how much it hurts. The final book will feature select illustrations from "Jonny's" sketchbook.


Purchase Instructions for a Secondhand Heart at Amazon
Purchase Instructions for a Secondhand Heart at IndieBound
View Instructions for a Secondhand Heart on Goodreads


Saturday, December 2, 2017

2 Marcella Pixley, author of READY TO FALL, on the courage it takes to finally face your own demons

We're thrilled to have Marcella Pixley stop by and tell us more about her new book, READY TO FALL.

Marcella, what was your inspiration for writing READY TO FALL?

As a teen, I was cursed with an overactive and ridiculously obsessive imagination. Once an idea came into my head, especially if that idea was disturbing, twisted or morbid, I would hold on to it and recycle it endlessly, often for many hours a day, from the moment I woke in the morning, to the moment I finally, and fitfully fell asleep. Since my father was ill during my teen years, one of the things I often obsessed about was death and dying. Like Max, I convinced myself that I was suffering from an imaginary illness that would eventually do me in. The story comes from my desire to express how it feels not to be able to let go of a troubling thought and what kind of courage it takes to finally face your own demons.

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

My favorite scenes are the ones where the theater misfits are goofing around together. In the first one, they take Max "boot skating" in a frozen rock quarry, and while Max is stumbling down the snowy path, he finally has the chance to hold hands with Fish for the first time. This scene marks the beginning of the romantic arc of the book, and it is the first time that Max experiences the joy that comes from connection and friendship. I am also very fond of the Truth or Dare scene, where the misfits pile into The Monk's dorm room after rehearsal to partake in forbidden contraband and to test each other's nerves. This is the scene where you learn the most about the romantic dynamics between the characters, and the relationship between Max and Fish is finally recognized.

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

 I would say that this book would appeal to YA lovers who enjoy edgy, contemporary fiction. If you like Rainbow Rowell or John Green, you will probably also like this book. Ready to Fall will appeal to particularly artistic, creative, quirky people who like reading about characters that they might recognize as being like them. Maybe they don't quite fit in to mainstream culture. Maybe they have suffered a loss or lived through a family tragedy. Maybe their imagination is their own worst enemy. Maybe they are on the look-out for a new group of true friends to convince them that life, however imperfect, really is worth living to the fullest.

How long did you work on READY TO FALL? 

I worked on this book for around three years from conception to publication. Ready to Fall went though so many changes! In my first drafts, all I had were disconnected scenes that showed Max's cycle of grief, friendship and redemption. It was less of a story and more of a series of vignettes. Since I began my writing career as a poet, in the early drafts, the novel focused more on lyricism and language than plot. But then, after a year of playing with the vignettes, I began to craft the story, to uncover the driving action and this is where the true story was born. Margaret Ferguson, my editor from Farrar Straus and Giroux is an excellent reader and an exacting mentor. With her guidance, I revised the book more than ten times before either of us were satisfied that we had something special that was ready to put into the hands of YA readers.

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

I wrote most of the later drafts of READY TO FALL in a little cafe in Gloucester Massachusetts called Pleasant Street Tea Company. This is an amazing, funky, local coffee shop right by the harbor that has great alternative music and cool, interesting people who sometimes became the inspiration for my characters. In fact, it was sitting in Pleasant Street Tea Company one afternoon that I got the idea of creating a character with pink hair. I was sitting on my favorite couch, drinking a smoothie and writing the scene where Max takes his tour of The Badwin School, and in comes this girl with a nose ring, a black, vintage rock and roll T shirt and hair the color of cotton candy. I knew she had to become a character in my book. Whoever you are, pink-haired girl, thank you.

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

My advice is to make time in your life to write and to read what you love. If you can, find a writers' group where you can surround yourself with others who have the same dream as you do. Be brave and share your work with them. Ask them for support and critique and give them the same gift when they need it. I was eleven years old when I first decided I wanted to be a writer. I always wished I had a crystal ball to tell me for sure if I would ever be published. The problem is, no one has a crystal ball. All you have is your own determination and your own blind trust that if you keep on trying, and if you believe in the process, you will eventually be published. Write to me if you ever want cheer leading. I will help you remember that is what you were born to do and you can do it if you don't give up. I mean it. Write to me: marcellapixley@yahoo.com. I always write back.

What are you working on now? 

I am working on a novel called Ziggy Karlo. It's about the unlikely friendship between two off-beat teens who rescue each other when their home lives become unbearable. The novel takes place in suburban New England in the early 1980s and it involves Italian food, psychic powers, talking meat cleavers and an albino ferret named Matthew.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Ready to Fall: A Novel
by Marcella Pixley
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 11/28/2017

When Max Friedman's mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his head. It's a terrible tenant--isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality. Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet and slowly becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings--until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how important it is to let go of the past.

Purchase Ready to Fall: A Novel at Amazon
Purchase Ready to Fall: A Novel at IndieBound
View Ready to Fall: A Novel on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Freak, Without Tess, and most recently, Ready To Fall. Freak received four starred reviews and was named a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, and Without Tess was a School Library Journal selection.
Marcella Pixley teaches eighth grade Language Arts at the Carlisle Public Schools. Her poetry has been published in literary journals such as Prairie Schooner, Feminist Studies, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and Poet Lore, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Ms. Pixley has written three acclaimed young adult novels:

Ms. Pixley lives in an antique farmhouse in Westford, Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. She is a graduate of Vassar College, University of Tennessee and Bread Loaf School of English.

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Have you had a chance to read READY TO FALL, yet?
Have you ever discovered that the driving action of a story is very different than you expected? And if so, how did it affect your story?
Do you find your favorite scenes are those that flow easily or those that challenge you?

Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Charlotte, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Erin, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

Thursday, November 30, 2017

0 Alyssa B. Sheinmel, author of R.I.P. ELIZA HART, on believing every single thing she reads teaches her something about how to write

We're happy to have Alyssa Sheinmel stop by to chat about her latest novel, R.I.P. ELIZA HART.

Alyssa, what was your inspiration for writing R.I.P. ELIZA HART?

The idea for this book came to me in bits and pieces, but there were a few pieces I was always certain about: I knew that I wanted to write about two former best friends, one of whom had died under mysterious circumstances. I knew that the surviving girl would have claustrophobia. And, I knew that I wanted to write about burl poaching in the redwood forests in places like Big Sur.

I’ve always been fascinated by redwood trees. A few years ago, I saw a story on the evening news about burl-poaching. The intricately patterned wood in redwood burls can weigh hundreds of pounds and unfortunately, it can bring in thousands of dollars for poachers. When you see pictures of trees without their burls, they just look butchered. I immediately thought of the line: “Someone is stealing the redwoods” and filed it away, waiting for the right story.

Like Ellie, I moved from California to New York when my parents got divorced when I was young. And like Ellie, I had to leave behind my childhood best friend whose name was almost identical to mine—I’m Alyssa, she was Alisa. I always wondered whether Alisa and I would have stayed friends if I hadn’t moved to New York.

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

It was a challenge for me to write the scenes when the main character, Ellie, who suffers from claustrophobia, was confined to a small space. At one point in the book, Ellie mentions that she knows there are some people who actually take comfort from small spaces—personally, I’m more that kind of person, so it wasn’t always easy for me to put myself in Ellie’s shoes. I spent a lot of time researching claustrophobia and I really hope readers will feel that I got those scenes right.

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’m very lucky that R.I.P. Eliza Hart found a home with a wonderful publisher—but even after years of writing professionally and having published a handful of books, I would estimate that only about....Hmmm—maybe fifty percent of my ideas ever turn into actual books? Honestly, fifty percent is probably generous! Whenever I’m in between deadlines, I’m usually working on a few new ideas at once—in fact, I started writing R.I.P Eliza Hart at the same time that I started working on another idea. (Luckily, that second idea eventually turned into a book, too—but believe me, that isn’t always the case!)

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

I have to confess that I have a pretty dull writing ritual: I just sit at my desk at home and write. I can’t listen to music—I get the singer’s voice in my head when I should really have my character’s voice in my head. I’m a morning-person, so I write mostly in the mornings. I do have one odd writing-quirk: I almost always chew gum while I write. I got into the habit if keeping gum in my desk-drawer when I was in college and now I just kind of automatically pop a piece of Trident in my mouth when I sit down to work.

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

My number one piece of advice is to read. I wholeheartedly believe that every single thing I read teaches me something about how to write. So, read books that are similar to the book you want to write, and read books in a completely different genre. Read fiction and non-fiction and articles and essays and even textbooks. You never know what might spark an idea: a textbook taught me how to insert humor into a dry topic; the idea for my book Faceless came partly from an article in The New Yorker magazine.

About the Book

R.I.P. Eliza Hart
by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Scholastic Press
Released 11/28/2017

When Eliza Hart, the most popular girl at Ventana Ranch boarding school, is found dead on the cliffs outside her dormitory, Ellie Sokoloff is determined to figure out what happened to her. After all, Eliza was Ellie’s childhood best friend.

Never mind that ever since Ellie arrived at school Eliza has spread terrible rumors about her, calling her a liar and a stalker, when all Ellie wanted to do was rekindle their old friendship. Or that Ellie’s claustrophobia limits where she can go and what she can do. Or that Ellie’s suitemate, Sam, is the only one who will help her . . . because to everyone else, Ellie looks like the top suspect.

Can Ellie clear her name and solve the mystery behind Eliza’s death? Her hunt for the truth will uncover secrets she never imagined, sending her deep into her own memories of her childhood with Eliza Hart.

New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel delivers a gripping mystery and a sensitive and moving examination of the secrets that can hold us back—and even destroy us.

Purchase R.I.P. Eliza Hart at Amazon
Purchase R.I.P. Eliza Hart at IndieBound
View R.I.P. Eliza Hart on Goodreads

About the Author

Alyssa Sheinmel is the bestselling author of several novels for young adults including R.I.P. Eliza Hart and Faceless. She is the co-author of the New York Times bestselling novel The Haunting of Sunshine Girl and its sequel, The Awakening of Sunshine Girl. Bestselling author Luanne Rice called Faceless “gorgeous and wrenching... a vivid, compelling, beautiful, immediate novel." Follow Alyssa on Instagram and Twitter @AlyssaSheinmel or visit her online at www.alyssasheinmel.com.

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Have you had a chance to read R.I.P. Eliza Hart yet? Writing a POV character whose beliefs are different from your own is tricky. How do you handle these situations? What's the most fun you've had writing such a scene?

Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Charlotte, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Erin, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

1 Jessica Brody, author of THE CHAOS OF STANDING STILL, on dealing with unresolved grief

We're excited to have Jessica Brody here to talk about her latest novel, THE CHAOS OF STANDING STILL.

Jessica, 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?

The scene I’m most proud of (which I had to write about ten times) is a bit of a spoiler. I’ll just tell you that it’s the most important scene of the novel and it takes place in the airport chapel (did you even know that airports had chapels?! Well, they do!)

But how about instead, I tell you about the scene I had the most fun writing and that was the scene where Xander serenades Ryn in the airport food court. It was a scene I never planned to write. It just came out. One minute Xander and Ryn were playing the “Categories” game (where someone names a letter and a category and the other person has to think up as many items as they can in that category that start with that letter), the next minute Xander was singing “Eternal Flame” by the Bangles at the top of his lungs in the middle of the food court. (The category was bands and the letter was B).

At first, after I wrote the scene, I worried I would have to cut it. Legally, you can’t print song lyrics in a book without licensing the rights from the songwriter. But I loved it so much, I hired a lawyer to reach out to the company that represents the songwriter and licensed the lyrics so I could print them in the book. I just couldn’t bear for the scene not to be included.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

That I apparently have a lot of unresolved grief of my own that I didn’t know about (just like my main character, Ryn.) This is the first book I’ve ever written that literally made me bawl like a baby.

Never write a character who is dealing with unresolved grief unless you want to face up to your own.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE CHAOS OF STANDING STILL?

I hope you feel something. I don’t care if it’s love, hate, happiness, sadness, swooniness, the uncontrollable desire to throw this book out the window, I just want the book to give you feels. Any kind of feels. If that happens, then I’ve done my job.

What are you working on now?

Oh, wow. So much fun stuff coming up! I have three books coming out in 2018! My next young adult contemporary will be out a year from now. We haven’t yet released the title/synopsis yet, but stay tuned for that soon. I’m just finishing the revision now. I have a new middle grade coming out next fall called BETTER YOU THAN ME (it’s a Freaky Friday-esque Body Swap story between a famous twelve-year-old TV star and her biggest fan.) I just finished the final edits on that. I also have a how-to plotting guide for novelists coming out called SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL, all about plot and plot structure! I’m about to start revisions on that this month!

And then in 2019, I’m returning to sci-fi with a new series! The first book is called A SKY WITHOUT STARS and it’s a sci-fi retelling of Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, set on another planet in a distant solar system. I’m co-writing that with my good friend, Joanne Rendell. We’re almost done with the first draft!

So exciting!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Chaos of Standing Still
by Jessica Brody
Hardcover
Simon Pulse
Released 11/28/2017

Over the course of one chaotic night stranded at the Denver airport, Ryn confronts her shattered past thanks to the charm of romance, the uniqueness of strangers, and the magic of ordinary places in this stunning novel from the author of Boys of Summer.

Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year.

She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died.

But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her.

And his name is Xander.

When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brilliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head.

Ryn can’t move on.

But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.

As moving as it is funny, The Chaos of Standing Still is a heartwarming story about the earth-shattering challenges life throws at us—and the unexpected strangers who help us along the way.

Purchase The Chaos of Standing Still at Amazon
Purchase The Chaos of Standing Still at IndieBound
View The Chaos of Standing Still on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.

After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

Since then, Jessica has sold over twelve novels for teens, tweens, and adults including 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, The Karma Club, My Life Undecided, and the three books in the Unremembered trilogy, the first of which is currently in development as a major motion picture by the producers of The Vampire Academy, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Slumdog Millionaire. In 2016, she released two new contemporary novels, A Week of Mondays (which is an official selection of the 2017 Texas Lone Star reading list) and Boys of Summer.  In February 2017, her debut middle grade novel entitled, Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up, hit the bookstore shelves, as well as two YA novels: In Some Other Life (August), and The Chaos of Standing Still (November).

Jessica also writes books for the Descendants: “School of Secrets” series, based on the hit Disney Channel Original movie, Descendants!

Jessica’s books are published and translated in over twenty foreign countries. She currently splits her time between California and Colorado.

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Have you had a chance to read THE CHAOS OF STANDING STILL yet?
Getting your feelings onto the page is so hard -- have you ever cried while writing a tough scene?
What's the most fun you've had while writing a scene?

Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Charlotte, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Erin, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

Monday, November 27, 2017

7 New Releases this week 11/27-12/03 plus 4 Giveaways

Happy Monday! We hope our American readers had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend. We're grateful to have another round of giveaways up for grabs. Make sure to enter to win below, and check out the other awesome books being released this week!

Happy Reading,

Shelly, Sam, Jocelyn, Martina, Erin, Susan, Kelly, Laura, Emily, Anisaa, and Lori Ann



YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


R.I.P. Eliza Hart
by Alyssa B. Sheinmel
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Scholastic Press
Released 11/28/2017

When Eliza Hart, the most popular girl at Ventana Ranch boarding school, is found dead on the cliffs outside her dormitory, Ellie Sokoloff is determined to figure out what happened to her. After all, Eliza was Ellie’s childhood best friend.

Never mind that ever since Ellie arrived at school Eliza has spread terrible rumors about her, calling her a liar and a stalker, when all Ellie wanted to do was rekindle their old friendship. Or that Ellie’s claustrophobia limits where she can go and what she can do. Or that Ellie’s suitemate, Sam, is the only one who will help her . . . because to everyone else, Ellie looks like the top suspect.

Can Ellie clear her name and solve the mystery behind Eliza’s death? Her hunt for the truth will uncover secrets she never imagined, sending her deep into her own memories of her childhood with Eliza Hart.

New York Times bestselling author Alyssa Sheinmel delivers a gripping mystery and a sensitive and moving examination of the secrets that can hold us back—and even destroy us.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about R.I.P. Eliza Hart?

I have two favorite things—the two narrators, Eliza Hart and Ellie Sokoloff. I love each of these characters, and it was such an exciting challenge for me as a writer to try to create two distinct voices. My goal was that readers would be able to tell whether they were in an Ellie or an Eliza chapter even if they’d just opened to a random page in the middle of the book—I hope I achieved it!

Oh, and one more favorite thing—I love that the story takes place in Big Sur, CA. It’s my very favorite place and setting the story in Big Sur was my way of getting to spend a little bit more time there. (But I promise, my reasons for placing the story there weren’t only selfish—I also thought it was the perfect setting for the story!)


Purchase R.I.P. Eliza Hart at Amazon
Purchase R.I.P. Eliza Hart at IndieBound
View R.I.P. Eliza Hart on Goodreads

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Ready to Fall: A Novel
by Marcella Pixley
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 11/28/2017

When Max Friedman's mother dies of cancer, instead of facing his loss, Max imagines that her tumor has taken up residence in his head. It's a terrible tenant--isolating him from family, distracting him in school, and taunting him mercilessly about his manhood. With the tumor in charge, Max implodes, slipping farther and farther away from reality. Max is sent to the artsy, off-beat Baldwin School to regain his footing. He joins a group of theater misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet and slowly becomes friends with Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, an edgy upperclassman who refuses to let go of the things he loves. For a while, Max almost feels happy. But his tumor is always lurking in the wings--until one night it knocks him down and Max is forced to face the truth, not just about the tumor, but about how important it is to let go of the past.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Ready to Fall: A Novel?

I think what I like best about READY TO FALL is the complexity of the friendships that Max makes when he moves from the public high school to the progressive and wonderfully artsy Baldwin School. Max's new friends are in the theater crowd so they are a pretty quirky, alternative and demonstrative, bunch of kids (the same sorts of people I loved to spend time with when I was in high school). When all these kids are together, the scenes are filled with a fast-paced, witty banter that was really fun to write and I hope is really fun to read as well. The central metaphor of the book is also the inspiration for both the title and the book cover. "Ready To Fall," refers to the line an actor might speak directly before a trust fall, and the driving force in the narrative is that after family tragedy, Max needs to turn to his friends to learn how to trust again. Unfortunately, in order to trust, he also needs to do is learn how to let go.

Purchase Ready to Fall: A Novel at Amazon
Purchase Ready to Fall: A Novel at IndieBound
View Ready to Fall: A Novel on Goodreads

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The Chaos of Standing Still
by Jessica Brody
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 11/28/2017

Over the course of one chaotic night stranded at the Denver airport, Ryn confronts her shattered past thanks to the charm of romance, the uniqueness of strangers, and the magic of ordinary places in this stunning novel from the author of Boys of Summer.

Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year.

She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died.

But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her.

And his name is Xander.

When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brilliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head.

Ryn can’t move on.

But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.

As moving as it is funny, The Chaos of Standing Still is a heartwarming story about the earth-shattering challenges life throws at us—and the unexpected strangers who help us along the way.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Chaos of Standing Still?

A dead girl named Lottie.

Perhaps, I should explain:

When I first started writing this book, I intended to write a fun rom-com about two teens who meet and fall in love while trapped in the Denver airport during a snow storm. I wanted to write a book that took place in a single location over the course of 24 hours. Could I actually make two people believably fall in love in only a day? This was my challenge to myself.

I outlined. I plotted. I planned. I started writing.

Then something interesting happened:

Suddenly, out of nowhere, this new character appeared. Her name was Lottie. She was unlike any character I’d ever written. She was vivacious. She was bubbly. She spoke her mind. She was funny. And she was very, very dead.

I had no idea what to do with that. Dead Lottie was definitely not in my original rom com outline. But once Lottie was unleashed into the story. Everything changed. It was no longer a cute, fun rom-com about a girl getting trapped in the Denver airport and falling in love (although all of that is still in there.) But it soon became so much more than that. It became a story about a girl who lost her best friend and has been unable to let her go. Literally. Lottie is trapped inside Ryn’s head, still talking to her, still guiding her in death, just like she did in life.

So the story quickly morphed from a carefree, cute rom com to a rom com with this extra layer to it. A theme of unresolved grief. It’s a topic I never planned to cover in this novel and never even thought I’d have the courage to explore.

But you know what they say: Writer plans. God laughs.


Purchase The Chaos of Standing Still at Amazon
Purchase The Chaos of Standing Still at IndieBound
View The Chaos of Standing Still on Goodreads

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Run Away With Me
by Mila Gray
Hardcover Giveaway
Simon Pulse
Released 11/28/2017

Emerson Lowe and popular ice-hockey player Jake McCallister have been best friends since third grade, but just as their friendship starts to morph into something more, a terrible event occurs that heralds the end of innocence for both of them. Within a week, Jake’s living on the other side of the country and Emerson is left alone to pick up the pieces of her life in a small town determined to paint her as a liar.

Seven years on and Emerson is still living on the beautiful Pacific West island of Bainbridge, helping her family run their outdoor adventure company. The last thing she needs is Jake turning up, bringing with him old memories and opening up old wounds. But Jake—even better looking than Emerson remembered and on the cusp of a bright sporting future—seems determined to revive their friendship no matter how much Emerson tries to push him away and soon they’re in the midst of a passionate summer romance that neither of them wants to end.

But if they’re to have any kind of future, they’re first going to need to confront the past, a past that most people want to stay buried.

Purchase Run Away With Me at Amazon
Purchase Run Away With Me at IndieBound
View Run Away With Me on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Siege of Shadows by Sarah Raughley: Marisa F.

MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


A War of Gifts: An Ender Battle School Story
by Orson Scott Card
Hardcover
Tor Teen
Released 11/28/2017

A standalone holiday story set during Ender's time at Battle School from the #1 New York Times bestselling author, Orson Scott Card.

At the Battle School, there is only one course of study: the strategy and tactics of war. Humanity is fighting an alien race, and we fight as one. Students are drawn from all nations, all races, all religions, taken from their families as children. There is no room for cultural differences, no room for religious observances, and there is certainly no room for Santa Claus.

But the young warriors disagree. When Dink Meeker leaves a Sinterklaaus Day gift in another Dutch student's shoe, that quiet act of rebellion becomes the first shot in a war of wills that the staff of the Battle School never bargained for.

Orson Scott Card's novel Ender's Game is the basis of the hit movie of the same name.

Purchase A War of Gifts: An Ender Battle School Story at Amazon
Purchase A War of Gifts: An Ender Battle School Story at IndieBound
View A War of Gifts: An Ender Battle School Story on Goodreads

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Final Fall
by Heather W. Petty
Hardcover
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 11/28/2017

Mori is out for revenge. Imprisoned in the English countryside, with her brothers held as leverage, she’s never felt angrier or more helpless. When an opportunity for escape arises, Mori takes it and flees back to the streets of London, where she is finally able to plot the demise of her recently freed father and his cohorts.

But after a bittersweet reunion with Lock, she discovers that he may not be the ally he once was. In the face of blackmail, threats, and Lock’s noble attempts to thwart her crusade, Mori has an impossible decision to make.

Can Mori wash the blood from her hands and walk away? Or will her final fall from grace be the end of everyone she loves?

Purchase Final Fall at Amazon
Purchase Final Fall at IndieBound
View Final Fall on Goodreads



Saturday, November 25, 2017

0 Dave Connis, author of THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM, on learning how to deal with creative insecurities

We are thrilled to have Dave Connis stop by and talk about his debut novel, THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM.

Dave, what was your inspiration for writing THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM?

A few things. Here. I'll make a list.

1. PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER by Stephen Chbosky. TOA wouldn't exist without me realizing that the sort of book it was could exist. There's a scene in the movie that's never left me and never will. This moment, out of all the words found in the movie and book, made me want to write TOA.

"Charlie: There is so much pain. And I-I-I don't know how to not notice it.

Dr. Burton: What's hurting you?

Charlie: No, not... not me. It's them! It's... it's everyone. It never stops. Do you understand?"

2. Watching my friends suffer and love and suffer and love and suffer and love.

3. Understanding how dangerous porn can be when what it teaches goes unchecked.

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

There's a spot toward the end of the book where writing everything that came after it hurt. After I wrote the scene where everything changes, and I hadn't yet written the story arc, I was actually sad for two or three days until I finished the arc. Then, every time I got to that specific part in the editing process, I felt sad. Even now, when I go over it in physical form, I feel this tinge of down-ness. Heck, just thinking about it makes me sad. LET'S MOVE ON.

I wouldn't say the scene that shall not be named is the scene I'm most proud of, and I wouldn't say a particular scene has all of my affections, but I would say there are a few particular ways the plot comes together that I'm super proud of. That and the character of Addy. Addy didn't exist in the initial drafts of the book and now she's so fundamental to the story that I'm not really sure how that worked.

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

- Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, obvi.
- An Idiots Guide to Suffering. Jk. Not a book, but I'd probably read it if it was.
- More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera
- Reality Boy by A.S King.

How long did you work on THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM?

I started it December of 2013 and finished the first draft in February of 2014. After that, I edited it a few times and started querying it in April 2014. Then a bunch of things that didn't happen, happened (agent full requests, etc.) and I came back to it November 2014 after I got an R&R (revise and resubmit) from my current editor. I resubmitted it in February of 2015, got an offer on it in May 2015, signed the contract in August 2015 and it's now being published in November 2017.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

About writing:

This book in particular showed me I could write. TOA was the first book I was proud of and the first book I wanted to share with other people. It also taught me what it looks like for me to write professionally.

About myself:

That I tend to write about things that I want to believe, not necessarily the things I do believe.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM?

That who they are, including their flaws and shortcomings, are enough.

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 started writing seriously in 2011, here we are in 2017 and I'm still, at the time of writing these answers, two months away from the release first novel. I know some really talented people have been writing longer than I have and still have yet to see a contract, so I don't want to say my road was SO LONG even though it feels like it was. It's all relative, but I will say this, my road was really really really hard emotionally. Ask me about it sometime.

I wrote...6 books before TOA.

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

Nope. Not at all. I think I felt confidence for the first time when I was writing TOA, but I don't think I ever felt like I'd found the formula. I still don't think I have. I'm not sure if there is one. If someone has found the key, send me an email.

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

I work more than full-time and have a two year old running around during the day, so I have to do all my writing in the morning. My alarm goes off at 5:25, I talk myself into getting out of bed until about 5:29 when I finally decide I can't put off what I'm doing any longer. My son is a light sleeper in the morning hours, and everything I do, walking, making coffee, breathing, at that hour sounds like a semi-truck horn, so I've devised a morning ritual based around being as quiet as possible. I have to make coffee and have devised a system to do so which includes opening the fridge by slowly shimmying fingers into the seal instead of just opening the door like a normal person. Once I get my ninja coffee, I go to a blanket/pillow nest I have set up in my master bathroom closet because I can't write in my actual office. If I do my son hears me typing on my keyboard and wakes up, thus ending my only time to write. Glamorous, I know.

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

Set yourself free early on by realizing there's always a reason to not be happy with where you are. I realize that's easy for me to say because I have a book coming out, but, with every stage, there's some new person you can compare yourself to. There's a new doubt you can't shake. There's some new thing that you didn't achieve that you hold against yourself. Learn how to deal with those sorts of creative insecurities upfront so you've got good tools to help you grow writing into a career. The biggest thing I've found that combats all of this is simply just being thankful for the now. Like, speaking out loud to yourself about how good the things you have are.

What are you working on now?

I'm currently working on my second book (or 11th, if you want to be technical) called SUGGESTED READING, which comes out through Katherine Tegen in 2019.

SUGGESTED READING is about a girl, Clara, whose school, Lupton Academy, releases a contentious banned book list. Clara's love of literature makes her decide to capitalize on what she calls "Buck Authority Syndrome", aka doing things you're not supposed to simply because you've been told not to do them, by starting a banned book library in her locker. Her choice, along with the power of the books she's peddling, makes her question censorship, the labels she's put on others, and what having empathy really means as her community takes sides about what's right and what's wrong.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Temptation of Adam
by Dave Connis
Hardcover
Sky Pony Press
Released 11/21/2017

Adam Hawthorne is fine.

Yeah, his mother left, his older sister went with her, and his dad would rather read Nicholas Sparks novels than talk to him. And yeah, he spends his nights watching self-curated porn video playlists.

But Adam is fine.

When a family friend discovers Adam’s porn addiction, he’s forced to join an addiction support group: the self-proclaimed Knights of Vice. He goes because he has to, but the honesty of the Knights starts to slip past his defenses. Combine that with his sister’s out-of-the-blue return and the attention of a girl he meets in an AA meeting, and all the work Adam has put into being fine begins to unravel.

Now Adam has to face the causes and effects of his addiction, before he loses his new friends, his prodigal sister, and his almost semi-sort-of girlfriend.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I write books you can sing and words you can read. I live in Chattanooga, TN with my wife, Clara and a dog that barks at nonexistent threats. When I'm not writing YA or MG, I'm probably working really strange part-time jobs, and doing other things that actually give my family the ability to eat food. I'm a member the Jedi Counsel, and I have a propensity to daydream when ever I attempt to be an adult.

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Have you had a chance to read THE TEMPTATION OF ADAM?
Do you have to sneak around to fit in early morning writing?
Are you able to just be thankful for the now?

Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Charlotte, Jocelyn, Anisaa, Erin, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann