Wednesday, June 28, 2017

2 WoW: From Concept to Book Trailer with Rachel Caine

Today on WoW, we're thrilled to be joined be by author of The Great Library series, Rachel Caine, here discussing the evolution of ASH AND QUILL, including the development and release of the book's trailer. Plus, visit us on Twitter today for a giveaway of TWO signed (!) sets of The Great Library series!! But now, here's Rachel.

From Concept to Book Trailer
By Rachel Caine 
I've done a lot of books, but ASH AND QUILL marked the first time that I've tackled something that turned out to be bigger than I ever anticipated. ASH AND QUILL is the first book I've had to completely rewrite three times, only to discover that it isn't, in fact, an ending ... but the beginning of the ending.

Originally when I laid out the idea for The Great Library, it was an orderly enough trilogy structure: Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, Ash and Quill. All neatly laid out.

But this story isn't that simple, and it never went where I supposed it would--or, more accurately, there was always more to what happened than was visible from the distance of my plans. 

The world of The Great Library has surprised me at every turn, and that is a very good thing, because it forced me to reach deeper and deeper into the characters, the world, and the consequences of every action. That's come to a head in ASH AND QUILL, where Jess Brightwell and his friends start from a position of absolute helplessness: they are Librarians, however rebellious, held captive in a Burner city under siege by Library troops. If the Burners don't kill them, the Library surely will, once they realize Christopher Wolfe, Jess Brightwell, and Thomas Schreiber are inside those walls. So they must find a way first to survive, and second to successfully escape, against odds that seem absolutely zero.

This story began as an adventure and quickly became a test of endurance, strength, character and cleverness for all of them, and I'm very proud of the results. Jess will make moves that are against all his instincts and will, but he'll make them for the best of all reasons: to save his friends, and to save the Library itself.

That's not to say the other characters don't also have important roles to play. I think the bonds between them have never been stronger, or more vital to their survival, than in this book. And I hope that it will make you all fall in love with them even more.

I'm so excited to present to you the exclusive trailer for THE GREAT LIBRARY: ASH AND QUILL!

I'm a bit of a strange bird, as an author; I have had a ton of different jobs, many of which taught me important and interesting skills. As a corporate communications person, I was asked to learn video editing to put together some internal videos, and I became fascinated with the process.I discovered resources, like Shutterstock, iStockphoto, Dreamstime, and many more, where you can legally license royalty-free images and footage for reasonable fees, and other sources for audio tracks. 

Via the site Voice123.com, I located the narrator for this trailer; I prefer to use professional voice actors where possible, and I spent probably the most time finding just the right voice for Dario Santiago. (It took a pro narrator less than 10 minutes to deliver perfect audio after being hired for the job!)

In total, the trailer took me about 4 hours of work to craft together.

For editing, I use Adobe Premiere Pro, which has powerful abilities that I seriously underutilize, but in my defense, I'm an author who does trailers, not a pro user. You can do everything with Premiere Pro. 

I'd be remiss in not also mentioning my friend Littleheaven, who inspired me and taught me the basics of matching music to visuals through her amazing fan videos; the best fan videos are up there with the best work in movie trailers!

So here's a little about the trailer:

   NARRATOR: Dario Santiago is played by Ramesh Mahtani, a voice actor who lives in Spain
   FOOTAGE: All video is licensed RF footage from Shutterstock.com and iStockPhoto.com
MUSIC: Productiontrax.com
ASH AND QUILL launches in stores on July 11, and I hope you will join me for this, and the next two books in the epic struggle to save the soul of the Great Library of Alexandria.


ASH AND QUILL launches in stores on July 11, and I hope you will join me for this, and the next two books in the epic struggle to save the soul of the Great Library of Alexandria.

Check out the trailer!



Preorder ASH AND QUILL
Amazon Hardcover: http://amzn.to/2sXLT56
Barnes and Noble Hardcover: http://bit.ly/2rVksci
Books-a-Million: Hardcover: http://bit.ly/2tRWNpq
Books-a-Million Ebook: http://bit.ly/2rVzQ8B
Powell's Hardcover: http://bit.ly/2rVbjAt


About Rachel Caine
Rachel Caine's rich, diverse bibliography of more than 50 books in print covers many categories and genres. She started out writing horror and fantasy as Roxanne Longstreet (Stormriders, The Undead, Red Angel, Cold Kiss, Slow Burn) before switching to the name Roxanne Conrad and publishing romantic suspense and mystery (Copper Moon, Bridge of Shadows, Exile). By 2003, she began to publish under her current pseudonym, specializing in urban fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal young adult fiction.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

0 The (Almost) Magical Secret Weapon in Writing Compelling Fiction

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” 
~ Friedrich Nietzsche


We all know those books, right? The ones that you can't put down. Sometimes it's because the premise is so big, the conflict is so enormous and original, that you are hooked by that alone. But most of the time, it has nothing to do with a huge underlying tension. It comes down to what literary agent Donald Maass, author of the must-read books Writing the Breakout Novel and The Fire in Fiction, calls "micro-tension."

As he puts it: "Keeping readers constantly in your grip comes from the steady application of something else altogether: Micro-tension. That is the tension that constantly keeps your reader wondering what will happen—not in the story, but in the next few seconds."

Curiosity, not conflict, is the most powerful word when it comes to fiction.

Lisa Cron, the author of Wired For Story and Story Genius, explains that this is due to biology, the survival instincts that allowed human beings to develop and evolve, citing neuroscience to show that our bodies physiologically react to reading about an experience in a good story the same way that we react to experiencing the story ourselves. She explains how we are biologically driven to learn from story, and that what we perceive as a good story is one that keeps us learning.

“...what draws us into a story and keeps us there is the firing of our dopamine neurons, signaling that intriguing information is on the way.”

So how do we use that to drive our stories forward?

WHY?


The word why is the writer's secret weapon. If we infuse it into every page, every paragraph, it can lead our reader through the dullest backstory, draw them through periods of quiet discussion, pull them through paragraphs of beautiful description. Why is the reason we read.

As writers, there are limitless ways that we can use why on the sentence, paragraph, and page level to create the micro-tension that fuels forward momentum and builds urgency in the reader.

  1. Create a difference between what the characters want and what they have in the current situation.
  2. Provide your characters with conflicting or contrasting emotions.
  3. Make the characters have to hide what they really feel.
  4. Make the characters hide what they are really doing
  5. Make the characters confront the things they don't want, their fears and the secrets and truths they are desperate to protect from others and themselves.
  6. Focus on the fresh and unexpected.
  7. Sliver in unanswered questions, building curiosity about secrets, backstory, and upcoming events so that the reader must keep reading to get the answers.
Most importantly, be certain to let the reader know why characters are behaving and reacting in the ways they are, and make those reasons fresh, believable, and compelling. 

Happy writing,

Martina

What Do You Think?

Do you have a question about micro-tension or a technique that you've read about, discovered, or used to make your own work more compelling? Know an author who always writes unputdownable fiction? Share below! : ) 


About the Author

Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She’s the award-winning author of the romantic southern gothic Heirs of Watson Island series, including CompulsionPersuasion, and Illusion from Simon & Schuster, Simon Pulse and of the Celtic Legends series for adult readers beginning with Lake of Destiny.

She lives with her husband, children, and a lopsided cat, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the sorts of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, Quality Streets, and anything with Nutella on it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

8 New Releases this week 06/26-07/02 plus 4 Giveaways

Happy Monday! This week we have a few giveaways up for grabs including some swag packs for REIGN OF SERPENTS and 10 copies of INTO THE HURRICANE (*gasp*). So make sure to enter below and check out all 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 THIS WEEK


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Reign of Serpents
by Eleanor Herman
Swag Only Giveaway (5 Copies)
U.S. Only

Harlequin Teen
Released 6/27/2017

New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman entwines the real scandals of history with epic fantasy in this action-packed follow-up to EMPIRE OF DUST.

In REIGN OF SERPENTS, the ancient power of Snake Blood threatens the known world. While Prince Alexander struggles with a very deadly inner demon, his betrothed, Zofia, is on her way to him, to unite their kingdoms…even as she begins to realize where her true allegiance lies.

The fierce Cynane meets her match-not in her future husband, the deranged king of Illyria, but in her great-great-grandfather, Talus, possessor of Smoke Blood, who will teach her the true meaning of betrayal.

And marooned together on an island in the Mediterranean, romantic tension blooms between Katerina and Hephaestion as they learn of lost civilizations and discover a device that could help them do the impossible: kill the last living god.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Reign of Serpents?

I love how much the characters grow up in this book! In retrospect, they seem so young and innocent in the first book, LEGACY OF KINGS. They have growing pains in the second one, EMPIRE OF DUST, and now, just a few months after Legacy began, in REIGN OF SERPENTS the characters are fiercely powerful adults who have learned to accept themselves as they are. I also love writing battle scenes, and since this book didn’t call for one, I wrote an ancient Greek food fight at a royal wedding!

Purchase Reign of Serpents at Amazon
Purchase Reign of Serpents at IndieBound
View Reign of Serpents on Goodreads



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Into the Hurricane
by Neil Connelly
Hardcover Giveaway (10 Copies)
U.S. Only

Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 6/27/2017

TWO PEOPLE WITH LOSSES.

Eli and Max both have good reasons to go to the lighthouse on Shackles Island. For Max, it's an old vacation spot, the rare location where she has only good memories -- so it's the right place to scatter her dad's ashes. For Eli, it's the highest point near his Louisiana home, with the clearest view of the rocks where his sister died -- so it's the right place to end his own life as well.

A STORM WITHOUT LIMITS.

But neither of them expected the other, nor the storm. Because Hurricane Celeste is roaring toward Shackles Island, and its power will break bridges, slash electric lines, and stir up deadly wildlife -- some of it human. When the ruthless Odenkirk family steals Max's Jeep with her most precious possession inside, she and Eli begin a desperate quest to get it back and get off the island ... until they realize they must go into the hurricane.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Into the Hurricane?

Though I was born in Pennsylvania, my education brought me to Louisiana, where INTO THE HURRICANE is set. During my years there, I discovered many delights—music, festivals, and food like no northerner can imagine. My favorite dish was gumbo, a spicy mix of sausage and chicken and rice (some folks add shrimp or okra too). One thing I’m pleased with in HURRICANE is its gumbo-ness. There are a lot of elements—two main characters who don’t get along, a cultish family of religious extremists, and of course the natural landscape of the gulf coast. Along the way, the story touches on themes of loss, guilt, redemption, and second chances, but it never gets “idea heavy” because so much is happening in the action-packed plot. Eli and Max constantly face threats posed by wild animals, gun-toting fanatics, and of course the eponymous storm itself. When I think about it, there’s just a whole lot that went into this recipe, and I like how it all blends together.

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

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The Beautiful Lost
by Luanne Rice
Advance Reader Copy Giveaway (5 Copies)
U.S. Only

Point
Released 6/27/2017

Here are three things to know about Maia:

1. Ever since her mother left, Maia's struggled with depression -- which once got so bad, she had to go to an institution for a while. She doesn't want to go back.

2. Maia's sure that if she finds her mother, if the two of them can talk about whale songs and constellations, then everything will be okay again.

3. She's in love with Billy, the handsome, brooding boy who lives in the group home in town. He doesn't seem to know that Maia exists... until now.

When Maia sets off on a road trip in search of her mom, Billy unexpectedly comes along. They drive up the East Coast, stopping along the way for lobster rolls and lighthouses. Maia learns that Billy has dark secrets of his own -- and wants to outrun his past, too. But what will the future hold if they reach their destination?

From internationally bestselling author Luanne Rice, this is a sweeping, stunning story about the surprising directions our hearts can take.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Beautiful Lost?

I love Maia. She has been calling to me for a long time. She told me her story through feelings, not thoughts or words. She spoke to me through her skin. We have a lot in common. Like her, I was seriously depressed as a teen, and I feel very grateful that she presented herself and gave me this chance to delve into that dark sorcery. That’s how it felt to me—a spell I couldn’t break. Writing about Maia was a different kind of magic; helping a character find her own power helps the writer find hers.

Purchase The Beautiful Lost at Amazon
Purchase The Beautiful Lost at IndieBound
View The Beautiful Lost on Goodreads



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Prisoner of War
by Michael P. Spradlin
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Scholastic Press
Released 6/27/2017

Survive the war. Outlast the enemy. Stay alive.

That's what Henry Forrest has to do. When he lies about his age to join the Marines, Henry never imagines he'll face anything worse than his own father's cruelty. But his unit is shipped off to the Philippines, where the heat is unbearable, the conditions are brutal, and Henry's dreams of careless adventuring are completely dashed.

Then the Japanese invade the islands, and US forces there surrender. As a prisoner of war, Henry faces one horror after another. Yet among his fellow captives, he finds kindness, respect, even brotherhood. A glimmer of light in the darkness. And he'll need to hold tight to the hope they offer if he wants to win the fight for his country, his freedom . . . and his life.

Michael P. Spradlin's latest novel tenderly explores the harsh realities of the Bataan Death March and captivity on the Pacific front during World War II.

Purchase Prisoner of War at Amazon
Purchase Prisoner of War at IndieBound
View Prisoner of War on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


Such a Good Girl by Amanda K. Morgan: Teresa D.
Pawns by Willo Davis Roberts: Michelle P.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
by Mackenzi Lee
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 6/27/2017

An unforgettable tale of two friends on their Grand Tour of 18th-century Europe who stumble upon a magical artifact that leads them from Paris to Venice in a dangerous manhunt, fighting pirates, highwaymen, and their feelings for each other along the way.

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his grand tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Witty, romantic, and intriguing at every turn, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a sumptuous romp that explores the undeniably fine lines between friendship and love.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue?

My favorite thing about the book is the voice of the narrator, Monty. I've never had a character's voice come to me so effortlessly and fully formed from the first page, and the book really started with his voice. Monty was such a strongwilled, loudmouthed character from the very start, and writing both his antics and his voice is one of the most fun things I've ever had the chance to do as a writer.

Purchase The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue at Amazon
Purchase The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue at IndieBound
View The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Aftercare Instructions
by Bonnie Pipkin
Hardcover
Flatiron Books
Released 6/27/2017

In the tradition of Jandy Nelson and Rainbow Rowell, a big-hearted journey of furious friendship, crazy love, and unexpected hope after a teen's decision to end an unwanted pregnancy.

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four-act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.

Purchase Aftercare Instructions at Amazon
Purchase Aftercare Instructions at IndieBound
View Aftercare Instructions on Goodreads

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Eden Summer
by Liz Flanagan
Hardcover
David Fickling Books
Released 6/27/2017

It starts like any other day for Jess. Get up, draw on eyeliner, cover up tattoos, and head to school. But soon it's clear that this is no ordinary day, because Jess's best friend, Eden, isn't at school . . . she's gone missing.

Jess knows she must do everything in her power to find Eden. Before the unthinkable happens.

So Jess decides to retrace the life-changing summer she and Eden have just spent together. But looking back means digging up all their buried secrets, and she soon begins to question everything she thought the summer had been about, and everything she thought she knew about her best friend . . .

A tense and moving journey through friendship, loss, betrayal, and self-discovery, Eden Summer, will plunge its way into your heart and stay there forever.

Purchase Eden Summer at Amazon
Purchase Eden Summer at IndieBound
View Eden Summer on Goodreads

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Generation One
by Pittacus Lore
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 6/27/2017

The first book in a pulse-pounding new series that's set in the world of the #1 New York Times bestselling I Am Number Four series. The war may be over—but for the next generation, the battle has just begun!

It has been over a year since the invasion of Earth was thwarted in Pittacus Lore's United as One. But in order to win, our alien allies known as the Garde unleashed their Loric energy that spread throughout the globe. Now human teenagers have begun to develop incredible powers of their own, known as Legacies.

To help these incredible and potentially dangerous individuals—and put the world at ease—the Garde have created an academy where they can train this new generation to control their powers and hopefully one day help mankind. But not everyone thinks that's the best use of their talents. And the teens may need to use their Legacies sooner than they ever imagined.

Perfect for fans of Marvel's X-Men and Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave, this epic new series follows a diverse cast of teens as they struggle to hone their abilities and decide what, if anything, they should do with them. As a spin-off of the bestselling I Am Number Four series, those familiar with the original books and newcomers alike will devour this fast-paced, action-packed sci-fi adventure.

Purchase Generation One at Amazon
Purchase Generation One at IndieBound
View Generation One on Goodreads

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If Birds Fly Back
by Carlie Sorosiak
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 6/27/2017

A sparkling debut about love, family, and the mysteries of the universe.

Linny has been fascinated by disappearances, ever since her sister Grace ran away in the middle of the night without saying goodbye.

Sebastian can tell you how many galaxies there are, and knows how much plutonium weighs. But the one thing he can’t figure out is the identity of his birth father.

They’ve never met, but Linny and Sebastian have one thing in common: an obsession with famous novelist and filmmaker Alvaro Herrera, who went missing three years ago and has just reappeared. As they learn more about the mystery of Alvaro, Linny and Sebastian uncover the answers they’ve been searching for.

With humor and heart, debut author Carlie Sorosiak weaves a story of finding people who leave and loving those who stay, perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson and Emery Lord.

Purchase If Birds Fly Back at Amazon
Purchase If Birds Fly Back at IndieBound
View If Birds Fly Back on Goodreads

* * * *


Midnight Jewel
by Richelle Mead
Hardcover
Razorbill
Released 6/27/2017

In MIDNIGHT JEWEL, Richelle Mead goes beyond the glitz and glamour of the Glittering Court, delving into the dark, political underbelly of Cape Triumph through the eyes of one girl who dares to fight for her freedom.

A refugee of war, Mira was cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where the conditions were inhospitable at best. In a life-altering twist of fate, she is given the chance to escape once more, and she takes it, joining the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. There, Mira finds herself subjected to persecution, not only from her fellow Glittering Court jewels, but from her suitors, as well—men she would potentially be expected to give her life to.

By day, she goes through the motions, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity, even making a couple true friends in the process, the forthright ladies’ maid Adelaide and the ambitious laundress Tamsin. But by night, Mira hatches a different plan entirely—one that, if exposed, could get her hanged in the highest court of Adoria.

MIDNIGHT JEWEL is the extraordinary story of a girl with few options who courageously forges a new path, finding love, passion, lifelong friendships, and maybe even a way to freedom.

Purchase Midnight Jewel at Amazon
Purchase Midnight Jewel at IndieBound
View Midnight Jewel on Goodreads

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Now I Rise
by Kiersten White
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 6/27/2017

Lada Dracul has no allies. No throne. All she has is what she’s always had: herself. After failing to secure the Wallachian throne, Lada is out to punish anyone who dares to cross her blood-strewn path. Filled with a white-hot rage, she storms the countryside with her men, accompanied by her childhood friend Bogdan, terrorizing the land. But brute force isn’t getting Lada what she wants. And thinking of Mehmed brings little comfort to her thorny heart. There’s no time to wonder whether he still thinks about her, even loves her. She left him before he could leave her.

What Lada needs is her younger brother Radu’s subtlety and skill. But Mehmed has sent him to Constantinople—and it’s no diplomatic mission. Mehmed wants control of the city, and Radu has earned an unwanted place as a double-crossing spy behind enemy lines. Radu longs for his sister’s fierce confidence—but for the first time in his life, he rejects her unexpected plea for help. Torn between loyalties to faith, to the Ottomans, and to Mehmed, he knows he owes Lada nothing. If she dies, he could never forgive himself—but if he fails in Constantinople, will Mehmed ever forgive him?

As nations fall around them, the Dracul siblings must decide: what will they sacrifice to fulfill their destinies? Empires will topple, thrones will be won . . . and souls will be lost.

Purchase Now I Rise at Amazon
Purchase Now I Rise at IndieBound
View Now I Rise on Goodreads

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The Impossible Vastness of Us
by Samantha Young
Hardcover
Harlequin Teen
Released 6/27/2017

I know how to watch my back. I’m the only one that ever has.

India Maxwell hasn’t just moved across the country—she’s plummeted to the bottom rung of the social ladder. It’s taken years to cover the mess of her home life with a veneer of popularity. Now she’s living in one of Boston’s wealthiest neighborhoods with her mom’s fiancĂ© and his daughter, Eloise. Thanks to her soon-to-be stepsister’s clique of friends, including Eloise’s gorgeous, arrogant boyfriend Finn, India feels like the one thing she hoped never to be seen as again: trash.

But India’s not alone in struggling to control the secrets of her past. Eloise and Finn, the school’s golden couple, aren’t all they seem to be. In fact, everyone’s life is infinitely more complex than it first appears. And as India grows closer to Finn and befriends Eloise, threatening the facades that hold them together, what’s left are truths that are brutal, beautiful, and big enough to change them forever…

Purchase The Impossible Vastness of Us at Amazon
Purchase The Impossible Vastness of Us at IndieBound
View The Impossible Vastness of Us on Goodreads


0 Free 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop Opens July 1st!

Our July workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, July 1st at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Laura Williams McCaffrey as our author mentor and Gabrielle Piraino  as our agent mentor! (See below for Gabrielle's background and query preferences!)

The workshop is designed to help writers struggling to find the right opening for their novel or for those looking to perfect the all important first five pages before submitting for publication. Why the first five pages? Because if these aren't perfect, no agent, editor, or reader will continue reading to find out how great the rest of your story really is!

Why is the First Five Pages Workshop a GREAT Opportunity?

  • You are mentored by at least two traditionally-published published or agented authors for the duration of the workshop. These authors have been through the trenches and know what it takes to get a book deal, solid reviews, and sales.
  • In addition, you receive feedback from the four other workshop participants.
  • Feedback is given not just on your initial submission, but on two subsequent opportunities to revise your manuscript based on the previous feedback so that you know you've got it right!
  • The final revision will also be reviewed by a literary agent, who will also give you feedback on the pitch for your story--the one that may eventually become your query letter or cover copy.
  • The best entry from among the workshop participants will receive a critique of the full first chapter or first ten pages from the mentoring agent, which may, in some cases, lead to requests for additional material.

How It Works

Please see the complete rules before entering the workshop, but in a nutshell, we'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman, @MelissWritesNow), with the hashtag #1st5pages. In addition to the rotating team of our wonderful permanent author mentors, the final entry for each workshop participant will be critiqued by our agent mentor.

July Guest Literary Agent Mentor : Gabrielle Piraino


Gabrielle Piraino has previously worked for both major commercial publishing houses and literary agencies alike. Gabbie joined the team at DeFiore and Company in the summer of 2016.

Gabbie is actively seeking projects that you can lose an entire afternoon reading: imaginative sci-fi/fantasy with strong world building, blood-curdling horror, whip-smart thrillers, and up-market chick lit that pairs well with sand and a margarita. She’d love to see any of the above for Young Adult readers (virgin daiquiri, though!), and wholeheartedly enjoys spunky, stubborn characters that never do exactly what you’d expect. For Children’s and Middle Grade, Gabbie is looking for books that introduce curious young readers to new concepts—be it historically leaning or learning your manners—with compelling characters and an engaging voice.

How to Submit:

Please query her at gabrielle@defliterary.com with “QUERY” in the subject line as well as:
  • A brief summary of your book 
  • A brief, relevant bio 
  • For fiction, please include the first 50 pages in the body of your email 
  • For illustrators, please include your website or online portfolio 
  • No attachments, please

July Guest Author Mentor: Laura Williams McCaffrey


Laura's currently on faculty at Solstice, Pine Manor College’s MFA in Writing Program and at Pacem School and Homeschool Center.

Laura's published short stories in Cicada, YA Review Network, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Soundings Review. In 2016, Clarion Books released her YA dystopian fantasy MARKED, which Kirkus Books called "an original, textured page-turner." Her other fantasy novels are WATER SHAPER and ALIA WAKING (both published by Clarion Books). For more information, it's best to visit her website.




About MARKED: 


Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed—marked—as a criminal. Then she is offered redemption and she jumps at the chance . . . but it comes at a cost. Doing what is right means betraying the boy she has come to love, and, perhaps, losing even more than she thought possible. Graphic novel–style vignettes revealing the history of this world provide Lyla with guidance and clues to a possible way out of the double bind she finds herself in.