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.

Purchase The Temptation of Adam at Amazon
Purchase The Temptation of Adam at IndieBound
View The Temptation of Adam on Goodreads

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



Monday, November 20, 2017

3 New Releases this week 11/20-11/26 plus Giveaway of SIEGE OF SHADOWS

Happy Monday! It's another week and another giveaway up for grabs. Make sure to enter to win below, and check out all 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


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Siege of Shadows
by Sarah Raughley
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 11/21/2017

There’s nowhere to hide.

Not when you’re an Effigy. No matter where they go, Maia and the other Effigies can’t escape the eyes of the press—especially not after failing to capture Saul, whose power to control the monstrous Phantoms has left the world in a state of panic. It’s been two months since Saul’s disappearance, and there’s still no sign of him, leaving the public to wonder whether the Sect—and the Effigies—are capable of protecting anyone.

When Saul suddenly surfaces in the middle of the Sahara desert, the Sect sends Maia and her friends out after him. But instead of Saul, they discover a dying soldier engineered with Effigy-like abilities. Even worse, there may be more soldiers like him out there, and it looks like the Effigies are their prime targets.

Yet the looming danger of Saul and this mysterious new army doesn’t overshadow Maia’s fear of the Sect, who ordered the death of the previous Fire Effigy, Natalya. With enemies on all sides and the world turning against them, the Effigies have to put their trust in each other—easier said than done when secrets threaten to tear them apart.

Purchase Siege of Shadows at Amazon
Purchase Siege of Shadows at IndieBound
View Siege of Shadows on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Good and Gone by Megan Frazer Blakemore: Dawn M.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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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.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Temptation of Adam?

I'd say its depth. This probably sounds super egotistical, like, "Oh, Dave thinks he's SOOOOO deep", but there's so much humanity to find in TOA, I know because I wrote it at a time where I was carrying the weight of my own.

Purchase The Temptation of Adam at Amazon
Purchase The Temptation of Adam at IndieBound
View The Temptation of Adam on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Not Now, Not Ever: A Novel
by Lily Anderson
Hardcover
Wednesday Books
Released 11/21/2017

The sequel to The Only Thing Worse than Me Is You, inspired by The Importance of Being Earnest.

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn't going to do this summer.

1. She isn't going to stay home in Sacramento, where she'd have to sit through her stepmother's sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn't going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn't going to the Air Force summer program on her mother's base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender's Game, Ellie's seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it's much less Luke/Yoda/"feel the force," and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn't appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she'd be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she's going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer's going to be great.

Purchase Not Now, Not Ever: A Novel at Amazon
Purchase Not Now, Not Ever: A Novel at IndieBound
View Not Now, Not Ever: A Novel on Goodreads


Saturday, November 18, 2017

0 Megan Frazer Blakemore, author of GOOD AND GONE, on thinking about a project for years

We're thrilled to have Megan Frazer Blakemore stop by to chat about her latest novel, GOOD AND GONE.

Megan, how long did you work on GOOD AND GONE?

I worked intensely on GOOD AND GONE for at least a year, but I had been thinking about it for several years before then. I looked back at my computer files and one dates from 2009. There's a scene early in the novel in which Lexi is annoyed with her brother, Charlie, and goes out for a walk. That scene actually came from a notebook I found of writing I did in high school or college, so we're talking fifteen to twenty years ago. Clearly, Lexi has been in my head for a while, it just took a long time for her story to emerge.

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

Like SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson and WRECKED by Maria Padian, this is a book that deals with sexual assault and consent. Stylistically, I think people who enjoy writing by Jandy Nelson or the honesty of books like STORY OF A GIRL by Sara Zarr would enjoy GOOD AND GONE.

What was your inspiration for writing GOOD AND GONE?

I mentioned above that Lexi had been in my head for a long time. Something else I had been thinking about for a while was this idea of wanting to escape fame. In 1997 the singer Jeff Buckley disappeared from his tour bus. His body was not found for five days. Sadly, he died of accidental drowning. In the days before the discovery, though, there were a number of theories passed around about what had happened to him. Some people believed he had died by suicide, but others thought perhaps he had simply walked away from his life as a musician and celebrity. That story, and others like it, inspired the character of Adrian Wildes. In the book, Adrian is a singer that has gone missing and Lexi, Charlie, and their friend Zack go looking for him. The road trip they take provides structure to the story.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Good and Gone
by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 11/14/2017

When Lexi Green’s older brother, Charlie, starts plotting a road trip to find Adrian Wildes, a famous musician who’s been reported missing, she’s beyond confused. Her brother hasn’t said a nice word to her or left the couch since his girlfriend dumped him months ago—but he’ll hop in a car to find some hipster? Concerned at how quickly he seems to be rebounding, Lexi decides to go along for the ride.

Besides, Lexi could use the distraction. The anger and bewilderment coursing through her after getting dumped by her pretentious boyfriend, Seth, has left her on edge. As Lexi, Charlie, and their neighbor Zack hit the road, Lexi recalls bits and pieces of her short-lived romance and sees, for the first time, what it truly was: a one-sided, coldhearted manipulation game. Not only did Seth completely isolate her, but he took something from her that she didn’t give him permission to.

The farther from home they get, the three uncover much more than empty clues about a reclusive rocker’s whereabouts. Instead, what starts off as a car ride turns into an exploration of self as each of them faces questions they have been avoiding for too long. Like the real reason Charlie has been so withdrawn lately. What Seth stole from Lexi in the pool house. And if shattered girls can ever put themselves back together.

Purchase Good and Gone at Amazon
Purchase Good and Gone at IndieBound
View Good and Gone on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Megan Frazer Blakemore is an author for children and young adults. Her middle grade novel, THE WATER CASTLE (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2013) was named Kirkus Best Children's Book of  2013, a Bank Street College Best Book 2014, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and has been included on numerous state lists.

A school librarian, Megan has a B.A. from Columbia University, and an MLS from Simmons Graduate School of Library Science and Information Science and is currently pursuing a doctorate in library science. As a librarian, she focuses on raising reading achievement and giving voice to students through such programs as Coffee Houses, a Film Festival, maker spaces, and various reading programs.

She lives in Maine with her husband and two children as well as a cat and (sometimes) a hive of bees.

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Have you had a chance to read GOOD AND GONE yet?
How long do you like to think about a project before actually starting it?
What tips can you offer to others on moving the project from an idea to the page?
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

Friday, November 17, 2017

0 Tamora Pierce, author of TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE, on making a difference

We are delighted to have Tamora Pierce join us to share more about her latest novel, TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE, which is a reference book applying to the Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, The Protector of the Small, and the Trickster books.

Tamora, what is your favorite thing about TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE?

The variety of voices and types of information about the realm, its people, and ongoing events; the way we tried to convey a vision of a living government and those who try to keep it going, from feast menus to dirty deeds!

What was your inspiration for writing TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE?

My chief editor's interest, and the many, many questions fans ask at appearances, online, and via correspondence about the inner workings of the realm and further information about beloved characters, particularly background material, and off-stage life and events in Tortall.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why?

The climactic scene of MASTIFF, the third Beka Cooper book. I can't say why because of spoilers. ::shrug::

Is that the one of which you are most proud?

No--it hurt too much. I'm deeply proud of Tris's welcome of the lightning on the roof in SHATTERGLASS, and the short story "Elder Brother," which has appeared here and there. The bad guys in MAGIC STEPS are also a point of pride for sheer crawliness.

Or is there another scene you particularly love?

I have plenty of those, mostly ones that make me laugh, like Arram waking with a strange bedfellow in TEMPESTS AND SLAUGHTER, or the fact that after years of being scolded for matching Alanna and Daine with older men, I presented them with Aly's love--who, technically, is two years old in his natural form and a few months old at his human introduction. (I behave myself mostly now.)

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

The fantasy novels of Barbara Hambly, Elizabeth Moon, Robin McKinley, Maggie Stiefvater, Sarah Maas, Leigh Bardugo, Rachel Hartmann, Daniel Abraham, Brian McCullough, Guy Gavriel Kay, Philip Pullman--and there are many, many more listed on my webpage! (www.tamorapierce.com)

How long did you work on TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE?

>>rolls eyes<< Oy! We started out 8 years ago with a big sloppy idea for a reference book for the realm, following similar books that were coming out at the time. Then our editor left after we turned our first draft in; the project got lost for a while. My guardian angel and senior editor (at the time) Mallory Loehr found us a new editor in Chelsea Eberly and asked us to narrow the concept down. A lot. We all batted it around (the original team: my assistant and fellow writer Julie Holderman; my spouse creature and technical writer Tim Liebe; stage dance and combat choreographer, writer, and med student Megan Messinger, and I) and decided, due to the amount of applicable material, we would do a kind of spy's guide based on the office of a working spy chief--i.e. George, who everyone loves. My job was to supply material that wasn't there. Julie took on the added position of traffic director, or primary herder of cats, making sure we met deadlines. A friend from conventions, Judy Gerjuoy, who recently moved on to the great tournament in the sky, volunteered to cover feastday menus for royalty and their guests, while the wonderful Lisa Konst-Evans, who has handled the timeline for the Tortall universe for well over a decade, agreed to brush it up for the book. Random House supplied the map based on those in the books.

All told, it took about eight years. Give or take.

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

Avoid group projects at all costs. ;-) Seriously, we hope to add material that was cut down the road, probably online. I learned how vital it is to have a showrunner for something that involves more than two people spread all over the country, and that showrunner has to be able to say "no" without being mean or hysterical. I learned that courtesy in the group means that things get done. And without deadlines, nothing gets done. Some of this I knew. Also, it really is like herding cats.

What do you hope readers will take away from TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE?


Bits and pieces of information that wasn't strictly needed in the current books, but are fun to know anyway; fuel for fantasies, party games, and fanfic; tips on how to create similar structures for books and stories of their own, and more than a little true information about the medieval period and spycraft.

How long or hard was your road to publication?

My personal road, if you count from my first novel, and not articles or stories, was--my gosh, was it only 7 years? it seemed like an eternity at the time! I didn't send my first book anywhere; it was there to assure me I could write a book-length ms., which I did. It took me 17 months to write and rewrite the single novel which became the Song of the Lioness quartet. I submitted that to three adult publishers, who turned it down. During that time I was a housemother in a group home for girls. They insisted that I tell them the story in my book; the director insisted that they couldn't read it for themselves because it had sex, drug and alcohol use, and swearing. I told the story to the girls because they wanted me to, editing along the way. When I moved to New York and went to work for a literary agency, I was urged to show my ms. to the agent who handled fantasy: she suggested that I turn it to four YA novels. Since I'd done so for the girls, I knew I could do it, and I would do just about anything to get published. Jean Karl at Atheneum took the series (after more rewrites), and my first book was published in Fall 1982. I ended up sticking with YA because the fan mail taught me I could make a difference there that I couldn't make anywhere else. (Former social worker with teenagers, remember.)
How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

Only that one, that never saw the light of day. I did three chapters and an outline for a project after the Alanna books were done. That didn't sell (it was a historical by and large), but I returned to Tortall, and have been happy writing fantasy ever since. That would lead to over thirty novels at present, plus one book of short stories.

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?

Not really, apart from "apply butt to chair," "follow my schedule," "keep writing," and "apply for help when necessary." Perhaps I had one such moment when I read a critic's comment on The Woman Who Rides Like a Man: he said he wished I had set the books in medieval Europe, because my research was so good. I was startled, believing I had done no research at that time. Then I remembered that I had been in love with the Robin Hood TV show when I was five or six. That led me to look him up in the family encyclopedia when I learned to read. His entry led me to that for Richard the Lionhearted, which led me to the entry for the Crusades, which led me to "medieval life and times." From then until I was in fifth grade I read everything, fiction and nonfiction, about medieval life and times, and I continued to read fiction with medieval backgrounds. I thought that I had done no research for the Alanna books, when in fact I had done it all those years ago, starting with Robin Hood. I was working then on Lioness Rampant and needed a different culture for Saraine. Using this new idea, that my frequent obsessions could give me ideas, I considered mine and lit on the American War in Vietnam. I had a map of southeast Asia on my wall at the time: looking at it, I realized I could take names of less-known places (rivers, bays, islands, mountains, towns, peninsulas), change the spelling a little or break them up if I thought they were too recognizable, and have last names and place names for a nation. Going further, I would also have cuisine, clothes, first names (from my growing collection of baby name books), customs, architecture--anything I needed to flesh out my culture. That insight has been useful throughout my career!

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

Since the early 2000's I've had a home office (before that, my desk in our small office) where I keep my research books, the photos I use for characters and settings, various bits and pieces--stones, animal figurines, stuffies, and boxes with old manuscripts. Formerly I would also provide a temporary nest for any new cat or kitten rescue we were waiting to re-home or until they were ready to be introduced to the house cats, but since the summer before last I've had a permanent resident: a long-haired tortoiseshell rescue named Autumn, who has no interest in entering general population. She demands regular pets and observes the work in progress.

At first I couldn't have any music with words in a language I could understand even a little, so it was all instrumental or in languages I really, really didn't know, like Arabic or Mongolian. No pop, no jazz, etc.--classical, movie scores, classical Chinese or Japanese, African drums, Tuvan throat singing, Indonesian . . . I listened to that. Then I couldn't listen to any music at all for a while--I think that was shortly after we moved to upstate New York, and I wasn't used to it. Now I can listen to almost anything and work. It's strange.

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

It's always the same: just keep writing. The more you do, the better you get, so the more you do. It's like exercise or learning an instrument: you have to build your muscles and your brain up to keep the habit of writing regularly, even if you hate it. (And you will.) But you get better as you practice. You won't finish things at first, either, but with practice you'll learn to build on ideas, until finally you start finishing things.

The other piece of advice I give is that as long as you're growing as a writer, you'll hate what you do. The better you get, the less you'll hate it, but if you're any good, you'll always see something you know you could do better. That's normal; worse, it's good. It means you're still learning; you're still growing. It's when you look at something you just finished and you think it's perfect in every way that you're in trouble, particularly if that continues. It means you've gone stagnant. You've stopped growing. Either you'll continue to write the same kind of thing over and over until you're gone, or you'll receive such a massive shakeup in your life that you become a completely different person. Nobody wants that because those things are painful. Better to keep learning and trying new things.

What are you working on now?

The second volume of Arram's adventures as a magic student in Carthak. The first book, Tempests and Slaughter, comes out in February.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Tortall: A Spy's Guide
by Tamora Pierce
Hardcover
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 10/31/2017

The secrets of Tortall are revealed. . . .

As Tortall’s spymaster, George Cooper has sensitive documents from all corners of the realm. When Alanna sends him a surprising letter, he cleans out his office and discovers letters from when King Jonathan and Queen Thayet first ascended the throne, notes on creating the Shadow Service of spies, threat-level profiles on favorite characters, Daine’s notes on immortals, as well as family papers, such as Aly’s first report as a young spy and Neal’s lessons with the Lioness.

This rich guide also includes the first official timeline of Tortallan events from when it became a sovereign nation to the year Aly gives birth to triplets. Part history, part spy training manual, and entirely fascinating, this beautiful guide makes a perfect gift and is ideal for anyone who loves Alanna, King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Kel, Neal, Aly, Thom, Daine, Numair, and the unforgettable world of Tortall!

Purchase Tortall: A Spy's Guide at Amazon
Purchase Tortall: A Spy's Guide at IndieBound
View Tortall: A Spy's Guide on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 I was born in South Connellsville, PA. My mother wanted to name me "Tamara" but the nurse who filled out my birth certificate misspelled it as "Tamora". When I was 8 my family moved to California, where we lived for 6 years on both sides of the San Francisco peninsula.

I started writing stories in 6th grade. My interest in fantasy and science fiction began when I was introduced to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ by J. R. R. Tolkien and so I started to write the kind of books that I was reading. After my parents divorced, my mother took my sisters and me back to Pennsylvania in 1969. There I went to Albert Gallatin Senior High for 2 years and Uniontown Area Senior High School for my senior year.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I wrote the book that became The Song of the Lioness fantasy quartet. I sold some articles and 2 short stories and wrote reviews for a martial arts movie magazine. At last the first book of the quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure was published by Atheneum Books in 1983.

Tim Liebe, who became my Spouse-Creature, and I lived in New York City with assorted cats and two parakeets from 1982 - 2006. In 2006 we moved to Syracuse, New York, where we live now with assorted cats, a number of squirrels, birds, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and woodchucks visiting our very small yard. As of 2011, I have 27 novels in print, one short story collection, one comic book arc ("White Tiger: A Hero's Compulsion") co-written with Tim, and a short story anthology co-editing credit. There's more to come, including a companion book to the Tortall `verse. So stay tuned!

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Have you had a chance to read TORTALL: A SPY'S GUIDE yet? Do you shape worlds based on what you loved learning about as a kid? Do you continue to build your writing muscles? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

0 WoW: World Building On and Off the Map by Kristina Pérez

I'm always sort of amazed by fantasy writers, who build complete, often epic, worlds for their readers to explore. I especially love the gorgeous maps sometimes included in YA fantasy novels and have often wondered how these maps go from the imagination of the author to the page.

So I am particularly excited to have Kristina Pérez, author of the much-anticipated SWEET BLACK WAVES (6/5/18, Imprint), with me today for Writers on Writing. Her post below includes a bit of the history of cartography along with how she developed her maps as she created the the fantasy aisles of Iveriu and Kernyv. Stay tuned to the end of the post for more on SWEET BLACK WAVES.

Without further ado, here's Kristina.

World Building On and Off the Map
by Kristina Pérez

Whenever I buy a new fantasy novel, the first thing I do is eagerly flip open the cover in search of the map, impatient for a glimpse of the world into which I’m about to plunge. Are there empires? Kingdoms? What is the topography: is it flat or mountainous? Is it landlocked or are there seas on which mighty armadas will wage war?

We use the phrase “putting something on the map” almost without thinking. Being on the map is seen as a decidedly good thing, and being off the map, well…there be dragons. If a shop or restaurant doesn’t appear on your Google map, it might as well not exist.

Our English word “map” itself derives from the Medieval Latin mappa mundi, or “map of the world.” The Latin mappa refers to a piece of cloth on which maps were drawn at the time. Likewise, an entire universe can be contained on the flyleaf of a book. The initial hints of what challenges the protagonists of the story might face are discernible from the map of their world.

I remember falling in love with maps when I was around seven or eight years old. My dad, a historian by training, could spend hours pouring over antique maps at bookshops and galleries––especially those of his native Argentina––and I adored imagining the people who inhabited those distant times and places.

In particular, I was fascinated by the way the lines and names on the maps changed from decade to decade, century to century. When you’re a kid, the place where you grow up seems permanent, unmovable; as if it’s always been and always will be. Scouring the way borders moved across brightly colored continents, it suddenly became clear to me that wasn’t the case. I was raised in New York City, which had, after all, once been called New Amsterdam.

The world as I knew it wasn’t constant––it was constantly in flux.

This realization ignited my desire to understand how and why boundaries shifted and places were renamed. My dad used maps of Argentina from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, for instance, to bring its colonial history to life. I came to see that maps don’t always reflect reality; they aren’t only reactive. Maps can also be predictive: a declaration that creates a new world. With the stroke of a pen, a cartographer can draw a line and declare that this or that land now belongs to someone else, wiping away thousands of years of culture and civilization.

When you look at a map, you must therefore ask yourself who drew it and why? What was his or her perspective? What objective was he or she trying to achieve?



These are the same questions that I ask myself as a fantasy author when I start working on a new project. My debut YA novel, SWEET BLACK WAVES, is inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Iseult and, for various reasons, I decided to make it a second world fantasy based loosely on fifth and sixth century Britain and Ireland. The early stages of my world building research therefore included spending a lot of time looking at maps of Europe over this period to see how the fragmentation of the Roman Empire resulted in numerous invasions and the rise and fall of new kingdoms.

Once I had a firm grip on the changing historical landscape, I was equipped to decide how I wanted to deviate from the real world in creating my own universe. I asked myself who drew the lines on my fictional world? (Besides me, of course!) Who had the power to give places their names? Are there natural borders that dictate the shapes of the kingdoms in my world? How do the two go hand in hand?



In the medieval legends, Tristan hails from Cornwall, the southwest peninsula of modern-day Britain, whereas Iseult is the Princess of Ireland. In my world, Ireland becomes Iveriu, and Cornwall becomes Kernyv, which is located on the Island of Albion. For the sake of the plot, it made sense for both of them to remain islands and to be separated by a small sea. Because a ship voyage is an important part of the story, I had to determine how long I wanted the voyage to take and then make sure the scale of the map reflected this more or less accurately.

Besides the sea separating Iveriu from Kernyv, I next considered the topography of both kingdoms. Were there rivers? Forests? What is the resulting climate? What kind of game is there to hunt? Basically, the topography of your fantasy world mandates what people need to do to survive, and whatever that is––farming or seafaring––lays the foundation for their cultural identity.



Most people want to do more than survive, however. They want to thrive. And that’s where the economy comes into play.

If the soil of your fantasy land is rich in clay, for example, then it stands to reason that your people might be expert potters and their ceramics highly prized. So, to whom would they sell them? And, if they do sell their wares, do they have to pay tax? To a king, or a guild?

Figuring out the type of economy (agrarian, shipping etc.) gives rise to the question, who controls the economy? The answer is usually the ruling political class. And this leads directly to the next questions you as the author need to ask yourself: Who is in power? How did they get into power? How do they maintain their power?

In tandem, you need to think about how the topography influences religion. If your characters live in the desert, they might be more inclined to pray to a god of rain. If they live on the coast, gods and superstitions about the sea are more likely.

Once you have the religious and political structures clear in your head, you should also consider whether they work in harmony or stand in opposition. Who has more power, and why? Will this present an important conflict in your book?

In my drafting process for SWEET BLACK WAVES, I drew a detailed map of Iveriu where the majority of the action takes place, as well as of Kernyv, which will be the setting for the sequel. Since Iveriu and Kernyv aren’t the only kingdoms referenced in the novel, however, I had to think about all of the other kingdoms and empires with whom they might trade or have diplomatic relationships. I therefore created a third map of my entire universe, including kingdoms and empires that aren’t even mentioned in the book. Because SWEET BLACK WAVES is the first in a trilogy, I have tried to account in my mapmaking for all possible territories and peoples whom I might want to mention later in the series.

As the creator of your fantasy universe, you are also its master cartographer. My advice is to build your world first, and the story will follow. The pen, in this case, is definitely mightier than the sword. Wield it wisely!

Maps from SWEET BLACK WAVES by Jack Mozley.


About the Author
Kristina Pérez is a half-Argentine/half-Norwegian native New Yorker. She has spent the past two decades working as a journalist and academic in Europe and Asia. She is the author of The Myth of Morgan la Fey (Palgrave Macmillan) and holds a PhD in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge. Sweet Black Waves is her debut novel and will be released by Imprint/Macmillan on June 5th, 2018.




About SWEET BLACK WAVES (6/5/18, Imprint)
Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

Pre-Order SWEET BLACK WAVES:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

0 Tina Connolly, author of SERIOUSLY HEXED, on putting all the personal things you love into your book

SERIOUSLY HEXED is the final book in the Seriously Series, and we're thrilled to have Tina Connolly stop by to tell us more about it.

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

I feel like most of the scenes I’m really excited about with this book are full of spoilers! But some of my favorite moments are getting to pay off things I set up in books 1 and 2. Since Seriously Hexed is the final book in the trilogy, there were a number of incidents and references that I wanted to resolve before we turned the final page. I really enjoyed getting the chance to show things the previous books had touched on but not delved into.

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

I find first drafts to be the most challenging part of my process—I would literally rather do anything else than stare at the blank page. Even laundry. So I will leave my house and go to a coffee shop where I am forced to sit and do the work, with nothing to distract me. Later on, in revisions, I find it much easier to focus. I sit down at my desktop and lose myself in rearranging pieces for hours. I still turn off facebook, though.

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

Usually the advice I like to share involves things like productivity tips (just keep doing the work, slow and steady if necessary, you can do it) or my favorite creative tip (put all the things you personally love into your book, because then you will write something only *you* can write.) Lately, here in 2017, I feel like I want to offer the advice that it’s okay to feel in need of a break. Take that break, drink some hot chocolate, think about what you really want to say. The writing will be there.

What are you working on now?

I’ve been working on a variety of different things this summer, which has been a nice break. My short story collection, On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories, was nominated for a World Fantasy award, so I’m looking forward to going to that ceremony in San Antonio. I wrote a couple short plays for a Portland theatre company called the Pulp Stage, and they are collecting them, and some other pieces, into a new book called Storytelling Karaoke – which is exactly as fun as it sounds! I also wrote a novelette about pastries and revenge, and sold that to my editor at Tor. So look for that in early 2018 at Tor.com.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Seriously Hexed
by Tina Connolly
Hardcover
Tor Teen
Released 11/14/2017

Tina Connolly continues the hilarious adventures of teen witch Camellia and her mother, wicked witch Sarmine, in this latest installment to the Andre Norton Award-nominated "Seriously Wicked" series.

Teen witch Cam has resigned herself to being a witch. Sort of. She's willing to do small things, like magically help her boyfriend Devon get over his ongoing stage fright. But tangling with other witches is not on her wishlist. Joining her mother's wicked witch coven is right out.

New acquaintance Poppy Jones is a Type A, A+ Student of True Witchery. She's got all the answers, and she's delighted to tangle with a bunch of wicked witches. She doesn't need any reluctant witch getting in her way, especially one who knows less than a dozen spells, and has zero plans for witch college.

Then a coven meeting goes drastically awry. A hex is taking down all thirteen members of the coven, one by one putting both girls' mothers in jeopardy. Now the two teens are going to have to learn to work together, while simultaneously juggling werewolf puppies, celebrity demons, thirteen nasty hexes, and even nastier witches. They may have to go through hell and high water to save their mothers but they also might find a new friendship along the way.

Purchase Seriously Hexed at Amazon
Purchase Seriously Hexed at IndieBound
View Seriously Hexed on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series, from Tor Teen. Her books have been finalists for the Nebula, Norton, and World Fantasy awards. Her stories have appeared in Women Destroy SF, Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many more, and are collected in On the Eyeball Floor and Other Stories from Fairwood Press. She is one of the co-hosts of Escape Pod and runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. She likes re-reading books and eating pie for breakfast (preferably at the same time.)

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Have you had a chance to read SERIOUSLY HEXED yet? Procrastinating on the 1st draft is my nemesis, too. What hateful chore will you find yourself diving into instead of writing? On the flip side, what favorite things do you love to add to your WIP?

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 13, 2017

5 New Releases this week 11/13-11/19 plus Giveaway of GOOD AND GONE

Happy Monday! It's another week and another giveaway up for grabs. Make sure to enter to win below, and check out all 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


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Good and Gone
by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

HarperTeen
Released 11/14/2017

When Lexi Green’s older brother, Charlie, starts plotting a road trip to find Adrian Wildes, a famous musician who’s been reported missing, she’s beyond confused. Her brother hasn’t said a nice word to her or left the couch since his girlfriend dumped him months ago—but he’ll hop in a car to find some hipster? Concerned at how quickly he seems to be rebounding, Lexi decides to go along for the ride.

Besides, Lexi could use the distraction. The anger and bewilderment coursing through her after getting dumped by her pretentious boyfriend, Seth, has left her on edge. As Lexi, Charlie, and their neighbor Zack hit the road, Lexi recalls bits and pieces of her short-lived romance and sees, for the first time, what it truly was: a one-sided, coldhearted manipulation game. Not only did Seth completely isolate her, but he took something from her that she didn’t give him permission to.

The farther from home they get, the three uncover much more than empty clues about a reclusive rocker’s whereabouts. Instead, what starts off as a car ride turns into an exploration of self as each of them faces questions they have been avoiding for too long. Like the real reason Charlie has been so withdrawn lately. What Seth stole from Lexi in the pool house. And if shattered girls can ever put themselves back together.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Good and Gone?

My favorite thing about GOOD AND GONE is the structure. It is written as a back and forth between the present and the past. The present proceeds in chronological order, but the past scenes do not. Part of the reader's job is to put the pieces together to create the full story. The main character, Lexi, is coming to terms with her past, and the way events are revealed is tied to how much of her past she is ready to confront. I wrote the book all out of order, something unusual for me, and then I had to put the scenes together like a puzzle. It was a very difficult process, but worthwhile in the end.

Purchase Good and Gone at Amazon
Purchase Good and Gone at IndieBound
View Good and Gone on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


Hide from Me by Mary Lindsey: Ellie M.
The November Girl by Lydia Kang: D S.
The Speaker by Traci Chee: Angie Y.
This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada: Susan L.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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Seriously Hexed
by Tina Connolly
Hardcover
Tor Teen
Released 11/14/2017

Tina Connolly continues the hilarious adventures of teen witch Camellia and her mother, wicked witch Sarmine, in this latest installment to the Andre Norton Award-nominated "Seriously Wicked" series.

Teen witch Cam has resigned herself to being a witch. Sort of. She's willing to do small things, like magically help her boyfriend Devon get over his ongoing stage fright. But tangling with other witches is not on her wishlist. Joining her mother's wicked witch coven is right out.

New acquaintance Poppy Jones is a Type A, A+ Student of True Witchery. She's got all the answers, and she's delighted to tangle with a bunch of wicked witches. She doesn't need any reluctant witch getting in her way, especially one who knows less than a dozen spells, and has zero plans for witch college.

Then a coven meeting goes drastically awry. A hex is taking down all thirteen members of the coven, one by one putting both girls' mothers in jeopardy. Now the two teens are going to have to learn to work together, while simultaneously juggling werewolf puppies, celebrity demons, thirteen nasty hexes, and even nastier witches. They may have to go through hell and high water to save their mothers but they also might find a new friendship along the way.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Seriously Hexed?

Cam has always been a reluctant teen witch. She tries to use her powers for good, but she’s not really sure if she wants to use them at all. But when her mother disappears in the middle of a coven meeting full of wicked witches, everything falls onto Cam’s shoulders, and she’s going to have to come to terms with herself in order to set things right. The ethical dilemmas around the proper use of magic have been a struggle for Cam throughout this trilogy, and that struggle is something I really enjoy exploring.

Additionally, we’ve seen over the course of the three books that, since Cam feels uncomfortable about her witchy home life, she is slow to trust people and make friends. She really only has one close friend, Jenah. But in this book, she meets a fellow teen witch who is also trying to help save the day. I really loved watching Cam wrestle with trying to trust a new person and let them into her life. And of course, at the same time dealing with magic phones, demonic teleportation, and a bunch of rambunctious werewolf puppies!


Purchase Seriously Hexed at Amazon
Purchase Seriously Hexed at IndieBound
View Seriously Hexed on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Flashtide
by Jenny Moyer
Hardcover
Henry Holt and Co
Released 11/14/2017

Orion has survived the tunnels of Outpost Five, filled with mutant creatures and dangers around every bend. She has traversed the cordons, exposed to the radiation of the flash curtain and hunted by forces that want her stopped, dead or alive. Now, with Dram by her side, she has made it to the safety of the mountain provinces, where free Conjurors live and practice their craft of manipulating matter.

But Orion's story is far from over.

With the effects of the flashfall spreading and the might of the protected city of Alara looming, Orion must travel into the hands of her enemies once again. Heart-pounding action and adventure await in this sequel to Flashfall.

Purchase Flashtide at Amazon
Purchase Flashtide at IndieBound
View Flashtide on Goodreads

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Fragments of the Lost
by Megan Miranda
Hardcover
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 11/14/2017

Jessa Whitworth knew she didn’t belong in her ex-boyfriend Caleb’s room. But she couldn’t deny that she was everywhere—in his photos, his neatly folded T-shirts, even the butterfly necklace in his jeans pocket…the one she gave him for safe keeping on that day.

His mother asked her to pack up his things—even though she blames Jessa for his accident. How could she say no? And maybe, just maybe, it will help her work through the guilt she feels about their final moments together.

But as Jessa begins to box up the pieces of Caleb’s life, they trigger memories that make Jessa realize their past relationship may not be exactly as she remembered. And she starts to question whether she really knew Caleb at all.

Each fragment of his life reveals a new clue that propels Jessa to search for the truth about Caleb’s accident. What really happened on the storm-swept bridge?

Purchase Fragments of the Lost at Amazon
Purchase Fragments of the Lost at IndieBound
View Fragments of the Lost on Goodreads

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Kids Like Us
by Hilary Reyl
Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 11/14/2017

Martin is an American teen on the autism spectrum living in France with his mom and sister for the summer. He falls for a French girl who he thinks is a real-life incarnation of a character in his favorite book. Over time Martin comes to realize she is a real person and not a character in a novel while at the same time learning that love is not out of his reach just because he is autistic.

Purchase Kids Like Us at Amazon
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View Kids Like Us on Goodreads