Friday, March 31, 2017

0 On Nurturing Creativity and Preserving Writing Time by Ira Bloom, author of Hearts & Other Body Parts

If you need a writer's pep talk today, and who doesn't, I've got a great one for you! Author Ira Bloom is here to share some of his thoughts on how reality is constantly cutting into our writing time, and how important it is for use to preserve it. He's also celebrating the release of his new book: Hearts & Other Body Parts (GREAT title!). Be sure to check it out below.

Lilacs out of the Dead Land by Ira Bloom


Staring at my screen with a folder full of notes on the subject of writing, and I’ve got nothing. For the tenth time since I set this writing task for myself, I sit and observe the screen, waiting patiently for inspiration to strike.

It’s not striking.

This is ironic, because my working title for this article was “On Nurturing Creativity.” Nurturing creativity? Who am I kidding? I’m a fraud. Creativity is flat-lining here. Wheel out the crash cart and charge up the defibrillators, the patient has gone into cardiac arrest. I’m gonna call it: time of death, 10:15 PM.

I haven’t made a lot of progress on the books I’m working on either, recently, but I obstinately refuse to use the term “writer’s block.” That gives away too much power to unseen forces: If there’s a cosmological electric fence blocking my access to the wellspring of creativity, that’s something beyond my control, so I have a perfect excuse to give up and play computer solitaire. That’s in no way conducive to progress. No, let’s call this what it is: A lack of focus or transcendence, a failure on my part to access this critical thing in my brain where all the ideas come from. At this point, this narrative could easily turn to a diatribe of self-loathing if it weren’t for my natural proclivity for the avoidance of accountability, so I will switch up here and blame my failure on the invasive properties of reality. I’m not taking the rap for this, it’s reality’s fault.

Creativity is an amorphous, abstract subject to tackle. I agree with William Plomer’s definition: “Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.” It’s a thing that takes place in the brain when certain conditions are met, the spontaneous juxtaposition or melding of things in an entirely new, unique and original way. Creativity cannot be forced. Storylines, original imagery or original humor are all in there somewhere. We all have the capacity to create original material, but we all don’t have the capacity to call it up on demand. Yet there are people who are highly productive and creative. We all know who they are: we read their books compulsively. They have long careers and write dozens of best sellers. What is taking place in their noggins, among all the synapses? Why are some people able to tap into a wellspring of original thought, inventiveness and imagination? What have they got that we haven’t got?

See if this describes your writing process: You inform your handsome, loving husband (who quit his job as chief of neuro-surgery at the Mayo clinic to raise your two beautiful, well behaved children so you can pursue your writing dreams) that you aren’t to be disturbed unless a child needs a boo-boo kissed (because mama’s kisses have eleven times the efficacy of daddy’s, which are in many instances toxic). You settle into your custom-made leather chair in front of the computer and set about the task of getting your head to the place where the ideas come from, for which you have a unique ritual involving meditation, prayer, sixteen minutes of Twitter and a cup of tea made from baby leaves picked by barefoot pre-pubescent boys by moonlight in a remote village in Sri Lanka. But your ritual is disturbed by the sound of airplanes overhead. So you ring the little bell on the desk and your husband appears immediately at your side.

“Can I get you something, darling?” he asks.

“Those airplanes,” you reply. “Are they really necessary?”

“Are they bothering you, my dear? Shall I call air traffic control and have them routed to another airport?”

“If it isn’t too much trouble,” you suggest wistfully.

“’Tis but a trifle, my dear. The fate of the free world depends on your finishing your book.”

Okay, first of all, if that described your writing routine, I hate you. And second of all, that does not describe your writing routine. The above scenario is pure fantasy. Especially the part about the hot husband. Sure, best-selling authors are taken seriously when they sit down to write, and accommodations are made for them by their loved-ones. But most of us (including a majority of published authors) have to work a day job and have innumerable distractions. Because, reality. We can write if we can get to that place, but we can’t get to that place because of reality.

Writing takes focus. A book should be an author’s all-consuming obsession. When we aren’t writing, we should be thinking about our books, about our characters and the scenes they’re in. If we aren’t 100% committed, we’re cheating our readers out of our best stuff, though arguably we probably won’t have readers because those readers are reading the works of authors who are 100% committed. But this commitment takes time. Every successful writer will tell you, FIGHT LIKE A DEMON FOR YOUR WRITING TIME! Bad people (or loved ones, more often) will try to steal our writing time. They will want us to go shopping or take out the garbage or pay the electric bill or otherwise acknowledge their existence. That is all fine, as long as they don’t expect us to do it DURING OUR WRITING TIME. Then we have a problem (I would suggest you pay the electric bill, though, unless you have a manual typewriter).

I have a friend who is an extremely successful musician and composer with a forty year career and dozens upon dozens of albums to his credit. By any standards, he is a creative genius. And the one thing I learned, from observing him, is that he gets agitated when anything cuts into his creative time. The world had better bend around my friend when he’s composing, because he will not bend around the world.

I believe creativity isn’t an intellectual act. Good writing requires a good brain, chock full of source material, but creativity is an act of transcendence. Our brains are magnificent machines for processing data, storing memory and moving our bodies around from place to place, but none of these are creative acts. As Ray Bradbury said, “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.” If that’s not Zen, I don’t know what is.

There’s a reason people who dabble in the creative process are infinitely fascinated by the writing routines of authors. Those routines offer a glimpse, perhaps, of the path to the wellspring. I wish I had some advice for people who are not, momentarily, in a productive state of mind, because I’d use it myself. Perhaps the best thing I’ve read on the subject is Neil Gaiman’s words on daydreaming: “You get ideas from daydreaming. You get ideas from being bored. You get ideas all the time. The only difference between writers and other people is we notice when we're doing it.”

That advice should be heartening. Maybe there’s no trick to it at all. Arlo Guthrie likens it to fishing: go to the place where you’ve caught fish before, cast a line, and wait. It’s just a matter of time. Just don’t, Arlo warns, fish downstream from Bob Dylan.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Hearts & Other Body Parts
by Ira Bloom
Hardcover
Scholastic Press
Released 3/28/2017

A novel of love and monsters.

Sisters Esme, Katy, and Ronnie are smart, talented, and gorgeous, and better yet . . . all three are witches. They have high school wired until the arrival of two new students. The first is Norman, who is almost eight feet tall and appears to be constructed of bolts and mismatched body parts. Despite his intimidating looks, Esme finds herself strangely -- almost romantically -- drawn to both his oversized brain and oversized heart.

The second new arrival is Zack, an impossibly handsome late transfer from the UK who has the girls at school instantly mesmerized. Soon even sensible Esme has forgotten Norman, and all three sisters are in a flat-out hex war to win Zack. But while the magic is flying, only Norman seems to notice that students who wander off alone with Zack end up with crushed bones and memory loss. Or worse, missing entirely.

Hearts & Other Body Parts is a wickedly addictive novel about love, monsters, and loyalty. And oh yeah, a Japanese corpse-eating demon cat.

Purchase Hearts & Other Body Parts at Amazon
Purchase Hearts & Other Body Parts at IndieBound
View Hearts & Other Body Parts on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ira Bloom grew up in Annapolis Maryland. He studied English Literature at the University of Maryland, College Park. He also has some background in Eastern religions. After college Bloom moved to Japan, where he taught ESL. He married a beautiful Japanese woman named Yasuko, moved to LA and taught junior high school English, ESL, and Japanese for the Los Angeles Unified School district. After serving his debt to society in LA Unified, Bloom went into the fashion business with his wife, who is a very talented fashion designer. They eventually branched into the vintage kimono business. Bloom claims he probably knows more about Japanese textiles than any straight white man you’re likely to encounter. He has been writing humor for FUNNY TIMES since 2010. I currently live in West Sonoma County with my family and an assortment of furry beasts.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads
 

0 Free 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop Opens Tomorrow!

Our April workshop will open on Saturday, April 1st at noon EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Jennifer Longo as our author mentor and Justin Wells as our agent mentor! (See below for Justin'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. I will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), 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.

April Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Justin Wells
Justin loves every aspect of the agent lifestyle. Be it searching for that next amazing manuscript and client, helping current clients, or doing regular tasks throughout the agency. He loves all of it, and looks forward waking up everyday and wondering what new adventure could be awaiting him in his query box.

When it comes to reading, he is very open. His main focus is young adult, middle grade, and new adult, though he has been known to branch out and explore other books that catch his eye. Please follow the submission guidelines and send to query@corvisieroagency.com with the subject title: "Query - ATTN: Justin Wells, [name of manuscript]"


April Guest Author Mentor: Jennifer Longo

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Acting from San Francisco State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing For Theatre from Humboldt State University. After years of acting, playwriting, working as a literary assistant at San Francisco's Magic Theatre, then as an elementary school librarian, Jennifer told the occasional story at San Francisco's Porch Light Storytelling Series and decided at last to face her fear of prose and actually write some. Her debut novel, SIX FEET OVER IT (Random House Books) received starred reviews from Kirkus and The Bulletin, was selected as a Washington State Book Award finalist, a VOYA Perfect Ten, and an Indies Introduce New Voices title.

Jen's second novel, UP TO THIS POINTE (Random House Books) published January 2016, was selected as an Indies Next title, shortlisted for the YALSA 2017 Best Fiction Young Adult list and received starred reviews from The Bulletin and Shelf Awareness. A California native, Jennifer now lives with her husband and daughter on an island near Seattle, Washington. Her every hour is consumed by writing, running, walking her dogs, taking her kid to ballet class eleven thousand times each week and reading her way down her insanely long holds list at the library. Find photos of Jen's dogs and other incredibly inspiring nonsense @jenlialongo

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

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

Where To Get a A Copy:
Barnes & Noble Amazon Indie Bound
Add It On Goodreads!

Thursday, March 30, 2017

0 Red Light/Green Light: First Pages

Thank you so much to all our wonderful Red Light/Green Light participants! Today we're narrowing down the pool to the top 5, and posting first pages.


MY SPAN OF FOREVER
YA Contemporary
Laura McFadden

Underwater, we hear with our bones. It’s true. Sound waves pass directly through the water into our skull. Our head becomes one big ear.

My brain never stops thinking about things like that. Mom calls it intense. Chelsea calls it weird. But good weird.

Pushing against the scratchy bottom of the pool, I follow my breath to the surface. My phone pings just as I haul myself out of the water. I have three texts from Mom telling me to Come. Home. Now.

I snag my towel and don’t bother drying off.

As Mom rarely sends me one text, let alone three, a vague sense of urgency has me bounding up the three flights of stairs into our apartment.  My bikini bottom creeps up my butt as I squelch across our dingy linoleum floor to find her in the kitchen. I try not to squirm, wondering what could be more important than dry undies. “What’s the emergency?”

I drape my towel over my head, blotting my hair. “I picked up the biscotti this morning for our I Love Lucy marathon.” I kick off my flip-flops. “And the candied almonds.”

Her lips stretch into a tight grimace. My own grin slides from my face. “What?”

“I’m pregnant,” she says. I struggle to remain standing as the word “pregnant” ricochets through my entire body. Mom sits upright in one of our battered kitchen chairs, her thin fingers clenched around her favorite giant-sized coffee mug. “I know this is a shock to you.”



GHOST
YA Fantasy
Nicole Surrusco

All of his stories end like this.
The Lassarian banner, blue and silver in a restless wind.
The young king, with his Imagi behind him.
The horse himself, the color of smoke and storm clouds, the nervous earth trembling under his feet.
Chanteron always looked just as a king’s horse ought to, eighteen hands of power and grace, a deep dapple gray with smoke rings in his coat. His neck was arched and heavy with mane, and he carried himself like a coiled spring. I know because I’ve touched him. Felt him breathe on my palm. Stolen a few hairs from his mane to keep with me, as a reminder.
But when I first laid eyes on him, he was almost as white as the Nairne snow. A ghost haunting our hills.
My father took me to find him, in the beginning. I was just six years old. He pulled me up behind him on Bessie’s broad back and told me that if I was good, I would see something special. I asked if it was magic. When you are six, magic still holds promise of spectacular things.
“Not the kind of magic you’re used to,” he told me. “But yes, in a way.”
We stood on the hilltop for what seemed like hours, breathing in sunshine and moorland summer, and I was very quiet because I didn’t want to ruin the surprise. At last, my father pointed at the beach, and I saw the ghost horse for the first time.


LAND OF SAND AND STARS
YA Historical Fantasy
Sara-Marissa Patel

Late Spring 562 B.C.

Pain shot across Āmitis’s bruised thigh and she bit back a yelp. She scowled at the curved, wooden blade in her instructor’s hand. The desert sun beat down behind him. His long shadow stretched out and swallowed her whole. It was like a scorpion fighting a camel; although it had a poisonous sting, it would do little to a large animal.
“Why must I fight you?” Sweat dripped from Āmitis’s dark hair and streaked through the grime on her cheeks. “They get to fight each other.”
She pointed to the other side of the training courtyard where the other seven-year-old girls and boys sparred. Their wooden blades smashed and the rapid thuds of their weapons bounced off the walls built of mud and sun-dried brick.
Malach glanced over and she brushed away the sting of tears. She’d lost count of how many times the practice akinaka struck her. She hadn’t hit him once that day. She wanted to become the best soldier, but couldn’t see how when Malach was the only person she fought.
Her grip tightened on the hilt. Maybe while he’s not looking…he did say to take every opportunity to strike, no matter how small.
His dark gaze returned.
Āmitis gulped and wondered if he knew what she’d been thinking.
“Tell me, Āmitis, where are your brothers?”
The words bit harder than the whack of the mock blade. As if she could forget. Āmitis mumbled, “Dead.”
“How did they die?”
She glared as he folded his scar covered arms over his bronze and leather breastplate.


GATES ON THE WAY TO THE GREAT UPSTAIRS
YA Contemporary
Laura Levin

My story really isn’t all that complicated: Dad died almost a year ago, and I killed him. I didn’t use a gun. I wasn’t even there when it happened. It’s just that I’m responsible, so this is a secret I’ll carry with me until my last day.
If I’m right, that’s exactly eleven days from now.
I’ve closed my door so I can think in peace, but that doesn’t stop Jeffrey from barging in unannounced wearing his Thor helmet. He’s just gotten home from trick-or-treating, and as usual, he’s the superhero of bad timing.
“Hey, Evan, can I have a piece of chocolate?”
“You have a sack full of candy. Go eat your own chocolate.”
 “Mom confiscated it,” he says. “She’s only giving me one piece at a time.”
I open my desk drawer and toss him a Milky Way. I wasn’t about to dress up for Halloween, but I did swipe some of the candy we had in our bowl. “As Thor, you should be able to get your chocolate back.”
“Just because I’m immortal doesn’t mean I can have my chocolate anytime I want it.” He opens the Milky Way and shoves the whole thing in his mouth. “And besides,” he says, barely able to talk because his mouth is so full, “why would I ask for my own chocolate when you’ll give me yours?”
I grab my Nerf basketball off my desk and whip it at Jeffrey. The ball knocks his Thor helmet off his head.
“I’m keeping your helmet!” I shout after him.


THE LOST COAST
YA Paranormal
Erika Daggett

Twisted fruit grew from the kernel of doubt in my heart. When will power failed, I ate it. Like Eve’s fateful bite, each mouthful came with the curse of knowledge. My impulse eating didn’t cause humanity’s downfall; it only triggered my own. I had a chance, but I was screwing it up. Again. What good was sensing emotion in others, when my feelings were a constant mystery?
Panting, I stopped at the edge of the highway. On one side of the two-lane road, a gravel path led to Aunt Lyndie’s modest cabin. On the other side of the winding blacktop, The Sasquatch’s Paw Souvenir Emporium sat nestled among the trees. The camera thumped a rhythm against my ribcage, as I sprinted across the road. Would she still be at the shop when I got there? Apologies dashed through my brain.
The stretch of pavement beneath me was dark most of the day. Trees here were massive, and incredibly old. Sunlight didn’t stand a chance. Even Highway 291 bowed to the rule of the redwood. Instead of a straight line of asphalt blasting through the terrain, the road snaked back and forth, twisting to dodge mammoth trunks.
A truck with a dented camper top wheezed its way up the hill. As he rolled past the Bigfoot Xing sign, the driver honked his horn. I flung him a scowl in return. My mood was far from friendly. I was stressed about dealing with Aunt Lyndie, and I felt guilty for letting her down.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

0 Free 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop Opens on April 1!

Our April workshop will open on Saturday, April 1st at noon EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Jennifer Longo as our author mentor and Justin Wells as our agent mentor! (See below for Justin'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. I will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman), 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.

April Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Justin Wells
Justin loves every aspect of the agent lifestyle. Be it searching for that next amazing manuscript and client, helping current clients, or doing regular tasks throughout the agency. He loves all of it, and looks forward waking up everyday and wondering what new adventure could be awaiting him in his query box.

When it comes to reading, he is very open. His main focus is young adult, middle grade, and new adult, though he has been known to branch out and explore other books that catch his eye. Please follow the submission guidelines and send to query@corvisieroagency.com with the subject title: "Query - ATTN: Justin Wells, [name of manuscript]"


April Guest Author Mentor: Jennifer Longo

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Acting from San Francisco State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing For Theatre from Humboldt State University. After years of acting, playwriting, working as a literary assistant at San Francisco's Magic Theatre, then as an elementary school librarian, Jennifer told the occasional story at San Francisco's Porch Light Storytelling Series and decided at last to face her fear of prose and actually write some. Her debut novel, SIX FEET OVER IT (Random House Books) received starred reviews from Kirkus and The Bulletin, was selected as a Washington State Book Award finalist, a VOYA Perfect Ten, and an Indies Introduce New Voices title.

Jen's second novel, UP TO THIS POINTE (Random House Books) published January 2016, was selected as an Indies Next title, shortlisted for the YALSA 2017 Best Fiction Young Adult list and received starred reviews from The Bulletin and Shelf Awareness. A California native, Jennifer now lives with her husband and daughter on an island near Seattle, Washington. Her every hour is consumed by writing, running, walking her dogs, taking her kid to ballet class eleven thousand times each week and reading her way down her insanely long holds list at the library. Find photos of Jen's dogs and other incredibly inspiring nonsense @jenlialongo

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

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

Where To Get a A Copy:
Barnes & Noble Amazon Indie Bound
Add It On Goodreads!

Monday, March 27, 2017

9 New Releases this week 03/27-04/02 plus 4 Giveaways

Happy Monday! This week, we're featuring so many exciting new releases and I can't wait to read so many of these new books, like A CROWN OF WISHES and WORTHY (which we have up in the giveaway)! Don't forget to check out all the other new releases too and enter to win below.

Happy Reading,

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


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


* * * *


Hearts & Other Body Parts
by Ira Bloom
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Scholastic Press
Released 3/28/2017

A novel of love and monsters.

Sisters Esme, Katy, and Ronnie are smart, talented, and gorgeous, and better yet . . . all three are witches. They have high school wired until the arrival of two new students. The first is Norman, who is almost eight feet tall and appears to be constructed of bolts and mismatched body parts. Despite his intimidating looks, Esme finds herself strangely -- almost romantically -- drawn to both his oversized brain and oversized heart.

The second new arrival is Zack, an impossibly handsome late transfer from the UK who has the girls at school instantly mesmerized. Soon even sensible Esme has forgotten Norman, and all three sisters are in a flat-out hex war to win Zack. But while the magic is flying, only Norman seems to notice that students who wander off alone with Zack end up with crushed bones and memory loss. Or worse, missing entirely.

Hearts & Other Body Parts is a wickedly addictive novel about love, monsters, and loyalty. And oh yeah, a Japanese corpse-eating demon cat.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Hearts & Other Body Parts?

My favorite thing about HEARTS & OTHER BODY PARTS would have to be the characters. They are my brain-children, come crashing out of my head like Athena in full body armor from Zeus’s bifurcated skull. Okay, not quite that messy. There are five POV characters who make up the central storyline, a love pentangle between three witch sisters, a Frankenstein-type monster, and a vampire. Esme, the oldest sister, is the brains, the responsible geek. Katy, the middle sister, is the talent, at witchcraft or at anything artsy. Veronica is the youngest sister, the beauty with tenacity. Norman is the dismorphic giant composed of mismatched body parts, with brains to equal Esme’s and a heart of gold. Zack is the gorgeous, charming vampire who mesmerizes the sisters, fighting the will of his master with the last vestiges of his humanity.

There’s one more character I adore, Kasha the Japanese corpse-eating demon cat. He snuck into the story and took over, somehow; he steals every scene he’s in. Demons will do that. I won’t say anything more about him at this juncture. He’s the disturbing booby prize in the cracker-jack box. Personally, I wouldn’t trust a word that comes out of his mouth. “Well we do lie quite a bit,” Kasha admits. “Like a little white lie. Only huge, and black.”


Purchase Hearts & Other Body Parts at Amazon
Purchase Hearts & Other Body Parts at IndieBound
View Hearts & Other Body Parts on Goodreads

* * * *


Worthy
by Donna Cooner
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Point
Released 3/28/2017

Once again, Donna Cooner (Skinny, Can't Look Away) taps into the zeitgeist to bring us a searing story about online bullying and superficiality.

An addictive new app is all the rage at Linden Wilson's high school. Worthy ranks couples, determining via votes and user comments if one person is "worthy" of the other. Linden is happily dating Alex Garcia, and can't imagine the app will affect them. Until Alex is labeled "worthy," and Linden "unworthy." Suddenly, everything changes. Linden must struggle under this newfound scrutiny as her relationships -- with Alex, with her friends -- are put to the ultimate test.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Worthy?

I loved creating the friendship between Linden and Nikki. They are both so different, yet their friendship for each other endures judgement and misunderstanding. I also love that Nikki is confident in her size. As someone who has struggled with body image my whole life, I admire those who embrace and celebrate their body type. Creating Nikki’s character provided me the opportunity to experience what my teen years might have been like if I’d been more self-confident. Reimagining my teen years is part of what I love about writing for young adults.

Purchase Worthy at Amazon
Purchase Worthy at IndieBound
View Worthy on Goodreads



* * * *


Blood Rose Rebellion
by Rosalyn Eves
Hardcover Giveaway (3 Copies)
U.S. Only

Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 3/28/2017

The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about BLOOD ROSE REBELLION?

My favorite thing about BLOOD ROSE REBELLION is probably the setting. While I love my characters, I fell in love with Hungary long before I started writing this book, when I lived there for nearly a year and a half. Getting to write this book meant revisiting the history and culture of a place I loved—and the first thing I did to celebrate selling the book was plan a trip back with my husband, a trip that helped me flesh out some of the details of the setting.

(My other favorite thing is probably Mátyás, but don’t tell Anna that.)


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Finding What's Real
by Emma Harrison
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 3/28/2017

Cecelia Montgomery returns after running away to deal with the downside of her newfound fame—and her mother’s Presidential campaign—in the sequel to Escaping Perfect.

Now that Cecilia Montgomery has been found after two weeks on the run, she’s stuck in the middle of a media firestorm. When Cecilia threatens to leave again, her mom drops the bomb. She plans to run for President. She’s going to announce in a few days. And if she bails again, well, they do still have Jasper in custody on bogus “kidnapping” charges...

Suddenly Cecilia is trapped yet again, forced into a public persona she had no part in creating. But her friends from Sweetbriar still have her back and help smuggle Cecelia back into town. Just when Cecelia thinks she’s finally escaped, her mother arrives and officially announces she is running for President—and she plans to stay in Sweetbriar for the duration of her candidacy.

Meanwhile, Fiona becomes a bit obsessed with the fame she achieves from being Cecilia Montgomery’s best friend, and even Jasper gets caught up in the benefits of dating her. Soon Cecilia starts to wonder if they want to hang out with her, or if they want to benefit from hanging out with her. All she wanted was a small, anonymous life, but now things seem to be spiraling out of control.

Can Cecelia ever find her perfect ending, or will her escape prove to be more of a trap than she ever thought possible?

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YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


Nemesis by Brendan Reichs: Amanda M, Erika C, Katelyn H.
Shadow Run by Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland: Yasmine S, Denise D.
The Hidden Memory of Objects by Danielle Mages Amato: Jenny M.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS



A Crown of Wishes
by Roshani Chokshi
Hardcover
St. Martin's Griffin
Released 3/28/2017

Gauri, the princess of Bharata, has been taken as a prisoner of war by her kingdom’s enemies. Faced with a future of exile and scorn, Gauri has nothing left to lose. Hope unexpectedly comes in the form of Vikram, the cunning prince of a neighboring land and her sworn enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with becoming a mere puppet king, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. Together, they’ll have to set aside their differences and team up to win the Tournament of Wishes—a competition held in a mythical city where the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor.

Reaching the tournament is just the beginning. Once they arrive, danger takes on new shapes: poisonous courtesans and mischievous story birds, a feast of fears and twisted fairy revels.

Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram will soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Author Question: What is one thing you hope readers will get out of A CROWN OF WISHES?

I hope they close the book grinning. And maybe that night, they’ll dream about stories. And maybe the next day, they’ll see a bird dart from a tree and wonder if it came from Kubera’s court.

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Honestly Ben
by Bill Konigsberg
Hardcover
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 3/28/2017

In the companion to Openly Straight, Ben confronts pressure at school, repression at home, and his passion for two very different people in figuring out what it takes to be Honestly Ben.

Ben Carver is back to normal. He's working steadily in his classes at the Natick School. He just got elected captain of the baseball team. He's even won a full scholarship to college, if he can keep up his grades. All that foolishness with Rafe Goldberg the past semester is in the past.

Except . . .

There's Hannah, the gorgeous girl from the neighboring school, who attracts him and distracts him. There's his mother, whose quiet unhappiness Ben is noticing for the first time. School is harder, the pressure higher, the scholarship almost slipping away. And there's Rafe, funny, kind, dating someone else . . . and maybe the real normal that Ben needs.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Honestly Ben?

I love Ben. He is a very different protagonist than I've written before, and it took me a lot of work to channel his voice, because it is really not that much like my own voice. But I must admit that as hard as it was to do, he is a character I truly love. I love his self-effacing sense of humor, and how he's a big guy trying to be small, and that he is a repressed guy trying to break out of the jail he's created for himself. I based Ben on my husband, or I should say on a teen version of my husband, so it is really easy for me to feel a lot of love for Ben. If I never write another book in this world, I'll really miss him!

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Just Another Girl
by Elizabeth Eulberg
Hardcover
Point
Released 3/28/2017

You resent her. You can't stand her. You might even hate her.

But you don't know her at all.

Hope knows there's only one thing coming between her and her longtime crush: his girlfriend, Parker. She has to sit on the sidelines and watch as the perfect girl gets the perfect boy . . . because that's how the universe works, even though it's so completely wrong.

Parker doesn't feel perfect. She knows if everyone knew the truth about her, they'd never be able to get past it. So she keeps quiet. She focuses on making it through the day with her secret safe . . . even as this becomes harder and harder to do. And Hope isn't making it any easier. . . .

In Just Another Girl, Elizabeth Eulberg astutely and affectingly shows us how battle lines get drawn between girls -- and how difficult it then becomes to see or understand the girl standing on the other side of the divide.

You think you have an enemy. But she's just another girl.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Just Another Girl?

My favorite thing is that it will test what readers think they know about a character. I've always like writing (and reading) stories with different points of view. Two people rarely see the same event in the same way. When writing this book, I thought about how often girls are each other's biggest critics, especially if a guy is involved. So I took the "girlfriend" character in a love triangle, who is often seen as a Mean Girl, and made her just another girl. Problem is, readers are first introduced to the girlfriend (Parker) through Hope's point of view. Hope is the girl pining after Parker's boyfriend so of course she HATES Parker. We only see Hope's side for awhile, and then the reader is introduced to Parker's point of view and everything flips around. I hope readers enjoy it...and reflect on how maybe that person they hate has something going on in their life that you don't know about.

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MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK



100 Hours
by Rachel Vincent
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 3/28/2017

A decadent spring break getaway on an exotic beach becomes a terrifying survival story when six Miami teens are kidnapped and ransomed.

Maddie is beyond done with her cousin Genesis’s entitled and shallow entourage. Genesis is so over Miami’s predictable social scene with its velvet ropes, petty power plays, and backstabbing boyfriends.

While Maddie craves family time for spring break, Genesis seeks novelty—like a last-minute getaway to an untouched beach in Colombia. And when Genesis wants something, it happens.

But paradise has its price. Dragged from their tents under the cover of dark, Genesis, Maddie, and their friends are kidnapped and held for ransom deep inside the jungle—with no diva left behind. It all feels so random to everyone except Genesis. She knows they were targeted for a reason. And that reason is her.

Now, as the hours count down, only one thing’s for certain: If the Miami hostages can’t set aside their personal problems, no one will make it out alive.

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Dream Forever
by Kit Alloway
Hardcover
St. Martin's Griffin
Released 3/28/2017

As the veil to the Dream becomes dangerously thin, Josh must stop it from tearing to save the world, in the conclusion to The Dream Walker Trilogy.

Trying to control her powers as the True Dream Walker is hard enough with Feodor as her instructor. But trying to learn her strengths with a broken heart makes it nearly impossible for Josh. When mysterious tears in the veil separating the Dream from the waking world begin to appear, and with Peregrine still on the run and Haley trapped in Death, Josh finds herself truly in over her head. With the World threatening to crumble around her, Josh must figure out who she really is and what she wants in time to save it, herself, and everyone she loves.

You won’t be disappointed in this exciting conclusion to Kit Alloway’s The Dream Walker Trilogy.

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Just a Girl
by Carrie Mesrobian
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 3/28/2017

Taking a hard look at the societal conventions that constrain teenage girls, William C. Morris Award finalist Carrie Mesrobian tells one girl’s story with bracing honesty and refreshing authenticity.

By her senior year of high school, Rianne has exhausted all the fun there is to have in small town Wereford, Minnesota. Volleyball season is winding down, the parties all feel tired, and now that she’s in a serious relationship with reformed player Luke Pinsky, her wild streak has ended. Not that she ever did anything more than the guys her age did...but she knows what everyone thinks of her.

Including her parents. Divorced but now inexplicably living together again, Rianne wonders why they’re so quick to point out every bad choice she’s making when they can’t even act like adults. With an uncomfortable home life and her once-solid group of friends now dissolving, the reasons for sticking around after high school are few. So why is Rianne in lockstep when it comes to figuring out her future?

That’s not the only question Rianne can’t answer. Lately she’s been wondering why, when she has a perfect-on-paper boyfriend, she wants anything but. Or how it is that Sergei, a broken-English-speaking Russian, understands her better than anyone who’s known her all her life? And why has Rianne gotten stuck with an “easy girl” reputation for doing the same exact things guys do without any judgment? Carrie Mesrobian, acclaimed author of Sex & Violence and Cut Both Ways, sets fire to the unfair stereotypes and contradictions that persist even in the twenty-first century.

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Night Witches
by Kathryn Lasky
Hardcover
Scholastic Press
Released 3/28/2017

From bestselling and award-winning author Kathryn Lasky comes an explosive adventure following the teen girl fighter pilots who took on Hitler's army . . . and won.

Fifteen-year-old Valya knows what it feels like to fly. She's a pilot who's always felt more at home soaring through the sky than down on earth. But since the Germans surrounded Stalingrad, Valya's been forced to stay on the ground and watch her city crumble.

When her mother is killed during the siege, Valya is left with one burning desire: to join up with her older sister, a member of the famous and feared Night Witches -- a brigade of young female pilots.

Using all her wits, Valya manages to get past the German blockade and find the Night Witches' base . . . and that's when the REAL danger starts. The women have been assigned a critical mission. If they succeed, they'll inflict serious damage on the Nazis. If they fail, they'll face death . . . or even worse horrors.

Historical fiction master Lasky sheds light on the war's unsung heroes -- daredevil girls who took to the skies to fight for their country -- in an action-packed thrill ride that'll leave you electrified and breathless.

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Overturned
by Lamar Giles
Hardcover
Scholastic Press
Released 3/28/2017

Nikki Tate is infamous, even by Las Vegas standards. Her dad is sitting on death row, convicted of killing his best friend in a gambling dispute turned ugly. And for five years, he’s maintained his innocence. But Nikki wants no part of that. She’s been working on Operation Escape Vegas: playing in illegal card games so she can save up enough money to get out come graduation day.

Then her dad’s murder conviction is overturned. The new evidence seems to come out of nowhere and Nikki’s life becomes a mess when he’s released from prison. Because the dad who comes home is not the dad she remembers. And he’s desperately obsessed with finding out who framed him—and why.

As her dad digs into the seedy underbelly of Vegas, the past threatens everything and Nikki is drawn into his deadly hunt for the truth. But in the city of sin, some sinners will do anything to keep their secrets, and Nikki soon finds herself playing for the biggest gamble ever—her life.

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Radio Silence
by Alice Oseman
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 3/28/2017

From critically acclaimed author Alice Oseman comes a smartly crafted contemporary YA novel, perfect for readers who love Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. This is an utterly captivating and authentic new teen novel from the author of Solitaire, which VOYA said “could put her among the great young adult fiction authors.”

Frances Janvier spends most of her time studying.

Everyone knows Aled Last as that quiet boy who gets straight As.

You probably think that they are going to fall in love or something. Since he is a boy and she is a girl.

They don’t. They make a podcast.

In a world determined to shut them up, knock them down, and set them on a cookie cutter life path, Frances and Aled struggle to find their voices over the course of one life-changing year. Will they have the courage to show everyone who they really are? Or will they be met with radio silence?

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The Body Market
by Donna Freitas
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 3/28/2017

Skylar Cruz has been betrayed by everyone she trusted. Perhaps worst of all, she and her friends have failed to stop her sister, and now the Body Market is open for business.

Skylar is through being a pawn in everyone else’s game. She may be the only one who can stop what her family started. And she must do it before everyone in the App World runs out of time.

In the tradition of M. T. Anderson’s Feed and Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies, The Body Market is the next thrilling installment in this gripping and timely sci-fi series for teens.

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

0 YA Sunday Morning News: This Week for Writers 3/26/17

Spring is officially here! Along with it, I have some great agent interviews, a bunch of articles on what's happening in the publishing industry, and more.

Happy reading!

Writing for Publication—Before the Sale:

Writing for Publication—Book Marketing and Social Media:


Author Interviews:

Literary Agent News and Interviews:

Writing and Pitch Contests:

Writing Craft:

Writing Inspiration:

Publishing News & Trends:

New YA E-Book Deals:

New YA Book Giveaways:

YA New Book Deals and Releases:

Just for Fun:

If there’s a news story or blog post you found particularly interesting, please share it in the comments!



Saturday, March 25, 2017

0 Tiffany D. Jackson, author of ALLEGEDLY, on writing her book during Hurricane Sandy

We are thrilled to have Tiffany D. Jackson here to give us a closer look into her debut novel ALLEGEDLY.

Tiffany, what is your favorite thing about ALLEGEDLY?

What a great question! I think my favorite thing about ALLEGEDLY is the backstory, as told by mixing form, including article/book excerpts, interviews, and case files. It really creates an experience with the story that hopefully resonates with kids.

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?

One scene that I particularly love, is a scene during a huge storm in which the main character, Mary, comes to the realization that she needs to get out of the group home. There’s so much tension throughout, you can’t help but to feel like you’re sitting on pins.