Thursday, January 18, 2018

0 YALLFest Interview with Tomi Adeyemi

Today is my last interview from YALLFest, and it's with another Pitch Wars superstar - Tomi Adeyemi. Tomi had the kind of Pitch Wars success story that all PW hopefuls dream about - tons of requests, lots of agent offers, a huuuge publishing deal and a movie deal. I was thrilled to get a chance to talk with her to learn how it all went down.

Tomi, how did you become involved with Pitch Wars?

I had just started dipping my toes into Twitter in like September 2015, so I just followed a bunch of agents, and I saw Pitch Wars! Pitch Wars! And I was like, "What is this?" so I googled it, and I was like this would be perfect for me because I was still working at my first book, and I was revising it, and I kind of hit a wall. So I was like, "I've got to enter!" And then I was like, crap - it was a little more colorful than that - because it was exactly three weeks from the submission window, so everyone was finding out they were in Pitch Wars. So for a whole year, well eleven months and one week, Pitch Wars was on my radar because I had just missed it. 

So I kept revising my book, I queried it, and then we get to four months before submitting for Pitch Wars 2016, and I knew it was on my radar, I was going to do it, but then I was just like, "Oh, but my first book isn't gonna go anywhere," because I'd had enough helpful rejections that I knew that my first book was not sellable. But I'd also just had the idea for this book, but it didn't exist yet. So in May I outlined the book, in June I was like, "You have sixty days to get something hopefully good." Because I knew I would have a really good shot of getting in with it, but it had to exist, and it had to not be the crap that is the first draft. So I like pooped out a first draft in June, revised to a second readable draft in July, submitted in August. I literally went crazy, I went crazy, I was like a mad woman. There was a point where I though I was a lawyer because I'd been watching The Good Wife, you know, I had an argument with my boyfriend where I was just like, "You're obstructing my case!" Like, I lost it. But I made it. Yeah, so it was fate. But I had to hustle because I was like, I'm not going to miss this, I've been waiting all year. I was not going to not get in because I didn't apply. So the book had to come into existence. 

For future Pitch Warriors, how did you select the mentors you applied to?

Oh, that's easy because it's research, and I'm a Ravenclaw. I like Excel sheets, I like lists. I think Pitch Wars is so great because whether you get in or you don't, you learn so much, and you can also meet your writer people that are gonna be with you forever. But, yeah, everyone has their Pitch Wars wishlist, and they're pretty specific. There was a good amount of people looking for diverse fantasies, but then I'd be like, "Okay, what are your favorite stories?" Like anybody who loved Avatar - I'm obsessed with Avatar, and I pitched Children of Blood and Bone as African The Last Airbender, so if someone loved Avatar as much as I did, I knew we were a fit. So it was really easy to narrow down. Also because people give away critiques of all kinds, so that's a really helpful way to narrow down your list. Because I remember my mentor was on my long list, but then I won a query critique, and the person who critiqued my query was like, "You should really send this to this person, she would love this." And so that moved her from 'I'm considering all these people' to number one. 

I know you’ve told this story a thousand times, but can you tell us how Pitch Wars went for you.

So the revision was a dream. My mentor, her name is Ashley Hearn, she's currently an editor at Page Street, and she's brilliant. She had another mentee this year, and I was telling her, "Hey, by the way, savor this time revising because it will never be like this again." Because Ashley sent me this ten page edit letter, and I had gotten one edit letter before, and it didn't feel right, and it's confusing because this person has more experience, but this doesn't feel right, but with Ashley, oh my God, everything was -- I was nodding every single line of this single-spaced ten page edit letter. So she just got it. So that made the two months peaceful. Every time I'd had to revise before that, I'm doing things I'm thinking I'm making it better, I'm not entirely sure. I didn't know what the book was. Like, I knew what I did, but I didn't know what it was, I didn't have a chance to read it before I submitted it, so I didn't know what it was, so to have a guided person who was so clearly right being like, "I think this, this." And I was like, "You're right!" And I told her, "Ashley, you spoiled me because revision is never like that again." It was pretty calm, and two months is a long time to revise. Someone might say it's not, but now that I'm at this stage - it is. So it was very peaceful for that reason, too. So I loved it.

And then the agent round I was crossing my fingers. There had been some hype around it, so I was like hopefully something works out, but I wasn't prepared for all the requests that came in and then all the offers that came in after that. Which was crazy because my first book that I tried to get published, from first draft to querying was about three or three and half years. And then over a course of around four to six months ... with my first book around four to six months I got twelve full rejections from requests, with this book it was six days and I had twelve offers. So I was just like, "What is this?" 

It was a complete whirlwind. But luckily you get to talk to clients of agents, and they were really helpful in helping me figure out what I wanted for myself. And then I got on the phone with my agents Hillary Jacobson and Alexandra Machinist, and it was like, "Ahhh, okay, yeah." There were all these things about "the call," and when they knew, but it wasn't just because there was a magical elf that sprinkled dust. We clicked. But I had clicked with other agents, too, but it was just, "Okay, we want the same things." They were also the first people to tell me, "Oh, your book needs a lot of work." And I was like, "Do tell more." I was like, "Okay, this is it," and I felt it. And I knew it was it not because it was just so magical, like it was a great call, but because that night was the first time I stopped feeling stressed. I had been so stressed out because I'm like, "How do I pick? How do I pick? This person's great! This person's great!" But that was the first night I was not feeling stressed, and I was like, "Oh, I'm not stressed any more because I know."

How was it being on the other side as a Pitch Wars mentor this year?

It was so wonderful because you get to go through it without all of the stress. I mentored with Kit Grant, her book is called A Court of Miracles and it's debuting Fall of 2018, and it's wonderful. We met as mentees, and we clicked instantly. Our mentee this year was like, "When did you guys know you were going to be mentors?" And I was like, "Two days before we got in we had determined to do this." It was so much fun. You know, I wanted to give back to something that had given so much to me. Like our mentee now, Gillian Berry, we're like, "Hey, by the way, you're our critique partner now, just so you know." Because you find great people, and I think her book is brilliant, I hope you hear about it soon. So, yeah, it was great. It was great. It's a lot though. So I don't think I can do it again next year, but I'm really happy that I did it this year.

What are you working on now?


I'm tying up book one. We're still hoping to put the bow on it this month. Then I'll sleep for two weeks. And then I'll start the sequel. I like to write with an outline, so I want to get my outline for book two and book three. And then I'll feel that same sense of the stress going, because when you don't fully know what's happening next ... I was telling someone now that this is almost done, I'm finally getting in that mode again of like, "Oh, this is a beautiful thing, that would be beautiful." Like looking up at the moon or something and being like, "Huh." So I'm getting back into that mode of being inspired and stuff. So I'm excited for book two, so I'm going to stay excited for as long as I can because every author has told me it will kill me. So I was like, "Let me stay as happy and optimistic about it for as long as I can."

We hope you stay happy and optimistic for a long time! Thanks for chatting with me, Tomi!


Readers, have you written and revised a new book in just a few months? Have you received revision notes that clicked in a special way? Does outlining a book help mitigate the stress of writing it for you? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn

ABOUT THE BOOK

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi
Hardcover
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Releases 3/6/2018

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers―and her growing feelings for an enemy.

Purchase Children of Blood and Bone at Amazon
Purchase Children of Blood and Bone at IndieBound
View Children of Blood and Bone on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American writer and creative writing coach based in San Diego, California. After graduating Harvard University with an honors degree in English literature, she received a fellowship that allowed her to study West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil. When she’s not working on her novels or watching Scandal, she can be found blogging and teaching creative writing to her 4,500 subscribers at tomiadeyemi.com. Her website has been named one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer’s Digest.

Her debut West African YA Fantasy novel is CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE (Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan). The CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE movie is in development at Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions with Karen Rosenfelt and Wyck Godfrey (Twilight, Maze Runner, The Fault In Our Stars) producing it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

0 YALLFest Interview with Stephanie Garber

My next YALLFest interview is with Stephanie Garber, and I was excited to meet her because of our convoluted Pitch Wars connection. I've been in Pitch Wars twice (2013 and 2014), and my PW teammate from 2013 became Stephanie's mentee in 2014. So does that make Stephanie my PW aunt? Or maybe my PW second cousin twice removed? I don't know, family trees always confused me. But I do know that Stephanie was delightful to talk to and shared lots of great writing advice!

Stephanie, how did you become involved with Pitch Wars?

The very first year, when I think it was like 33 mentors, and I had written my fifth book, and it was the third book I queried, and I was getting requests and getting really prompt rejections, and they were personalized, and so I was like, "I'm close." I'd queried other books, so I knew, like, okay, I'm getting somewhere, but I'm not there. And I didn't know what to do. I think it was 2012, so there was information online, but there weren't the contests, and I just needed something to help me. And so Pitch Wars! And the funny thing is, looking back now, I wasn't even on Twitter when I applied, so Liz Briggs, who is amazing and I love her, who picks me - I can't believe she picked me because she could not Google me in any way. Liz is like if you ask her something she will find it, she's good, and she couldn't find me, but she loved the pages and that was when people would only request three chapters and not read the whole thing. So she mentored me.

It was a huge change for me because of Liz. It was like she loved it, and then she was like, "Oh my gosh, this ending is terrible! Your character has no agency. What? What? Oh my gosh, it's getting worse and worse. Oh my gosh, this is bad."
And she was just really honest, and it was like, "Thank you, I finally know. I know! I know!" So I felt like that was a big thing. And I ended up getting an agent with that book. And I learned a lot from that agent. That book didn't go on to sell, obviously, and thankfully!

Then after that I asked Brenda if I could mentor, so the second year I mentored, and the third year I mentored. I feel like so many of the people I know happened because of Pitch Wars. It's huge for me. It's also just a boost, like one of those little things that I needed, like, okay, I couldn't get an agent but someone chose me for this contest. It makes a big difference.

You mentored with Stacey Lee one year, right?

The first year I mentored on my own, and then the next year I wasn't going to do it but everybody I knew was doing it, and then one day Stacey and I were hanging out, and I was like, "I don't know if I'm going to do it," and she was like, "I don't know if I'm going to do it," and we were like one of the first people to go, "What if we co-mentor together?" Which it ended up being even more work because we're like, "Let's make videos!" I would go to her house, and she lived like an hour and forty-five minutes away. But it was great because we would go and make these videos, and that was the year I was on submission and things weren't selling, and so my writing was going rrr-rur, but we had a lot of fun with those. A lot of fun.

Do you think being a Pitch Wars mentor impacted your writing?

Oh yeah. Well, I mean, I think it was actually probably not as much because I teach creative writing, too. I think critiquing work is huge for writers because I feel like when you're critiquing things you notice things and it's like, "Oh, yeah, I do that too." You notice the things that people do, and I feel like critiquing people is good and it sharpens you. I think everything you do - you know people give a lot of credit to when you go to school, obviously you're learning, you're in school, you're taking classes - and I think writing is the same in like everything you do. If you're critiquing someone's work, if you're reading a book, if you're becoming part of a community, if you're doing this it's like a form of school. It's all good!

From reading your Pitch Wars submissions and teaching creative writing, what is the most common mistake you see writers make?

For openings - because a lot of times in my class we talk about the first chapter because we can't really do a whole book but I feel like the principles of writing a good first chapter apply - knowing what the cliches are. Like don't start your book with someone waking up. And even if you can make it work, like, yeah, Hunger Games starts that way, but it doesn't stand out. So knowing, just being aware of what trends are and cliches so you're not doing it.
One of the things my students would do in pacing is where things are too rushed. I would do exercises where I would have my students write a sixty second scene, like something that takes sixty seconds, and you have to spread it out over three pages. Because a lot of them didn't have their writing fleshed out. You want to focus not just on dialogue and action, you want to get the interiority, and you want to get the thought, and you want to layer the thoughts in with the setting, and all these things. And not just describe the setting but put emotion into it. And so people need to slow down. So a lot of times with the pacing these things are happening, and they're happening so fast, and it's like, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa, you just introduced me to like five places and five people, take a breath!" The other thing is the converse, where nothing is happening, it's all just kind of setting up, and your story hasn't started. So I think a lot of people struggle with pacing and starting in the wrong place. Like a lot of times when I'm looking at something I feel like this is not the right place, like this is something you feel we need to know, but it's not where your story starts.

You mentioned that your first book with an agent didn’t sell, so what did the rest of your journey to publication look like?

My first agent left the business like a week after I finished Caraval. But, I mean, it worked out for the best. I queried again and I think querying again makes you sharpen everything up. I had my friends all read the book, I hired a freelance editor to look at the first fifty pages just because I did some things that I'm like, "I don't really know if people are going to like that I did this because I don't think you're supposed to do this but if you're not supposed to I want to make sure I'm doing it right." I worked really hard to get it into shape to query again. So while some people were like, "This is a sign!" I'm like, "No, I just have to work harder!"

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

I feel like the AHA! moment is like, wow, it just gets -- I kept thinking when I first started, "I don't know anything! I just need to learn more and I'll be better." And then realizing, wow, it's always learning more and the more you learn, the more you have to learn. I feel like it's a video game, and I'm not even a video game player, I'm thinking of old school Mario Brothers, like you play that one level and then you reach it, and it's like, "Yay, you finished!" and then you go to another level.

And I think maybe another AHA! moment is reflecting on what I did with Caraval - because I had to rewrite my whole second book - is writing a story you're obsessed with. Because you can like an idea, it can be a great idea, it can be a very sellable idea, but unless you're obsessed with it, like can't stop thinking about it, can't stop telling people whether they want to hear about it or not, like, "Oh my gosh, I want to write this book about four teenagers who start the zombie apocalypse because they're trying to make cool YouTube videos!" You know, if you can't stop thinking about it, that's the story you write. At least for me. I have to be madly, wildly, obsessively in love with it. And I think that was an AHA! moment - don't write something just because I'm kind of infatuated with it, like, "Hey, this could be cool," then alright write it as a short story.

What are you working on now?

I'm finishing up edits for Legendary.

Yay, I can't wait to read the next book! Thanks for chatting with me, Stephanie!


Readers, does critiquing others help you see the same issues in your own writing? Are you thinking about trying Stephanie's sixty seconds/three pages writing exercise? Are you obsessed with the stories you write? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn

ABOUT THE BOOK

Caraval
by Stephanie Garber
Hardcover
Flatiron Books

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Purchase Caraval at Amazon
Purchase Caraval at IndieBound
View Caraval on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Stephanie Garber loves Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where she feels as if the fantastical stories she loves to write about could actually come to life. When she’s not writing young adult fantasy, she teaches creative writing at a private college in northern California. She’s also a blogger on Pub(lishing) Crawl.

Her debut novel, CARAVAL, was published by Flatiron Books/Macmillan (US) and Hodder & Stoughton (UK) in January 2017. CARVAL has sold in over twenty territories and the movie rights were pre-empted by Twentieth Century Fox in a major deal.

Monday, January 15, 2018

3 New Releases this week 01/15-0/1/21 plus Giveaway of BLOOD AND SAND

Happy Monday! We're celebrating the release of a few books today including BLOOD AND SAND. Don't forget to check out the awesome books being released this week and enter to win below!

Happy Reading,

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


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


* * * *


Blood and Sand: A Novel
by C.V. Wyk
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Tor Teen
Released 1/16/2018

The action-packed tale of a 17-year-old warrior princess and a handsome gladiator who dared take on the Roman Republic--and gave rise to the legend of Spartacus....

Roma Victor. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to build an empire--an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master's favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end--and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus...

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Blood and Sand: A Novel?

My favorite thing about BLOOD AND SAND is that I got the chance to rewrite history. The entire book braids together so many factual and fictional elements that even I have a hard time now remembering what parts are “true” and what parts I made up. I use the word “truth” loosely here because, let’s be honest--ancient historians took a lot of creative license when documenting events, people, and their stories. Primary sources from all time periods are riddled with inconsistencies, but this is especially true for the ancient world. Documents that old are so unreliable that we can really only guess at what was omitted from the narrative, particularly when it comes to women. As Attia says in the first chapter, “History is written by the winners.” I absolutely loved reframing a famous, highly enigmatic historical figure in a way that challenges nearly everything we thought we knew and begs the question, “What if…?”

Purchase Blood and Sand: A Novel at Amazon
Purchase Blood and Sand: A Novel at IndieBound
View Blood and Sand: A Novel on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS


A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard: Amanda M.

MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


* * * *


All That Was: A Novel
by Karen Rivers
Hardcover
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 1/16/2018

A heartrending young adult novel about the complexities of best friendships gone wrong, and the redemptive power of letting go.

Piper and Sloane were best friends. They grew up together, from childhood to first love, and in spite of how different they were, their friendship was supposed to last forever. That is, until Piper caught Sloane kissing her boyfriend—and just days later, Piper was found dead, washed ashore on a beach. Sloane was torn with grief and guilt. How do you make amends for hurting someone you love, if that person is no longer around? And how can you ever move on and love again? Told from alternating perspectives, this is a story about the complexity of friendships, forgiveness, and growing up.

Purchase All That Was: A Novel at Amazon
Purchase All That Was: A Novel at IndieBound
View All That Was: A Novel on Goodreads

* * * *


Poison's Cage
by Breeana Shields
Hardcover
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 1/16/2018

An assassin becomes a spy in this heart-pounding sequel to Poison's Kiss. Readers who love the assassin angle in Throne of Glass, the lethal touch in Shatter Me, or the high stakes of The Wrath and the Dawn will want to follow this story to the end.

A single kiss could kill. A single secret could save the kingdom.

Iyla and Marinda have killed many men together: Iyla as the seductress, Marinda as the final, poisonous kiss. Now they understand who the real enemy is—the Snake King—and together they can take him down. Both girls have felt as though they were living a lie in the past, so moving into the King's palace and pretending to serve him isn't as difficult as it sounds. But when you're a spy, even secrets between friends are dangerous. And each girl has something—or someone—to lose. Does every secret, every lie, bring them closer to the truth or . . . to a trap?

In Poison's Kiss, Marinda pulled a dangerous thread. In this sequel, it unravels to a heart-pounding conclusion.

Purchase Poison's Cage at Amazon
Purchase Poison's Cage at IndieBound
View Poison's Cage on Goodreads

* * * *


Truly Devious: A Mystery
by Maureen Johnson
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 1/16/2018

New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson weaves a delicate tale of murder and mystery in the first book of a striking new series, perfect for fans of Agatha Christie and E. Lockhart.

Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early twentieth century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. “A place,” he said, “where learning is a game.”

Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. That is, she will solve the case when she gets a grip on her demanding new school life and her housemates: the inventor, the novelist, the actor, the artist, and the jokester. But something strange is happening. Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder.

The two interwoven mysteries of this first book in the Truly Devious series dovetail brilliantly, and Stevie Bell will continue her relentless quest for the murderers in books two and three.

Purchase Truly Devious: A Mystery at Amazon
Purchase Truly Devious: A Mystery at IndieBound
View Truly Devious: A Mystery on Goodreads

* * * *


You Won't Know When I'm Gone
by Kristen Orlando
Hardcover
Swoon Reads
Released 1/16/2018

Reagan has to prove herself to an elite group of special agents—and avenge her mother's death—in the second book in the Black Angel Chronicles from the author of You Don't Know My Name.

Going rogue in an effort to rescue her kidnapped parents has cost Reagan Hillis her automatic ticket to the Training Academy. But becoming a Black Angel is the only way Reagan will be able to exact revenge on her mother’s merciless killer, Santino Torres.

When Reagan is given a chance to prove that she’s worthy of training to be a Black Angel, she also gets the first chance she’s ever had to be her true self. No aliases. No disguises.

But when her friend Luke joins her at the Black Angels training compound, Reagan finds herself once again torn between the person she was and the person she wants to be. Reagan has to prove that she's as good as her parents trained her to be, because she’ll never find Torres without the Black Angels’ help.

Purchase You Won't Know When I'm Gone at Amazon
Purchase You Won't Know When I'm Gone at IndieBound
View You Won't Know When I'm Gone on Goodreads

* * * *


Zenith
by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings
Hardcover
Harlequin Teen
Released 1/16/2018

Most know Androma Racella as the Bloody Baroness, a powerful mercenary whose reign of terror stretches across the Mirabel Galaxy. To those aboard her glass starship, Marauder, however, she's just Andi, their friend and fearless leader.

But when a routine mission goes awry, the Marauder's all-girl crew is tested as they find themselves in a treacherous situation and at the mercy of a sadistic bounty hunter from Andi's past.

Meanwhile, across the galaxy, a ruthless ruler waits in the shadows of the planet Xen Ptera, biding her time to exact revenge for the destruction of her people. The pieces of her deadly plan are about to fall into place, unleashing a plot that will tear Mirabel in two.

Andi and her crew embark on a dangerous, soul-testing journey that could restore order to their ship or just as easily start a war that will devour worlds. As the Marauder hurtles toward the unknown, and Mirabel hangs in the balance, the only certainty is that in a galaxy run on lies and illusion, no one can be trusted.

Purchase Zenith at Amazon
Purchase Zenith at IndieBound
View Zenith on Goodreads

Saturday, January 13, 2018

1 YALLFest Interview with Sarah Beth Durst

It's time for another interview from YALLFest! I was excited to chat with all the authors, but this was the interview I was most looking forward because I've known Sarah Beth Durst for years, but I'd never met her.

About nine years ago I worked for a software company that had offices around the country. In the company newsletters, they profiled interesting employees, and one of the profiles was about Sarah and her writing career. Since I was just starting to get serious about this whole writing YA thing, it was such an inspiration to read about Sarah and her accomplishments. So I was unusually brave (for me) and sent her an email, mostly babbling about how much I wanted to be like her. Instead of calling security, she sweetly sent me an encouraging message. Later we became Facebook friends, and she's continued to inspire me as her career has progressed. So I was super excited when I saw she was going to be part of YALLFest, which meant I might have the chance to meet her.

Then I was super duper excited when it worked out that I'd be able to interview her. And she was just as lovely in person as she's been online.

Sarah, what did your journey to publication look like?

My journey began a long time ago. I've always wanted to be a writer, it's only thing I ever wanted to be, except, you know, when I was five and desperately wanted to be Wonder Woman, which didn't happen which was probably fine. But I've just always wanted to be a writer, and I always knew I wanted to write fantasy. So I started writing when I was ten, and the very first story I ever wrote was this cross between Wizard of Oz and GI Joe with, like, lots of talking lions. Like not just one talking lion, a lot of talking lions. And I just kept writing after that, mostly story openings, like opening after opening after opening. 
In college I took a lot of awesome playwriting courses that were fantastic because I love dialogue, and there were these avant-garde playwriting classes where I could have like a dragon land on the stage. After college my husband got a scholarship to study in England for a year, and I was like, "I'm coming too!" and I wasn't allowed to legally work for longer than six months, so I'm like, "Gee, that's such a shame!" So I used that time to complete my first full-length manuscript, and then when I got back I just entered that 'send something out, get rejected, send something out, get rejected' stage.

And then my first novel, it was called Into the Wild, it came out in 2007, and it was about fairytale characters who live in the real world, and the fairytale wants them back. Since then I've published a book a year, and I think I'm up to 14 now. That makes me very happy, and I like thinking of ten-year-old Sarah being happy.

You publish across the board, writing YA, MG, adult, and now you have a picture book too, so what’s is your favorite thing about writing in each category? What’s your biggest challenge in each category?

I had to redo my website because I had the Queen of Blood next to Roar and Sparkles Go to School. *laughs* I write fantasy for all ages, and I like being able to say that. When I first started writing for the different ages, it didn't occur to me that it should be difficult to switch between ages, it's just that's what the story is - this one's a coming-of-age story so it fits in here, this one she needs to have experienced loss so she needs to be older - so it's what the story is that dictates what age it's going to fall for. And I truly try very hard not to think about the reader when I write, I try to just think about the story itself because otherwise, first off, I find it paralyzing when I think about the reader, and, secondly, I think if you're telling the story true to the character, it's gonna come out the appropriate age. You know, if you're seeing the world through the eyes of a twelve year old, it's gonna come out middle grade, eyes of a sixteen year old, it's gonna come out YA, and so forth. So I don't deliberately change my style, like my style is different for the different books but that's just because they're different stories not because I thinking I'm writing for kids now or I'm writing for adults now. It's just "is this story true to the character?" and I try to always fall in love with my characters.

As far as the differences between them? One of the things I like with writing for younger is that it tends to be about firsts; you know, it's gonna be first love, first adventure, first friendship, first independence, first finding of yourself. The thing I love about writing adults is it's not about firsts, and it's not the first for the reader either, they come with all this baggage and expectations and they think they know how the story is going to go and you can really play with that. You can either fulfill it and have it be really satisfying because it's fulfilling this history, it's the genre, or you can turn it upside down and tear it apart and people will be able to follow where they're going because they come with that history.

Do you work on one project at a time or do you have to balance between them?

I ... Yeees. *laughs* Right now I'm working on the next adult, which is a standalone set in the same world as The Queens of Renthia series, and I'm working on the next middle grade which is Storm Guardians, which the title will probably change, and it's coming out the following year. So I am working on two at the same time, but I can't work on two on the same day because the voices are so different. So I do alternate, but in chunks - like, I'll spend a month on one and then I'll switch over and a month on the other and a month that way.

Do you have a writing ritual? What does a day in the life of Sarah look like?

I write a lot. *laughs* When I started out, I used to think I have to wait for the muse, this has to be right, it has to be this kind of music playing, this kind of environment, and now that I've been doing it for a while, I think I sort of ascribe to the "if you show up and write, eventually the muse will come along and sit down next to you." Because if you just wait to feel inspired, you'll end up waiting forever, whereas if you just do it, then at the very least you come up with something that you either know you don't want to happen in the story, which is useful, or something that has a shred of something you can use later. So I really do try to write every single day, as much as I can before life intervenes. And I always keep chocolate next to me.

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

Oh every novel! Every time it's going well, I'm like, "This is what I do!" For me, every book always comes with what I call the doomed stage, where you get to one point and you're like, "I don't know what I'm doing, there are no verbs in this, where am I going?" The trick for me is to just keep writing through it and get to the other side and then it goes fine. My husband always threatens to record his pep talks because I do this every single book. But there's always going to be those ups and downs. You know how I mentioned the manuscript that I wrote when I lived in England - like it's in a closet somewhere - but the thing that was so valuable about that was knowing I could finish, and I think the longer I go along, like, I know this can turn into a story. If I'm in the middle and it's going hard, I just need to push through and I can fix it later. That's one of the things I love about writing is that if it comes out terrible, you can fix it later! Whenever I do a new scene or I revise a scene, I will open up a new word document for it because it tricks my brain into thinking I can play, and if it doesn't turn out okay, it doesn't have to go into the main file.

It’s so exciting that Drink Slay Love aired on Lifetime a few months ago and that Selma Blair recently optioned Lost. I know authors don’t have much control about getting a novel optioned or input once it does, but can you tell us a little about the process?


It was really fun. It was very surreal. You're right, it becomes the producer's baby after that, but just seeing people run around being characters that were in my head was so much fun. When it premiered in September, I had the best time. They asked me to live tweet, and they asked the cast to live tweet as well, and I had actually seen an earlier cut of it, so I knew what was coming, so I had prepared a couple of tweets just so I didn't have to do it on the fly. And I sat down with my laptop in front of me in front of the TV, and I reached for my mouse to do the first tweet, and my hand just started shaking. And I'm not the sort that normally shakes, but it just was like, "Why am I vibrating?!" I was so excited I was actually vibrating. And it was so much fun because I was tweeting back and forth with the people, and I've never tweeted back and forth with someone that was on my TV screen at the time, so it was really surreal. The next day we had a party and did a viewing with friends, and we had all these vampire treats. We took these pretzels sticks and whittled them down into stakes and had brownies with little teeth holes in them and put raspberry syrup coming out of them. It was really fun. And it was one of those things - you know I've always wanted to be a writer, and I honestly never thought too much about the TV/movie side of it because it's such a separate uncontrollable, unpredictable beast, so it sort of felt like dream come true yet I didn't know it was one of my dreams. So it was a cool thing that happened.

So where do things stand with Lost?

It just happened. The contracts were just signed. Like with anything in Hollywood, there's a long road ahead, but this is the first step, so I'm excited. And Selma Blair is awesome, so I have full confidence she will do cool things with it. The funny thing with film and TV stuff is that you find out something's happening so long before you're allowed to talk about it, and you're just like, "I have news! I have news! No, don't tell anyone!" So it's such a relief when you can actually tell people.

What are you working on now?

My next book coming out is called The Stone Girl's Story, and it's coming out in April from HMH Clarion Books. It is about a twelve-year-old girl made of living stone, and the quest she goes on to save her family, who's all made of stone when the marks that bring them to life start to fade. And then in May I have The Queen of Sorrow, which is book three of my Queens of Renthia series, which is an epic fantasy series from Harper about bloodthirsty nature spirits.

These sound great - I can't wait to read them. It was so wonderful to finally meet you, Sarah! Thanks for chatting with me!


Readers, did you know you wanted to be a writer at a young age? Have you written for different age categories? Have you tried tricking your brain while revising by opening a new document to play in? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn

ABOUT THE BOOK

Journey Across the Hidden Islands
by Sarah Beth Durst
Hardcover
Clarion Books

The traditional Emperor’s Journey is meant to be uneventful. But as the princesses Seika and Ji-Lin—twin sisters—travel to pay respects to their kingdom’s dragon guardian, unexpected monsters appear and tremors shake the earth. The Hidden Islands face unprecedented threats, and the old rituals are failing. With only their strength, ingenuity, and flying lion to rely on, can the sisters find a new way to keep their people safe?

Purchase Journey Across the Hidden Islands at Amazon
Purchase Journey Across the Hidden Islands at IndieBound
View Journey Across the Hidden Islands on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Sarah Beth Durst is the award-winning author of fourteen fantasy books for adults, teens, and kids, including Drink, Slay, Love, the basis for the recent TV movie of the same name. Her latest book for adults, The Reluctant Queen, came out in July 2017 from Harper Voyager; her latest book for kids, Journey Across the Hidden Islands came out in April 2017 from HMH/Clarion Books; and her first picture book, Roar and Sparkles Go to School, came out in June 2017 from Hachette/Running Press Kids. She won an ALA Alex Award and a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, and has been a finalist for SFWA's Andre Norton Award three times. She is a graduate of Princeton University, where she spent four years studying English, writing about dragons, and wondering what the campus gargoyles would say if they could talk. Sarah lives in Stony Brook, New York, with her husband, her children, and her ill-mannered cat. For more information, visit her at www.sarahbethdurst.com.

Monday, January 8, 2018

3 New Releases this week 01/08 - 01/14 plus Giveaway of A QUIET KIND OF THUNDER

Happy Monday! We're celebrating the release of a few books today including A QUIET KIND OF THUNDER. Don't forget to check out the awesome books being released this week 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


* * * *


A Quiet Kind of Thunder
by Sara Barnard
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 1/9/2018

A girl who can’t speak and a boy who can’t hear go on a journey of self-discovery and find support with each other in this gripping, emotionally resonant novel from bestselling author Sara Barnard. Perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Jandy Nelson.

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.


Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.

Purchase A Quiet Kind of Thunder at Amazon
Purchase A Quiet Kind of Thunder at IndieBound
View A Quiet Kind of Thunder on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS



A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield: Ken C.
Don't Cosplay with My Heart by Cecil Castellucci: Sarah K.
Ink by Alice Broadway: Jessica J.
Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle: Laura D.
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon: Caroline R.

MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


* * * *


Beneath the Haunting Sea
by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Hardcover
Page Street Kids
Released 1/9/2018

Sixteen-year-old Talia was born to a life of certainty and luxury, destined to become Empress of half the world. But when an ambitious rival seizes power, she and her mother are banished to a nowhere province on the far edge of the Northern Sea.

It is here, in the drafty halls of the Ruen-Dahr, that Talia discovers family secrets, a melancholy boy with a troubling vision of her future, and a relic that holds the power of an ancient Star. On these shores, the eerie melody of the sea is stronger than ever, revealing long-forgotten tales of the Goddess Rahn. The more dark truths that Talia unravels about the gods’ history—and her own—the more the waves call to her, and it may be her destiny to answer.

Purchase Beneath the Haunting Sea at Amazon
Purchase Beneath the Haunting Sea at IndieBound
View Beneath the Haunting Sea on Goodreads

* * * *


Teen Phantom: High School Horror
by Chandler Baker
Hardcover
Feiwel & Friends
Released 1/9/2018

The final book in the High School Horror series is a creepy, atmospheric, contemporary reimagining of The Phantom of the Opera, complete with all the drama of a high school theater department.

Lena has always preferred to stay safely in the shadows and out of the spotlight, but now, dealing with the loss of her friend Marcy and faced with her father's new girlfriend, she feels like she's on the verge of disappearing completely. Then Chris shows up. Chris, who actually notices Lena and confides in her. Sure that she has finally found the friend she's been searching for, Lena resolves that this time, nothing is going to take him away from her.

Teen Phantom, Chandler Baker's third twisted retelling of a familiar tale, is once again set in the town of Hollow Pines, Texas, where high school is truly horrifying.

Purchase Teen Phantom: High School Horror at Amazon
Purchase Teen Phantom: High School Horror at IndieBound
View Teen Phantom: High School Horror on Goodreads

* * * *


Unearthed
by Arnie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Hardcover
Disney-Hyperion
Released 1/9/2018

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying's advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study... as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don't loot everything first. Mia and Jules' different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race's secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race...

Purchase Unearthed at Amazon
Purchase Unearthed at IndieBound
View Unearthed on Goodreads


Saturday, January 6, 2018

0 Sorry but the #1st5pages Writing Workshop is Now Closed


Hi Everyone,

Sorry but the Free 1st 5 Pages Workshop is now closed. Once again, we filled up in under a minute! I will email the participants that made it into the workshop today. If you don't hear from me, I'm sorry but you didn't get in this month. Please try again next month!

Happy Reading, Writing, and Revising!

Erin

About the Author:

Erin Cashman is AYAP's 1st 5 Pages Workshop coordinator, and a permanent mentor. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, three kids, and an energetic rescue dog. She writes YA fantasy. UNCHARTED is coming fall of 2018, and THE EXCEPTIONALS, a Bank Street College of Education best book of the year, is available now. For up to date information about the workshop, you can follow Erin on twitter here

0 Free #1st5pages Writing Workshop is Now Open!

Our January workshop is now open! In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Christina June as our author mentor and Abby Saul of The Lark Group as our agent mentor! (See below for Abby''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!

So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!

Why is the First Five Pages Workshop a GREAT Opportunity?

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

How It Works

Please see the complete rules before entering the workshop, but in a nutshell, we'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman, @MelissWritesNow, @charlotteclg ), 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.

January Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Abby Saul 
Abby founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing. A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the ebooks on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. Abby’s personal library of beloved titles runs the gamut from literary newbies and classics, to cozy mysteries, to sappy women’s fiction, to dark and twisted thrillers. Find her @BookySaul on Twitter.

Abby is looking for: adult literary fiction and adult commercial fiction (including historical fiction, women’s fiction, mysteries, and thrillers)

Click here for how to query Abby!

January Guest Author Mentor: Christina June

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor.  She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.  

Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland.  She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter. Find her on Twitter @ChristinaJuneYA

Her debut novel, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, was released in May 2017, and a companion, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, will be available in 2018. She was also part of the anthology NEVER BE YOUNGER,  collection of short stories based on the works of Shakespeare. 


Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Where to Buy: 

Add It on GOODREADS!

0 Cecil Castellucci, author of DON'T COSPLAY WITH MY HEART, on rejected books opening new doors

We're excited to have Cecil Castellucci stop by to share more about her latest novel, DON'T COSPLAY WITH MY HEART.

Cecil, what book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I always love to give a little love to other authors and books. I’d say One Con Glory by Sarah Kuhn and also her new Heroine Complex Series. Also, I’d try Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern. Geekerlla by Ashley Poston. The Secret Loves of Geek Girls edited by Hope Nicholson. The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs. And Boy Proof, by me!

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

The thing about writing and publication is there are no two roads to publication that go the same way. I now have 15 books out. They vary in age range, from picture books to middle grade to Young Adult. I also write comic books. Currently I have a series on DC Comics called SHADE, THE CHANGING GIRL. All told it took me about seven years before I sold my first book. And I had written three books that had gotten rejected before I sold the fourth novel that I had written. It was a process. But every single book that got rejected opened new doors for me. I think that it takes about ten years to get taken seriously in any art field. You have to keep your head down and do your work. Write. Write. Write. Don’t get discouraged. At some point, if you keep putting it out there, you find the right editor and the right house.

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?

I think the moment that I realized that I had a lot of stories to tell and that I didn’t have to be precious about what was going into one book. That I could use things that I had to chuck from one story down the line. And that doing what was best for the story was the most important thing. It’s hard. You have to kill a lot of darlings. But hopefully you have a long career and you can use all your cool ideas somewhere. That was very freeing.

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

I like to write my favorite parts first. That way I keep myself engaged and interested. I always make a playlist for every book that I write. It’s an easy way to slide right into the right frame of mind. I work both at home and at a coffee shop. It kind of depends where in the process I am. I like to write first drafts and face the blank page at home. But I like to revise out in the world, in a cafe with the flow of life kind of bubbling in.

What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on the third book in The Plain Janes series. It’s a graphic novel about an all girl art group that came out ten years ago and Jim Rugg (the artist) and I just got the rights back. I’m so excited about writing it that I pinch myself. It’s going to out in 2019.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Don't Cosplay with My Heart
by Cecil Castellucci
Hardcover
Scholastic Press
Released 1/2/2018

When Edan Kupferman dresses up like her favorite character, Gargantua, she feels tall and powerful. That's important right now, because her family is a mess, her best friend is gone for the summer, her crush is confusing, and Edan's feeling small and not sure which end is up.
When Edan's cosplaying, she can be angry, loud, and not the good girl everyone thinks she is. And when she's at conventions, she feels like she's found her own Team Tomorrow. But when her personal life starts to spiral out of control, Edan has to figure out whether she needs a sidekick, or if she has the strength to be the hero of her own story.

Purchase Don't Cosplay with My Heart at Amazon
Purchase Don't Cosplay with My Heart at IndieBound
View Don't Cosplay with My Heart on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Cecil Castellucci is the author of books and graphic novels for young adults including Boy Proof, The Plain Janes, Soupy Leaves Home, The Year of the Beasts, Tin Star, and the Eisner nominated Odd Duck. In 2015 she co-authored Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure. Out in 2018 is Don’t Cosplay With My Heart. She is currently writing Shade, The Changing Girl, an ongoing comic on Gerard Way’s Young Animal imprint at DC Comics. Her short stories and short comics have been published in Strange Horizons, Tor.com, Womanthology, Star Trek: Waypoint and Vertigo SFX: Slam! She is the Children’s Correspondence Coordinator for The Rumpus, a two time Macdowell Fellow and the founding YA Editor at the LA Review of Books. She lives in Los Angeles.
---

Have you had a chance to read DON'T COSPLAY WITH MY HEART yet? Have you used things you cut from one story in a different story? Do you write your favorite parts first? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

0 Free #1st5pages Writing Workshop Opens Today!

Our January workshop will today, at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Christina June as our author mentor and Abby Saul of The Lark Group as our agent mentor! (See below for Abby''s background and query preferences.)

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

Why is the First Five Pages Workshop a GREAT Opportunity?

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

How It Works

Please see the complete rules before entering the workshop, but in a nutshell, we'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman, @MelissWritesNow, @charlotteclg ), 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.

January Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Abby Saul 
Abby founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing. A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the ebooks on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. Abby’s personal library of beloved titles runs the gamut from literary newbies and classics, to cozy mysteries, to sappy women’s fiction, to dark and twisted thrillers. Find her @BookySaul on Twitter.

Abby is looking for: adult literary fiction and adult commercial fiction (including historical fiction, women’s fiction, mysteries, and thrillers)

Click here for how to query Abby!

January Guest Author Mentor: Christina June

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor.  She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.  

Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland.  She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter. Find her on Twitter @ChristinaJuneYA

Her debut novel, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, was released in May 2017, and a companion, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, will be available in 2018. She was also part of the anthology NEVER BE YOUNGER,  collection of short stories based on the works of Shakespeare. 


Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Where to Buy: 

Add It on GOODREADS!

Friday, January 5, 2018

0 Free #1st5pages Workshop Opens Tomorrow!

Our January workshop will open for submissions tomorrow, Saturday, January 6th at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Christina June as our author mentor and Abby Saul of The Lark Group as our agent mentor! (See below for Abby''s background and query preferences.)

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

Why is the First Five Pages Workshop a GREAT Opportunity?

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

How It Works

Please see the complete rules before entering the workshop, but in a nutshell, we'll take the first five Middle Grade or Young Adult entries that meet all guidelines and formatting requirements. (Double check the formatting - each month we have to disqualify entries because of formatting.) Click here to get the rules. We will post when the workshop opens and closes on Adventures in YA Publishing and on twitter (@etcashman, @MelissWritesNow, @charlotteclg ), 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.

January Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Abby Saul 
Abby founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing. A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the ebooks on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. Abby’s personal library of beloved titles runs the gamut from literary newbies and classics, to cozy mysteries, to sappy women’s fiction, to dark and twisted thrillers. Find her @BookySaul on Twitter.

Abby is looking for: adult literary fiction and adult commercial fiction (including historical fiction, women’s fiction, mysteries, and thrillers)

Click here for how to query Abby!

January Guest Author Mentor: Christina June

Christina June writes young adult contemporary fiction when she’s not writing college recommendation letters during her day job as a school counselor.  She loves the little moments in life that help someone discover who they’re meant to become – whether it’s her students or her characters.  

Christina is a voracious reader, loves to travel, eats too many cupcakes, and hopes to one day be bicoastal – the east coast of the US and the east coast of Scotland.  She lives in Virginia with her husband and daughter. Find her on Twitter @ChristinaJuneYA

Her debut novel, IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE, was released in May 2017, and a companion, EVERYWHERE YOU WANT TO BE, will be available in 2018. She was also part of the anthology NEVER BE YOUNGER,  collection of short stories based on the works of Shakespeare. 


Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

Where to Buy: 

Add It on GOODREADS!