Saturday, March 31, 2018

0 Jessica Verdi, author of AND SHE WAS, on a one-sentence email becoming a book

We're excited to have Jessica Verdi join us to share more about her latest novel, AND SHE WAS.

Jessica, how long did you work on AND SHE WAS?

It was nearly five years ago that my agent sent me a one-sentence email with the tiniest nugget of an idea for this story. :) Since then, I've been hard at work researching, drafting, and revising, as well as getting invaluable input from several sensitivity readers. I'm so excited that the book is finally out in the world!

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

I have a full-time job as a romance novel editor, so my writing time is primarily limited to Saturdays and Sundays. I work best in the morning, when my brain is most awake, so I start writing at around 8 or 9am and work until I get tired. I do listen to music while I'm writing, but not anything super high energy or with lyrics that I'd want to sing along to—too distracting! I always write at home—again, to avoid distractions!

What are you working on now?

My debut picture book, titled THE HAIRCUT and co-written with Rachel Lyons, will be published next year by FSG Books for Young Readers. It's about a young transgender boy coming out to his parents. I'm also currently working on a new contemporary YA, and while I can't say too much about it yet, I think it's going to be a lot of fun.

ABOUT THE BOOK

And She Was
by Jessica Verdi
Hardcover
Scholastic Press
Released 3/27/2018

Dara's lived a sheltered life with her single mom, Mellie. Now, at eighteen, she's dreaming of more. When Dara digs up her never-before-seen birth certificate, her world implodes. Why are two strangers listed as her parents?

Dara confronts her mother, and is stunned by what she learns: Mellie is transgender. The unfamiliar name listed under "father"? That's Mellie. She transitioned when Dara was a baby, after Dara's birth mother died. She changed her name, started over.

But Dara still has more questions than answers. Reeling, she sets off on an impromptu road trip with her best guy friend, Sam, in tow. She is determined to find the extended family she's never even met. What she does discover -- and what her mother reveals, piece by piece, over emails -- will challenge and change Dara more than she can imagine.

Purchase And She Was at Amazon
Purchase And She Was at IndieBound
View And She Was on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Jessica Verdi is an author of young adult novels about identity, family, acceptance, and love.

Though she’s always been a bookworm (her childhood was basically defined by the philosophy that working your way through giant stacks of library books is far superior to playing outside), she remained convinced throughout high school and college that theatre and music were meant to be her creative outlets. After nearly ten years in the NYC theatre world, she got an idea for a novel. That novel was an adult magical realism story, and while it will never see the light of day—nope, don’t ask—it was the book that started her love affair with writing. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else.

Jess received her MFA in Writing for Children from The New School and is a Senior Editor at a “big five” romance novel publisher. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her partner Paul and dogs Billie and Gloria.

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Have you had a chance to read AND SHE WAS yet? Do you work in the morning or at night? Have you gotten sensitivity readers for your work? 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 Workshop Opens in 1 Week!

Our April workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, April 7th at noon, EST. In addition to our wonderful permanent mentors, we have Sheryl Scarborough  as our author mentor and Erica Bauman of Aevitas as our agent mentor! (See below for Erica'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.

April Guest Literary Agent Mentor: Erica Bauman


Erica Bauman is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and has worked in the publishing industry for the last five years. Before coming to Aevitas she worked at Spectrum Literary Agency.

Based in New York, Erica is currently focused on representing a wide range of authors across middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction, as well as some select narrative nonfiction projects. She is most interested in novels that straddle the line between literary and commercial, imaginative tales with a speculative twist, fearless storytellers that tackle big ideas and contemporary issues, and working with and supporting marginalized authors and stories that represent the wide range of humanity.

To query, please submit through our website: http://aevitascreative.com/contact/

April Guest Literary Author Mentor: Sheryl Scarborough



Sheryl Scarborough, an award-winning writer for children’s television, is the author of To Catch A Killer and To Right The Wrongs, a YA mystery series with Tor Teen. The appearance of a habitual Peeping Tom at her home when she was twelve sparked an obsession with forensics.

She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives with her husband and writer-cats in Washington state, across the river from Portland, OR.







About TO RIGHT THE WRONGS:  

Barely three weeks after catching the killer of Erin's mother and their biology teacher, Erin and her crew are back, up to their elbows in forensics projects. But this time it's with the full approval of their parents.

With Uncle Victor at the helm, Erin and her best friends, Spam and Lysa, are prepping a new classroom for CSI summer camp, where they will serve as camp counselors. Meanwhile, Erin's super-hot new boyfriend, Journey, is graduating, just in time for him to take a position as Victor's intern in the new CSI lab on campus. Journey and Victor are going to take another look at the evidence in the murder trial that sent Journey's father to prison. The girls are under strict orders not to meddle with the murder case, but that's easier said than done...
Where to Buy:

Barnes & Noble Amazon IndieBound

Add It On GOODREADS!  

Friday, March 30, 2018

0 Amy Trueblood, author of NOTHING BUT SKY, on sticking with it to the very end

We're delighted to have Amy Trueblood with us to share more about her debut novel, NOTHING BUT SKY.

Amy, what did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

This book pushed me to the edge of the envelope. There were many times I wanted to put it away and never look at it again. But every time I would walk away, the characters would pull me back. Grace would plead not to give up on her and I'd imagine an idea for a new stunt. Or Henry would whisper another story about his past and I would be drawn back to the page. NOTHING BUT SKY taught me that if your story has enough teeth, it's worth sticking with it to the very end!

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?

My AHA! moment was a continuous string of kindly worded rejections during the submission process. It gave me hope that my book had merit and could draw interest. I knew going in that NOTHING BUT SKY would be hard sell, but I also knew that if it could make it into the hands of the right editor at the right time then it would sell.

What are you working on now?


I swore I'd give myself a break before writing another YA Historical manuscript, but a new plot bunny popped into my head after seeing an image posted from "History in Pictures" on Twitter. That photograph spurred one idea after another and I knew I had to start working. I can't say a lot about it except it takes places in San Francisco circa 1936 and follows the story of another young, determined female! :)

ABOUT THE BOOK

Nothing But Sky
by Amy Trueblood
Paperback
Flux
Released 3/27/2018

"Amy Trueblood takes an overlooked page in history, folds it into an intense drama, and sends it soaring. Post World War I wing walker Grace Lafferty is the kind of spunky, stubborn heroine that will make readers feel like the sky's the limit."
—Stacey Lee, award winning author of OUTRUN THE MOON

A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection.

Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she's dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.

No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.

After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.

Purchase Nothing But Sky at Amazon
Purchase Nothing But Sky at IndieBound
View Nothing But Sky on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A devotee of reading and writing from a very young age, Amy Trueblood grew up surrounded by books. As the youngest of five children, she spent most of her time trying to find a quiet place to curl up with her favorite stories. After stints working in entertainment and advertising, she began writing her first manuscript and never looked back.

Her debut novel, NOTHING BUT SKY will be published March 27, 2018 by Flux.

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Have you had a chance to read NOTHING BUT SKY yet? Have your characters pulled you back to a story when you wanted to walk away from it? Have kind rejections given you hope about your writing? 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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

0 Melissa Ostrom, author of THE BELOVED WILD, on the demands of writing historical fiction

We're thrilled to have Melissa Ostrom stop by to tell us more about her debut novel, THE BELOVED WILD.

Melissa, what was your inspiration for writing THE BELOVED WILD?

The Genesee Valley where Harriet and her brother pioneer inspired me. It’s where I live, and I admire so much about the area—the Erie Canal, big sky, endless orchards, rich soil, sweeping lake, and old cobblestone houses. Some of the local families have been farming their land for generations. Their histories intrigued me. I wasn’t born in this Lake Ontario fruit country. A teaching position at Kendall High School brought me to the area. But I settled here, and I’m very glad I did.

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

The abuse Harriet’s friend Rachel faces was hard to write, but I also felt like it was very realistic and therefore necessary to write. During this era, women’s restricted status made their lives precarious. Situations like Rachel’s starkly demonstrate why societal norms, expectations, and laws had to change.

My favorite scene (and probably also the one of which I’m most proud) occurs at the end of Part I. Harriet, fired up over her oldest brother’s callous remarks, flees her house. Daniel follows, and he ends up getting an earful. Harriet spells out for him, in no uncertain terms, why being born a girl is such a curse. I love that she articulates the truth and how angry the truth makes her.

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

They would absolutely enjoy PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and the ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series. Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Shirley are smart, fierce, and funny. I adore them.

How long did you work on THE BELOVED WILD?

The initial draft took me perhaps seven or eight months to write. The revision process—tweaking, adding, and deleting scenes—probably required another six months.

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

Writing THE BELOVED WILD made me deeply appreciate those novelists who devote all their energy to creating historical fiction. Not only do the preparations for historical fiction require a great deal of research, but the actual writing of the work demands a constant attention to language in order to convincingly and accurately capture the minutiae of a long-ago time. Exclusively writing historical fiction would be a tough gig.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE BELOVED WILD?

The importance of friendship. The value of being yourself. The legitimacy of pursuing your dreams.

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

It was a long, bumpy road. My very first writing venture was a YA series of four books. I finished all of them before unsuccessfully querying the first—so that was that with those four. Then I wrote a work of contemporary adult fiction and another of romantic suspense, neither of which won me an agent. THE BELOVED WILD, though my debut, is actually my seventh novel.

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 experienced two AHA! moments, the first thanks to my brother Robbie, a poet and professor. After I unsuccessfully queried the novel of romantic suspense, he suggested I write some short fiction, try to publish a few stories, and beef up my credentials. I took his advice and managed to do just that. But the most important thing creating short fiction did for me was make me a better writer. Perhaps because of their spare frame, short stories taught me to write tighter, more deliberate prose. Each word in a story has to earn its keep—or out it goes.

Around that same time, I had another epiphany. This is what I realized: even if I never successfully queried a project, never nabbed a literary agent, and never saw one of my novels in print, I was going to keep writing. The joy it brought me justified the labor.

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

I write in my office at home very early in the morning, while my husband and young children are still asleep upstairs. I love the quiet coziness of my mornings, the crackle of the fire in the woodstove, the moon in the sky, a delicious cup of coffee, and whatever story I’m endeavoring to tell on the computer screen. Starting my day with a writing session is starting my day off right. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

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

Read widely and avidly, and write regularly. Whether or not you get anything published, commit to your writing, and recognize your works’ inherent value as profound exercises in and manifestations of creativity. Writing is a magical endeavor—truly transformative and deeply satisfying. Whatever else you do to pay the bills, make writing your real job, your passionate vocation.

What are you working on now?

I am working on the revisions of the second novel that Macmillan will be publishing, hopefully in a year’s time. It’s a contemporary YA about a young woman who, after enduring a traumatic incident, drops out of college and goes to live with her aunt, a sculptor.

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Beloved Wild
by Melissa Ostrom
Hardcover
Feiwel & Friends
Released 3/27/2018

She's not the girl everyone expects her to be.

Harriet Winter is the eldest daughter in a farming family in New Hampshire, 1807. She is expected to help with her younger sisters. To pitch in with the cooking and cleaning. And to marry her neighbor, the farmer Daniel Long. Harriet’s mother sees Daniel as a good match, but Harriet doesn’t want someone else to choose her path―in love or in life.

When Harriet’s brother decides to strike out for the Genesee Valley in Western New York, Harriet decides to go with him―disguised as a boy. Their journey includes sickness, uninvited strangers, and difficult emotional terrain as Harriet sees more of the world, realizes what she wants, and accepts who she’s loved all along.

Purchase The Beloved Wild at Amazon
Purchase The Beloved Wild at IndieBound
View The Beloved Wild on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Melissa Ostrom teaches English at Genesee Community College in Batavia, New York. The Beloved Wild is her YA debut. She lives in Holley, New York with her family. Connect with her at melissaostrom.com or on Twitter @melostrom.

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Have you had a chance to read THE BELOVED WILD yet? Have your tried writing and publishing short fiction? Does writing bring you enough joy to justify the labor? 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

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

0 Mary H. K. Choi, author of EMERGENCY CONTACT, on books feeling deeply weird from the inside

We're excited to have Mary H. K. Choi drop by to chat about her debut novel, EMERGENCY CONTACT.

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

There’s a scene I love with the three girls in the car—Jude, Mallory and Penny our MC—they’re ditching homework and driving to the beach just to be close to the water since Austin is so landlocked. It’s the least neurotic version of Penny that you see and she’s becoming more and more comfortable with her roommate and college friends and you can see the cogs in her brain electing to let loose a bit. It’s kind of a throwaway scene in that it doesn’t particularly drive the narrative in an urgent way but I’ve always liked how it passes the Bechdel Test in that they’re talking about themselves and their moms and not “The Boy.” And it’s encouraging as the person who invented Penny to watch her play well with others like this. It makes me want to give her a gold star for not being such a pill even though it makes me feel completely overbearing and hypercritical to say any of this about her. Poor Penny… lol.

How long did you work on EMERGENCY CONTACT?

All in, it was about two years. It took about six months to write the first draft and then it shifted to be the epistemological format with them texting back and forth in the second draft. By the time my agent read it and sold it I was on my third full rewrite. And then it was another year before it came out.

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

First books feel deeply weird from the inside. It’s everything they tell you about writing. It’s like having homework for the rest of your life. It can also be unspeakably lonely. You feel inert but also bone-tired because your butt’s threatening to sprout bedsores but your brain is racing all day. It can be terrifically discombobulating. But getting to the end of a book, a whole novel that you made up on your own is a wonderful experience. Emergency Contact was the first piece of evidence that proved I was capable of writing an entire book. I’m still over-the-moon high-fiving myself about it.

What do you hope readers will take away from EMERGENCY CONTACT?

I hope people fall in love with the love story but I really want readers to fall in love with the idea of excellent friendships. Sam and Penny are friends first and that’s clutch. It took me my entire life to figure out how to be a good friend. The wild thing is, I was trucking along thinking it was all about being self-sufficient and not asking for stuff and being there whenever I was needed. But so much of friendship and intimacy is making space for yourself and leaning on your friends when you need them and asking for help. It seems like a no-brainer since so many of my friends are wonderful and available but these days I don’t rely on them to be such mind readers.

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 had horrible jetlag in Hong Kong over Thanksgiving, which also happened to be my birthday. I was climbing out of a bad relationship and falling headlong into a dazzling new one and some part of me was preoccupied with the optics of it all. It just seemed foolhardy and rash. I hadn’t slept in two nights and as I was waiting for it to go from nighttime to daytime, that’s when I decided I would rewrite this book. I was jangling from nerves but there was an aspect to it that felt like that galaxy brain meme.

It’s the best thing about traveling, that moment of realizing how indifferent the world is to your problems and that’s what lent a certain distance to what I saw as being a string of mistakes. I could see without value judgments how my relationship ended and how the new one began. And it was all so fine. It’s weird but until that moment I don’t think I fully appreciated that there was no such thing as a perfect book. There was only the best I could do at that time. I trudged through the second draft and then turned right back around to start on the third draft without being paralyzed by the specter of “the best book.” There is no best book. There’s just my best. And even that will change. For some reason I had to be incredibly sleep-deprived to realize that.

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

I usually write from home. I’m usually wearing some version of workout clothes because there’s a naïve, truly superstitious part of me that thinks I’ll make it to the gym at some point if I do that. Sometimes it works out. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I work at a coffee shop and drink tea all day. I bring earplugs and I never try to do more than three hours in one sitting because everything that comes after that is by brute force and usually not worth keeping. I try not to snack while I write because when I get anxious I start chewing. It’s almost like a nervous tick. If it’s a bad chewing day and I need something to allay the super scribbly circles in my brain then I might nibble on sunflower seeds to calm myself. I ruminate by chewing because it gives me the false sense that I’m propelling myself forward which gets bad if I’m stuck in my story. You never know what kind of day you’re going to get but as a writer all you know is that you have to do some writing. Sometimes the hardest part is forgiving yourself for not getting as much done as you had hoped. Just because this work isn’t physically grueling doesn’t mean it’s not taxing in its own way and compassion for yourself is a necessary part of the ritual.

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

Write the book you want to write. Full stop. And get to the end of the first draft as quick as you can. Try your darndest not to judge the book based on who you imagine it to be for or what you think will be a more successful book. That’s a seductive but generally pretty useless game to play. I always know I’m in a bad place when I’m fantasizing about the movie meeting about the book I have yet to finish. Whenever I think of how to market a book I know I’m creating distractions.

It’s always this tremendous leap of faith to keep plodding forward but that’s what distinguishes a writer from someone who wants to write. You have to sit down for a long, long time and mete it out so you may as well write exactly the book you want. Your own company is already insufferable some days so the book you’re working on has to be a decent enough companion that you don’t want to set everything on fire.

What are you working on now?

I just completed a first draft of my second novel. It’s about a kid who works at a bodega in New York. I’m also two chapters into my third novel. I don’t think that one’s going to be YA only because of the way it’s unfurling and insisting on grappling with more adult themes but it’s also generally having an identity crisis so who knows. It keeps threatening to transmogrify into a script so we’ll see. It’s going to be a doozy but then again, I’m learning that they all are so shrug emoji. It’ll work out.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Emergency Contact
by Mary H. K. Choi
Hardcover
Simon & Schuster Books for You
Released 3/27/2018

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Purchase Emergency Contact at Amazon
Purchase Emergency Contact at IndieBound
View Emergency Contact on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary H.K. Choi is a writer for The New York Times, GQ, Wired, and The Atlantic. She has written comics for Marvel and DC, as well as a collection of essays called Oh, Never Mind. She is the host of Hey, Cool Job!, a podcast about jobs, and is a culture correspondent for VICE News Tonight on HBO. Emergency Contact is her first novel. Mary grew up in Hong Kong and Texas and now lives in New York. Follow her on Twitter at @ChoitotheWorld.

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Have you had a chance to read EMERGENCY CONTACT yet? Are you writing the book you want to write? Are you able to take the tremendous leap of faith to keep plodding forward? 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

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

0 Matt Killeen, author of ORPHAN MONSTER SPY, on learning from three-dimensional people

We're thrilled to have Matt Killeen stop by to tell us more about his novel, ORPHAN MONSTER SPY.

Matt, what was your inspiration for writing ORPHAN MONSTER SPY?

I grew up in a decade obsessed with the Second World War. It seemed to dominate the books, comics, TV, playground games…everything. However, my mother’s best friend was German and after many sparkly, golden summers with her wonderful, warm and rabidly pacifist family, I found myself unable to swallow the idea that Germans were the war-mad, evil monsters depicted. Yet the more I learned of the Holocaust, the less sense any of this made. This gave me a life-long horrified fascination with WW2, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. Living in south London for over a decade, I passed the mural dedicated to local girl and SOE heroine Violette Szabo in Stockwell countless times. I knew her story and that of “Churchill’s Secret Army”, but I hadn’t realized just how young she had been on volunteering. At 21, I had been a mess, barely more mature than I had been at 18…or 15. With that thought, Orphan Monster Spy’s young protagonist, a Jewish orphan working as a British spy, was born. It turns out there were plenty of teenage partisans, couriers and resisters fighting the Nazis, some as young as 12.

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?

This question is spoilerific, isn’t it? If you’ve not read Orphan Monster Spy, definitely skip this one...

The final scene with Schäfer was incredibly hard to write. The research for that was hugely unpleasant as you can imagine and then actually typing it was tough. Trying to channel her vulnerability and fear, trying to make it authentic without being prurient, and worst of all having to be in his head for that experience was horrific. Also knowing what else was about to happen – and seeing it in detail – that just pushed me over the edge and I was sick.

I think I’ve done that scene justice – that’s a reality for some people so anything less would be a bit insulting. Proud isn’t the word though.

I’m really pleased with how the River Race turned out...it was a tricky time in the book’s creation and I wasn’t entirely sure how it would work, but once I got started it just unrolled itself under my fingertips. Every time I read the end I want to punch the air. That’s got to be a good sign.

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

A lot of people have talked about Orphan Monster Spy being reminiscent of The Book Thief – which I take as a massive compliment. It shares some of the subject matter, although I think the tone is very different. Another non-spy book in the same area is Judith Kerr’s autobiographical When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit which I’d say was pretty essential, as is Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl and Vanessa Curtis’ The Earth is Singing, two Holocaust books with a tangible sense of foreboding on every page.

Elizabeth Wein’s Young Flyers trilogy and Code Name Verity in particular have a lot of Orphan’s darkness and interiority. I wouldn’t dare compare my work with that incredible book, had Elizabeth Wein herself not given me the stamp of approval. Tamar by the late great Mal Peet is likewise a must-read if you’re prepared for a bit of misery in your spy fiction.

I once asked him for advice. Early on I had been given some pushback on the subject matter of Orphan Monster Spy as some people didn’t consider it a YA novel – should I dumb the book down at all? “Tell them to **** off,” he said.

What do you hope readers will take away from ORPHAN MONSTER SPY?

No matter how insignificant you feel you are, resistance starts with one person. That’s how the world starts to change. So, stand up and change it.

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


I have an office at the back of the house with a really relaxing view over the local park and woods. Unfortunately, the room is also full of toys, musical instruments and my gaming PC, so I may have to rethink that. Music is very important – it helps both block out the rest of the world and occasionally inspires whole scenes. It needs to be interesting but not too distracting. I’ve an enormous playlist of ambient, classical, piano and world music that I use to focus. Nothing like A Winged Victory for The Sullen to get the Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails out of my head. Oh, and super-strong coffee with sugar-free hazelnut, my real vice. The definition of an author is an alchemist who turns caffeine into words.

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

If you’re writing, you’re a writer, so write, every day, even if it’s rubbish. There’s no substitute for time at the coalface. Find yourself a website, crit group or other support network of writers you respect. Learn to give and receive constructive feedback, it will make you better. Join SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and go to their events. Being a writer can be isolating by its nature. Meet some three-dimensional people and learn from them...and read. Learn your craft. I don’t read nearly enough.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing the sequel to Orphan Monster Spy. Same spy, different monsters.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Orphan Monster Spy
by Matt Killeen
Hardcover
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 3/20/2018

Her name is Sarah. She's blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish in 1939 Germany. And her act of resistance is about to change the world.

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He's part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she'd ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she's the Nazis' worst nightmare.

Purchase Orphan Monster Spy at Amazon
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View Orphan Monster Spy on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Killeen was born in Birmingham, in the UK, back when trousers were wide and everything was brown. Early instruction in his craft included being told that a drawing of a Cylon exploding isn't writing and copying-out your mother's payslip isn't an essay "about my family." Several alternative careers beckoned, some involving laser guns and guitars, before he finally returned to words and attempted to make a living as an advertising copywriter and largely ignored music and sports journalist. He now writes for the world's best loved toy company, as it wasn't possible to be an X-wing pilot. Married to his Nuyorican soul mate, he is parent to both an unfeasibly clever teenager and a toddler who is challenging his father's anti-establishment credentials by repeatedly writing on the walls. He accidentally moved to the countryside in 2016. Follow him @by_Matt_Killeen.

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Have you had a chance to read ORPHAN MONSTER SPY yet? Have you been inspired by a mural? Are you an alchemist who turns caffeine into words? 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

Monday, March 26, 2018

7 New Releases this Week 03/26 - 04/01 plus 5 Giveaways

Happy Monday! This week we have 5 awesome-sounding books up for grabs. Make sure to check out all the 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


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And She Was
by Jessica Verdi
Signed Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Scholastic Press
Released 3/27/2018

Dara's lived a sheltered life with her single mom, Mellie. Now, at eighteen, she's dreaming of more. When Dara digs up her never-before-seen birth certificate, her world implodes. Why are two strangers listed as her parents?

Dara confronts her mother, and is stunned by what she learns: Mellie is transgender. The unfamiliar name listed under "father"? That's Mellie. She transitioned when Dara was a baby, after Dara's birth mother died. She changed her name, started over.

But Dara still has more questions than answers. Reeling, she sets off on an impromptu road trip with her best guy friend, Sam, in tow. She is determined to find the extended family she's never even met. What she does discover -- and what her mother reveals, piece by piece, over emails -- will challenge and change Dara more than she can imagine.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about And She Was?

Between research, drafting, and multiple rounds of revisions and sensitivity reads, this book has been nearly five years in the making. Over that stretch of time, I've become attached to so many elements, but if I had to pick one absolute favorite, it's the fact that the book is a dual narrative between mother and daughter. I haven't read many YA novels that feature the POV of an adult character, but, as this is a story about a transgender woman and her cisgender child, I knew that just telling the daughter's side of the story would not be enough. Ten or twenty years ago, stories about LGBTQ characters were told primarily through the point of view of their straight, cis family or friends, but, thankfully, we are beyond that point now. So, through emails to her daughter Dara, Mellie takes the opportunity to tell her story in her own words. The reader is brought along as Dara and Mellie embark on intertwined journeys of self-discovery, love, identity, and the true meaning of “family.” I've heard from many readers that Mellie's emails are the true "heart" of the story, and I can't help but agree!

Purchase And She Was at Amazon
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View And She Was on Goodreads

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Nothing But Sky
by Amy Trueblood
Signed Paperback Giveaway
U.S. Only

Flux
Released 3/27/2018

"Amy Trueblood takes an overlooked page in history, folds it into an intense drama, and sends it soaring. Post World War I wing walker Grace Lafferty is the kind of spunky, stubborn heroine that will make readers feel like the sky's the limit."
—Stacey Lee, award winning author of OUTRUN THE MOON

A 2018 Junior Library Guild selection.

Grace Lafferty only feels alive when she's dangling 500 feet above ground. As a post-World War I wing walker, Grace is determined to get to the World Aviation Expo, proving her team’s worth against flashier competitors and earning a coveted Hollywood contract.

No one’s ever questioned Grace’s ambition until Henry Patton, a mechanic with plenty of scars from the battlefield, joins her barnstorming team. With each new death-defying trick, Henry pushes Grace to consider her reasons for being a daredevil. Annoyed with Henry’s constant interference, and her growing attraction to him, Grace continues to test the powers of the sky.

After one of her risky maneuvers saves a pilot’s life, a Hollywood studio offers Grace a chance to perform at the Expo. She jumps at the opportunity to secure her future. But when a stunt goes wrong, Grace must decide whether Henry, and her life, are worth risking for one final trick.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Nothing But Sky?

I love the fact that while the 1920s is a frequently written about time I'm introducing readers to an aspect of the era that is often overlooked. Many people know about the speakeasies and flappers, but there was also a new sense of freedom that many women grasped at this time. They sought lives outside their small hometowns, and a few of these brave women became part of the barnstorming scene, not only as pilots but also as wing walkers. There isn't a lot in the history books about these women so I wanted to write a story that would bring their vibrant lives to light.

Purchase Nothing But Sky at Amazon
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View Nothing But Sky on Goodreads



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Emergency Contact
by Mary H. K. Choi
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon & Schuster Books for You
Released 3/27/2018

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Emergency Contact?

It’s a sweet book. I’m not saying it’s an Anne Geddes wall calendar of a novel or anything, just that the takeaway is very tender. It’s very lolsob at times if that makes sense. This is my debut so I never fully had an appreciation for it but what they say about characters becoming sentient in your brain and taking up residence in your life is completely true. They absolutely go gamboling off to do whatever they please but I was most surprised by how moved I could be by them. I cry every time I read certain chapters, which after a while makes you feel a little nuts. It’s like screaming like a banshee at the same surprise party that you know you’re walking into. A surprise party you’ve completely organized by yourself. I didn’t know that was a thing, that you could be the audience of your own work like that.

Purchase Emergency Contact at Amazon
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View Emergency Contact on Goodreads

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Lost Crow Conspiracy
by Rosalyn Eves
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 3/27/2018

Sixteen-year old Anna Arden was once just the magically barren girl from an elite Luminate family. Now she has broken the Binding--and Praetheria, the creatures held captive by the spell, wreak havoc across Europe. Lower-class citizens have access to magic for the first time, while other Luminates lose theirs forever. Austria and Hungary are at odds once more.

Anna Arden did not know breaking the Binding would break the world.

Anna thought the Praetheria were on her side, content and grateful to be free from the Binding. She thought her cousin Matyas's blood sacrifice to the disarm the spell would bring peace, equality, justice. She thought her future looked like a society that would let her love a Romani boy, Gabor.

But with the Monarchy breathing down her neck and the Praetheria intimidating her at every turn, it seems the conspiracies have only just begun.

As threat of war sweeps the region, Anna quickly discovers she can't solve everything on her own. Now there's only one other person who might be able to save the country before war breaks out. The one person Anna was sure she'd never see again. A bandit. A fellow outlaw. A man known as the King of Crows. Matyas.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Lost Crow Conspiracy?

I'd heard that second books in a series were hard to write, but I wasn't too concerned--until I started writing. LOST CROW CONSPIRACY was not only the middle of a series, but it was my dreaded second published book, and the first book I'd ever had to write under contract. It was a lot harder than I'd expected, and I hit 70k and then went back and started over, because something about the story wasn't working. It wasn't until I finally had an epiphany (the middle of a series follows the arc of a tragedy more than a traditional story) that I was able to find the story. I'm proud of that story, and the way it challenges my heroine, Anna, at the core of who she thinks she is and what she thinks she's accomplished.

More than that, I think there are lots of fun elements to the story: highwaymen, balls, magic, treachery, political intrigue, and romance. Surprisingly enough, once I figured out the core story, I actually enjoyed writing it, writing under deadline notwithstanding.


Purchase Lost Crow Conspiracy at Amazon
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View Lost Crow Conspiracy on Goodreads

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The Beloved Wild
by Melissa Ostrom
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Feiwel & Friends
Released 3/27/2018

She's not the girl everyone expects her to be.

Harriet Winter is the eldest daughter in a farming family in New Hampshire, 1807. She is expected to help with her younger sisters. To pitch in with the cooking and cleaning. And to marry her neighbor, the farmer Daniel Long. Harriet’s mother sees Daniel as a good match, but Harriet doesn’t want someone else to choose her path―in love or in life.

When Harriet’s brother decides to strike out for the Genesee Valley in Western New York, Harriet decides to go with him―disguised as a boy. Their journey includes sickness, uninvited strangers, and difficult emotional terrain as Harriet sees more of the world, realizes what she wants, and accepts who she’s loved all along.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Beloved Wild?

The main character, for sure. Harriet Winter is funny, smart, passionate, and loyal, but also prickly, stubborn, and rash. When I was writing the novel, she felt real to me. I enjoyed spending time with her.

Purchase The Beloved Wild at Amazon
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View The Beloved Wild on Goodreads


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Finding Felicity by Stacey Kade: Jan P.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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Not If I Save You First
by Ally Carter
Hardcover
Scholastic Press
Released 3/27/2018

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president's son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie's dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it's okay. After all, she's the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Not If I Save You First?

It's almost impossible to pick my favorite thing about NOT IF I SAVE YOU FIRST--there are just so many things about this book that make me...happy. Yeah. Happy is the word.

It makes me happy that this book is essentially all the genres. Looking for a survival book? Yup. You'll love it. Are you in the mood for a romance. Or a thriller. Or a comedy. Then, yeah, you'll love it, too.

It makes me happy that it's set in one of the most vast, amazing, beautiful, and dangerous places I've ever seen--Alaska.

It makes me happy that it's about former best friends who are thrust back together under the most dangerous of circumstances.

And it makes me happy that it's about a girl who never leaves home without an assortment of knives, hatchets, and other weapons...but one of those hatchets is bedazzled, so as much as Alaska has made Maddie into the Toughest Girl Ever, she's still, at her core, a girl.

So I guess the thing I like most about Not If I Save You First is just how happy it makes me. And I hope it will make you happy, too!


Purchase Not If I Save You First at Amazon
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View Not If I Save You First on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Bash Bash Revolution
by Douglas Lain
Paperback
Night Shade Books
Released 3/27/2018

Seventeen-year-old Matthew Munson is ranked thirteenth in the state in Bash Bash Revolution, an outdated video game from 2002 that, in 2017, is still getting tournament play. He's a high school dropout who still lives at home with his mom, doing little but gaming and moping. That is, until Matthew's dad turns up again.

Jeffrey Munson is a computer geek who'd left home eight years earlier to work on a top secret military project. Jeff has been a sporadic presence in Matthew's life, and much to his son's displeasure insists on bonding over video games. The two start entering local tournaments together, where Jeff shows astonishing aptitude for Bash Bash Revolution in particular.

Then, as abruptly as he appeared, Matthew's father disappears again, just as he was beginning to let Jeff back into his life.

The betrayal is life-shattering, and Matthew decides to give chase, in the process discovering the true nature of the government-sponsored artificial intelligence program his father has been involved in. Told as a series of conversations between Matthew and his father's artificial intelligence program, Bash Bash Revolution is a wildly original novel of apocalypse and revolution, as well as a poignant story of broken family.

Purchase Bash Bash Revolution at Amazon
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View Bash Bash Revolution on Goodreads

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Damselfly
by Chandra Prasad
Hardcover
Scholastic Press
Released 3/27/2018

Their survival is in their own hands...

Samantha Mishra opens her eyes and discovers she's alone and injured in the thick of a jungle. She has no idea where she is, or what happened to the plane taking her and the rest of the Drake Rosemont fencing team across the Pacific for a tournament. Once Sam connects with her best friend, Mel, and they find the others, they set up shelter and hope for rescue. But as the days pass, the teens realize they're on their own, stranded on an island with a mysterious presence that taunts and threatens them. Soon Sam and her companions discover they need to survive more than the jungle... they need to survive each other.

Purchase Damselfly at Amazon
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View Damselfly on Goodreads

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Frat Girl
by Kiley Roache
Hardcover
Harlequin Teen
Released 3/27/2018

For Cassandra Davis, the F-word is fraternity—specifically Delta Tau Chi, a house on probation and on the verge of being banned from campus. Accused of offensive, sexist behavior, they have one year to clean up their act. For them, the F-word is feminist—the type of girl who hates them to the core and is determined to make them lose their home.

With one shot at a scholarship to attend the university of her dreams, Cassie pitches a research project—to pledge Delta Tau Chi and provide proof of the misogynistic behavior for which they are on probation. After all, they’re frat boys. She knows exactly what to expect once she gets there. Exposing them should be a piece of cake.

But the boys of Delta Tau Chi have their own agenda, and fellow pledge Jordan Louis is certainly more than the tank-top-wearing “bro” she expected to find. With her heart and her future tangled in a web of her own making, Cassie is forced to realize that the F-word might not be as simple as she thought after all.

Purchase Frat Girl at Amazon
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View Frat Girl on Goodreads

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I Have Lost My Way
by Gayle Forman
Hardcover
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 3/27/2018

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

Purchase I Have Lost My Way at Amazon
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View I Have Lost My Way on Goodreads

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Live In Infamy
by Caroline Tung Richmond
Hardcover
Scholastic Press
Released 3/27/2018

In the eighty years since the Axis powers won World War II with their genetically engineered super soldiers, America has changed drastically in the hands of the unforgiving victors. But there are still those who aspire to what the country used to stand for: freedom for all.

In the Western American Territories, Chinese American Ren Cabot has lost nearly everything to Imperial Japan's rule. After the public execution of his mom for treason five years ago, Ren lives under constant scrutiny of the Empire, afraid that one wrong step will rip apart what remains of his family for good. However, when a chance encounter with a resistance group offers Ren an opportunity to save lives and quite possibly topple the government, he agrees to their deadly plot. But his role will lead him straight into the heart of the enemy, and if caught, death would be a much better fate than what the Empire will do to him . . .

Purchase Live In Infamy at Amazon
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View Live In Infamy on Goodreads

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Risen
by Cole Gibsen
Paperback
Entangled: Teen
Released 3/27/2018

Fans of Vampire Diaries and Twilight will be thirsting for this latest vampire addiction…

My aunt has been kidnapped by vampires, and it’s up to me to save her. Only…I had no idea vampires existed. None. Nada. I’m more of a reader than a fighter, and even though I’d been wishing to escape my boring existence in the middle of nowhere, I’d give anything to have it back now if it meant my aunt was safe.

Then there’s the vampire Sebastian, who seems slightly nicer than most of the bloodsuckers I’ve run into so far. Yes, he’s the hottest being I’ve ever come across, but there’s no way I can trust him. He swears he’s helping me get answers, but there’s more to his story. Now I’m a key pawn in a raging vampire war, and I need to pick the right ally.

But my chances of surviving this war are slim at best, when the side I choose might be the one that wants me dead the most.

Purchase Risen at Amazon
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View Risen on Goodreads

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The Way The Light Bends
by Cordelia Jensen
Hardcover
Philomel Books
Released 3/27/2018

Virtual twins Linc and Holly were once extremely close. But while artistic, creative Linc is her parents' daughter biologically, it's smart, popular Holly, adopted from Ghana as a baby, who exemplifies the family's high-achieving model of academic success.

Linc is desperate to pursue photography, to find a place of belonging, and for her family to accept her for who she is, despite her surgeon mother's constant disapproval and her growing distance from Holly. So when she comes up with a plan to use her photography interests and skills to do better in school--via a project based on Seneca Village, a long-gone village in the space that now holds Central Park, where all inhabitants, regardless of race, lived together harmoniously--Linc is excited and determined to prove that her differences are assets, that she has what it takes to make her mother proud. But when a long-buried family secret comes to light, Linc must decide whether her mother's love is worth obtaining.

A novel in verse that challenges the way we think about family and belonging.

Purchase The Way The Light Bends at Amazon
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View The Way The Light Bends on Goodreads



Saturday, March 24, 2018

0 Stacey Kade, author of FINDING FELICITY, on the rarity of college-set YA

We're delighted to have Stacey Kade stop by to chat about her latest novel, FINDING FELICITY.

Stacey, what was your inspiration for writing FINDING FELICITY?

When I was a nervous high school senior, I was desperate for stories about going to college. High school was not an awesome experience, and I feared that college would be four more years of the same. Only with more beer and roommates. I wanted a book that would reassure me that geeky, awkward people like me could find a place to belong. But that kind of book didn't exist then. And even today, college-set YA is fairly rare. So, as an adult, I wrote the book that I'd needed at 17.

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'm not sure there's ever one thing that's the key to writing a novel because in my experience every book writes a little differently. :D As my critique partner Linnea Sinclair says, "Just because you can ski doesn't mean you've skied this particular mountain."

That being said, I can definitely point to one moment that made a HUGE difference in my understanding story and story structure. I'm totally a pantser. Or, I was, until I started having contracts and deadlines. So, I struggled when I first started writing because I would simply write down what I saw in my head. I could tell you what someone was doing, but not why or how it connected to anything else in the story. Which meant I got stuck a lot, and I had to revise/rewrite huge portions of my draft. Then I learned about Goal, Motivation, & Conflict and it was like a light bulb went on over my head. Basically, just the idea that the character needed to have a goal, something they were trying to accomplish through the course of the story as this huge eye-opener for me.

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

So many lessons came with this one, and in the way of most life lessons, they were not exactly pain-free. :D

1) It is more difficult for me to write a story that deeply and personally relates to my own experiences. I get caught up in "it wasn't really like that for me" instead of focusing on what the story needs.

2) On a related note, I struggle with writing characters who are too similar to who I am in real life (ahem, Caroline). I, strangely enough, seem to do better at conveying characters who I don't outwardly have much in common with (hello, Alona Dare!) I suspect that's because I'm forced to put more work into understanding those characters and that, in turn, helps me bring them to life on the page for others more easily. Which is not to say that real-life experience doesn't help--just that "write what you know" isn't the be all, end all.

3) Thank goodness for editors! Which, by the way, is a sentiment I have always felt, but I definitely realized it anew this time. Sometimes you really can't see what your book is missing. My first editor on this book, Christian Trimmer, was the one who suggested that we needed to see Caroline trying to fit in, taking chances to make friends, etc. I argued against that--stupidly--because, to me, it felt like the revelation that she needed to do things differently was enough. Nope, he was right. I just couldn't see it at the time.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Finding Felicity
by Stacey Kade
Hardcover
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Released 3/20/2018

Caroline Sands has never been particularly good at making friends. And her parents’ divorce and the move to Arizona three years ago didn’t help. Being the new girl is hard enough without being socially awkward too. So out of desperation and a desire to please her worried mother, Caroline invented a whole life for herself—using characters from Felicity, an old show she discovered online and fell in love with.

But now it’s time for Caroline to go off to college and she wants nothing more than to leave her old “life” behind and build something real. However, when her mother discovers the truth about her manufactured friends, she gives Caroline an ultimatum: Prove in this first semester that she can make friends of the nonfictional variety and thrive in a new environment. Otherwise, it’s back to living at home—and a lot of therapy.

Armed with nothing more than her resolve and a Felicity-inspired plan, Caroline accepts the challenge. But she soon realizes that the real world is rarely as simple as television makes it out to be. And to find a place where she truly belongs, Caroline may have to abandon her script and take the risk of being herself.

Purchase Finding Felicity at Amazon
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View Finding Felicity on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The daughter of a minister and a music teacher, Stacey Kade grew up reading Harlequin romances on the sly in the basement. Kade is the author of two young adult series (The Ghost and Goth trilogy and the Project Paper Doll series). Her first adult contemporary romance, 738 DAYS, was released earlier this year.

Prior to writing full time, Kade worked as an award-winning copywriter for several Fortune 500 companies. She lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Greg, and their two retired racing greyhounds.

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Have you had a chance to read FINDING FELICITY yet? Do you use goal, motivation, and conflict in your writing? Do you find it easier or harder to write characters who are similar to yourself? 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

Friday, March 23, 2018

0 Thank You to the Participants and Mentors of the March #1st5pages Workshop!

Thank you to all of the participants who trusted us with their pages, and worked so hard during our March 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop - and congratulations to AJ Vanderhorst, our workshop winner! And a big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, Heather Smith Meloche as our author mentor and Lynnette Novak as our agent mentor! As always, thank you to our talented and fabulous permanent mentors, who read, comment, and cheer on our participants every month!

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 pages aren't compelling, no agent, editor, or reader will continue reading to find out how great the rest of your story really is! Our April workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, April 7 at noon, EST. So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!

Happy 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.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

2 Crystal Cestari, author of THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE, on being creative under the clock

THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE is the second book in the Windy City Magic series, and we're excited to have Crystal Cestari with us to share more about it.

Crystal, what is your favorite thing about THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE?

In this follow up to The Best Kind of Magic, I really like how The Sweetest Kind of Fate pushes Amber to grow and find new depths within her worldviews. She is not a perfect person; she makes snap judgments and mistakes just like anyone else, but she’s also not afraid to admit when she’s wrong, and I like when characters are able to stand up and change when challenged. I was happy with her evolution and how she comes out even stronger by the end.

Also, mermaids! From the very start, I had a visual of two mermaids swimming together in love, and I was so excited to incorporate this lovely couple into the heart of this story.

What was your inspiration for writing THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE?

This story is the sequel to my first book, The Best Kind of Magic, and I was inspired to continue my matchmaker heroine’s story! Amber has a very special place in my heart, and I was so happy to spend more time with her unique voice and worldview.

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

This was the first book I wrote under contract, so the experience taught me I could write on a deadline! It was a new kind of pressure—having to be creative under the clock—but it pushed me to trust my instincts and not give up.

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

I’ve been writing all my life, but The Best Kind of Magic was my first book that truly lit a fire under me and inspired me to go for publication. It took a lot of research and time to figure out what I needed to do, probably just as long as it took me to write the book. The experience is definitely not for the faint of heart, but I was so excited about my story, I knew I had to try.

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

I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to my writing time: sometimes I’m in public listening to music on my headphones, other times I’m at home in complete silence. I’ve written while on buses, trains, or even the checkout line at Target! Probably my biggest writing quirk is that I hand write all my first drafts in notebooks; it takes forever, and is super inefficient, but putting pen to paper before I bust out my laptop always nets better results for some reason.

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

Be gentle to yourself when you’re writing a first draft. There isn’t a single book in publication that got it perfect on the first try. Editing is normal and necessary, and will make your story stronger as you go. The important thing is to keep writing and know you can always make changes!

ABOUT THE BOOK

The Sweetest Kind of Fate
by Crystal Cestari
Hardcover
Disney-Hyperion
Released 3/6/2018

GREAT. I've somehow found myself tangled up with a siren, a mermaid, and a homicidal wicked witch who once tried to strangle me to death. Way to go, Amber!

Amber Sand, legendary matchmaker, couldn't be more surprised when her archnemesis, Ivy, asks for her help. Ivy's sister, Iris, is getting married, and Ivy wants to prove her sister is making a huge mistake. But as Amber looks into Iris's eyes, there doesn't seem to be a problem-Iris has clearly found her match.

It seems happily-ever-after is in the cards, but when Iris seeks out a dangerous, life-altering spell, it's up to Amber and Ivy to set aside their rivalry and save the day.

As Iris puts everything on the line for love, Amber continues to wrestle with her own romantic future. Her boyfriend, Charlie, is still destined for another, and no matter how hard she clings to him, fear over their inevitable breakup shakes her belief system to the core.

Because the Fates are never wrong-right?

Purchase The Sweetest Kind of Fate at Amazon
Purchase The Sweetest Kind of Fate at IndieBound
View The Sweetest Kind of Fate on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Crystal Cestari lives just outside Chicago with her daughter. Her hobbies include avoiding broccoli and wandering the aisles at Target. She holds a master's degree in mass communication, and writes all her stories longhand. She is also the author of the first book in the Windy City Magic series, The Best Kind of Magic. Visit Crystal at www.crystalcestari.com and on Twitter @crystalcestari.

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Have you had a chance to read THE SWEETEST KIND OF FATE yet? What's the strangest place you've ever written? Are you gentle with yourself while writing a first draft? 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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

0 Hadley Dyer, author of HERE SO FAR AWAY, on growing with every book you write

We're delighted to have Hadley Dyer join us to chat about her latest novel, HERE SO FAR AWAY.

Hadley, what was your inspiration for writing HERE SO FAR AWAY?

If you've ever been in a secret relationship, or know people who have, you've experienced how messy, complicated, and difficult they can be -- never more so than when things go sideways, the way they do for George, the main character in the novel. I'd heard a few stories about relationships that had taken such a turn and began to wonder how you would cope with that if you were a young person. First love on its own is a big thing to keep to yourself, never mind when it becomes painful. From there, I set about creating characters who you might not expect to get into that situation, because it made the process more challenging and interesting.

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

The first night that George and Francis, the man she falls in love with, spend together. I scribbled it quickly, but kept it out of the manuscript forever because I wasn't confident that I'd come at it the right way. That's not the scene I'm most proud of, though. I'm not sure I could choose one as a personal favorite, but I loved writing every scene featuring George's friend Bill and the old farmer she works for, Rupert. Those boys just made me smile. I also enjoyed imagining her friend Sid, who stays off stage the entire story because he has moved away and only appears in anecdotes and flashbacks. All those tiny pieces added up to a character I really liked.

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?

It was deciding what Francis's job was going to be -- police officer -- and that George's father would have the same job. That raised the stakes considerably, having a love interest who is not only much older than George but also in a position of trust and authority. That was the key that unlocked the rest of the story. But I just about drove myself around the bend trying to figure it out.

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

I say this as both a writer and a former in-house editor: be true to the writer you are. It's unlikely that you're going to get rich writing, so focus on the work that gives you satisfaction and is uniquely yours. You don't have to please everyone, but you can please yourself and the readers who share your tastes and sensibilities. And you can grow with every book you write.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Here So Far Away
by Hadley Dyer
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 3/20/2018

Feisty and fearless George Warren (given name: Frances, but no one calls her that) has never let life get too serious. Now that she’s about to be a senior, her plans include partying with her tight-knit group of friends and then getting the heck out of town after graduation.

But instead of owning her last year of high school, a fight with her best friend puts her on the outs of their social circle. If that weren’t bad enough, George’s family has been facing hard times since her father, a police sergeant, got injured and might not be able to return to work, which puts George’s college plans in jeopardy.

So when George meets Francis, an older guy who shares her name and her affinity for sarcastic banter, she’s thrown. If she lets herself, she’ll fall recklessly, hopelessly in love. But because of Francis’s age, she tells no one—and ends up losing almost everything, including herself.

This is a gorgeous, atmospheric, and gut-wrenching novel that readers won’t soon forget.

Purchase Here So Far Away at Amazon
Purchase Here So Far Away at IndieBound
View Here So Far Away on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hadley Dyer is the author of Here So Far Away, Johnny Kellock Died Today, winner of the Canadian Library Association's Book of the Year for Children Award, and other acclaimed titles for children and young adults. She has worked in the children’s book industry for more than twenty years and for multiple organizations promoting the cause of literacy and reading, including CODE, IBBY Canada, and the Canadian Children's Book Centre. Raised in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, she now resides in Toronto.

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Have you have a chance to read HERE SO FAR AWAY yet? Do any of your characters just make you smile? Are you being true to the writer you are? 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