Thursday, May 31, 2018

0 Michelle Falkoff, author of QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU, on perseverance being the most important quality to have as a writer

We're thrilled to have Michelle Falkoff with us to share more about her latest novel, QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU.

Michelle, 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 hardest scene for me to write is the scene where Pack and Maddie go to the hotel after the prom and have sex. There are so many reasons why this was tough for me—I find writing about sex really difficult in general, and it’s particularly hard when writing for teenagers. I wanted it to be real, but there were also some things I wanted to get across in a responsible way. I’m very fixated on the concept of consent and how that’s changed in recent years, and I wanted to explore that in some detail in this book without getting preachy about it. Pack and Maddie have chosen a very particular approach to deal with consent, and in that scene they mess with it in ways that are complicated but that work for them as a couple. I hope I pulled it off; I worked as hard on it as I’ve ever worked on any scene, and I’m proud of it even if just for that.

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

Oh, it was long! And complicated. I wrote two books for adults that never saw the light of day (though I think one of them was secretly YA, and I’ve since rewritten it). Then I did some freelance work that probably equaled a book or two before PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD, my first book, found a publisher. QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU is my third published novel.

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

Perseverance is absolutely the most important quality to have as a writer. Talent is useful, as are great ideas for things to write about. But if there’s one thing the writers I know have in common, it’s that they kept working and improving and failing and trying again and learning and trying new things and failing again and persisting and you see where I’m going with this. It’s important to listen to criticism from people who are trying to help you, but you have to remember to use that to fuel your creativity rather than letting it keep you from working. And writing is art, but it’s also work.

What are you working on now? ​

I’m kind of bouncing between two projects that I’m really excited about. One is one of the books I mentioned earlier—it started as adult but it turns out it’s really YA, and I’ve been revising it accordingly. It’s about the ghost of a murdered high school football player who’s trying to catch his killer. Another is a new and complicated project I’m having trouble describing but that involves survivalist boarding school kids and a college tour/missing-person search. Any thoughts on which one I should focus on?


Questions I Want to Ask You
by Michelle Falkoff
Released 5/29/2018

Patrick “Pack” Walsh may not know where he’s going in life, but he’s happy where he is. Then, on his eighteenth birthday, a letter from his past changes everything.

As Pack begins a journey to uncover the truth about the parents he thought he knew, the family he didn’t know he had, and the future he never realized he wanted, he starts to have a whole different understanding of his life—and where he wants to go from here.

Purchase Questions I Want to Ask You at Amazon
Purchase Questions I Want to Ask You at IndieBound
View Questions I Want to Ask You on Goodreads


Michelle Falkoff is the author of QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU (May 29, 2018); PUSHING PERFECT (October, 2016); and PLAYLIST FOR THE DEAD (January, 2015); all with HarperTeen. Her fiction and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, DoubleTake, and the Harvard Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as director of communication and legal reasoning at Northwestern University School of Law. Visit her online at


Have you had a chance to read QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU yet? Do you struggle with writing sex scenes? Do you use criticism to fuel your creativity? 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, May 30, 2018

1 WoW Weds: Molly E Lee on Revisions

Today, I am so excited to welcome Entangled Teen author, Molly E. Lee, with a guest post on a topic that is near and dear to my heart: revisions. I am personally fascinated by other authors' revision processes and always love to get more insight. Stay tuned after the post for a bit more about Molly and her book, LOVE BEYOND OPPOSITES.

Handling Revisions
by Molly E. Lee 

Hi! Thank you so much for having me here to talk about handling revisions! I’m so excited to discuss this because it’s always a learning process and we had some significant revisions that happened before LOVE BEYOND OPPOSITES (the final standalone in the Grad Night series) was published J

I will kick off this discussion by stating that every single writer handles revisions/edits differently. In that regard, every editor has a different style too! I’ve been so incredibly blessed to work with several amazing editors—and each one of them has different tools they like to use when helping to sharpen whichever manuscript I’ve handed in to them! 

Today, my focus will be on giving you some tips to help handle the revisions. It can be a daunting process and I’ve been on both sides of it. As a freelance editor, a pitch wars mentor, and as an author. I want to give you pieces of what I’ve learned that will hopefully help ease the stress that can come from a massive overhaul on a book you’ve worked on for weeks or months or years.

Tip 1: Breathe.
            The minute that manuscript comes in—the one you poured your heart and soul into—and now it’s cluttered with tracked changes and tons of comment boxes on the side…well, it can be heart shattering. 

Don’t let it be! 

Take a deep breath and take a couple days to process the changes. I like to write all the major changes down in a notebook and think on them. When they are separate from the entire manuscript they are much easier to manage.

Tip 2: Plan of action.
            Process the changes in chunks. Fix the ones you agree with immediately and leave the bigger changes for last. This will ease you into the groove of editing and by the time you get to the more in-depth changes you’ll be ready to rock.

Tip 3:   Absorb the info.
            Some authors cringe at in-depth edits and that is a totally normal reaction. For me (after ensuring I’ve taken my two days to breathe) I find I enjoythe edits. I know this sounds insane but hear me out.

An editor—someone who has fortified themselves in this business and does this for a living—has taken on your project and applied everything she/he has ever learned to your manuscript. It’s like having this wicked awesome Jedi Master training you in the ways of the force or having Dumbledore take you under his wing and teach you ALL the cool spells. Okay, yes, I’m a total nerd and super proud of it—but it’s true with editors! They wouldn’t take the time to put the work in if they didn’t believe in your talent. So, take the gift they’ve offered you and learn from it. File away the issues found in the manuscript and be aware of it when you sit down to write the next one. Regardless of genres, things you learn from edits on one book will help you in another. I’ve learned things from my contemporary edits and applied them to fantasy books. It’s all about developing your craft—which never stops in this business.

Tip 4: Pick your battles.
            Considering the above, I’m not saying you have to accept every single change suggested. It depends on you and the editor’s relationship—there are several times I’ve literally agreed with everything my editor said. It was like the second she pointed out an issue, I had that “ah-ha” moment and was pumped she saw it when I couldn’t. Then, there were times I was so legit confused by a suggestion that I had to mark it and have a brainstorm session with her later. Together we were able to hash out what needed to be done.

I know the urge to reject everything from anyone who comes at your book is natural and strong—this is your book baby and it’s perfect! 

But, the truth is, it’s likely not. 

You know who is in your corner and wants it to be perfect for publication? 
Your editor. 

They are just as invested in your book as you are—they took it on for a reason—and they want to give you and your project the best possible chance in a world full of so many stellar books available! 

So, be sure to pick those battles, be sure your heart is screaming against a change and you have the reasoning to back it up. If you want something to notchange, or a scene to notbe cut, then back it up with why it is crucial to the story or character. Nine times out of ten they will listen and you’ll find a common ground together.

Tip 5: Respect and Gratitude.
            These are super important things to remember when working on a project together with an editor. 

Writing a book is like imprinting on the pages—I understand how hard it is to hand that beloved manuscript over to someone else to tear up and put back together again. But that is what this business is all about. Collaboration and mutual respect. The editor who chose your book did so for a reason—they fell in love with your project and wanted to work with you. That is such a huge and wonderful step! And, like I mentioned above, if you pay attention and take notes, the things you’ll learn will only make you a better writer in the end.

So, gratitude. 
Be grateful they’re invested in the work enough to want to make it sparkle in a sea of amazing books. 
Be grateful they love your characters enough to challenge them.
Be grateful that you’ve got someone in your corner who is rooting for you to succeed. Because in this competitive, amazing, fantastically hard business…having someone there who understands where your book started and where it is when it ends up on the shelf…is absolutely priceless.

Tip 6: Also. Brownies.
            They help make line edits easier…or maybe that’s just me J

Thanks for having me! I hope you found these helpful! If you ever want to chat about this or anything at all find me at any of the links below!

Molly E. Lee is an author and editor best known for her debut novel EDGE OF CHAOS, and as a fourth year mentor at Pitch Wars - a program which connects promising writers to established authors in the community. Molly writes New Adult and Young Adult contemporary featuring strong female heroines who are unafraid to challenge their male counterparts, yet still vulnerable enough to have love sneak up on them. In addition to being a military spouse and mother of two + one stubborn English Bulldog, Molly loves watching storms from her back porch at her Midwest home, and digging for treasures in antique stores.


Follow me on AMAZON:


If high school has taught mathlete Jade Aaron anything, it's that nerds never get the guy.

So when rock star Lennon Pryor starts pursuing her, It's not rocket science. This doesn't add up.

I mean, sure, he's hot.

And charming.

And a god on the guitar...

But he's also the world's biggest player. Being with him would be a bigger mistake than 2+2=5.

Until graduation night, when a reckless moment leads to a reckless kiss. And now Jade's falling for the one guy destined to break her heart.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two opposites with nothing in common and nothing to lose...except their hearts.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

0 Puppies and Pitches and Screenplays, oh my!

Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word about the Practice Makes Pitch Perfect Challenge!

The challenge kicked off yesterday with a video lesson about describing your protagonist in a pitch. Then we had four different prompts for people to practice the skill, and people came up with some hilarious and poignant descriptions for the protagonist prompts. We’re tackling the goal of the protagonist today.

If you were thinking about joining the group, there’s still time! Click here to play along:

If you’re still not sure about joining, here’s the first video lesson to tempt you:

Don’t you want to find out what’s going to happen with the wallflower unicorn?!?

Plus there will be more dogs in costumes to help ease the painful process of crafting pitches, so come join the puppy party!

Now for the winner of the awesome stack of books – Danielle H.
Congrats! I’ll drop them in the mail as soon as I find a box big enough to hold them. šŸ˜

In other news … At the beginning of the year I posted about the screenplay contest for my other adventure, the Grave Intentions Anthology. The post shared some of the ways writing a screenplay can help strengthen your “regular” writing. I also offered a discount code, and many of you entered with great horror scripts. This Thursday (May 31st) we’ll be announcing the short film and screenplay winners on the Grave Intentions social media sites. So if you’re not already following Grave Intentions, go follow us now, so you can find out if you or any of your fellow AYAPers won the big prize!

Twitter –

Facebook –

Instagram –

No matter what format your writing is taking these days, I hope it is going well! 


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

Thank you to all of the participants who trusted us with their pages, and worked so hard during our May 1st 5 Pages Writing Workshop - and congratulations to Paige Wyatt, our workshop winner! And a big thanks to our wonderful guest mentors, J.M. (Joe) Lee as our author mentor and Natascha Morris of BookEnds Literary 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 June workshop will open for submissions on Saturday, June 2 at noon, EST. So get those pages ready - we usually fill up in under a minute!

Happy Writing (and revising!)


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.

Monday, May 28, 2018

3 New Releases this week 05/28 - 06/03 plus 2 Giveaways

Happy Monday! This week is jam packed with new releases and a giveaway for CROSS FIRE and QUESTIONS I WANT TO ASK YOU! Don't forget to check out all the books below and enter to win.

Happy Reading,

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


* * * *

Cross Fire
by Fonda Lee
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Scholastic Press
Released 5/29/2018

Earth's century of peace as a colony of an alien race has been shattered. As the government navigates peace talks with the human terrorist group Sapience, Donovan tries to put his life back together and return to his duty as a member of the security forces. But a new order comes from the home planet: withdraw. Earth has proven too costly and unstable to maintain as a colony, so the aliens, along with a small selection of humans, begin to make plans to leave. As word of the withdrawal spreads through the galaxy, Earth suddenly becomes vulnerable to a takeover from other aliens races. Invaders who do not seek to live in harmony with humans, but to ravage and destroy the planet.

As a galactic invasion threatens, Donovan realizes that Sapience holds the key that could stop the impending war. Yet in order to save humankind, all species on Earth will have to work together, and Donovan might just have to make the ultimate sacrifice to convince them.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Cross Fire?

My favorite thing about CROSS FIRE is the relationship between the main character, Donovan, and his best friend and partner, Jet. They’re as close as brothers, but more than once, Donovan does things that really strain the relationship to its breaking point. Because CROSS FIRE is a sequel, I got to develop some of the wounds that lingered from EXO and introduce new ways to really test the two of them.

My other favorite thing about CROSS FIRE is a character that didn’t even exist in the first draft! Soldier Gur seems absolutely indispensable to the story when you read it, which goes to show just how much revision occurred along the way.

Purchase Cross Fire at Amazon
Purchase Cross Fire at IndieBound
View Cross Fire on Goodreads

* * * *

Questions I Want to Ask You
by Michelle Falkoff
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Released 5/29/2018

Patrick “Pack” Walsh may not know where he’s going in life, but he’s happy where he is. Then, on his eighteenth birthday, a letter from his past changes everything.

As Pack begins a journey to uncover the truth about the parents he thought he knew, the family he didn’t know he had, and the future he never realized he wanted, he starts to have a whole different understanding of his life—and where he wants to go from here.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Questions I Want to Ask You?

I loved writing in the point of view of a character who’s so different from me in so many ways, and yet with whom I have a number of random things in common. Pack was my opposite when I was in high school—I was very into academics and not at all into fitness—but we shared (and continue to share) some challenges with food and body image. And the town where he grew up is based on my hometown, so it was fun to think about what I wanted to keep about it and what I wanted to change.

Purchase Questions I Want to Ask You at Amazon
Purchase Questions I Want to Ask You at IndieBound
View Questions I Want to Ask You on Goodreads


From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon: Kira B.


* * * *

Bright Burns the Night
by Sara B. Larson
Scholastic Press
Released 5/29/2018

Ten years ago, King Lorcan of the Dark Kingdom Dorjhalon defeated Queen Evelayn and cut her conduit stone from her. Since then, he has kept her trapped in her swan form. With the loss of balance between Dark and Light, winter has descended and the Draƭolon of Ɖadrolan lose more power every day. But once a year, Lorcan transforms her back to her Draƭolon form and offers a truce. And every year Evelayn refuses -- for he requires her to Bind herself to him for life.

But now, with an Ancient power bearing down upon them, everything may change. Evelayn will learn that the truths she once believed have shattered, and that she may need her enemies even more than her allies. Lorcan and Evelayn become partners in a desperate quest to return the balance of power to Lachalonia. How far will this partnership go? Can friendship -- perhaps even love -- bloom where hatred has taken root?

Purchase Bright Burns the Night at Amazon
Purchase Bright Burns the Night at IndieBound
View Bright Burns the Night on Goodreads

* * * *

Holly Jolly Summer
by Tiffany Stewart
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 5/29/2018

Four huge disasters,
Three months of tourists,
Two gorgeous boys,
And a partridge in a palm tree

In this lighthearted beach read about family, friendship, and fa-la-la, it's up to lovestruck teen Darby to save the spirit of a Southern town called Christmas.

Christmas, Kentucky, is a summer tourist destination known for its holiday-themed shops, ornament-sprouting potted palms, giant Snow Globe display, and cheerful residents―including the mayor's daughter, fifteen-year-old Darby Peacher. But as Darby stumbles her way into a job at the town's run-down amusement park, Holly Jolly Land, her summer quickly goes from merry to miserable: the boy of Christmas present is absent, a boy of Christmas past is her supervisor, and the town seems to be losing its cheer as it strives to become more commercial. As she tries to sort out her love life, Darby grows positively Scroogey until she gets wrapped up in reinventing Holly Jolly Land―and the town―as the wonderlands they once were.

Purchase Holly Jolly Summer at Amazon
Purchase Holly Jolly Summer at IndieBound
View Holly Jolly Summer on Goodreads

* * * *

by Stephanie Garber
Flatiron Books
Released 5/29/2018

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more―and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about―maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.

Purchase Legendary at Amazon
Purchase Legendary at IndieBound
View Legendary on Goodreads

* * * *

Lies You Never Told Me
by Jennifer Donaldson
Released 5/29/2018

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.

Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye--someone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be with--she can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.

Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable--breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.

Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

Purchase Lies You Never Told Me at Amazon
Purchase Lies You Never Told Me at IndieBound
View Lies You Never Told Me on Goodreads

* * * *

The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan
by Gia Cribbs
Harlequin Teen
Released 5/29/2018

No one wants me to tell you about the disappearance of Sloane Sullivan.

Not the lawyers or the cops. Not her friends or family. Not even the boy who loved her more than anyone. And most certainly not the United States Marshals Service. You know, the people who run the witness protection program or, as it’s officially called, the Witness Security Program? Yeah, the WITSEC folks definitely don’t want me talking to you.

But I don’t care. I have to tell someone.

If I don’t, you’ll never know how completely wrong things can go. How a single decision can change everything. How, when it really comes down to it, you can’t trust anyone. Not even yourself. You have to understand, so it won’t happen to you next. Because you never know when the person sitting next to you isn’t who they claim to be…and because there are worse things than disappearing.

Purchase The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan at Amazon
Purchase The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan at IndieBound
View The Disappearance of Sloane Sullivan on Goodreads

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

0 WoW: Lisa Brown Roberts on Revisions and Where the Magic Happens

Today for Writers on Writing Wednesdays, we're thrilled to welcome award-winning author, Lisa Brown Roberts, whose latest book SPIES, LIES & ALLIES was released earlier this month by Entangled Teen. Lisa is here to tackle what is a love/hate topic for many writers – revisions. After the post, find out more information about Lisa and her new book! But first, read about how Lisa learned to love revising with Track Changes.

Revisions: Where the Magic Happens – Or How I Learned to Embrace Track Changes
by Lisa Brown Roberts

“I think the hard work of writing is just how long a book is terrible before it's good.” ― Leigh Bardugo

Revision’s one of those “ugh” topics, but I hope I can share some things I’ve learned that will help others. I don’t want to freak out new writers or make it sound like I know everything because believe me, I don’t. Revising is difficult, yes, but also transformative. Revision is when you dig in and find the heart of your story, when you make dialog sparkle, when you add layers of nuance, and discover that your subconscious planted hints and foreshadowing you didn’t even know about!

Aspiring writers hear over and over that they can’t edit a blank page, that they need to put their butts in chair and hands on keyboard (BICHOK), that finishing something- anything!- is the goal. All of which is true. When I was first chasing the writing dream, I started lots and lots of books, but finished none of them. It’s a common theme among writers – the shiny new idea that beckons like a siren’s call, distracting you from the mushy middle of your current project.

When aspiring writers ask me how to push through and finish a book, my advice is to write the first draft quickly without stopping to edit. That’s what works for me and YMMV, but I think it’s worth trying, especially if you’ve never finished a project. Typing “The End” is empowering and confidence-building. Celebrate your accomplishment – you finished a first draft! I keep a supply of mini bottles of Prosecco in my fridge for this very reason.

“I am hard at work on the second draft ... Second draft is really a misnomer as there are a gazillion revisions, large and small, that go into the writing of a book.” ― Libba Bray

I was in a serious critique group for ten years. We critiqued finished products- everything from picture books to novels. Most of the members were published, and wow, did I grow a thick skin. We mostly followed the “love sandwich” critique process, though not always. I learned just as much from my friends’ critiques as I did from my own. Sometimes there were tears and hurt feelings. Sometimes I didn’t want to go. And yeah, I learned A LOT. And it hurt. And pushed me. And brought me from aspiring newbie to multi-published.

That thick skin I grew in my critique group came in handy when my first book was contracted and I went through my first experience of the three-pass editing process with my publisher. I won’t lie- it was overwhelming and somewhat soul-crushing, and I found myself repeatedly wondering if I had the chops to do this writing thing professionally.

My editor is brilliant and blunt, and pushes me hard. We’ve done five books together; some revisions were relatively painless and some were brutal. I’ve learned to trust her instincts because in every single book she spots something none of my critique partners caught, and when I fix that “something” it makes the book so much better. I’ve also learned to trust my own instincts when my gut tells me a suggested change won’t work.

If there’s one thing I hope you take away from this, it’s that you and your editor (or critique partners) have the same end goal: to make the book as good as it can be. When I’m overwhelmed by the scope of my revisions, I remind myself that my editor and I both want to create a fantastic story that readers will love and booksellers can sell.

The good news is, the more you revise, the easier it gets – maybe not the actual process, but the mental piece in which you remind yourself that you’ve done this before and you can do it again. With each book, you strengthen your revision muscle and thicken your skin. No matter how daunting that first pass letter is from your editor, you know you can do this, and that the end result will be worth it.

So maybe it’s not magic, but once your book has gone through multiple revisions and you hold the final product in your hot little hands, it does feel like you’re a bit of a magician. That shiny cover wrapped around your fabulous words makes all the weeping and gnashing of teeth and hair yanking and whining to your writer friends worth it.

Summers are supposed to be fun, right? Not mine. I’ve got a job at my dad’s company, which is sponsoring a college scholarship competition. I just found out that, in addition to my job assisting the competing interns, I’m supposed to vote for the winner. Totally not what I signed up for.

My boss is running the competition like it’s an episode of Survivor. Then there’s Carlos, who is, well, very distracting––in a good way. But I can’t even think about him like that because fraternizing on the job means instant disqualification for the intern involved.

As if that’s not enough, an anonymous informant with insider intel is trying to sabotage my dad’s company on social media...and I’m afraid it's working.

Much as I’d love to quit, I can’t. Kristoffs Never Quit is our family motto. I just hope there’s more than one survivor by the end of this summer.

Buy it now:

About Lisa Brown Roberts
Lisa Brown Roberts’ award-winning YA romantic comedies have earned praise from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. Her latest book, SPIES, LIES & ALLIES, released 5/1/2018 from Entangled Teen. She occasionally emerges from her fiction-writing fog to forage for chocolate and spend time with her family, in which pets outnumber people.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

1 Practice Makes Pitch Perfect Challenge plus HUGE Giveaway

The giveaway is over, but if you're ready to polish your pitches by joining the Practice Makes Pitch Perfect Challenge, it's happening in the “Transmedia Mutts - Unleash Your Creative Bark” Facebook group. Sign up here:

If you still need some convincing, keep reading ...

What did you do when you were learning to drive?


What would you do if you wanted to get better at playing tennis?


How about learning to play the piano?


But have you ever practiced writing pitches?

Probably not.

Although we’ve been told since we were kids that practice makes perfect, I never practiced writing pitches either. I waited until I needed one and then spent hours stressing while I typed a few words and immediately deleted them.

And trying to condense our complex stories into a sentence or two is especially difficult because we are so invested in our own words that we can’t see the forest for all of our perfectly and poetically described trees. 

Since there are four – yes, four! – Twitter pitch parties happening in June, we need to start practicing our pitches. To help us prepare, I’m launching the free Practice Makes Pitch Perfect 7 Day Challenge on May 28th. Each day I’ll break down a component of the elevator pitch* and then provide fun prompts for practicing that section. Once we're experts on all the pieces, we’ll focus on putting together pitches for our own stories.

* An elevator pitch is the one to two sentences you share with someone to get them more interested in your story, whether that happens to be a novel, a picture book, a screenplay, or whatever. They’re sometimes called loglines, and they’re the perfect length for Twitter pitches. It’s more marketing hook than summary, but it still shows you can craft a story. You tell them just enough in an intriguing way to get them to ask for more.

Also, these short and sweet pitches can be used for more than just Twitter pitching or the rare instance you happen to get on an elevator with your dream agent (or sit next to them on the subway or meet them at your sister’s wedding). Crafting a pitch is a great exercise to do before you start writing your story. It helps you focus on the crucial elements and makes sure there’s actually a full story there before you start drafting.

If you're curious about what the challenge looks like, you can check out the first video lesson in this post:

So let’s get to practicing those pitches!

Again, the challenge will take place in the “Transmedia Mutts - Unleash Your Creative Bark” Facebook group. Join the community so you can play along:

You’ll go from dreading the pitch writing process to popping out powerful pitches that grab people’s attention.

Here are the dates of the June Twitter pitch parties – check them out to see if you have a story that fits.

#PitMad - June 7, 2018 -

#PBPitch - June 21, 2018 -

#SFFpit - June 28, 2018 -

#FaithPitch - June 28, 2018 -

*** Giveaway has ended - congrats to Danielle H on winning! ***
To celebrate the launch of the Practice Makes Pitch Perfect challenge, I’m doing a giveaway of these awesome books. One winner takes all. There are lots of different ways to enter, so increase your odds by sharing all over the interwebs!

If you haven't entered yet, what are you waiting for?!?

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Hope to see you over in the group!


Monday, May 21, 2018

4 New Releases this week 05/21 - 05/27 plus Giveaway of FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE

Happy Monday! This week is jam packed with new releases and a giveaway of FROM TWINKLE, WITH LOVE! Don't forget to check out all the books below and enter to win.

Happy Reading,

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


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From Twinkle, with Love
by Sandhya Menon
Hardcover Giveaway
U.S. Only

Simon Pulse
Released 5/22/2018

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Purchase From Twinkle, with Love at Amazon
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View From Twinkle, with Love on Goodreads


Four-Letter Word by Christa Desir: Rosi H.
Nothing Happened by Molly Booth: Amy L.
We Are All That’s Left by Carrie Arcos: Tiffany E.


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The Academy
by Katie Sise
Balzer + Bray
Released 5/22/2018

Frankie Brooks knows what she wants in life: to become the world’s next great fashion editor. All she needs to do is get into the elite American Fashion Academy in New York City. If she gets in, her life plans will be going right on schedule. Anna Wintour, watch out.

But after Frankie messes up one too many times—hey, it’s hard not to prioritize her acclaimed fashion blog above all else—her parents come up with entirely different plans for her future: military school. How is Frankie, the least athletic person in the world, who knows absolutely nothing about the military, going to survive a whole semester at the famed—and feared—Academy?

With classmates who seem to be totally uninterested in her, a course load that’s even more difficult than her old school’s, and the weird War Games competition she has to join, Frankie finds that her life is way tougher than it used to be. And no one, including her roommate Joni, seems to understand Frankie at all.

As she learns how to cope with impossible military drills and intimidating specialized classes and is maybe even falling for super-hot and super-smart cadet Jack Wattson, can Frankie prove to everyone that being a fashionista doesn’t mean she can’t succeed?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Academy?

My favorite thing about The Academy is showing a very different life--that of military academy, and high school military training--and seeing it through the eyes of a slightly spoiled (but hopefully lovable!) teenage girl. Many of my family members serve in the US Military, but it was always a life I felt like I didn't know enough about. Writing this book made me feel closer to it, especially imagining how I would feel if I were in the main character Frankie's situation. After making one too many mistakes, Frankie's parents decide she's off to military academy to learn discipline. She's then submerged in a world she knows nothing about--a fish out of water. She's lived a very sheltered life, and suddenly she's challenged in every way possible at military academy--academically, physically, emotionally, even romantically--and she has to find inner strength to pull through it. I like that she stays true to herself while on this journey, but also learns so many lessons from her new environment, and from the courage and discipline imparted by her instructors at the Academy. And I admire Frankie's ability to make true friendships while she's there--something so important in life!

Purchase The Academy at Amazon
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The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
by David Arnold
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 5/22/2018

This is Noah Oakman → sixteen, Bowie believer, concise historian, disillusioned swimmer, son, brother, friend.

Then Noah → gets hypnotized.

Now Noah → sees changes: his mother has a scar on her face that wasn’t there before; his old dog, who once walked with a limp, is suddenly lithe; his best friend, a lifelong DC Comics disciple, now rotates in the Marvel universe. Subtle behaviors, bits of history, plans for the future—everything in Noah’s world has been rewritten. Everything except his Strange Fascinations . . .

A stunning surrealist portrait, The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik is a story about all the ways we hurt our friends without knowing it, and all the ways they stick around to save us.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik?

Probably the friendships. In both of my prior books, the main character spent the majority of the novel with found families and new friends. In Noah, the main characters have serious history, which was really fun to write. Noah’s best friends are twins, Alan and Val Rosa-Haas, and we see early on the depth of their relationship, the sort of shorthand they live by, which only comes from years of friendship. I love stories where friends save each other with nothing more than loyalty. (I’m like 95% Hufflepuff, shocking, I know.) So I wanted to write a story where the main character mistreats his friends, but they stick around to save him anyway.

Alan Rosa-Haas, specifically, is based on my friend Adam Silvera. It’s the only time I’ve ever based a character on a real person, but I just couldn’t help myself. There are a bunch of text threads in the book which are probably a little too close to reality.

Purchase The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik at Amazon
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by Kelley Armstrong
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 5/22/2018

Three years after losing her brother Luka in a school shooting, Skye Gilchrist is moving home. But there's no sympathy for Skye and her family because Luka wasn't a victim; he was a shooter.

Jesse Mandal knows all too well that the scars of the past don't heal easily. The shooting cost Jesse his brother and his best friend--Skye.

Ripped apart by tragedy, Jesse and Skye can't resist reopening the mysteries of their past. But old wounds hide darker secrets. And the closer Skye and Jesse get to the truth of what happened that day, the closer they get to a new killer.

Purchase Aftermath at Amazon
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Always Never Yours
by Austin Siegemund-Broka and Emily Wibberley
Penguin Books
Released 5/22/2018

Megan Harper is the girl before. All her exes find their one true love right after dating her. It's not a curse or anything, it's just the way things are. and Megan refuses to waste time feeling sorry for herself. Instead, she focuses on pursuing her next fling, directing theater, and fulfilling her dream school's acting requirement in the smallest role possible. But her plans quickly crumble when she's cast as none other than Juliet--yes, that Juliet--in her high school's production. It's a nightmare. No--a disaster. Megan's not an actress and she's certainly not a Juliet. Then she meets Owen Okita, an aspiring playwright who agrees to help Megan catch the eye of a sexy stagehand in exchange for help writing his new script. Between rehearsals and contending with her divided family, Megan begins to notice Owen--thoughtful, unconventional, and utterly unlike her exes, and wonders: shouldn't a girl get to play the lead in her own love story?

Purchase Always Never Yours at Amazon
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Anger Is a Gift
by Mark Oshiro
Tor Teen
Released 5/22/2018

Moss Jeffries is many things―considerate student, devoted son, loyal friend and affectionate boyfriend, enthusiastic nerd.

But sometimes Moss still wishes he could be someone else―someone without panic attacks, someone whose father was still alive, someone who hadn’t become a rallying point for a community because of one horrible night.

And most of all, he wishes he didn’t feel so stuck.

Moss can’t even escape at school―he and his friends are subject to the lack of funds and crumbling infrastructure at West Oakland High, as well as constant intimidation by the resource officer stationed in their halls. That was even before the new regulations―it seems sometimes that the students are treated more like criminals.

Something will have to change―but who will listen to a group of teens?

When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes again, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.

Purchase Anger Is a Gift at Amazon
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Driving by Starlight
by Anat Deracine
Henry Holt and Co.
Released 5/22/2018

Sixteen-year-olds Leena and Mishie are best friends. They delight in small rebellions against the Saudi cultural police―secret Western clothing, forbidden music, flirtations. But Leena wants college, independence―she wants a different life. Though her story is specific to her world (a world where it's illegal for women to drive, where a ten-year-old boy is the natural choice as guardian of a fatherless woman), ultimately it's a story about friendship, family, and freedom that transcends cultural differences.

Purchase Driving by Starlight at Amazon
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View Driving by Starlight on Goodreads

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Monday’s Not Coming
by Tiffany D. Jackson
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 5/22/2018

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried.

When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

Purchase Monday’s Not Coming at Amazon
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Saturday, May 19, 2018

0 Carrie Arcos, author of WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT, on associating writing with coffee

We're thrilled to have Carrie Arcos with us to share more about her latest novel, WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT.

Carrie, 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 scenes that take place in Bosnia, especially the ones in Visegrad. I wanted to capture Nadja as a regular 1990s teenager caught up in a night mare. She had dreams and was just like teens in the States. And then her world was destroyed. I cried many times through the scenes. Her story became very real to me because it was bits and pieces of the stories I had heard from refugees themselves. I didn't want to sentimentalize it or glorify it--just tell it straight. I feel the most proud of those scenes.

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

My writing ritual has changed a bit over the years. In the beginning, I was a straight, get up early, go to the coffee house and crank out 2 hours. That was when I had babies and really needed to work around their schedule. Now, I have an almost full time job, so I'm not as steady. I don't write every day. I have to block off specific chunks of time. I'm trying to find more of a steady rhythm, because that's how I work best. I just haven't wanted to wake up at 5 am yet. I usually listen to instrumental music when I write, more to drown out noise. It helps me focus. And coffee. I like coffee just to sip on every now and then. It's probably from when I wrote in the coffee shops. I always associate writing with coffee.

What are you working on now?

I just sold another novel to Philomel called SKYWATCHERS, coming summer 2020. It was pitched as IN THE WOODS meets STRANGER THINGS. In the early 1950s, under President Harry Truman, the program Operation Skywatch was created. Ordinary citizens around the country manned towers and acted as radar for potential atomic attack from Russia. My story centers around a group of teenagers from Monterey, CA who spy something strange in the sky in one such tower, a UFO. Looking like something has landed in the pines behind them, they decide to investigate. A couple of days later, all of them are found except one. I'm very excited about this one. I've wanted to write a UFO story forever.


We Are All That’s Left
by Carrie Arcos
Philomel Books
Released 5/15/2018

Two lives. Two worlds apart. One deeply compelling story set in both Bosnia and the United States, spanning decades and generations, about the brutality of war and the trauma of everyday life after war, about hope and the ties that bind us together.

Zara and her mother, Nadja, have a strained relationship. Nadja just doesn't understand Zara's creative passion for, and self-expression through, photography. And Zara doesn't know how to reach beyond their differences and connect to a closed-off mother who refuses to speak about her past in Bosnia. But when a bomb explodes as they're shopping in their local farmers' market in Rhode Island, Zara is left with PTSD--and her mother is left in a coma. Without the opportunity to get to know her mother, Zara is left with questions--not just about her mother, but about faith, religion, history, and her own path forward.

As Zara tries to sort through her confusion, she meets Joseph, whose grandmother is also in the hospital, and whose exploration of religion and philosophy offer comfort and insight into Zara's own line of thinking.

Told in chapters that alternate between Zara's present-day Providence, RI, and Nadja's own childhood in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Bosnian War of the 1990s, We Are All That's Left shows the ways in which, no matter the time and place, struggle and tragedy can give way to connection, healing and love.

Purchase We Are All That’s Left at Amazon
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View We Are All That’s Left on Goodreads


Carrie Arcos ( was born in Albany, New York, and still mourns the day her family left for the West Coast. She earned an MA in creative writing and English literature and writes young adult fiction. She has taught English--both high school level and college. She is also the author of National Book Award finalist Out of Reach; There Will Come a Time; and, most recently, Crazy Messy Beautiful. Carrie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three children. Follow her on Twitter @carriearcos.


Have you had a chance to read WE ARE ALL THAT'S LEFT yet? Have you made yourself cry while writing? Do you have a steady rhythm for your writing time? 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, May 18, 2018

0 Molly Booth, author of NOTHING HAPPENED, on the moment when everything else sort of melts away

We're excited to have Molly Booth stop by to chat about her latest novel, NOTHING HAPPENED.

Molly, what was your inspiration for writing NOTHING HAPPENED?

I wrote NOTHING HAPPENED out of the pure love in my heart for its source material, MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, the original romantic comedy by Shakespeare. I loved the whole story, but I really adored Beatrice and her fierce protectiveness of her cousin, Hero. I wanted to write a version of MUCH ADO where that was showcased as a primary relationship. I also wanted to write a MUCH ADO that felt modern and inclusive.

In terms of the setting, I grew up going to and working at summer camp! For SAVING HAMLET, I’d drawn on my theatre nerd knowledge, and for NOTHING HAPPENED, I drew on my summer camp dorkiness. I have such fond and DRAMATIC memories of summer camp, and I felt like this would be a perfect setting to explore a retelling of a play with so many feelings.

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 are so many scenes I loved in NOTHING HAPPENED, it was a truly a blast to write, but one that came fast and organically is the flashback scene when Ben’s describing a fight that happened in his house, and how he took his sisters, put them in the car, and drove to Camp Dogberry in the middle of the night. I won’t spoil the rest of it, but that scene unlocked Ben for me as a character. My sibling Nellie calls him, “The Best Mom.”

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

I would definitely recommend NOTHING HAPPENED for fans of Stephanie Kate Strohm’s TAMING OF THE DREW! That’s one of my favorite Shakespeare-y YA books ever and a great, hilarious summer read with so much heart.

What do you hope readers will take away from NOTHING HAPPENED?

I hope readers will have had a super fun time hanging out with these characters for 300+ pages. I hope Shakespeare/MUCH ADO nerds will enjoy seeing how I’ve translated the play into a book, and I hope those not into Shakespeare will still love the book AND maybe go look up the original plot. I hope educators will be able to use this book to help teach MUCH ADO. I hope everyone will engage with the ideas in the book about toxic masculinity and queerness. And I hope everyone swoons!

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 only moment I could describe as “aha!” was realizing how much I loved the process of such a long and harrowing project xD. I was writing my first book, SAVING HAMLET, and between the second and third drafts, suddenly everything else sort of melted away. I wanted to spend all my time writing this book. It was difficult, and it made me cry, and I frequently felt lost. But I realized I would still rather be working on it than doing nearly anything else. So I think for me, the key is that writing books is the thing I love the most.


Nothing Happened
by Molly Booth
Released 5/15/2018

This modern-day retelling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing takes place at the idyllic Camp Dogberry, where sisters Bee and Hana Leonato have lived their whole lives. Their parents own the place, and every summer they look forward to leading little campers in crafts, swimming in the lake, playing capture the flag and Sproutball, and of course, throwing legendary counselor parties.

This year, the camp drama isn't just on the improv stage. Bee and longtime counselor Ben have a will-they-or-won't-they romance that's complicated by events that happened-or didn't happen-last summer. Meanwhile, Hana is falling hard for the kind but insecure Claudia, putting them both in the crosshairs of resident troublemaker John, who spreads a vicious rumor that could tear them apart.

As the counselors juggle their camp responsibilities with simmering drama that comes to a head at the Fourth of July sparkler party, they'll have to swallow their pride and find the courage to untangle the truth, whether it leads to heartbreak or happily ever after.

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Molly Booth writes books about Shakespeare and feelings. She's the author of Young Adult novels SAVING HAMLET (2016) and NOTHING HAPPENED (5.15. 2018), both published by Disney Hyperion. In high school, she was a stage manager for three different community theatres, which almost killed her. She graduated from Marlboro College and went onto study more Shakespeare (twist!) at University of Massachusetts Boston. Molly is a freelance writer and editor and has been published on,,, and various other websites. She co-hosts a Bardcentric podcast, Party Bard, and directs a lovely, hilarious, and fierce group of homeschooling teen Shakespearean actors. She also speaks and teaches workshops at schools, colleges, bookstores, book fairs, camps, and libraries. Molly lives in Massachusetts, where she spends a lot of time with family and friends, and the rest attending to her queenly cat and loaf-of-bread-shaped dog. You can visit her (please do!) on her website,

Have you had a chance to read NOTHING HAPPENED yet? Have any of your stories been inspired by Shakespeare? Is writing books the thing you love the most? 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, May 17, 2018

1 Nisha Sharma, author of MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE, on being a careful and patient writer

We are thrilled to have Nisha Sharma answer our questions about her debut novel, MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE.

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

MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE taught me about patience. I rushed through writing the book, but when it came time to editing, the process was slow. I needed to take the anxiety of just racing to the end of the story to finish it, and set that aside. I was forced to examine my novel in a way that I hadn’t before, and I think that’s taught me how to be a more careful and patient writer.

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

SOOOOO LONG. I have three finished YA novels that I completed and queried and went out on sub with before I even wrote MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE. The process of writing, selling, editing and releasing MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE was also an exciting, yet very long four years that started when I wrote a draft for my MFA program back in 2013.

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

My writing ritual is writing whenever I have the time to get a few words in. I work long hours and whenever I have a few moments, I take the time to work on my new project. Sometimes that’s at lunch at my day job, while at other times, I’m toiling away at 2 in the morning.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my second book with Crown Books for Young Readers! The story is tentatively called RADHA’S RECIPE FOR BOLLYWOOD BEATS, and it’s about Bollywood dance teams and a joy for cooking. The main character moves to Princeton, New Jersey from Chicago because her parents got divorced, and she has to relocate with her mother. She finds Jai, the head of the Princeton Academy of the Arts and Sciences Bollywood dance team, and begins this new relationship with him, with dance and with food.


My So-Called Bollywood Life
by Nisha Sharma
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 5/15/2018

Winnie Mehta was never really convinced that Raj was her soul mate, but their love was written in the stars. Literally, a pandit predicted Winnie would find the love of her life before her eighteenth birthday, and Raj meets all the qualifications. Which is why Winnie is shocked when she returns from her summer at film camp to find her boyfriend of three years hooking up with Jenny Dickens. As a self-proclaimed Bollywood expert, Winnie knows this is not how her perfect ending is scripted.

Then there's Dev, a fellow film geek and one of the few people Winnie can count on. Dev is smart and charming, and he challenges Winnie to look beyond her horoscope and find someone she'd pick for herself. But does falling for Dev mean giving up on her prophecy and her chance to live happily ever after? To find her perfect ending, Winnie will need a little bit of help from fate, family, and of course, a Bollywood movie star.

Purchase My So-Called Bollywood Life at Amazon
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Nisha Sharma grew up immersed in Bollywood movies, eighties pop culture, and romance novels, so it comes as no surprise that her first novel My So-Called Bollywood Life features all three. Nisha credits her father for her multiple graduate degrees and her mother for her love of Shah Rukh Khan and Jane Austen. She lives in New Jersey with her cat, Lizzie Bennett, and her dog, Nancey Drew. You can find her online at or on Twitter and Instagram at @nishawrites.


Have you had a chance to read MY SO-CALLED BOLLYWOOD LIFE yet? Do you race to get to "the end"? Have revisions taught you how to be a more careful and patient writer.? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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