Thursday, August 16, 2018

0 Catherine Egan, author of JULIA UNBOUND, on writing through distraction

JULIA UNBOUND is the final book in the The Witch's Child series, and we're thrilled to have Catherine Egan here to tell us more about it.

Catherine, 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 scenes to write, for me, are the ones with lots of characters. I sometimes wonder if authors with film and theater backgrounds are better at this kind of thing, because they have some experience thinking about blocking. I have crucial, climactic scenes involving five or six characters at a time, I need everybody to be involved and have their moment, but bringing it all together just takes forever. Action scenes with a number of characters are particularly difficult because you also need to give the impression that it is all happening very quickly. I love my characters, but there are moments when I’m moving them around like chess pieces and grumblingly thinking, “I should have killed a few more of you off.”

I suppose that when I do finally get a scene like that right, I’m proud of it, but they are rarely the scenes I love the most. My favorite scenes are the Big Relationship Moments between two characters. In this book, my favorite scenes probably involve Julia and her brother Dek, and Julia with her sometimes-enemy-sometimes-sort-of-ally-or-is-she-really? Pia. A scene with a bath-tub, in particular. Also Julia piecing together a broken mud-woman with whom she has a fraught relationship. There are a bunch of scenes I really like and am proud of in this book, and they are all one-on-one scenes.

How long did you work on JULIA UNBOUND?

Technically, I worked on JULIA UNBOUND for about a year. But it’s hard to measure, because I never work on one thing straight through – I write a draft, and then I take a break from it to either revise the previous thing or start drafting the next thing. I always have at least two projects on the go and something else on the back-burner. Working on something completely different allows me to go back to my draft with fresh eyes. But if I add it all up I’d say it was somewhere between 8 and 12 months total.

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

My ideal writing situation involves first taking a walk to get my mind back in the story, and then silence, dark chocolate, and coffee. I work happily at home or in cafés. Silence and solitude were luxuries when my children were small; my “ritual” back then was just to grab whatever time I could get, type fast, and hope it didn’t suck. Then I’d look at it the next time I had half an hour to spare. If it sucked, I’d delete it and try again. If it didn’t suck, I’d tinker with it ‘til I liked it, and then I’d move on. It worked, sort of, but getting to the end of anything obviously took a very long time.

My kids got a bit older and I got spoiled, perfecting a ritual that made me very happy. Then we got pet rats. (They are great pets! Really!). Now, I write in what has become “the rat room” while our fuzzy critters climb all over me and try to get at my coffee. It isn’t ideal, I guess, but it’s taught me to work through distraction all over again.


Julia Unbound
by Catherine Egan
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 8/14/2018

Julia has been ensnared in so many different webs, it's hard to see how she'll ever break free. She must do Casimir's bidding in order to save the life of her brother. She must work against Casimir to save the lives of most everyone else she knows.

Casimir demands that Julia use her vanishing skills to act as a spy at court and ensure that a malleable prince is installed on the throne of Frayne. But Julia is secretly acting as a double agent, passing information to the revolutionaries and witches who want a rebel princess to rule.

Beyond these deadly entanglements, Julia is also desperately seeking the truth about herself: How is it she can vanish? Is she some form of monster? Is her life her own?

With every move she makes, Julia finds herself tangled ever tighter. Should she try to save her country? Her brother? A beloved child? Can she even save herself?

Purchase Julia Unbound at Amazon
Purchase Julia Unbound at IndieBound
View Julia Unbound on Goodreads


Catherine Egan grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Since then, she has lived on a volcanic island in Japan (which erupted while she was there and sent her hurtling straight into the arms of her now husband), in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Beijing, on an oil rig in the middle of Bohai Bay, then in New Jersey, and now in New Haven, Connecticut. She is currently occupied with writing books and fighting dragon armies with her warrior children. You can read more about her at and follow her on Twitter at @ByCatherineEgan.


Have you had a chance to read JULIA UNBOUND yet? How do you handle the blocking of multiple characters? Do you work on multiple projects at one time? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

0 WoW Wednesdays: Monica Sanz on why you don't need to write everyday

Today, we're so excited to welcome the amazing Monica Sanz, a member of the Wattpad4 and a Wattpad contributor whose work has over six million views. She's here to talk about writing advice - more specifically that bit of advice we're all heard. You must write every day. In the guest post below, Monica discusses why that advice might not work for you and why that's okay. Stay tuned for info about Monica's book SEVENTH BORN, coming September 4th from Entangled Teen. But now, here's Monica:

By Monica Sanz
As writers, we’re always looking for ways to improve our craft or techniques that will help us be more effective and successful. When I was starting out, I scoured the internet for tips on how to become a better writer, and when I discovered Twitter, I thought I’d stumbled upon a well of wisdom. That’s true, to a degree; you can make meaningful connections and learn a lot about the industry on Twitter and online. One thing I wish I would have kept in mind though was that a lot of the advice given were merely opinions and not things I had to accept as law in order to be a writer. One nugget of advice that fits into this category is the a writer must write every day tip that is constantly repeated by well-meaning folks. I’ve offered up the same advice in the past, but, well, we all learn from our mistakes.

I was in this write every daycamp for a long time. I wrote whenever I had the chance, on whatever I could get my hands on—my phone, tablet, a notebook I carry around, napkins—whatever. But then a few months ago, I went through the hardest time if my life. The "I would never wish this upon my worst enemy" type of painful experience. And as I sat there in the hospital with a million and one worries and my heart in a thousand pieces, there was this unnecessary added worry in the back of my mind… I was worried about not being able to write. Not because I wanted to, but because it was something I had to do. And as the days went by, that worry grew until I tried to push through my pain and get something down on paper.

But then something clicked. Why did I HAVE to write?

Why couldn’t I take this time to grieve? Where were my words going to go if I didn’t write them then and there? And if they did leave, wouldn’t more words come anyway? I’m a writer after all. Words are what fill my brain day and night, so where was this concern coming from? I realized then I had taken this piece of advice and made it law. I had fooled myself into thinking that I was a real writer because I wrote every single day, and if I didn’t keep it up, then I’d lose my seat at the writer’s table or get my writer’s card revoked. It was a jarring and dispiriting thought, because it wasn't that I wanted to write as some kind of outlet for what I was going through, but because I felt like a failure if I didn't.

There are so many of us with that belief hanging over us and it’s not true. I closed my computer that day and didn’t write anything new for two months. I had edits to wrap up, yeah, but new material? No way. I wasn’t ready and that was okay for me, and it’s okay for you too. I didn’t write for that time and here I am, still a writer, working on the second book of my new series, and countless new ideas brewing in the back of my head. My talent is still here. The ideas are still here. The words are still here. Words will always be here because the frequency with which we write is not what makes us writers. It’s our passion to put these words down on paper and give these stories life.

If you need to take a break, do it. If you want to chill and watch TV, read a book, or play with your babies (fur babies included), do it. I learned those months ago that life is way too short to bog ourselves down with unnecessary rules, especially those that suck the joy out of what we love doing.

We're human, living in a world full of unknowns and surprises. Things shift and spill and explode and we may not want to write because we’re hurt, fatigued, or simply don't want to, and if you feel better with another writer saying it's okay to be a writer and not write, then here I am, a writer, telling you, a writer: it’s okay.

Monica Sanz is a YA author who writes about brooding professors, cursed ringmasters, tortured soul collectors, and the girls they fall in love with. She has an established fan base on the social writing website, Wattpad where her works have over 6 million combined reads. She is a member of the Wattpad4, a group of writers who host weekly Twitter chats on the subjects of writing and publishing.

When not lost in one of her many made-up worlds, Monica can be found on the sunny beaches of South Florida where she resides with her husband and their three children or scouring YouTube for new bands to feed her music addiction.

ABOUT SEVENTH BORN (9/4/18; Entangled Teen)
Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she's the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.

Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium's Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.

The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he'll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she'll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn't the only thing that makes a witch burn.

Monday, August 13, 2018

4 New Releases this week 08/13 - 08/19 plus Giveaway of JULIA UNBOUND

Happy Monday! This week, we have a huge giveaway of the full A WITCH'S CHILD series as well has a few copies of the first book! 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


* * * *

Julia Unbound
by Catherine Egan
1 full series + 3 hardcovers of JULIA VANISHES Giveaway
U.S. Only

Knopf Books for Young Readers
Released 8/14/2018

Julia has been ensnared in so many different webs, it's hard to see how she'll ever break free. She must do Casimir's bidding in order to save the life of her brother. She must work against Casimir to save the lives of most everyone else she knows.

Casimir demands that Julia use her vanishing skills to act as a spy at court and ensure that a malleable prince is installed on the throne of Frayne. But Julia is secretly acting as a double agent, passing information to the revolutionaries and witches who want a rebel princess to rule.

Beyond these deadly entanglements, Julia is also desperately seeking the truth about herself: How is it she can vanish? Is she some form of monster? Is her life her own?

With every move she makes, Julia finds herself tangled ever tighter. Should she try to save her country? Her brother? A beloved child? Can she even save herself?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Julia Unbound?

JULIA UNBOUND is the final book in a trilogy I’ve spent years writing, and my favorite thing about both the process of writing it and the finished product is the immense satisfaction of tying up all the threads and answering all the questions from the previous two books.

I had an ending for the series in mind before I started drafting the first book. The outline of the book changed significantly a few times, but the broad strokes of the story have been in place from the beginning. There are scenes and big reveals in this book I have been waiting literally years to write. I didn’t know what to do with myself after writing the final scene in the book; I had to take a long walk just to settle my mind again. I’ve laid my clues and questions carefully, and I hope that the final book pays off for readers and is as much fun to read as it was to write.

Purchase Julia Unbound at Amazon
Purchase Julia Unbound at IndieBound
View Julia Unbound on Goodreads


Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution by KaeLyn Rich: Megan D.
The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby: Megan K.


* * * *

Our Stories, Our Voices
by Amy Reed
Simon Pulse
Released 8/14/2018

From Amy Reed, Ellen Hopkins, Amber Smith, Sandhya Menon, and more of your favorite YA authors comes an anthology of essays that explore the diverse experiences of injustice, empowerment, and growing up female in America.

This collection of twenty-one essays from major YA authors—including award-winning and bestselling writers—touches on a powerful range of topics related to growing up female in today’s America, and the intersection with race, religion, and ethnicity. Sure to inspire hope and solidarity to anyone who reads it, Our Stories, Our Voices belongs on every young woman’s shelf.

This anthology features essays from Martha Brockenbrough, Jaye Robin Brown, Sona Charaipotra, Brandy Colbert, Somaiya Daud, Christine Day, Alexandra Duncan, Ilene Wong (I.W.) Gregorio, Maurene Goo. Ellen Hopkins, Stephanie Kuehnert, Nina LaCour, Anna-Marie LcLemore, Sandhya Menon, Hannah Moskowitz, Julie Murphy, Aisha Saeed, Jenny Torres Sanchez, Amber Smith, and Tracy Walker.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Our Stories, Our Voices?

My favorite thing about OUR STORIES, OUR VOICES is the hope it gives me at a time when hope can be really hard to find. Like so many Americans, I am terrified and enraged about what is happening to our country and to the people in it. It is easy for me to focus on all the bad news, to let my anxiety and fear win and immobilize me. But working on this book, reading the stories the authors have shared about their own experiences and how they have found strength, reminds me that I am not alone in my fear, that none of us are. There are people all across this country, people like us and people different than us, who care about our wellbeing and the integrity of our democracy. We are surrounded by allies who are fighting to protect the most vulnerable among us. We are surrounded by people who have our back. My fear makes me feel tiny, but my hope connects me to everyone else who wants a better world. This book reminds me of the power of our voices and the power of speaking truth, the power all of us have to be agents of change and add a little goodness to the world. It helps me have faith that, in the end, with all of us supporting each other and working hard in our own ways, justice and truth will win.

Purchase Our Stories, Our Voices at Amazon
Purchase Our Stories, Our Voices at IndieBound
View Our Stories, Our Voices on Goodreads

* * * *

See All the Stars
by Kit Frick
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released 8/14/2018

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

Then: They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. (Venus. Earth. Moon. Sun.) Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

Now: Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

Then: Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

Now: Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about See All the Stars?

When I set out to write SEE ALL THE STARS, I knew I wanted to dig deep into friendships between teen girls. It’s been my experience—and the experience of many women in my life—that friendships between women in adolescence and early adulthood are rarely simple. They’re intense—intensely good, intensely close, intensely consuming, intensely critical, intensely imbued with meaning, intensely fraught with the trappings of personal identity formation and navigating an often unforgiving social world. Developing the best friendship between Ellory and Ret—the good, the bad, the ugly—was my favorite part about writing SEE ALL THE STARS, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with readers.

Purchase See All the Stars at Amazon
Purchase See All the Stars at IndieBound
View See All the Stars on Goodreads


* * * *

Fresh Ink
by Lamar Giles
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released 8/14/2018

Careful--you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written--whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play about topics like gentrification, acceptance, untimely death, coming out, and poverty and ranging in genre from contemporary realistic fiction to adventure and romance. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

AUTHORS INCLUDE: Schuyler Bailar, Melissa de la Cruz, Sara Farizan, Sharon G. Flake, Eric Gansworth, Malindo Lo, Walter Dean Myers, Daniel José Older, Thien Pham, Jason Reynolds, Aminah Mae Safi, Gene Luen Yang, Nicola Yoon

Purchase Fresh Ink at Amazon
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View Fresh Ink on Goodreads

* * * *

How to Breathe Underwater
by Vicky Skinner
Swoon Reads
Released 8/14/2018

Kate’s father has been pressuring her to be perfect for her whole life, pushing her to be the best swimmer she can be. But when Kate finds her dad cheating on her mom, Kate’s perfect world comes crashing down, and Kate is forced to leave home and the swim team she's been a part of her whole life.

Now in a new home and new school, faced with the prospect of starting over, Kate isn't so sure that swimming is what she wants anymore. But when she decides to quit, her whole world seems to fall apart. But when Kate gets to know Michael, the cute boy that lives across the hall, she starts to think that starting over might not be so bad. There's only one problem: Michael has a girlfriend.

As the pressures of love, family, and success press down on her, can Kate keep her head above water?

Purchase How to Breathe Underwater at Amazon
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View How to Breathe Underwater on Goodreads

* * * *

My Life Uploaded
by Rae Earl
Released 8/14/2018

Hello! Millie Porter here. I’m posting this from a garden shed, because three so-called adults are in the house arguing over whether you can train penguins. You see, I moved in with my dad, granddad, and aunty to escape my mum’s neat freak boyfriend. (He follows me around with a vacuum cleaner, like that’s a normal thing to do. It’s not.)

The point is, this reality thing is HARD, so my BFF Lauren and I are taking it online to tell you how to handle it. We are going to make a difference with this vlog. That is, if I can just get Dave the cat’s tail OUT OF MY FACE.

Yes, we know it’s usually only übergeeks like Bradley Sanderson who do vlogs. Yes, we know that Instagram queen Erin Breeler will not like it ONE TINY BIT. But Lauren says she’ll be too obsessed with the hot new boy at school to notice us.

You get to see me juggling real life, online life, and a cat intent on my destruction as it happens―IRL.

This is my life. Uploaded.

Purchase My Life Uploaded at Amazon
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View My Life Uploaded on Goodreads

* * * *

Surviving Adam Meade
by Shannon Klare
Swoon Reads
Released 8/14/2018

Seventeen-year-old Claire Collins has a plan: get into college and leave North Carolina behind. What she doesn’t have is an idea for how to get rid of the local football star and womanizer extraordinaire―Adam Meade, who she can’t even avoid (despite many efforts), because Claire’s dad is the high school football coach.

Seventeen-year-old Adam Meade never fails. He always gets what he wants . . . until he meets Claire, the new girl who leaves him unnerved, pissed off, and confused. But there’s something about her that he just can’t resist . . .

With the bite of lemon meringue pie and the sugar of sweet tea, Surviving Adam Meade is a sexy and compelling young adult novel about two strong-willed people who think they know what they want but have no idea what they need.

Purchase Surviving Adam Meade at Amazon
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View Surviving Adam Meade on Goodreads

* * * *

The Looking Glass
by Janet McNally
Released 8/14/2018

GIRLS IN TROUBLE. That’s what Sylvie Blake’s older sister Julia renamed their favorite fairy tale book, way back when they were just girls themselves. Now Julia has disappeared—and no one knows for sure if she wants to be away, or if she’s the one in trouble.

Then a copy of their old storybook arrives with a mysterious list inside, and Sylvie begins to see signs of her sister, and their favorite fairy tales, everywhere she goes.

With the help of her best friend’s enigmatic brother and his beat-up car, Sylvie sets out to follow the strange signs right to Julia and return to New York with her in tow. But trouble comes in lots of forms—and Sylvie soon learns that the damsel in distress is often the only one who can save herself.

Purchase The Looking Glass at Amazon
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View The Looking Glass on Goodreads

* * * *

The Raging Ones
by Becca Ritchie and Krista Ritchie
Wednesday Books
Released 8/14/2018

An edge of your seat sci-fi romance with twists and turns that you will never see coming!

In a freezing world, where everyone knows the day they will die, three teens break all odds.

Franny Bluecastle, a tough city teen, dreams of dying in opulence, to see wealth she’s never known. Like the entire world, she believes it’s impossible to dodge a deathday.

Until the day she does.

Court Icecastle knows wealth. He also knows pain. Spending five years in Vorkter Prison, a fortress of ice and suffering, he dreams of life beyond the people that haunt him and the world that imprisoned him.

Mykal Kickfall fights for those he loves. The rugged Hinterlander shares a frustrating yet unbreakable connection with Court―which only grows more lawless and chaotic as their senses and emotions connect with Franny.

With the threat of people learning they’ve dodged their deathdays, they must flee their planet to survive. But to do so, all three will have to hide their shared bond as they vie for a highly sought after spot in the newest mission to space. Against thousands of people far smarter, who’ll live longer, and never fear death the way that they do.

Purchase The Raging Ones at Amazon
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View The Raging Ones on Goodreads

Sunday, August 12, 2018

1 Gretchen McNeil, author of #MURDERTRENDING, on channeling her angst into this book

We're delighted to have Gretchen McNeil swing by to chat about her latest novel, #MURDERTRENDING.

Gretchen, what was your inspiration for writing #MURDERTRENDING?

It all started with a discussion of horror and comedy, and why I love them together. That discussion included references to films like Scream as well as the magic that was Fox’s series Scream Queens. The question was posted: “What about a YA novel with Scream Queens levels of gore and camp?” My husband and I had recently rewatched the 1987 camp and gore (and Schwarzenegger) classic The Running Man which is very, very loosely based on a Stephen King novel of the same name, and suddenly, I had a book idea.

Scream Queens + The Running Man = #MurderTrending.

How long did you work on #MURDERTRENDING?

I sold this book on proposal (basically, a synopsis on two chapters) on Halloween 2016 – one week before the 2016 Presidential election – and delivered the first draft of the manuscript on February 1, 2017. It was a turbulent time, and I channeled all of my angst into this book.

What do you hope readers will take away from #MURDERTRENDING?

I want readers to laugh at the jokes and shake their heads at the over-the-top depiction of our world, but then I want them to wonder: How far away from this reality are we?

What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing up revisions on #MurderFunding, the sequel to #MurderTrending, due out in August 2019. If the first book could be called “crazy,” the second book dials that insanity up to eleven. And I can’t wait for people to read it.


by Gretchen McNeil
Released 8/7/2018

@doctorfusionbebop: Some 17 y. o. chick named Dee Guerrera was just sent to Alcatraz 2.0 for killing her stepsister. So, how long do you think she'll last?

@morrisdavis72195: I hope she meets justice! She'll get what's coming to her! BWAHAHA!

@EltonJohnForevzz: Me? I think Dee's innocent. And I hope she can survive.

WELCOME TO THE NEAR FUTURE, where good and honest citizens can enjoy watching the executions of society's most infamous convicted felons, streaming live on The Postman app from the suburbanized prison island Alcatraz 2.0.

When seventeen-year-old Dee Guerrera wakes up in a haze, lying on the ground of a dimly lit warehouse, she realizes she's about to be the next victim of the app. Knowing hardened criminals are getting a taste of their own medicine in this place is one thing, but Dee refuses to roll over and die for a heinous crime she didn't commit. Can Dee and her newly formed posse, the Death Row Breakfast Club, prove she's innocent before she ends up wrongfully murdered for the world to see? Or will The Postman's cast of executioners kill them off one by one?

Purchase #MurderTrending at Amazon
Purchase #MurderTrending at IndieBound
View #MurderTrending on Goodreads


Gretchen McNeil is the author of the YA horror/suspense novels POSSESS, 3:59, RELIC, GET EVEN, GET DIRTY, and TEN (a YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, a Romantic Times Top Pick, and a Booklist Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth) all with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins. Gretchen’s first YA contemporary I’M NOT YOUR MANIC PIXIE DREAM GIRL, also with Balzer + Bray, hit shelves in 2016, and her next novel will be the horror-comedy #MURDERTRENDING for Disney/Freeform in 2018.

Gretchen’s novels have been published internationally in Chinese, Spanish, Turkish, and Czech. The film adaptation of TEN starring China Anne McClain (Descendants 2, Black Lightning), Rome Flynn (The Bold and the Beautiful), and Callan McAuliffe (Flipped, I Am Number Four), directed by Chris Robert for Rain Maker Films, premieres on Lifetime on September 16, 2017.

Gretchen is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.


Have you had a chance to read #MURDERTRENDING yet? Have TV shows and movies inspired your story ideas? Do you channel your emotions into your writing? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Saturday, August 11, 2018

0 KaeLyn Rich, author of GIRLS RESIST!, on the dream of becoming a capital "W" Writer

We're delighted to have KaeLyn Rich with us to share more about her debut novel, GIRLS RESIST!: A GUIDE TO ACTIVISM, LEADERSHIP, AND STARTING A REVOLUTION.

KaeLyn, what was your inspiration for writing GIRLS RESIST!?

I've been involved in student activism and young adult activism since I was, myself, a student and young adult. It started from this place of just being sad and mad about the unfairness in the world we live in. I grew up with parents who were union members and educators and I saw them taking action in our community from an early age. As I got older and more passionate about my activism, I read up on community organizing theory and tactics. There are several excellent classic and contemporary books on the subject out there. However, there aren't a lot of books written by women or written for girls. I'm inspired by the teen girl and young girl activists who have existed, literally, throughout history, at the front of our movements. I'm inspired by the youth organizers of this generation who led #BlackLivesMatter and the National Walkout across the country. This book is about supporting those movements with info young activists need to take their work to the next level, the information I wish someone had put in my hands when I was a young woman.

How long did you work on GIRLS RESIST!?

I need to start by saying this is my first published book, ever. My editor and agent assure me this process for writing a book is unusual. The total length of time from the moment of conception around the idea for the book to holding it in my hands was less than one year. I wrote the whole book cover-to-cover in about three months.

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

I set out to write a handbook, a typical guidebook that is written without a narrative voice. About halfway through the writing process, while going over the manuscript with my editor and a friend I asked to be a reader, we realized that the book needed to have "me" in. Organizing is personal for me and feminism is personal for me and trying to write as though it wasn't just didn't work for this book. This book is a conversation between me and other activists, between me as a woman and teen girls as young women. Like the 1960's feminist saying goes, "The personal is political" and I learned that about my writing process through this book.

What do you hope readers will take away from GIRLS RESIST?

I hope readers open the book and find the tools they need to take the next step in their activism, to ignite groundbreaking, historic revolutions as well as intimate, vital moments of resistance. I hope readers feel seen and heard in these pages. I hope they can feel my love for them and their activist work through my words. I hope they take away the really specific strategies and tactics and skills that are the foundation of Girls Resist! as well as a renewed sense of empowerment to lead us all into a better future.

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

My whole life, I thought I would write a book one day. Like, literally since I was four-years-old, I wanted to be an author. I went to college for creative writing (poetry and fiction). However, my life path bent and turned in another direction and I'd mostly decided that writing was a hobby and a skillset for me, not a job. I dabbled in writing for work, stuff like newsletter content and fundraising letters and I even penned a local sexual health column for a couple years. I never planned to go back to that dream of becoming a capital "W" Writer, though. In 2014, on a whim, I applied for a freelance position as a staff writer for Autostraddle, a prominent queer blog. I started blogging for Autostraddle and it's actually through a column on community organizing that I was writing for the blog that Quirk Books (my publisher) found me. When I was approached about the Girls Resist! project, I was completely surprised. Now that I've made it through my first book, that part of me that longs to write has been reignited. I'm already thinking about what my next book could be about and even flirting with the idea of getting back into writing fiction! All that to say, I wouldn't say my road was hard so much as twisty-turny!

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

I get my best writing done when I'm out of the house, usually at a coffee shop. I listen to ambient mood music like Explosions in the Sky if I need inspiration or to energetic, beat-heavy music like rap, R&B, punk, or pop if I'm jamming along nicely.

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

Just do the thing. I don't mean quit your day job (necessarily). But if you want to write, write. Start a blog. Pitch to a blog. Write your novel. Go to the open mic. Create the YouTube video. Send the query. Since I've been writing professionally, I've realized that most writers are like me--regular people who choose to write. A lot of them are also freelancers with a day job, like me, and there's nothing less cool about that! The path to authorship, for me, was all about allowing myself to choose writing without worrying too much about whether I'd ever "make it" or not.

What are you working on now?

Lots of rumbly jumbly ideas that I'm trying to flesh out into real proposals if I'm honest with ya'!


Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution
by KaeLyn Rich
Quirk Books
Released 8/7/2018

An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.

Take on the world and make some serious change with this handbook to everything activism, social justice, and resistance. With in-depth guides to everything from picking a cause, planning a protest, and raising money to running dispute-free meetings, promoting awareness on social media, and being an effective ally, Girls Resist! will show you how to go from “mad as heck about the way the world is going” to “effective leader who gets stuff done.” Veteran feminist organizer KaeLyn Rich shares tons of expertise that’ll inspire you as much as it teaches you the ropes. Plus, quotes and tips from fellow teen girl activists show how they stood up for change in their communities. Grab this handbook to crush inequality, start a revolution, and resist!

Purchase Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution at Amazon
Purchase Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution at IndieBound
View Girls Resist!: A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution on Goodreads


KaeLyn Rich is a queer feminist, a direct action organizer, a nonprofit leader, a word wrangler, and a sexuality educator. Her community organizing experience dates back to stuffing folders for her parents’ union meetings around the dining room table. She’s an adoptee immigrant from South Korea, a comfort food foodie, and a persistent devotee of the Oxford comma. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a xenophobic cat, and a rascally rabbit.


Have you had a chance to read GIRLS RESIST!: A GUIDE TO ACTIVISM, LEADERSHIP, AND STARTING A REVOLUTION yet? Are you getting out there and doing the thing? Are you choosing to write without worrying too much about if you'll make it? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

0 Jessi Kirby, author of THE OTHER SIDE OF LOST, on writing being similar to long-distance hiking

We're thrilled to have Jessi Kirby stop by to tell us more about her latest novel, THE OTHER SIDE OF LOST.

Jessi, what was your inspiration for writing THE OTHER SIDE OF LOST?

The original idea came from a video I saw that went viral, of a young woman who was insta-famous, who decided to quit social media because she felt it had taken over her life. She seemed so entirely lost in the video, and my heart just went out to her because I know how wrapped up in it people are these days—especially young people. She got a lot of backlash for the video, and from the Instagram community, and then she disappeared, which made me wonder where she went. When I thought about what I might do in that situation, I felt like I would have to remove myself completely, which gave me the idea for the hike.

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 end scene was so hard! I think because it’s one moment at the end of long, long journey, and it’s such an important one, I wanted to be sure to leave readers with an ending that felt earned and fitting.

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

This book taught me SO much, and that’s because during the writing of it, I actually had the opportunity to hike Mt. Whitney. I was not an avid hiker before, so to do this, I had to train to make sure I’d be ready for Whitney. This meant that I went on many 20+ mile day hikes, and in that process, I learned how to push through discomfort, that I was stronger than I knew, could go farther than I thought, and that the feeling of reaching a summit is worth all of the pain it takes to get there. I also learned that long-distance hiking is so similar to writing a novel. It’s a long haul. You have to push past doubt and obstacles. You also are treated to beautiful moments along the way, and in the end, it truly is about the journey.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE OTHER SIDE OF LOST?

I hope it will inspire readers to want to be in the present moment. To be braver than they think they are. And to find beauty and stillness within themselves, and in nature.


The Other Side of Lost
by Jessi Kirby
Released 8/7/2018

Mari Turner’s life is perfect. That is, at least, to her thousands of followers who have helped her become an internet starlet.

But when she breaks down and posts a video confessing she’s been living a lie—that she isn’t the happy, in love, inspirational online personality she’s been trying so hard to portray—it goes viral and she receives a major backlash.

To get away from it all, she makes an impulsive decision: to hike the entire John Muir Trail. Mari and her late cousin Bri were supposed to do it together, to celebrate their shared eighteenth birthday. But that was before Mari got so wrapped up in her online world that she shut anyone out who questioned its worth—like Bri.

With Bri’s boots and trail diary, a heart full of regret, and a group of strangers that she meets along the way, Mari tries to navigate the difficult terrain of the hike. But the true challenge lies within, as she searches for the way back from to the girl she fears may be too lost to find: herself.

Purchase The Other Side of Lost at Amazon
Purchase The Other Side of Lost at IndieBound
View The Other Side of Lost on Goodreads


Jessi Kirby is the author of six novels for young adults, including The Secret History of Us, Things We Know By Heart, and Moonglass, which was nominated for the ABA New Voices award. Her novels have received starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers weekly, and have been published in more than twenty countries.

Jessi grew up in Mammoth Lakes, California and earned a degree in English from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. She currently lives in Central California with her husband and two kids, where she spends her time enjoying her family, teaching, writing, reading, running, and trying to make the most out of every day.


Have you had a chance to read THE OTHER SIDE OF LOST yet? Have you been inspired by a viral video? Do you have trouble with writing endings? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Friday, August 10, 2018

0 Patty Blount, author of SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW, on not trusting herself enough

We're excited to have Patty Blount here to tell us more about her latest novel, SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW.

Patty, what was your inspiration for writing SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW?

This novel was inspired by the Brock Turner case - specifically, the letter Brock Turner's father wrote before his son was sentenced in which he expounded at great length how poor little Brockie can't even enjoy a steak anymore since the verdict came in and how he doesn't deserved to be punished for "twenty minutes of action."

Twenty minutes of action.

It's been a few years since this trial and I still can't say those words without a sneer of disgust. This is why Brock was arrested in the first place - because he was raised by a man who assumes an unconscious female was his personal playground rather than a fellow human being in need of aid. The callousness with which Brock treated a woman, his further refusal to accept responsibility and blame for his actions, and - ultimately, the realization that there are millions more men who share this 'locker room talk' mentality are why I wrote this book. That leads me to the next question:

What do you hope readers will take away from this book

I hope readers will close this book with a smack to their foreheads and an admission of how their own behaviors can be improved. Honestly, we wouldn't have a rape culture issue if more guys stood up to their friends when they crossed a line. All boys have to do is ask the girls in their orbits how many of them wore bras with front clasps or shorts under their skirts, beginning in middle school? Middle school is when most of this baloney begins. And too often, the girls are told to adjust and to deal while the boys get their hair ruffled or a good-natured punch in the arm because they're 'just being boys.' Every time we make an excuse like this, every time we downplay bra-snapping, up-skirting, 'stealing' a kiss, and so on, we perpetuate rape culture.

I want readers, particularly boys, to come away from this story thinking about how sex isn't a conquest or a game to be 'won' and women are not spoils of war or trophies for athletic achievement. Above all, I want people to grasp this concept - you are ENTITLED to nothing from other people's bodies without their consent and when you get consent, it better be enthusiastically given rather than coerced.

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

This is a question that has a two-part answer. First, you could say it took me all my life to get published and that was because I didn't trust myself enough, didn't believe that I could tell stories people would want to read. So I didn't try for a very long time. I finally reached a point where I felt ready to face rejection and submit my work. My first published novel, SEND, was actually the fourth one I'd written. My first was called Penalty Killer. It was a hockey-dad murder mystery I wrote on a dare from my oldest son. I printed it out and had it bound in a plastic spine for him to read. He figured out the murderer by chapter three.

My next attempt was another mystery called Postpartum Deception and was about a woman whose grief for her husband and baby unlocked a sort of extra ability that allowed her to talk to the dead. It was about 150,000 words when I finished it and I couldn't even get my family to read it.

Next, I wrote a romance called Borderlines, which was about a doctor who falls in love with the journalist sent to investigate the community she serves - specifically, the immigrant population natural citizens will stop at nothing to get rid of. I adore this story so much because I think I fell in love myself with the hero, Jin-Thomas Clarke, the British journalist investigating the plight of the immigrants. After I finished writing this novel, I discovered actor Gilles Marini and my jaw dropped. It was like my hero had come to life, right down to the dimples in his cheek. Some years later, I got to meet Gilles in real life and tell him this story. Sighs He is every bit the gentleman and I really hope to publish that story some day so if it gets made into a movie, he can play Thomas Clarke! (If you're interested in hearing more about the day I met Gilles, visit my website at

Borderlines was supposed to be a series but soon after I began writing book 2, a new voice started whispering to me. When my oldest son was about twelve and had endured a horrible bullying ordeal, I remember being so grateful that he hadn't had a cell phone or social media presence at the time or I might very well have lost him. As I was researching social media use for work, I learned how people can abuse these sites. And that's when that little voice in my brain said, "I did that." That voice became Dan - or rather, Kenny - two different characters who are actually the same person - in SEND. I know that sounds confusing, but if you read the book, it'll make sense, I promise.

I wrote the book, started querying agents, and then discovered a huge issue. I'd written the characters in their mid-twenties. But bullying is a school problem. So a kind agent wrote me back and suggested I rewrite the book as a young adult novel, making the characters high school ages. I did and it took close to another year. I queried again and landed an agent. Several months after that, I attended an event where I pitched the novel to two editors at Sourcebooks who loved it and later offered me a two-book deal.

SEND was released a year later, followed by TMI.

Now that I'm multi-published, I still get rejections and boy, I think it's harder now! I wrote a story two years ago that's a Romeo and Juliet retelling called NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE about teen race car drivers whose competing families have been holding a decade-long grudge that's preventing them from seeing each other. They decide to elope. This is the first young adult novel in which I ever attempted to write a sex scene and it is hands down my favorite author moment yet. As a married couple on their wedding night, they would naturally have sex. But as teenagers, there's certain to be awkwardness and embarrassment. I had no idea how to write such a scene until my son came home from school and said, "Mom! Did you know a duck's penis is cork-screw shaped?"

I did not.

But thinking about duck penises made me wonder what might happen if my teenage newlyweds happened to notice such a thing while they're about to get busy? So I put the couple out on Lake Norman in North Carolina, where they soon burst into hysterical laughter when they notice said appendage. As their own big moment approaches, they can't help but giggle and make comparisons to human anatomy. It's funny and sweet and touching and yes, romantic all at the same time.

I also have a ghost story called The Sky Was Scarlet that never got published. This story is rewrite of my earlier Postpartum Deception. In this version, the sixteen year old son of the dead husband in the earlier version inherits his muscle car, which triggers a terrifying series of visions that this skeptical teen hero must learn to interpret. Spoiler alert, even though he doesn't believe in "woo-woo crap," he eventually deciphers the signs and symbols in his visions to mean his little brother did NOT die in the fire that killed his dad, as everyone assumed. But no one believes him so he and his best friend set out to prove it.

I'm so sad these books haven't found a home but super-excited SEND, TMI, SOME BOYS, NOTHING LEFT TO BURN, THE WAY IT HURTS, and now SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW have found their way to readers.


Someone I Used to Know
by Patty Blount
Sourcebooks Fire
Released 8/7/2018

It's been two years since the night that changed Ashley's life. Two years since she was raped by her brother's teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap on the wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain.

It's been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows he handled it all wrong. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister's life.

When it all comes to head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.

Purchase Someone I Used to Know at Amazon
Purchase Someone I Used to Know at IndieBound
View Someone I Used to Know on Goodreads


Patty Blount grew up quiet and a bit invisible in Queens, NY, but found her voice in books. Today, she writes smart and strong characters willing to fight for what’s right. She’s the award-winning author of edgy, realistic, gut-wrenching contemporary and young adult romance. Still a bit introverted, she gets lost often, eats way too much chocolate, and tends to develop mad, passionate crushes on fictional characters. Let’s be real; Patty’s not nearly as cool as her characters, but she is a solid supporter of women’s rights and loves delivering school presentations.

Patty is best known for her internet issues novels, including SOME BOYS, a 2015 CLMP Firecracker winner and SEND, a 2012 Junior Library Guild Fall Pick. Visit her website at, where you can sign up for her newsletter. She blogs at YA Outside the Lines and is also active online. She loves hearing from readers, especially when they tell her she’s cool (even though she knows it’s not true), and is easily bribed with chocolate. Never underestimate the power of chocolate.


Have you had a chance to read SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW yet? Have you been inspired to make a difference through your writing? Have you imagined a character and then later found a perfect matching actor? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Thursday, August 9, 2018

0 Maggie Lehrman, author of THE LAST BEST STORY, on working on a book for ten years

We're excited to have Maggie Lehrman swing by to chat about her latest novel, THE LAST BEST STORY.

Maggie, what was your inspiration for writing THE LAST BEST STORY?

I have a very direct inspiration for THE LAST BEST STORY -- the great classic screwball movie HIS GIRL FRIDAY. In that amazing, still very hilarious film, Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell scheme and plot to get a big scoop, while simultaneously flirting and realizing they're meant for each other. The plot is totally different and my characters are modern teens, but I wanted to try to capture that romantic repartee and the fast-talking feeling of the movie.

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 last scene I wrote -- the latest addition to the manuscript, at the end of many rounds of editing -- comes late in the book, and it's a recounting of an interview that Rose does with a fellow student who treats her badly. She doesn't know how to react to this experience. I felt her conflict very strongly. I wrote this scene a year before #metoo, but only a couple weeks after the election in 2016. Her anger at the unfairness of what happened was something I really wanted to get across and I barely changed it from my handwritten notes to what's in the printed book.

How long did you work on THE LAST BEST STORY?

I have a pretty intense answer to this one. Ten years! I wrote and re-wrote and scrapped drafts and tried different plots off and on for an entire decade. I went to grad school and worked on a different version of this book. Then a couple more years passed and I took one last attempt. My editor helped me shape it from there, and it finally clicked.

What are you working on now?

Three or four different books in different genres. I love to stretch myself. We'll see which one works out -- though it might take ten years again before I can figure it out.


The Last Best Story
by Maggie Lehrman
Balzer + Bray
Released 8/7/2018

It’s the end of senior year, and Rose Regnero is over it.

She’s over chasing stories for a school newspaper no one reads. Over missing out on “normal” high school life. And most of all, over Grant Leitch: editor-in-chief, former close friend, never-quite-boyfriend. Now all she wants is a typical prom, complete with handsome date, fancy corsage, and dancing to cheesy pop songs.

It’s the end of senior year, and Grant Leitch is in denial.

He’s in denial about handing over the reins of the paper to an unworthy underclassman. In denial that Rose suddenly, inexplicably quit the paper and now won’t talk to him. But mostly he’s in denial that she is at prom with another guy, and it’s no one’s fault but his own. Grant’s only hope of luring Rose back to him (and the paper) is a juicy story she won’t be able to resist.

In the end it takes a toga-wearing prom crasher, an emergency lockdown, a secret stalker, and a wild after-party to bring Grant and Rose together for one last story...and one final chance to admit that they’re made for each other.

Purchase The Last Best Story at Amazon
Purchase The Last Best Story at IndieBound
View The Last Best Story on Goodreads


Maggie Lehrman is a writer whose first novel for young adults, The Cost of All Things, is available from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. Her new book, The Last Best Story, will be available August 7, 2018. She’s also an executive editor at Abrams Books, where she works primarily on young adult, middle grade, and graphic novels. (Check them out!) She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she graduated from Harvard College with a BA in English. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband Kyle.


Have you had a chance to read THE LAST BEST STORY yet? Have any of your stories been inspired by classic movies? Do you stretch yourself by writing in different genres? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

0 Roshani Chokshi, author of STAR-TOUCHED STORIES, on not wasting words

We're delighted to have Roshani Chokshi here to tell us more about her latest novel, STAR-TOUCHED STORIES.

Roshani, what was your inspiration for writing STAR-TOUCHED STORIES?

The characters. I really loved the experience of taking what each of them have learned and putting them in new situations that would make them question themselves.

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

I am most proud of the ending for Rose & Sword. For me, it’s my goodbye to this series and I cried a lot when I wrote it!

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

This is a hard question! I’m always flattered to be compared to authors like Renee Ahdieh and Laini Taylor. I think they excel at language and romance, and so I’d say them!

How long did you work on STAR-TOUCHED STORIES?

About 2 years.

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

The challenge with short stories is that you’re always writing to a punchline. Each story has to be a closed loop otherwise it reads like filler. Making sure that the scenes were emotionally resonant and not just self-indulgent for me taught me not to waste words. Ever. Because the reader can always tell.

What do you hope readers will take away from STAR-TOUCHED STORIES?

I hope that, with all my books, they take away a sense of wonder. I hope I made you feel something in these pages, and I hope that you will miss these characters as much as I do.

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 fairly difficult, but I think the journey and the context of difficulty varies for each writer. I had a couple half-baked stories, some of which were actually finished, before TSTQ, but when I was writing this story, I knew I had something different on my hands.

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?

Ha! I wish! I think hitting the 30k mark is the point at which you’ve proven you have the stamina to finish.

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

I listen to music before and after, not usually during. I work at home in my office for moments when I need to go-go-go! But I can work anywhere? I like to switch up certain places depending on what project I’m focusing on at the moment.

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

Don’t rush. It’s a piece of your soul that you’re putting out there in the world.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to The Gilded Wolves and the sequel to Aru Shah and The End of Time!


Star-Touched Stories
by Roshani Chokshi
Wednesday Books
Released 8/7/2018

Three lush and adventurous stories in the Star-Touched world.

Death and Night

He was Lord of Death, cursed never to love. She was Night incarnate, destined to stay alone. After a chance meeting, they wonder if, perhaps, they could be meant for more. But danger crouches in their paths, and the choices they make will set them on a journey that will span lifetimes.

Poison and Gold

Now that her wish for a choice has come true, Aasha struggles to control her powers. But when an opportunity to help Queen Gauri and King Vikram's new reign presents itself, she is thrown into the path of the fearsome yet enchanting Spy Mistress. To help her friends, Aasha will have to battle her insecurities and perhaps, along the way, find love.

Rose and Sword

There is a tale whispered in the dark of the Empire of Bharat-Jain. A tale of a bride who loses her bridegroom on the eve of her wedding. But is it a tale or a truth?

Purchase Star-Touched Stories at Amazon
Purchase Star-Touched Stories at IndieBound
View Star-Touched Stories on Goodreads


Roshani Chokshi is the New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched series and Aru Shah and The End of Time, book one in the Pandava series.

She grew up in Georgia, where she acquired a Southern accent but does not use it unless under duress. She has a luck dragon that looks suspiciously like a Great Pyrenees dog. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Uncanny Magazine, Shimmer, and Book Smugglers. She is the 2016 finalist for the Andre Norton Award, and a 2016 Locus finalist for Best First Novel. Her short story, The Star Maiden, was longlisted for the British Fantasy Science Award.


Have you had a chance to read STAR-TOUCHED STORIES yet? Have you written short stories? Do you feel like your writing is like a piece of your soul that you’re putting out there in the world? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

0 Alice Reeds, author of ECHOES, on trying again after shelving a novel

We're thrilled to have Alice Reeds stop by to share more about her debut novel, ECHOES.

Alice, what was your inspiration for writing ECHOES?

I’ve always loved watching documentaries about crazy events that seemed impossible yet they still happened, as well as ones about mysterious events that never got solved, like in BuzzFeed Unsolved. When I got the first idea for ECHOES it had a much bigger focus on survival and romance, but it only felt natural for the story to change and evolve into what it ended up being. I took that seemingly simple plot idea and tried to take it further, play with the concept of reality, and place my characters in situations that challenged them in ways they had no way of being prepared for. Along the way I found inspiration in many things like pictures online, songs that sparked ideas for scenes or moments or dialogues, conversations and brainstorming with friends, watching people as they move through the city, you name it.

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?

A scene that was really hard to write, and that changed many times across drafts and while editing, happens in the second half of the book. I can’t tell you what happens in it, obviously, but getting it just right was a challenge. There were a lot of things that needed to be said in just the right way, since they were crucial for character development, and to understand certain things in the past and present, so I was always worried I might mess it up. I’m very proud of that one, but it’s not my favorite.

There is a different one that I particularly love because it’s the first time Fiona really sees Miles for who he truly is and starts to wonder if maybe she judged him wrong all along. It’s a very emotional scene and I’m glad it stayed nearly the same throughout all drafts.

How long did you work on ECHOES?

The first time I had an idea for what would become ECHOES was during an excursion with my theatre group to a competition when I was 16 years old. I’m 24 now. Of course I didn’t steadily work on ECHOES every day for years, but it slowly but surely started to take shape, and I think I worked on the first proper draft of it early 2015. It went through a lot of changes from that first idea I had while on the bus. For example originally Miles and Fiona were flying from Berlin to L.A. instead of Miami to Berlin.

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 process. ECHOES was the 6th full manuscript I wrote, and honestly the first one I felt was actually really good. I queried it, collected rejections like Pokémon, and decided to shelf it for about a year. In that time I wrote two more, one of them even was part of Pitch Wars in 2016. Finally I gave ECHOES one last chance during #PitMad and now we’re here. My 6th is an actual book now while I’m working on my 11th.

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

I’d love to say that it’s something really specific and a little obscure like ‘I light 5 specific candles in different places of my room and listen to recordings of waves’, but it’s unfortunately far less interesting. I usually just sit at my desk, listen to music, and do writing sprints by myself or with friends. Since I really like singing, I choose music that either has no lyrics, like EDM or classical, or something in a language that I simply can’t speak, and thus can’t sing, like K-Pop. I have playlists with songs for my WIPs but they are more songs that fit the story and mood that I could later on share with readers, and not something I actually listen to while writing.

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

Find a method that works best for you. Some people might tell you ‘the only right way is to have a 300 pages notebook filled with every single detail ever and a outline spanning 30k words because otherwise you’ll never write a book’ while others will tell you to just go where the story takes you without any planning at all, just a basic idea, let’s go. I used to be the latter, now I like to make a detailed outline so I know which chapter has which scenes, what everyone is doing and what is being said. But at the end of the day I don’t think there is one right way that will fit every single writer. Everyone is different so I’d say try out all of them and see which one will stick and you’ll feel the most comfortable with.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on a own voice YA fantasy that I’m having a lot of fun with. It’s very different from everything I’ve worked on before, much darker and sinister, and is challenging me in many ways. But, at the same time, it also allowed me to get to know my own culture and country better, to get inspired by it and see how I could use some of it to bring my story idea to life while also bring something new to the table of YA fantasy. Maybe one day you’ll be able to read it.


by Alice Reeds
Entangled: Teen
Released 8/7/2018

They wake on a deserted island. Fiona and Miles, high school enemies now stranded together. No memory of how they got there. No plan to follow, no hope to hold on to.

Each step forward reveals the mystery behind the forces that brought them here. And soon, the most chilling discovery: something else is on the island with them.

Something that won't let them leave alive.

Echoes is a thrilling adventure about confronting the impossible, discovering love in the most unexpected places, and, above all, finding hope in the face of the unknown.

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Alice Reeds was born in a small town in Germany but spent her first eight years in Florida, USA. Later on, she moved back to Europe, where her family moved around a lot. She was raised trilingual and has a basic understanding of Russian, read and spoken. After getting her International Baccalaureate Diploma, Alice is studying English Language and Literature at University. In her free time Alice mostly writes, reads, figure and/or roller skates, or watches countless let's plays and figure skating videos.


Have you had a chance to read ECHOES yet? Have you shelved a book that you might try again with some day? Have you found the writing method that works best for you? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

0 Sara Raasch, author of THESE REBEL WAVES, on the need to keep moving forward

We're thrilled to have Sara Raasch stop by to tell us more about her latest novel, THESE REBEL WAVES.

Sara, what do you hope readers will take away from THESE REBEL WAVES?

I hope readers take away the strength to question their world. Be informed, be insightful, be aware.

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

Keep moving forward. This job is so chaotic and changes almost daily -- but persistence is key, whether you are at the publishing stage or still drafting. Keep moving forward. You can do this.

What are you working on now?

I'm currently working on the sequel to THESE REBEL WAVES, out next summer! After that, I few a Secret Projects I'm excited to dive into.


These Rebel Waves
by Sara Raasch
Balzer + Bray
Released 8/7/2018

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Agrid, a country ruled by religion.

But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he scavenges the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

Purchase These Rebel Waves at Amazon
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View These Rebel Waves on Goodreads


Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her NYTimes bestselling SNOW LIKE ASHES trilogy is available now and her upcoming pirate fantasy, THESE REBEL WAVES, releases August 7, 2018. None of those feature her hand-drawn pictures.


Have you had a chance to read THESE REBEL WAVES yet? Are you persistent with your writing and publishing goals? Are you continuing to move forward? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

0 Katie Henry, author of HERETICS ANONYMOUS, on growing up along with her book

We're excited to have Katie Henry join us to chat about her debut novel, HERETICS ANONYMOUS.

Katie, 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 in HERETICS ANONYMOUS that takes place at a pro-chastity school assembly, and that one was hard to write because I had zero personal experience with abstinence-only sex ed. My high school was secular, public, and liberal to the point of basically being a Portlandia sketch. As research, I watched a lot of abstinence presentations on YouTube, which I don’t recommend as a life choice, but I do think the scene turned out funny.

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

On the YA side: if readers are into the feminism, religion, and religious feminism, they’d love BLOOD WATER PAINT by Joy McCullough. I can’t say enough good things about her beautiful, harrowing verse novel.

On the very-much-not YA side: I know not everyone has a favorite theologian, but I do, and her name is Elizabeth Johnson. Anyone looking for an interpretation of the Bible that lifts up women, people of color, and LGBT+ people should check out QUEST FOR A LIVING GOD and SHE WHO IS.

How long did you work on HERETICS ANONYMOUS?

I wrote the first words in July 2013. It took me almost three years to finish the first draft, but thankfully, things moved more quickly after that! I was 22 when I started HERETICS ANONYMOUS, and I’ll turn 28 the week after it releases. In a lot of ways, I feel like I grew up with this book.

What do you hope readers will take away from HERETICS ANONYMOUS?

That belief is complicated, no matter what you do believe in and what you don’t. That it’s okay question your beliefs, to not be sure, or to change your mind. That there’s more to another person’s faith than you might see at first glance, and that there’s probably more to that person, too.

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 on my couch, usually with coffee within arm’s reach, and I only listen to Stravinsky concertos.

I’m totally kidding. It’s Green Day. I only listen to Green Day while writing because I’m desperately clinging to the halcyon days of 2004, a simpler era when Von Dutch trucker hats were cool.

Again, kidding. It’s actually because I wrote my very first (terrible) YA book while listening to American Idiot on my Sony Discman, and now that’s the only thing that gets me in the mood to write. It’s sort of a pop punk Pavlov’s dog situation.


Heretics Anonymous
by Katie Henry
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 8/7/2018

When Michael walks through the doors of Catholic school, things can’t get much worse. His dad has just made the family move again, and Michael needs a friend. When a girl challenges their teacher in class, Michael thinks he might have found one, and a fellow atheist at that. Only this girl, Lucy, isn’t just Catholic . . . she wants to be a priest.

Lucy introduces Michael to other St. Clare’s outcasts, and he officially joins Heretics Anonymous, where he can be an atheist, Lucy can be an outspoken feminist, Avi can be Jewish and gay, Max can wear whatever he wants, and Eden can practice paganism.

Michael encourages the Heretics to go from secret society to rebels intent on exposing the school’s hypocrisies one stunt at a time. But when Michael takes one mission too far—putting the other Heretics at risk—he must decide whether to fight for his own freedom or rely on faith, whatever that means, in God, his friends, or himself.

Purchase Heretics Anonymous at Amazon
Purchase Heretics Anonymous at IndieBound
View Heretics Anonymous on Goodreads


Katie Henry is a writer living and working in New York City. She received her BFA in dramatic writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a published playwright, specializing in theater for young audiences. Her plays have been performed by high schools and community organizations in over thirty states. Heretics Anonymous is her first novel. You can find her online at


Have you had a chance to read HERETICS ANONYMOUS yet? What kind of YouTube videos have you watched for book research? Does certain music put you in the writing mood? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

0 #1st5pages Workshop and Mentor News!

We are on hiatus for August, so our next workshop will open on Saturday, September 1, at 12:00 pm EST. We'll be hosting a workshop twitter chat on August 29, from 8-9 p.m. EST, and we hope you can join us! Just use the hashtag #1st5pages.

In the meantime, we have some exciting Mentor News!!!

We are so thrilled that NYT, USA Today, and WSJ bestselling author of both YA and adult fiction, Rachel Caine, has joined the workshop as a permanent mentor!! I love Rachel's books, and I absolutely devoured THE GREAT LIBRARY SERIES! The fourth book in the series, SMOKE AND IRON, came out in July, and I can't wait to get my hands on the final book! And HONOR BOUND, the second book in the wonderful series Rachel wrote with Ann Aguirre, comes out in February, 2019. You can add it to your Goodreads shelf hereDEAD AIR, the adult novel/audio/podcast, which Rachel co-wrote with Gwenda Bond and Carrie Ryan, releases on August 15th. And WOLFHUNTER RIVER, the third book in the Stillhouse Lake series, comes out March 26, 2019 (I loved Stillhouse Lake - but don't read it before bed unless you want nightmares!)

We are all SO excited for IF THIS WERE A STORY, a middle grade contemporary by Beth Turley, releasing August 28! Beth isn't just a wonderful mentor, she was a workshop participant!

Brenda Drake has two books to add to your TBR pile! I love the Fated Series, so I can't wait for SEEKING FATE coming in September! And her new series looks fabulous - starting with ANALIESE RISING in January, 2019!

And Pintip Dunn also has two books coming out! I'm so excited for STAR CROSSED coming in October, and MALICE in January! And, Seize Today® was awarded the RITA for best YA Romance!

Then there's THE DEVIL'S THIEF - the sequel to THE LAST MAGICIAN by Lisa Maxwell - which comes out October 9th. I adored THE LAST MAGICIAN so I can't wait for this one!

I was lucky enough to read SVEN CARTER AND THE ANDROID ARMY by Rob Vlock - the second book in this series - and I adored this hilarious, middle grade, sci-fi adventure! It releases October 16th.

I loved REIGN OF THE FALLEN, so I can't wait until January to get my hands on SONG OF THE DEAD by Sarah Glenn Marsh!

As a big Ron Smith fan, I'm so excited for his new MG sci-fi, THE OWLS HAVE COME TO TAKE US AWAY, releasing February, 2019. I absolutely love the cover - and the title!!

And I'd love it if you added my contemporary YA fantasy, UNCHARTED, coming September 4th, to your shelf on Goodreads! I also have a big preorder campaign going on - with a giveaway that includes signed books from several of our mentors, if you want to check it out here!

Lastly, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, by Kelly deVos, was named one of Readers Digest's Best Summer Books OF ALL TIME!!!! And well-deserved! You can read the list here!

Happy reading, 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 will be published on September 4, 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