Monday, October 29, 2018

0 New Releases This Week 10/29 - 11/04

Happy Monday! While we don't have any giveaways this week, we're so excited to feature some awesome books! Don't forget to check out all the books coming out this week below.

Happy Reading,

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


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

One Giant Leap by Heather Kaczynski (signed bookplate + art print): Jillian E.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story
by Kheryn Callender
Hardcover
Balzer + Bray
Released 10/30/2018

Nathan Bird doesn’t believe in happy endings. Although he’s the ultimate film buff and an aspiring screenwriter, Nate’s seen the demise of too many relationships to believe that happy endings exist in real life.

Playing it safe to avoid a broken heart has been his MO ever since his father died and left his mom to unravel—but this strategy is not without fault. His best-friend-turned-girlfriend-turned-best-friend-again, Florence, is set on making sure Nate finds someone else. And in a twist that is rom-com-worthy, someone does come along: Oliver James Hern├índez, his childhood best friend.

After a painful mix-up when they were little, Nate finally has the chance to tell Ollie the truth about his feelings. But can Nate find the courage to pursue his own happily ever after?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story?

My favorite thing about THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY is that the main character and his love interest are queer people of color who find unapologetic joy. The characters are all realistic—they make mistakes, and they all need to learn and grow—but this isn’t a story about QPOC fighting homophobia or racism. While prejudice is something QPOC have to face every day, and books that explore ignorance and pain will always be important, I think a reminder of our love and joy and happiness is just as needed. Think of EPIC LOVE STORY as a sort of self-care for QPOC! I believe in resistance through joy, and I hope that THIS IS KIND OF AN EPIC LOVE STORY will serve as a reminder to queer people of color everywhere that we are magical, beautiful, and deserving of love stories, too.

Purchase This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story at Amazon
Purchase This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story at IndieBound
View This Is Kind of an Epic Love Story on Goodreads


MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse
by Jane Yolen
Paperback
Tor.com
Released 10/30/2018

A young woman discovers the power to speak up and take control of her fate―a theme that has never been more timely than it is now…

You think you know this story.
You do not.

A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself....

Purchase Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse at Amazon
Purchase Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse at IndieBound
View Finding Baba Yaga: A Short Novel in Verse on Goodreads

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Jack of Hearts (and other parts)
by L. C. Rosen
Hardcover
Little, Brown Books for Young
Released 10/30/2018

Jack has a lot of sex--and he's not ashamed of it. While he's sometimes ostracized, and gossip constantly rages about his sex life, Jack always believes that "it could be worse."

But then, the worse unexpectedly strikes: When Jack starts writing a teen sex advice column for an online site, he begins to receive creepy and threatening love letters that attempt to force Jack to curb his sexuality and personality. Now it's up to Jack and his best friends to uncover the stalker--before their love becomes dangerous.

Ground-breaking and page-turning, Jack of Hearts (and other parts) celebrates the freedom to be oneself, especially in the face of adversity.

Purchase Jack of Hearts (and other parts) at Amazon
Purchase Jack of Hearts (and other parts) at IndieBound
View Jack of Hearts (and other parts) on Goodreads

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Never Quit: How I Became a Special Ops Pararescue Jumper
by Jimmy Settle and Don Rearden
Hardcover
St. Martin's Griffin
Released 10/30/2018

The young adult adaptation of the epic memoir of an Alaskan pararescue jumper, Special Forces Operator, and decorated war hero.

“That Others May Live” is a mantra that defines the fearless men of Alaska’s 212th Pararescue Unit, the PJs, one of the most elite military forces on the planet. Whether they are rescuing citizens injured and freezing in the Alaskan wilderness or saving wounded Rangers and SEALS in blazing firefights at war, the PJs are some of the least known and most highly trained of America’s warriors.

Never Quit is the true story of how Jimmy Settle, an Alaskan shoe store clerk, became a Special Forces Operator and war hero. After being shot in the head during a dangerous high mountain operation in Afghanistan, Jimmy returns to battle with his teammates for a heroic rescue, the bullet fragments stitched over and still in his skull. In a cross between a suicide rescue mission and an against-all-odds mountain battle, his team of PJs risk their lives again in an epic firefight. When his helicopter is hit and begins leaking fuel, Jimmy finds himself in the worst possible position as a rescue specialist―forced to leave members from his own team behind. Jimmy will have to risk everything to get back into the battle and save his brothers.

From death-defying Alaskan wilderness training, wild rescues, and battles against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, this is the true story of how a boy from humble beginnings became an American hero.

Purchase Never Quit: How I Became a Special Ops Pararescue Jumper at Amazon
Purchase Never Quit: How I Became a Special Ops Pararescue Jumper at IndieBound
View Never Quit: How I Became a Special Ops Pararescue Jumper on Goodreads

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OtherEarth
by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 10/30/2018

Simon would have done anything to save his best friend after a mysterious accident almost killed her--including follow her into a virtual world. And what he and Kat discovered there was more terrifying than they could have ever imagined. Unwitting hospital patients are being forced to test a device that lets VR be experienced with all five senses. The technology is so advanced that it's deadly.

Now the world's biggest tech corporation is hunting Simon and Kat while war rages in Otherworld, the virtual world it created. Determined to destroy the Company, Simon and Kat must join forces with a hacker, a gangster, and a digital entity. But as they battle to save two worlds, they uncover an all-new threat to our world: the Company's latest creation, an augmented-reality game called OtherEarth. Not only does OtherEarth kill, it has the power to erase the line between what's real and what's fantasy.

Purchase OtherEarth at Amazon
Purchase OtherEarth at IndieBound
View OtherEarth on Goodreads

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The Brilliant Death
by Amy Rose Capetta
Hardcover
Viking Books for Young Readers
Released 10/30/2018

Teodora di Sangro is used to hiding her magical ability to transform enemies into music boxes and mirrors. Nobody knows she’s a strega—and she aims to keep it that way.

The she meets Cielo—and everything changes.

A strega who can switch outward form as effortlessly as turning a page in a book, Cielo shows Teodora what her life could be like if she masters the power she’s been keeping secret. And not a moment too soon: the ruler of Vinalia has poisoned the patriarchs of the country’s five controlling families, including Teodora’s father, and demands that each family send a son to the palace.

If she wants to save her family, Teodora must travel to the capital—not disguised as a boy, but transformed into one. But the road to the capital, and to bridling her powers, is full of enemies and complications, including the one she least expects: falling in love.

Purchase The Brilliant Death at Amazon
Purchase The Brilliant Death at IndieBound
View The Brilliant Death on Goodreads

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The Darkest Star
by Jennifer L Armentrout
Hardcover
Tor Teen
Released 10/30/2018

In the world of the Lux, secrets thrive, lies shatter, and love is undeniable.

Seventeen-year-old Evie Dasher knows firsthand the devastating consequences of humanity's war with the stunning, otherworldly Luxen. Evie was just a kid when the aliens were defeated, but her life was forever changed when her father, Sergeant Jason Dasher, was killed during one of the deadly battles.

When Evie is caught up in a raid at a notorious club known as one of the few places where humans and the surviving Luxen can mingle freely, she meets Luc, an unnaturally beautiful guy she initially assumes is a Luxen...but he is in fact something much more secret―and much more dangerous.

Her growing desire to know about Luc will lead her deeper and deeper into a world she'd only heard about, revealing secrets long buried, a betrayal that could tear her life apart, and an attraction that could be the very end of her.

Purchase The Darkest Star at Amazon
Purchase The Darkest Star at IndieBound
View The Darkest Star on Goodreads

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This Cruel Design
by Emily Suvada
Hardcover
Simon Pulse
Released 10/30/2018

The nightmare of the outbreak is finally over, but Cat’s fight has only just begun.

Exhausted, wounded, and reeling from revelations that have shaken her to her core, Cat is at a breaking point. Camped in the woods with Cole and Leoben, she’s working day and night, desperate to find a way to stop Lachlan’s plan to reprogram humanity. But she’s failing—Cat can’t even control her newly regrown panel, and try as she might to ignore them, she keeps seeing glitching visions from her past everywhere she turns.

When news arrives that the Hydra virus might not be as dead as they’d thought, the group is pushed into an uneasy alliance with Cartaxus to hunt down Lachlan and fix the vaccine. Their search takes them to Entropia, a city of genehackers hidden deep in the desert that could also hold the answers about Cat’s past that she’s been searching for.

But when confronted with lies and betrayals, Cat is forced to question everything she knows and everyone she trusts. And while Lachlan is always two steps ahead, the biggest threat to Cat may be the secrets buried in her own mind.

Purchase This Cruel Design at Amazon
Purchase This Cruel Design at IndieBound
View This Cruel Design on Goodreads


Saturday, October 27, 2018

0 Heather Kaczynski, author of ONE GIANT LEAP, on letting her imagination run wild

ONE GIANT LEAP is the second book in the Dare Mighty Things duology, and we're excited to have Heather Kaczynski here to tell us more about it.

Heather, 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 really loved writing the scene where Cassie meets the vrag in person. There are two races of aliens in this duology, and the one we meet first is wearing a human disguise. I wanted to go in the opposite direction in this book and write aliens that would be hard for humans to communicate and empathize with - because realistically, if we ever met intelligent alien life, would we even be able to recognize it for being both intelligent and alive? So I got to kind of let my imagination run wild there.

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


I think if you enjoyed WARCROSS, you'd also like DARE MIGHTY THINGS and ONE GIANT LEAP: both feature AI, competitions, smart heroines, and twisty surprise endings. THE LONELIEST GIRL IN THE UNIVERSE, also, because spaceships, long distance space travel, and science-loving girls.

Also if you liked DARE MIGHTY THINGS, definitely check out the upcoming books THE DISASTERS by M.K. England for its diverse cast and space shenanigans, and THE LAST 8 by Laura Pohl for more alien invasion funtimes!

How long did you work on ONE GIANT LEAP?

Being a sequel that was purchased at the same time as the first book, I had a much tighter turn around for ONE GIANT LEAP. I started working on it soon after DMT's developmental edits were finalized by my editor. However, I had a bit of a head start: the first third of ONE GIANT LEAP was originally the last third of DARE MIGHTY THINGS. I had a rough idea of how I wanted to end the story, and the stepping stones of what I wanted the characters to discover, but I had to figure out how they got to those revelations on the fly. It probably took me the better part of a year, with my agent and editor chiming in along the way, to both write and edit. My editor approved the final version around the same time that DARE MIGHTY THINGS was published. It was definitely a whirlwind and very nerve-wracking, because I didn't have nearly as much time to perfect and polish ONE GIANT LEAP as I'd had with DARE MIGHTY THINGS, but that's pretty true of anyone writing a sequel. You just gotta learn to let go!

ABOUT THE BOOK

One Giant Leap
by Heather Kaczynski
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 10/23/2018

When Cassandra Gupta was chosen to be the youngest member of a top-secret mission to the far reaches of the universe, she knew to expect the unexpected. But nothing could have prepared her for the catastrophic events that would occur once she left Earth.

Cassie and the rest of the crew have found themselves in the middle of a conflict between two alien civilizations hell-bent on destroying each other . . . and anyone else who gets in their way.

What was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission soon becomes a fight for their lives. But Cassie knows that it isn’t enough to simply survive.

The war is coming to Earth, and only she has the information that can possibly stop the devastation it will bring. With humanity’s fate in the balance, Cassie must decide who she can trust and who she's willing to sacrifice in order to complete her mission.

Purchase One Giant Leap at Amazon
Purchase One Giant Leap at IndieBound
View One Giant Leap on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Heather writes books for teenagers and other people who like books about teenagers. They’re usually about teenagers saving the world, because she really believes they can.

Heather never got to go to Space Camp, so she had to settle for writing about it. After graduating cum laude with a degree in biology from University of Alabama in Huntsville, she returned to her first love of books, and now works in a library near NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and cats named after mythological figures. She’s not nearly brave enough to go into space, but she did twirl a fire baton in high school.

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Have you had a chance to read ONE GIANT LEAP yet? Have you recycled parts of one book into another book? Are you learning to let go of your stories and send them out into 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

Thursday, October 25, 2018

0 Jennifer Yu, author of IMAGINE US HAPPY, on bribing her muse

We're delighted to have Jennifer Yu stop by to share more about her latest novel, IMAGINE US HAPPY.

Jennifer, 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 is a scene at the end between Stella and her mom that I wrote and rewrote countless times while drafting. It’s a pivotal moment in the book – the moment after Kevin and Stella’s relationship really bottoms out – and it’s shared between a girl who is being torn apart by fresh sorrow and a mother who is perhaps starting to realize that her attempts to hold her own relationships together might not be going so well. And so we watch as Stella tries to strike the right balance of mourning and processing her own feelings while feeling empathy for her mom; and we watch as her mom tries to strike the right balance of compassion and pragmatism and emotional honesty. It’s a loaded scene, and there’s a lot going on. And also, it was hard to find enough different ways to phrase “and then Stella started crying even harder” – so that was a challenge as well.

How long did you work on IMAGINE US HAPPY?

I worked on IMAGINE US HAPPY for over two years. It was kind of a crazy, transitory period in my life, which spanned graduating from college, getting my first real job, and all the usual post-graduate woes (finding an apartment, trying to figure out what making new friends looks like outside of college, and so on and so forth). There were times when writing IMAGINE US HAPPY felt like a much-needed island where I could escape from the chaos of daily life, and other times when writing IMAGINE US HAPPY felt like one more thing that I didn’t know how to do properly and would probably fail at. There were a couple weeks when I would be up at 7:30, working my “real” job from 8 to midnight, and then writing from midnight to 3 a.m., leaving me with a total of 4.5 hours a night to sleep. How I know that the rose-colored glasses of hindsight are a real thing is that now I look back on that period of time with so much fondness, and I’m bizarrely excited for if / when I go through the same thing with my next book.

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

I really appreciate the power of a good writing ritual, because I have writing friends who will sit down in their coffeeshop and put on that playlist and then just churn out thousands and thousands of words, which is inspiring to watch. But what I’ve learned about myself is that I mostly make up writing rituals for myself in an attempt to procrastinate on writing, and that if I can make myself get off Facebook, close out the 15 tabs of cat GIFs that I have open, and turn off the Wi-Fi, it doesn’t really matter if I’m in the library or listening to a Spotify playlist with 2 hours of ambient forest sounds or attempting to bribe my muse with chocolate cake at a coffeeshop.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Imagine Us Happy
by Jennifer Yu
Hardcover
Harlequin Teen; Original edition
Released 10/23/2018

Some love stories aren’t meant to last

Stella lives with depression, and her goals for junior year are pretty much limited to surviving her classes, staying out of her parents’ constant fights and staving off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie.

Until Kevin. A quiet, wry senior who understands Stella and the lows she’s going through like no one else. With him, she feels less lonely, listened to—and hopeful for the first time since ever…

But to keep that feeling, Stella lets her grades go and her friendships slide. And soon she sees just how deep Kevin’s own scars go. Now little arguments are shattering. Major fights are catastrophic. And trying to hold it all together is exhausting Stella past the breaking point. With her life spinning out of control, she’s got to figure out what she truly needs, what’s worth saving—and what to let go.

Purchase Imagine Us Happy at Amazon
Purchase Imagine Us Happy at IndieBound
View Imagine Us Happy on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Yu is an LA resident and recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied creative writing. In her free time, she enjoys reading books she's too old for, roping unsuspecting friends into listening to her play the guitar, and being far too invested in Boston sports teams. Most of her pop culture knowledge comes from binge-watching late-night talk show clips and occasional, nervous forays into the depths of Tumblr. Find her online at byjenniferyu.tumblr.com or on Twitter @yuontop.

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Have you had a chance to read IMAGINE US HAPPY yet? Do you use writing rituals to procrastinate? What do you use to bribe your muse? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

0 WoW with Katya de Becerra: What I learned about writing craft from my favorite books

Okay. Stop what you are doing. If you haven't read WHAT THE WOODS KEEP, do that. Right now. Order a copy. Hit the library. Do what you have to do. Why? Here's Dana L. Davis (herself the author of the marvelous TIFFANY SLY LIVES HERE NOW):



“If you like howling winds, ominous birds, dark woods, clouds casting shadows over a perfectly creepy town, blood (okay, you don’t have to like blood), cryptic messages, mystery, and intensely likeable heroines in the midst of it all... you will LOVE this book as much as I did. It was the perfect blend of sci-fi, mystery, and fantasy. But this is not your average fantasy. It’s the kind of fantasy that makes you double-bolt the door before you go to bed and maybe even leave on a light or two to ward off the scary dreams. It’s the kind of YA that reminded me of why I love YA in the first place.”

With that out of the way, I am so excited to welcome debut author Katya de Becerra here to WoW. Her guest post below discusses the importance of being a reader and how her favorite books have influenced her writing. Stay tuned after the post for a bit more about Katya and WHAT THE WOODS KEEP - one of my absolute faves of 2018!

What I learned about writing craft from my favorite books
by Katya de Becerra

The best writing advice I was ever given is "read a lot". And this has since become the primary piece of advice I pass along to aspiring writers. Read a lot. Read diversely. Read across genres. And always challenge yourself. As writers, while we’re certainly still capable of reading solely for enjoyment, overall our reading patterns fundamentally change—as writers, when we’re reading, we’re constantly learning, filing our reactions, thoughts and ideas away for later. It’s important to us as writers to cultivate attentive reading, so that when we come across a text that’s absolutely breathtaking, we can try and reconstruct our reading experience to see why this particular story worked so well and what does it mean in terms of our own writing craft improvement.

Looking back at my decades-long history as an omnivorous reader, I can now easily identify those important books that had the biggest impact on me—even long before I started practicing my writing craft. These books educated me on such matters as characterization, point-of-view, pacing and so much more, these lessons staying with me to this day.

So today, in this instalment of Writers on Writing, I’d love to share these lessons from my favorite books with you.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov was the first book that challenged me in such a unique way that to this day I’m obsessed with meta-formats and story-within-a-story narratives. In a practical sense, Bulgakov’s complex masterpiece is about the Devil (yes, the) who arrives to communist Moscow and wreaks hilarious havoc; but it’s also a tragic love story, a pointed political critique, a deeply spiritual text, and a Faustian metaphor. Though the main craft lesson I took away from it all is that morally ambiguous characters often make for most interesting stories. The Master and Margarita was perhaps the first book that got me so invested in its antagonist that to me he was always the real hero (not the book’s eponymous pair of the tormented Master and his lover, Margarita). To this day, it is Woland who remains my absolute favorite literary character because of the way he was written as a state of constant contradiction: someone relentlessly doing evil deeds, though perhaps… for a greater good? He's smart, obviously evil incarnate and cruel, and yet he’s also a reluctant kind of evil, the kind that the Goethe quote given in the beginning of the book exemplifies perfectly: “I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good.”

Kovrigin’s Chronicles by Vadim Shefner is the kind of melancholic wistful science fiction that made me simultaneously hopeful for the future as well as scared of it. In terms of craft, this book has taught me an important lesson about choosing a point-of-view and narrator for your story. The Chronicles is a futuristic story of a prodigy scientist who invents a building material that can withstand any pressure and practically lasts forever, leading to a breakthrough in deep space exploration. It is narrated by the said scientist’s best friend. This choice of a narrator created the most unusual dissonance. As readers we’re wired to treat the speaking narrator as important, more often than not as the hero of the story, and it is because of that expectation, reading Kovrigin’s Chronicles made for an uncanny experience for me. The story’s true main hero—the scientist—is viewed through a skewed perspective of his friend, with the narrative eventually becoming tainted by the narrator’s jealously, envy and, in the end, animosity to the subject of his writing, leaving us with the question: so who was really the hero?

The Moominland stories by Tove Jansson was my favorite book as a kid. It taught me so much about being brave and adventurous and also loyal. But perhaps the most important writing craft lesson I took away from these books is the importance of pacing. Whenever Moomins got into trouble or set off to investigate a new phenomenon threatening their home and way of life, there were always the mindful moments of contemplation in the narrative and that gave me—the reader—time to digest new information and get ready for the next chapter’s happenings. Reading about the Moomin adventures, I learned that quiet moments can be as important as action.

Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugasky is, like the above mentioned Shefner book, a quiet, melancholic kind of science fiction that I devoured as a child. It is also my first real experience with a novel partially told through ‘found documents’ – or so-called paratexts. Interviews, reports, journal entries all serve to complement the book’s first-point narration, creating a fascinating pseudo-authentic meta-text about the intricacies and dangers of first extra-terrestrial contact in the process. Roadside Picnic has left such a mark on my adolescent psyche that decades later I introduced paratexts in my own craft (I’ve written about it to some extent here). Though perhaps an even more important lesson I took away from this book is that sky is the limit when it comes to a novel’s format and narrative devices.

The Alephby Jorge Luis Borges, both the short story collection and the eponymous short story itself—about a cosmic entity that contains everything at once—made me ponder the importance of philosophical questions in creative writing. Borges has left an indelible mark on my subject matter choices as a writer. He has an amazing ability to weave complex topics like infinite time, immortality, and divinity into the stories of every-day life. His writing is labyrinthine, metaphysical, ambitious, and always thought-provoking. To the teen-me, reading Borges for the first time was like lucid dreaming or moving through space across multiple dimensions. In terms of craft, Borges taught me the value of exploring fascinating subjects and doing in-depth research. It especially came in handy when I was working on my genre-mashing debut and had to research lots of physics and metaphysics topics to substantiate my fiction narrative.



About Katya de Becerra
Katya de Becerra was born in Russia, studied in California, lived in Peru, and then stayed in Australia long enough to become a local. She was going to be an Egyptologist when she grew up, but instead she earned a PhD in Anthropology. Katya is a short version of her real name, which is very long and gets mispronounced a lot. What The Woods Keep is her first novel (out now). Katya's second book, Oasis, is forthcoming in 2019.

Follow Katya on Twitter
 

About WHAT THE WOODS KEEP
On her eighteenth birthday, Hayden inherits her childhood home—on the condition that she uncover its dark secrets.

Hayden tried to put the past behind her, and it worked. She's getting ready for college, living in a Brooklyn apartment, and hanging out with her best friend and roommate Del. But now it's all catching up with her: her mother's mysterious disappearance a decade before, her father's outlandish theories about a lost supernatural race, and Hayden's own dark dreams of strange symbols and rituals in the Colorado woods where she grew up.

As soon as Hayden arrives at her hometown, her friend Del in tow, it begins: Neighbors whisper secrets about Hayden's mother; the boy next door is now all grown-up in a very distracting way; and Hayden feels the trees calling to her. And among them, deep in the woods, Hayden will discover something incredible—something that threatens reality itself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

1 Amanda Searcy, author of WATCH YOU BURN, on not being precious about your writing

We're thrilled to have Amanda Searcy with us to chat about her latest novel, WATCH YOU BURN.

Amanda, what was your inspiration for writing WATCH YOU BURN?

Watch You Burn came from many little pieces that melded together in my head. I used to drive past an abandoned, crumbling historic Route 66 motel on my way home from work. Its redevelopment had been very controversial, which left it empty for years. The motel also sits near the bosque—the cottonwood forest that lines the Rio Grande the entire length of New Mexico. Fires (mostly manmade) are always a problem in the spring and summer and cause sleepless nights for the people who live near there.

Jenny and her friend Ro, popped into my head when I was half asleep one night. I saw this image of two girls in the ruins of the motel huddled around a kitten lapping up a saucer of milk. And then as I thought more about them, I knew fire was going to be an important part of their story.

I built the rest of the book around that. It evolved a lot along the way, but Jenny and Ro are still there just as I had originally envisioned them.

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

I learned you really can’t be precious about your writing. “Killing your darlings” is right. You want to write the best possible book, and when time is limited, you can’t spend days (weeks) hemming and hawing over cutting/rewriting scenes because they’re your favorites. If something isn’t working, you have to let it go and move on. That was a good lesson for me because I get really attached to my characters and settings. Creating that bit of distance lets you see that what works for you in your head doesn’t always work for the reader, and it has to be about the reader—not the author.

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


I’m a morning person, so I write before I go to my day job. I write perched on the edge of the couch with my laptop on the coffee table and the hum of the refrigerator in the background (and my cat sleeping on my feet). I’ve done exactly this for so many years it feels strange to try to write anywhere else. My brain knows this is my spot, and it almost instantly puts me into writing mode, so I end up wasting very little time. (I do think it would be fun to be a writer who camps out in a coffee shop!)

ABOUT THE BOOK

Watch You Burn
by Amanda Searcy
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 10/23/2018

Jenny didn't want to move to the creepy, possibly haunted town with her dad. But the cops are on to her, and the only way she can protect herself is by moving as far away from her hometown as possible and staying out of trouble.

But even after she moves, Jenny still gets the itch. The itch to light a match and then watch it burn.

It's something she hasn't been able to stop, ever since an accident years ago. Now, in a new town, Jenny has the strange feeling that someone is watching her every move. Will her arsonist ways be exposed? Or is the burning truth deep inside her a greater danger?

Purchase Watch You Burn at Amazon
Purchase Watch You Burn at IndieBound
View Watch You Burn on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda Searcy earned a BA from New Mexico State University and an MA in human rights from the University of Essex in England. She works in collection development for a public library system and loves chocolate, cats, and curling up with a good book.

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Have you had a chance to read WATCH YOU BURN yet? If something isn't working, are you able to let it go and move on? Do you have a spot that puts you into writing mode? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Monday, October 22, 2018

3 New Releases this week 10/22 - 10/28 plus Giveaway of ONE GIANT LEAP

Happy Monday! This week we're so excited to have a giveaway for the sequel to Dare Mighty Things, One Giant Leap!  Don't forget to check out all the books coming out this week below and enter to win.

Happy Reading,

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


YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK


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One Giant Leap
by Heather Kaczynski
a signed bookplate and art print of the characters Giveaway
U.S. Only

HarperTeen
Released 10/23/2018

When Cassandra Gupta was chosen to be the youngest member of a top-secret mission to the far reaches of the universe, she knew to expect the unexpected. But nothing could have prepared her for the catastrophic events that would occur once she left Earth.

Cassie and the rest of the crew have found themselves in the middle of a conflict between two alien civilizations hell-bent on destroying each other . . . and anyone else who gets in their way.

What was supposed to be a reconnaissance mission soon becomes a fight for their lives. But Cassie knows that it isn’t enough to simply survive.

The war is coming to Earth, and only she has the information that can possibly stop the devastation it will bring. With humanity’s fate in the balance, Cassie must decide who she can trust and who she's willing to sacrifice in order to complete her mission.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about One Giant Leap?

I love that there are still yet more twists and turns that I don't think readers will be expecting. I love Bill Nye's quote, "Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't," and I think it's a lesson in not believing everything you hear on face value. Question everything. People always have their versions of the truth. Without giving too much away - when your whole perception of a race is told by their enemy, you are getting a distorted version of reality. Cassie has a problem forming opinions about people and situations too quickly, and she is still learning that lesson in this book.

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MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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Imagine Us Happy
by Jennifer Yu
Hardcover
Harlequin Teen; Original edition
Released 10/23/2018

Some love stories aren’t meant to last

Stella lives with depression, and her goals for junior year are pretty much limited to surviving her classes, staying out of her parents’ constant fights and staving off unwanted feelings enough to hang out with her friends Lin and Katie.

Until Kevin. A quiet, wry senior who understands Stella and the lows she’s going through like no one else. With him, she feels less lonely, listened to—and hopeful for the first time since ever…

But to keep that feeling, Stella lets her grades go and her friendships slide. And soon she sees just how deep Kevin’s own scars go. Now little arguments are shattering. Major fights are catastrophic. And trying to hold it all together is exhausting Stella past the breaking point. With her life spinning out of control, she’s got to figure out what she truly needs, what’s worth saving—and what to let go.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Imagine Us Happy?

My favorite thing about IMAGINE US HAPPY are the relationships between Stella and her best friends, Lin and Katie, and her mother. On first read, IMAGINE US HAPPY is a story about romantic love: the high of finding someone who really, truly understands you; and the heartbreak that results when the very thing that made your connection so real starts to turn toxic. For Stella and Kevin, that’s their shared experiences with depression, which makes them uniquely able to understand and support each other – and makes their catastrophic arguments even harder on Stella.

Among all the scenes of romantic love and romantic heartbreak, though, IMAGINE US HAPPY also depicts the platonic love between Stella and two best friends – and the two are very different but I love them both – and the familial love between Stella and her mother. It's perhaps only in the disintegration of the first that Stella really allows herself to depend on the latter two, to be vulnerable with those who really, truly love her – even if it’s not in the same way as she and Kevin love each other – and the unfolding of those relationships and their place in Stella’s life is something that means a lot to me.


Purchase Imagine Us Happy at Amazon
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View Imagine Us Happy on Goodreads

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Watch You Burn
by Amanda Searcy
Hardcover
Delacorte Press
Released 10/23/2018

Jenny didn't want to move to the creepy, possibly haunted town with her dad. But the cops are on to her, and the only way she can protect herself is by moving as far away from her hometown as possible and staying out of trouble.

But even after she moves, Jenny still gets the itch. The itch to light a match and then watch it burn.

It's something she hasn't been able to stop, ever since an accident years ago. Now, in a new town, Jenny has the strange feeling that someone is watching her every move. Will her arsonist ways be exposed? Or is the burning truth deep inside her a greater danger?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Watch You Burn?

My favorite thing is that WATCH YOU BURN is really different. Jenny, the main character and narrator, is a seventeen-year-old arsonist. Setting fires is her addiction, and she only gets a momentary release before feeling awful about what she’s done (to the point where she has to set another fire to feel better, over and over again). But this is only part of Jenny’s story. She also lives in an abandoned motel that’s being renovated by her father, so the book has a really quirky setting. WATCH YOU BURN is also a murder mystery with a little romance thrown in. So it’s got a lot of different elements that I hope make for a page turning and interesting read.

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MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason
by Virginia Boecker
Hardcover
Little, Brown Books for Young
Released 10/23/2018

When Lady Katherine's father is killed for being an illegally practicing Catholic, she discovers treason wasn't the only secret he's been hiding: he was also involved in a murder plot against the reigning Queen Elizabeth I. With nothing left to lose, Katherine disguises herself as a boy and travels to London to fulfill her father's mission, and to take it one step further--kill the queen herself.

Katherine's opportunity comes in the form of William Shakespeare's newest play, which is to be performed in front of Her Majesty. But what she doesn't know is that the play is not just a play. It's a plot to root out insurrectionists and destroy the rebellion once and for all.

The mastermind behind this ruse is Toby Ellis, a young spy for the queen with secrets of his own. When Toby and Katherine are cast opposite each other as the play's leads, they find themselves inexplicably drawn to one another. But the closer they grow, the more precarious their positions become. And soon they learn that star-crossed love, mistaken identity, and betrayal are far more dangerous off the stage than on.

Purchase An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason at Amazon
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View An Assassin's Guide to Love and Treason on Goodreads

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Anna and the Apocalypse
by Katharine Turner and Barry Waldo
Paperback
Imprint
Released 10/23/2018

School’s out for the end of the world.

Anna and the Apocalypse is a horror comedy about a teenager who faces down a zombie apocalypse with a little help from her friends.

Anna Shepherd is a straight-A student with a lot going on under the surface: she’s struggling with her mom’s death, total friend drama, and the fallout from wasting her time on a very attractive boy. She’s looking forward to skipping town after graduation―but then a zombie apocalypse majorly disrupts the holidays season. It’s going to be very hard to graduate high school without a brain.

To save the day, Anna, her friends, and her frenemies will have to journey straight to the heart of one of the most dangerous places ever known, a place famous for its horror, terror, and pain…high school.

This novel is inspired by the musical feature film, Anna and the Apocalypse.

Purchase Anna and the Apocalypse at Amazon
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View Anna and the Apocalypse on Goodreads

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Kingdom of Ash
by Sarah J Maas
Hardcover
Bloomsbury YA
Released 10/23/2018

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

Purchase Kingdom of Ash at Amazon
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View Kingdom of Ash on Goodreads

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That Night
by Amy Giles
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 10/23/2018

The year since a mass shooting shook their Queens neighborhood has played out differently for Jess and Lucas, both of whom were affected by that night in eerily similar and deeply personal ways.

As Jess struggles to take care of her depressed mother and Lucas takes up boxing under the ever-watchful eye of his overprotective parents, their paths converge. They slowly become friends and then something more, learning to heal and move forward together.

But what does it mean to love after an unspeakable tragedy?

Purchase That Night at Amazon
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View That Night on Goodreads

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The Light Between Worlds
by Laura E. Weymouth
Hardcover
HarperTeen
Released 10/23/2018

Five years ago, Evelyn and Philippa Hapwell cowered from air strikes in a London bomb shelter. But that night took a turn when the sisters were transported to another realm called the Woodlands. In a forest kingdom populated by creatures out of myth and legend, they found temporary refuge. When Ev and Phil finally returned to London, nothing had changed at all—nothing, except themselves.

Now, Evelyn spends her days sneaking into the woods outside her boarding school, wishing for the Woodlands. Overcome with longing, she is desperate to return no matter what it takes. Philippa, on the other hand, is determined to find a place in this world. She shields herself behind a flawless exterior and countless friends, and moves to America to escape the memory of what was.

But when Evelyn goes missing, Philippa must confront the depth of her sister’s despair and the painful truths they’ve been running from. As the weeks unfold, Philippa wonders if Ev truly did find a way home, or if the weight of their worlds pulled her under.

Purchase The Light Between Worlds at Amazon
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View The Light Between Worlds on Goodreads

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Wicked South: Secrets and Lies
by Emily Colin and Katie Rose Guest Pryal
Paperback
Goldenjay Books
Released 10/24/2018

For good or ill—on the page or in life—few things are more alluring than the siren song of a secret.

At the heart of each story in this genre-crossing collection lies a secret. A boy who is not a boy at all, a neighbor with a mysterious identity, a tortured student with a list that isn’t what it seems, a girl who abandoned the person she used to be at the bottom of a river.

Conflict and possibility are embedded in a secret’s very nature...betrayal and conspiracy are encoded in its DNA. Secrets can transform. They can alienate, anger, or inspire.

One thing is for sure: They make a great story.

WICKED SOUTH: SECRETS AND LIES is an anthology featuring young adult stories by authors from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Contributors are New York Times Bestselling author Emily Colin, Elizabeth DeVido, award-winning author Lauren Faulkenberry, Amy Hyatt Fonseca, Lauren Fulcher, award-winning author Robin Kirk, John Klekamp, Karissa Laurel, and Katie Rose Guest Pryal.

Purchase Wicked South: Secrets and Lies at Amazon
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View Wicked South: Secrets and Lies on Goodreads


Saturday, October 20, 2018

0 Candice Montgomery, author of HOME AND AWAY, on writing without fear as best you can

We're delighted to have Candice Montgomery join us to chat about their debut novel, HOME AND AWAY.

Candice, what was your inspiration for writing HOME AND AWAY?

This is hard. One part of it that I can share is that I had seen that image of the blond girl high school football player and the cheerleader who's doing up her ponytail. And everyone was like OMFGG THEYRE GIRLFRIENDS!!!1! But the thing that stuck in my brain was, yo, what if they were Black though? What if they were best friends who ran in these completely wide open social circles like a ton of high school kids often do? Like I did? And then Taze was a thing.

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 scene where Tasia listens to her parents arguing was really hard for me. I experienced a lot of that growing up. It stays with you, tar black.

But the scene I'm most proud of is the one closer to the end between Taze and Victory (you'll know the one). Those kinds of moments stay with you, too. :)

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

Oof, I want to say, probably anyyyything Emery Lord writes. Especially THE NAMES THEY GAVE US. Emery is not just one of my best friends but also my muse in a lot of ways. Narrowing down specific books is so much pressure (omgg!) but I'll shout out some authors whose talent makes me weep, like, Lily Anderson, Dahlia Adler, Eric Smith and Corey Ann Haydu's books. They write these incredibly snappy stories with heart and SO MUCH glorious characterization. These literal heartbeats—they're legend, so it feels weird to put myself in the same wheelhouse as them, but their books brought Taze to the forefront for me.

How long did you work on HOME AND AWAY?

I drafted HAA through like half of 2015. And then revised it during that other half before any agent ever saw it. It's taken me YEARS to get it to where it is now, but it was born, essentially, over the course of a year.

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

I'm worthy. I'm capable. I'm powerful. And as much as those things apply to me, they also apply to the work I produce as an author.

What do you hope readers will take away from HOME AND AWAY?

I just want them to love the little stories. I want them to know they can be fun and romantic and heartachey and exciting and soft and slow but still so exhilarating. I want them to feel like at least one character in this very diverse world is relatable and real.

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

I think, in retrospect, my road to publication was generally pretty short, by comparison. But still incredibly difficult.

I wrote 3 other books before HAA (1 NA, 1 YA fantasy, and 1 Adult Contemp Rom.) All of which I can honestly say were awful.

I didn't get an agent or sell a lick of anything until HOME AND AWAY, though. All of that happened within a week's time when I pitched in #DVpit and saw some pretty immediate interest. So that was it's own thing. And signing with Jim McCarthy recently—that part still feels a little like a dream. I guess sometimes dreams aren't the result of a ton of pushback.

But having been published now (or pretty close to it)… There's still a long road ahead for me and this career of mine. And my skin color garners me a lot of not cool vibes in the world of publishing. That's it's own fight, too.

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?

Okay. So, I gotta be honest and say that as an author, I actually still have no clue what the hell I'm doing. Never in my writing career have I experienced the AHA! moment, but I'd like someone to notify it—I'm comin' for ya! Because that only happens if you keep going. Keep writing. For a long while, through the duration of my cancer and radiation treatment this year, I wasn't sure if I was interested in pushing myself to write. I did though. And I suppose I'll continue to do so.

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 lyric-less film scores and Studio Ghibli's "All That Jazz" compilations, mostly. But I also create playlists for every project I start. And even some of the ones I don't. (Here's one for HOME AND AWAY :)

And, okay—I know they say never to work in bed. But I do. I always do. My writing desk isn't for writing, it's for holding unfolded laundry and bills that need paying. And I typically don't write anywhere other than home because I like to blast my music super loud. Plus, I live on a lake, so the view from my place is pretty dope. My only pre-writing ritual is to stretch, foam roll, put on my back brace and connect my bluetooth stereo.

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

Take it easy, turbo. Take deep breaths. Take one right now—it's so good, I promise, just do it. Take walks. Take a shower every so often, yeah? Meds? Where are those at right now? You get those in today? Good, now food and water. Get after it. Write without fear as best you can. Do not be afraid to ask for what you're worth. Timeout and take notice at the markers of your growth. That's progress. Got all that? Good. Now vibe in it.

What are you working on now?


Right now, I'm working on a contemporary YA called BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY. It's about a boy name Torrey who's gone off to college only to find out the bee farm his late uncle/hero willed him is being foreclosed on by the city. It's a fun college-set YA with a group of Black STEM girls I hope to write about more later. Also, probably my favorite thing is how much more romancey this one is going to be than HOME AND AWAY. I've got an Afro-Brasilian love interest lined up for this one who dances ballet and is very devil-may-care and banter-y, I just adore him. He's got a man bun! (Plus, I mean, bisexual boys, ftw!)

ABOUT THE BOOK

Home and Away
by Candice Montgomery
Hardcover
Page Street Publishing
Released 10/16/2018

Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She's a senior, she's got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school's team.

But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them―but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.

Purchase Home and Away at Amazon
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View Home and Away on Goodreads

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Candice Montgomery is an LA transplant now residing in Seattle. By night, she writes YA lit about Black teens across all their intersections. By day, she teaches ballet to teen boys and works in the land of sobriety and rehab. It is the goal of her stories to interrogate the spaces of race, love, the body, and sexuality, all while being a witness of life.

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Have you had a chance to read HOME AND AWAY yet? Do you keep pushing yourself to write? Do you remember to take a shower every so often? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Thursday, October 18, 2018

0 Jessica Cluess, author of A SORROW FIERCE AND FALLING, on books being swifts or swears

A SORROW FIERCE AND FALLING is the third book in the Kingdom on Fire series, and we're thrilled to have Jessica Cluess with us to share more about it.

Jessica, 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?

Okay, I can’t go into too many details because it is spoilerific, but there is a particular character death that truly tore my guts out. The weird thing is I didn’t see that reaction coming—I didn’t particularly adore this character. I saw their death as more of a stepping stone to the next chapter of the plot, so when I found myself in tears while writing their goodbye, I was a bit shocked. My editor, too, told me that she cried while reading the scene, and she was never this character’s biggest fan either. I think that’s definitely the scene of which I’m most proud. It made me feel more for someone I thought I knew pretty well and had kind of written off.

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

It taught me that I can always surprise myself, and that even I don’t know my characters as well as I might think. In terms of writing, it taught me that some books are “swifts” (books one and three in this series came out incredibly fast and didn’t change too radically in edits) and “swears” (book two had to be completely rewritten twice and I swore a lot in the process, hence the name) and you never know which one a book will be until you write.

What do you hope readers will take away from A SORROW FIERCE AND FALLING?

I hope they’ll cry, laugh, maybe cheer a little, and hopefully not vomit during some of the bloodier battle scenes. Also, I hope they’ll think about how life and people are not black and white, and how if you live honestly and bravely, you might not get what you thought you wanted, but you’ll end up all right.

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?

When I was writing ASBAB, I remember stopping work one day and thinking “This is the one that’s going to get me published.” It was a bone deep certainty. I thought I was nuts, and I still had a bunch of rejections before I got my yes, but something about it—the plot, the characters, the world—just felt like they were ready. After ASBAB sold, I was sure I’d cracked the code to writing. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Every book is different. I think ASBAB was just a gift from my subconscious. I’ve talked to several published writers who all had similar stories and feelings with regards to their own debut books. Sometimes, if you work hard enough, the universe throws you a bone.

What are you working on now?

Sadly, there’s a lot I can’t discuss. However, I can say this much: Here be dragons.

ABOUT THE BOOK

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling
by Jessica Cluess
Hardcover
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 10/16/2018

It's time for war.

After suffering terrible losses, Henrietta and Lord Blackwood have led their warriors to Sorrow-Fell, a vast estate where only those invited by a Blackwood may enter--and the ideal place to plan a final assault against the Ancients.

It's time for a wedding.

Henrietta nervously awaits her marriage to Blackwood, but when the ritual to become his bride reveals a dark secret, she realizes that Sorrow-Fell is not a safe haven; it's a trap. Convincing the sorcerers of this, however, is not easy. So with Maria, the true chosen one, and Magnus, the young man who once stole her heart, at her side, Henrietta plots a dangerous journey straight into the enemy's lair. Some will live. Some will die. All will be tested.

In this stunning conclusion to the Kingdom on Fire series, Henrietta must choose between the love from her past, the love from her present, and a love that could define her future. While battles rage, the fate of the kingdom rests on her decision: Will she fall or rise up to become the woman who saves the realm?

It's time for Henrietta to make her stand.

Purchase A Sorrow Fierce and Falling at Amazon
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Cluess is a writer, a graduate of Northwestern University, and an unapologetic nerd. After college, she moved to Los Angeles, where she served coffee to the rich and famous while working on her first novel. When she’s not writing books, she’s an instructor at Writopia Lab, helping kids and teens tell their own stories.

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Have you had a chance to read A SORROW FIERCE AND FALLING yet? Have you discovered you don't know your characters as well as you thought? Have you had a bone deep certainty that the book you're writing is the one that will get you published? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

1 WoW: Amber Mitchell on DnD and Writing

This past year, I've tried to learn more about Dungeons and Dragons and get involved in playing in a group, so today's WoW guest post is close to my heart. Writer Amber Mitchell talks a bit about her own DnD experiences and how they've influenced her writing. Stay tuned after the post for all the details about Amber's latest book, WAR OF THE WILTED, now available from EntangledTeen. And now, here's Amber's guest post.

DnD and Writing
by Amber Mitchell
A few years ago, I began playing dungeons and dragons. I wasn’t really sure I was going to like it because it was a story that I couldn’t control. I am a strict plotter when I write. I like to know almost every detail before I sit down to write a story. It gives me a map in order to get through each draft and it gives me direction so I can’t use that as an excuse not to write. But DnD defied that. I would have no map and not only that, I would have to share the story with the other players.

No guidance, no control. It was a terrifying prospect. One that I didn’t want to get behind.

But what I found out when I sat down to play was that it could teach me a lot about my strict plotter ways and help me in my writing in ways I couldn’t even begin to imagine.

Not knowing the story beforehand or being able to predict how my actions as a player will affect the story all the time allowed me to begin thinking of a lot more possibilities than the original one I had planned. A lot of times when I was writing, particularly when I was drafting, I would go with the first idea or reaction I had to event because that seemed like the most logical one for the character. While that made it realistic, it didn’t always make it interesting. It definitely lacked complexity. Participating in the game helped me realize that sometimes it is more interesting to go for another deeper emotion. Maybe your hero is related to the bad guy in some way and hates them. But when the bad guy achieves something huge, perhaps instead of pure anger on the character’s part, it is mixed with a sick sense of pride? That’s a lot more interesting that the first and singular emotion.

The next thing it helped me do was see a situation in multiple different ways. Before, when I would write, I would find myself with scenes where all the characters agreed about a certain course of action. It would read with one character proposing something, another supporting character elaborating and agreeing and then everyone else would just see the light. It was very linear and… not very interesting. But when I started playing DnD with other people and sat across from them at the table, ideas that seemed like common sense to me made absolutely no sense to another person. Suddenly, we were arguing basic ideas and then the characters had bad blood. That is a lot more fun to work with and always made me excited to return. I wanted to see how it resolved.

Because of these interactions, I am able to think all the way through a scene and consider what each character might want out of it and what will directly benefit them. Sometimes that leads my characters into direct conflicts with each other and that is okay. Having this wider perspective of each situation and being able to look at a scene in multiple points of view, even if I am only writing in first person, really helps add flavor and drama to a scene.

Another thing being involved in a story that is transpiring in real time is that you have to become very good at improvising. As a plotter, that is definitely one of my weakness. Before playing, I would cut off an idea if I couldn’t think it all the way through before even writing it. Now, when I come across a new idea that wasn’t in my outline, I’ve gotten much better at letting it play out to see where it’s going. A lot of times, these random ideas have really cool domino effects that ripple through the entire story and make it stronger. I’ve learned that it’s okay to be messy because that is where some of my best ideas come from!

Finally, dungeons and dragons is all about the group dynamic. No one character is the star of the game if the DM, the person who is in charge of the story, is doing it right. Or rather, everyone is the star. Learning how different personalities work together, seeing everyone get some spotlight has really helped me appreciate and think through what some of my supporting characters want. I find them more active in scenes now because even if their story doesn’t have the spotlight on it, they are still going through it.

I never expected to sit down once a week and learn more about the art of writing without ever putting words to paper, but that’s what I did. There is a certain type of magic in shared storytelling the way there is when you meet someone and discover they have read a book that you love. For plotters, the idea of no guidelines can seem intimidating, but if you open your mind to it, you can learn a lot about writing!



About WAR OF THE WILTED
Like flowers denied water, people are wilting under the emperor's tyranny.

Rose will not rest until the Gardener is dead. But there are bigger battles to fight, and Rayce—leader of the rebellion and the only man Rose has ever loved—believes their best chance at winning the war is to join forces with her sworn enemy.

Saving innocent people is more important than her quest for revenge. But their new ally can’t be trusted—and he knows her darkest secret. One betrayal could leave the war and Rayce’s life hanging in the balance, and Rose will need to make the ultimate sacrifice to save them all.

Get your copy here: https://entangledpublishing.com/war-of-the-wilted.html



About Amber Mitchell
Amber Mitchell was born and raised in a small town in Florida. After briefly escaping small town life by attending the University of South Florida where she earned her degree in Creative Writing, she decided to ditch traffic jams and move back to her hometown. There she writes Young Adult novels, usually with a bit of magic in them, rolls D20s with her friends on Thursday nights and enjoys hanging out with her husband and four cats. Her other job involves crafting cardstock in to 3D art and has allowed her to travel all over the US vending at comic conventions which has only increased her love for fantasy and fandoms. She is represented by Nikki Terpilowski of Holloway Literature.

Monday, October 15, 2018

1 New Releases this week 10/15 - 10/21

Happy Monday! While we don't have any giveaways this week, there's still so many awesome books coming out that should be on your radar. Don't forget to check out all the books coming out this week below and enter to win.

Happy Reading,

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

YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS LAST WEEK: WINNERS

Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore: Debra B.
Odd One Out by Nic Stone: Adrianna D.

MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS


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A Sorrow Fierce and Falling
by Jessica Cluess
Hardcover
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 10/16/2018

It's time for war.

After suffering terrible losses, Henrietta and Lord Blackwood have led their warriors to Sorrow-Fell, a vast estate where only those invited by a Blackwood may enter--and the ideal place to plan a final assault against the Ancients.

It's time for a wedding.

Henrietta nervously awaits her marriage to Blackwood, but when the ritual to become his bride reveals a dark secret, she realizes that Sorrow-Fell is not a safe haven; it's a trap. Convincing the sorcerers of this, however, is not easy. So with Maria, the true chosen one, and Magnus, the young man who once stole her heart, at her side, Henrietta plots a dangerous journey straight into the enemy's lair. Some will live. Some will die. All will be tested.

In this stunning conclusion to the Kingdom on Fire series, Henrietta must choose between the love from her past, the love from her present, and a love that could define her future. While battles rage, the fate of the kingdom rests on her decision: Will she fall or rise up to become the woman who saves the realm?

It's time for Henrietta to make her stand.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about A Sorrow Fierce and Falling?

Saying goodbye, oddly enough. For me, the most emotional, painful, bittersweet, and joyful parts of a series come near the end. I know there are authors who could happily write dozens and dozens of books with a given cast of characters, but I’ve never been like that. I’ve always got a finite idea of where everyone ends up and how long it will take to get there. Every character in ASFAF—to my mind, at least—gets some kind of sendoff. Some have happy endings, others…less so. But whenever I was writing a character’s final scene, I felt intensely emotional towards them. I love everyone in this series a great deal, so it was ironic that I never loved them more than when I was putting them away for the final time.

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Home and Away
by Candice Montgomery
Hardcover
Page Street Publishing
Released 10/16/2018

Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She's a senior, she's got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school's team.

But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them―but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Home and Away?

The twist on "found family," I think. In the book, Tasia (kind of spoilery but not reaaalllly) meets her bio dad and his family (sister, mom, dad and *wink* Kai - who is something else altogether.)

I loved exploring the way Taze's new family embraced her or, as the case was, didn't embrace her.


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MORE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS NEW IN STORES NEXT WEEK


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A Very Large Expanse of Sea
by Tahereh Mafi
Hardcover
HarperCollins
Released 10/16/2018

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

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Crown of Thunder
by Tochi Onyebuchi
Hardcover
Razorbill
Released 10/16/2018

In the sequel to the acclaimed Beasts Made of Night, Taj has escaped Kos, but Queen Karima will go to any means necessary--including using the most deadly magic--to track him down.

Taj is headed west, but the consequences of leaving Kos behind confront him at every turn. Innocent civilians flee to refugee camps as Karima's dark magic continues to descend on the city. Taj must return, but first he needs a plan.

With Arzu's help, Taj and Aliya make it to the village of her ancestors, home of the tastahlik--sin-eaters with Taj's same ability to both battle and call forth sins. As Taj comes to terms with his new magic, he realizes there are two very different groups of tastahlik--one using their powers for good, the other for more selfish ends.

Aliya is struggling with her own unique capabilities. She's immersed in her work to uncover the secret to Karima's magic, but her health begins to mysteriously deteriorate. With the help of a local western mage, Aliya uncovers her true destiny--a future she's not sure she wants.

As Taj and Aliya explore their feelings for each other and Arzu connects with her homeland, the local westerners begin to question Taj's true identity. Karima is on his heels, sending dark warnings to the little village where he's hiding. Taj will have to go back and face her before she sends her mostly deadly weapon--Taj's former best friend, Bo.

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Phantom Wheel: A Hackers Novel
by Tracy Deebs
Hardcover
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 10/16/2018

Being recruited by the CIA to join a top-secret intelligence program should be the opportunity of a lifetime. For Issa, it's a shot at creating a new and better life for herself and her siblings. For clever con artist Harper, it's a chance to bury the secrets of her troubled past and make sure that those secrets stay buried. But for Owen--honor student, star quarterback, and computer-hacking genius--it sounds like a trap.

He's right.

Owen discovers that instead of auditioning for the CIA, they've all been tricked by a multibillion-dollar tech company into creating the ultimate computer virus. It's called Phantom Wheel, and it's capable of hacking anyone on Earth, anywhere, at any time. And thanks to six teenagers, it's virtually unstoppable.

Horrified by what they've done, the hackers must team up to stop the virus before the world descends into chaos. But working together is easier said than done, especially as the lines start to blur between teammate, friend, and more than friend. Because how do you learn to trust someone when you've spent your entire life exploiting that same trust in others?

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Villain
by Michael Grant
Hardcover
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 10/16/2018

It’s been four years since the events of GONE. The Perdido Beach dome is down, but the horrors within have spread. The alien virus-infested rock that created the FAYZ is creating monsters—monsters that walk the cities and countryside, terrorizing all.

There are tanks in the street and predator drones in the sky, doomed efforts to stop the disintegration of civilization. Into this chaos comes a villain with the power to control anyone with just the sound of his voice. Dillon Poe wanted to be a comedian once…but everyone made fun of him. Dillon the loser. Dillon the freak. Now he’s sending thousands to their death. Who’s laughing now?

The only people who can stop a superpowered villain are superpowered heroes. Dekka, Shade, Cruz, Malik, Armo, and a new mutant with unmatched powers, are all that stand in Dillon’s way. But when the lines begin to blur between hero and villain—some begin to wonder who’s really the monster.

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Wind Rider: Tales of a New World
by P. C. Cast
Hardcover
Wednesday Books
Released 10/16/2018

Mari, Nik, and their newly formed Pack are being hunted. Thaddeus and the God of Death will stop at nothing until they are obliterated from the earth. But Mari and Nik have one goal: to reach the plains of the Wind Riders, in order to band together to stop Thaddeus from destroying all that Mari and Nik hold dear.

But will the mysterious Wind Riders accept the Pack, or will Mari and Nik and their people be rejected by the mighty Riders and be forced to flee for their lives? And what happens when a rogue Lead Stallion gets too close to the Pack, rejecting all Wind Riders and turning to a stranger for companionship instead?

In the next installment of the Tales of a New World series love and goodness are put to the ultimate test. Will the Wind Riders and the Pack be strong enough to withstand the God of Death? Will the Great Goddess of Life awaken to join the battle, and if so, will it be as Death's consort, or will the Goddess stand with Mari and her people against the great love of her eternal life?

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