Monday, October 4, 2010

19 In Stores This Week (with Interviews & Giveaways)

You would have to be crazy not to find a book that appeals to you this week! There are many fantastic new reads coming out all the time, and this week is no exception. Thankfully, helps us track them down. So dive in, enjoy author interviews, book descriptions, and giveaways all the way at the bottom.

But first, a special mention... Our dear friend Michele Corriel's long-awaited middle-grade adventure Fairview Felines: A Newspaper Mystery debuts this week, as well.

From Michele's website: All the cats in Fairview disappeared and only Thomas Weston, newspaperman extraordinaire (and eighth grader) can find them. All the while Thomas battles the never-ending hysterical headlines that pop up in his head!

Congrats, Michele! We're so happy for you!

This Week's Interviews

Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick
  • From Goodreads: First love, broken friendships, and heartache all play a part in this evocative, voice-driven novel about Alex, a girl whose world is ripped apart when her father’s affair splits her family in two. Alex moves with her mess of a mother to a new town, where she is befriended by hot, enigmatic Fred—and alternately flirted with and cold-shouldered by Fred’s twin sister, Adina. Others warn Alex to steer clear of the twins, whose sibling relationship is considered abnormal at best, but there’s just something about Fred—and something about Adina—that draws Alex to them and makes her want to be part of their crazy world…no matter the consequences.

How long did you work on this book?
For about a year. It’s a slim book but I did three page-one rewrites before ever showing a draft to my editor!

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I started subbing my first book, my MFA thesis, to agents in early 2006. By spring 2007 (after a ton of rejection -- some encouraging, some not), I retired that manuscript and started Nothing Like You. By fall of that same year, I had a solid draft and had started querying again -- contacting agents who’d expressed interest in seeing new work. Six weeks later I signed with Michelle Andelman, then of ABLA. We did two rounds of edits, then sent the book out to houses in early 2008. It sold two weeks later to Simon Pulse/S&S.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Be persistent, patient, and try not to take all that glorious rejection too personally (you will encounter it while querying, and again, after publication: hello blog reviews, trade reviews, &!).

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
All the promotional work that goes into launching a book. Who knew?! 

Birth of a Killer (The Saga of Larten Crepsley) by Darren Shan
  • From Goodreads: Before Cirque Du Freak... Before the war with the vampaneze... Before he was a vampire. Larten Crepsley was a boy. As a child laborer many centuries ago, Larten Crepsley did his job well and without complaint, until the day the foreman killed his brother as an example to the other children. In that moment, young Larten flies into a rage that the foreman wouldn't survive. Forced on the run, he sleeps in crypts and eats cobwebs to get by. And when a vampire named Seba offers him protection and training as a vampire's assistant, Larten takes it. This is his story.

How long did you work on this book?
I worked on Birth of a Killer for more than three years! But I was actually toying around with ideas for it at least two or three years earlier than that! That sort of time frame isn't unusual for me. Although I release at least two books every year, I spend an average of two to three years working on every one of them. I'm able to juggle several books around at the same time. To give you an idea of how I work, I wrote the first draft of Birth in January 2007. I then left it alone for several months and went and wrote the first drafts of the next three books in The Saga Of Larten Crepsley. Then I returned to the first book and edited it. I then edited the next three. I then left the books alone for a few more months and worked on something else. Then I returned, did another edit of the books, and so on and so on for the next couple of years. It might sound chaotic, but it works for me!

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Loads of rejections! I don't think you can really enjoy your success as a writer if you haven't been widely rejected to begin with! My first published book for children, Cirque Du Freak, was actually turned down by twenty different publishers before it was accepted! You have to take rejection on the chin, believe in yourself, and just keep going. If every writer gave up at their first few rejection slips, I don't think there would be any books on the shelves in bookstores across the world!

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
The most important thing is to write. It's like training yourself to play a sport -- let's take soccer as an example. You can watch lots of soccer games, analyse tactics, spend months or years formulating a game plan inside your head. But it's all meaningless unless you go out on a pitch and train and develop your muscles and skills. A soccer player has to put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes before they can earn the right to go out and play a 90 minute match. Writing's the same. Understanding the theory of writing -- i.e. reading lots of books, studying literature, playing around with ideas for stories -- is certainly helpful, but worthless unless you're prepared to sit and actually write. You need to experiment, try different types of stories, test out different approaches. Don't be afraid to write bad stories. It's a learning process. You need to make mistakes in order to learn from them and advance.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
One of the most surprising things has been the success of my stories in different countries. When I started out, I had no idea that people in Japan and Indonesia and Hungary and the Netherlands and Taiwan and so many other countries might be interested in the imagination of a young guy from rural Ireland. As my books have grown in popularity across the globe, and as I've travelled widely and met lots of my fans, I've come to realise that despite the trappings of our culture, we're all very much the same under the surface. We react to stories in the same way. We have the same dreams and aspirations and fears and hopes. I think books are a great way for people to come together, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances. They can over-ride all sorts of other obstacles and sometimes bridge massive gaps. For instance, while I've no love for the current Iranian political regime, my books are published in Iran (albeit illegally!) and have been hugely popular there. Those sorts of connections -- the meetings of minds through a shared love of books -- are priceless in my opinion.

 Freefall by Mindi Scott
  • From Goodreads: Seth McCoy was the last person to see his best friend Isaac alive, and the first to find him dead. It was just another night, just another party, just another time where Isaac drank too much and passed out on the lawn. Only this time, Isaac didn’t wake up. Convinced that his own actions led to his friend’s death, Seth is torn between turning his life around . . . or losing himself completely. Then he meets Rosetta: so beautiful and so different from everything and everyone he's ever known. But Rosetta has secrets of her own, and Seth will soon realize he isn’t the only one who needs saving . . .

How long did you work on this book?
The first draft took six months, then I revised for a year on my own. Revisions for my agent took about three weeks, and revisions for my editor took about three months. So about a year and ten months? (Although, from the time I got the idea from the story until the book hit the shelves, it was actually four years and two months.)

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
It took about six and a half years from when I first started writing with the aim of getting a novel published until FREEFALL (my second completed manuscript) was released. I collected over 170 rejections in that time, which felt really brutal at the time.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
If you want to get published, I think that the absolute best thing you can do for yourself (other than write and revise your work, of course!), is to educate yourself. Read agent/editor/author blogs, attend conferences, taking writing classes from professionals, and join a critique group. Doing all of those things helped me in more ways than I can ever explain.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
How many things are going on behind the scenes--for the publisher and the author! I have put more into preparing for publication than I ever could have imagined. It's been such a fun process, but it is definitely work!

Slayed by Amanda Marrone
  • From Goodreads: The Van Helsing family has been hunting vampires for over one hundred years, but sixteen-year-old Daphne wishes her parents would take up an occupation that doesn’t involve decapitating vamps for cash. All Daphne wants is to settle down in one place, attend an actual school, and finally find a BFF to go to the mall with. Instead, Daphne has resigned herself to a life of fast food, cheap motels and buying garlic in bulk. But when the Van Helsings are called to a coastal town in Maine, Daphne’s world is turned upside down. Not only do the Van Helsings find themselves hunting a terrifying new kind of vampire (one without fangs but with a taste for kindergarten cuisine), Daphne meets her first potential BF! The hitch? Her new crush is none other than Tyler Harker, AKA, the son of the rival slayer family. What's a teen vampire slayer to do?

How long did you work on this book?
I completed the first draft in two months, but I'd had it all planned out for quite some time before hand while I was working on other contracted books.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
I started writing when I was 29. In two years I wrote and illustrated two pictures books and then the third turned into a novel and I realized that's what I wanted to write. I had a second child shortly thereafter with special needs and didn't do a lot of writing for a few years, but slowly finished my novel and then a second. I sold the second novel when I was 39, and then three more. That first novel sold eleven years after I finished the first draft! I refused to let it sit in a drawer. The editor wanted to make it into a three book series and the first Magic Repair Shop book just came out in August. I never sent out very much and have around 10-15 rejection letters, but I was always going to conferences and reading message boards to see who was looking for what.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
Read, research, revise, and never, ever give up!

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Online reviews! My first book makes a lot of people very angry! It's also still my best seller, but it's a good thing I developed a thick skin!

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

  • From Goodreads: In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

How long did you work on this book?
That’s actually a complicated questions because ROT & RUIN started out as a short story. I was asked by Christopher Golden to contribute a story to an anthology of zombie tales he was putting together. I wrote a lengthy short story called ‘Family Business’, when he bought for the antho.

When I showed the story to my agent, Sara Crowe, she said “This is the opening to a YA novel.” I was surprised, since the anthology is for the adult mainstream market. But I took a swing at an outline for a longer novel and discovered that there was a lot more story to tell about fifteen year old Benny Imura and his world.

My agent sold the book on the strength of the short story and outline. Once it sold, I wrote the rest of the book in about three months. I wrote the sequel, DUST & DECAY, in about the same amount of time.

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
For this book, it was only a few months. ROT & RUIN was the eighth novel I’ve sold, and since it was a two-book deal, we also sold the ninth, DUST & DECAY.

My first professional sale, however, was a magazine article on jujutsu that I sold to BLACK BELT Magazine in 1978. I was in my second year of college, studying journalism, and began sending out query letters. I racked up a nice tall stack of queries over the years, too. Probably enough to paper the state of Wyoming.

Along the way I refined my process. I learned how to write a better query letter. I learned how to pitch more saleable ideas. I became a better writer, mostly by exhaustive reading and continual writing. I doubt there have been ten days over the last thirty years when I didn’t write, even if it was just a page. Writing defines me.

Since then I’ve sold about 1200 magazine articles, thousands of columns and fillers, two players, greeting cards, song lyrics, poetry, reviews, textbooks, and a bunch of books—fiction and nonfiction. I think I’ve tried everything once…and if there’s a type of writing I haven’t done yet, I will probably take a swing at it.

Not everything I did was a success, of course. The lyrics I wrote are horrendous. They sold, but I’m happy to say that the bands who bought them never recorded them. My poetry was only middling. I think I was trying too hard to write poetry rather than allowing it to flow through (and, yes, I envy poets!).

I completed my first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES, in 2005. It took about eighteen months to write, and then I spent several months trying to land an agent. Finally snagged a good one in early 2006 and she was able to pace the book, and its two sequels, within two months. We sold those books to Pinnacle and my career as a novelist was off and running.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
A couple of things occur to me.

First, learn the craft. Most writers are born with some kind of storytelling ability (maybe it’s a gene), but good writing is the result of storytelling plus learned skills. Take the time to learn about voice and point of voice, about figurative and descriptive language, about action and tension. Learn how to construct a sentence and a paragraph.

Next, write an outline. Know where your story is going to go so that you don’t waste time writing scenes which don’t contribute to that goal. That said, once you have an outline allow the story to grow organically so that you don’t force it to fit. A technique that works for me is that I write the first and last chapters of a book; then I write an exploratory synopsis –which is an essay written for myself in which I work out the story and the narrative logic; and then I write an outline.

One crucial thing is: NEVER revise until you are finished a first draft. Never. Ever. Revision of that kind is a momentum-killer. It’s a quicksand pit. Write it down fast and ugly and then fix it in the rewrite.

The second part of that piece of advice (and the reason most people step into the revision quicksand) is that you shouldn’t try to write a perfect piece. No one has ever done it, and no one can. Write a solid piece, pretty it up in the rewrite, and then send it out. Then work on something else. Perfection is by definition impossible for humans to attain. Stop wasting good writing time on it.

And last…and maybe most important of all…be relentless. If you love to write, then keep writing and keep sending it out.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
That it was so much fun. I’ve heard so many horror stories about how hard it is and how frustrating and how competitive it is. Okay, sure…but so is everything. If you focus on the negative then that’s all you’ll see.

I approach things from a positive energy perspective. Always. I love what I do, and I love everything about publishing. I don’t complain about the hard stuff because it’s part of what needs to happen in order to get the work done, get it sold and get it into the hands of readers.

I used to buy into the negativity and –big surprise—I struggled and felt frustrated all the time. Then I made a conscious effort to focus on the positive, and within a few months things started happening. That was in 2005, before I finished my first novel and before I found an agent. Since then I’ve sold a dozen novels (of which only one was actually written), five nonfiction books (sold on proposals alone), a zillion articles, a dozen short stories, and I’ve had three of my books optioned for TV and been scouted to write for Marvel Comics.

Power of positive thinking…yeah, it works. And it beats the heck out of being gloomy!

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
  • From Goodreads: The higher you aim, the farther you fall…. It’s Violet’s junior year at the Westfield School. She thought she’d be focusing on getting straight As, editing the lit mag, and making Scott Walsh fall in love with her. Instead, she’s just trying to hold it together in the face of cutthroat academics, Scott Walsh’s new girlfriend, and the sense that things are going irreversibly wrong with her best friend, Katie. When Katie starts making choices that Violet can’t even begin to fathom, Violet has no idea how to set things right between them. Westfield girls are trained for success—but how can Violet keep her junior year from being one huge epic fail?

How long did you work on this book?
It took me roughly two years, on and off, to write MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS. I started in the summer of 2007. But there were some long breaks in there, when I didn't know what happened next!

How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
This book sold unbelievably quickly. My agent, Stephen Barbara, is so talented at what he does, and he found the right home for MGG just like that. But rest assured that I have had many other novels rejected many times. MGG is the fifth novel that I completed and submitted-- none of the rest of them ever went anywhere, and, reading them over now, I can see that was actually for the best.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
In addition to being an author, I am also an editor, so I have a LOT of advice that I would like to pass along to other writers. What I'd say most strongly is this: Write a story that feels true and consequential to you, because that is the only way to make it feel true and consequential to anybody else. If you try to write a story that's just like every other story out there, because you think it's "what will sell" or "what people want," then you will probably get bored of it, and chances are that readers will get bored, too. The story that you write should be a story that only you can tell, told in a style that is uniquely your own. That's the story that matters.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
I have wanted to be a published author since I was five years old, and I think I'd always had this unspoken belief that if I could just sell a novel, then everything in my life would be perfect and easy. This turns out not to be true. You can have a book with your name on it sitting on your bookshelf, but there are still dirty dishes in your sink, and you still have to wash them. Your book can get a star in a review journal, but somehow this does not correlate with every mean girl from middle school emailing you to say how sorry she is, or every ex-boyfriend appearing on your doorstep with flowers and begging forgiveness. This was a surprise to me.

Additional Releases

The Witches' Kitchen by Allen Williams
  • From Amazon: When Toad wakes up, dangling over a bubbling witches' cauldron, she has no memory of her former life, not even her name. With some luck, she escapes and sets out on a journey to the oracle of the kitchen. Along the way, she makes friends with Natterjack, an imp who refuses his demon ancestry; Horsefly, a carnivorous fairy; and Pug and Sootfoot, residents of the Kitchen. But the Kitchen and the witch sisters it belongs to, is not a place one wants to end up lost. The Kitchen is pitch black and infinite, filled with furniture that constantly moves when unobserved, making navigation nearly impossible. Its residents are both animals from the outside, unwitting victims of the Witches, and creatures who were born or made in the Kitchen itself - many of whom would not mind eating the Toad and her friends. And let's not forget the Witches themselves, who seem to have a special interest in the Toad. With some courage and wisdom, the Toad just might find self-realization yet - and with it, the power to defeat the mighty Witches.
 Fearscape (The Devouring #3) by Simon Holt
  • From Goodreads: The Vours: evil, demonic beings that inhabit human bodies on Sorry Night, the darkest hours of the Winter Solstice. It's been a year since Reggie first discovered the Vours, and the Winter Solstice is approaching once again. It will be another night of unspeakable horror for those unlucky enough to be taken by the Vours, because this time, she won't be able to stop them. The Vours have imprisoned Reggie in a psychiatric hospital, where she is subjected to a daily routine of unfathomably sadistic experiments. Her life is a living Hell, but she won't give up. They attacked her brother. They killed her friend. And Reggie will never stop fighting back.
 Behemoth (Leviathan #2) by Scott Westerfeld
  • From Goodreads: The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers. Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory. Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.
Belle of the Brawl (Alphas) by Lisi Harrison

  • From Goodreads: Eccentric billionaire Shira Brazille founded the super-exclusive Alpha Academy to nurture the next generation of exceptional dancers, writers, musicians, and inventors. It's a dream come true for one hundred lucky girls, but those not measuring up will be sent home at any time, for any reason. The one left standing will win worldwide fame. Who will it be? Skye Hamilton arrived at Alpha Academy ready to dance circles around the competition, but she's having a hard time feeling the beat. Her newest HAD (Hope and Dream): less stress, more fun. Now Skye's torn between what kind of Alpha she wants to be, and which über-hawt Brazille boy she wants to be with. Charlie Deery can invent practically anything--except girlfriends. But now Allie A. is warming to her, and Charlie wants to keep it that way--even if it means helping Allie A. land Darwin. But will hooking up her ex-crush end up crushing her? Allie A. Abbott is serious-leh relieved she hasn¹t been sent home yet, especially now that everyone knows she's more faux than a St. Tropez spray tan. Can she prove she's a true Alpha after all? Or will she go from beautiful to beta-ful? If at first you don't succeed, you're not an alpha. 
Halt's Peril (Ranger's Apprentice #9) by John Flanagan
  • From Goodreads: Halt, Horace and Will are on the trail of Tennyson and his followers. The false prophet of the Outsider cult escaped justice for his crimes in Clonmel, and Halt is determined to stop him before he crosses the border into Araluen. Will has defeated one of Tennyson's Genovesan assassins in Clonmel - but there are two left alive. Are the extraordinary archery skills of Will and Halt enough to save them during a duel with the Genovesans . . . or is Will's mentor facing his last battle?
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz
  • From Goodreads: Kid knows her school’s corporate sponsors not-so-secretly monitor her friendships and activities for market research. It’s all a part of the Game; the alternative education system designed to use the addictive kick from video games to encourage academic learning. Everyday, a captive audience of students ages 13-17 enter the nationwide chain store-like Game locations to play. When a group calling themselves The Unidentified simulates a suicide to protest the power structure of their school, Kid’s investigation into their pranks attracts unwanted attention from the sponsors. As Kid finds out she doesn't have rights to her ideas, her privacy, or identity, she and her friends look for a way to revolt in a place where all acts of rebellion are just spun into the next new ad campaign.
Sugar and Spice: An L.A. Candy Novel by Lauren Conrad
  • From Goodreads: In the final book of the hit series L.A. Candy, Jane Roberts is a bona fide celebrity—she’s got the VIP treatment, couture clothes, and starlet looks. She also has the tabloid scandals, fake friends, and relentless paparazzi. Having learned a few things from her first season on the air, Jane is trying to surround herself with the people who she knows love her for her...and take a break from boys—since they’ve been nothing but trouble. But when her high school sweetheart Caleb and her unrequited L.A. crush Braden show up, both looking cuter and acting sweeter than ever, Jane has a hard time remembering her no-boys rule.... Just when everything feels out of control, Jane makes a shocking discovery. And what she finds changes everyone’s definition of “reality” forever.
 Pure Sin (Privilege) by Kate Brian
  • From Goodreads: The drama follows her wherever she goes in the New York Times bestselling series.


Prepare yourself for four chances to win! Jonathan Maberry, Lauren Strasnick, Amanda Marrone, and Leila Sales have all offered copies of their brand new books for prizes! You must leave a comment and fill out the form below for a chance to win. Contest closes Friday, October 8th at midnight EST and is open to US residents only please. Best of luck!

Happy reading,
Martina & Marissa


  1. I think I need to win the lottery. Your weekly list combined with my Kindle are dangerous things. :) They all sound great. Rot and Ruin looks like my cuppa tea. Her, You and Me - will be added to my TBR list.

    Inspiring interviews.

  2. Oh, sure. Just when I swore I'd buy no more books until I finish reading the ones I already have, I find several in this list I want.

    Love the interviews. Those are the best parts of the reviews. :D

  3. Wow- I spent this weekend looking for fresh meat in YA. I guess I should have just waited for monday! Thanks you guys- this is awesome!

  4. Another nice list and helpful reviews to see what is being published these days. For now, I'm going to stick my fingers in my ears and say: "lalalaLALA, I can't HEAR you!" because I'm going to go work on my WIP. (no time for reading!)

  5. Wow, some really great books were released this week! Hope I win one. :)

  6. Rot and Ruin!! There are quite a few I'd love to win from this stash, but I think this one the most (Zombies!)

  7. That book trailer is so much fun. Love the suspense. So many good books and author stories this week. Thanks for sharing with us. Oh, I just launched a short story writer's contest on my blog. ";-)

  8. Commented to be entered.

    And thanks for letting me know about Westerfeld's BEHEMOTH. I just finished LEVIATHAN last week and was seriously annoyed the sequel hadn't been written yet!

    -- Tom

  9. wow, this is an amazing post. So many awesome authors! There were a lot of books I've never heard of and now will definitely read.
    Great interviews too, just, wow. Love this site, will definitely follow from now on!

  10. Thanks for the contest - "Her and Me and You" sounds great!

  11. Great list! I am reading ROT & RUIN right now and loving it!

  12. Please enter me! Thank you so much for such a great blog that never ceases to help !!!

  13. Awesomesauce! My son would LOVE to get his hands on Ranger's #9! I think we only have the first 6 or 7.

  14. Love these posts! The interviews are my favorite part

  15. Great contest! And I love reading about how long it took them to work on their books! :)

  16. Thanks for the great interviews! I love learning about writers and their process.

  17. Love the interviews. Fascinating! Also? Darren Shan looks way too young to be multipublished! *G*

    The cover for Mostly Good Girls is quite striking.

  18. Great interviews! Hoping to read some of these soon!

  19. Love the interviews!


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)