Thursday, October 31, 2013

1 Wish I'd Written: Gretchen McNeil (Author of 3:59, TEN and POSSES)

I don't normally suffer from Book Envy. Usually, when I read a book I really enjoy, I can appreciate the author's prose, voice, plot twists, etc. without thinking, "Dammit, I wish I'd written that!"

But this changed when I read IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS by Cat Winters.

IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS made Booklist's 2013 Top Ten Horror Fiction for Youth along with my 2012 novel TEN. It was one of the few on the list that I hadn't read, a situation I remedied immediately.

I'm not afraid to admit it: I was totally jealous of this book from the moment I read the description. For years I've been knocking around an idea for a novel based on the spiritualist movement in America in the early 20th Century, so right there I had subject envy. Part me didn't want to read it, didn't want to love it because then I'd probably lock my own idea away in a drawer for a decade of more. But read it I did. In like two days, ripping through it like an addict.

First off, I love a well-researched historical. I think they make up the bulk of my reading these days. I love it when voice and tone combine with historic details to completely draw me into a time period, and IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS does that brilliantly. I was immediately in the early twentieth century, never jarred by an anachronism of time and place, and part of the reason I kept turning the pages, was that I didn't want to leave that world.

Second, I've always been drawn to gothic novels, an addiction I blame on reading Jane Eyre when I was twelve, and Winters perfectly captures the eerie atmosphere of the Victorian ghost stories I devoured as a teen: LeFanu, Collins, Doyle, Gaskell, and M.R. James. The setting is brilliant: the convergence of the Influenza epidemic (modern estimates list the death toll from the 1918 pandemic between 50 and 100 million people…) and the First World War created an "end of times" mentality for people across the world. It felt as if death was everywhere, and Winters makes that literal.

The dead are haunting the living, in this case, a sixteen year old girl who has lost just about everything in her life. My empathy for Mary Shelley Black was strong, and I suffered along with her. The scares are subtle, the tension high, the impossible romance suitably heart-wrenching. Add to that the haunting period photos used in the book and I was thrown into a full on Book Envy frenzy.

If you haven't had a chance to read IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, I guarantee you'll be hooked within five pages. It's lush and creepy, unnerving and atmospheric – all in the best possible way. There's mystery and romance as well, but mostly I was drawn to the amazing world building, and the dark, almost oppressive tone of the book that fit perfectly with the time period and the subject matter.

So, yeah. Book Envy. I haz it. *shakes fist at Cat Winters*

About The Author

Author of YA horror novels POSSESS, TEN, and 3:59, as well as the upcoming YA mystery/suspense series Don't Get Mad, beginning in 2014 with GET EVEN and continuing in 2015 with GET DIRTY. Gretchen also contributed an essay to the Dear Teen Me anthology from Zest Books.

Gretchen is a former coloratura soprano, the voice of Mary on G4's Code Monkeys and she sings with the LA-based circus troupe Cirque Berzerk. Gretchen blogs with The Enchanted Inkpot and is a founding member of the vlog group the YARebels. She is repped by Ginger Clark of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


About The Book

Josie Byrne's life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she's betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can't get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo's life is everything Josie wants: she's popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they're just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo.

Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgängers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo's perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day.

But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo's boyfriend, he hates her. Jo's mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh.

By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

From master of suspense Gretchen McNeil comes a riveting and deliciously eerie story about the lives we wish we had – and how they just might kill you.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

3 WOW Wednesday: Avoiding Stereotypes by Julie Johnston

It's no secret that Julie Johnson is an incredibly well respected and talented author. The winner of multiple awards for both her first and second book, her latest book, LITTLE RED LIES, came out on September 10th. Were excited to have Julie on the blog today!

Avoiding stereotypes by Julie Johnston

The best writing advice I can offer is something I’ve found useful in my own writing. It’s about making characters as real as you are yourself. You may have worked out the best and most suspenseful plot in the world, but if you don’t have vibrant characters who resonate with a reader, you might as well be writing an instruction manual for the care and operation of an electric toothbrush. This is one of the great things about writing fiction. You get to be a Doctor Frankenstein. You have the unique power of creating living, breathing characters who stay with the reader long after the book is finished. 
I’ll let you in on a secret. In my first YA novel, I have a main character named Keely. She’s funny and self-centered and kind-hearted and stubborn and blunders through life making lots of mistakes along the way— sort of like me, especially when I was her age. About a year after it was published I did a reading from it to a school class made up of kids from four or five different ethnic backgrounds, all different from my own. After the reading, some of the kids came up to me and said, “I think you wrote your book about me. Keely is exactly like me.” The funny thing was, I thought I was kind of writing about myself. I learned two things, from that experience. The first was, that no matter what our backgrounds, we are all more alike than we are different. We share way more characteristics than we realize. The second thing I learned was, that for a book to be successful, its characters must be so like real people that they are almost able to step right off the page and into the life of a reader.  
We’ve all been exposed to books or movies that are nearly all action with little or no character development.  You keep on compulsively reading or watching simply because you want to find out how it will turn out. Of course there are characters; someone has to make the plot work. But, they may well be simply bad guys and good guys. The action rises to a suspenseful climax and then it’s over and you find yourself saying “Huh?” By the time you reach the end, you discover that it really doesn’t matter all that much, the good guys win because they are on the side of good and the bad guys always lose because they’re bad. The reason you no longer care, is because there is no one especially to ponder. There is nothing to savour. To make a story memorable you need to attempt to answer these questions, What motivates my characters? What are they thinking?  
You don’t have to explain your characters. Let them evolve. They are, after all, extensions of yourself. Even the bad guys. Even the merely annoying guys. You have experienced every emotion under the sun, certainly the uncomfortable ones such as jealousy, loathing, covetousness, sadness and self-dislike. These sorts of emotions can cause the petty day-to-day behaviour we’ve all indulged in from time to time. These same emotions can also be the catalyst for crimes. Of course, you’ve never killed anyone or willfully caused damage to others. You’ve never been an arsonist, a crook or a bully, but you have probably experienced the feelings that could lead in that direction. You can imagine why villains do the horrid things they do if you can relate to that basic emotion that erupted into fury or frenzy. 
Similarly, you can imagine the joy you would experience if you were to win a huge award, or a multimillion dollar jackpot or found suddenly that the love of your life felt the same way about you. If you can translate your own smaller triumphs into something magnificent and if you can do the same with personal defeats and losses, you can create believable characters. All you have to do is to be a good observer.
Another important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as an average character. I once wrote a one-act play that was produced by a high school drama club. In the notes at the beginning I described one character as an average sixteen year old. The boy playing the role said, “I don’t know how to be average.” I had to do some last minute rewriting. I had to give him a ruling passion. The best way to give a character a ruling passion is to think deeply about yourself and what makes you tick. What makes you feel happy to be alive? What turns your stomach? What particular voice of authority makes you want to flout it? What kind of behaviour in others prevents you from warming to them, or encourages you to seek them out as friends? Your characters are you. They are also your readers.
Keep asking yourself, why. Why do the characters choose to perform the acts they do? Why do they lie? Why do they offer help? Why do they cheat, or conversely, why don’t they cheat? Why do they grieve, rejoice, love, hate, fear or hope? 
Alexander Pope begins his Essay on Man, Epistle II, by writing: 
Know then thyself, presume not God to scan
The proper study of mankind is man.

About The Author

Julie Johnston grew up in a small town in eastern Ontario, then went to the University of Toronto to study physio and occupational therapy. Over the years, she published many short stories in several magazines, but not until an encouraging interview with a writer-in-residence at Trent University, did she begin work on a novel. Hero of Lesser Causes was completed (the first time) in 1986. 

After many re-writes and several publishing delays, it was published to great acclaim in 1992, winning the Governor General's Literary Award / Children's Literature (for English text) that year. Julie Johnston's second novel, Adam and Eve and Pinch-Me, was also honoured with the Governor General's Literary Award, making her the first author to win the award for both her first and second books.

About The Book

The war is over, but for thirteen-year-old Rachel, the battle has just begun. Putting childhood behind her, she knows what she wants - to prove she has acting talent worthy of the school drama club, and what she doesn't want - to romantically fall for someone completely inappropriate. Worries about her veteran brother's failing health and repugnance at her mother's unexpected and unwanted pregnancy drive her to seek solace from a seemingly sympathetic, but self-serving teacher. The lies she tells herself hoping to reach solutions to the problems complicating her life merely function to make matters worse. Ultimately, she finds a way to come to terms with life as it reaches an end and life as it begins.

Amazon | IndieBound | Goodreads

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

3 Craft of Writing: Revamping A YA Classic by Geoffrey Huntington

Today's guest is the author of the beloved Ravenscliff series. First published in 2002, English speaking readers never had the chance to read book 3 in the series, BLOOD MOON. Now, with the re-release and continuation of the series, readers will finally get the chance to find out what happens. Please welcome Geoffrey Huntington!

Revamping A YA Classic

When Diversion Books announced they wanted to revive the RAVENSCLIFF SERIES, I was thrilled — but I also knew we needed to do a little advance planning. It wasn’t going to be enough to simply bring the books back. We were going to have to make sure they spoke the same language as today’s readers.

When SORCERERS OF THE NIGHTWING was first published by HarperCollins back in 2002, its readers —largely in junior-high and high-school, but we had a lot of adults as well — weren’t text messaging back and forth. There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Even mobile phones were big clunky gadgets, and not every one had one. The world was not nearly so interconnected as it is today. Globalization had certainly begun, but trends didn’t jump from one country to another quite as fast as they do today (which is, basically, instantaneously.)

So I knew that when new readers picked up Book 1 in the series, they’d wonder why Devon March, alone on a isolated stretch of beach in Maine, didn’t just pick up his phone and text his friends back home. It’s not so easy to set characters in isolated situations anymore. Mystery and horror writers are constantly trying to devise plausible scenarios that disconnect our characters from the rest of the world. For Devon, it was easy: there aren’t many places that aren’t covered by cellular networks, but Misery Point, Maine, could believably be one of them.

Still, he had to have that phone in his pocket. Otherwise readers would, quite understandably, be wondering where it was. So I had to bring Devon and his friends up to date technologically.

I also had to bring them up to date socially. At fifteen and sixteen, Devon and Cecily weren’t going to be quite as shy, peeking around corners at each other, as they were originally. Teenagers are much more forward and confident in dealing with each other these days. And while Cecily had always been very forthright, she needed to be even more a young woman of the second decade of the twenty-first century. Cecily knows what she wants and she’s going for it, and no one’s getting in her way.

Likewise, their friend Marcus, who’s gay, wouldn’t be quite as discreet about it as he had been in the original books in 2002. There’s no reason for him to be anymore. To be an authentic gay teen in 2013, Marcus had to be completely integrated into the world around him. His friends see little difference between his world and theirs.

So updating the books to bring them into sync with the times was the first step. The second was letting the diaspora of Ravenscliff fans all over the world know that the series was coming back. When Book 3 failed to come out in the U.S., I received literally thousands of emails and letters asking what had happened. Readers felt cheated, and I didn’t blame them. But there was nothing I could do. The original publisher, ReganBooks, an imprint of HarperCollins, had gone under, and other American publishers were leery about picking up a series in mid-run, even though the Ravenscliff books had done quite well, reaching all around the globe, translated into more than ten other languages. A handful of European publishers—including in France, the Netherlands, and Poland—had contracted for three books, so they went ahead and published Book 3 BLOOD MOON. That left English-language readers in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere crying foul, lamenting the fact they’d never learn who was behind the wall at the end of Book 2.

In the meantime, I moved on to other things, and the original Ravenscliff readership grew to adulthood. The emails still came, asking if the series would ever be revived, but as the years went by, they declined in number (though I was still getting the occasional inquiry every few months even up to the beginning of this year.)

So when the offer from Diversion Books came in, we were faced with the daunting task of letting those many, many readers — those devoted fans of Devon March — know that their favorite series from their childhood and young adult years was finally back. I’d kept every email I’d ever received, but an email blast quickly revealed that three-quarters of those addresses were no longer active. So we took to Twitter and Facebook and various other ways online to get the word out. Although our goal was — and remains — to win a new generation of readers, we also knew that our base would always be those fiercely loyal fans who had never given up, who had always hoped to one day read the further adventures of Devon March.

And how gratifying it’s been to get responses from those readers on Facebook and Twitter! I’m hearing from people who are simply overjoyed that the series is back. English-language readers are chomping at the bit to finally get Book 3 — while French and Dutch and Polish and Belgian readers are already asking for Book 4. (They know who’s behind the wall and want to know who Devon sees at the end of Book 3.) Let’s hope that enterprising publishers in those languages step forward to publish the continuing series for those loyal fans. I don’t want to leave anyone behind ever again!

Thanks for helping us get the word out that RAVENSCLIFF IS BACK. Our Twitter following (@HuntingtonGeoff) is growing slowly but surely as word spreads. Diversion Books has been so wonderful in this process, and the covers they’ve designed are awesome. We can bring the series back better than ever! Let’s get Devon back out into the world so he can finish his hero’s journey through all TEN proposed books, discovering who is, where he comes from, and what his great destiny is supposed to be.

About The Author

Geoffrey Huntington lives in a house by the sea near to the place where, three hundred years ago, a pirate ship sunk below the waves. The screams of the doomed men can still be heard from Geoffrey's window on windy nights. As a boy, Geoffrey became fascinated by the world that exists on the other side of our own. His inspirations and influences have always been a myriad lot. Lovecraft. Tolkein. Buffy. Harry Potter. Quantum Leap. The original Dark Shadows. The Turn of the Screw. Alfred Hitchcock. The Twilight Zone. The X Files. Dr. Who. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Marv Wolfman’s Dracula. Nosferatu. James Whale’s Frankenstein films. Anne Rice. Stephen King. Tod Browning’s Freaks. The Exorcist. The Blair Witch Project. The Grudge. Silent Hill. Lara Croft. Indiana Jones. Star Wars. Star Trek. Under other names, Geoffrey writes suspense and horror novels as well as many works of nonfiction.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook

About The Book

The mystery of the Tower at Ravenscliff is at last revealed, in the long awaited continuation of The Ravenscliff Series.

A returning threat roams the halls of Ravenscliff Manor, the mad sorceress Clarissa, but she is only one of many problems facing Devon March. His budding relationship with Cecily takes a hit when he discovers she might be his (gulp!) sister, while his pal Marcus is mysteriously linked with the savage, gorilla-like beast that turns up in Misery Point on nights of the full moon.

The only way to solve these mysteries is to take another trip down the Staircase Into Time, with Devon emerging at the Ravenscliff of thirty years ago. A time when his guardian Amanda and the mysterious Rolfe are toddlers, and the Madman, Jackson Muir, is very much alive.

Amazon | Goodreads

Monday, October 28, 2013

1 Inspired Openings: On Starting in the Middle by Debbie Levy

Debbie Levy's newest book IMPERFECT SPIRAL, will have readers laughing and crying, but thinking their way through incredibly important personal issues, as well as social issues. We are so excited to have Debbie here with us today!

On Starting in the Middle

Maybe it’s the former lawyer in me, but when I first started writing fiction I felt the need to lay out some facts, to make my case, in miniature, for what was coming in the pages to follow.  It was like the Executive Summary you’d put at the beginning of a long legal memorandum for the busy-busy client who wanted to know where this document was going before delving in. Oh.  Can you tell that I was not a courtroom lawyer, but rather, the kind who wrote legal memoranda for clients?

In time, I learned that this throat-clearing isn’t generally effective in a novel.  In part, I learned this from reading other people’s novels and noticing how satisfying it is to be plunked in the middle of something that’s happening, rather than plunked in the middle of expository writing.  And I learned it from writing and re-writing and re-writing some more.  Start here, my draft-readers (I include myself in this category, and my agent, Caryn Wiseman) would suggest, pointing to a place five pages past page 1.  Yes, cut those 1,000 first words out.  Maybe you’ll use them later.  Maybe not. 

(There are always exceptions to rules, of course.  Especially if you can get the throat-clearing out of the way in a single memorable first sentence:  “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”)

I’m not saying an opening needs to put the reader in the middle of an intergalactic battle or an automobile chase.  Those aren’t really the books I want to read or write.  The happenings that draw me in can be domestic goings-on, or emotional goings-on, or conversational goings-on.  For me, what makes an opening not only effective, but also great, is when this plunking-down-in the-middle-of-something also alludes to unsaid events or characters that came before, and those that lie ahead.  If I’m left unclear on what exactly is happening, or if I’m a little disoriented, that’s perfectly fine—those are reasons to keep reading.  Like this:

Master was a little crazy; he had spent too many years reading books overseas, talked to himself in his office, did not always return greetings, and had too much hair.  Ugwu’s aunty said this in a low voice as they walked on the path.  “But he is a good man,” she added.  “And as long as you work well, you will eat well.  You will even eat meat every day.”  She stopped to spit; the saliva left her mouth with a sucking sound and landed on the grass.
Ugwu did not believe that anybody, not even this master he was going to live with, ate meat every day.

Those are the opening lines of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, which takes place in Nigeria in the 1960s before and during the struggle to create a new country, Biafra, in the southeastern part of Nigeria.  Ugwu, 13 years old, is about to start work in the home of Odenigbo, a revolutionary professor.  The hints about this crazy boss with too much hair and too many books, and the incredulity of a boy when he thinks of the possibility of a person eating meat every day—these details, together with the portentous walk with Aunty to Odenigbo’s home, helped make this opening irresistible to me.
Here’s another:

So Mom got the postcard today.  It says Congratulations in big curly letters, and at the very top is the address of Studio TV-15 on West 58th Street.  After three years of trying, she has actually made it.  She’s going to be a contestant on The $20,000 Pyramid, which is hosted by Dick Clark.
On the postcard there’s a list of things to bring.  She needs some extra clothes in case she wins and makes it to another show, where they pretend it’s the next day even though they really tape five in one afternoon.  Barrettes are optional, but she should definitely bring some with her.  Unlike me, Mom has glossy red hair that bounces around and might obstruct America’s view of her small freckled face.
And then there’s the date she’s supposed to show up, scrawled in blue pen on a line at the bottom of the card:  April 27, 1979.  Just like you said.
That’s an excerpt from Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me.  In these opening lines, the readers has glimpses of the past, present, and future of this story—which is perfect, given the mysterious time puzzle that is central to the book. 

I could go on.  I could even cite examples from YA fiction—since this is, after all, the Adventures in YA Publishing blog.  But I think it helps one’s writing to read broadly, and that means reading outside your preferred genre.  And—whoa, look at this word count!—I’m running out of my allotted space.  So I’m going to close with the opening from my YA novel that came out this summer, IMPERFECT SPIRAL.  I’m not claiming the opening is inspired, or great.  But it is mine, and it is in the middle of something happening.  It is not throat-clearing.

"The morning after, I take refuge in my bed."

About The Author

I write books—fiction, nonfiction, and poetry—for people of all different ages, and especially for young people. Before starting my writing career, I was a newspaper editor with American Lawyer Media and Legal Times; before that, I was a lawyer with the Washington, D.C. law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering (now called WilmerHale). I have a bachelor’s degree in government and foreign affairs from the University of Virginia, and a law degree and master’s degree in world politics from the University of Michigan. I live in Maryland with my husband, Rick Hoffman.  We have two grown sons.  Besides writing, I love to kayak, boat, and fish in the Chesapeake Bay region, swim, bowl duckpins, tramp around the woods with the dog, and watch the cat sleep. And, of course, I love to read.

About The Book

Danielle Snyder's summer job as a babysitter takes a tragic turn when Humphrey, the five-year-old boy she's watching, runs in front of oncoming traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy: police investigations, neighborhood squabbling, and, when the driver of the car that struck Humphrey turns out to be an undocumented alien, outsiders use the accident to further a politically charged immigration debate. Wanting only to mourn Humphrey, the sweet kid she had a surprisingly strong friendship with, Danielle tries to avoid the world around her. Through a new relationship with Justin, a boy she meets at the park, she begins to work through her grief, but as details of the accident emerge, much is not as it seems. It's time for Danielle to face reality, but when the truth brings so much pain, can she find a way to do right by Humphrey's memory and forgive herself for his death?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

16 Question of the Week: Are You Doing NaNoWriMo This Year?

Hey everyone! It’s Clara Kensie, back with a new Question of the Week! Pretty much the only thing writers love as much as writing is talking about writing. So each week here at Adventures in YA Publishing, I post a question for you to answer. The questions cover all topics important to writers: craft, career, writers’ life, reading and books. Together we’ll become better writers by sharing tips and discussing our habits and practices.

October 27 2013

Hello, my lovelies! I’m working on revisions for the sequel to RUN TO YOU (deadline is December 1), so I’m going to keep the Questions of the Week short and sweet until then. You guys don’t mind, do you? I’m sure you have a lot of writing to do, too! Especially if you answer YES to the Question of the Week:

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

photo credit: striatic via photopin cc

It’s almost November, and all writers know what that means: It’s National Novel Writing Month, when writers around the world try to write 50,000 words of a brand-new manuscript. Are you participating this year?

MY ANSWER: Sadly, no. The timing just didn’t work out for me. Although I’ll be spending hours and hours (and hours and hours) writing in November, I will be finishing the revisions on my book, not writing 50,000 shiny new words on a new manuscript. I did NaNo two years ago and won it, hooray! I hope the timing will work out for next year, because the camaraderie and support of NaNo is so inspiring and fun.

YOUR TURN: Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? If so, what are you writing? Is this your first time or are you a veteran? What kind of preparations do you do for NaNo? Or, do you just jump in and pants your manuscript without a plan?

If you like, post your NaNo user name in the comments and find some new Writing Buddies!

Friday, October 25, 2013

19 Young Adult Fiction Pick and Mix 10/26/13 Plus ALLEGIANT and RED Giveways

I am in Dallas today, giving a workshop on social networking--which I am qualified to do only because I can tell people how NOT to make all the mistakes I've already made over the last three years. But that made me realize it has been THREE YEARS since I cluelessly started blogging. It also reminds me that I need to say thank you to all of you who have hung in here with me. (Especially this last few months when I have been completely erratic about everything including personal hygiene while editing. :)


And for anyone who is just finding the blog, that's great. You missed out on all the mistakes!

My edits are due on Wednesday night, and then I should have about a week of respite before I get them back. I may be able to get to answering some emails and comments, not to mention taking a nice LONG shower or two, in that week.

Meanwhile, I would love for you all to welcome Alyssa Hamilton and Kate Foley, who are making their internships with us permanent! YAY! They are both fantastic, and they have already proven they can be great additions to the team!

Have a great week, everyone!


Thought for the Week

via Pinterest

Young Adult Novel Giveaways This Week

RED by Alison Cherry

Felicity St. John has it all—loyal best friends, a hot guy, and artistic talent. And she’s right on track to win the Miss Scarlet pageant. Her perfect life is possible because of just one thing: her long, wavy, coppery red hair.

Having red hair is all that matters in Scarletville. Redheads hold all the power—and everybody knows it. That’s why Felicity is scared down to her roots when she receives an anonymous note:

I know your secret.

Because Felicity is a big fake. Her hair color comes straight out of a bottle. And if anyone discovered the truth, she’d be a social outcast faster than she could say "strawberry blond." Her mother would disown her, her friends would shun her, and her boyfriend would dump her. And forget about winning that pageant crown and the prize money that comes with it—money that would allow her to fulfill her dream of going to art school.

Felicity isn’t about to let someone blackmail her life away. But just how far is she willing to go to protect her red cred?

Purchase Red on Amazon 
Purchase Red on IndieBound
View Red on Goodreads

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by Veronica Roth
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 10/22/2013

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?
The explosive conclusion to Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Purchase Allegiant at Amazon
Purchase Allegiant at IndieBound
View Allegiant on Goodreads

Young Adult Novel Giveaway Last  Week 

by Lauren Kate
Delacorte Press
Released 10/22/2013

Winner: Claire Wezet

Never, ever cry. . . . Eureka Boudreaux's mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale blond boy who seems to know things he shouldn't, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before.

But Ander doesn't know Eureka's darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance--a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth . . . and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined. From Lauren Kate comes an epic saga of heart-stopping romance, devastating secrets, and dark magic . . . a world where everything you love can be washed away.

Purchase Teardrop at Amazon
Purchase Teardrop at IndieBound
View Teardrop on Goodreads

by Gina Linko
Random House Books for Young Readers
Released 10/22/2013

WINNER: Manju Howard

A gift?

A curse?

A moment that changes everything. . . .

Caught in an unexpected spring squall, Corrine's first instinct is to protect her little sister Sophie after a nasty fall. But when Corrine reaches out to comfort her sister, the exact opposite occurs. Her touch--charged with an otherworldly force and bursting with blinding indigo color--surges violently from Corrine to her sister. In an instant, Sophie is dead. From that moment on, Corrine convinces herself that everyone would be better off if she simply withdrew from life.

When her family abruptly moves to New Orleans, Corrine's withdrawal is made all the easier. No friends. No connections. No chance of hurting anyone. But strange things continue to happen around her in this haunting, mystical city. And she realizes that her power cannot be ignored, especially when Rennick, a talented local artist with a bad-boy past, suggests another possibility: Corrine might have the touch. An ability to heal those around her. But knowing what happened to her sister, can Corrine trust her gift?

Purchase Indigo at Amazon
Purchase Indigo at IndieBound
View Indigo on Goodreads

Books, Books, Books

Allegiant is out! 

Here's an article about the release and a great video interview with Veronica. I'm reading the book now, and I have to say, WOW!

Who's your favorite YA couple? Maggie Stiefvater shares her top 5 picks.

Curious about the 2014 top picks from World Book Night? Congrats to Ransom Riggs, Katherine Patterson, Elizabeth Wein and more!

Tired of rejection? Like your reading a little edgy? Check out these beloved books that almost never saw the light of day. (Four of my all time favorites happen to be on this list of nine!)

Young Adult Reader of the Week:

Cali Willette 

* Want to be the reader of the week next week? Leave a comment on our Thursday or Friday posts! 


Blogger of the Week: 

Nicole Singer from Write Me a World

* Want to be the blogger of the week next week? To be honest, this is pretty much the only way I have time to discover new blogs, so it's a great way to get into my twitter feed and into these round-up posts if you have great content to share. Leave a comment. I'll pick from among the bloggers who leave comments here on the blog today through Wednesday.

Writing Tip of the Week

"Make them laugh, make them cry, make them wait."

~Charles Dickens

Another Writing Tip


Reading Brain Fuel     

See Full Image Here via Molly at Wrapped Up in Books

17 Giveaway of SORROW'S KNOT by Erin Bow and THE EYE OF MINDS by James Dashner plus New Releases in Stores 10/25-10/31


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Sorrow's Knot
by Erin Bow
Hardcover Giveaway
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 11/1/2013

From the acclaimed author of PLAIN KATE, a new novel about what lurks in the shadows, and how to put it to rest...

In the world of SORROW'S KNOT, the dead do not rest easy. Every patch of shadow might be home to something hungry, something deadly. Most of the people of this world live on the sunlit, treeless prairies. But a few carve out an uneasy living in the forest towns, keeping the dead at bay with wards made from magically knotted cords. The women who tie these knots are called binders. And Otter's mother, Willow, is one of the greatest binders her people have ever known.

But Willow does not wish for her daughter to lead the lonely, heavy life of a binder, so she chooses another as her apprentice. Otter is devastated by this choice, and what's more, it leaves her untrained when the village falls under attack. In a moment of desperation, Otter casts her first ward, and the results are disastrous. But now Otter may be her people's only hope against the shadows that threaten them. Will the challenge be too great for her? Or will she find a way to put the dead to rest once and for all?

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Sorrow's Knot?

That is SUCH a hard question - it's like asking me to choose my favorite thing about my kid. I like the way the setting came out, the creep of the haunted forest. I like the new monsters, the Ones with White Hands, with their bodies made of clotted shadow and their hands of "twigs and fingernails." I like the way that magical power belongs to women, which leads everyone to underestimate and misunderstand the boys, without the book falling victim to Matriarchy as an Overwhelming Metaphor syndrome. I even like the food.

But in any book of mine, my heart will always belong to characters. They are very real to me - and Otter, particularly, I've known for ten years now. She's born to power and privilege, and you could read her as a high priestess or a princess, and yet she came to the page warm-hearted, playful, a practical joker. She doesn't look it on the cover, I know, but she's short and sturdy, which I just love - take your image of an magical princess and stuff that in it.

Otter has two friends, quiet-until-you-get-to-know-her Kestrel, and silly, clumsy Cricket, who is full of hidden power. Kestrel's a girl and Cricket's a boy (one of the underestimated ones). Together they make one of those classic threesomes, like Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They are so much better as a triad than they could ever be alone, and it's hard for me to remember how late in the drafting process they finally came together. I love them so much.

Here they are goofing around on a big rock in the sun:

Cricket, meanwhile, was holding his arrowhead up against the bright sky. He kept pinching it between two fingers and closing the fingers to tuck the little object into his palm. The third time the arrowhead dropped and went skittering down the slope of granite Otter sighed at him. "Cricket, you know that I love you, so trust me in this: that's hopeless."
"It's part of my work," said Cricket, which was true: many storytellers used sleights of hand and other small tricks to knot a gasp or a laugh into a well-know tale.
Kestrel picked up the arrowhead and handed it back to the sprawling boy. "That doesn't mean you're not bad at it."
Cricket grinned up at her. "Do you think so?" He turned his hand over and opened it. There was an arrowhead there already. He closed his hand again, flipped it, righted it, opened it, and there were two arrowheads. He closed his hand a third time, and when he opened it there were three. "Keep near me, Kestrel," he said. "I'll show you wonders."

As the Animaniacs said about Czar Nicholas: What nice people! I see nothing but good things in their future.

Purchase Sorrow's Knot at Amazon
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View Sorrow's Knot on Goodreads

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The Eye of Minds
by James Dashner
Hardcover Giveaway
Delacorte Press
Released 10/8/2013

An all-new, edge-of-your seat adventure from James Dashner, the author of the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series, The Eye of Minds is the first book in The Mortality Doctrine, a series set in a world of hyperadvanced technology, cyberterrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares.

Michael is a gamer. And like most gamers, he almost spends more time on the VirtNet than in the actual world. The VirtNet offers total mind and body immersion, and it's addictive. Thanks to technology, anyone with enough money can experience fantasy worlds, risk their life without the chance of death, or just hang around with Virt-friends. And the more hacking skills you have, the more fun. Why bother following the rules when most of them are dumb, anyway?

But some rules were made for a reason. Some technology is too dangerous to fool with. And recent reports claim that one gamer is going beyond what any gamer has done before: he's holding players hostage inside the VirtNet. The effects are horrific-the hostages have all been declared brain-dead. Yet the gamer's motives are a mystery.

The government knows that to catch a hacker, you need a hacker.
And they've been watching Michael. They want him on their team.
But the risk is enormous. If he accepts their challenge, Michael will need to go off the VirtNet grid. There are back alleys and corners in the system human eyes have never seen and predators he can't even fathom-and there's the possibility that the line between game and reality will be blurred forever.

Purchase The Eye of Minds at Amazon
Purchase The Eye of Minds at IndieBound
View The Eye of Minds on Goodreads


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Reality Boy
by A. S. King
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Released 10/22/2013

Winner: Jeri Baird

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he's still haunted by his rage-filled youth-which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle-and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he's tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone's just waiting for him to snap-and he's starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child "star" who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Reality Boy?

I have a few favorite things about REALITY BOY.
First, I like the epigraph. You'll have to read it yourself (It's like a treasure hunt!) but it says a lot for me.
Next, I like that the book explores our reality TV culture and how it might affect us, and not just the people on these shows. Sure, the book is about a boy who appeared on reality TV as a young child, and whose reputation was molded by that appearance, but I hope it pushes readers to explore their own realities and ask questions like: What, on TV, do I believe? Why do I choose to believe what I believe? What shows on TV are real? How do I know when I can trust a source?
And last, I think my real favorite thing about REALITY BOY is that like many of my books, it attempts to show a way out to anyone who is in pain. Through Gerald's struggle it illustrates that there is life after something that seems insurmountable. And who knows? Maybe a reader might understand that the lies people see and hear on the Internet, TV or even though gossip are not all that entertaining after all.

Purchase Reality Boy at Amazon
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View Reality Boy on Goodreads


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by Gennifer Albin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 10/29/2013

Life. Possibility. Choice.
All taken from Adelice by the Guild-until she took them back.

But amid the splendid ruins of Earth, Adelice discovers how dangerous freedom can be. Hunted by soulless Remnants sent by Cormac Patton and the Guild, Adelice finds a world that's far from deserted. Although allies are easy to find on Earth, knowing who to trust isn't. Because everyone has secrets, especially those Adelice loves most. Secrets they would kill to protect. Secrets that will redefine each of them. Torn between two brothers and two worlds, Adelice must choose what to fight for.

In this thrilling sequel to Crewel, Adelice is about to learn how tangled up her past and future really are. Her parents ran to protect her, but nothing can save her from her destiny, and once she uncovers the truth, it will change everything.

Purchase Altered at Amazon
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View Altered on Goodreads

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by Ann Aguirre
Feiwel & Friends
Released 10/29/2013

The epic conclusion to the USA Today bestselling trilogy.

The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

Purchase Horde at Amazon
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View Horde on Goodreads

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In the Days of Love and Chocolate
by Gabrielle Zevin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Released 10/29/2013

All These Things I've Done introduced us to timeless heroine Anya Balanchine, a plucky sixteen year old with the heart of a girl and the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.

Still, it is Anya's nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life.
In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the story of growing up and learning what love really is. It showcases the best of Gabrielle Zevin's writing for young adults: the intricate characterization of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and the big-heartedness of Elsewhere. It will make you remember why you loved her writing in the first place.

Purchase In the Days of Love and Chocolate at Amazon
Purchase In the Days of Love and Chocolate at IndieBound
View In the Days of Love and Chocolate on Goodreads

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by Heather Terrell
Soho Teen
Released 10/29/2013

The truth will test you...

For fans of Game of Thrones and The Hunger Games: high fantasy and dystopia meet in this high-stakes tale of a civilization built on lies and the girl who single-handedly brings it down.

When Eva's twin brother, Eamon, falls to his death just a few months before he is due to participate in The Testing, no one expects Eva to take his place. She's a Maiden, slated for embroidery classes, curtseys, and soon a prestigious marriage befitting the daughter of an Aerie ruler. But Eva insists on honoring her brother by becoming a Testor. After all, she wouldn't be the first Maiden to Test, just the first in 150 years.

Eva knows the Testing is no dance class. Gallant Testors train for their entire lives to search icy wastelands for Relics: artifacts of the corrupt civilization that existed before The Healing drowned the world. Out in the Boundary Lands, Eva must rely on every moment of the lightning-quick training she received from Lukas-her servant, a Boundary native, and her closest friend now that Eamon is gone.

But there are threats in The Testing beyond what Lukas could have prepared her for. And no one could have imagined the danger Eva unleashes when she discovers a Relic that shakes the Aerie to its core.

Purchase Relic at Amazon
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View Relic on Goodreads

Thursday, October 24, 2013

3 Wish I'd Written: Lori Goldstein

Today's Wish I'd Written is a little different. Her book isn't out yet, but when it does, it's going to be a good one. Please welcome Lori Goldstein!

Wish I’d Written by Lori Goldstein

My first instinct was to answer the “Wish I’d Written” question with Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park. Aside from another “Wish I’d Written” post having already claimed that for their own, I now realize that’s not a book I wish I had written. Because if I’d written it, I would have never experienced the wonder of reading it.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading my own work. I do. And we writers better enjoy reading our own words since we do so hundreds of times. But no matter how much I love my own book, reading words I’ve written is never the same experience as reading words someone else has spent those days, weeks, and months perfecting. And so it is from the perspective of reading as a writer that I choose the books I wish I’d written.

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra Coutts

I’ve been itching to write a book set in a confined period of time. Preferably a day. I hope to come up with the right story, and the time, to tackle this eventually. That’s initially what drew me to Tumble & Fall.

The sky is going to fall. An asteroid is set to strike the earth in just one week’s time. Talk about instant stakes. But this book is not about the action, it’s about how three teenagers react to the action that’s coming. While I love a good chase or fight scene, characters are the core of my own writing and are what I most enjoy reading about.

What would you do if you only had X days to live is a question we’ve all asked or been asked. Writing this book would make me ask them of myself in the form of my characters. Tackling the true meaning of love, family, and life in this backdrop is fascinating both from a writer and a reader’s perspective. The author smoothly intertwines the lives of the three teen narrators and writes with honesty and a bit of humor, which I more than welcome in any book.

Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis

While I have not yet finished Not a Drop to Drink, I already know this is a book I wish I’d have written. Set in a time when water, the essence of life, is scarce, the main character, Lynn, must kill to defend the pond she and her mother call their own. Killing to ensure one’s own survival is something most of us will, luckily, never have to face. Exploring the emotions involved in this and how a character would rationalize, justify, and ultimately retain her humanity in a world that threatens to strip it away would test my skill as a writer and challenge myself as a person.

While writing a book like this would take me out of my comfort zone, it’s a new place I’d have loved to let myself explore. Of course, I’d be remiss not mention that it ties into my Little House on the Prairie fascination.
The gritty realism of the world is presented in writing so lovely and well-crafted it makes me excited (and nervous) to open my own manuscript.

About The Author

As a young girl, Lori Goldstein would make a tent with her bed sheet and clasp a flashlight in one hand and a book in the other. She’d read into the wee hours, way past her bedtime. Today, she not only reads past her bedtime, she writes too. Lori’s debut, BECOMING JINN, is a Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy coming Spring 2015 from Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s, with the sequel scheduled for Spring 2016. Lori is represented by Lucy Carson of The Friedrich Agency.

With a degree in journalism from Lehigh University and more than 10 years of experience, Lori is a freelance copyeditor and manuscript consultant for all genres.

Too much of Lori’s day involves chatting books, obsessing over The Vampire Diaries, and perfecting the art of efficient writing through Twitter.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Wishing doesn’t make it so, Azra does. Turning sixteen opens the door to Azra’s Jinn ancestry and her new life as a genie. But receiving her powers isn’t exactly what Azra would call a gift. Her destiny is controlled by the powerful Afrit who rule over the Jinn world, and she must keep her true identity a secret from all but her fellow Jinn.

As she forms a friendship with the human boy across the street and an attraction to the lifeguard with the underwear model exterior and sweet, shy interior, her attachment to the human world begins to strain her ties to the Jinn. With her attention divided, she skirts the rules, and her genie mistakes begin to mount, along with the consequences. As Azra uncovers the darker world of becoming Jinn, she realizes when genies and wishes are involved, there’s always a trick.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

4 Craft of Writing: Not Thinking About Characters by Brian Yansky

Today we have the hilarious author of quite possibly one of my favourite titles of the year, Homicidal Aliens and Other Disappointments, which released on September 10th. Please give a huge welcome to Brian Yansky!


I’ve been thinking a lot about not thinking about character lately. That is, I think that creating and building and developing character and the character’s relationship to the story come not from thinking him/her into existence but from finding the place where you, the writer, are intuitively engaged. 

For me, one the reference points I always come back to in writing, is that the act of writing is much like my experiences in martial arts (I spent about seven years slowly earning belts, including black). When you’re sparring, so many things must happen at once that it is impossible to think while doing them. It’s the same when you’re writing. You have to be acting from some other place than conscious thought. Robert Olen Butler likens this place to dreaming in his book on writing called From Where You Dream. He says you must get to a kind of dream state and write from this place in order to write from the senses and not the head. Ray Bradbury put it more succinctly by tacking a little sign over his writing desk that read, DON’T THINK.

No doubt you’re thinking right now, how can I not think and what does all this have to do with characters anyway? Ultimately, characters are the heart of fiction for me. I don’t think you can think them into existence with charts and outlines though. You have to create the character from inside the character and you will make the right choices because you’re acting and reacting from this other place within. You are the character in a sense.

In fact, I actually think that when writers, me included, talk about their characters taking over the story this is what they mean. Characters act in unexpected ways because the writing is working on a level below consciousness. The characters aren’t really acting on their own; it’s all coming from the writer, of course. However, it seems that way because the writer is in this altered state, the kind of state athletes find when they talk about being in the zone.

So how do you get there?

Practice, of course. A little bit of talent. Thinking when you’re not writing in order to improve and to understand the craft of writing. More practice. But how do you actually get there? You make connections at a level that isn’t conscious until it is and then sometimes you make other connections because of these connections you make through the act of writing. Of course, you’ll be thinking about your story when you’re showering or walking or driving (this one can get your into trouble) and you’ll have insights. All of this will come from the act of writing though and finding that elusive zone when you’re writing.

So here’s some advice on how to find that place. Connect your character to other aspects of writing by making narrative come out of a character’s desires and yearnings. Many authors have advised this, including John Gardner and Robert Olen Butler. Use a character’s desire to motivate actions, which in turn create plot. For example, let’s say the character wants, more than anything, to raise his children well and one aspect of that is teaching them to do the right thing. He raises his children to follow his code. When a black man is falsely accused of raping a white woman in his small Southern town he agrees to defend him even though he knows this will make him unpopular with most of the town and hated by a few. Every act by him in the novel will reflect his desire if it’s a strong enough one. It will also, often, drive the plot, the action of the story.

The second useful thing to consider about character is the character’s central belief about himself or herself. Franny Billingsley in a blog post not long ago on the superb Cynsations blog (see post for the author’s eloquent explanation of her thoughts on this:, calls this the character’s controlling belief. Her idea is that a character thinks of himself or herself a certain way and/or of the world in a certain way and his/her character is deeply affected by this, which in turn influences action in the story. She illustrates this by talking about a character in her novel, CHIME, who thinks of herself as “wicked, dangerous, cold” because of something that she thinks she’s done in her childhood. It causes her to develop and act in certain ways. The controlling belief of Atticus Finch may be that he must act honorably for himself and his children. So he risks a lot to do that, even his own safety and the safety of his children. His belief is not only important to his development as a character but helps drive the novel’s plot.

Sometimes the character’s controlling belief and what they want will be closely linked, even work in a kind of harmony. Sometimes they will be at odds with one another in a way that will create conflict and tension, which, of course, is good for story if not exactly good for your characters.

A third useful thing to consider is setting as a reflection and developer of character. Writers as diverse as Joyce Carol Oates and Michael Connelly have said they consider setting as a character. In On Becoming a Novelist John Gardner wrote, "Setting exists so that the character has someplace to stand, something that can help define him, something he can pick up and throw, if necessary," Where your character lives and where your story lives can be another way to connect character to your story.

By connecting character to plot and the deeper ramifications of story, subtext, and theme, through the character’s yearnings and self-image, the writer is on her way to that zone where she will make the right choices. It will help the reader develop character and story from inside instead of from some external place that might force the wrong choices. It will help the writer follow Mr. Bradbury’s advice to “Don’t Think.” 

About The Author

Brian Yansky is the author of several young adult novels (including the award winning MY ROAD TRIP TO THE PRETTY GIRL CAPITAL OF THE WORLD) and many stories for adults. ALIEN INVASION & OTHER INCONVENIENCES (which the Horn Book called provocative, profound and wickedly funny) and the sequel, HOMICIDAL ALIENS & OTHER DISAPPOINTMENTS (Candlewick Press, Sept 2013), are the latest. He has an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

About The Book

The reluctant hero from Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences is back in all his droll glory — and this time the fate of humankind is on the line.

Jesse has had the worst year of his life. First a race of homicidal (but very polite) aliens invaded Earth, killing pretty much everyone and enslaving the few people left behind, including Jesse; his best friend, Michael; his sort-of girlfriend, Lauren; and the girl of his dreams, Catlin. Now Jesse is revered as some sort of Chosen One all because he managed to kill one of the alien lords and escape — even though he’s not really sure how he did it. But it’s hard to argue with the multitude of new talents he is developing, including (somehow) killing aliens with his mind and grasping glimpses of alternate futures. With thousands of aliens already on Earth and thirty million more about to arrive, Jesse has to decide whether to embrace his maybe-destiny before the world is completely destroyed. No pressure.