Category: Blog Tour

Interview with Lillie Vale | Small Town Hearts Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted March 25, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 3 Comments

Interview with Lillie Vale | Small Town Hearts Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale! As the organizer for this tour, I got the opportunity to interview Lillie!


Interview with Lillie Vale

Hi Lillie! I’m Jana of That Artsy Reader Girl, and the tour organizer for the Small Town Hearts blog tour! I’m excited to chat with you and get to know you and your book better.

Hi Jana! Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today and coordinating everything for this fabulous blog tour!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Tell us about your experience as a debut author thus far.

It’s one of the best, most indescribable feelings in the world to know that something so dear and so personal to you is meeting the rest of the world. I imagine it’s a lot like being a mama bird and pushing a (book) baby out of the nest, trusting that it will be all right. I have so much gratitude for getting to do what I love, and for the book community in championing this book that once upon a time existed only for me.

2. Where were you when you found out you were being published?

I think I was at home, scrolling on my phone, having a very ordinary night in. I was, of course, hoping for news, and knew that it would be sometime soon, but seeing a new email in my inbox was still a surprise! The best of surprises :~)

3. What have been some of your favorite recent reads?

I’m reading Crown of Feathers right now by fellow debut Nicki Prau Preto! I read this one a while ago but I can’t stop thinking about Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Our Year of Maybe (I think it would be a great read-a-like to Small Town Hearts!), and I’ve been super lucky to read some upcoming novels. 2019 and 2020 is going to be so great, y’all.

4. What are you up to when you’re not reading or writing?

I don’t bake often (I’ll live vicariously through Babe for all my sweet tooth fixes!!!!) but I love spending time time in the kitchen cooking up a great dinner. I also play Sims if I don’t have deadlines to meet, because let’s face it, that game is a black hole for time management! When it’s nice out, I like doing outdoorsy things, so I’m really happy about all this spring weather we’re having!

5. What’s your next project?

Nothing I can share just yet, but I am really excited to be drafting again! I finished an ownvoice Desi romcom a while back, and now I’m on to a new own voice project :~)

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Pitch us your book in 5 words or less.

Bi baking barista in Maine or, if I’m being sneaky about word choice…BFF-breakup. Second-chance summer. Foodie. LGBTQ+.

For readers craving a more meaty description of the book, however, it’s a BFF breakup + found family novel taking place in the summer after high school, the last summer 19yo bi baking barista Babe thinks she’ll have before her friends Penny and Chad start college in the fall. She has a somewhat co-dependent relationship with the people she loves, and change has never been a good thing, in her experience, so she’s trying to hold on tight during a time when she has to learn how to let go. Matters are further complicated when her ex-girlfriend Elodie returns to their sleepy Maine village of Oar’s Rest at the same time as Levi, a mysterious summer boy, shows up to rent Babe’s mom’s cottage on the beach.

2. Your bio says you always write books where the characters either kiss or kill. Tell us what this story would look like if the characters were killing instead of kissing.

In a very very very AU “Kill” version of Small Town Hearts, Penny would have been a bit more murderous! 💃🏻🔥

3. The setting in Small Town Hearts is very quaint and picturesque. Tell us about your inspiration for Oar’s Rest.

I adored creating the world of Babe’s beloved Oar’s Rest (the lighthouse!! the beach cave!! the Busy Bean!!). Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve loved the small towns that never felt small. The places with a unique culture that felt larger than life. My earliest examples were author-illustrator Richard Scarry’s Busytown and Arthur’s Elwood City. With these charming idylls and every beach town I’d ever been to as inspiration, it came as no surprise that Oar’s Rest became the small town of my dreams!

4. This book should come with a warning that the reader will be craving ALL THE FOOD by the end. Tell us about all the food in this book, and which your favorites are.

Yes! Haha. I always joke it needs that disclaimer because I always get grumpy with great food descriptions that I can’t have! KEEP SNACKS ON HAND, FAM.

Mainers will recognize Moxie, whoopie pie, and all the blueberries! In addition to the New England classics, we also have clam chowder, seafood chowder, and plenty of smoky, grilled fish and shrimp. While I would happily gobble up any meals Babe prepared for me, she’s especially known for her baked goods at the coffee shop where she works, The Busy Bean. Her cookies, cakes, and macarons are not to be missed!

I’d definitely stop by Busy’s for an iced coffee and a cookie or two, then work it off by exploring the town, hiking up to Babe’s lighthouse, and then coming back to town for a delicious seafood feast at Lorcan’s beach shack!

5. What’s your favorite quote from the book?

“The cardinal rule of every beach town is that locals do not get involved with tourists.”

ROFL as you might imagine, this is a rule that certainly gets broken in Small Town Hearts


Small Town Hearts by Lillie Vale
Published by Swoon Reads on March 19, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance
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Rule #1 – Never fall for a summer boy.

Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?


About Lillie Vale

Lillie Vale, upon discovering she could not be one of Santa’s elves or attend Hogwarts, decided to become a writer to create a little magic of her own. Enjoying the romantic and eerie in equal measure, she’s probably always writing a book where the main characters kiss or kill. Born in Mumbai, she has lived in many U.S. states, and now resides in an Indiana college town where the corn whispers and no one has a clue that she is actually the long-lost caps lock queen. She can be reached on Twitter @LillieLabyrinth and Instagram @labyrinthspine. Small Town Hearts is her debut novel.

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Interview with Jessica Brody | Sky Without Stars Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted March 21, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 5 Comments

Interview with Jessica Brody | Sky Without Stars Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell! Patricia and I both interviewed these authors! I’m hosting Jessica today, and Patricia hosted Joanne yesterday.


Interview with Jessica Brody

Can you briefly describe Sky Without Stars and the main characters?

Sky Without Stars is a sci-fi reimagining of Victor Hugo’s epic, Les Miserables…set on a distant planet! Basically it’s “Les Mis in space!” Here’s the short description:

Five-hundred years after the Last Days, an extravagant, elite class reigns supreme on the French-inspired planet of Laterre, but when a shocking murder shakes the foundations of the planet, the fates of three unlikely heroes from very different backgrounds (a thief, an officer, and a guardian) will intertwine as the planet spirals toward revolution.

Dun, dun, DUN! 😊

Who would you say is your favorite character from the story and why?

As much as I probably should say Chatine (inspired by Eponine from Les Mis), because I wrote the first draft of most of her chapters, I think my favorite character is a 13-year-old boy named Roche (inspired by the spunky street urchin, Gavroche in Les Mis). He’s a “Fret rat” (meaning he grew up in the Frets or “slums” of Laterre) and an “oublie” (Laterrian term for orphan. In French it literally means forgotten.) But he’s so charismatic and has this great upbeat outlook on life, despite his circumstances. He’s also quite the negotiator. I perked up every time he entered the scene I was writing!

How did you come up with the idea for the story? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

Back in 2014, I sat in on a retellings class taught by authors Christina Farley and Vivi Barnes. They handed us each a worksheet. On one side they told us to write down any and every classic story we’ve ever loved. Among many, I wrote “Les Misérables”. Then on the other side, they told us to write down a list of interesting settings. Among many, I wrote, “space.” (See picture below.) I literally drew a line between the two and a shiver ran through me. Les Mis, set in space? It felt like too big of an undertaking to do alone so years later when my best friend Joanne Rendell told, randomly, that Les Mis was one of her favorite classics, I knew she was the one I had to write it with! And SKY WITHOUT STARS was born!

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

Ooh! Luckily I have countless songs from the Les Mis soundtrack to choose from! Although “On My Own” very much embodies our character Chatine’s journey in this story, when it comes to the book a whole, I’d have to say “One Day More.” This is the song that marks the middle of the musical, right before the intermission, and it’s an ensemble piece where all the characters sing about all the different things they’re waiting for and what tomorrow might bring for them. There’s a sense of imminent danger in the song, but there’s also romance and greed and vengeance and despair, and most of all hope. To me, this the epitome of Les Mis: Danger, romance, greed, vengeance, despair, and hope.

I just hope that we’ve successfully captured it all in SKY WITHOUT STARS!

What’s the best and the worst thing about writing a book with someone else? What are the challenges you guys found while writing Sky Without Stars?

The best is definitely being able to brainstorm with someone else. Jo and I joke that it’s like being paid to play dolls. Except the dolls are characters in the story and the “doll house” is a distant planet in a yet-to-be-discovered solar system. We get super into it, acting out scenes, and doing voices, and conjuring up all sorts of dramatic situations for our characters. I’ve never had so much writing a book in my life. (And I’ve written more than 15 novels before this!)

The challenge for us has mostly been scheduling and distance. We live 3,000 miles apart on different ends of the country. So we’re not able to get together in person as often as we’d like. We rely on modern-day tech like Skype for video chats and Slack for messaging. But we always joke that it would be so great if we lived next door to each other and could hang out and play dolls…er, I mean, write every day together!

If your book was about to become a movie/TV show, who would you see playing as the characters in Sky Without Stars? 

I’m usually terrible at casting my own books! But here are my picks!

Anais Lee for Alouette

Odeya Rush for Chatine

Tyler Posey for Marcellus

Since it is still cold outside, what hot drink do you think would go perfectly with your book?

I would say a nice café au lait (or café crème as they say in Paris!) or chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) to go with the French theme!

Can you recommend any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish Sky Without Stars?

Yes! Definitely check out LAST OF HER NAME by Jessica Khoury, which is another sci-fi retelling set in space…this one a retelling of the legend of Anastasia, the lost Romanoff heir! Khoury’s world-building and plotting is so magnificent. I could NOT put this book down!

What’s next for you?

Joanne and I are about to dive into the revisions of book 2 in the trilogy, BETWEEN BURNING WORLDS. The first draft of that book caused us a LOT of agony and stress (as sequels often do) but in the end, I’m happy with where it is now and can’t wait for everyone to find out what happens next on planet Laterre. And yes, as the title suggests, it’s pretty explosive!


Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell
Published by Simon Pulse on March 26, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Science Fiction, Retelling
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A thief. An officer. A guardian.

Three strangers, one shared destiny . . .

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.


About Jessica Brody

Jessica Brody knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. She started self “publishing” her own books when she was seven years old, binding the pages together with cardboard, wallpaper samples, and electrical tape.

After graduating from Smith College in 2001 where she double majored in Economics and French and minored in Japanese, Jessica later went on to work for MGM Studios as a Manager of Acquisitions and Business Development. In May of 2005, Jessica quit her job to follow her dream of becoming a published author.

Since then, Jessica has sold over twelve novels for teens, tweens, and adults including 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, The Karma Club, My Life Undecided, and the three books in the Unremembered trilogy, the first of which is currently in development as a major motion picture by the producers of The Vampire Academy, Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Slumdog Millionaire. In 2016, she will release two new contemporary novels, A Week of Mondays (August) and Boys of Summer (April), and in 2017, her debut middle grade novel entitled, Addie Bell’s Shortcut to Growing Up, will hit bookstore shelves.

Jessica also writes books for the Descendants: “School of Secrets” series, based on the hit Disney Channel Original movie, Descendants!

Jessica’s books are published and translated in over twenty foreign countries. She currently splits her time between California and Colorado.

About Joanne Rendell

Joanne Rendell is the author of three novels and holds a PhD in English Literature. She teaches fiction writing to teens and kids, as well as online writing classes at Udemy.com and Lynda.com. Joanne is a board member for the youth Shakespeare company, New Genesis Productions. With her husband and son, she divides her time between New York City and New Paltz, New York.

 

 

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Interview With Stephanie Morrill | Within These Lines Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted March 4, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 6 Comments

Interview With Stephanie Morrill | Within These Lines Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour for Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill! As one of the co-owners of The FFBC, I had the privilege of organizing this tour and interviewing Stephanie!


Interview With Stephanie Morrill

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. You’re a self-proclaimed list maker. I’m assuming some of these lists are to-do lists, but what other kinds of lists do you write?

All kinds! I keep lists of places I want to go, skills I want my kids to have before they move out, books I read each year (starting and ending with my birthday), quotes I want to think about, and lots of other things. Every year I “celebrate” my birthday by making a list of what I learned in the last year, and the number corresponds with whatever age I’m turning. Sometimes my items are huge things that changed my life. Other times they’re products I fell in love with. I have a dorky amount of fun putting my birthday list together!

2. You’ve written both contemporary and historical YA. Do you prefer one over the other? How are they different for you?

I really love both contemporary and historical YA, though right now I’m in a groove with historical and I imagine I’ll stay here for a while. With historical, I really like being able to explore themes that resonate with our modern time without it feeling like a pointed attack, if that makes sense. I also like being free of questions like, “Should I mention social media platforms by name or is that totally going to date my book in a year or two?” Those are the kinds of struggles I have when I writing contemporaries!

3. Tell us about the site you created, GoTeenWriters.com. Why did you create it, and how has it helped you as a writer?

Go Teen Writers is my favorite corner of the internet. I created it back in January 2010 because so many of the emails I received from enthusiastic readers came from teens who were also writers. I was once a teen writer, and I didn’t know a single other person who wrote stories and wanted to be an author, so I loved the chance to pass along what I knew to these teens, and I also wanted to connect them to each other. A side benefit for me is that having the blog has helped me crystalize my own writing process, because I’m trying to understand and teach it. It also opens my eyes to different ways of doing things because the teens love to share their own processes as well!

4. Your bio says you love to travel, and have a list of places you’d love to visit. Which places are at the top of your list?

I do love to travel! One place that used to be at the very top of my list is Manzanar National Historic Site, but I was fortunate enough to cross that one off in 2018. I’m dying to get to Italy, particularly Venice because I’m just so intrigued by it. My husband and I have been planning a trip for a while, but we keep having babies, which isn’t great for international travel! Our youngest (and final) kiddos is three, so hopefully in the next few years.

5. What are you working on now?

I’m not totally sure yet! I’m really intrigued by the idea of writing a story with a dual timeline so that I can merge my love of contemporary and historical YA fiction, but I’m still figuring out what that looks like.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. The slogan for Within These Lines is “Be Brave Enough to Care, and Bold Enough to Act”. I love that. Can you tell us what this slogan means to you and how it represents the book?

Thank you! The slogan was born out of a conversation that the main character, Evalina, has with her friend Grace. Evalina’s really nervous about something and Grace tells her that it’s normal to be nervous when you care. That idea really popped out to me as I worked on the rest of the book and I began to notice in my own life how loving others made me vulnerable.

But it’s so easy to care and still not be moved to do anything. Even if we can get over our apathy, actually doing something still takes energy and often means inconveniencing ourselves. I love that in the story both Evalina and Taichi grow to be good at living out this mantra.

2. What inspired you to tell this particular story?

I’m obsessed with podcasts, especially Stuff You Missed in History Class. They did a two-part episode on Executive Order 9066, which is the order Franklin D. Roosevelt signed that gave the US government permission to evacuate Japanese Americans and put them in concentration camps.

I found these episodes fascinating, and because I’ve always written for teenagers the idea popped into my head, “What would’ve happened if there was a Caucasian teenage girl who was in love with a Japanese American teenage boy, and his family was taken away?” As I researched a little bit, I realized the story could be even more interesting if my Caucasian teenage girl was actually an Italian American teenage girl, since Italy was aligned with Germany and Japan, yet Japanese Americans were the only people group targeted as a whole with the incarceration.

3. Tell us about the kind of research you did for Within These Lines.

The research for this book was so intense. For The Lost Girl of Astor Street, my plot was fiction, so my historical era was really an elaborate set piece. For Within These Lines, since I was portraying real historical events and sometimes real people and their role in these events, I devoted about 40 hours total to the research process. (Yes, I kept track. Yes, I’m a nerd.) On top of reading tons of books and actually going to Manzanar, I emailed regularly with a park ranger who specializes in Manzanar history. I also spent lots and lots of time on Densho encyclopedia, which is a fantastic site that’s collected oral history and original source documents from the evacuation and internment periods. I’m sure I still managed to make mistakes in the book, but I did my best to be as accurate as possible.

4. If you wrote yourself into this book, what role would you have played?

That’s a hard question. I would want to be a friend of Evalina’s, protesting and speaking out alongside her. But I’m probably more like Evalina’s mother than any of the other characters. I found myself really relating to Zola’s struggle to support Evalina’s appropriate needs for freedom and also her own desire to have a close relationship with her daughter. Those emotions feel relatable to me as my daughter approaches her teen years!

5. What message do you hope readers take away from your book?

My greatest hope for every story I write is just that readers will enjoy it. That’s always in the front of my mind when I’m writing. But if in addition to enjoying Within These Lines, the book causes readers to awaken to social injustices around them, that would be fantastic too.


Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill
Published by BLINK on March 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Historical, Romance
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Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family in 1941 is everything it “should be” until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.

Degrading treatment make life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world are treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out on behalf of all Japanese Americans, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.

With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their values and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.


About Stephanie Morrill

Stephanie Morrill writes books about girls who are on an adventure to discover their unique place in the world. She is the author of several contemporary young adult series, as well as the 1920s mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street, and the WWII era romance, Within These Lines. Since 2010, Stephanie has been encouraging the next generation of writers at her website, GoTeenWriters.com. She lives in the Kansas City area, where she loves plotting big and small adventures to enjoy with her husband and three children. You can connect with Stephanie and learn more about her books at StephanieMorrill.comInstagramFacebook, and Twitter.

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Interview with Maureen Doyle McQuerry | Between Before & After Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted February 4, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 2 Comments

Interview with Maureen Doyle McQuerry | Between Before & After Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Maureen Doyle McQuerry’s Between Before & After! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the privilege of organizing this blog tour and interviewing Maureen!


Interview with Maureen Doyle McQuerry

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your website says, “Writers are like crows. They collect shiny objects that capture their attention and hide them away.” What little treasures have you found to add to your collection over the years?
I keep an idea folder on my computer and a notebook in my pocket. Some of the shiny things that end up there are what I call scraps: scraps of conversations, a line that pops into my head, a cool setting or idea. For example, I read about the real Mr. Walker’s library before I wrote The Peculiars. It was so amazing I cut out pictures of it and tucked them away. It became the seed for Mr.Beasely’s library.

2. What’s been the most thought-provoking question you’d been asked as a presenter at a writer’s conference?
How you know what your characters want.

3. Which books or authors do you look to for inspiration?
Here’s a very random list: Joan Didion, Neil Gaiman, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Mary Oliver, T.S.Elliot, James Agee, Emily St John Mandell’s Station Eleven, Pete Hamill, Denise Levertov, Kate DiCamillo, Madeline L’Engle

4. What are you reading right now?
Transcription by Kate Atkinson, just finished The Changling and will soon start The Gilded Wolves.

5. What are you up to when you’re not writing?
Visiting with friends, hiking, traveling, playing with my grandson, visiting with students and talking about writing and life.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. You’ve said that there’s a library in every one of your books. Is there one in this book? Tell us about it!
Yes! The 1955 San Jose public library is where Molly and her friend, Ari, go to research old New York. Molly’s looking for information about Woodward School and discovers it was a home for delinquent girls. In 1955, the San Jose library was housed in the old Post Office building that was built in 1892. It’s built from sandstone blocks and with its round turret and clock tower, it looks like a fancy sandcastle. The building is now the San Jose Museum of Art.

There was another library in a deleted scene. The Santa Clara Valley bookmobile! When I was little a pink bookmobile came to our neighborhood twice a month. I had a scene where Molly and brother visit their neighborhood bookmobile, but it slowed down the story and I cut the scene, even though I hated to lose the bookmobile!

2. What’s your favorite quote from the book?
I had to pick two:
“Every story should leave a little room for miracles.”
“The words came out small and feeble, a new born revelation finding its legs.”

3. It is mentioned that a retelling of Hansel and Gretel can be found in this book. What inspired you to retell this story?
The Hansel and Gretel fairy tale is the archetypal story of abandoned children who against all odds survive the darkest forest and eventually find home. It’s a story of resiliency and redemption.

4. If you wrote yourself into this book, what kind of character would you be?
I’d like to be a friend for Elaine when she had none. Someone she could talk to and laugh with because for many years her life had very little joy.

5. What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
That wonder is possible. That you can’t know the ending of the story just because you know the beginning, and that you can’t know how people will change either. I want readers to know that they can survive the darkest part of the woods and still find home.


Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
Published by BLINK on February 5, 2019
Genres: Young Adult — Historical, Mystery
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“The carnage began with the roses. She hacked at their ruffled blooms until they dropped into monstrous drifts of red on the parched yellow lawn … Only two things kept my mother grounded to us: my uncle Stephen and stories.”

Fourteen-year-old Molly worries about school, friends, and her parents’ failed marriage, but mostly about her mother’s growing depression. Molly knows her mother is nursing a carefully-kept secret. A writer with an obsession for other people’s life stories, Elaine Donnelly is the poster child of repressed emotions.

Molly spends her California summer alternately watching out for her little brother Angus and tip-toeing around her mother’s raw feelings. Molly needs her mother more than ever, but Elaine shuts herself off from real human connections and buries herself in the lives and deaths of the strangers she writes about. When Uncle Stephen is pressed into the limelight because of his miracle cure of a young man, Elaine can no longer hide behind other people’s stories. And as Molly digs into her mother’s past, she finds a secret hidden in her mother’s dresser that may be the key to unlocking a family mystery dating to 1918 New York—a secret that could destroy or save their future.


About Maureen Dole McQuerry

All of my books have an element of mystery and magic, even the realistic stories. And as a friend pointed out, there is a library in every one of them. It must be because libraries have always been magical places for me.

Maureen McQuerry is an award winning poet, novelist and teacher. Her YA novel, The Peculiars (Abrams/Amulet 2012) is an ALA Best Book for Young Adult Readers 2013, Bank Street and Horne Book recommended book, and a winner of the Westchester Award. Her most recent book is Beyond the Door (Abrams/Amulet), a Booklist top Ten Fantasy/SciFi for Youth. It is the first in a MG duo that combines, Celtic myth, shapeshifters and a secret code in a coming of age story. The adventure continues in The Telling Stone. Beyond the Door is a current finalist for the WA State Book awards.

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Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton | Pretty In Punxsutawney Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted January 7, 2019 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton | Pretty In Punxsutawney Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Laurie Boyle Crompton’s Pretty in Punxsutawney! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and interviewing Laurie!


Author Interview with Laurie Boyle Crompton

About the Author

1. Your bio mentions that you taught in an all-boy high school. Did you take anything away from that experience that helped you as a writer of YA fiction?

I learned that high school boys are just as awkward and nervous about growing up as high school girls are. Some of them take things like grades too seriously, and some of them really need to wake up and start caring a little bit about things like grades! Mostly I found that if you can make them laugh you can gain their trust, and when they open up they can come up with some amazing insights. I also learned that you should maybe not ever let your guard all the way down since some of them are expert spit-ball shooters and I *may* have gotten hit in the face once and had to go out in the hallway to give myself a little pep talk that I could *do this.* It’s probably for the best that I switched my focus to writing that first summer I had off. From there I moved on to working in a bookstore where even the most irate customers were much easier to deal with than teenage boys will ever be.

2. Your bio also states that you worked as a “toy expert”. What did that entail?

Working as a toy expert for a toy magazine was one of my favorite jobs and I highly recommend it! My office was lined with bookshelves filled with kids’ books and games and companies would constantly send us their newest toys. Probably the very best part? Spending a week every year at Toy Fair! That’s the trade show in NYC with all the latest toys, games and books all in one place. As a trade writer, my JOB was to explore the exhibits and find the most fun and innovative inventions and basically just play! It’s almost (but not quite) as much fun as writing fiction.

3. You’ve lived in many different places. Which has been your favorite one?

I grew up in western PA, but we had family in New York who we’d travel to visit a few times every year. As soon as I turned eighteen I moved to Queens, NY and it feels the most like home to me. My husband and I have lived in Florida and England, but always find our way back to New York and there’s something about being in NYC that makes me feel I’m in the center of the universe. That may sound silly, but from what I understand, it also kind of makes me an official New Yorker.

4. What are some of your favorite YA books?

I grew up reading Judy Blume so will always have a soft spot in my heart for books like Blubber and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. I have eclectic taste, so I’m happy reading everything from John Green to A. S. King to Elizabeth Acevedo to Rupi Kaur. One of the cool parts of becoming a YA author is that I sometimes get to meet and hang out with awesome authors such as Jess Verdi, Stewart Lewis, Shana Silver and Patty Blount. YA authors are truly some of the nicest and most generous and creative people you’d ever want to meet and I consider myself so lucky to be among them.

5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I love spending time with my family, including our three dogs who I call the pup-turducken since they can each stand over one another in small/medium/large size order. When I’m not writing, I can usually be found on a train or subway heading to television sets where I work part time as an extra, (and sometimes spend hours writing while waiting in holding!). I also love hiking and cross-country skiing through nature upstate. My default-downtime-setting is hanging out on the couch in our home on Long Island, either reading or sometimes drawing with Hulu or Netflix constantly checking in to see if I’m still alive.

About the Book

1. Pretty in Punxsutawney tips its hat to several popular movies from the 1980s. Was it challenging for you to incorporate these movies in to your book in a way that appealed to today’s teens?

Incorporating the teen movies from the 1980s was so much fun! Certain aspects of the films certainly feel dated, but the core emotions are still relevant to teens today. Plus, re-watching those classics was so much fun! It hard to imagine The Breakfast Club or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off happening today because it’s easy to picture kids sitting in the school library just playing on their phones through detention, or Ferris and Cameron playing Fortnite all day. But teens today wrestle with many of the same issues and insecurities as teens back in the days of neon slouch socks and John Hughes movies, and adolescence will always have certain universal challenges that it feels good to relate to.

2. Pitch your book to teens that have not seen Pretty in Pink or Groundhog Day, and therefore don’t necessarily understand the book’s back cover summary.

Pretty in Punxsutawney’s Andie is obsessed with 80s movies, but readers don’t need to be familiar with 80s movies to come along for the ride! Andie is just like any other girl, really, who happens to find herself looping through the same day over and over. It just so happens that the day she keeps reliving is her very first day at a brand new high school! Andie’s opportunity to re-invent herself is never-ending as she learns from her mistakes. The Pretty in Pink themes of breaking down cliques and ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ are pretty common and universal and certainly don’t require watching the movie, but then again, the movie is streaming on Netflix right now and stars Molly Ringwald and so what are you waiting for?

3. If you could relive any day in your life over and over again, which day would that be? Why?

Actually, repeating just an ordinary day with my family would be perfect. My wedding day was great but also super stressful and even the day I sold my first book was exciting but nerve wracking since I knew right when they were having the acquisitions meeting. Of course, I was thrilled with the outcome, but can’t imagine going through all that stress over and over again. I’d be happy with just a nice, lazy day with my loved ones and dogs all around me. It sounds boring I know, but those are my favorite days and since I live near NYC I could always spend a few years exploring the city and still have more new things to experience.

4. If you wrote yourself into this book, what kind of character would you play?

I’d love to envision myself as a wise teacher character who distributes perfect words of wisdom and encouragement, but please note aforementioned experience as an actual teacher. I’d most likely be the teacher that kids all manipulated into canceling quizzes and extending essay deadlines to the point where I’d get fired. And honestly feel relieved.

5. What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

We should all strive to make the most of each day we are given. Andie’s attitude and actions completely changed the type of day she had. We may not be in control of everything that happens to us today, but with the right attitude we can make it the best day possible!

That’s why we’ve been using the hashtag #todayiswhatyoumakeit

Here’s to making each day the best we possibly can!


Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton
Published by BLINK on January 15, 2019
Genres: Young Adult — Contemporary, Romance
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A Groundhog Day meets Pretty in Pink mashup from author Laurie Boyle Crompton, Pretty in Punxsutawney tells the tale of a girl willing to look beneath the surface to see people for who they really are.

Andie is the type of girl who always comes up with the perfect thing to say…after it’s too late to say it. She’s addicted to romance movies—okay, all movies—but has yet to experience her first kiss. After a move to Punxsutawney, PA, for her senior year, she gets caught in an endless loop of her first day at her new school, reliving those 24 hours again and again.

Convinced the curse will be broken when she meets her true love, Andie embarks on a mission: infiltrating the various cliques to find the one boy who can break the spell. What she discovers along the way is that people who seem completely different can often share the very same hopes, dreams, and hang-ups. And that even a day that has been lived over and over can be filled with unexpected connections and plenty of happy endings.


About Laurie Boyle Crompton

Laurie Boyle Crompton is the YA author of the upcoming PRETTY IN PUNXSUTAWNEY (Blink/HarperCollins 2019) as well as ADRENALINE CRUSH (Macmillan/2014, Square Fish/2016), BLAZE (or Love in the Time of Supervillains), THE REAL PROM QUEENS OF WESTFIELD HIGH and LOVE AND VANDALISM (Sourcebooks/2013, 2014, 2017). Growing up in ‘Pennsyltucky’ in the 1980s, Laurie couldn’t wait to escape rural life. After saving up her tips from waitressing at a local greasy spoon at 18 she packed up her acid wash jeans and moved to NY. Where everyone else had stopped wearing acid wash.

She graduated first in her class from St. John’s University with a BA in English and Journalism. Since then she’s written for national magazines like ALLURE, survived a teaching stint at an all-boy high school, and appeared on Good Day New York several times as a Toy Expert. And yes, ‘toy expert’ is an actual profession. Really.

She has lived in places like Orlando, Florida where she and her husband spent all of their spare time and money visiting theme parks before moving to the Cotswolds in England for six months, which was every bit as cool as that sounds. The Cromptons are now back in New York where their two children resent never going to Disney.

Laurie occasionally enjoys hanging out in fields of blooming flowers and also referring to herself in the third person.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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My Favorite Fictional Scrooges | The 12 Days of Holly Chase (+Giveaway)

Posted December 10, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway / 9 Comments

My Favorite Fictional Scrooges | The 12 Days of Holly Chase (+Giveaway)

I’m so excited to be a part of The 12 Days of Holly Chase blog tour, hosted by Your Book Travels. There’s so much fun happening along this festive blog tour!

My post today is pretty fun. In case you didn’t know, Holly Chase is a major Scrooge. Well, she was before she died. Now her afterlife has frozen her at age 17, and she works as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past. Obviously, this is a super miserable job. In honor of her, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite lovable, grumpy, Scroogey characters in books.

My Favorite Fictional Scrooges

Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Who doesn’t love our grumpy, swoony Mr. Darcy?

Prince Dominic from A Tale of Beauty and Beast by Melanie Cellier
Dominic is really a major jerk in the beginning of this Beauty and the Beast retelling. He’s grumpy and rude and you pretty much hate him… until you don’t.

Haymitch Abernathy from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
This former victor of the Hunger Games is in a perpetual bad mood and drinks all the time, but he’s actually got a big heart.

Gideon from Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Gideon is a snarky, experienced time traveler who is a complete nuisance to Gwyneth… in the beginning.

Callum Cook from Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle
This guy is very grumpy, and it’s even more obvious because Lou is so sunshiney!

Finn Dalton from Starry Night by Debbie Macomber
Finn is a grumpy, anti-social mountain man with this dry wit that leaves you feeling insecure and intrigued.

Lucas Blade from Miracle on Fifth Avenue by Sarah Morgan
Lucas is an actual Scrooge. He hates Christmas and is suer grumpy about it! Readers only see his bad side for a little while. He’s a grumpy and stressed author, and he’s downright irritating.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand
Published by HarperTeen on October 24, 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Christmas, Fantasy, Retelling
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository • IndieBound

On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . .

About Cynthia Hand

Cynthia Hand is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for teens, including the UNEARTHLY trilogy, THE LAST TIME WE SAY GOODBYE, MY LADY JANE and MY PLAIN JANE (with fellow authors Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows), THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE, and the upcoming novel THE HOW AND THE WHY (Fall 2019). Before turning to writing for young adults, she studied literary fiction and earned both an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. in fiction writing. She currently resides in Boise, Idaho, with a husband who’s addicted to typewriters, two kids, two cats, one crazy dog, and a entourage of imaginary friends. www.cynthiahandbooks.com

Holly-day Prize Pack Giveaway

The winner will receive a signed copy of a Cynthia Hand novel of your choice, a set of red fingerless gloves (knitted by Cynthia), a holiday spice candle, a copy of A Charlie Brown Christmas, two peppermint mocha bath bombs, a peppermint cream and pomegranate raspberry lip balm set, a “make your own ugly sweater kit,” a pair of reindeer glasses, a Christmas mug that reads: “Holi-yays,” Christmas pencils, candy cane Christmas kisses, and a limited edition Holly Chase ornament (signed by Cynthia). Digital MP3 download of The Afterlife of Holly Chase: An Alternate Christmas Carol by Lindsey Hunt.

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Rachael Lippincott’s Connection to Five Feet Apart | Author Guest Post (+ Giveaway)

Posted November 12, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Giveaway, Guest Post / 8 Comments

I’m pleased to kick off the official Five Feet Apart blog tour with this lovely guest post by author, Rachael Lippincott! I didn’t know that this story was a screenplay before a book, and that a movie is currently in production. That makes things even more interesting. I have a bit of a personal connection to this story, as someone I care about has cystic fibrosis. It’s so nice to get a little background on it, and what inspired its creation before the movie, starring Cole Sprouse and Haley Lu Richardson, hits theaters on March 20, 2019.


Rachael Lippincott’s Connection to Five Feet Apart
by Rachael Lippincott

To put it simply, this book is the product of the hard work of many, many people. From the screenplay itself, written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis, to Claire Wineland’s incredible contributions and spirit, to Justin Baldoni’s work as the director of the movie, to my physical writing of it, all of it had this innate desire to raise awareness about Cystic Fibrosis at the very core.

For me, everything started the day I got the screenplay for Five Feet Apart. I poured over the words, finishing it over the course of an afternoon, the story of Will and Stella leaving me filled with a myriad of emotions, from anger to joy to sadness to longing. When I finished, my computer screen was filled with tabs about Cystic Fibrosis and B. cepacia and medical statistics for the disease.

My inspiration started with the screenplay and grew to so much more than that over the course of that afternoon and the coming weeks and months. It became about the real life Wills and Stellas. People like Claire Wineland, who stare CF in the face and inspire so many others to live a life that they can be proud of. It became about a mom in Des Moines with this superhuman perseverance to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis foundation so that her daughter and so many other CFers can live to see a cure. It became about people that had never heard about Cystic Fibrosis reading Will and Stella’s story, or watching it on the big screen, and taking the time to open up google and learn about what the disease is.

I am acutely aware every day that this book could have had anyone’s name on the cover next to Mikki and Tobias’s. But I was lucky enough to be able to use my greatest passion, writing, to join a team of people committed to raising awareness about Cystic Fibrosis, and I take that very seriously. I can say earnestly that I will do everything I can to raise awareness for CF and I hope beyond all else that Five Feet Apart helps in some small way to bring about a cure.


Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott
Original screenplay written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 20, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction — Contemporary, Romance
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Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?


About Rachael Lippincott

Rachael Lippincott was born in Philadelphia and raised in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. She holds a BA in English writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, splitting her time between writing and running a food truck with her partner.

 

The publisher has graciously offered up a copy of Five Feet Apart to a lucky reader of That Artsy Reader Girl!

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Blog Tour Schedule

November 12 – That Artsy Reader Girl

November 13 – Vivacious Bibliophile

November 14 – A Gingerly Review

November 15 – Life of a Simple Reader

November 16 – A Glass of Wine

November 17 – Book is Glee

November 19 – Bumbles and Fairytales

November 20 – Adventures of a Book Junkie

November 21 – Jen Ryland Reviews

November 22 – Joyous Reads

November 23 – Chasing Faerytales

November 24 – Folded Pages Distillery

November 26 – Oh, Hey! Books

November 27 – Book Briefs

November 28 – Novel Knight Book Reviews

November 29 – A Dream within a Dream

November 30 – My Guilty Obsession


Author Interview With C.J. Lyons | The Color of Lies Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Posted November 5, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 4 Comments

Author Interview With C.J. Lyons | The Color of Lies Blog Tour (+Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of C.J. Lyons’s The Color of Lies! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour (creating the tour banner was especially fun!) and am delighted to be hosting C.J.’s welcome interview here on my blog as well!


Author Interview with C.J. Lyons

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio on your website says you’ve been a storyteller all your life. Can you tell us about one of your earliest stories?

CJ: One of my first memories is when I was two or three, using my mom’s hair curlers as finger puppets to tell stories. But my earliest written story that was read by anyone other than myself was in third or fourth grade when I wrote a serial for our class newspaper.

It was set during the Civil War and featured a blind girl and her horse (a palomino, of course) as she made her way through the wilderness spying for the Union Army. She had a walking staff that she also used for kung fu, thus hitting all the major tropes that would appeal to eight-year-olds…

Thank goodness there are no known copies left in existence!

2. You’ve written multiple books for teens and adults. How is writing YA fiction different than writing adult fiction?

CJ: I love writing YA because I can actually be more honest than with my adult fiction. Adults read for escape but YA readers also want that deep emotional honesty and they hate being coddled or patronized, so I can be blunt and truthful with them, go deep and dark, revealing that there’s a cost to any happy ending. It’s really quite refreshing!

3. Your first career was as a doctor. What skills and knowledge did you bring with you to your writing career?

CJ: Being a writer actually turned out to be a very valuable skill that helped my success as a physician—because I understood the patterns behind storytelling, I was able to allow my patients to tell their own stories without interruptions and translate their words into the facts I needed to help treat them.

In turn, being a physician helped my career as a thriller writer. Although I’m known best for my FBI thrillers, my first published books were medical suspense, set in a Pittsburgh ER. And of course, having first hand medical knowledge is really helpful once you start blowing things up and the bullets begin to fly.

4. What are some of your favorite thrillers?

CJ: Wow, this is so hard! I love anything Lisa Gardner writes—she’s a master of using point of view and setting to bring her characters to life. Of course, there are the classics, like Silence of the Lambs and The Eight. And I also enjoy more quiet psychological suspense that creeps into your soul—I was a huge fan of Sharp Objects before HBO ever heard of it.

5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

CJ: I am a avid reader—mainly YA, SF, some fantasy, poetry, and literary fiction. And I love movies, not just watching them for entertainment, but then breaking them down to see what works and what doesn’t. Now that there are so many great long-form TV series like Breaking Bad, The Handmaid’s Tale, etc, I really enjoy delving into that kind of storytelling as well.

I also love hiking—if a trail has waterfalls, I’m so there! And I enjoy traveling, immersing myself in different cultural experiences, although that always ends up being research for future books.

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in five words or less.

CJ: Girl’s life is a lie.

2. What inspired you to write a book about synesthesia?

CJ: As a physician, I’ve long been fascinated by unique medical oddities such as synesthesia. It’s not a disease, but rather the way the brain processes information is mistranslated into other senses. You may see letters as colors or smell words you read.

People with synesthesia experience the world differently, which is not only fascinating, it makes for an intriguing character—especially since we all base our idea of reality on what we see, hear, feel. For people with synesthesia, their reality is already very different than people who don’t have synesthesia, so if we upset that reliance on what is seen, felt, or heard, how do we know what’s real and what isn’t?

Start playing with people’s perception of reality, of their basic, essential truth, and you open up a world of possibilities for a story.

For The Color of Lies, I took that a step farther with the idea of a girl who saw everyone else’s truth … but was blind to her own.

I loved that conflict, the paradox of what we see and believe versus what is real. And how we deny reality, sacrifice it to our dreams by what we choose to believe … It happens every day in the real world. Just look at the epidemic of fake news posing as reality.

What if someone’s entire life was colored by what they wanted to believe instead of what was real? Answering that question led to The Color of Lies.

3. Does Ella see her medical condition as a blessing or a curse?

CJ: At the start of the story, Ella views it as mostly a blessing. Although her synesthesia has isolated her (she can’t bear to be in a crowd) and forced her to be the “adult” taking care of her grandmother and uncle who are more severely impacted by their own forms of synesthesia, it has also given Ella the gift of seeing the truth in people, which she has translated into her art.

By the end of the story, everything has changed—not only how Ella feels about her synesthesia, but also how she feels about the truths it reveals.

4. What’s your favorite quote from The Color of Lies?

CJ: “The world is filled with magic. You just have to look and listen.”

5. What kinds of things did you research while writing this book?

CJ: As a physician, I had access to a lot of research about the causes and types of synesthesia, but those weren’t helpful as I really wanted to learn more about how people experienced it and how it impacted their lives.

Luckily, there are several great books that go into depth about historical people who had synesthesia and there are a lot of YouTube videos with first hand accounts of how people live with it. I also have a friend who sees music as color and light and one who sees letters as colors, so it was great fun listening to their stories.

It’s more common than people realize—twice as common as having red hair (a fact that plays into The Color of Lies). I’m not sure, but I may have a form myself. Ever since I was a kid I could read a recipe and taste it—even if I’d never tasted that recipe or its ingredients before. Or maybe that’s just the over-active imagination of a storyteller at work!


The Color of Lies by C.J. Lyons
Published by BLINK on November 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Contemporary, Mystery, Thriller
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From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author CJ Lyons comes The Color of Lies, a world drenched in color and mystery.

High school senior Ella Cleary has always been good at reading people. Her family has a rare medical condition called synesthesia that scrambles the senses—her Gram Helen sees every sound, and her uncle Joe can literally taste words. Ella’s own synesthesia manifests itself as the ability to see colors that reveal people’s true emotions…until she meets a guy she just can’t read.

Alec is a mystery to Ella, a handsome, enigmatic young journalist who makes her feel normal for the first time in her life. That is, until he reveals the real reason why he sought her out—he wants to learn the truth behind her parents’ deaths, the parents that Ella had always been told died in a fire. Alec turns Ella’s world upside down when he tells her their deaths were definitely not an accident.

After learning her entire life has been a lie, Ella doesn’t know who she can trust or even who she really is. With her adoptive family keeping secrets and the evidence mixing fact and fiction, the only way for Ella to learn the truth about her past is to find a killer.

Perfect for fans of Caroline B. Cooney, Ally Carter, and Jennifer Brown, The Color of Lies blurs the lines between black-and-white facts and the kaleidoscope of reality.


About C.J. Lyons

CJ Lyons has lived most of her life on the edge.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over forty novels, former pediatric ER doctor CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has been called a “master within the genre” (Pittsburgh Magazine) and her work has been praised as “breathtakingly fast-paced” and “riveting” (Publishers Weekly) with “characters with beating hearts and three dimensions” (Newsday).

She has assisted police and prosecutors with cases involving child abuse, rape, homicide and Munchausen by Proxy. She has worked in numerous trauma centers, on the Navajo reservation, as a crisis counselor, victim advocate, as well as a flight physician for Life Flight and Stat Medevac.

A story-teller all her life, CJ has always created stories about people discovering the courage to make a difference. This led her to coin the term: Thrillers with Heart.

CJ has taught numerous live and online workshops as well as given keynote speeches to audiences around the world, including: The London Book Fair, The Frankfurt Book Fair, Mystery Writers of America’s Sleuthfest, RWA, Romantic Times, Oklahoma Writer Federation,Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and PennWriters among others. She was also the conference chairperson for the highly successful inaugural ITW ThrillerFest.

Her novels have twice won the International Thriller Writers prestigious Thriller Award, the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award, Golden Gateway, Readers’ Choice Award, the RT Seal of Excellence, and Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

To learn more about CJ and her writing, check out these interviews with her.

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Teri Bailey Black’s Experiences As a Debut Author | Girl At the Grave Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted October 25, 2018 by Jana in Blog Tour, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway, Guest Post / 7 Comments

Teri Bailey Black’s Experiences As a Debut Author | Girl At the Grave Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Teri Bailey Black’s The Girl At the Grave! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and am delighted to be hosting Teri’s guest post on her experiences as a debut author here on my blog as well!


My Experiences As a Debut Author
by Teri Bailey Black

Two days after my book was released, I received a message from a stranger through social media: “It is 2 am, so I’m not even going to attempt writing my review until tomorrow, but your book is everything! Thank you for writing it and sharing it.”

Messages like that make my heart sing because getting published is a bumpy road with as many twists and turns as a murder mystery.

I’ve been writing stories since I learned to read, but stopped for about ten years after I got married and had four children. My first child was born with severe disabilities, which brought a few extra challenges. Plus, I started a home business that took off and kept me creatively happy. Life was busy! But as my kids hit the teen years, I yearned to write again and started carving out that time.

It took me a while to figure out WHAT I wanted to write. I started out with middle grade fantasy because that’s what I enjoyed reading with my kids. I went to a big SCBWI conference in Los Angeles and submitted my first chapter for a critique with an editor. I sat down with much fear and trembling, and her first words were, “This is amaaazing! How fast can you finish it?” Wow, that was quick and easy. I spent four months finishing the manuscript, sent it to her with confidence—and a month later received a 2-sentence form rejection letter, not personalized at all.

Okay, not so quick and easy.

By then, I’d realized that my writing voice isn’t middle grade action, it’s more atmospheric and young adult. I wrote a young adult fantasy with magic, but by the time it was done, I knew it wasn’t that special—just a practice novel. I sent queries to agents anyway and did receive some personal notes that encouraged me. They liked my writing, but not the story.

Hm. Start again—with what? By then, the market was flooded with some truly amazing YA fantasy and dystopian, so I wanted to try something different. I’ve always loved murder mysteries, so quickly landed on that idea. (At the time, I wasn’t aware of any YA mysteries, but they’ve since become a trend, which makes me happy because I love them!)

GIRL AT THE GRAVE started as an image in my mind of a little girl in the 1800’s with wild curls and dirty feet—an outcast because her mother was hanged for murder. The story started in her childhood, then wandered into her teen years. I added murder and romance. I wrote without much of a plan (typical seat-of-the-pants writing, before I’d figured out good plotting techniques.) That first draft took a year, writing occasionally.

I sent out queries and received several requests for the full, followed by rejections with praise for my writing voice but problems with the plot. One agent asked me to revise and resubmit, with a suggestion to make it either a full children’s story or a full YA story. Seemed so obvious, suddenly.

I set the story aside for six months while I read some books on plotting—wishing I’d done that earlier. Who knew there was so much to writing? (Everyone except me, apparently.) I carefully restructured the whole story, then rewrote it. This time, I saw clearly what the story needed to be.

That third version was the ticket to publication. Quite a few agents requested the full. Barbara Poelle read it and called quickly (no surprise if you know Barbara), which led to a stressful weekend as I emailed the other agents and they all scrambled for a chance. But I knew I wanted Barbara. A month or so later, she sold it to Tor Teen in a 2-book deal. Exciting!

Until . . . three months later, I received my revision notes from my editor. Her sharp, professional eyes had spotted a problem at the core of the story that would require changing almost every thought, word, and action from the main character. I completely agreed with her; that wasn’t the sticking point. But UGH! I couldn’t imagine rewriting it yet AGAIN. I flailed around for a few days, then took a deep breath and said YES I CAN DO THIS. She wanted the revision in 3 weeks. I said impossible. She then gave me six weeks, and I ended up taking 8 weeks. As the deadline loomed, there were some all-night writing sessions. I pushed the send button and collapsed.

Now, when I read reviews praising the book’s plot, it makes me giggle a little. It wasn’t easy, but I did get there in the end.

Thank goodness those first few books didn’t sell. Yes, really. I needed that practice to learn the craft, because once you hit the book deal, strong writing skills are required to revise quickly and meet deadlines. (Well, I didn’t revise QUICKLY, but more quickly than I could have a year earlier.)

I’m happy to say that my next book is coming together in a much easier fashion. Another murder mystery with dead bodies, romance, and a setting that makes me clap my hands with excitement. Can’t wait to share it with the world!


Girl At the Grave by Teri Bailey Black
Published by Tor Teen on August 7, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Historical, Mystery, Romance
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

Valentine has spent years trying to outrun her mother’s legacy. But small towns have long memories, and when a new string of murders occurs, all signs point to the daughter of a murderer.

Only one person believes Valentine is innocent—Rowan Blackshaw, the son of the man her mother killed all those years ago. Valentine vows to find the real killer, but when she finally uncovers the horrifying truth, she must choose to face her own dark secrets, even if it means losing Rowan in the end.


About Teri Bailey Black

Teri Bailey Black grew up near the beach in southern California in a large, quirky family with no television or junk food, but an abundance of books and art supplies. She’s happiest when she’s creating things, whether it’s with words, fabric, or digging in the garden. She makes an amazing chocolate cherry cake—frequently. She and her husband have four children and live in Orange County, California.

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Author Interview With Emily Suvada | This Cruel Design Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Posted October 22, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Giveaway / 3 Comments

Author Interview With Emily Suvada | This Cruel Design Blog Tour (+ Giveaway)

Welcome to The FFBC’s blog tour of Emily Suvada’s This Cruel Design! As one of the co-owners of The Fantastic Flying Book Club, I had the exciting privilege of organizing this blog tour and am delighted to be hosting Emily’s welcome interview here on my blog as well!


Author Interview With Emily Suvada

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

1. Your bio says you’re very passionate about STEM subjects. How have your books allowed you to share that passion with your readers?

I’m definitely passionate about STEM subjects. I studied math and science at university and while I don’t work in those fields today, I still read about science constantly and work hard to keep up-to-date with new advancements in those fields. Personally, I think science is exciting, fast-moving, creative, and holds a lot of ways to express yourself. That’s something I wanted to incorporate into my books by using science as a foundation for my world-building as well as a core interest for many of my characters. A lot of books showcase fairly recognizable scientific characters—the cold, clinical and logical person in a lab coat. I definitely have a character like that in my book, but I’ve also got the ambitious, headstrong and reckless scientist in there, as well as the curious, contemplative, idealistic scientist, and even the ground-breaking, unrestrained, and wildly creative scientist, too. There’s so much more to STEM subjects than charts and lab coats – there’s philosophy, ethics, and adventure, and I wanted to showcase all these sides of science through the plot, characters, and world of the Mortal Coil series.

2. When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I remember crafting complicated stories about pirates and lush tropical islands in grade school, and being proud when the teacher read one aloud to the class. I’ve always been a voracious reader – I lived right near my town’s library and went there almost every day – and I think that love of books naturally translated into a desire to write them myself. I tried writing short stories and had a few failed starts at tackling a novel while I was at university, but I didn’t really know what genre I wanted to write in. I was trying to craft literary stories but my heart had always been in scifi. It wasn’t until I read Twilight that I truly fell in love with the YA genre and realized it was where I wanted to be. From there, I found my way back to science fiction and discovered a love of thrillers, and This Mortal Coil was the result of merging those three interests – YA, scifi, and thrillers.

3. What have you learned about writing/yourself since your debut?

What a great question! I think the biggest thing I’ve learned since publishing my debut is that I love being an author. Before you’re published, it’s easy to think of being an author as just someone who writes books which magically appear on shelves, and who spends their days inside crafting sentences and characters. That’s definitely part of the job, and it’s a part that I love, but I also really like interacting with readers, I like promoting my books, and I like strategizing about the business aspects of publishing. I love every facet of the role of being an author – and I’ve learned that this truly is what I want to do for the rest of my life!

4. What are some of the best books you’ve read so far this year?

This year has been a great one for books! I read Laini Taylor’s STRANGE THE DREAMER early in the year and was absolutely spellbound and awestruck by it. I’ve got MUSE OF NIGHTMARES and am dying to get into it, too. I also tore my way through the SHADES OF MAGIC series by V.E. Schwab this year, having come to it a little late. I absolutely loved it, and wish desperately there was more of them to read! I’ve also loved a couple of debuts that are coming out next year – WILDER GIRLS by Rory Power and THE LUMINOUS DEAD by Caitlin Starling. Both books totally gripped me – they’re beautifully written and I can’t wait to see them out in the world.

5. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

I really like gardening, cooking, and crafts – anything I can do with my hands and create something I can look at and enjoy. I’m fairly active, and try to go for a run or a bike ride a few of times a week, though sometimes I just want to snuggle on the couch with a good book. My husband and I play video games together, too. Right now we’re playing one of the Divinity RPGs and I’m obsessed with crafting :D

ABOUT THE BOOK

1. Describe your book in five words or less.

Fast, twisty, scientific, bold, and exciting. (I’m not counting ‘and’. You can’t make me!)

2. Pitch this series to those who haven’t read This Mortal Coil yet!

If you liked the science and action in Jurassic Park, or the pace and apocalyptic imagery of Mad Max, or if you like the sound of a story about a gene-hacker trying to saving the world from a virus that detonates its victims into plumes of infectious mist, then you should check out This Mortal Coil!

3. The heroine, Cat, is a gene-hacker. What inspired you to write about a character with this unique skill?

I’m so interested in genetics, and genetic engineering. I keep up-to-date with advancements in these fields, and some of the emerging technology is truly groundbreaking. While I think we’re a long way from hacking our DNA on-the-fly, we’re definitely not far from hacking our own genes – in fact people are already trying it in their own homes. As with any emerging tech, I think researchers and corporations are going to do most of the groundbreaking work, but people have a vested interest in their own health and many people are happy to try a supplement or strange treatment if it’s going to give them a shot at being healthier. If you take this adventurous spirit with regards to medicine and combine it with easy access to genetic engineering, I don’t think it’s too outlandish to imagine a world where people are pursuing genetic alterations like we see in This Mortal Coil. Since I expect that we’re going to end up relying on algorithms to edit our DNA, it seemed sensible to combine coding and genetics, and then I created a character with a love of both fields, and Cat was born.

4. What’s your favorite quote from This Cruel Design?

I have two. One quote comes from a point in the story where Cat has been pushed to a limit inside herself and finds a strength there she’s been searching for:

There is not one of me—I am no single voice in the darkness. I am a chorus. A symphony of code and violence, driving a knife into each of their hearts.

The other of my favorite quotes is the last line from Chapter 26, just because I think it’s badass :D

5. Is there a message you hope readers pull from the story?

With the entire series, what I’m hoping for is that readers will be faced with difficult questions that there is no easy answer to. That’s because I don’t think there really are any easy answers when it comes to scientific ethics and development. What’s more important than the answers is the eagerness to consider multiple viewpoints, and to try to keep learning and thinking, and contemplating. Today’s young readers are tomorrow’s scientists, and I hope they come away from these books a little more excited about science, about coding and STEM topics, but also with an understanding that these subjects are likely to radically change the world in the next hundred years, and they will be the ones who determine if it changes for the better, or for the worse.


This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada
Series: This Mortal Coil #2
Published by Simon Pulse on October 30, 2018
Genres: Young Adult — Science Fiction, Dystopia
Add to Goodreads • Amazon • B&N • Book Depository

Cat thought the Hydra epidemic was over, but when new cases pop up, Cat must team up with an enemy to fix the vaccine before the virus spirals out of control in this thrilling sequel to This Mortal Coil, which New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman says “redefines ‘unputdownable.’”

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.


About Emily Suvada

Emily Suvada was born and raised in Australia, where she went on to study mathematics and astrophysics. She previously worked as a data scientist, and still spends hours writing algorithms to perform tasks which would only take minutes to complete on her own. When not writing, she can be found hiking, cycling, and conducting chemistry experiments in her kitchen. She currently lives in Portland, OR, with her husband.

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