Category: Debut Author Challenge

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.

Author Website | Twitter | Instagram


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Debut Author Challenge 2018: July – December Review Link-Up

Posted July 1, 2018 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge / 0 Comments

Welcome to the second half of the 2018 Debut Author Challenge! I can’t believe the year is already half over, but here we are! You all linked up 119 reviews in January-June, and I am so proud! Let’s get even more during this last half of the year!

Helpful Links:

Goodreads list of 2018 Debut Author Challenge books.
• Official Goodreads group for the challenge.
Google spreadsheet of 2018 debuts.
• Request that a book be added to the Google spreadsheet here.
• Debut authors: learn how to be featured in an issue of the Debut Dish!

Some things to remember:

– This is the review link-up for all debut reviews you write in July, August, September, October, November, and December. This does not mean that the books you review have to be published during these six months. You can read and review any debut, any month of the year.

– If you forgot to link up anything from the last 6 months to he last link-up, go ahead and link them now. I know it’s hard to remember. Please be honest about this and don’t re-post links to reviews that you already linked up on the previous link-up post.

– In order to get credit for your review, you must have read the book in 2018. If you read an ARC of a 2018 debut in 2017, it does not count. Also, don’t jump the gun and start reading 2019 ARCs! They won’t count for either the 2018 challenge or the 2019 challenge. I don’t want people with access to ARCs to have an advantage over those who don’t.

– I’m here if you have any questions at all, so don’t hesitate to shoot me a message via Twitter or comment or homing pigeon.

This is the second of two bi-annual review link-ups, which will be accessible by hovering over the Debut Author Challenge tab at the top of the blog and clicking the box that says “Book Review Link-Up”. Each link you submit counts as one entry into the giveaway. I will use the random number generator to draw a winner at the end of December. The winner will win their choice of a 2018 debut book from my list, which I will mail them. This giveaways is open internationally, provided Book Depository ships to you!

The Debut Dish: Adrienne Young

Posted April 22, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish / 4 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Adrienne Young (Sky In the Deep).



Sky In the Deep by Adrienne Young
April 24, 2018 from Wednesday Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website


Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Brutal. Bloody. Introspective. Action-packed.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I think my favorite scene is the one the title came from. Eelyn is standing on a frozen lake and the ice is reflecting the night sky, making it look like the sky is beneath her. It’s the first real moment she realizes that she can’t hold on to everything she’s ever believed and that when everything’s over, she will be different.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home. The book went to auction, which means that there was a set day and time when the offers would be submitted. I spent the morning on the phone with my agent going over everything and when I hung up on the final call, my husband and two of my best friends were waiting in the other room with mimosas.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Donuts. All the donuts in the world.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A turtle shell. I love to collect things from the natural world like stones, feathers, insects, or bones!

The Debut Dish: Jessica Leake, Emma Berquist, Kaitlyn Sage Patterson, & Carolyn O’Doherty (+ Giveaways)

Posted April 8, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 11 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Jessica Leake (Beyond a Darkened Shore), Emma Berquist (Devils Unto Dust), Kaitlyn Sage Patterson (The Diminished), and Carolyn O’Doherty (Rewind).


Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake
April 10, 2018 from HarperTeen
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The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.

The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn, but the entire world.

Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world.

With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Action-packed mythological fantasy & romance.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
One of my non-spoilery scenes comes in the beginning of the book when the main character Ciara meets the Morrigan for the first time. The Morrigan forces her to watch all the horrible things that can happen to Ciara’s world and family if she doesn’t do anything to stop the coming evil, and it’s creepy and intense and dark…just like the Morrigan herself.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I had just had my fourth baby the week before, so I was at home in that state of happy exhaustion, and I saw that I had a missed call from my agent. I listened to the voicemail right away, of course, (I actually still have the voicemail lol) and she said that I needed to call her immediately, that if I was driving, I needed to pull over and call her right away. So my mom was there helping with my other kids, and she excitedly told me to hurry up and call my agent back. I went into my room, and I listened in a state of shocked confusion as my agent told me that HarperCollins had offered to buy not just one, but TWO books!! I remember I just kept saying, “What?!” over and over. And then I went out of my room and told my mom, and she cried. Such an incredible surprise! One of my happiest memories, for sure.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate and just about anything sweet. I try to tell myself eating dark chocolate isn’t really the same as eating junk food, but I’m pretty sure it is when I chase a square of it with chocolate-chip cookies 😆.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I just cleaned out my office so I can answer this definitively: a small figurine of Willow from the movie Willow circa 1988.

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Devils Unto Dust by Emma Berquist
April 10, 2018 from Greenwillow
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Ten years ago, a horrifying disease began spreading across the West Texas desert. Infected people—shakes—attacked the living and created havoc and destruction. No one has ever survived the infection. Daisy Wilcox, known as Willie, has been protecting her siblings within the relatively safe walls of Glory, Texas. When Willie’s good-for-nothing father steals a fortune from one of the most dangerous shake-hunters in town, she finds herself on the hook for his debt. With two hunters, including the gruff and handsome Ben, to accompany her, she sets out across the desert in search of her father. But the desert is not kind to travelers, and not everyone will pass through alive.

Western meets horror for this riveting story about survival, family, and inner strength. Tense, short chapters propel readers from one action-packed scene to the next, while Willie’s distinctive, introspective voice deepens the emotional stakes with every turn of the page. High concept and character-driven, Emma Berquist’s debut will satisfy fans of The Magnificent Seven, Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger, and HBO’s Westworld.

Describe your book in five words or less.
No Country For Young Adults

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I’m a sucker for the quiet moments that sneak up in-between all the chaos. I tried to give Willie a few of those moments, and they stuck with me the most.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I’d just finished taking my dog out, and I got tangled up trying to get the leash off while lunging for the phone. I could barely hear anything, I was breathing so hard.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Tough to choose just one. I’m partial to a giant bowl of popcorn with olive oil, salt and pepper. That or a spoon in a jar of peanut butter.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Random plug adaptor that I’m sure belongs to something I’ve already lost. A tiny cake made out of clay.

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The Diminished by Kaitlyn Sage Patterson
April 10, 2018 from Harlequin Teen
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In the Alskad Empire, nearly all are born with a twin, two halves to form one whole…yet some face the world alone.

The singleborn

A rare few are singleborn in each generation, and therefore given the right to rule by the gods and goddesses. Bo Trousillion is one of these few, born into the royal line and destined to rule. Though he has been chosen to succeed his great-aunt, Queen Runa, as the leader of the Alskad Empire, Bo has never felt equal to the grand future before him.

The diminished

When one twin dies, the other usually follows, unable to face the world without their other half. Those who survive are considered diminished, doomed to succumb to the violent grief that inevitably destroys everyone whose twin has died. Such is the fate of Vi Abernathy, whose twin sister died in infancy. Raised by the anchorites of the temple after her family cast her off, Vi has spent her whole life scheming for a way to escape and live out what’s left of her life in peace.

As their sixteenth birthdays approach, Bo and Vi face very different futures—one a life of luxury as the heir to the throne, the other years of backbreaking work as a temple servant. But a long-held secret and the fate of the empire are destined to bring them together in a way they never could have imagined.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Siblings, grief, politics, loneliness, rebellion

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene in THE DIMINISHED is a kissing scene that takes place in a pool on board a ship. It’s all about letting go and living in the moment, which is really hard for my main characters.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in a board room, making a presentation to my bosses. I’d forgotten to put my phone on silent, and it started blaring “Formation” by Beyoncé. You cannot imagine the blushes.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Ruffles and canned french onion dip 4eva.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Is it weird to keep hot sauce AND nail polish on your desk? I don’t know what’s normal anymore. I’m too deep in my deadline.

Rewind by Carolyn O’Doherty
April 10, 2018 from Boyds Mills Press
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Sixteen-year-old Alex is a Spinner–she has the ability to rewind time to review past events. Hated and feared because of their ability to find the truth, the small population of Spinners is restricted to Centers–compounds created to house and protect them. Alex’s society uses the Spinners’ skills to solve major crimes, but messing with time comes with consequences: no Spinner lives past the age of twenty. At sixteen, Alex is in her prime–until time sickness strikes early. When she is offered an experimental treatment, Alex sees a future for herself for the first time. But the promising medication offers more than just a cure–it also brings with it dire consequences.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Teenagers who can freeze time.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is when Alex wakes up in the clinic and discovers her time freezing skills have changed. It’s a pivotal event in her life and a place in the story where the stakes start to ratchet up. It was also a super fun scene to write — especially in a book where my main character doesn’t get to have too many lighthearted moments.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
You know what’s crazy? I’m not 100% sure. It was two years ago and I think I was at work, but I’d imagined the scene in my head so many times it’s possible I’m remembering the fantasy rather than the reality!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Salt and vinegar potato chips.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A big bag of sweet li hing mui (pickled plums). I grew up in Hawaii and these were my favorite snack so I bought some for my son’s birthday. They were not a hit. Now the whole bag is for me!

The Debut Dish: Lindsay Champion & Amelia Brunskill (+ Giveaways)

Posted April 1, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 5 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Lindsay Champion (Someday, Somewhere) and Amelia Brunskill (The Window).

Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion
April 3, 2018 from KCP Loft / Kids Can Press
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Dominique is a high school junior from a gritty neighborhood in Trenton, where she and her mom are barely getting by.

Ben is a musical prodigy from the Upper East Side, a violinist at a top conservatory with obsessive talent and a brilliant future.

When Dom’s class is taken to hear a concert at Carnegie Hall, she expects to be bored out of her mind. But then she sees the boy in the front row playing violin like his life depends on it — and she is transfixed.

Posing as an NYU student, Dom sneaks back to New York City to track down Ben Tristan, a magnetic genius who whisks her into a fantasy world of jazz clubs and opera, infatuation and possibility. Each sees something in the other that promises to complete them.

As Dom’s web of lies grows, though, so does Ben’s obsessive need to conquer Beethoven’s famous Kreutzer Sonata. But Ben’s genius, which captivates Dominique, conceals a secret, and the challenges of her life may make it difficult to help him.

Alternating perspectives and an unreliable narrator create suspense and momentum, romance and heartbreak. Author Lindsay Champion’s deep roots in theater and music are evident on every page — structured like a sonata with hints of West Side Story, her debut novel hits all the right notes.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Teens find art, love, themselves.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE is written in first-person, with alternating accounts from the perspectives of the two main characters, Dominique and Ben. In my favorite scene, Dom and Ben share their first kiss while riding the subway. As they kiss, the point of view switches to second person (“we” and “us”) and the language becomes more poetic – it’s a cool trick to heighten the stakes of the scene and help readers understand what an important moment this is for the characters. (And because I’m a huge symmetry nerd, I also love that it happens right in the middle of the book!)

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
What an amazing day – I was at my favorite restaurant of all time, Upstate (don’t let the name fool you, it’s in the East Village, in New York City). It was a gorgeous summer day, and my fiancé and I had both gotten out of work early and were hanging out, having an early dinner, which we almost never get to do. He got up to go to the bathroom, I checked my phone, and there it was…the most glorious email to end all emails, from my agent, Sarah Davies: “Kate Egan, the editorial director of KCP Loft, loves your book!” It was a perfect moment I’ll never, ever forget.

What’s your favorite junk food?
It’s an extremely difficult toss-up between peanut butter cups and pizza. Don’t make me choose.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An alpaca stuffed animal named Andre-Andrew.

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The Window by Amelia Brunskill
April 3, 2018 from Delacorte
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Anna is everything her identical twin is not. Outgoing and athletic, she is the opposite of quiet introvert Jess. The same on the outside, yet so completely different inside–it’s hard to believe the girls are sisters, let alone twins. But they are. And they tell each other everything.

Or so Jess thought.

After Anna falls to her death while sneaking out her bedroom window, Jess’s life begins to unravel. Everyone says it was an accident, but to Jess, that doesn’t add up. Where was Anna going? Who was she meeting? And how long had Anna been lying to her?

Jess is compelled to learn everything she can about the sister she thought she knew. At first it’s a way to stay busy and find closure . . . but Jess soon discovers that her twin kept a lot of secrets. And as she digs deeper, she learns that the answers she’s looking for may be truths that no one wants her to uncover.

Because Anna wasn’t the only one with secrets.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Twins: One lost, one searching.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The book is mostly from Jess’s perspective, with snippets of Anna’s thoughts from the night that she died. There is only one scene in the whole book where Anna and Jess are both together, and I think that is my favorite scene, because it is where we get to see them interacting and get a true sense of what they meant to each other.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was on the couch at home, and it was in the evening, so I had assumed that there would be no news coming that day. Then I got an email from my agent, who was on vacation in London, with the subject line “Interest from Random House!”. I read it about four times, and then made my husband read it. He thought it was going to be bad news because apparently I looked completely freaked out!

What’s your favorite junk food?
It really is hard to beat Chubby Hubby ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s. There is something miraculous about the combination of malt ice cream and peanut butter filled pretzels.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
An old wooden mannequin hand, which is one of the coolest and the creepiest things that I own.

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The Debut Dish: Kim Chance, Ashley Woodfolk, Jen Petro-Roy, & Sarah Nicole Smetana (+ Giveaways)

Posted March 11, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 5 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Kim Chance (Keeper), Ashley Woodfolk (The Beauty That Remains), Jen Petro-Roy (P.S. I Miss You), and Sarah Nicole Smetana (The Midnights).

Keeper by Kim Chance
January 30, 2018 from Flux Books
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.

After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Magic Always Leaves a Mark.

I sorta cheated, but this is the tagline of the book, and in my opinion, nothing could describe it more perfectly!

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Oh gosh, there are so many! Without giving any spoilers, I think I’d have to say that my favorite scene is the moment when my main character, Lainey, decides to take control of her own destiny. She goes through a lot in the book, and when she finally decides to be active in her fate, not just react to what’s happening to her is a really cool moment. It was a lot of fun to write!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was in the middle of class! My students were working independently on an assignment, so I decided to do a quick check of my email. When I saw the message, I literally squealed out loud! I got to share the news with my students first, which was so special! I wrote the book with those kids in mind, so getting to share the joy of the moment with them was an awesome experience!

What’s your favorite junk food?
I have a major sweet tooth, so anything with chocolate! I especially love white chocolate and Reese cups! For writing sessions though, I have to have jolly ranchers or my caramel apple suckers–I can’t write without them!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have to have a pretty clean space when I work. A cluttered desk stresses me out–I’m a type A personality–so there’s not much on it! I guess the oddest thing is a pacifier and a baby monitor. I have three kids and my youngest is only five months old. I have to balance mom life and writer life pretty much every day!

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The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
March 6, 2018 from Delacorte Press
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Music brought Autumn, Shay, and Logan together. Death wants to tear them apart.

Autumn always knew exactly who she was—a talented artist and a loyal friend. Shay was defined by two things: her bond with her twin sister, Sasha, and her love of music. And Logan always turned to writing love songs when his love life was a little less than perfect.

But when tragedy strikes each of them, somehow music is no longer enough. Now Logan can’t stop watching vlogs of his dead ex-boyfriend. Shay is a music blogger struggling to keep it together. And Autumn sends messages that she knows can never be answered.

Despite the odds, one band’s music will reunite them and prove that after grief, beauty thrives in the people left behind.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Three teens. All the feels.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is the scene after two of my characters kiss for the first time. Their romance simmers for a little more than half of the novel, and when they finally kiss, it’s pretty epic. But in the scene that follows the male character, Dante, who is the strong, silent type opens up to Autumn, and it feels real and earned and sweet.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
At work. My agent called my cell and left a message and the second I listened to it I jumped up and down in my office all alone.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Salty: Doritos. Sweets: Donuts.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
About four different essential oils.

P.S. I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy
March 6, 2018 from Feiwel & Friends
Add to Goodreads | Author Website

In this epistolary middle-grade debut novel, a girl who’s questioning her sexual orientation writes letters to her sister, who was sent away from their strict Catholic home after becoming pregnant.

Eleven-year-old Evie is heartbroken when her strict Catholic parents send her pregnant sister away to stay with a distant great-aunt. All Evie wants is for her older sister to come back. But when her parents forbid her to even speak to Cilla, she starts sending letters. Evie writes letters about her family, torn apart and hurting. She writes about her life, empty without Cilla. And she writes about the new girl in school, June, who becomes her friend, and then maybe more than a friend.

As she becomes better friends with June, Evie begins to question her sexual orientation. She can only imagine what might happen if her parents found out who she really is. She could really use some advice from Cilla. But Cilla isn’t writing back.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Strict parents; crushing on girl.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
It’s so hard to narrow it down, but one of my favorite scenes is when Evie (my main character) and June, her crush, are working on the scenery for set crew and start to realize they might like each other. It’s a mix of tween girl blushing and hiding and denial, and I just love how it came out.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I’m a librarian in addition to being a writer, and I was working at my last job as a teen librarian when I got the call from my agent. I had kept my phone on and with me because I knew I might be hearing something that day, but the call still surprised me. I was in the middle of preparing for a program, and after talking to my agent and basically having my dream come true, it was reallllllly hard to concentrate on work after that!

What’s your favorite junk food?
I have a soft-spot for mini-Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. They’re perfect writing fuel!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I don’t know if it’s odd, but I love my collection of literary and pop culture Funko Pop! figures. My latest acquisitions are Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation.

The Midnights by Sarah Nicole Smetana
March 6, 2018 from HarperTeen
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Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she’s more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly her dreams—and her reality—shatter.

While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah realizes she can reinvent herself however she wants: a confident singer-songwriter, member of a hip band, embraced by an effortlessly cool best friend. But Susannah is not the only one keeping secrets, and soon, harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Music, California, grief, secrets, heartbreak.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I have so many favorites, but if I have to pick one: This scene on New Year’s Eve, when Susannah first performs onstage. It’s a huge moment for her as an artist, and there’s a lot of emotion that follows. The high of being on stage and playing her own song mixes with the disappointment of other events not going as planned, and wishing her father could have been there. Then *spoilery things* happen, resulting in an empowering—but somewhat dangerous—internal shift.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was on the subway. This was before we had wifi in the stations, but my train travels over the Manhattan Bridge, and I was on that stretch when I got a voicemail from my agent. I immediately called her back, without even listening to the voicemail, and was like, “I’m on the train and I’m going to lose service any second but I couldn’t wait WHAT HAPPENED!?!” Pretty sure I then promptly lost service, although not before learning there was an offer.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Chocolate, preferably paired with coffee or tea.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A fuzzy Totoro pouch, for which I have absolutely no use, but 100% needed to own anyway.

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Jaime Questell’s Mood Board for By a Charm and a Curse | Guest Post

Posted March 8, 2018 by Jana in Debut Author Challenge, Guest Post, Mood Board / 1 Comment

I’m excited to welcome 2018 debut author, Jaime Questell, to the blog today to share with us her mood board for By a Charm and a Curse! She chose some really pretty pictures, and I love her reasonings for choosing them.


Jaime Questell’s Mood Board for By a Charm and a Curse

I’m the kind of writer who finds mood boards incredibly helpful when writing. If I feel a little stumped or unsure what to write next, then I go back to my mood boards to try to recapture that feeling the picture inspired. So here are a few of the photos that I collected while writing By a Charm and a Curse.

To start, obviously, a Ferris wheel. That was one of the first images I had in my mind when I came up with the story and one of the first I found for my mood board. I love the glowing lights and the rickety little cars. And this photo of a Ferris wheel against a twilight sky, feels exactly the way I wanted the start of my novel to feel.

One of the next photos I found was this vintage photo of three tumblers. As someone who is very uncoordinated, I was immediately taken in by how in control these three are, and how each is dependent on the other. The Moretti brothers, for all their faults, operate under that inherent trust and belief in each other.

The Dresden Dolls were a big inspiration for this novel, and this photo of their drummer, Brian Viglione, helped shape my early imaginings of Sidney into a real character. I love how in this pic, Viglione is wearing vintage clothes but seems completely modern, like a person stuck in time. And while the Sidney on the page doesn’t match up exactly with Viglione in this photo, I think the spirit is still there.

Much like the vintage photo of the tumblers, when I came across this vintage photo of a young equestrian being trained by (in my imagination, if not in fact) her dad, I knew I needed characters like this.

Anyone who’s read the book knows that a pivotal scene takes place on a carousel, and I took that opportunity to fill the ride with as many fantastic creatures and bright colors as I could, all while coming back to the soft glow of this photo. I have always loved carousels (my husband and I even took our engagement photos on one!), especially the art of them, the deeply saturated colors and movement captured in the figures.

This photo of a woman in a modified ringmaster’s costume always made me think of Leslie. The confident way she’s holding herself, the sense you get that, even though she’s not looking at the camera, she’s surveying that which belongs to her. All that’s missing to really make her Leslie is blond curls.

And finally, this photo of a carnival as seen from above, in the early morning. Or at least, what I’m choosing to believe is early morning and not sunset. That was a feeling I wanted to capture: what does a carnival feel like when it’s not teeming with people? I hope I succeeded, at least a little.

By a Charm and a Curse by Jaime Questell
Published by Entangled Teen on February 6, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for.

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

Editorial Reviews for By a Charm and a Curse

“A dark idea for a YA story, executed deftly and with feeling.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“A real page-turner! I was so charmed by this book filled with mystery and magical mayhem that I wasn’t able to put it down until the end.” — Brenda Drake, New York Times bestselling author

“What a ride! From the very first page, By a Charm and a Curse took me on a roller coaster of emotions—and I never wanted to get off!” — Pintip Dunn, New York Times bestselling author

About Jaime Questell

Jaime Questell is a writer and graphic designer from Houston, Texas. She has also been a bookseller, a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and an administrative assistant. None of these jobs involved wrangling corgis, which is quite sad. She lives in the ‘burbs with her husband, children, and pets.

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The Debut Dish: Tanaz Bhathena, T.E. Carter, Tomi Adeyemi, & Brenda Rufener (+ Giveaways)

Posted February 25, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 7 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Tanaz Bhathena (A Girl Like That), T.E. Carter (I Stop Somewhere), Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone), and Brenda Rufener (Where I Live).

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena
February 27, 2018 from Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
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A timeless exploration of high-stakes romance, self-discovery, and the lengths we go to love and be loved.

Sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia is many things: a bright and vivacious student, an orphan, a risk taker. She’s also the kind of girl that parents warn their kids to stay away from: a troublemaker whose many romances are the subject of endless gossip at school.  You don’t want to get involved with a girl like that, they say. So how is it that eighteen-year-old Porus Dumasia has only ever had eyes for her? And how did Zarin and Porus end up dead in a car together, crashed on the side of a highway in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? When the religious police arrive on the scene, everything everyone thought they knew about Zarin is questioned. And as her story is pieced together, told through multiple perspectives, it becomes clear that she was far more than just a girl like that.

This beautifully written debut novel from Tanaz Bhathena reveals a rich and wonderful new world to readers. It tackles complicated issues of race, identity, class, and religion, and paints a portrait of teenage ambition, angst, and alienation that feels both inventive and universal.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Jeddah: Girl dies. Chaos ensues.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
The very first one, where my main character, Zarin, is dead and looking down at the scene of her accident. That scene hasn’t really changed since I first wrote it in 2006.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was eating pizza and wallowing over a short story getting rejected.

What’s your favorite junk food?
I can’t resist chocolate!

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A measuring tape. And I have no idea why I put it there!

I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter
February 27, 2018 from Feiwel & Friends (USA)
April 19, 2018 from Simon & Schuster Children’s UK
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Ellie Frias disappeared long before she vanished.

Tormented throughout middle school, Ellie begins her freshman year with a new look: she doesn’t need to be popular; she just needs to blend in with the wallpaper.

But when the unthinkable happens, Ellie finds herself trapped after a brutal assault. She wasn’t the first victim, and now she watches it happen again and again. She tries to hold on to her happier memories in order to get past the cold days, waiting for someone to find her.

The problem is, no one searches for a girl they never noticed in the first place.

TE Carter’s stirring and visceral debut not only discusses and dismantles rape culture, but it also reminds us what it is to be human.

Describe your book in five words or less.
We need to believe girls.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Strangely, my favorite is actually a moment where the main character stops and observes the daily routines around her at school. She talks about how everyone interacts, but doesn’t realize it, and I like that. I like the recognition of how we affect each other without realizing it.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was at home. I wish I had a more exciting story!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Probably vegan chocolate chip cookies from Whole Foods

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
The WoW game collection.

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
March 6, 2018 from Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
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Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.

Describe your book in five words or less.
African: The Last Airbender (or “Black Girl Magic!”)

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
I know you’re only supposed to have one favorite, but I have a few! Though if I really had to narrow it down and not give away any spoilers, there’s one scene at the end of the book that just gets me riled up, excited, and cheering every single time (which means something since I’ve read my book 100+ times lol). It features a character named Amari!

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I was actually in Hawaii! My boyfriend’s grandmother had a timeshare that she couldn’t use, so she asked us if we wanted it (and of course we were like “yeah!”) I’m surprised no one called the police or at least sent someone to check on us because I was screaming and sobbing very loudly (lol).

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pizza, pizza, pizza, pizza, pizza, pizza, pizza. I spent most of my childhood eating pizza every single day. As an adult I’m trying not to eat it every single day (but the struggle is real).

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
I have friends that bring me cool trinkets for my desk when I’m writing, so I have a little copper owl from Greece, a decorated, heart-shaped rock from Tanzania, and a glass turtle from Hawaii!

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener
February 27, 2018 from HarperTeen
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Linden Rose has a big secret–she is homeless and living in the halls of her small-town high school. Her position as school blog editor, her best friends, Ham and Seung, and the promise of a future far away are what keep Linden under the radar and moving forward.

But when cool-girl Bea comes to school with a bloody lip, the damage hits too close to home. Linden begins looking at Bea’s life, and soon her investigation prompts people to pay more attention. And attention is the last thing she needs.

Linden knows the only way to put a stop to the violence is to tell Bea’s story and come to terms with her own painful past. Even if that means breaking her rules for survival and jeopardizing the secrets she’s worked so hard to keep.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Homeless teen lives at school.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
There’s a scene in WIL where Linden and her friend, Seung, get ready for homecoming. Seung’s mother does Linden’s hair and the moment evokes emotions Linden has carefully stuffed away. When she feels the tender touch of a mother, she can’t help but think about her own. The moment has always tugged at (okay, yanked) my heartstrings.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In my home office. My agent called and said we had two offers at the same pub house. There were lots of tears after the call and a lot of trembling during.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Is cheese a junk food? If so, it’s my favorite. But it has to be good cheese, not large blocks of yellow cheddar. Aged, white, and the sharpest of sharps.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A small bottle of vitamin D*. Think I need to venture outside more.

*Obviously, I’m not eating nearly enough cheese.

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Q&A with 2018 Debut Author A.M. Rose on Road to Eugenica

Posted February 22, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge / 1 Comment

I’m happy to welcome 2018 debut author A.M. Rose to the blog today to talk to us a little about her new book, Road to Eugenica! A.M. Rose was featured in the Debut Dish earlier this month, and she’s back to share even more!

Q&A with A.M. Rose

1. Tell us about your experience as a debut author or what it’s been like being published for the first time.

So you know that feeling when you’re on a roller coaster and it’s making the climb toward the first hill? For whatever reason this part seems to take the longest. Your heart is pounding and your stomach is starting to roll around a little. This hill, this climb, is like the first stages toward publication all the way through the editing rounds. It’s this constant, am-I-doing-the-right-thing feeling. You’re all nervous and excited, and it seems to take forever. Then the coaster makes that audible click, your body jerks to a stop and you’re staring down hundreds of feet to the ground. This is how it feels during release time. All this momentum and everything you’ve been doing finally starts spinning into motion, and you’re whipping around turns, and writing blog posts, and being tagged in things on social media. And then, just like that it’s over. And it’s time to get back in line again.

2. Tell us 10 things you didn’t know about writing a book, or 10 things you learned while writing. Or give us 5 of each!

Oh, I love this and think I’ll do five of each. Here goes:

Things I didn’t know about writing a book:

1. It isn’t just writing a book – it’s rewriting a book -over and over and over.
2. When people talk about “the rules” they are real, and they’re there for a reason.
3. Critique groups are a must. Find your people and keep them close.
4. There are so many moving parts to keep track of: plot points, character arcs, goals, motivations, conflict. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.
5. First drafts suck, but they can be worked into something readable (don’t stress).

Things I learned while writing a book:

1. Commas are evil and no one can agree on where they go.
2. Critiquing is an art (I know now how horrible I was at it in the beginning and feel horrible about it to this day.).
3.  I love writing.
4. Thick skin is a must. Sometimes people can just be mean.
5. Reading is just as important as writing if you want to get better.

3. How did you bring your book’s world or characters to life?

When I’m writing it’s almost like there’s a movie playing in my head. I can visualize exactly where everyone is what they are doing. For aspects of the story I wasn’t sure of, like when Drea busts out with some Kung Fu. I spent time watching YouTube videos of people actually doing it so I could describe exactly how it looks with accuracy.

4. Paint us a picture of the book’s setting.

Road to Eugenica takes place in the modern world and we get glimpses of this other place, Eugenica. While the story is about Drea’s journey to understand how she fits into both worlds there are other issues she’s dealing with. While there are light hearted moments, there is also grief, and a little mystery.

Check out this mood board to get a better idea of what I mean.

Road to Eugenica by A.M. Rose
February 6, 2018 from Entangled Teen
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Two dimensions – And the girl who connects them.

Yesterday, Drea Smith couldn’t do anything spectacular—even walking and texting at the same time was a challenge. But today, she suddenly has more answers than Google, can speak and understand numerous languages, and she can fight. Like a boss.

Super freaky.

Drea has no idea where her encyclopedic knowledge has come from, but she’ll take it when she discovers someone out there knows her secret and wants her badly. And that they’ve been searching for her since she was born.

Since she was created.

With the help of her best friend Dylan, who just wants to keep her safe, and Maddox, a mysterious new boy who is prepared to get her answers, Drea will have to push her new skills to their limit as she uncovers nothing is quite what it seems.

As she uncovers…Eugenica.

About A.M. Rose

A.M. Rose is the author of Road to Eugenica, and writer of young adult novels of all genres as long as they have a hint of romance, the drinker of too much coffee (with way too much coconut creamer), and lover of all carbohydrates.

Currently, she lives in Houston, TX with her three boys (yes, her husband is in that count) and three cats. When she isn’t writing about swoony boys or ways for her MC to get into trouble, she is an avid reader, critiquer, (is that even a word?) and trampoline enthusiast.

A.M. Rose is a graduate from San Diego State University with a BA in Communication and a minor in underwater basket weaving. (Okay, maybe not the basket weaving part.)

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Snapchat: @ttly_anntastic

The Debut Dish: Rebecca Ross, Farrah Penn, Adrianne Finlay, & Deborah Schaumberg

Posted February 11, 2018 by Jana in Author Interview, Debut Author Challenge, Debut Dish, Giveaway / 5 Comments

The Debut Dish, a bi-monthly Debut Author Challenge feature, is where you go for the scoop on some pretty awesome debut authors and their new books! Hopefully these interviews will inspire you to add many, many more books to your to-read list. Because, really, who doesn’t need more books in their lives?

This issue of The Debut Dish features Rebecca Ross (The Queen’s Rising), Farrah Penn (Twelve Steps to Normal), Adrianne Finlay (Your One & Only), and Deborah Schaumberg (The Tombs).

The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
February 6, 2018 from HarperTeen
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When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.

Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.

Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.

With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?

Describe your book in five words or less.
Girls overthrowing kings.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
My favorite scene is a HUGE spoiler, so I’ll go with my second favorite, which is when Brienna is about to ride out into battle. There is this moment of peace that comes over her, even though she doesn’t know what’s about to unfold. We truly see her transform from an uncertain young girl into a brave woman dressed in armor who is about to wage war.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I had just clocked out at work and was walking to my car in the parking lot when my agent texted me, asking if she could call me. I was like, YES, call me! And then I sat in my car and waited a moment for that phone call, thinking I probably shouldn’t attempt to drive just yet. So I was sitting in my car when it happened :)

What’s your favorite junk food?
I have a terrible weakness for Sour Patch Kids.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A jar of Kombucha. I drink this nearly every day.

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn
March 13, 2018 from JIMMY Patterson Books/Little, Brown
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James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can’t be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.

Kira’s Twelve Steps To A Normal Life

1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…

And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as “normal.”
When Kira’s father enters rehab, she’s forced to leave everything behind–her home, her best friends, her boyfriend…everything she loves. Now her father’s sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal…exactly as it was before she was sent away.

But is that what Kira really wants?

Life, love, and loss come crashing together in this visceral, heartfelt story by BuzzFeed writer Farrah Penn about a girl who struggles to piece together the shards of her once-normal life before his alcoholism tore it apart.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Love, loss, and repairing relationships.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
Oh man, I am a big fan of kissing scenes. My book is set during the school year, and one character is working on building an enormous Audrey II puppet for the upcoming musical, Little Shop of Horrors. This might be a mild spoiler, but there’s a kissing scene that happens inside the giant Audrey II that was fun and swoony to write.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
I’d left work on my lunch break to run an errand and my agent called me when I was driving. I pulled over into a gas station after she told me the news because I was so shocked and overwhelmed with excitement. I think I kept repeating, “What? Oh my god!” That lunch break lasted longer than I intended because I also had to immediately call my mom and sister—but I don’t think anyone at work noticed, haha.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Pirate’s Booty, cheddar cheese and Wheat Thins, Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Carmel, warm chocolate chip cookies are all tied for first place.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Pencils that have food puns written on the side and a coffee mug that says “Luke’s Diner” on the front. (I love Gilmore Girls)

Your One & Only by Adrianne Finlay
February 6, 2018 from HMH Books for Young Readers
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Jack is a walking fossil. The only human among a sea of clones. It’s been hundreds of years since humanity died off in the slow plague, leaving the clones behind to carry on human existence. Over time they’ve perfected their genes, moving further away from the imperfections of humanity. But if they really are perfect, why did they create Jack?

While Jack longs for acceptance, Althea-310 struggles with the feeling that she’s different from her sisters. Her fascination with Jack doesn’t help. As Althea and Jack’s connection grows stronger, so does the threat to their lives. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

Describe your book in five words or less.
The future, clones, love, humanity

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
This is a tough question! Some of my favorite scenes give a bit too much away and would probably be called spoiler-y, so I’ll choose the scene where Althea-310 and Jack kiss. It’s not a first kiss for either of them, and their past experiences make them wary for different reasons, but they’re still willing to risk their emotions. It’s complicated for both of them, but I love the way Jack handles his need to be cautious.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
In a home improvement store near a display of sinks. It felt pretty random, but a lot of the time big news feels that way regardless of where you are when you hear it.

What’s your favorite junk food?
Potato chips with french onion dip. Crispy, salty, creamy–what else could you want? I can’t have it in the house or it’ll be gone and I’ll have regrets.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
A shrimp bubble. It’s a glass globe self-contained ecosystem with 5 little shrimp swimming around in it. It’s the best I can manage for a pet, only because it requires zero effort on my part.

The Tombs by Deborah Schaumberg
February 20, 2018 from HarperTeen
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Gangs of New York meets Cassandra Clare in this debut YA fantasy set in 1882 Brooklyn

New York, 1882. A dark, forbidding city, and no place for a girl with unexplainable powers.

Sixteen-year-old Avery Kohl pines for the life she had before her mother was taken. She fears the mysterious men in crow masks who locked her mother in the Tombs asylum for being able to see what others couldn’t. Avery denies the signs in herself, focusing instead on her shifts at the ironworks factory and keeping her inventor father out of trouble. Other than secondhand tales of adventure from her best friend, Khan, an ex-slave, and caring for her falcon, Seraphine, Avery spends her days struggling to survive.

Like her mother’s, Avery’s powers refuse to be contained. When she causes a bizarre explosion at the factory, she has no choice but to run from her lies, straight into the darkest corners of the city. Avery must embrace her abilities and learn to wield their power—or join her mother in the cavernous horrors of the Tombs. And the Tombs has secrets of its own: strange experiments are being performed on “patients”…and no one knows why.

Describe your book in five words or less.
Aura seers – sinister underground asylum.

Tell us about your favorite scene in your book.
So hard to choose, especially without spoilers! There are two that come to mind – one where Avery and her drunk father reminisce about a happier time before her mother was taken. And another when Avery stumbles upon a greenhouse in The Tombs, an enchanting place inhabited by one of my favorite characters.

Where were you when you found out you were being published?
Wednesday, 3/16/16 at 5:09 pm. I was home, after a long, very ordinary day. I checked my email and the day became magical! My agent informed me that Kristen Pettit at Harper Collins was prepared to make an offer; but she wanted to speak with me first! After an agonizing, jumping-out-of-my-skin, two-day wait, we talked on the phone, and our vision of the book was in perfect alignment! She said she would make the offer! Needles to say, my family and I celebrated that Friday night!

What’s your favorite junk food?
Ice cream, especially anything chocolatey and peanut-buttery! I can eat it every night.

What’s the oddest thing on your desk right now?
Hmmm…what’s not odd on my desk? I tend to collect odd things! Right now there is a vertebrae of some animal, fossils, crystals, used bullet cartridges, a naked troll doll from my childhood…I could go on.

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