September 27, 2016

Congrats to Paula Garner on the release of her debut, PHANTOM LIMBS!

Paula Garner's story of love and grief (and sports!) has drawn raves for its realism and intensity. And, after a long wait, it's finally out today!

The Story

Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

The Reviews

This debut novel is a story of loss, love, and friendship, about a teenager coming to terms with the past and dealing with repressed memories that are resurfacing...Readers will find Otis relatable and endearing in his first-person perspective of first love and heartbreak, as well as his unwavering loyalty to his friends. Meg and Dara round out a cast of well-developed characters who have extensive troubles of their own. Most teenagers will find a little bit of themselves in this well-executed work; a must-have for most YA collections.
—School Library Journal, starred review

The inability to let go of the past pushes all three white teens beyond their comfort zones into uncharted territory, Garner slowly and steadily guiding readers through these journeys. A heavy read weighted by intense emotions and grief, the novel sifts through tough memories, searching for the silver lining.
—Kirkus Reviews

Otis’ journey—as a competitive swimmer and as a grieving brother—is a poignant one...It’s tough-talking, reckless Dara who will intrigue readers. Her struggles with her father, her sexuality, and the dreams deferred because of her accident complement Otis’ story, elevating this to a narrative as much about human connection as it is about sports.

Garner’s debut sensitively portrays Meg and Otis’s bruised emotions, both recovering from deep loss. Though the description of Mason’s accident is a gut-punch in its realism, much of the plot unfolds predictably. The novel’s strongest moments go to Dara, whose no-holds-barred personality—"she was the human equivalent of a Venus flytrap"—livens and complicates the novel.
—Publishers Weekly, starred book review writing service.

The Interview

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for your book?

The idea came from thinking about the attachment between Kevin and Winnie in the Wonder Years, and the belief that they would have feelings about one other for the rest of their lives. I wondered, what would happen if two neighbors/best friends/first loves were separated suddenly, without closure? How would that affect them, and what would happen when they saw each other again years later?

Also, my son was a high school swimmer and I spent a lot of time at swim meets. J

Q: Describe your writing process, from idea to final draft.

Usually what happens is I’ll write a draft in a fairly short time and then discover OH HEY, THAT’S NOT EVEN A STORY; it’s more a Whole Bunch of Information for the Author. Then I spend a painful number of drafts trying to find the story. In PHANTOM LIMBS, virtually nothing remains from the first draft. I hope in the future to achieve better math.

Q: Tell us about your journey, from finding an agent to publication.

I was chosen for PitchWars in late 2013, which changed my life. I made amazing friends and CPs, received multiple offers of representation, and signed with a great agent in February 2014. We worked on revisions for about six months, and she sold PHANTOM LIMBS that fall.

Q: Why would someone want to buy your book?

PHANTOM LIMBS pulls no punches. It deals with various kinds of grief that we don't see in many books. It’s a coming-of-age story about childhood friendships and first love and loss. It follows a grieving competitive swimmer named Otis, and Meg, his one-time best friend and first love, who mysteriously disappeared on him three years before. There is also Dara, a troubled amputee and formal Olympic hopeful, whose grip on Otis tightens when she finds out Meg is coming back to town. There is a dilapidated summer home packed with memories. And a magnolia tree. And a very large serving of pasta carbonara.  

Q: What are your favorite books? What are you reading now?

I tend to become cross when asked to name favorite anythings, but books I’ve loved: The History of Love, Olive Kitteridge, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Night of the Comet, Norwegian by Night, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,  I'll Give You the Sun, Bone Gap, The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

Buy it now on Amazon or read more on Goodreads.

September 20, 2016

Happy book birthday to Jessica Cluess! Her debut, A SHADOW BRIGHT AND BURNING, is out today.

Today is Jess's release day! Her tale of a Victorian era England beset by demons has drawn rave reviews for its world-building, fast-paced plot, and emotional intensity.

The Story
Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she is brought to London to train with Her Majesty's sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she's the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city--and the one she loves?

The Reviews
"Vivid characters, terrifying monsters, and world building as deep and dark as the ocean."
—Victoria Aveyard, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Red Queen

"Unputdownable. I loved the monsters, the magic, and the teen warriors who are their world's best hope!" 
—Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

"The magic! The intrigue! The guys! We were sucked into this monster-ridden, alternative England from page one. Henrietta is literally a 'girl on fire' and this team of sorcerers training for battle had a pinch of Potter blended with a drop of [Cassandra Clare's] Infernal Devices."
Justine Magazine

"A fun, inventive fantasy. I totally have a book crush on Rook." 
—Sarah Rees Brennan, New York Times bestselling author

"Pure enchantment. I love how Cluess turned the 'chosen one' archetype on its head. With the emotional intensity of my favorite fantasy books, this is the kind of story that makes you forget yourself." 
—Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

"A glorious, fast-paced romp of an adventure. Jessica Cluess has built her story out of my favorite ingredients: sorcery, demons, romance, and danger."
—Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monster

The Interview

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for your book? 
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. I was thinking about the scene where Nicholas physically stops an assault on a helpless boy, and wondered how that act would work if his gender was flipped. So I imagined a girl in Victorian dress doing things like throwing a rock or grabbing a knife, and then had an image of her opening her hands and shooting fire out of her palms. That image of Victorian girl wielding magical fire was the spark I needed to get started.

Q:Describe your writing process, from idea to final draft. 
I tend to write a very rough outline, no more than two single spaced pages. I get the bare bones in place, like the catalyst, the mid point, the darkest moment, etc., and then I write my book review for me. I usually need three drafts and a polish before the book’s ready to go to readers. Once I give the book to my CPs, I wait for the notes, and then see if multiple people have made the same complaint. If they have, I fix it right away. If the book’s especially tricky, I might get a new batch of readers to look over the new version. Then, after a polish, I’m usually done.

Q: Tell us about your journey, from finding an agent to publication.
I found my agent on twitter during #MSWL. I got lucky, because he offered a week after I’d sent him my query letter. Short waits are very nice. After I signed, we spent several months passing the manuscript back and forth and editing and nitpicking. It seemed exhaustive at the time, but I’m glad we did that, because it made the book as tailor-ready for the market as possible. Once on submission, we had an offer in less than two weeks. It’s amazing how fast it all went, since I’d spent a year writing the book before querying it, and I’d spent two years writing another book before that that went nowhere. You never know when the lucky moment will strike.

Q: Why would someone want to buy your book? 
Hopefully, because they want to be entertained! I love depth and nuance in the books I read and the stories I tell, but I really love it when something makes my heart pound. If you like girls battling horrible monsters with a side order of romance, there’s a good chance you’ll want to buy my book. That’s the dream!

Q: What are your favorite books? What are you reading now? 
I love Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, Dune by Frank Herbert, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman…honestly, the list goes on and on. I love every book I’ve read from a fellow debut this year, and it’s amazing to be surrounded by so much talent and kindness. 16 is a lucky number!

September 13, 2016

Congratulations to Traci Chee on the release of her debut, THE READER

Congrats to Traci on the release of the first book in her trilogy! The Reader has been getting rave custom book review service all over the place for its complex themes and beautiful language.

The Story

Sefia knows what it means to survive. After her father is brutally murdered, she flees into the wilderness with her aunt Nin, who teaches her to hunt, track, and steal. But when Nin is kidnapped, leaving Sefia completely alone, none of her survival skills can help her discover where Nin’s been taken, or if she’s even alive. The only clue to both her aunt’s disappearance and her father’s murder is the odd rectangular object her father left behind, an object she comes to realize is a book—a marvelous item unheard of in her otherwise illiterate society. With the help of this book, and the aid of a mysterious stranger with dark secrets of his own, Sefia sets out to rescue her aunt and find out what really happened the day her father was killed—and punish the people responsible.
The Reviews

“I was spellbound from the first page. An utterly transportive tale of swashbucklers and sharpshooters, masterfully written. Traci Chee has penned a beautiful novel about the power of story, complete with a fantastic cast of characters and an expertly rendered fantasy landscape. This is a book you will not soon forget.”
—Renée Ahdieh, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn

 “Deftly rendered in beautiful prose, narrated through three shifting time lines woven into an interconnected history of duty, honor, and magic. . . . This is a must-have for all those who value a good read with genuine character growth, mystery, unique world-building, adventure, unyielding bonds of loyalty, and pirates. . . . A fresh, diverse fantasy; highly recommended for fans of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart and female-powered adventures.”
School Library Journalstarred review

“Commanding storytelling and vivid details, particularly of the magical process of reading, bring the story to life… the first of what promises to be an enchanting series.”
Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Chee’s debut is an intricate, multilayered reading experience… An exploration of self-determination and the magic of the written word, Sefia’s story is an absorbing introduction to the Sea of Ink and Gold series.”
Publishers Weeklystarred review 

“With evocative language, fascinating world building, multifaceted characters, and a compelling plot, this is a series fantasy lovers will want to sink their teeth into.”
Bookliststarred review

The Interview

Q: Where did you get the inspiration for your book?

The Reader came out of my love of books, from the beautiful words they contain to the materials they’re made of and the different forms they can take. Books have the power to change people. To alter perspectives. To open minds and hearts. To change the world.

If you know how to read, you have power.

And that’s something I wanted to explore in The Reader. What if words were actually magic? What if only a handful of people controlled them, and what if that control slipped from their grasp? Who would be hurt? And how would they retaliate?

Q: Describe your writing process, from idea to final draft.

The more I write, the more I realize that for me, every story takes a different process. Sometimes I study other pieces of fiction. Sometimes I journal. Sometimes I open up a fresh Word document and start typing. Sometimes I write with music. Sometimes I write in silence. Sometimes I make charts and maps. Sometimes I fill out character sheets. It all depends on the project.

The most indispensable part of my writing process, however, is revision. The Reader was up to thirty-eight drafts by the time it hit the copy editing stage with my publisher! For me, nothing gets to the final stage without alterations, changes, polish, and spit-shine, because revision is where I really find out what a story is about, where I dig out themes and shape character arcs. It’s my writing happy-place, where everything comes together and all the magic happens.

Q: Tell us about your journey, from finding an agent to publication.

In September 2014, I was lucky enough to be chosen for Pitch Wars, an online contest run by the inimitable Brenda Drake. After two months of working intensely with my mentor, the fabulously talented Renée Ahdieh, author of The Wrath and the Dawn and its sequel, The Rose and the Dagger, I landed with my dragon-riding agent warrior Barbara Poelle, who got The Reader and me to Putnam/Penguin shortly after. Read the full story here.

Q: Why would someone want to buy your book?

I’d like to think I’m doing something quite different with The Reader. It’s fantasy. It’s literary. It’s got a huge cast of characters and twisted nonlinear storylines and one fiercely independent girl at the center of it all. It’s both a book at the same time as it’s a love letter to books. Inspired by the spirit of the American Wild West, it’s got cowboy pirates, treasure hunts, magic, assassins, sharpshooters, and a dash of romance. And without spoiling too much, I can promise you a few bookish surprises you may not have seen before!

Q: What are your favorite books? What are you reading right now?

In no particular order, here are some of the books I keep coming back to again and again: A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle), His Dark Materials (Phillip Pullman), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak), The Hunger Games Trilogy (Suzanne Collins),Dune (Frank Herbert), Lord Of The Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien), One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez), If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler (Italo Calvino), House Of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski), Pale Fire (Vladimir Nabokov), Watership Down (Richard Adams)

But at the moment, I’m having a wonderful time reading ARCs of my fellow Sweet Sixteens’ and Class of 2k16’s books. 2016 is already shaping up to be a fantastic year for young adult and middle grade literature!

August 3, 2016

Rahul Kanakia shall now celebrate the release of his debut, ENTER TITLE HERE, by interviewing himself

Congratulations to Rahul Kanakia, whose debut novel Enter Title Here, released yesterday. This is a great novel. A fantastic novel, really. It's gotten a ton of good feedback for it's, like, metatextuality and its strong voice. Everybody loves it. Pay no attention to the man behind the blog post. He's obviously completely impartial.

The Story

I’m your protagonist—Reshma Kapoor—and if you have the free time to read this book, then you’re probably nothing like me.
Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all.

What's a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent's help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford.

But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she's already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy.

Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)

The Reviews
Kanakia’s mordantly funny story of an overachiever who takes “write what you know” to new extremes will give college-bound readers (and their parents) a gentle wake-up call that success can come in a variety of forms.
--Publisher's Weekly

Rahul Kanakia’s debut is a definitive metafiction experience. Readers will question whether Reshma is a satirical antihero who reflects today’s convoluted race relations, education system and need for fame, or simply a teen who wants acceptance and love. Readers may not always like Reshma, but they won’t forget her story.

An outrageous girl who’s selfish, smart, and thought-provoking! Reshma is socially terrifying and easily the most unlikable character we’ve ever ended up rooting for, but her brutal honesty also happens to be LOL hilarious. The great characters, perfect plot, and social commentary make this one a fresh read.
--Justine Magazine

The Interview
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for your book? 

I got the idea from the book in the summer of 2012, when I was reading an article about Korean students who were protesting in the streets about their high workload. As they protested, they’d shout, “We are not study machines.” I loved that,  I thought it was such an evocative phrase. And I thought about writing a dystopian novel about a world where everyone had to study really hard. Except then, as I was thinking about it, I realized that there was no need for the dystopia, since, for many students, we already live in that world. So I decided to write a story from the point of view of a “study machine”: a person who worked really hard in school and had zero life. I wanted my book to be full and fair and to try to capture the things that might drive a person to work like that and to, in some way, evoke some kind of respect for that person.

Q: Describe your writing process, from idea to final draft.
I don't really have one? I've tried for years to settle down to some routine, but it's never quite worked out. Every book ends up coming out different. Sometimes I outline and sometimes not. Sometimes I write it all and feel like the first draft is perfect, other times I need to make a thousand tiny and large revisions before it's at all readable.

Q: Tell us about your journey, from finding an agent to publication.
I placed second in this contest, the Tu Books New Visions Contest, and the winner, Valynne Maetani, is/was the most gracious person on earth, and she put me in touch with her agent, John Cusick (now at Folio). The novel that placed second in the contest didn't sell, but in the meantime I'd written this one. John loved it. We did some revisions. He sent it out. The book went to auction, and eventually sold to Disney. Three months later, my editor at Disney left to take another job! I was in editor limbo for about nine months, which eventually led to my book being pushed from 2015 to 2016. However the editor I ended up with, Kieran Viola, loved the book and both gave great feedback and has been a great advocate for it. So not everything is a disaster all the time!

Q: Why would someone want to buy your book?
Really I think they'd want to read it because the protagonist is unlike anyone else you've ever read. She's not charming. She's not quirky. She's not fun. She's bold and merciless. She doesn't even like to read books! What kind of YA protagonist doesn't like to read books. But no, she thinks they're a waste of time. She's every girl you hate in high school, but come to secretly respect ten or twenty years later.

Q: What are your favorite books? What are you reading now?
Right now I'm reading Bonjour Tristesse, which is a French novel, by Francoise Sagan. The book was a phenomenon when it came out in 1954, and it made a celebrity of its eighteen year old author. It's about a daughter and a father who live on the seaside in an air of dissipation and casual love--both carry on multiple affairs--until finally he gets engaged to a woman his own age who threatens to shut down the party. I'm not finished with the book yes, but I'm pretty sure the girl, Cecile, is gonna have something to say about this...

The other, very similar, book I've recently read is Marguerite Duras' The Lover. This is one of those novels that sounds both uninteresting and possibly skeevy when you describe it. The book is about a fifteen year old white girl in colonial Vietnam, in the 30s, who has an affair with a very wealthy thirtysomething Chinese man. The book is about this girl’s sexual awakening: her realization that as a woman she has a power that both enlarges and reduces her. And it’s just very…complex. Because she is a colonizer. In this land in which she has lived for her whole life, but which isn’t really hers, the color of her skin makes her in some way ineluctably superior to this much-older man.

I cannot recommend The Lover enough. It's an unbelievably subtle book. I haven't even mentioned the way that time and point of view shift and wrap around on themselves, creating a much fuller picture of the past and future life of this girl.

Anyway, that is what I have.

Check out Enter Title Here on Amazon, B&N, Indiebound, and Goodreads. And if you're interested in me, you can check out my Website, Blog, or Twitter.

July 5, 2016

Congrats to Tracy Wymer on the release of SOAR!

Congratulations to Tracy Wymer on the release of his playful and emotional middle grade novel, Soar.

The Story

Seventh grader Eddie is determined to honor his father's legacy and win the school science fair in this fun and quirky debut novel.

Eddie learned everything there is to know about birding from his dad, including the legend of the Golden Eagle, which Dad claimed he saw once down near Miss Dorothy's pond. According to his dad, the Golden Eagle had wings wider than a creek and talons the size of bulldozer claws. But when Eddie was in sixth grade, Dad "flew away" for good, leaving Eddie on his own to await the return of the elusive raptor.

Now Eddie is starting seventh grade and trying to impress Gabriella, the new girl in town. The annual seventh grade Science Symposium (which Dad famously won) is looming, and Eddie is determined to claim the blue ribbon for himself. With Mr. Dover, the science teacher who was Dad's birding rival, seemingly against him, and with Mouton, the class bully, making his life miserable on all fronts, Eddie is determined to overcome everything and live up to Dad's memory. Can Eddie soar and make his dream take flight?

The Reviews
Thirteen-year-old Eddie Wilson is determined to win the seventh grade Science Symposium prize, as his father did, and to spot the rare golden eagle his father claimed to have seen as a young birder. But no one believed Joe Wilson, who had a reputation for wild exaggeration, and Eddie, now mourning his father's death, grapples with uncertainty about his father's honesty. He develops a friendship with Gabriela, a new neighbor from Brazil whose father is deaf and keeps exotic birds. Eddie is filled with adolescent angst but tempers his fear and frustration in dealing with Mouton, a classmate with Tourette's syndrome who taunts and bullies him and has stolen and trashed his bicycle. When his science teacher pairs him with Mouton for the Symposium project, Eddie must decide how to cooperate with his partner and harness Mouton's hidden artistic talent to devise an award-worthy project that will restore his father's good name. Descriptive bird references add texture to the fast-paced and absorbing first-person narrative and balance the emotional elements of the story. Eddie, an avid birder and artist himself, is a sympathetic character dealing with complex personal and practical issues that include antagonism toward his science teacher and concern over his mother's smoking. VERDICT This is an enjoyable read that avoids predictability and provides a satisfying conclusion; perfect for middle school students looking for realism.
--School Library Journal

The Interview
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for your book? I was teaching fourth grade reading/language arts and finally decided that I wanted to graduate elementary school and move up to middle school. Before my first year teaching sixth grade English, my colleague (the wonderful Cherie Boss!) informed me about our grade level research project on North American Birds. My first thought was “Birds? Puh. I teach English, not science.” But after teaching the project for several years, my students’ excitement for the subject inspired me. I soon hatched a story about a boy looking for a particular bird. That was the fledgling period for SOAR. (I am truly sorry for all of the bird references; sometimes I can’t help it.)

Q: Describe your writing process, from idea to final draft. My writing process is very organic. What I mean is that I hardly ever outline or write down anything before beginning a story. I have a big picture plan in my head, and I might have a few pages of sparse notes, but I never go beyond that. For me, outlining stifles the creative process. I like to arrive at the page not knowing what comes next. I also feel like outlining paints me into corners from which I can’t escape.

Character and plot tend to form in my brain simultaneously. I can’t recall being fixated on one more than the other. Once I begin writing my story, I do a lot of research during the drafting process. While I approached SOAR with a working knowledge of North American Birds, I wasn’t sure which birds were common in Indiana, where the story takes place. I did a lot of research that eventually informed my storytelling in countless ways.

I tend to revise as I write. I will often revise my previous day’s work before moving forward. It’s probably not the most efficient way to write books, but it works for me.

Q: Tell us about your journey, from finding an agent to publication.
After writing for many years and garnering hundreds of rejections from agents, I self-published a middle grade novel called THE COLOR OF BONES. I don’t regret that decision, but it ultimately had nothing to do with me finally landing an agent.

After writing an early draft of SOAR, which was called BIRD NERD at the time, I sent out a total of about 100 queries to agents. I sent ten queries, then ten more, and so on. Many agents requested the manuscript and read it, but no one offered representation.

Then I read a blog post on the Dystel & Goderich Literary Management blog. It was about how authors could exist as both self-published and traditionally published. The blog post was more in-depth than that, and the truth of it stuck with me over the next few days. I decided to send another query to this agency, even though I’d already queried someone there with my book. I looked up who represented middle grade books and found John Rudolph. I sent him a query. Three days later, he requested the manuscript. Four months went by, so I decided to follow up with John. I sent him a short e-mail, asking him if he had a timeline for reading and responding to my middle grade novel BIRD NERD. The next day, John emailed me, explaining that he’d read BIRD NERD the previous night, loved it, and wanted to discuss representation. I received this email while in my car, waiting at a stoplight. (I know that I shouldn’t be checking e-mail while driving, but technically I wasn’t driving).

In the spring of 2013, I signed with John. Over the next six months, we worked on the manuscript extensively. We went through three drafts, and then he sent it out to editors in the fall of 2013. We went through two rounds of submissions to editors, but no one wanted it. John and I talked about sending it out for a third and final round, but I was done with this book. I told him that I wanted to shelf it and move on to something else. The truth is, I was devastated from the rejections. I wanted to sprout wings and fly away from the publishing business and never come back.

In the summer of 2014, I visited my parents in Indiana. One night, I lay awake, thinking about writing and whether I had the courage and stamina to write something new and go through the submission process again. Let’s be honest, this process involves a lot of rejection, and eventually it gets to you. I couldn’t sleep at all that night. At about 3:00 a.m. I had an epiphany. I believed in BIRD NERD. I believed in the story from day one, and that’s what had taken me this far.

I emailed John the next day and told him that I wanted to send BIRD NERD out into the world one last time. However, I wanted to retitle the book with something that better fit the personality of the story. John sent the book out for a third and final time. In the fall of 2014, the book sold to Aladdin/Simon & Schuster as MIGHT FLY AWAY. As you can see, that title didn’t last either. Eventually, it was pushed out of the nest to make room for SOAR.

Q: Why would someone want to buy your book? Heart and humor. If you like a story that pulls at your heart strings but also makes you laugh, then my book is for you. And of course if you like birds then SOAR is a winner-winner-chicken dinner.

Q: What are your favorite books? What are you reading now?I don’t have a list of favorite books. I read so many amazing books that it’s really difficult for me to narrow it to my favorites. There are so many awesome books that are unique and inspiring for completely different reasons. However, here are a few that are particularly memorable:

The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein (for demonstrating altruism in its simplest form)

Lizzie Bright and Buckminster Boy, by Gary D. Schmidt (for its imagery and profound sense of place)

Reality Boy, by A.S. King (for its truth, told through the eyes of someone who feels rejected by the world)

Check out Soar on Amazon and on Goodreads.

June 29, 2016

2K16 Authors Appear at the ALA Annual Conference

2K16 Authors Appear at the ALA Annual Conference

You know that moment when Harry Potter first arrives at Hogwarts and suddenly realizes he’s with his people? That’s kind of what it felt like to be a debut author at the ALA annual conference. The place was swarming with book people – readers, librarians, publishers, and writers. Unlike Hogwarts, these people weren’t separated into different houses, but thrown together in one enormous convention center.
The 2K16 crew met late Friday night to put together the swag packs to distribute at the event. Everyone arrived tired and sweaty, but ready to assembly line the collection of bookmarks, buttons, and stickers into gift bags for ALA attendees. For most, this was the first time meeting face to face. We liked each other instantly, which was fortunate, because the next day the group had to cram into an Uber car to get to the panel talk at the Winter Park Public Library.
Things got even more intimate the next day at ALA, where the group went full confessional at a panel talk called Kiss and Tell: MG and YA Authors Talk Cuddling to Kissing to Oh My! Here's a sample of some of the juiciest items shared with the crowd:
  • One author admitted that stalking isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “I totally stalked my husband and things turned out OK.”
  • One author admitted to throwing up on a guy she met at a college party. “We later dated for a year, so I guess he wasn’t too grossed out by it.”
  • One author admitted to being in a boy band called New Kidz. OK, this was Brooks. As the only guy on the panel, it’s kind of impossible to keep him anonymous here.
  • None of the authors shared an “Oh My!” moment, preferring to claim that they were either chaste or monogamous throughout their teen years.
The authors and their books had an amazing reception at their book signings, with lines roping around conference booths and past lonely furniture salesmen. Erin and Tara have already developed huge followings and their books don’t come out until December.
In between events and book signing the 2K16 group got to enjoy themselves by meeting other writers, sampling Orlando’s finest cuisine and amusement parks, and dressing up as pickles. Leaving, was like returning to the world of Muggles, I mean, family and responsibility.   
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