Pre-Pub Adventure: September 2017

It’s Pre-Pub Adventure and we have a new author to introduce today!

Please welcome author Karina Yan Glaser!

   

1. Welcome Karina! Introduce yourself.

Thank you for having me! My name is Karina Yan Glaser, and I am a full-time writer and a contributing editor at Book Riot. I live in Harlem, New York City, with my family and assortment of rescue animals.

2. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street sounds humorous and entertaining, how did you come up with the idea?

The idea for The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street actually came to me in the middle of the night four years ago, around 2am. I woke up with the first sentence for the book and jotted it down on a piece of paper on my bedside table. I ended up writing the whole (very messy) first draft for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I had wanted to write about a big family living in modern New York City, sort of like a contemporary spin on classic books like All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor and The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright.

3. The cover is amazing, did you get to have any input in it?

Yes, my editor and the book designer kept me in the loop with every version of the cover. I didn’t have much to contribute except, “Wow, this is amazing!” or “I love it!”. I gave some feedback on aspects of the cover that did not line up with the story, but otherwise I really trusted my publisher and the cover artist to create what they thought was best.

Follow Karina: Twitter * Facebook * Instagram * Blog


  1. You’ve been busy the last month with trips to book conferences, how do you prepare for them?

Mmmmmm… *prepare* is kind of a strong word, lol. Earlier in the year, I would spend weeks trying to figure out outfits and makeup looks and blah blah… Now? I throw a bunch of stuff in a backpack the morning of my flight and pray I didn’t forget anything. It’s really such a whirlwind at this point, I’m constantly on the fly both literally and figuratively.

  1. You recently held the final hardcover of your book in your hands, what was that momentlike?

Surreal doesn’t begin to cover it. By the time the book comes out, it’ll have been 32 months since I sold it, so it felt like the end of a legitimate era, really. I know I’ll never read the thing, but I’m going to use that First Copy I Ever Held as MY book that people sign while I’m signing theirs. Like a prose yearbook. (Shoutout to Sabaa Tahir who’s the first person I ever saw do that!)

  1. With only a month until Dear Martin releases what are your plans?

Sleep as much as possible. Trying to really rest and fuel up before the TRUE journey begins. 🙂

Follow Nic: Twitter * Instagram * YouTube


Liara Tamani

      

  1. With a month to go until Calling My Name is released, what are you doing to prepare?

I can’t believe my pub-date is getting so close! I remember when October 24th seemed so far away, and now it’s almost here. So exciting. Seems like I’m doing a little bit of everything these days! Setting things up for the book launch party and subsequent Calling My Name bookstore events. Writing for a new (still secret) project. Doing podcasts. Working on book two. Writing pieces for various blogs. Putting together a pre-order campaign. So many things! But all things to help build momentum around Calling My Name and keep my writing career moving forward, so I can’t complain.

2. Epic Reads just recently did a feature on the cover design of Calling My Name, did artist Vashti work with you when designing it? 

No. I had no idea she was designing it until my publisher, Greenwillow Books, presented the finished design to me. I cried when I saw it. Vashti obviously invested time into reading my book and understanding the protagonist, Taja, and her journey to find herself. Taja couldn’t be more perfect on the cover—beautiful and magical and contemplative—and I couldn’t be more grateful.

3. Calling My Name was also featured on BuzzFeed’s 22 YA Novels You’ll Want to Read From Cover to Cover this Fall, how does it feel about the excitement around your book? 

It’s an awesome feeling seeing Calling My Name on lists like that. As a writer, you never know how well your book is going to be received. It feels great knowing people have read it and enjoyed it. And obviously being on lists like that helps get the word out about your book, which is always a good thing! I try to come from the place of putting my best work into the world and not worrying about its commercial success, but it’s hard. I want my book to succeed. And if I’m honest, I want as many people as possible to read it.

Follow Liara on her blog * Instagram * Twitter * Facebook


    

1. You have one more month until Dare Mighty Things releases! This is so exciting! What are you doing to prepare for the release?

What am I doing? I assume you mean other than growing more panicked every day? ;P Mostly I’ve been buying fun stuff for my launch – photo booth props, prizes, food – and setting up my preorder campaign. Oh, and doing interviews! 🙂 But yeah, no, mostly my brain has been on frantically trying to finish book 2 before deadline, which happens to be like 2 weeks before book 1 comes out.

Yeah, I have to finish the sequel before the first book is even out. Author life is nuts that way.

Don’t miss out on Heather’s pre-order giveaway here

2. Tell us about your experience at Dragon Con? (I loved your Instagram pics!)

Thank you so much! I wish I could’ve taken more photos. I saw SO MANY amazing cosplays – I mean, just astounding, incredibly detailed and beautiful ones – but it’s literally so packed all you can do is kind of jump into this river of humanity and get swept along until you reach your destination and have to jump out of the stream. And I was too shy to ask most people for their photos, haha.

I did two panels with some authors that I was super intimidated by at first, but they were SO quick to welcome me and make me feel at ease. Pretty soon I forgot to be nervous and just enjoyed chatting about the things I loved and sharing that love with other panelists and the audience. Which is the best part of doing panels, I think – mentioning some book or movie you love and having the room go “YES!”

It was super overwhelming, the first couple of days. But you know, even with 80-thousand-some-odd people crammed into 5 hotels, everyone was kind of amazing. Super friendly, just happy to be there, and most everyone was super respectful of your personal space (as much as could be allowed.) I never saw people being rude or even short-tempered, really. People were geeking out over each other’s costumes and it was generally just a friendly, happy atmosphere; a giant nerd party! Even for an anxious introvert like me, the crowds became easier when I realized that NOBODY is looking at you, because they’re all looking at that AMAZING Maui cosplay over there with the gigantic 12-foot-long hook.

 I have to admit, I was really happy to get home, but it was a lot less fun knowing I wasn’t going to see Daenerys carrying around a massive dragon on her shoulder or Wonder Woman on my way to work. For a few days during DragonCon, people turn what they love into reality, and it’s just kind of magical. I was glad to experience it.

3. What’s it like hanging out with other authors?

Um, intimidating? Haha. But also, a lot easier than I’d imagine. You see people in real life and they’re suddenly human to you – more real and normal than you might think when you only know their online persona. And we’re all so like-minded when you get down to it; we all just love books. Nobody understands what you go through in publishing, especially in your debut year, like other authors. They’re so ready to commiserate with you and share tips, advice, and hilarious stories to make you feel better. It’s often easy to get into conversations, even when many of them are just as nervous to be outside & away from their computer screens as I am.

Much love to everyone I met that weekend. I hope to meet more of you soon!

Follow Heather: Blog * Twitter * Instagram * Tumblr


1. What have you been working since last we check in?

I have been working on a super secret project that is near and dear to my heart. I can’t say much, but I can say that I was inspired by the beautiful British countryside and some of the people I met on my travels. ; )

2.So you recently spent an afternoon falconing, tell us all about it?!

Falconing was incredible! We got to hold and learn about several different falcons and owls, then we got to actually fly some of them! A few things I learned: falcons, while light, are heavier than you’d expect; holding an owl is like holding air, you barely feel anything when they land on you; some owls like to walk on the ground and it’s hilarous; and it’s way easier to become a falconer in the UK than the US. I left with a new appreciation for these beautiful birds of prey!

3. Your book is a month away from releasing, how are you preparing for it?

Publishing has the unique ability to go from completely motionless to boulder rolling down a steep hill in no time flat. You go months with nothing to do and then wham. I’ve been sending out ARCs, setting up interviews, scheduling events, creating & ordering bookplates, and a dozen other tiny things. My release date was pushed to October 31, so now I’m scrambling to reschedule my launch party as well. The month or so leading up to launch is definitely a whirlwind!

Follow S.F. Henson: Blog *InstagramTwitter * Goodread *Facebook


Until the next Pre-Pub Adventure check in!

Advertisements

Wild Bird Blog Tour

Today we’re part of the Wild Bird Blog Tour!

Let’s take a look at Wild Bird.


  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 5, 2017)

3:47 a.m. That’s when they come for Wren Clemmens. She’s hustled out of her house and into a waiting car, then a plane, and then taken on a forced march into the desert. This is what happens to kids who’ve gone so far off the rails, their parents don’t know what to do with them anymore. This is wilderness therapy camp. Eight weeks of survivalist camping in the desert. Eight weeks to turn your life around. Yeah, right.

The Wren who arrives in the Utah desert is angry and bitter, and blaming everyone but herself. But angry can’t put up a tent. And bitter won’t start a fire. Wren’s going to have to admit she needs help if she’s going to survive.


 

Review:

This book was a mesmerizing read.

Wren was taken from her home to the Utah desert for a wilderness therapy camp. She’s a troubled 14-year-old who doesn’t feel connected to her family and this may be the only way to save herself. It could be her last chance.

Wren is a relatable character that many teenagers could identify with. The loss of self-worth and feeling of isolation is common.  Wren struggles with her demons and the dilemmas of life. The transformation that Wren goes through is beautifully written. The perspective changes from the therapy camp to flashbacks of Wren’s school and home life. It helped weave that paths together of why she’s at camp and what she must do to save herself.

Should you read it? Yes, an emotional book that journeys into the heart of one’s self-discovery.

starstarstarstar


 

 

About the author:

​Wendelin Van Draanen has written more than thirty novels for young readers and teens. She is the author of the 18-book Edgar-winning Sammy Keyes series—often called “The new Nancy Drew”—and wrote Flipped, which was named a Top 100 Children’s Novel for the 21st Century by School Library Journal and became a Warner Brothers feature film, with Rob Reiner directing.

Her other stand-alone titles include The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones, Runaway, Confessions of a Serial Kisser, Swear to Howdy, and The Running Dream, which was awarded American Library Association’s Schneider Family Award for its “expression of the disability experience.”

Van Draanen has also created two four-book series for younger readers.  The Shredderman books feature a boy who deals with a bully and received the Christopher Award for “affirming the highest values of the human spirit,” and was made into a Nickelodeon movie. The related Gecko & Sticky books, which are full of alluring alliterations that make for rousing read-alouds, are perfect for reluctant readers.

A classroom teacher for fifteen years, Van Draanen resides in California where she can be spotted riding shopping carts across parking lots. She and her husband, Mark Parsons, have two sons, two dogs, and enjoy the three R’s: Reading, Running, and Rock’n’Roll.

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares Blog Tour & Giveaway

I’m very excited to be part of this book tour because this book was so fun to read.

From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love—one debilitating phobia at a time.
 
Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can’t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.
The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.
Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she’d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.

Review:

This was a truly humorous light-hearted book that I couldn’t put down. A great story that incorporated fears and everyday life with humor and magical realism.

Ester’s grandfather was cursed by Death so now all her family members are doomed to suffer one great fear, which they are destined to die from. Ester’s father fear was agoraphobia, her mother’s fear was bad luck, and her twin brother (yay twins!) Eugene fear’s the dark but Ester has yet to discover her one true fear.  Enter Jonah, though Ester’s first encounter with him was not memorable, Jonah helps Ester conquer her list of nightmares and even challenges her to break the curse.

Ester was a fun character to follow. She’s quirky and intelligent. She dresses in costume every day and her snarky personality just adds charisma to her character. Jonah was the perfect match for her. He’s charming, kind and patient. There was definitely a connection to them that the reader felt throughout the book. It was a slow friendship that blossomed into a smoldering romance but what I liked was the romance took a backseat to the story. It wasn’t overwhelming and didn’t take from the story.

This book was light-hearted and witty. Even with the discussions of fears, mental health, anxiety, and depression the book never got too serious or swayed from the humor. Which I found refreshing.

Should you read it? Yes! This was a unique read that I adored with humor that retained elements of magic even on serious subjects. The characters were strong and you couldn’t help but fall in love with the story.

starstarstarstarstar


Giveaway

Enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) winners to receive a hardcover copy of A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland. (ARV: $17.99 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on September 4, 2017 and 12:00 AM on September 25, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about September 27, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

Enter here!

2136031_sutherland_krystal

About the author:

Krystal Sutherland was born and raised in Townsville, Australia—an inhospitable land where crocodiles, snakes, and jellyfish are always on the prowl. She grew up living directly across the road from the local library and spent almost every day after school (and weekends, too) having adventures between the pages of books (mainly because it was too dangerous to go outside).
She moved to Sydney for college (and safety), where she cut her writing teeth as the editor of the student magazine at the University of New South Wales. She kept gathering tales as an exchange student in Hong Kong and as a foreign correspondent in Amsterdam. Her first book, Our Chemical Hearts, was released in 2016, and was published in over twenty countries.
Her three greatest fears are heights, dark caves . . . and (perhaps worst of all) frogs.

SCHEDULE

Week One:
September 4 – Mrs. Leif’s Two Fangs About It – Review & Excerpt
September 5 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Chase Away the Nightmares: A Playlist
September 6 – Arctic Books – Reviews
September 7 – YA Wednesdays – Favorite Quotes
September 8 – Feed Your Fiction Addiction – Author Guest Post: Krystal’s Top 10 AddictionsWeek Two:
September 11 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Dream Casting
September 12 – Twinning for Books
September 13 – Love is Not a Triangle – Author Guest Post: Would You Rather? With the Cast of ASDLOWN
September 14 – Forever Young Adult – Review
September 15 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – Author Q&AWeek Three:
September 18 – Xpresso Reads – Review & My Top 5 Fears/Phobias
September 19 – Chasing Faerytales – Review
September 20 – Boricuan Bookworms – Review
September 21 – YA and Wine – Author Guest Post: Krystal’s Biggest Fears
September 22 – A Book and a Cup of Coffee – Psychology of Phobias

Interview with Kelly deVos, Author of Fat Girl On A Plane

Today I’m excited to interview my friend and author Kelly deVos.

I’ve known Kelly for a long time and have watched her writing career take off, so today’s post is special for me. Because today I get to interview her about her book and its cover! I’m so excited Kelly’s book cover was just released by Harlequin Teen. Let’s check out Fat Girl On A Plane!

FAT.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat too fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track.

SKINNY.

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?


Now to the interview!

Your cover is gorgeous! Did you have any input for it and what was the process like?

Thank you! I love it. I think the designer at Harlequin Teen did such an amazing job and I feel lucky that I was able to have some design input. I suggested taking an illustrated approach. I really wanted to have a plus-size figure on the cover but I know it can be really tough to source images of plus-size teens. There just aren’t as many images as there ought to be!

One thing they did change is the color palette. My suggestion was kind of a raspberry and sherbet orange color scheme. I like the teal and yellow that they chose much better.

What’s Fat Girl on a Plane about?

The book follows aspiring fashion designer and high school senior, Cookie Vonn, across two timelines, before and after a major weight loss that she falsely believes will solve all her problems. It’s a story about pursuing your dreams and learning to love yourself!

How did you come up with the idea?

It was initially inspired by a couple of real experiences. First, like my main character, I was forced to purchase two seats on an airplane. I also worked as a graphic designer for an Italian-based eyewear company that dealt with many luxury fashion brands. I noticed, over time, that some of these brands were fairly hostile to plus-size girls and women and I wanted to discuss that issue.

What have you done to get ready for publication?

At this point, I’m mainly networking with other writers, trying to collect a lot of information to help me prepare for the book’s release next year. I’m a member of Class of 2K18 books, a group of 20 writers working together to promote their 2018 debuts. There are so many great books in the class!! 2018 will be a busy reading year!

I have made a couple of things, like a custom shipping envelope and some custom packing tape to prepare for when I have ARCs and can send them out into the world.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep going! Keep writing new things, making writer friends and above all read as much as you can – especially in the genre that you’re writing. For me, reading, more than any single thing, helps me improve my craft.

Thank you Kelly! I’m so proud of you. There was always something special about your writing that took hold of me and I knew you were meant for the publishing world. I’m so excited for Fat Girl On A Plane. 


About Kelly:

kelly_devos

I am a Young Adult writer living in Gilbert, Arizona, represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I have a degree in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and am a contributor to Adventures in YA Publishing. My debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE, will be published in 2018 by Harlequin Teen.

Follow Kelly on:

Murder Among the Stars Blog Tour: Chapter Excerpt

 I’m thrilled to be part of the Murder Among Stars Blog Tour!

Today we have a special chapter excerpt for you. But first let’s take a look at the book.


 

  • Series: Lulu Kelly Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 1481447904

A murderer is picking off the young Hollywood starlets gathered at the swanky Hearst Castle, and Lulu Kelly might be next—unless she can find the killer first in this glitzy, glamorous, and cinematic sequel to acclaimed film producer/director Adam Shankman and coauthor Laura Sullivan’s Girl About Town.

After being framed for attempted murder, Lulu Kelly has earned a rest. Unfortunately, there is no rest in Hollywood for a rising starlet. Lulu and her boyfriend Freddie are invited to posh Hearst Castle, where Lulu will be competing against other young actresses for the role of a lifetime. But what’s a house party without a little murder?

After a rival actress is found dead under the dining room table, Lulu makes it her mission to solve the mystery. But illusion is this town’s number one export, and it’s hard to tell the ambitious from the truly evil. As the clues pile up, Lulu and Freddie race to find the killer, even as Lulu becomes the next target.


About the authors: 

 Adam Shankman is the director and producer of the exuberant musical remake of Hairspray, the producer of the top-grossing Step Up films, the director of the adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks bestseller A Walk to Remember starring Mandy Moore, and the director of Bringing Down the House starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. Adam has also directed episodes of Modern Family and Glee, and he was a popular judge on So You Think You Can Dance.

TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | GOODREADS 

 

 

 

Laura L. Sullivan is a former newspaper editor, biologist, social worker, and deputy sheriff who writes because storytelling is the easiest way to do everything in the world. Her books include Love By the Morning StarDelusion, and Ladies in Waiting. Laura lives on the Florida coast.

FACEBOOK | GOODREADS 

 

 


 

Chapter Excerpt

One

Hollywood starlet  Lulu  Kelly  gazed  through  the  bril- liant California sunshine at the castle that rose like an enchanted  dream from the mountainside. She was so awestruck by the grandeur that she almost didn’t notice when Freddie Van—former billionaire, former hobo, current private eye, and Lulu’s boyfriend—held the car door open for her. “Holy cats!” the actress said as she looked up at the mansion that was to be her home for the long weekend. “Freddie, are you sure this belongs to Mr. William Randolph Hearst and not a sultan? It’s rather . . . a lot.”

“Being ‘rather a lot’ is what Mr. Hearst is best known for,” Freddie said. “Why do you think everyone who’s anyone is here?”

“I’m here to get the part of a lifetime,” Lulu said as she marveled at the castle. In her successful year in Hollywood she’d gotten used to luxury and high living. Though her own rented home was fairly modest, she was often invited to the luxury estates owned by such luminaries as Mary Pickford and George Cukor. But their establishments paled in comparison to the estate known modestly as the Ranch. This was a castle, plain and simple, built for an American prince.

Not satisfied with a single splendid house, Hearst had built four. La Casa Grande with its two towers and stunning blue tile work held the place of honor as the main residence. Sur- rounding it were guesthouses that were mansions in their own right. Casa del Monte had a stunning mountain view. Casa del Sol faced the setting sun. And Casa del Mar overlooked the crashing waters of the Pacific Ocean. Together it was called La Cuesta Encantada—the Enchanted Hill.

“And I’m here as private eye, junior edition.” After helping Lulu clear her good name following an accidental shooting (that proved to be no accident), Freddie had fallen naturally into the investigative business. Right now he was assistant to Mr. Waters, the most sought-after PI in Hollywood.

“What a shame our first holiday together has to be a work- ing holiday,” Lulu said a little sadly.

Freddie groaned. “Only in Hollywood would they turn a party into a tryout. Do you even have any idea what you’re supposed to do there for four days?”

“No. It’s all very hush-hush. The invitation said ‘WR and Marion Invite You to Reveal Your True Character’ in big embossed gold letters. That’s all. Veronica says that nearly every starlet in the biz will be competing for the role of a life- time, but no one knows any more than that.”

Freddie looked sly. “Maybe I know a little more than that.”

Lulu gasped and grabbed his hand. “Oh, my own per- sonal investigator! Come on, spill!”

“Well, Waters may have mentioned to me that none other than Anita Loos will be in attendance.”

Lulu’s heart began to race. Anita Loos! The author of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the funniest book of the last decade, maybe even of the last century! Now she was a screenwriter of considerable renown, working with her husband, John Emer- son, on only the choicest projects.

“Do you think she could possibly be writing something completely new for Cosmopolitan Pictures? A real Anita Loos original screenplay?” Her eyes were aglow at the possibility.

“I wouldn’t be surprised. Would you like to work with her?”

“Like to? I’d kill for—” She caught herself short and swal- lowed hard, as Freddie laughed.

“It’s just an expression,” he said, excusing her.

Lulu shook her head. “But one in very bad taste for yours truly.” Not long ago, she’d very nearly killed a rival starlet. In the peculiar way of Hollywood, it had launched both of their careers to new stellar levels.

“I have to meet with Waters and find out why I’m here,” Freddie said. “I’ll find you as soon as I can.” He bent over her hand, kissing her knuckles with elaborate gallantry.

A slew of  photographers was waiting for Lulu and the nineteen other starlets invited for the weekend. A little while before, Lulu had submitted her tired face to the skilled hand of her friend and publicist Veronica, and now she was daisy-fresh and glowing, her platinum hair fetchingly curled around her ears, her sleepy eyes painted wide and alert. She smiled gamely for the cameras while she held her little terrier, Charlie, in her arms.

Lulu did what she was required to do, but after her official photo shoot she declined to pose and ham it up with the other girls. A brassy, buxom blonde sidled up to her. Lulu knew most of the other actresses—a mix of newly established A-listers and the relatively unknown group of this year’s Baby Stars. But this girl was unfamiliar.

“Are you too dumb or too smart to be out there mugging with those publicity whores?” the girl asked, fanning herself with her slim crocodile pocketbook.

Lulu, momentarily too shocked by the girl’s language to speak, let her mouth gape. “Oh, too dumb, I see. Well, I’m not bothering with those photographers because they don’t count for a hill of beans. Joan Crawford and Jean Harlow are the only ones who will get any ink tomorrow. They’ll hold the rest of the photos until they see who wins. And, sister, when I win, I plan to have a photo shoot with diamonds and doves, looking like a queen slumming as a pinup. I have no time for snappers of me with a greasy morning face and bad lighting. No thank you!”

“I’m Lulu,” she began, holding out her hand.

The girl ignored it. “I know who all of you are. You’re no competition. Why do you think I’m here? After that business with Ruby Godfrey they’ll never cast you in a comedy or a romance. It will be gangsters’ molls from here on out, toots. I’m Juliette Claire. Ugh, look at Joan Crawford, flapping those giant hands around. More like Joan Crawfish.”

“Joan’s a friend of mine,” Lulu said.

“Then you ought to tell her to keep her hands behind her back if she doesn’t want to look like a lobster. Too bad Bette Davis can’t hide those bug eyes behind her back. Oh my, look at all the bad bleach jobs out there. Pure chlorine, you can tell. Half of them will be bald in six months.” She looked Lulu over critically. “What do you use, then? It almost looks real.”

“It’s my own color.”

Juliette snorted. “Sure, and so is mine. Forget it. Just trying to be friendly.”

It was Lulu’s turn to snort. Still, she tried to be polite to this unpleasant girl. “Which studio are you with?”

“I’m freelance, sister. I have two movies coming out next year, so watch out! Let’s see, who else have they dragged out of the woodwork? That tall drink of water is Boots Mallory. She posed in her scanties, so WR will never consider her. Because he’s such a pillar of virtue! Ha!” Juliette erupted in a hideous honk of a laugh that pierced the air and made Lulu physically recoil.

“WR?” Lulu asked, composing herself. “You’re that inti- mate with Mr. Hearst?”

Juliette shrugged. “I will be, if that’s what it takes. You got a problem with me, sister? Didn’t think so. There’s Eleanor Holm, still wet from the swimming pool. I hear she’s a cham- pion on her back.”

Juliette snickered, and Lulu bristled. She’d recently seen a photo shoot with the Olympic swimmer turned actress, and admired her confident physicality. “She won a gold medal for the backstroke.”

Juliette shrugged. “Oh, is that what they call it these days?

These girls all think they can get this part by impressing Mar- ion. I know its WR who holds the purse strings—and owns Cosmopolitan Pictures. Once he finds out about some of these girls’ reputations, they won’t have a chance.”

“These are some of the sweetest girls in the business,” Lulu said hotly. “Most of them don’t have a reputation for anything other than beauty and professionalism.”

Juliette glared at her. “Well, hoity-toity. Don’t you know a reputation is easier to get than the clap out here? And easier to give. Hey, will you look at that! Who the hell invited Toshia Mori?”

Juliette indicated a striking Japanese girl standing a little apart from the others.

“I hear there’s a part for a brunette, but not someone that

brunette,” the actress said. “What’s next, they audition our colored maids?”

Lulu felt her face redden. “And why shouldn’t Toshia be up for a part as much as you? She was a Baby Star, after all, and she’s filming with Frank Capra right now. How dare you imply—”

She was interrupted when several other girls joined them. Lulu felt relieved. One more minute alone with Juliette, and she’d likely find herself involved in another murder investiga- tion.

Juliette looked amused to be challenged. “I never imply,”

she hissed to Lulu. “I make myself perfectly clear.” Then she smiled at the new girls and said loudly, “Make sure you give Lulu here plenty of room and don’t jostle her. She’s in a deli- cate condition.” Her hand hovered briefly over her own stom- ach and she winked.

“What?” Lulu cried. “I’m not!”

But she could already hear some of the other girls whis- pering behind their hands. Who’s the father? Will Lux fire her?

Lulu protested as strongly as she could, and the other girls said they believed that it was only Juliette’s joke. But she could still see the doubt in some of their eyes. How could one quick lie have such power?

Lulu tried to act natural, but it was hard. A better girl, she

told herself, would be plotting revenge. Or a worse girl. In any case, a more typical girl. She still wasn’t used to the way girls out here could sabotage each other so viciously. She longed, more than anything, to be quietly alone with Freddie. But he was already on the job, and she didn’t know when she’d have a chance to see him.

An imposing older woman in black came up to the young actresses. Her dress was of such good material, so finely tai- lored, that it took Lulu a moment to realize it was essentially a servant’s livery. It was as simple and chic as a Chanel frock, and the shining chain holding the housekeeper’s collection of keys might as well have been a platinum accessory. Her steely hair was severely coiffed, her lips a long, elegant line. She’d been a beauty in her day, Lulu thought.

“I am Mrs. Mortimer, the housekeeper,” the woman introduced herself, giving a stiff nod of her head. “I am in charge of your comfort and will ensure that your stay here at the Ranch goes smoothly and without incident. Miss Marion does not care for incidents.” She looked sharply at a couple of girls. Her gaze seemed to rest the longest on Juliette. Lulu suspected the housekeeper was competent enough at her job to have done her homework about all of the guests.

“Should you have any difficulties, please come to me before they get out of hand,” Mrs. Mortimer went on. She gave a hint of a smile and briefly met Lulu’s eye. “Early inter- vention can prevent a host of problems. Please follow me.”

She gave another sharp bow of her head and walked purposefully away without a backward glance, trusting that the girls would follow. Lulu watched her with admiration. What a strong, competent-seeming woman. She supposed being a housekeeper at a place like the Ranch might almost be like being an executive at a big company, hardly like a servant at all.

Much to Lulu’s annoyance, Juliette maneuvered to walk beside her. “Why the sour puss? Oh, my joke earlier? Well, what’s a little reputation? They’ll know it ain’t true . . . in nine months or so.”

Lulu gave her no encouragement, but Juliette seemed to like having an audience. “I was talking to Dolores, that giant over there.” She nodded toward a tall, striking, dark-haired beauty of superbly buxom proportions. “She told me Marion herself was originally up for the role we’re all here fighting over. Even old WR had to shoot her down. Whatever the part may be, if they have all of us here, it’s obviously for a young beauty queen. Can you imagine an old hag like that trying to play twenty?”

“Hush!” Lulu hissed. Ahead of them, she could see Mrs. Mortimer stiffen, though she didn’t turn. Lulu was sure she could hear.

“She’s nearly forty, and WR still has her playing ingenues. It’s ridiculous. She should shove off center stage and leave it to the next generation. You know, girls like me who don’t have to provide favors to the lighting supervisor to make sure we’re shot in flattering light.”

Lulu gasped. “Marion is a beautiful woman and a great actress.” This last might have been a slight exaggeration, but Lulu felt the situation called for adamance. “She could adapt herself to any part. That’s why this job is called acting. A skilled actress doesn’t have to rely on being eighteen. But for some, that’s all they’ve got.” She looked pointedly at Juliette, who sniffed derisively.

“Oh, I’m going to put on one hell of a show for Marion . . . and a different kind of show for WR, if that’s what it takes. She won’t know I think she’s a ridiculous has-been, and he won’t know I think he’s a disgusting old lecher. And if Marion tries to get that part, I’ll show her exactly how easily a pret- tier, younger woman can take her place.” Juliette snapped her fingers and strutted off, following Mrs. Mortimer to her room. All the while Mrs. Mortimer stiffly ignored her. She had to have heard, though. Lulu wondered if any of it would make its way back to Marion Davies.

As the rest of the girls were directed to their rooms in the main house, Lulu and some of the others waited in the hall. Veronica pulled Lulu away for a private chat. She wanted to share her theories about what might be expected of Lulu this weekend.

“The scuttlebutt is that whoever can make Marion laugh the most gets the part,” Veronica said. She tossed back her sensible brown bob. “I miss the innocent, simple old days when all an actress had to do to get a role was show a little leg. Or heaven forbid, be able to act. But this! Everyone is determined to be funny, but they know they have to toe the line with WR. If it were up to Marion, whoever got drunkest and danced longest on the tabletops without falling off would take the prize.”

“Doesn’t this all seem a little desperate to you?”

“Now you’re getting it!” Veronica said. “I have no idea what this script will look like, but based on the buzz, it’s going to be the biggest thing ever. And you can bet that Marion Davies was behind these ridiculous shenanigans. She’s bored! A gin- soaked bird held prisoner in a gilded cage. The whole thing smacks of one big spectacle for her personal entertainment.”

“Are we really all supposed to act like fools for her amuse- ment?” Lulu asked.

“Who knows? But she was a Ziegfeld Follies girl, and then did mostly comedies until Hearst pushed her into dramas. She’s basically a champagne bubble ready to pop. She can’t be as wild as when she was a sixteen-year-old chorine, but she still surrounds herself with all the funny and bright young things. Maybe she’s looking to relive her stolen youth through you all. To see herself as young again. I’d say a bawdy joke and a squirting boutonniere might be the way to win her over.”

“That’s sad,” Lulu mused. “If I were her I think I’d rather—”

Veronica interrupted her. “Take it from me, you have to put on a show. Don’t worry. We’ll figure something out once we have the lay of the land. Luckily I know you’re a girl who can think on her feet.”

The ladies were led back outside by courteous staff members to their respective guesthouses. As she was ushered along the shade-dappled tile pathway, Lulu did a double take when she thought she caught sight of a familiar—and unwelcome—face near the trucks that were unloading copi- ous amounts of liquor. Black hair, flashing eyes, the sensu- ously curving mouth of a Caravaggio . . . She gasped. It couldn’t be Sal! What on earth could he be doing at the Ranch? An icy chill ran down Lulu’s spine even as the hazy San Simeon sun beat down upon her.

Sal had been an unexpected hit in the Hollywood social scene, schmoozing with some of the biggest names, and every- one seemed willing to ignore his shady profession. Gangsters were superstars, and Sal seemed to have a knack for buying his way into the right society. She’d heard there was a movie in the works based on his life story. Some even said Sal was going to star in it.

She craned her neck behind her, trying to get a better look. But the man, whoever he was, had vanished. My mind must be playing tricks on me, Lulu thought. Sal would never manage to get an invitation to the Ranch.

“Looks like you’re with me,” Boots said, tucking her golden-brown hair behind her ears. “Casa del Mar, right?” Lulu had never met her before, but she liked her right away for her easy, straightforward manner. She was all legs and angles, but she carried herself with a natural grace that gave her a sylph-like beauty.

“Me too,” said Eleanor. The catty Juliette was right— Eleanor’s dark hair did almost seem like it was fresh from the pool, slicked back away from her face, wet-looking, curling at the tips. But it was a good look for her. She seemed strong, ready for anything. Lulu saw her eyeing the unloaded liquor.

“Guess I didn’t have to smuggle this in,” Eleanor said, giv- ing them a peek at a flask from her satchel.

“Better to be prepared,” Boots said. “Hearst might have enough booze to fill his swimming pool—both his swimming pools—but I hear he restricts his guests to two drinks apiece, and I intend to have a good time while I’m here, even if I know I don’t have much chance of landing the role.”

“Ditto,” Eleanor said. “We might as well live it up for a weekend, right, girls?”

Toshia joined them. “I don’t know why I’m here,” she confessed. “We all know they’ll never give me the part, unless there’s one for a maid or a concubine. And if the concubine is the star, it goes to Myrna Loy in eyeliner. All I’ll ever get are the roles Anna May Wong turns down.”

Boots gave her a hug. “Just enjoy the party, lady. We Baby Stars have to stick together. This one, though.” She patted Lulu on the back. “She might have a chance. She’s got the goods, dimples and all.”

“I think Juliette is the one we have to watch out for,” Elea- nor said. “She’s sneaky, mean, and ambitious. The trifecta of successful starlets.”

“I agree,” Toshia said. “Girls like her might get theirs in the end, but in the beginning they usually do pretty well.”

Boots and Eleanor exchanged a quick look. “Well, maybe we can fix the odds a little bit,” Boots said.

While the maids unpacked their suitcases, the girls were summoned to the main house for a cocktail party. Drinks—all two of them—would be served in the Assembly Room. But as Lulu was about to leave, Charlie made his needs known with a yip, so she slipped away with him for a quick stroll around the grounds before getting dressed.

She found something fantastic around every turn. In one fountain, dolphins sported around naiads. In another, a cun- ningly placed conch hid essential parts of a naked and brawny Poseidon.

“Guess I don’t have to bother going to Europe now,” she told Charlie as she gazed at a row of armless marble statues imported from Greece and Italy.

She whipped around, startled, when she heard a giggle from the foliage, and a dark-haired, impish head poked out. “Don’t go even if  you get the chance,” the girl said. “It’s

deadly dull, and no one speaks properly, even the English.” “Hello,” Lulu said. “Are you family?”

Charlie pushed his way into the shrubbery and looked pleased when he emerged again not only with an entire girl, but with a graying, portly dachshund on a leash. When Lulu could only see her peeping face she’d thought the girl must be a teenager. She had bright precocious eyes under arching brows, and a hint of lip rouge.

But when she emerged completely from the bushes she looked like a totally different girl. Her hair was gathered in long twin braids that fell over her shoulders, tied with pink bows. She wore a high-waisted short frock with frills and petti- coats, ruffled white socks, and black patent-leather shoes. Her body was slim and straight, her chest perfectly flat. At first Lulu thought she must be a very small woman dressed for a costume party. But no, she was a little girl after all, and appar- ently much younger than she first appeared.

“I’m Patricia, Marion’s niece.” “I’m Lulu.” She held out her hand.

“I know that,” Patricia said, giving it a businesslike shake. At their feet, the two dogs struck up their acquaintance with posterior sniffs. “Golly, everyone knows who you are now. Did you really, truly shoot someone? Gosh, how exciting!” She heaved a dramatic sigh. “I never get to do anything. Dinner in the nursery, bed by eight. It’s a sad and sorry life for a girl like I.”

“Well, at your age . . . ,” Lulu began, then stopped her- self. How old was Patricia? She talked like a young woman and dressed like a child. Lulu was perplexed. Perhaps children raised by millionaires matured differently than poor children. She’d have to ask Freddie later.

“Tell me what it felt like,” Patricia begged. “Did the blood get on you?”

What a morbid little person she was. But her eyes seemed eager as Charlie’s when he smelled a treat. Lulu could tell she was simply longing for experience—any experience. Lulu remembered that feeling. It had been replaced only a few weeks ago with a fervent hope that nothing dangerous or exciting would ever happen to her again.

Against her better judgment, Lulu told her about the ter- rible ordeal that had been cleared up only a few weeks before. She left out many of the more sordid details that the studio lawyers had managed to conceal from the press. “The scene called for me to shoot the gun, so I did. I had no idea it was loaded.”

“And they never figured out how the bullets got in there? Strange. I pored over the stories in WR’s newspapers. It always seemed to me as if the relevant particulars were somehow . . . missing.” She gave Lulu a canny look that made the actress feel decidedly uncomfortable.

“Accidents happen,” Lulu said, neglecting to mention that the victim, rival actress Ruby Godfrey, had loaded the gun herself in a desperate play for publicity.

“I bet Ruby had something to do with it herself,” Patricia said. Lulu kept her face resolutely expressionless. A few of the papers had speculated on that, but no one seemed to take it seriously. This girl was too perceptive for her own good.

“She has an interesting face, that Ruby,” Patricia contin- ued. “Always looks like she’s up to something. Which is good for an actress, maybe, but not so good when you actually are up to something. You, on the other hand, look as innocent as a May flower.” Patricia scrutinized Lulu’s face, and Lulu got the distinct impression she was trying to imitate her expres- sion. “You could get away with anything. That must come in handy.”

“How old are you?” Lulu finally couldn’t help but ask.

She thought it would be an innocent question. After all, children got asked that all the time by tedious adults who couldn’t think of anything more interesting to ask. So she was surprised to hear Patricia give a sharp intake of breath, almost a sob, while a look of something strangely like fury flashed across her face.

Then, just as suddenly, it was gone, replaced by a bizarre look of affected innocence. “I’m ten,” Patricia said, and now her voice was pitched up an octave, squeaky and girlish.

Two

Lulu wiggled and struggled into a formfitting strapless Elsa Schiaparelli cocktail dress of burnt orange silk velvet with a fiery pink satin-lined train, and entered the Assembly

Room. She accepted a poison-green cocktail, though she didn’t really have a taste for alcohol beyond an occasional glass of champagne. Still, it was a decorative thing to have in her hand, and less noxious than the long cigarette holders some actresses thought were fashionable.

Though the twenty actresses were the guests of honor, the party didn’t lack for male company. Anita Loos’s handsome husband and cowriter, John Emerson, was there, resplendent in a gray suit and shimmering lion-head tie tack. For some rea- son, the Lux Studios doctor Harry Martin was there too, neat scotch in hand as always. Lulu wondered how he’d finagled an invitation. There were newspaper men and Wall Street men, novelists and actors, and a few more exotic specimens, too—at least one unattached man for every woman. Freddie and his boss were nowhere to be seen. There was a palpable tension in the room as everyone waited for Hearst and Marion to arrive. “They have spy holes everywhere,” Veronica whispered into Lulu’s ear. “I even heard they have the rooms rigged with microphones. I bet Hearst is watching us right now. Now, make with the shenanigans! There have already been three whoopee cushion incidents, a cloud of  itching powder, and one gal who keeps trying to shake people’s hands with an electric joy buzzer.”

Lulu noticed Patricia sitting quietly by herself, her legs in lisle stockings kicking against the sofa as she watched the elegant crowd around her. “How old is Marion’s niece?” she asked.

Veronica, who made it her business to know absolutely everything, thought a moment and said, “Ten.”

“Are you sure?” Lulu asked.

“Yes. They had a photo spread on her last birthday party. It had ten peacocks, ten flamingos, ten baby tigers, ten uni- corns, for all I know. Yes, definitely ten.”

“She seems so much older,” Lulu said.

“You’ve only been in this life for a year, and I bet you feel a million years older at seventeen than you did at sixteen. With- out the crow’s toes to show for it. Patricia has probably seen and done more in her ten years than most people do in a life- time.”

The girl seemed so bored and alone that Lulu sought her out and—with great effort and an alarming creak in the Schiaparelli’s stitches—sat down beside her.

“Oh, thank goodness it’s you,” Patricia said, her voice jaded now, almost adult. “Can you believe someone actually patted me on the head? What do I look like, a dog? Why do people think children can be treated like dumb animals?”

“People don’t think, most of the time,” Lulu said, feeling

sorry for this precocious girl.

“See, you can speak to me like an adult. Other people do baby talk and call me a good girl and ask what I want to be when I grow up. Is that what passes for conversation? Should I ask them where they plan to retire when they get wrinkly and washed up? Honestly, I detest these parties.” She flopped back on the sofa.

“Isn’t there something you’d rather be doing? Surely in a place like this there are more suitable things for a . . . younger person such as yourself.”

“I want to dance!” Patricia said. “I want to drink absinthe and flirt and creep off into dark nooks with Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and . . .”

Lulu couldn’t help but burst out laughing. “There’s plenty of time for that when you’re older.”

Patricia gave her a withering look. “When I’m older. Do you know that phrase has been the bane of my existence for half my life? That’s what Marion is always saying. Just a few more years, and . . .” She clamped her mouth shut.

“Tell you what,” Lulu said. “I might not be Doug Jr., but I can cut a mean rug.” She inhaled deeply and stood with- out ripping a stitch, which was something of a miracle, then exhaled as much as possible and held out her arm. “May I have this dance?”

Patricia looked delighted. She turned on the Victrola and dropped the needle on Cole Porter’s “Let’s Misbehave.”

At once Lulu was caught up in the joy of dancing. She forgot all about the competition for the lead, the uncomfort- able dress. Juliette’s nasty rumor even ceased to sting. Lulu had passed many of her happiest moments dancing with her mother in their cramped and squalid tenement. Even when they didn’t  have  food, they  still  had  music they  sang  and hummed, and the lively swinging steps of her mother’s favor- ite dances.

Now, taking the lead and swirling Patricia into the middle of the floor, Lulu felt totally unconcerned about the tittering crowd. She was happy and carefree. Patricia seemed joyous, too, because she flung her head back, laughing and wild as a maenad, and danced with such abandon that for a moment the rest of the guests fell silent and simply watched.

It was at this moment that Hearst and Marion slipped into the room through a secret panel beside the fireplace.

“Now, that’s what I like to see!” Hearst boomed. “Dance, everyone—dance!” He clapped his hands loudly, slightly out of time with the rhythm.

No one disobeyed an order from Hearst. Almost instantly couples formed and found an open spot to finish out the tune.

Marion bounced beside him in a flirty polka-dotted dress.

“Come on, Daddy,” she cooed, dancing a quick step around him, looking like a tiny kitten frisking around a bloodhound. “I get you first.”

Hearst made a rather ludicrous figure, bearish and lum- bering beside the effervescent Marion. But he put on a game show, laughing at his own clumsiness. Lulu thought it must be easier to accept being a figure of fun when his signature on a check could buy anyone or anything. That would numb the sting.

No, she realized a moment later. He was ordering them to

laugh at him, just as he had ordered them to dance. If they’d done it on their own, they might be banished, ruined. But he enjoyed having the power to tell people to laugh at him. Look, he seemed to say with his antics, I can be ridiculous and still be above you.

The music stopped, and Marion clapped, then flitted from guest to guest, saying charming nonsense to each until she was interrupted by Mrs. Mortimer, who whispered something in her ear that made her frown. They had a quick, hushed con- sultation before the housekeeper left and Marion resumed her flitting, though it seemed a little more forced now.

To Lulu’s surprise, Hearst introduced himself to her after a while.

He was daunting close up. Even the president wasn’t such a public legend as William Randolph Hearst. A president would be gone in four years, or eight. Hearst had been head of an empire for decades and seemed to have every intention of living to rule for many more. Though nearly seventy, he was hale. If he stooped a bit, he still towered over everyone in the room. If his fair hair was graying, it nonetheless flowed in a thick wave across his forehead.

His eyes were the strangest of all, an unnerving pale blue that seemed somehow less alive than the rest of him. Lulu couldn’t tell if they were the eyes of a child that still turned to some secret inner world of his own, or the eyes of a monster.

If he was a monster, he was a perfectly cordial one. “Wel- come to the Ranch,” he said. “Are you the gal who was caught up in all that ruckus a while back? Marion was sure it was that one over there.” He pointed to the tall and sultry Dolores. “She looks more like the shooting type. But I remember your face from the Los Angeles Examiner. I never forget anything that appears in any of my papers. I peeked out and said yup, that’s the face.”

“So you really do have spy holes?” Lulu couldn’t help saying.

“Wouldn’t you?” he asked, and tapped the side of his nose. “I don’t think I’d like to know what people are saying about me behind my back,” Lulu admitted.

“Oh, the microphones are just a rumor I started to keep everyone on their best behavior. And the spy holes are mostly so Marion can make sure no one is wearing her dress when she makes her entrance. Now, tell me, young lady, do you like art?”

She caught Veronica’s eye across the room. The publicist made a pushing gesture that Lulu interpreted to mean she bet- ter take advantage of her moment with Hearst to be funny.

“Art? Never met him,” Lulu quipped, embarrassed at the inanity of the joke.

But Hearst gave a belly laugh. “Thank goodness, someone who didn’t bone up! Do you know, every guest who comes here knows I have an art collection and decides to impress me, so they look up some tidbit about Caravaggio’s knife fight or Titian’s tint, and try to talk like a professor.”

Hearst gave Patricia a fond kiss on the head and went to chat with other guests. Patricia left the Assembly Room in search of cookies, making Lulu sure she really was ten after all.

With Hearst and Marion now in attendance, the Pranks Olympics began. Certain that this was the way to make an impression, everyone pretended to be chatty and social, but they all had plans to make Marion laugh. Instantly, as if she were in on the gag, Marion plopped down on one of the sev- eral whoopee cushions hidden around the room. She squealed and jumped up. “Excuse me!” she said, looking far too ladylike to ever produce such a sound herself. Then she gave a mighty belch, and laughed.

Jean Harlow, her hair almost exactly the same platinum shade as Lulu’s, offered Marion a tray of candied apples. Mar- ion gamely bit into one and scrunched up her face into a gri- mace as sweat broke out on her forehead. “Spanish onion!” she gasped, fanning her mouth and raising her arm blindly for a drink.

“You’ve probably had enough,” Hearst said gently as Marion downed a gin, honey, and lemon concoction called a Bee’s Knees.

“Water ain’t gonna cut it, Pops,” she said, and called for another. “Whew-ee, Jean, you are one hot lady! And the pale horse takes the lead.”

Joan Crawford supplied Marion’s next drink—in a dribble cup. “And Joanie edges up,” Marion said, wiping her chin.

“I’ll give a hundred dollars to anyone if I crack three eggs over their head!” Juliette suddenly announced.

“I’d volunteer,” Hearst said, “but it would just put me in the next tax bracket.”

Juliette batted her dark lashes around the room, finally set- tling on the Lux Studio doctor, Harry Martin. “How about you, big boy?”

“A hundred dollars? Really?” he asked. His voice was slurred with drink, but his eyes perked up at that remarkable sum.

“If I crack three eggs over your head,” Juliette confirmed. “I’m game,” he said. “If you’re really good for it.”

“And if not, make her pay you off some other way,” said John Emerson with a lascivious leer that brought a disapprov- ing look from Hearst. “I’m sure she can think of something.”

“I always keep my word,” Juliette said staunchly. “To the exact letter.” But Lulu could tell she had a plan. Juliette looked sidelong at John, a look that seemed to promise something in the future, but then turned her attention squarely to the man known on the Lux sets as Docky. Marion, eager to see what would happen, told a servant to fetch three eggs.

“Drumroll, please,” Juliette said as she held up the first egg. Everyone began tapping their fingers on the furniture.

Juliette basked for a moment in the spotlight. Lulu saw Louella Parsons—gossip columnist extraordinaire, known to her friends as Lolly and her enemies as something unprintable— sidle up to Docky and whisper something in his ear. He shook his head brusquely and turned away from her. He seemed to like being the center of attention too, particularly when his audience consisted of so many pretty girls.

With great fanfare she held up an egg . . . and smashed it down on top of Docky’s head. He flinched, but kept on a game face even when the gooey yolk dripped into his eyes.

“Should I do another?” Juliette asked, holding up the next egg. When she was answered with cheers, she smashed that egg, too, onto Docky’s balding pate.

Lulu didn’t want to look. It was humiliating.

“That’s what this whole business is about,” Boots said from beside her. “Doing anything for money.”

Juliette held up the last egg over Docky’s slimy head. His face was red, but he looked eager, too. For the hundred dol- lars? Lulu wondered. Didn’t a doctor make enough that he didn’t have to embarrass himself for money?

“No,” Juliette said after a long pause. “I think I’m in the mood for a flip.” She summoned a maid and instructed her how to froth the last raw egg with brandy and spices for the unusual cocktail. Then she sat down next to Marion.

“What about my money?” Docky demanded, hot and hoarse.

Juliette looked at him with big, innocent eyes and said guilelessly, “But I didn’t break three eggs.” She shrugged her shoulders as if she were just too helpless to do anything about it.

“But you said . . . ,” Docky began.

Marion laughed. “Oh, I get it now! She never said she would crack three eggs over your head—just that if she did, she’d pay you a hundred dollars. Oh, it’s too funny. Docky, you look an absolute fright! I’ve never seen such a mess. And the dark horse takes the lead! What’s your name, kid?”

“Juliette Claire,” she replied, her eyes big and innocent, looking like she had no idea what everyone was laughing at.

Marion’s face instantly darkened when she heard the name, and she turned away. Lulu guessed that Mrs. Mortimer had shared the cruel, catty things she’d overheard Juliette say.

Docky sputtered and fumed, his face going from red to purple in his rage. Lulu saw him clench his fists and take a step toward Juliette. Lolly put a hand on his shoulder.

“Why don’t you go and clean up, Docky,” she said. “Here, I’ll help you.”

“Exit, pursued by a bear,” Lulu murmured, which might have earned her comedy points if anyone present had read The Winter’s Tale.

“Has anyone told you that you look ravishing tonight?” a low voice whispered in her ear. Lulu shivered, and turned to find Freddie. She shook her head. “Good, because I’d have to beat him silly.”

“Did you find out why you’re here?”

He guided her farther away from the others. “Not a word to anyone, but . . . blackmail! Hearst got a letter purporting to know something terrible he did thirteen years ago and demanding money.”

“How very mysterious!” Lulu said, her eyes lighting up at the thought of a mystery. They’d worked so well together uncovering Ruby Godfrey’s plot. It would be fun if she could help him on something like this.

Before she could offer her help, they heard Hearst sputter from across the room. He was mopping his face with a linen handkerchief that seemed dwarfed by his hand. Someone had unleashed that old comedic standby, the squirting bouton- niere, on their host.

“What the hell is going on?” he thundered. All of the actresses avoided eye contact, and the whole room fell silent. “You!” He jabbed his finger at the pretty little actress with baby-doll curls still clutching her trick flower. “Why is every- one acting like a lunatic? I demand an explanation!”

“B-because we all want the part!” she squeaked. “What?” Hearst bellowed.

The little actress quailed, and Lulu felt sorry for her. She stepped up to take the harsh, frightening focus onto herself and said, “Because we were all told that making you and Marion laugh would get us the part.” She held Hearst’s steely gaze.

Hearst looked around the room. “You ladies think that squirting water in my face and breaking eggs on a fellow’s head is the way to get the finest role Cosmopolitan Pictures has ever offered?” He frowned, looking to Lulu like a sulky, overgrown child, though his millions seemed to stand behind him like a child-king’s personal army, making him incredibly intimidating. “You should know that practical jokes are the lowest form of comedy,” he said witheringly. “You better start taking your craft more seriously if you want to get ahead in this business . . . and at the Ranch. After all, you only have one chance to make a first impression. So far, very few of you have impressed me favorably.” Lulu was almost certain his small blue eyes flickered her way.

The actresses all looked abashed, and Marion pushed her way in front of Hearst, pulling a funny face to chase away his ire. She clinked her cocktail glass with a backgammon piece and called everyone to attention.

“Thank you so much for coming to our humble abode,” she said, making a little curtsy. “I’m sorry to have kept you all in the dark about the nature of this party. Oh, who am I kidding? I loved keeping all of you in suspense!” She laughed merrily. “Now, I’ve heard the rumor that’s going around. Whoever can make me laugh gets the coconut, right? Wrong! But oh, what a show you girls have put on so far! You know how I love a good chortle. Juliette, that egg joke was . . .”

Hearst flashed her a quick scowl, and Marion’s face grew a shade more serious. “You saw that the party invitations said we’d reveal your true character this week. Well, that’s exactly what we plan to do. WR and I have come up with an abso- lutely revolutionary new way of making a grand film. Instead of finding a story, writing a script, and casting an actress who fits the part—or more likely, one who the public is already mad for—we’re flip-flopping the whole tedious affair. Look at how fascinating all of you girls are! Some of you I know well, and some of you absolutely intrigue me already.” She winked maliciously at Juliette.

“You are all being judged this week,” Hearst said. “By the end of the party, Marion and I will have chosen the actress who interests us the most, upon whom to base my friend Anita Loos’s next screenplay. Ably assisted by her husband and a brilliant new writer we just discovered, Mr. Paul Raleigh, Anita will write something the likes of which the world has never seen. Art will imitate life as it never has before. One lucky girl will not only be the star of the biggest Cosmopolitan Pictures hit—she will be a muse. She will be a goddess, with the story molded to her in every way. She will ennoble great cinema with her most radiant virtues . . . and her terrible secrets!”

Around her, Lulu heard the actresses gasping. Lulu gasped too, but not, she thought, for the same reason. The other girls were awestruck that a movie might be custom- tailored to their unique personality. Lulu was for a moment horror-struck. Though she strove every moment of every day to be a good person, her past haunted her. She knew that her secrets were far too grisly to be revealed. They could end her. Permanently. She always suspected that deep down she was flawed. Why else would she have lied to protect a gangster and advance herself ?

When she sat in the witness stand and swore that Salvatore Benedetto had not shot the man who killed his father, she had betrayed everything her mother taught her and everything she knew was right. She knew she probably would have been killed if she hadn’t played along with Sal’s demands. And look what it had gotten her! A soaring career, fame, love, enough money to pull her family out of abject poverty. But she was always left with a sick feeling of her own moral failure. How- ever good, however kind, however brave she might be now, she had folded when it mattered most.

No, Lulu thought, I don’t have the kind of  character worthy of a movie heroine.

“In four days,” Marion went on, her words more than a bit slurred, “we will hold a talent competition. And you thought you were all above such nonsense, didn’t you!” She shot a look straight to Joan Crawford, whose square jaw set tightly just as one eyebrow arched skyward. “The winner will get the part. Simple, right? Wrong!”

She downed her cocktail. “The talent show will only be the—what was that fancy word you used, ’Nita? Culmination! Long before that, though, you will all be judged.” She dropped her voice to an ominous modulation. “And sadly, some of you will be found wanting. Every night two of you will be bundled into Daimlers and whisked away home. An honor to be nom- inated and all that, right? The lucky ones who remain in four days’ time will grace us with their artistry in the final com- petition, and a winner will be chosen by myself, WR, Anita, Emerson, and Paul.” She turned to Hearst. “Darling, where is Paul?”

Hearst shrugged, but Lulu, within earshot, heard his private secretary murmur into his ear that Paul Raleigh had called, saying he was unavoidably delayed and hoped to arrive before dinner.

Lulu felt warm breath on her neck and turned, letting her cheek brush against Freddie’s. “What do you say you commit an unpardonable faux pas and get kicked out, I quit my job, and we spend the rest of the weekend fooling around on the beach?”

“Tempting, but Veronica would never forgive me. Hell hath no fury like a publicist scorned.”

They wandered toward a dark nook, and might have managed to avoid dinner entirely if Veronica hadn’t spied them and tried to hustle Lulu back into the social circle. “You’re not doing yourself any good being a wallflower,” she said.

“We’re just trying to get some time together,” Lulu said. “I have several days to be thrilling and inspirational.”

“You have to focus on the competition first.”

“Just let me have a little while with Freddie, and I promise tomorrow I’ll pull out all the stops.”

“Oh, very well,” Veronica grumbled. “Just turn on a couple of lights, will you? Hearst will think you’re up to no good.”

“Don’t we wish!” Lulu said with a dramatic sigh.

Veronica turned the switch on an unlit nearby lamp—and screamed.

The bright bulb illuminated the silhouettes of half a dozen huge roaches clinging to the underside of the lamp- shade. Veronica jerked away, knocking the lamp down with a crash. One of the insects seemed to fly through the air, landing at Lulu’s feet. She managed not to cry out—after all, roaches were a familiar sight in her slum childhood—but she backed hurriedly away.

Juliette, who had been deep in an animated conversation with John Emerson, gave a grunt of distaste and said, “You simpering namby-pambies make me sick!” With that, she stomped on the roach.

“That would have done it in for sure,” Freddie said, pick- ing it for inspection, “if it hadn’t been made out of paper.” He upended the lampshade, showing the cleverly cut-out figures of bugs designed to show up alarmingly when the lamp was lit. “Just another practical joke, left over from when they were still all the rage a quarter hour ago.”

Marion laughed, along with everyone else, and gave Toshia a hug when she took credit for the prank. Only Hearst was manifestly displeased.

“I don’t allow anyone to hurt animals in my house or on my land,” he said ominously.

Juliette snickered, then saw that he was serious. “But . . . it isn’t even real! And even if it was, who cares about a disgusting roach?”

Marion came up behind him and slipped under his arm. “Ladies, when we had a mouse in the house, this man caught it in his hat, made a nest for it, and fed it for three days.” She looked up at Hearst. “Not everyone feels the same way you do about animals, Pops.”

“True,” he said, still angry. “But they have to respect my wishes in my house.”

He looked to Lulu like a cross between a domineering company president and a petulant child.

“Oh, please don’t be a grump when I’m having such a good time, WR,” Marion pleaded.

Hearst looked down at his treasured mistress, then slowly to Juliette, his eyes narrowing. “Tell you what we’ll do,” Hearst told Juliette. “Take it outside and give it a decent burial. Then we’ll be square.”

Juliette looked at Hearst like he was nuts.

“But it’s paper,” she said again. Hearst stared icily down at her. “Okay, fine. But this is dingy, I tell ya!” She snatched the paper roach out of Freddie’s hand and stomped out the door.

A servant came a little while later and summoned Hearst on some newspaper business.

“Now, where were we?” Lulu asked Freddie, edging closer. But almost as soon as their hands touched, Mr. Waters called Freddie away. Lulu closed her eyes and sighed. Would she never get any time alone with Freddie? She didn’t care

what they did, as long as they could be together.

“There you are,” Boots said, dragging Eleanor and Toshia behind her. “We have a plan to take Juliette down a notch or two. Are you in?”

“I don’t know,” Lulu said. “What do my odds look like?” Boots pulled out a little notebook. “Ten to one right now, alas. Jean and Joan pulled ahead, and stand at three to one each. Juliette, darn her, is at five to one thanks to that egg stunt. She knows her audience, in Marion at least. Not so much in Hearst, though.”

The look of mischief in Boots’s eyes made Lulu think she’d better pass.

“Have you seen Honey or Dolores?” Boots asked. Those were the other two girls sharing Casa del Mar. “They might want to help.”

Dolores was busy looking sultry in a corner while an up-and-coming young artist praised her figure. Adorable, black-eyed Honey, though, was nowhere to be found.

“Well, the three of us ought to be strong enough to man- age,” Boots said mysteriously.

“Heavens!” Lulu gasped. “What are you planning to do to Juliette?”

“Come with us if you want to know,” Boots said deviously. “No? Well, you’ll find out soon enough. Suffice it to say that a good scare might be enough to make Juliette quit this game for good.”

The three young actresses slipped out of the room on their secret mission.

Left alone, Lulu looked around the Assembly Room for someone to talk to. Marion saw her at loose ends and pounced. She took her arm and said, “I didn’t get a chance to thank you earlier for showing Patricia such a good time. The poor girl is absolutely dying for some fun, and nobody pays much atten- tion to her. You’re the first person to make such an effort.”

“Your niece is an interesting girl,” Lulu began.

“Oh Lord!” Marion said, smacking her forehead. “Inter- esting? That means crazy, doesn’t it? That’s one of those back- handed insults clever people do. A critic once walked out of my premiere, and when I asked what he thought, he smiled and said ‘words fail me.’ Boy oh boy, words didn’t fail him in the next morning’s review! Ouch!”

“I didn’t mean . . . ,” Lulu began.

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. And it is a pretty little head. You remind me of someone. Who could it be? Oh yes, me!” Marion threw back her head and laughed. “Seriously, I’m so grateful to you for dancing with my niece. She said she met you earlier with your little dog, Charlie. Why not have him stay in Casa Grande so he can pal around with my dogs? You’ll be here twenty hours out of the day, anyway. Have you met everyone yet?”

She walked Lulu up to Anita. “This is ’Nita, my bosom friend. At least, I think she is. Most of the stuff that comes out of her mouth is so clever I can’t understand it, so she might be insulting me all the time, for all I know. Have you read Gentle- men Prefer Blondes?”

“No, I’m sorry, I haven’t. I didn’t have many books grow- ing up.”

Anita moaned. “Growing up, she says. These kids make me

feel ancient. She was an infant when the book came out.” “Don’t remind me,” Marion said. “This week I want to

be forever seventeen. Oh, you should have seen me at seven- teen! WR would buy two seats in the front row just to stare at me at the Follies—one seat for him, one for his hat.” She looked around the room. “Where did our fellows get off to? I wonder.”

“Yours is doing that mysterious thing called business,” Anita said. “Mine isn’t being mysterious at all. This is his day off. Just figure out which starlet is missing, and that’s what—or who—he’s  doing.”

“How do you mean, day off ?” Marion asked.

“Never mind,” Anita said lightly. “I’m starving! Someone ring the dinner gong.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

36

 

 

This Is Not The End Review

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (August 8, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 1484750241
  • Order: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

If you could choose one person to bring back to life, who would it be?

Seventeen-year-old Lake Deveraux is the survivor of a car crash that killed her best friend and boyfriend. Now she faces an impossible choice. Resurrection technology changed the world, but strict laws allow just one resurrection per citizen, to be used on your eighteenth birthday or lost forever.

You only have days to decide.

For each grieving family, Lake is the best chance to bring back their child.

For Lake, it’s the only way to reclaim a piece of happiness after her own family fell apart.

And Lake must also grapple with a secret–and illegal–vow she made years ago to resurrect someone else. Someone who’s not even dead yet.

Who do you need most?

As Lake’s eighteenth birthday nears, secrets and betrayals new and old threaten to eclipse her cherished memories. Lake has one chance to save a life…but can she live with her choice?


Tawney’s Review: This book was very interesting and unique because it delves into a world where resurrecting the dead works!

On anyone’s 18th birthday someone can have a family or friend resurrected if they died. It’s a decision that has to be made in a day on one person. This is the dilemma Lake comes across after a car accident with her boyfriend and best friend. Both have died and Lake can choose which one to resurrect but there’s a problem. Lake already made that commitment to her disabled brother Matt, who has a spinal cord injury.

The story wasn’t too science fiction as rather a story about a girl who must make a life alternating decision that affects those around her. I loved the flashbacks of the connection Lake had with her boyfriend Will and her best friend Penny. You can feel the turmoil that Lake deals with in choosing who to resurrect. It doesn’t help that her parents remind her of her commitment to her brother.

The plot takes you up and down with mysteries and surprises. It was a great read that had me wanting to know who Lake picks. There were some instances that I was frustrated with Lake and her parents. But the story moves forward with great pace and you just want to know what happens.

starstarstar

Should you read it? Yes! A unique story that focuses on the choices we make and how it can affect those around us.


 

About the author:

Chandler Baker got her start ghostwriting novels for teens and tweens, including installments in a book series that has sold more than 1 million copies. She grew up in Florida, went to college at the University of Pennsylvania and studied law at the University of Texas. She now lives in Austin with her husband. Although she loves spinning tales with a touch of horror, she is a much bigger scaredy-cat than her stories would lead you to believe.

You can find Chandler as the books contributor on the YouTube channel Weird Girls.


Pre-Pub Adventure: August

It’s that time of month again for Pre-Pub Adventure!

 

 

Every month we follow authors on their publishing adventure. Have you ever wondered how authors prepare for a book release or what they are working on while also getting ready to publish a new book? How do they multitask? What is publishing like? Find out on Pre-Pub Adventure as we follow authors to publishing their books.

 


 

In light of the disturbing white supremacists and Nazi’s bigotry and hatred in Charlottesville last weekend, I’ve asked some of our authors to talk about their books that deals closely on this subject and what other diverse books they would recommend to help people understand that this is not okay.

 

 

Your book is about the root of what happened in Charlottesville, what do you hope your readers take away from Dear Martin? What books do you recommend people read in light of such a repulsive VA Nazi march?

 

At its core, DEAR MARTIN is a book about learning to grapple with truth and figuring out how to live with it. It features characters from very different walks of life looking at the same set of facts and having to make decisions and choose paths based on those facts, and my hope is that the reader will look at the different viewpoints and engage in some self-reflection.

I think part of the reason race relations are the way they are is because people are afraid of asking questions. We’re afraid of being wrong, both about ourselves and about the world around us because being wrong messes with our senses of autonomy and equilibrium. EVERYTHING we do/think/feel is based on our individual beliefs and worldview, so the idea of those beliefs/that worldview being WRONG is kind of a lot to handle.

But clinging to a flawed worldview doesn’t help anyone, including the clinger. That’s what I want readers to see in the book. That being wrong isn’t the end of the world, and it’s okay–necessary even–to question yourself and what you believe.
    

Other books I recommend: LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds, THE 57 BUS by Dashka Slater, and  STRANGE LIES by Maggie Thrash, ALL of which come out the same day as DEAR MARTIN (October 17th!), and all of which will make readers challenge their assumptions. Also THE HATE U GIVEby Angie Thomas (obvi), HOW IT WENT DOWNby Kelly Magoon, ALL AMERICAN BOYS by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, MONSTER and LOCKDOWNby Walter Dean Myers, THE FIRE NEXT TIME by James Baldwin, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates, THE FIRE THIS TIME edited by Jesmyn Ward, INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison, KILLERS OF THE DREAM and THE JOURNEYby Lillian Smith (who was hugely influential for Dr. King), and literally everything Dr. King ever wrote (an excellent compilation can be found here: A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.

2. You have two months until your book is out! What have you been doing to get ready for that?

Uhhhhhh… trying not to spontaneously combust? Does that count? LOL! No, I’ve actually been working on my final round of content edits for my next book. Which are due literally right now, and I’m answering these questions to distract myself from finishing. #writerlyfe

 3. What is the one thing you must do while writing?

Totally weird, but I put on headphones without actually listening to music. I think I just have to keep up the appearance of being this like super focus, hardcore writer. (Also lets me pretend I can’t hear my husband or kids, lol. Don’t tell my secrets, dear readers.)

4. Ok be honest, writing takes up most writer’s time a lot…do you shower? LOL or do the days fly by?

Ehhhhh… hahahahahaha! Depends on how tight the deadline is. Sometimes I shower just to think, but I will confess: as a wife and mom who has to do stuff like drive to carpool and keep other humans alive, showers are usually the first thing to go.

Follow Nic: Twitter * Instagram * YouTube


1 . Your book delves into a similar situation of white supremacy like what happened in Charlottesville, what do you hope your readers take from Devils Within? What books do you recommend people read in light of such a repulsive VA Nazi march?

 

 The Charlottesville march is completely repulsive. I have so many thoughts and emotions on it, but for me the most disturbing part is how comfortable these people are with espousing their racist views in public. These are things that used to happen in private, under hoods, in secret. Now they’re emboldened, public, unashamed. I’ve heard people ask “where is this coming from?” and have seen #ThisIsNotUs going around social media. There are a lot of things I want readers to take from DEVILS WITHIN, but here are the big takeaways: this has always been here, and this IS us. This kind of hate is in the ground water of this country, swirling under our feet. It’s always been there, most of us just aren’t used to seeing it. There are 917 hate groups across the US right now; that doesn’t happen over night, and it doesn’t happen because of one election. It’s a poison that has seeped into people’s systems over centuries. We’re angry right now because the hate is flagrant–as we should be–but we should be angriest that it’s been here, growing, for so long. In my book, my main character, Nate, confronts his own embedded racist urges, both overt and latent. I really hope that DEVILS will lead readers to a similar self-examination.

         

As for book recs: Obviously DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone, and THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. Also THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM by Christopher Paul Curtis, and LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley.

 

2. What have you been up to since last we checked in?

 

 I’ve been planning a trip to England! I’m going at the end of the month and can’t wait! We’re staying in a quaint converted boathouse on the Thames, going falconing outside of Oxford, and seeing Les Mis on the West End. There may be some Harry Potter sites that we have to hit too. Oh, and there will definitely be writing in tea shops/pubs!

 

 

3. Is there a certain scene that is harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Violence?

 

 

I have a terrible time writing love scenes. I’m a pretty awkward person, and all my romantic, kissing scenes come out just as awkward as I am.

 

 

4. What literary character is most like you?

 

 

I think I’m most like Meg Murry in A WRINKLE IN TIME (see previous answer about awkwardness), especially as a teenager. I had braces (for six long years!), glasses, and a love of science. I’ve always related to Meg. I can’t wait to see her come to life again when the new movie releases next year!

 

Follow S.F. Henson: Twitter * Goodread *Facebook

 

 


 

Liara Tamani

      

  1. Your book is about an African American girl who struggles with family expectations and teenage life, what do you hope your readers take from Calling My Name? What books do you recommend people read in light of such a repulsive VA Nazi march?

 

I hope readers connect to Taja, connect to her journey and her humanity. Connection is where empathy is created. While books that explicitly deal with America’s race problem are very important (especially in these times), books that remind readers that black people and people of color have more than race problems, that we are whole human beings, with the whole spectrum of human problems and human joys are equally as important.

   

With the being said, I would say read and share all kinds of books by people of color. Any book that gives insight into a different culture or background also has the power to open minds and open hearts. Books like Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton, Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia and The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon are great reads that highlight different cultures, create empathy, show brown people joy, and showcase black girl brilliance and power—all very important.

       

For books that take race relations and police brutality more head on, I’d definitely reach for Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, DEAR MARTIN by Nic Stone, and All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Keily. They are all powerful and important.

 

These are just some of the books I’ve read in the past six months, but clearly there are many, many authors and books to choose from. I haven’t even mentioned one of my favorite authors, Jacqueline Woodson. Or the many adult authors like Zadie Smith, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Jean Toomer, Rita Dove, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sandra Cisneros, or Audre Lorde. Or if you want to reach back into the non-fiction genre for a book that deals with race, grab The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois (put this on your list!). Okay, I’ll stop here, but the point is that there are many choices. I would tell readers to explore, find their favorites, and share them!

 

2. What have you been up to since last we checked in?

 

Writing and travelling. Worked on book two and wrote my first personal essay (scary!). Went to Barcelona. I hadn’t been since I was in college, so it felt amazing to be back. It was nice being all about tapas, architecture, and sangria for a week.

 

3. Are you a plotter or a punster?  

 

  Neither! In terms of plot, I usually do a rough, hand written outline so I have a general idea of where I am going. But nothing too detailed. And I can’t call myself a punster. I may crack the occasional corny joke, but that’s about it.

 

4. Do you dream? Do you have any recurring nightmares? 

 

  I have dreams that I remember occasionally, but not often. They are usually good. I have dreams about Obama (not even kidding). For a minute, I was dreaming about Chance the Rapper. Okay, so maybe there’s a trend of me dreaming about famous men I might have crushes on. 🙂 No nightmares, thank God. Trump, his cabinet, and everything he represents is a living nightmare and that’s enough.

 

Follow Liara on her blog * Instagram * Twitter * Facebook

 


And now to a celebration!

Today we celebrate the release of Amanda Foody’s Daughter of the Burning City.

1. Your book is out in the world! Yay! How was your book launch? How do you feel?

My book launch was very fun–there was a great turnout of friends, family, and readers. I feel very relaxed–none of this has been too stressful. I have a fairly demanding day job that keeps my mind off things.

2.You’ve been quite busy with Daughter of the Burning City blog tours, chats and signings, what was the most memorable thing to come out of this?

Connecting with readers! DOTBC was featured in Fairyloot’s July subscription box, and I’ve met so many people through Instagram who received the book in the box and loved it. Seeing their gorgeous photos of the cover always makes my day.

3. What’s next for you?

My next book, ACE OF SHADES, releases in April, so I’ve been busy with editorial work on that. I have a few other projects I’m working on that I’m very excited about. And reading, reading, reading! So many amazing books releasing in the next few months.

Follow Amanda: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Instagram


    

1. What have you been up to since last we checked in?

I’ve been making travel plans for my upcoming trips (most notably Dragon Con, where I’ll be on a couple of sci-fi panels in the YA Lit track!), preparing for a local author’s expo at the public library, wrapping up a snailmail giveaway on Twitter, planning my launch party details, writing some promotional posts for my publisher, sending my toddler off to preschool, signing her up for dance class, and of course, still working on edits for book 2. The final deadline is looming and I’m working to make sure it’s a worth follow up to DMT!

2. What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?

Like most writers, I think the impetus to actually sitting down and starting was just a really, really enticing idea. What made me keep writing was just pure grit. And the constant cheerleading of my younger sister, who was my first reader, and her constant texts to write the next chapter NOW.

3. What is the one thing you must do while writing?

I must have at least a few free hours to spare. It usually takes me a while to get into my character’s heads after a break, and once I find my groove I completely loose track of time and where I am. I have a hard time writing during just a few minutes’ break, unless I’ve just randomly brainstormed a great line or passage. Likewise, it’s really hard for me to write in public because I’m paranoid about people reading over my shoulder, lol. Plus I have a tendency to speak some lines outloud without realizing it, so yeah, awkward!

Follow Heather: Blog * Twitter * Instagram * Tumblr


Until the next adventure!