Pre-Pub Adventure: May 2017

It’s that time again where we check in with our authors and see what they’re doing on their publishing 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? Find out on Pre-Pub Adventure as we follow authors to publishing their books.

To the adventure!


Kayla Olson

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  1. You just received your first hardcover finished copy of The Sandcastle Empire, what was that like? 

It was so incredible to see the finished copy! I hadn’t actually seen the back cover yet, with the beautiful blurb from Beth Revis on it, so that part was fun. One of the first things I did was to take a peek at the book without its jacket—the spine is seriously beautiful, with shiny green text! The very best part, though, was when I got to show my husband and little boy their names in the dedication/acknowledgment sections. I’d kept those parts a surprise, and I’m glad I did.

2As a writer do you write every day and aim for a set amount of words or pages a day? 

Usually, I’ll set a time goal rather than a word count one—I’m a very slow writer, so it’s better for me to aim for a set amount of focused time (especially in this season when I have a lot going on and am easily distracted; I like using apps like Flat Tomato and Forest to keep me on track!). I usually do set mini-word count goals for each sprint, though, which gives me small goals to aim for. If I do enough sprints, my small word count totals start to add up! 

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

So many things!! I took a trip out to West Hollywood and Santa Monica in late April, and I got to spend time with so many wonderful people. It was also my first time in attendance at YallWest, which was a ton of fun—I even got to meet some readers/sign some ARCs! Ever since coming home to Texas, I’ve been in the revision cave, working diligently on my second book with HarperTeen. (That one’s scheduled for Fall 2018—more on that as soon as I can share!) I’ve also been nailing down details for book events in June—we’ll likely be adding to the list of dates/locations, but for now, if you’re in Texas (Austin / Denton / Irving / Houston), I’m coming your way! Details on my website’s events page here

Fun question for this month! Have you ever put someone you didn’t like in your book as revenge? 

Not in The Sandcastle Empire…but…in another project, yes. 😉

Follow Kayla: Twitter * Instagram * Tumblr * Blog


Nic Stone

     

  1. You had an interview the other day with WBEZ, how did that go? What did you talk about? (I’ll put a link to the interview when it is up)

It was awesome! It was a joint interview with the illustrious Angie Thomas, author of #1 New York Times bestselling THE HATE U GIVE, and we talked about our books and our influences. Check it out here!

  1. Is there a certain type of scene that is harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Drama?

Hmm. Not really? Honestly, the hardest things for me to write are transitions. Especially ones where there’s a time-jump involved. Getting better at it though (I hope!).

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? 

Honestly, I find that it varies. Some stuff is very intensely plotted, some has a lighter plotting touch, and what I’m working on now is totally pantsed because I tried to plot and failed miserably, lol!

Follow Nic: Twitter * Instagram * YouTube


Abby Reed

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  1. Your book When Planets Fall is out! How did you celebrate?

Whoo hoo!! I have a book baby!! YAY!! I celebrated twice. The day of release was more low key for me. My husband happened to be home, so we went for a long walk with our pups and bought several cupcakes for us to devour. I made us a nice lunch and splurged with a bath bomb. I spent time catching up on mentions and giggling over pictures people sent of WHEN PLANETS FALL in their hands. By the end of the day, I was so happy I turned anxious (never had that happen before), so I actually did some writing to focus myself.

The next day my family went out to eat. They surprised me by decorating the room with red, blue, and green balloons and bought a massive red-velvet cake. I also got to sign my first copy! It felt pretty magical!

And the kindle version of WPF actually hit in the top 50 and 100 in a couple categories! Not bad for a debut from a small press! Needless to say, my publisher is happy with me. That’s worth a cupcake in and of itself.

2. What are your plans for the release? Any tours?

I’ve actually accomplished most of the things for my release already. But I have one final blog tour coming up at the end of the month with Xpresso Tours. I will also be having a Goodreads giveaway too.

3. Now that your first book is out will you take a small break like a vacation or onto the next project?

Both! I’m already working on Book 2, but I am taking a couple trips. One is for a family event. The other is a not-so-fun, let’s-go-to-the-doctor trip. But the other is to visit my best friend for a long weekend. It’s her birthday and birthdays are as sacred as religious holidays for us. We might hit up Disney or the Harry Potter world (butterbeer anyone??). I’ve got my Gryffindor t-shirt all ready to go 🙂

Fun bonus question! Have you ever put someone you didn’t like in your book as revenge? 

Actually . . . . . totally. Ha. Book 2. Let’s just say you should never hurt somebody an author cares about. You might end up fictionally dead.

Follow Abby: Twitter * Instagram


Amanda Foody

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1. What have you been up to since last we checked in?
I’ve been working on quite a few upcoming projects. In particular, I’m finishing up some rewrites on my next book, Ace of Shades. I’ve also been busy traveling and planning a lot for Daughter’s release in July.
2. What does your writing process look like?
I’m not too particular about writing. I prefer to write at night, with the time to work on large chunks of writing at once. I also like to be comfortable–blankets, lounge clothes, and a candle is a must! I can’t focus at coffee shops and offices, where I’m too focused on the fact that I’d rather be in bed. If I’m struggling, I might break out a little wine or put on a book playlist.
3. What’s your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process? 
I’m not a huge fan of drafting, especially for the very first time. I intensely plot my projects ahead of time, but even though so much development occurs on the actual page, I am always impatient to be done so I can turn on my analytical, problem-solving part of my brain. Drafting can just feel like such a marathon, and I actually write fairly quickly. Plotting ahead of time is the only thing that keeps me sane.
Fun question for this month! Have you ever put someone you didn’t like in your book as revenge? 
No! I’ve never written a character inspired by a real life person–only by other fictional characters. I get way more hung up on fictional people than I do real ones, I guess.

Follow Amanda: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Instagram


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

Edits! I am in the middle of editing my debut, which is super stressful, but also kind of amazing. It’s kind of like baking bread. I started with these random ingredients that I formed into this lumpy thing that my editor is now shaping, and when it’s all done I’ll have a beautifully formed loaf. I love reading her notes. Some are face-palm worthy (I’m constantly going “why didn’t I think of that?”), and some are cringe-inducing (the sentences that made sense in my head but didn’t translate to the page), and some boost my self-esteem (I mean really, nothing feels better than an industry professional saying your words are gorgeous!), but they all make my book better. I’ve also realized how much easier it is to cut words once you get some time and distance between you and your manuscript. It’s hard to give a manuscript space to breathe, but it makes editing go so much smoother.

2. As a writer do you write every day and aim for a set amount of words or pages a day?

Ha! I wish. I used to try to write every day, but, you know, life. For me, it’s less about the number of days I write and more about the quality of the time I spend writing. I don’t set word goals, but scene or chapter goals. Word goals work great for some people, but I always end up flinging out crap just to meet a goal and then getting overwhelmed by all the editing I have to do later. So I break the rules and edit as I write, shooting for quality over quantity. The initial drafting process goes slower, but revisions are so much faster!

3. What’s your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?

I’m the most impatient person ever. Which sucks in an industry dominated by so much waiting. It doesn’t matter what phase of the process you’re in–writing, querying, submitting, editing, debuting–there will be a significant amount of waiting involved. Don’t get me wrong, I love this industry, but sometimes I wish I could hibernate through the thumb-twiddly parts and skip straight to the exciting bits!

Fun question for this month! Have you ever put someone you didn’t like in your book as revenge?

I’m going to have to plead the fifth on this one! But I will say that I’m inspired by the people I encounter, and I may or may not have have been inspired in particular by folks who have made me mad. Take that as you will. ; )

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


Until next the next Adventure!

Pre-Pub Adventure: April 2017

It’s that time again where we check in with our authors and see what they’re doing on their publishing 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? Find out on Pre-Pub Adventure as we follow authors to publishing their books.

Today we have a new author joining us on her publishing adventure! Please welcome S.F. Henson.

S.F. Henson

 1. Welcome S.F. Henson! Please tell us a little about yourself? 

I was born and raised in the deep south. I graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Animal Science, which I put to great use by attending law school. My law degree has gotten some mileage, though, giving me the experience to write about criminals and other dark, nefarious subjects. I live beside a missile test range in Huntsville, Alabama with my husband, dog, two oddly named cats, and, of course, the missiles that frequently shake my house.

2. Tell us about your book? How did you come up with Devils Within? 

Devils Within tells the story of Nate, a boy who grew up at The Fort, a white supremacist compound, and whose only means of escape is to kill his father (the leader of the group) in self-defense. No matter how far he runs, he can’t escape his past or the horrible things he did while with the group. It’s a story about hate, acceptance, owning up to your mistakes, and learning to forgive yourself. You can read the full description here: http://www.sfhenson.com/books.html

The idea came to me after reading an article about a boy just like Nate. He, too, killed his white supremacist father, except it wasn’t in self defense, and the real boy was ten. It stuck with me. I kept wondering what he’d experienced to reach a point where murder was his only way out at such a young age. That’s when Nate came to me. I did a lot of research on hate groups, especially how they recruit, how they operate, and how they handle the media. The Fort is based on a real compound here in Alabama. Every hate incident in the book was inspired by something that happened in real life. This is a story I was terrified to tell, but one that wouldn’t let me go. While I was writing this story, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Eric Garner was killed in New York, conversations and debates were happening across the country. This book is part of that conversation. Through it, I hope readers see how easy it is to let fear and misinformation navigate your decisions.

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


Today we also celebrate Rosalyn Eves release of Blood Rose Rebellion!

Rosalyn Eves

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1. Your book Blood Rose Rebellion has released! Yay! How does it feel?

Being a debut has been such a wild mix of emotions I’m not sure I’ve untangled them all yet. There are some really wonderful parts–seeing so many friends and family come out to support me and my book, seeing my book in the wild for the first time (actually, that hasn’t gotten old yet). Finding my book in unexpected places, like an airport bookstore or Target. But I’m a pretty strong introvert, and so it’s also been a little exhausting and I’m still catching up on my life. Some days it doesn’t quite seem real. 🙂

2. How has the book tour been? What’s it like?

Book tours are probably different for everyone–some authors get sent with other authors. In my case, I was sent by myself, but other, more established authors hosted each event, which was really helpful since I was never sure what to expect (or if anyone would show up!) I always tend to expect the worst, so I’ve been relieved to have people show up to all the events and they’ve been uniformly gracious, interested, and welcoming. I wound up spending quite a bit of time by myself between events, and even for someone who *likes* being alone, I was definitely glad to be around people when the events came around. (Hmm. Maybe that was part of my publicist’s plan!) Ultimately, I loved getting to visit new places and meet new people, but I’m also happy to be home with my husband and kids too.

3. What is next for you? 

I have one more bookstore event, in Boston, at Trident books, on April 27th. Then I’m helping with a writing conference in May and I need to finish writing book three, which, to be honest, is terrifying me right now. I have some great ideas, but the story feels bigger than my skill set and I’m going to have to work hard to pull it off. I’m taking comfort from something Neil Gaiman said in the introduction to American Gods, which is that he only ever knows how to write the book he just finished–each new project is a new challenge.

Follow Rosalyn: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Facebook

Thank you for joining our Pre-Pub Adventure Rosalyn! We look forward to your next adventure. 

Nic Stone

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1. You were featured in NY Times! How do you feel about that?

Oh man. Honestly, I’m still in total disbelief. It was a literal dream come true, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen so SOON, you know? I’m still six months out from publication! When I got the email saying a reporter from the New York Times wanted to interview me, I was stunned. And then to hear MY little book mentioned on The Book Review podcast? Amazing.

2.  Dear Martin is being published in Brazil! Congrats! How did that come about?

Beyond my wonderful fairy god-agent submitting it to publishers there and one of them liking it, I have no idea, lol! Like the New York Times feature, the Brazil sale also caught me totally off guard. Definitely excited about holding DEAR MARTIN in Portuguese though!

3. You recently went to MADCAP Retreat. I”ve always wanted to go and learn from authors like you! What was it like?

Oh my gosh. I would seriously go to every single last Madcap Retreat ever if I could. It was magic. Being in the company of so many incredible writers, all of whom are in pursuit of becoming even better, was really encouraging, especially since writing can be such a solitary endeavor. You just meet and connect and spend time and forge legitimate bonds with so many amazing people. I highly recommend!

Follow Nic: Twitter * Instagram * YouTube


Katie Bayerl

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1. Your book A Psalm for lost Girls released! Yay! How does it feel?

Oh, my gosh. It’s surreal and delightful and strange. I’m behaving a bit like a mom who can’t stop checking up on her kid at college—Are you hanging in there, book? How are the shelves treating you? And the Internet? Need me to send you more snacks?

2. How has the book tour been? What’s it like?

I really spread out my so-called tour—a few events here, a few events there. So far my favorite ones have been the events with kids. Last week, I got to do a workshop with students from the high school where I first trained as a teacher. The next day, I stood in front of an auditorium full of middle schoolers and got them to laugh. I’ve always loved talking with young writers about their stories, so in some ways this isn’t new territory for me, but as a “guest author” I’m able to interact with students in a new way that is so, so satisfying.

3. What is next for you? 

At some point I’m going to stop sending my book so many metaphorical snacks and let her be out there in the world on her own. I may need an intervention or a stiff drink to get there, but I think it will be good for both of us once I do. I’m looking forward to having more time and headspace to work on my next book!

Follow Katie: Twitter * Facebook

Thank you for joining our Pre-Pub Adventure Katie! We look forward to your next adventure. 


1. You have less than a month until When Planets Fall releases! Yay! How are you preparing for that?

I’m probably the only author who will ever say this . . . but I actually have been preparing by doing . . . less. I got a lecture from my doctor saying I’m pushing myself too hard. So I’ve had to majorly back off doing marketing. Or, really, everything. Not the news you want to hear before a book launch, but one I needed to hear.

In lieu of marketing I’ve been trying to focus on Book 2. I was working on a novella for the series but was able to finally figure out how to fold that into Book 2. Now my first draft is even closer to being finished! Best feeling ever!

2. There is a blog tour going on now, which I had the pleasure of interviewing you for, how has that been?

 The blog tour has been really fun! (and thanks so much for interviewing me!!). I loved answering all the questions and it’s been really fun reading some reviews. I don’t think I’ll keep reading reviews once the book releases, just to keep my head clear. But it’s really fun to be seeing people enjoy the book. Totally makes my day 🙂

3. What have you been doing to lay low before your publishing date next month?

 I’ve been doing a lot of reading but I’ve also been painting again! I haven’t been able to paint much lately, so it’s felt r-e-a-l-l-y good to be back in my loft. It’s my happy place 🙂 I’ve finished a couple pieces and hope to re-sharpen my watercolor skills. Watercolor is one of those mediums where you have to be constantly dong it to stay sharp. At least, I do. I have to know my paper and brushes and colors. The longer they sit, the more I have to figure out their temperament again before we can work together.  I’m excited to dive back in!


Amanda Foody

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1. So excited for your next book Ace of Shades, which you said was Six of Crows meets Spirited Away. You had me at Spirited away! How did you come up with the idea?

 

Honestly, I’ve been working on ACE for so long, that I’m not entirely sure where the idea originated, as it is one of many attempts of mine to write a book that mixes magic and money. I also had a very unique publishing journey with it, as it was considered “dead” for over two years before my publisher made it an offer. Actually, my revisions on the book right now are the first time I’ve gotten to dig my hands into it in over there years. I feel like I’m rekindling my old teenage romance, without the clearest memory of how it began, only that my love for the story and the characters never really faded. ACE has always felt like the most defining book I’d ever write. It was scribbled into the margins of my high school notebooks and plotted out against the giant whiteboard I bought myself after graduation and still keep with me now.

However, the core of the idea is an amalgamation of a lot of different concepts. The novel follows two characters and their two different plotlines: Enne Salta, a lady-to-be, who has left her entire life behind to find her missing mother in the “City of Sin;” and Levi Glaisyer, the card dealer with crime lord aspirations, whose unraveling Ponzi Scheme could end his life before it truly begins. Additionally, it is set in a world where the source of currency is directly derived from magic, a magic created by a select group of bloodlines.

The plot of the story and the characters definitely came from Spirited Away, one of my all-time favorite movies. Enne is Chihiro, Levi is Haku, and Vianca–the vicious owner of one of the city’s most famous casinos–is Yubaba. Although the novel has some major Six of Crows vibes, its influencers were several years older, like the street gangs in THE DEMON KING, the relationship of Day and June in LEGEND, and the cons of WHITE CAT. As for the Ponzi Scheme, I’ve held a long-time interest in them ever since my dad told me the story of how a company he worked for collapsed due to a Ponzi Scheme run up top. Seems appropriate, now that I’m getting my masters in accountancy. My accounting nerdiness really comes through in the story.

 

2. Your cover reveal happened last month for Daughter of the Burning City and it’s gorgeous! Did you have any input for it?

I was able to offer some feedback on the overall stylistic choices for the cover, like the colors and such. I think the artist did a great job selecting a very eye-catching, unique backdrop that does a great job in suiting the feel of the Gomorrah Festival, the circus city where DOTBC takes place. The smoke, the size, the bright colors–it’s very Gomorrah.

Follow Amanda: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Instagram


Kayla Olson

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1. What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m revising my second book, which will be out in Fall 2018 from HarperTeen! I’m on a tight deadline, but am so excited to make the book even stronger.

 

2.  I love your writer life posts on Instagram! They are very inspirational. How did you come up with the idea?

Thank you! I’ve had such a blast doing those posts. On New Year’s Eve, I saw someone post a month’s worth of prompts for January, so I jumped in—and found I really enjoyed the structure of having prompts, especially in this busy season where I’m putting so much energy into writing/revising (which means I naturally have less time/energy for social media). The challenges have been so much fun, because everyone puts their own unique spin on each day’s prompt. I did another one in February, but when I couldn’t find one for March, I decided to just…create one! That’s how #writereadrepeat was born. So many people participated, which was great, because I met a ton of new writer friends. This month’s challenge is #writelifeapril, created by Gina Denny (@ginad129) and Darci Cole (@darcicole)—I’ve missed a few days this month, but it’s always fun to jump in when I can!

3. Tell us something silly you recently did!

Oh, man, with a five year old in the house, I feel like I’m constantly doing silly things to make him laugh! The latest thing is that I’m always giving our cat new names…the most recent name being “Wobbegongical Reaction” (“Dubber” for short), which evolved from the previous silly name I gave him (“Wobbegong”)(a type of Australian carpet shark)(because our cat is constantly eating our carpet). Our cat’s *actual* name is Remy, named after the rat in Ratatouille.

Follow Kayla: Twitter * Instagram * Tumblr * Blog


Until next month!

Love Tawney

Pre-Pub Adventure: March 2017

Today on Pre-Pub Adventure we are celebrating a book release!

Every month we follow authors on their publishing adventure. Have you ever wonder 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? Find out on Pre-Pub Adventure as we follow authors to publishing their books.

This week one of our authors had a book release. We celebrate the release of Katie Bayerl release of A Psalm for Lost Girls!

Katie Bayerl

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1. Your book has just released! How do you feel?

I’ve had the best week! I was all nerves and flutter on Monday, but the outpouring of love this week washed all of that away. I am now filled up with love for all of the folks who’ve been part of this journey—my wonderful agent, Erin Harris, the incredible team at Penguin Teen, my ridiculously large and enthusiastic biological family, and my writer family who came out in full force to celebrate with me. I had my first Skype visit with students this week too, and it was so much fun!

2. What are you doing for your release? 

I celebrated with a blizzard, literally! Mother Nature threw quite the party on Tuesday. I spent most of the day responding to a corresponding blizzard of messages on social media and then tromped out in the snow to have tacos and bubbly with a group of neighborhood friends. The official launch party isn’t until Saturday. That’s when I’ll be celebrating with a larger group at one of my favorite bookstores, Porter Square Books, and then–best part—enjoying some saint-themed cocktails at a nearby restaurant.

3.  Any advice for newbie writers? 

I think the best advice has been well covered by others. It isn’t very sexy, but it’s true:

1. Read a lot, read it all, soak in great stories and art through your pores.

2. Write a lot. This seems obvious, but you have to put lots of words on the page to have material to work with.

3. Keep going. Writing—and publishing—a book takes far longer than any of us ever imagine when we get started. You don’t have to worry about the longer timeline, though. Just look at the next step ahead of you—whether it’s finishing today’s chapter, working through a revision, or sending out a few more queries. Lift up your chin and get. it. done.

Follow Katie: Twitter * Facebook


 

Nic Stone

egoo5qze_400x400           marting

1. What have you been up to this month?

**Boring Alert** I got my first round of edits on my Fall 2018 release! Which is… odd? Working on the thing that comes after the first thing even though the first thing is still seven months from being on a shelf? Lesson: publishing is WEIRD.

A little less boring: my book was chosen for the BookExpo Buzz program! (Google it. It’s pretty cool.) So I’ve been vacillating between shock-and-awe and wild-celebratory-dancing. And lastly, I’m actually writing this while sitting in a session at a Madcap Retreat (again Goooooooogle!). It’s basically the best thing ever and every writer should do one.

2. Any advice for newbie writers?

I won’t give the cliche, though very excellent: READ AND WRITE A LOT (except I just did, muahahaha #subterfuge), but also 1. Be okay with sucking. We all suck in the beginning. Practice makes better. (And even with YEARS of practice, your first draft will ALWAYS suck. It’s cool. NBD. I promise.) And 2. Try really hard to keep your sense of self and worth OUT of your pages. What I mean by that: you are not your work. Your work is your work. If someone doesn’t like your work, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed or you’re not good enough or you’re worthless or they don’t like YOU. It just means they don’t like your work.

  3. Any book recommendations?

      

Out now: Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE (duh), Tiffany Jackson’s ALLEGEDLY (this one is deeeeeep), Sarah Lemon’s DONE DIRT CHEAP (swoon!), and Jeff Zentner’s GOODBYE DAYS.

Coming soon(ish): Sonia Belasco’s SPEAK OF ME AS I AM, Laura Ruby’s YORK (y’all, this book.), and Jason Reynolds’ MILES MORALES (Hullo, black Spiderman!).

Follow Nic: Twitter * Instagram * YouTube


Kayla Olson

kayla      pre-pub-4

1. 3 months until The Sandcastle Empire is out! How do you feel? 

THREE MONTHS. WHAT. I feel like I’m at the top of a roller coaster, equal parts exhilarated and slightly overwhelmed (in the best way); part of me wants to stop time so I can enjoy the view, while the other part is pure adrenaline, anticipating the rush of excitement to come. (!!!)

2. How are you prepping for the release? 

This month, I’m taking things day by day, trying to do as much as I can ahead of time so I’m not overcommitted close to my release date: answering interview questions for posts I’ve committed to; planning another giveaway or two in the lead-up to release; nailing down event logistics; things like that. Most importantly, I’m trying to enjoy the experience and be grateful for every little thing—I think the only way to avoid getting swept away by this busy season is gratitude, along with making rest a priority.

3. What fun things did you do this month? 

Ooh, fun question! First fun thing of note: I attended the North Texas Teen Book Festival in Irving a couple of weeks ago, and was able to catch up with (and meet) so many lovely writer friends! I also did an ARC giveaway for The Sandcastle Empire while at NTTBF—the winner was someone I’ve connected with on Twitter over the past several months, and it was so lovely to finally meet her in person. The next fun thing: I finally finished drafting my Fall 2018 book, which was SO exciting! (It’s a standalone, not at all related to The Sandcastle Empire—details to come!) I love the project, and am very much looking forward to making it even stronger in revision.

Follow Kayla: Twitter * Instagram * Tumblr * Blog


 Abby Reed

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1. What have you been up to this month?

I work slower than most, so I’ve been plodding along on Book 2 and a novella for the series. That was my priority, but I also started prepping for blog tours so I don’t have to cram last minute and prepped for some classes I’m teaching this year. Due to my illness, I had to take a step back from marketing (now is normally the time you step it up) and take some me-time. I’ve been sleeping in, going to yoga classes, catching up on reading. I’ve easily read 20 books in the last month.

I also got my Kirkus Review! It was really positive and I totally cried. I hadn’t cried like this since I got the you’re-going-to-be-pubished email. You can read the review here!

In short it said: “In this richly imagined start to a new sci-fi series, Reed brings optimism to the goal of solving entrenched violence in a galaxy far, far away…A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.”

I’m still crying.

2. You have 2 months until When Planets Fall comes out! How are you dealing with that?

2. It doesn’t feel real. I’ve done so much preparing for being published, it honestly feels like I’m already published. Except, I’m not. Once I hold WHEN PLANETS FALL in my hands, I’m sure the reality will hit me. But I’ve got two more months before that happens 🙂 Honestly, I’m so happy about my Kirkus Review I already feel like I conquered the world. Anything else at this point will just be frosting.

I’ll be excited once the pub date passes because then I can really hone in on working on the next book without extra distractions. I think that’s where some of the weird-reality feeling stems from. Even though I’m being published, I still have to keep chugging on the next book. It almost feels like I’m starting completely over, though technically I’m not.

3.  Any advice for newbie writer’s who are just coming into the writing world?

My dad stopped by this week for lunch. He brought me a gluten-free cupcake and we talked about publishing and cultural pressures to achieve and succeed and accomplish. I complained about how much I want to do x, y, z but I can’t because of being sick, and how much I hate having to decide what’s best for me and doing it.

He said, there’s a deeper integrity that comes with doing what works best for you. You put aside what everyone else tells you you need. Instead, you live more true to yourself and to what you need. For me, this meant less marketing and more me-time because that’s what my body needs to survive. It means working more slow, at the pace I need. Not trying to push-push-push myself into goals I think I should have.

I really, really like this approach to integrity. When I hear integrity, I think “don’t lie and don’t be fake.” I’ve never thought of integrity in this way–of being true to what I need and pushing aside other pressures.

So, that’s my advice because it’s the advice I need right now: Live with integrity and do what’s best for you.

Follow Rosalyn: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Facebook


Amanda Foody

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What have you been working on this month?


I’m still deep into the revisions of my second project, Ace of Shades. I’ve also been plotting and organizing a new WIP so that I can begin drafting once I finish these revisions, though that probably won’t be for a few more months.

What advice can you give writer’s with writer’s block?

Outlining books beforehand usually prevents you from getting stuck mid-draft. As for getting ideas, consume as much media as possible! Books, movies, video games, anything!

Do you have a playlist for your book?

 

Yep! You can find my Spotify playlists here: https://open.spotify.com/user/akfoody

Follow Amanda: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Instagram

Rosalyn Eves

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1. Your release is just weeks away! How are you feeling?

 

A little like I’m on a thrill ride, honestly! Sometimes elated, sometimes terrified, sometimes confused . . . I’ve got a lot of little things to take care of that I don’t normally do, so I’m constantly a little distracted. But it’s starting to feel real: I got an author copy of the finished book and it was so beautiful that I teared up. Of course, then I tried to show my kids so that someone could share my excitement, and they were all basically like, “So?”

2.  What are you working on now?

I’m currently plotting through some problem areas in book 3 and reworking the opening chapters again. I’m expecting copy edits for book two about the same time Blood Rose Rebellion comes out, so I’ll switch back to book two then.

3. Any book recommendations?

   

I just read Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE, which was incredible. Powerful, so well-crafted, and such an important topic. I wish everyone would read it. True, parts of it were uncomfortable to read, but they were supposed to be, and I still find myself thinking about the book all the time. Also, Katie Bayerl’s A PSALM FOR LOST GIRLS comes out this week, and it’s a gorgeous book. A lovely sister story, a mystery, a meditation on unknowable things, wrapped in exquisite prose.


Until the next adventure friends!
Love Tawney

Pre-Pub Adventure: February

It’s that time of month where we check in with our authors to see where they our on their publishing adventure!

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Every 3rd Wed of the month we follow authors on their publishing adventure. Have you ever wonder 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? Find out on Pre-Pub Adventure as we follow authors to publishing their books.

Let’s check on our authors to see what they have been up too!


Nic Stone

egoo5qze_400x400           marting

 1. Dear Martin’s cover had just recently been revealed and it’s gorgeous! Did you have any say on what the cover would look like?

Eek! Thanks! I had quite a bit of say: the image of the boy was taken by my husband in our living room! The concept wasn’t mine (though I loved it), and the designer went through a couple of iterations before deciding to put an actual human on the cover, but once that decision was made, I chose the model, and my photographer husband took the images. I even got to pick the exact photo they used. (This is a DREAM scenario, by the way.)

2 . Dear Martin is receiving fabulous reviews! How does it feel that readers are loving your book?

I’ll be honest: I haven’t read literally any reviews. I’m… not ready. Lol! Lovely to hear people are loving it though!

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3. What are you currently reading?

Lots of Middle Grade! Right now it’s The Girl Who Drank The Moon by Kelly Barnhill (this year’s Newberry winner) and Bloomability by Sharon Creech. I’m in edits on my 2018 release, so I have to read stuff that isn’t YA contemporary.

Follow Nic: Twitter * Instagram * YouTube

Kayla Olson

kayla      pre-pub-4

The Sandcastle Empire is almost 4 months away from being published, what are you doing to get ready for it?

It’s *less* than 4 months away, at this point—how is that even possible?! Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the events I want to do when the book comes out—my launch party, for example, in addition to some details-still-to-be-determined events at a handful of bookstores around Texas, at the very least! I also just placed an order for a limited batch of special TSE-related items, since I have some fun giveaways coming up over the next few months. (Watch my Twitter/Instagram for info about those!) Speaking of Instagram, I’ve been really loving it lately—I did the #igauthorlifejan challenge last month, and for February, I’m participating in #authorlifemonth; it’s been really fun to post on a daily basis, and to get to know other authors through those hashtags. I’m @authorkaylaolson there, if we’re not already connected!

Eden has only 3 possessions to her name, what would you have if you were stranded on an island? 

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Oh, man. Great (but difficult!) question! The practical side of me wants to say obvious survival-y things like a knife, some flint for starting fire, and a water bottle like Eden has in the book (it has a special desalinating/sanitizing filter built right in)! I’d also wish for my family, but if I’m stranded there, I’m guessing that means I’d have to be alone? Let’s see. For now, I’ll go the comforts-I’d-miss-terribly route: the hair products that keep my curls from freaking out; a giant stockpile of dark chocolate (chocolate that is also somehow melt-proof, since it might be hot and sunny on said island); and…a crate loaded up with my French press/lots of coffee/a pot to boil water in/my favorite mug, a glass one with gold sparkles on it. (How tragic would it be to have all the stuff to make coffee, but not a mug to drink it in, now that I’m thinking about it? I’d have to, like, repurpose a giant shell, or something. I would not be above that.)

What are you reading? 

I’m reading Carlie Sorosiak’s next book, which won’t be out until next year—it’s fantastic so far, though, which is utterly unsurprising. Carlie’s debut IF BIRDS FLY BACK comes out in June, a few weeks after mine, and is still one of my favorites out of all the 2017 debuts I’ve read so far!

Follow Kayla: Twitter * Instagram * Tumblr * Blog



Abby Reed

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1. What have you been working on?

The last week and a half, I’ve been working on edits on a novella for the series. I got comments back from a beta reader and am fixing things. I’m hoping to send it to another beta reader by the end of the week. I’ve also been dealing with real life–I got to visit two of my best friends for a long weekend. And one of my puppies sprained her leg. Which means I have to constantly monitor her to make sure she’s not making it worse. It’s harder and more time consuming than you’d think!

Since I don’t have a deadline on my back right now, I’ve also been trying to prioritize taking care of my body by sleeping more when I need it, taking baths, going to yoga classes, not aggravating migraines. Trying to let myself heal and recover from December’s whirlwind 🙂

When Planets Fall comes out in April, that’s almost here! What have you been doing to prepare for the release? 

 

Here’s the bad news: I found out the print release got pushed back until May. *enter the saddest emoji possible* Which is a huge bummer but also part of publishing you can’t control.
On the positive side–having a later release date gives me more time to market. So it works out 🙂

In the meantime, I’ve been marketing, marketing, and more marketing. I’ve made bookmarks, postcards, ordered tea and other sundries, put together giveaway packs, pre-order prizes, and been organizing a tea tour! I found out I might be speaking at two other events this year. I’ve been coordinating and brainstorming for that.

3. What are you currently reading?

spy     glitter  green

 

I’ve been researching a little for this novella by turning to some of my favorite YA sci-fi reads. But I’ve also been on an epic fantasy kick. I read 4 Robin Hobb novels in the last month as well as 2-3 of Brandon Sanderson’s. I’ve read Spy Ski School by Stuart Gibbs and Glitter and An Abundance of Katherines. I also finally buckled down to read Ursula’s Le Guin’s book on writing and The Story Genius.

 

Follow Abby: Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest * Instagram

Amanda Foody

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1. Daughter of the Burning City has a new release date of July 25th! How does that feel to have it being released sooner?

 

It feels pretty good! I was pleasantly surprised when my publisher emailed me, as the date is now extremely close to my birthday. I’ll get to celebrate an extra lot in one week! Plus, the date is weirdly close to the exact time frame when Daughter takes place–high and late summer.

 

2. Are you doing anything special to prepare for it?
Yes! The past few weeks have been full of talk about the cover reveal, giveaways, advanced reader copies, events, the launch party, a tour, and more. Nothing is set yet. For all I know, the ARCs could arrive or the cover could launch before this post is published! It’s a whirlwind, really. All I have for certain on my calendar is Children’s Institute in early April and BEA at the end of May.

 

3. What are you currently reading?

 

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I’m currently in the midst of editing my second YA fantasy novel, Ace of Shades, as well as working on its sequel and several other projects, so I haven’t had much time for reading his month! However, I am treating myself to The Little Book of Hygge, which is all about tips on achieving Danish-style happiness, like investing in good lighting and creating cozy, positive spaces. I read a little before bed each night and feel empowered the next day to browse Pinterest for inspiration on candles and lighting fixtures.

Follow Amanda: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Instagram


Rosalyn Eves

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1. You have 1 more month until Blood Rose Rebellion releases! How are you preparing for it?

 I’m currently scheduling launch parties (yes, plural!) for the week my book comes out, sending out pre-order giveaways (http://www.rosalyneves.com/blood-rose-rebellion-preorders/), working on edits for book 2 and trying not to panic too much.

2. What are you currently reading?

 I’m currently reading Stacey Lee’s THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE, which is a lovely contemporary departure from her previous historical fiction. I just finished Jared Reck’s A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, which comes out this fall from Knopf, and made me cry and laugh–a rare combination.

3. You’re a #Pitchwars mentor, any advice for newbie writers out there?
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Oh, this is a good question! I think persistence is a big one (in writing and in life). Writing can be hard, and often we have little control over things that matter a lot to us–whether or not an agent likes our work, whether a publisher loves it enough to pick it up, whether the book finds readers, etc. But we can control the time we invest in the stories we tell. Success, however we define it, may not happen on our timeline, but it definitely will not happen if we don’t persist. Also, write because you love it! Because so much is out of your control, if you write for any other reason, you’ll find yourself disappointed. So write because you can’t not write, and savor the chance to put words on the page.

Follow Rosalyn: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Facebook


Katie Bayerl

pre-3         apsalmforlostgirlscover

1. You have 1 more month until A Psalm For Lost Girls comes out! How have you been preparing? 

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I’m keeping cool (mostly). I had a long wait to my pub date—the book sold back in April 2015—so got a lot of things out of the way early. (Have you heard of precrastinators? Those are the weirdos who get things done early because deadlines freak us out. I am one!)

These past couple of weeks, I’ve been able to focus on the fun stuff: pairing up with author/visual artist Dana Walrath to create a saint card with an original psalm (by me, of course). Everyone who preorders from my local indie will get a gorgeous limited-edition print. I’ll be announcing a giveaway soon too, so watch for details in Twitter and Instagram!

Also in the works: a whole bunch of readings, festivals, and writing workshops for teens. I’m excited to be teaming up with authors I adore (including Marianna BaerJulie Berry, and Jandy Nelson) for a couple of events… and to be leading teen workshops in communities close to my heart, including the mall where I had my first job and my old high school! It’s turning into quite the tour. (Here’s a sneak peek. I’ll be announcing the full list soon.)

2. How do you feel that it is so close for your book to be in readers hands?

Can I confess something really strange? It wasn’t until this past summer that it occurred to me that people other than my editor would be reading my book. I mean, I’ve been pursuing publication for a while. Getting a book deal with Putnam Books for Young Readers was groovy and all that, but…I somehow hadn’t made the leap to that fact that total strangers—and people I know!—would be meeting these characters I’d lived with so long. And that they’d get to read Psalm whenever they felt like it, without my permission. I basically had a melt down when that realization hit.

And then… I started to get love notes from members of my debut group, and sweet little tweets from bloggers and booksellers I’ve never met, and really nice reviews, including a star in Publishers Weekly! My dad cried when he read the final book. (My sister has the photo evidence.) Each of these moments chipped away at my fear. I started to realize that Callie and Tess had qualities—and struggles—other people could genuinely appreciate. And now? I’m feeling excited to send Psalm out into the world so that more readers can get to know the sweet, salty girls I love so much. They don’t even have to ask my permission!

3. What have you been currently reading?

I just finished two amazing debuts: American Street by Ibi Zoboi and Maud by Melanie Fishbane. The first is set in contemporary Detroit from the point of view of a newly arrived Haitian immigrant teen; the second is an historical novel based on the life of author Lucy Maud Montgomery, who came of age in Canada in the 1890s. Both of these books felt like home to me—I contain multitudes, ok?—and both are brilliantly written.

Follow Katie: Twitter * Facebook *


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See you for the next adventure!

Pre-Pub Adventure: January 2017

Today I am excited to introduce our new monthly post Pre-Pub Adventure!

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Every 3rd Wed of the month we will be following authors on their publishing adventure. Have you ever wonder 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? Find out on Pre-Pub Adventure as we follow authors to publishing their books.

Today we check in with authors

Let’s welcome our authors on their Publishing adventure!

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egoo5qze_400x400       nic

1. Welcome Nic! Please tell us a little about yourself? 

Hiiii! You can read the boring stuff here or here, but to spice things up a bit, here are three fun facts:

1. One of my hidden talents? Balloon animals. No lie.
2. In high school, I was both head cheerleader, and the mascot: a very masculine blue devil. (Definitely almost got my ass kicked a few times because I had NO chill inside that costume. #GoBigBlue)
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3. My favorite food is bacon. But not just any bacon, no no. Black Forest smoked bacon SOLELY from the Whole Foods deli.
2. Tell us about your book? How did you come up with Dear Martin? 
DEAR MARTIN follows a 17-year-old African American kid who gets racially profiled one night, and decides he’s going to try and live according to Dr. King’s teachings and keep a journal of letters *to* Dr. King to record his experiences.
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I really wrote it an attempt to process the string of shooting deaths of unarmed black boys, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the frequent misinterpretation of Dr. King’s teachings relative to both. I just wanted to get a better understanding of the structures and attitudes in this country that contributed to the deaths of these boys, and I wanted to know how Dr. King’s teachings would REALLY be applied in light of how they were applied/received (spoiler alert: MLK might be a hero to us in retrospect, but he was NOT adored by all during his time. Quite the opposite most of the time).

 

Follow Nic: Twitter * Instagram * YouTube
Add Dear Martin to Goodreads!  Check out Nic’s blog for more information on the book and news!

Kayla Olson

kayla                         pre-pub-4

1. Welcome Kayla! Please tell us a little about yourself?
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Hi, and thanks for having me! Let’s see…so. Things I love: black coffee, the darkest chocolate, rainy days, Moleskine notebooks, the ocean, making lists and crossing things off, writing books, singing and playing piano + guitar, cats, as many serranos as the restaurant will bring me, Christopher Guest movies, breakfast tacos, the hike and bike trail in Austin, and—of course—my husband and our little guy. Things I don’t at all love: words misspelled on purpose, mayonnaise, bubble tea, aggressive drivers, haircuts, being in the car for too long. (I’ve definitely left things off of both these lists, I’m sure.) I started writing back in 2009 after working a series of customer service jobs and realizing I wasn’t creatively fulfilled—much more on that here, on my website, if you’re interested in the longer version of that story. There are also a lot of really random facts on that same website page, like how I once attempted to knit my cat a turtleneck sweater for Christmas.
2. Tell us about your book? How did you come up with The Sandcastle Empire?

 

THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE—a near-future sci-fi thriller about a global war that erupts in the wake of environmental change—will be out June 6, 2017 from HarperTeen. When main character Eden escapes to the only neutral ground left in the world, Sanctuary Island, she quickly discovers the island might be deadlier than the world she left behind—but surviving it is the only thing that stands between her and freedom.
As for how I got the idea: it seems like “the idea hit me while taking a shower one night” might not be the most original of answers, but in this case…it’s true.
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 I was having a moment of missing LOST, the TV show, and simultaneously had a bit of a craving for the beach on Disney’s island, Castaway Cay, when I thought, Hey! What if I wrote a book set on an island? The ideas started bombarding me from there—What if I had four girls as main characters? What if they were searching for the island because they thought it would be a safe place, but it turned out to be just the opposite? I thumb-typed paragraphs of notes on my iPhone as soon as I hopped out of the shower—I still have that note saved on my phone, and think it’s sort of amazing that the initial seeds of that idea are still present in the final version that’ll hit shelves in June. I’d show you a screenshot, buuuut then I’d spoil the book. 😉

Follow Kayla: Twitter * Instagram * Tumblr * Blog

For more on THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE, check out www.kaylaolson.com to find full jacket copy, pre-order links, contact info, film news, and details about where the book will be translated/published outside of the U.S.


Abby Reed

 

pre-2                 pre-pub4

1. Welcome Abby! Please tell us a little about yourself? 

Hi everyone! I’m Abby. My YA sci-fi debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, is coming out April 12th. *enter obnoxious squeal and soundtrack music*
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Let’s see…what else about me…

I have Chronic Migraine, which is a neurological and brain disorder and can be really disabling. I love to paint. I started in watercolor, but have slowly transitioned to working mostly in mixed media. I’m 26 and have an unhealthy obsession for tea (loose leaf) and popcorn (sea salt, lightly salted).

I have a husband and two dogs. One is a fluffy Irishdoodle and basically sleeps at my while I’m working, so he often wakes up with paint in his fur. The other is a goldendoodle who is obsessed with bringing in the largest stick she can find. The last, my husband, ha, is pretty studly and my college souvenir 🙂

Random fun fact: Growing up, I used to get so nauseous whenever I saw the color orange. I literally could not look at anything orange without almost puking for about 3 years. Now it’s one of my favorite colors!

2. Here’s the official synopsis for it:
Breaker’s home is cleaved by blood. The three tribes on the planet Scarlatti, whose only difference is their blood color, each want to exploit Breaker’s valley for themselves. The feudal tension has already claimed red-blood Breaker’s leg and his older brother. Now all this 18-year old wants is to maintain the tenuous peace in order to keep his little ‘stroid of a brother alive. Malani, a red-blood raised blue, is a kidnapped POW and only wants to return to her adoptive home with her dangerous blue secrets. Luka, a red-blood stewing for trouble, wants to right wrongs done to his family and bath his home in justice.

All three intersect when Breaker discovers a wrecked starship and is given seven days by the green-bloods to fix and hand it over as a weapon. Breaker must decide if aiding his enemies is worth the home he knows and his family’s life. War is coming. And war respects no boundaries. And war leaves no survivors.

It’s about brothers/siblinghood, home, and sacrifice. Maybe a touch of romance 🙂

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I actually melded a couple ideas I had. One was a camp I attended in high school. The theme was around the idea of being “strangers in a strange land.” I’m pretty sure it’s from the Old Testament, though I’m not sure where. In college, I had to write a short story for school. I came back to this idea and wrote a 10 page story from it. Then, after querying a different novel that didn’t go anywhere, this short story kept coming back to mind. I played with it and it grew into WHEN PLANETS FALL.

I actually wrote a blog post about it here! (included some embarrassing photos of myself at that camp!)

Breaker’s amputation (and Luka’s migraines) were originally inspired by my own experiences with Chronic Migraine. I wanted characters that had to deal with body limitations to reach their goals, like I do everyday. The ending…let’s just say there’s a twist that was also inspired by my experiences with CM 😉

Follow Abby: TwitterFacebook * Pinterest * Instagram

Add When Planets Fall on Goodreads! Check out Abby’s blog for more information on the book and news!


Amanda Foody

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1. Welcome Amanda! Please tell us a little about yourself? 
Of course! Thanks for following me in my Pre-Pub Adventure! I’m 22, living that post-grad life of getting my accounting masters and beginning a career while also spending my free time writing books. As both total geek and total girly-girl, I could spend an entire day talking about my favorite anime ships and then the next discussing the pros and cons of liquid lipstick. I currently live in Philadelphia.
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2. How did you come up with Daughter of the Burning City? 
I took a Writing Children’s Literature class my sophomore year of college. At the time, I was working on ACE OF SHADES with my agent (now my second novel), so when I wrote a chapter of DAUGHTER for the YA assignment in my class, I was too busy to return to it immediately afterwards. About a year later, I picked it back up and figured out what happened after that first chapter.
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The idea itself…I’m not positive. I get a lot of my ideas from simply free-writing. I write some sentence, then another, then another. Eventually, I have a feel for what might become a full story. DAUGHTER was sort of spontaneous in that way. I was never setting out to write a murder mystery or a carnival book, but it just kind of happened. The first several pages are still nearly identical to the ones I submitted for class, several years later. The heart of the story has never changed.
Follow Amanda: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Instagram
Add Daughter of the Burning City to Goodreads! Check out Amanda’s blog for more information on the book and news.

Rosalyn Eves

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1. Welcome Rosalyn! Please tell us a little about yourself? 
It’s funny how I can write a 100k word story, no problem, but ask me to talk about myself and suddenly I struggle to find words . . . I’ve always been a big reader and I’ve wanted to be a writer since a fifth grade teacher in Montana told me I might be good at it. But it’s taken me a long time to get to this point–I had a few detours: graduate school (I studied English), then starting a family. I’m married to a chemistry professor, and we have three kids. We live in Southern Utah, surrounded by some pretty spectacular mountains. When I’m not writing or parenting, I teach composition classes at the local university. As for hobbies, I don’t have nearly as much time for those as I’d like, but I love drawing, watching period movies, hiking, and bird-watching (something that comes out in Blood Rose Rebellion in Anna’s fascination with birds).
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2. Tell us about your book? How did you come up with Blood Rose Rebellion? 

BRR is a historical fantasy–basically, mid 19th century Europe with magic. The slightly longer version is that it’s the story of a girl without magic who’s born into a society where magic defines the powerful bloodlines, making her an outcast. But while she can’t cast spells, she can break them–and a broken spell at her sister’s debut leads her to Hungary (where her mother’s family is from), where she begins to learn that her world’s magic isn’t what she thought it was and has to make a difficult choice: cling to the society she’s always wanted to join, or break a spell, trigger a revolution, and change her world’s magic.

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The main idea came when I was playing with the idea of a chosen one. We’ve seen lots of stories about someone who is unusually gifted in their world’s magic–I wanted to know what would happen to someone who wasn’t powerful in typical ways. Once I had that basic idea, I tried to find a setting for it. I lived in Hungary for a year or so in my twenties and fell in love with the country, the culture, and the language, and I wanted to return to it in a story. I’d already thought of the story as a Victorian-era one, so once I knew the location, it made sense to weave the story around the tumultuous 1848 Hungarian revolution (though I cheated a little and moved the revolution forward to the end of 1847 for story reasons).
Follow Rosalyn: Twitter * Tumblr * Pinterest * Facebook
Add Blood Rose Rebellion to Goodreads! Check out Rosalyn’s blog for more information on the book and news!

Katie Bayerl

pre-3         apsalmforlostgirlscover
1. Welcome Katie! Please tell us a little about yourself? 

I fell in love with books before I can remember and with teaching when I was just a teen. The writing books for teens part came a bit later. I jumped right in and haven’t looked back. These days when I’m not penning my own stories, I coach teens and nonprofits to tell theirs. In my free time (ha! what’s that?), I’m an explorer. I’ve been to six out of seven continents and I can just as easily get caught up in an adventure in my own city or kitchen. Like most writers, I get obsessively interested in things. Some of those interests–history, politics, social justice, art–are fairly normal. Others–saints, old-school music, murder–are a little more strange.

2. tell us about your book? How did you come up with A Psalm for Lost Girls?

A PSALM FOR LOST GIRLS centers on an abduction that forever alters the fates of three girls–one who’s been missing, one who is grieving, and one who is dead and rumored to be a saint. You can read a far better description from my publisher here, but at the core of the novel are two sisters: Tess, who struggles to understand a mysterious voice and her community’s belief that she is their savior, and younger sister Callie, who is determined to prove that Tess was far more than a saint–she was her best friend and a real girl.

The first seed for this story was planted during a trip to Portugal. I dragged myself away from Lisbon one afternoon on a bus headed to the Basilica of Our Lady Fátima. This little pilgrimage made no sense—I was no longer a practicing Catholic, and Lisbon is heaven (the music! the food!)—but a friend had sent me an article about the soon-to-be-beatified Lúcia dos Santos and the story triggered something in me. Sister Lúcia was the last surviving child saint of Fátima; in 1917, she and her two cousins saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Both cousins passed away quite young, leaving Lúcia to carry their story. She joined a convent as a young woman and remained a nun until her death at age 95.

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I couldn’t stop asking myself what it would be like to be in her position, on track to sainthood at such a young age. What if, at age 16, she had a change of heart? What if all she wanted to live a normal life, make mistakes, fall in love, be a regular girl?

So many stories begin with that type of “what if” question—one that moves us from real events to imagination. In this case, the question spoke to something personal. You see, I was a labeled academically gifted at a very young age, and that became my main identifier. It was a label that weighed heavy at times and one I struggled to live up to at others. Sometimes, it felt like that was all I was. But, of course, no person can ever be reduced to one thing. I think that’s why Lúcia dos Santos’ story evoked something in me, something that gave birth to a fictional girl named Tess (still Portuguese, but struggling with the burden of sainthood in present-day Massachusetts). Here was a girl who would be forever remembered for her piety, but what if there was more to her than that? There was a lot in that question that I felt compelled to explore.

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