YA Author Rendezvous

Creativity Unleashed: Books for the young and the young at heart


January 2016

Characters from History

Written by Paul Briggs

Sometimes I notice certain patterns in my work. Protagonists who are smart, but not too smart and with a very practical bent to their intelligence. Geniuses who are given a choice between trying to save the entire world — and possibly failing — or trying to save only a small part of it and being more certain of success. Strong female characters with medical conditions that cause them to dominate whatever room they’re in whether they want to or not.

When I start to worry that I’m starting to create the same characters over and over again, I work on historical fiction. Specifically, alternate history, which is usually classified as science fiction, but which I like to think of as historical fiction that’s broken its chains. Suddenly you aren’t confined by actual events any more — you can kill Hitler if you feel like it, or have St. Petersburg overrun by zombies and vampires.

Up to a point, that is. Just as in regular historical fiction, if you’re going to put historical figures in your writing you have to read about them enough to get your facts straight. More than that, you have to consider their life experiences and what they learned from them in order to figure out what they would do in a given situation.

Doing this for my own timeline at (called “The Dead Skunk” — don’t ask) has meant studying all sorts of people, including James Madison, Lord Liverpool, the Duke of Wellington, Napoleon, Lord Castlereagh, Joachim Murat, John Quincy Adams… and these were just the beginning. When I started writing my version of the Caroline Affair, I was exposed to a whole galaxy of wonderful and horrible personalities I never could have invented on my own, most of whom I had never heard of.

But the biggest challenge I’ve faced in getting inside the head a historical character was in writing a monologue about John F. Kennedy. It was about his struggles with Addison’s disease — a thing Kennedy never spoke of in real life and in fact took pains to conceal, inventing other stories to account for his stays in the hospital. I called the monologue “The Picture of Health,” because that was what JFK tried so hard to present to the world.

Wrapping my mind around the contradictions of the man was one of the hardest writing tasks I’ve ever done. When healthy, he was strong enough to swim three and a half miles towing a wounded sailor — when sick, he could barely stand. He was brave enough to attack Japanese warships in pitch darkness, but not to join in the vote censuring Joe McCarthy. (The Boston Irish had a certain loyalty to McCarthy.)

So… writing historical fiction is a great challenge. By forcing yourself to get inside the heads of real people who were very different from you, you expand your ability as a writer to invent your own characters and make them more real.

Movies Are Never Like the Books!

Written by Melissa Craven

And they shouldn’t be. I know we love our YA books, and the movie and TV series adaptations leave us trembling with excitement for premier day, but there’s always a let down after that first viewing. “It didn’t follow the book!” We say. I’ve found myself muttering these same things (admittedly, sometimes there is wailing too).

But in reality, there are so many reasons why a movie or TV series has to deviate from the books we loved so much. The newest adaptation of The Mortal Instruments, City of Bones, by Cassandra Clare is a great example of successful deviation from the books. Shadowhunters just premiered on ABC Family earlier this month and I immediately took to Twitter to see what the general reaction was after the first episode. Opinions were all over the place, especially in regards to the way the series deviated so much from the original storyline.

The Institute from the 2013 City of Bones movie set.
The Institute from the 2013 City of Bones movie set.

The unsuccessful big screen adaptation of City of Bones in 2013, just didn’t do it for fans of the series, so I was extremely excited for this reboot on the small screen. Considering the first book was released nearly a decade ago, I thought the visual and technological updates, such as the hub of the Shadowhunter Institute, was a great way to bring a fresh, contemporary look to the story we love.

The Institute from the 2016 Shadowhunters set.
The Institute from the 2016 Shadowhunters set.

With that one change, everything changed. Visually, the story leaped forward from 2007 to 2016. The bump in ages from sixteen to eighteen, also brought a nice change to the storyline. A slightly older Jace and Clary, Simmon and Izzy (or Clace and Sizzy… and Malec! I can’t forget to mention Alec and Magnus!) elevated the story in a great way.

Many fans were disappointed in the changes, but I say, we’ve already read the books and we saw the movie, but with Shadowhunters, don’t we still want to be surprised? After two episodes, the show has accomplished that and then some.

Another view from the 2016 Shadowhunters set.
Another view from the 2016 Shadowhunters set.

The characters exude everything we loved about them in the books (and made up for the things many of us hated about them in the movie) but there is new life here. I’m looking forward to the rest of this season because I know the spirit of the story and the creativity of Cassandra Clare’s world is still there and it’s in good hands. And Jace… TV Jace has it in a way movie Jace never did.

So it’s not exactly like the books, but sometimes I’m okay with that.

Author Spotlight: Sarah Wathen



Written by L J Higgins


It’s time again to meet one of YAAR’s talented authors! Today we interviewed Sarah Wathen, author of the Catchpenny Series.



  1. Tell us about your Catchpenny Series.

Catchpenny is an offbeat romance—one novel released in 4 serial parts. The original title was Wicked Lover, and that’s exactly what Meg Shannon is…in all of the ways you might interpret such a phrase. She’s in her senior year of high school, so imagine the consequences of playing that role. Meg has plenty of enemies and slut shame is a big theme. She does find love, yet finding her true worth as a human being is the ultimate quest. In that way, it’s also a coming of age story.


  1. Why did you release it as a serial?

I had intended it to be a pretty short read in the beginning. My first book, The Tramp, is part of a long epic story, with tons of characters, history, and interweaving plot lines. With Catchpenny, I wanted to take a breather and write a simple love story. Of course nothing about love is simple, and writing about it isn’t short or simple either. I finished Wicked Lover (part one) and while I was working through it with my editor, part two just couldn’t help itself from happening.


  1. Your main character in Wicked lover is a teenage girl who is obsessed with poker. Do you play?

I would say Meg’s a gambler in almost every sense. Love interest Tristan would say she gambles with her body, but not her heart. I do play a little poker, but my game is Blackjack and I learned from the best. My Aunt Maxine taught me everything I could know about cards and she was a true romantic, a guiding force in writing this book. She passed away right before Thanksgiving last year and Catchpenny is dedicated to her.


  1. The world is captivated by young love, which seems to be a main theme in Wicked Lover. What do you think we find so enchanting about it?

Young love is pure. We can all remember when we felt so powerfully about another person, before all the worries of adult life got in the way: finances, marriage, family, career. Back when we were invincible and our worlds were filled with boundless hope and endless possibility. Of course, I remember young love being pretty painful, too, when I really stop to think about it. Reading a book about it is much more fun!


  1. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

I’m always influenced by whatever good book I am currently reading. Right now it’s The Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro, a collection of short stories. Makes me feel like writing a short story, which I’ve never done.


  1. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

There’s plenty I would change about the money I wasted! I made so many mistakes it’s ridiculous. But I guess I learned from them all, too, and in a way, the knowledge I gained is priceless.


  1. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Catchpenny is the collection of four serial parts: Wicked Lover, Battle Ax, Cactus Heart, and Gold Mine. It was fun to release the books as a serial at first, and since I’m a brand new author, it was a great way for readers to get a taste of my writing before diving into a full novel. Yet after finishing the serial, I really wanted to give people a chance to read the story as a whole.


  1. How did you come up with the title for your books?

“Catchpenny” means something cheap, bought for pennies. In the beginning, that how Meg thinks about herself (though she doesn’t realize that). Her journey from a Wicked Lover, through to the Gold Mine in the end of the series, is about her discovering her worth. The two books in between are titled for key concepts in each, but I can’t give that away!


  1. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

I’ve been told that my first book, The Tramp, moves too slowly by some. It’s hard for me not to take that to heart and just stay the course of my plan for the series. I hate that I feel like changing the story because of what some people think, because I think it’s a great book and I do have a plan for it as a series. It was written with a lot of purpose and not every book needs to move quickly, like Catchpenny does. Mostly, I think I made some marketing and genre mistakes. Because the best compliments have also come from The Tramp! Maybe it moves slowly, but apparently that’s because I’m a darn good “wordsmith” and I’m great at painting a rich, visual landscape. That doesn’t happen when you rush through a book! You need to settle in. I guess my favorite books that I’ve read are of the settle in variety.


  1. If you had a superpower what would it be?

Mind control, so I would never have to worry about marketing ever again!


  1. What else are you working on at the moment?

I’m marrying writing and making art together in a graphic novel. It’s a really exciting project and a huge challenge for me. The story comes from a series of Flash Fiction that I wrote back in April last year called Gaslight. The short, 300-word segments are perfect for graphic novel chapters!


  1. Tell us about your cover design.

Each of the four drawings on the Catchpenny cover were covers for the four serial parts. The first one, the cover for Wicked Lover, was a charcoal drawing with a long history for me in grad school. This weird little figure began as a chalk smudge on velvet paper, then came alive as I discerned a tiny being and filled in details with a pen. I wrote it’s birthdate down and “pregnant, dancing, armored bodice.” Next, it became a series of silk screens, each print different. Finally, she was fully realized in the detailed drawing I used for Wicked Lover. When I found the drawing in a flat file, she was just perfect for this strange creature that Meg Shannon is in the beginning of Catchpenny. The figure becomes more human and more beautiful in each part, then finally takes flight. It’s such a great metaphor for discovering yourself.


  1. Your website shows that as well as writing you have a passion for art. Which do you prefer and why?

They are apples and oranges, though both ways to create. Writing and making art couldn’t feel more different to me, and I need them both. Here’s a good way to think of it: when I paint I listen to rock, when I draw I listen to jazz, and when I write I listen to white noise on noise-canceling headphones. I was classically trained in painting and up until a few years ago, that’s how I would’ve defined myself. Now I realize that, as an artist, I just choose the hat for the moment. Last year I was “a writer,” this year I’m “an illustrator,” and before that I was “a painter.” It’s all art.


  1. Are you a coffee or a tea drinker?

I’m drinking coffee right now, but I prefer wine.


  1. Is there anything else you would like your readers to know about you?

Yes! I work closely with my musician husband when I write, and the title Wicked Lover is from a song that his band, Her Last Boyfriend, wrote. It’s the song in the book trailer I produced and you can check it out here:

Also, HLB has decided to produce an EP album of four songs, one tune for each serial part of Catchpenny. It’s not finished yet, but they are doing some really cool stuff that goes so well with the story in the book. I love it! The second song is a remake of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The fourth is an alternative rock version of the famous wedding song, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Follow my blog, and I’ll keep you informed:


5 Things All Authors Should Include on Their Blogs

5 Things All Authors Should Include on Their Blogs via YA Author RendezvousWritten by Kim Bongiorno

Whether you are just starting your first novel or have had various publications over the years, most writers now know that it’s a good idea to have a blog as their own little slice of the internet that reflects who they are, what they do, and where fans should go to find thier work. The only problem with this is that many authors and writers aren’t bloggers, so they don’t quite know what to do once they have one! Luckily, there are no rules as to what kind of content needs to be there. Some writers simply update their blog with new publications a few times a year. Others blog about their personal lives almost every day, and even more do something in the middle.

No matter how frequently a writer decides to put new content on his or her blog, I do believe there are certain things that should be put in place to make it as fruitful as possible, both for the writers and their fans.


  1. Your full name (and blog name, if you have one), front and center.

This sounds obvious, but a lot of people forget! Make sure this is at the very top, so people know exactly where they are and whose words they are reading upon arrival.


  1. Who you are and what you do.

An “About” page should include your full name, a little about yourself, any accolades/awards you have received for your writing, a list of your books, other places you write/have written, and how to contact you. Make it easy for people to email you. You never know what opportunities could find you, if you just made it possible for people to email them to you! A photo of you and photos of your book covers are great, as well.


  1. A way for people to follow you everywhere.

Put social media “Follow” buttons and the blog subscription email opt-in as close to the top of your blog as possible, either in the blog’s header or at the top of the sidebar.

I highly recommend you have a separate fan newsletter sign-up, too. Fans can get emails from you when you have a new book coming out, you can give them insider scoop, announce upcoming events they can attend to meet you, invite them to join your street team, etc. Look at a few of the email marketing services available, like MailChimp, ConstantContact, and others. Lots of detailed reviews are out there to help you choose which is the right one for your needs.


  1. A square(ish) graphic with your name and your blog name or logo.

Put this in your sidebar, footer, or header, so it appears on every blog post and page, automatically. When you save the graphic to your computer, make sure to name it as your name, and possibly your blog tagline (if it is short). This way, when people share different posts or pages from your blog, there will always be an image with the share. This is especially important for when people share your blog on Pinterest: the name of the graphic/image will populate the Pinterest pin description box automatically.

Ideally, you will also create a graphic/image to include in each blog post and page with the title of that post/page to make everything a lot more shareable. You can create these with free resources such as PicMonkey or Canva. Just remember to never grab images blindly from the internet to use on them: either buy stock images or find free stock images (there are countless sites out there with them, each with their own instructions on how to credit the photos), or use photos you take.

I made the image for this blog post with PicMonkey in only a few minutes, using a stock image I purchased. Go ahead and Pin it on Pinterest right now on your Writing Tips or Blogging boards (all writers should have both—there are so many great resources on Pinterest for us). Doesn’t it look nice?


  1. A signature at the end of each blog post that has a purpose.

Close out with a call to action to read your books and share that post! Add social media sharing buttons so readers can share your post on Facebook, Tweet it out, pin it on Pinterest, email it to their writer friends, etc. You can see many options to do exactly that below this blog post, and I encourage you to use them to see exactly how easy it is to help other people share your work with their friends and fans.

I also recommend linking to your book(s), whether by embedding images of each cover that are linked to where they can buy them, or simply write, “You can see all of my books here” and link to one place they are all listed (such as your Amazon Author page).


With these five simple things set up on your blog, you will absolutely make yourself easier to read, find, hire, and get your work shared.

Now, wasn’t that easy?



My New Year’s Resolution

new years resolutionWritten by George Sirois

By the time you read this, we’ll be more than halfway through the first month in January. If you’re like so many people in the world, you hit the ground running with your new year’s resolutions on January 1, and this is around the time when the gas starts to run a bit low, that projects you are started don’t seem as much fun anymore, when it’s getting easier to start using a treadmill at the gym because they’re no longer all occupied.

I get it. I’ve been there. And when I started my little “39 Bucket List” last August when I turned 39 and wrote down all the things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 40, that enthusiasm for what I was going to do took a big drop when I recently revisited that list and saw that I had barely scratched the surface on what I would do.

So on December 31, there I was, thinking up all these different resolutions that I would stick to this time! I would get back on the eating plan that resulted in me losing about 40 pounds between July and October. I would finish my novel. I would read more. I would find new ways to market myself as an author. I would figure out a way to get myself organized and stay focused at work. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Lofty expectations, one and all. But then, as I jotted them down, the voice in the back of my head said, “Who are you kidding? You really expect yourself to stick to these goals? You’re gonna have to do better than that, and this time, think realistically.”

I was bummed out by this sudden epiphany, but only for a moment, because I realized that a resolution shouldn’t be about a goal, but about what you intend to do to meet a goal. What do you want to change? What do you want to add to your life? What do you think will make it easier to get what you want?

That’s when it hit me. I have so much at my fingertips that I barely even use, and everything I have will make me feel much more accomplished about what I want to do. And so my original new year’s resolutions went into the garbage and only one resolution was all I needed:

Use the tools you have.

Think about how life was about 15, 20 years ago, when the Internet was in its infancy and people weren’t 100% sure about what it could be. Now, the possibilities are limitless, and when it comes to writers, we have the means to reach so many people now that it’s almost scary. Just a couple hours ago, I tried Periscope for the first time, and it was fun! I meant to just test my phone to see how if my settings would work on it, and all of a sudden, one person chimed in, then another, then another. And they started posting comments, encouraging comments, and likes on my page. Who knew? Just imagine what it would have been like if I planned it ahead of time and let people know I would be on to answer questions about “Excelsior” or “From Parts Unknown?”

Downstairs, we put together our own mini gym with a television, DVD player, Nintendo Wii, Wii Fit, some workout DVDs, and a treadmill. Why are we not using them? During my most successful weight loss period last year, the pounds went down faster once I started running in the mornings. What’s wrong with just going downstairs and using the equipment there? Better it be used rather than collect dust while I sit upstairs with my smart phone in my hand binge-watching another show on Netflix and wonder why I’m not losing weight.

I say I want to read more. Well, I got a mile-long TBR list waiting for me in my Kindle. I say I want to finish my novel. Why don’t I just go into the office, sit myself down, and finish it already? (Which is what I did just a couple hours ago. More to come on that in the future)

You get what I’m saying, right? We all say we want to do these things, and we’re now living in a world that’s making it easier and easier to do what we want to do. So why not look around, see what tools are at your disposal, and make them happen? You’ll be surprised when you see what’s out there for you. I know I was.

We’re more than halfway to the end of January, and my one new year’s resolution is still going strong. Hopefully yours is too.

For a Good Time, call an Indie!

Indie AuthorWritten by Cynthia Port

Dear Reader,


Writers are reputed to be a bit standoffish, a bit inside their own wonky, tortured heads.  We’re either alcoholics, or suicidal, or just plain don’t like our fellow human beings.  By logical extension then, authors, as a group, must not want to be bothered by the “little people” who are lucky enough to read their books, right?  They must find such extra-literary contact irksome, sycophantic, even stalky.  Now listen carefully because I’m only going to write this the one time:




I cannot speak for the Rowlings, the Kings or the Kingsolvers of this world because I don’t know any of them, but I know a lot (as in many, many hundreds) of indie authors, and to a person they revel in hearing from readers.  I know this because the briefest note left on their FB author page, the slightest comment made in the grocery store, an email, a tweet, a blurry instagram pic (tinted to look like a Polaroid from 1963), anything that indicates someone out there likes their writing—sends that author trumpeting joy all over social media like a happiness t-shirt cannon.  Hearing from readers makes indie authors giddily, unreasonably, even stalkily, happy.


So please, Readers, don’t be shy.  Don’t be sitting there all on your lonesome as you turn the last page of a cool indie novel, thinking, “Gee willickers, I loved this book.  I wonder if the author is going to write a sequel?  I wonder if any of it is biographical?  I wonder if the centaur knew the chewing gum was inside that marshmallow before he gave it to the toothless guinea pig?  Oh, well, I guess I’ll never know, because surely this author wouldn’t want to hear from the likes of me.”


NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH! (Yes, I wrote it twice in case you weren’t listening the first time.)


Trust me—hearing from you is her/his lifeblood and will make his/her day. You don’t even have to say anything brilliant, pithy or insightful.  On the contrary, it would be impossible for you to make a comment or ask a question about an indie book that the author of said book does not want to receive.  To prove my point, here are some questions that might, on the surface, seem unwelcome, followed by a typical indie author’s response:


Did you hire a two-year-old to write this drivel?

“Thank you so much for contacting me.  Funny you should ask, because my two year old did give me the idea about the marshmallow and the gum!”



Why do you bother getting up in the morning if this is the result?

“So nice to hear from you. I do most of my writing in the evening.”



Can I pay you to stop writing books?

“That is so sweet. You mean like a Kickstarter?”



See?  No harm no foul.  Though if you ask questions like this, you may find yourself written into a novel only to be gummed to death by a toothless guinea pig.  But hey, that could be adorable!


I’m nearing the end of my word count, but let me add one more thing.  If you are a parent, grandparent or teacher, please encourage and help (as needed) a young person to contact a favorite indie author.  I often hear from young readers, and it makes me even more unreasonably giddy than when I hear from adult readers, because adding to the pleasure a child experiences through reading is, well, one of the highest accomplishments I can think of.


So take it from an Indie: we understand. You’ve been hurt before in your attempts to form meaningful relationships with traditionally published authors.  But give us a try—we’re easy, and we’ll love you right back.

A Peek Behind the Scenes


YA Author RendezvousWritten by T.D. Shields

There’s a moment in my book Into Light that is really personal to me. I won’t give any spoilers, but at one point the characters are singing a song and I quote the lyrics in the book. The song is “Silver Wings” as sung by Merle Haggard. You can listen to it here:


I’m lucky enough to come from a very musical family, and my father and his brothers all play guitar and sing beautifully. Whenever my family gets together, the guitars come out and we are treated to a concert from these talented men.


YA Author Rendezvous 2“Silver Wings” was one of my grandmother’s favorite songs and she always requested it once the singing began. I have so many memories of my dad and uncles playing guitar and singing that song. So when I started writing a scene with guitar and singing in my book, I immediately thought of “Silver Wings” as a song they might have sung… it’s a REAL oldie by the time Poppy is singing it, but it’s certainly not out of the question that a song might hang around for that long.


The spot where I’d originally used the song eventually changed a little, but I was glad to still have it in there. It’s just a subtle little tribute to my dad and grandma hiding in Chapter 22.


ABCs of Writing: Part 1


Written by
Beth Rodgers

When learning to write, we start with our ABCs.  They provide components that make writing easier.  Peruse the following words and explanations about how to use the alphabet to promote your writing craft; then check back next month for the rest of the alphabet!

Ammunition.  My reservoir of writing techniques serves as my ammunition to get the ball rolling.  I work to come up with new ideas to share with myself as I work on my writing.  Ammunition does not only have to be construed negatively.  People hear it and think of guns and violence.  However, in this case, it’s meant as the driving force behind my writing.  Each new idea I consider is part of the ammunition I’ve made a stockpile of as I pen my thoughts.

Bravery.  I’m not afraid to take risks.  I want to stand out and make my writing shine.  I make a point of including conflict to make endings more magical.  My characters struggle through dilemmas and emotions; they also consider ways to overcome struggles.  Sometimes that isn’t possible, and that’s what makes for more emotional, substantial details that lend themselves well to pulling at readers’ heartstrings and making them feel deeply for my characters.

Collection.  I have a large collection of books, poetry, websites, etc. I use when I feel stuck.  I read books in my chosen genre, and I make a point of learning more about authors by analyzing why they chose to write a certain way, why they made their characters act certain ways, etc.  It is important to see the paths others have taken in order to learn the craft well.

Decisions.  Making decisions can be hard, not only in life, but in writing.  Even when writing fiction, the reality of the writing must set in as you embrace the lives of the characters and realize you must make decisions that affect the outcomes of their lives.  Remember that creating conflict isn’t the worst thing, as there must be some sense of urgency throughout your writing in order to make it realistic.  You might have your readers suspend disbelief, but you also might want them to feel grounded in reality.  Pick your moments wisely, and make the most of your writing as you do.

Energy.  Never lose the vivacity and excitement you have when you begin writing something.  Stay on the writing rollercoaster, and let it take you on all the twists and turns it can.

Freedom.  Write to your heart’s content.  You can write a novel-in-verse or a short story that chronicles the top news headline.  You can write an idea for a unique TV pilot.  You are at liberty to make revisions, additions, and concessions within your writing until it’s to your satisfaction.

Gravity.  Stay grounded.  Even if you are writing fantasy or science fiction, don’t go so far as to be totally unbelievable.  You want to convey comprehension, and this may be lacking if you get too into ridiculous notions that readers aren’t apt to understand.  If you do choose to write silly, ridiculous stories or poems, great!  Just make sure the context is right.  Don’t write in this way if you haven’t prefaced your work to make it comprehensible.

Happiness.  Enjoy what you write.  Laugh at your jokes.  Employ descriptive words and phrases.  If you’re not happy with your writing, how can you expect anyone else to be?  Obviously, concessions can be made if you feel it’s for the best, but you’re the one doing what you love.  Make it a happy experience.  The rest will fall into place.

Instinct.  Use your instincts.  Intuition is a strong tool, and if you feel something is right or wrong for your story, trust yourself.  However, it can’t hurt to make a note of what you choose not to include, as you never know how it might come in handy in the future.  If you don’t write it down, you’re more likely to forget it.  Keep all your thoughts, as you never know when they might become useful and creatively stimulating in a way you never considered.

Jello.  This may sound silly, but when you make jello, you leave it in the refrigerator for a while before it becomes solid.  Until this happens, it’s liquid.  At that stage, it is not ready to eat, but when it takes on a more solid form, it becomes edible and tasty.  The same is true of writing (except the edible, tasty part – unless you’re thinking metaphorically).  Your writing needs to be worked on before it can become a solid structure.  You want to make sure you focus on all details necessary to make your work well-rounded.

Kin.  Work on characters.  Outline their physical characteristics and personalities.  The way someone acts is equally, if not more, important in some instances than the way he or she looks.  A character’s personality can be equated to someone readers know, and this will give them a vision of what they think the character looks like.

Lifestyle.  Writing should be a part of your daily lifestyle.  It is one of the most important ideas that gives creative license to write what you know and love.  Learn to think outside the box and see the world, your writing, your characterization, your emotions, and everything else in new, glorious ways.  Let your lifestyle become your motivation to notice more.

Market.  Be sure you market your writing appropriately.  Don’t attempt to sell a children’s fairy tale to an adult romance publisher.  Also, set your sights on the right demographic.  Consider who will read it.  Be certain that the words and phrases you use are at least somewhat specific to that demographic so you meet the needs of the people you’re most trying to impress.

More ABCs are forthcoming next month, but as you learn your own writing alphabet, consider the possibilities I’ve already presented.  There are so many places to go with your own writing; you just have to keep your eyes open.

An Interview with L.J. Higgins

New Release January 2016Written by T.D. Shields

  1. Tell us about your book, Dawn of the Dreamer.  Do you have a favourite part or character?

Dawn of the Dreamer is set in the year 2023.  It follows the story of Amelia who, due to new technologies being unable to change her dreams, has been labelled a Dreamer and is therefore made to feel different and unlike her friends and family.

My favourite part to write was the fire scene. I can’t pinpoint why exactly, but it came to me so
easily and I really enjoyed writing it. As for characters, I couldn’t decide between Amelia and Jonah.

  1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was around twelve years old. I use to write stories and short novels then take them to my teachers for them to read and give me feedback. I have a folder full of old, cringe-worthy stories. I’ve always loved reading, so I guess it stemmed from there.

  1. How long does it take you to write a book?

Dawn of the Dreamer took eight months, but Fall of the Dreamer only took me three to four. I’m getting better at mapping out and planning my novels, which makes the writing process easier and quicker.

  1. What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Schedule? What is that? I’m a stay at home mum and between getting kids to school, keeping my daughter occupied all day, and trying to keep a clean house and a happy husband I don’t have much of a schedule at all. I write when I can fit it in, which usually means very late nights.

  1. What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I’d like to say I don’t have one. But I’m sure if someone came and watched me write they’d find quite a few.

  1. How do you overcome writer’s block?

I haven’t had to yet, and hope I never do have to. I’ve had motivation block before. But YAAR’s group usually helps with that one.

  1. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Relax with a green tea and read a good book, spend quality time with my family, I love to paint, draw and craft (I have my own shed dedicated to this)

  1. What does your family think of your writing?

They are all extremely supportive. They don’t always necessarily understand the hours and effort that goes into writing and publishing, but they have always told me to go for it.

  1. What made you decide to write for a young adult audience?

Because they are my favourite type of books, and because I think YA covers the period of a person’s life when they go through the most change. Trying to work out who they are and what they want to do with their life.

  1. Where did you come up with the idea for Dawn of the Dreamer? Was there something in particular that triggered the idea?

I’d started a blog, and noticing that I was reigniting my passion for writing, a friend of mine bought me notebook and inside she put a post it note saying that she couldn’t wait to read my future novel. With no word of a lie, that night I had a dream that sparked the idea for Dawn of the Dreamer and the Dreamer Trilogy.

  1. What project are you working on now?

Fall of the Dremer (Dreamer Trilogy, Book Two) will be released on the 28th January, so I have been working on getting it ready. I’m also writing Book Three of the trilogy, while also mapping out the story for my next series. There is also a stand-alone book I am working on that is more contemporary but still young adult.

  1. Anything else you’d like to tell your friends and fans?

At the moment I am running an amazing giveaway where you can not only win softcover copies of Dawn of the Dreamer, and Fall of the Dreamer but also a Dreamer singlet, a beautiful Dream Catcher, Journals and other great Dreamer goodies. You can find out more on my Facebook page.
I will also be a part of a 5 Author Extravaganza with four other YAAR authors on the 30th January. It is an online event where we will play games and giving away prizes. You can join us by clicking on this link:
And of course, Fall of the Dreamer will be released on the 28th of January as both an Ebook and softcover book!

Books that all YA lovers should read

BookshelfWritten by
Lauren Mayhew

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been reading YA/ teen fiction. I have tried to read adult fiction, but I just can’t get my head around it. It sometimes seems a bit too serious.

I wanted to share a few of my favourite YA books, all of which sit on my bookshelf. Here’s a picture if you want to see. Try and ignore the boyband memorabilia dotted around!

Here are my top 5 YA book series that I think should be on everyone’s TBR pile. I apologise now if I make your list a little longer…

Counting down from 5: Alex Rider Series by Anthony Horowitz.

These books feature a teenage spy called Alex Rider. He is unwillingly thrust into the world of MI6 and over the course of a year suffers loss, life threatening injury and has to come to terms with the fact that his life will never be the same. There are 10 books in the series which may seem a challenge to some, but I assure you they are worth it!

4: The Power of Five Series by Anthony Horowitz.

Teenagers with supernatural powers who are the only ones who can save the world from the Dark Ones whose only wish is to destroy us all. There are 5 books in this series, each one as exciting as the next. I remember the first time I read Raven’s Gate, I actually got goose bumps – it’s that good.

3: Chaos Walking Series by Patrick Ness.

Humans have colonised a new planet but there’s something strange – you can hear other people’s thoughts. All women seem to have died from a mysterious illness and Todd gets caught up in a life endangering adventure. Two things about this series, one, there is a fair bit of swearing and two, you’re gonna need some tissues. Seriously, don’t forget the tissues.

2: The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare.

Cassandra Clare has a lot of books and in my opinion, they’re not all that great. However, I found the first book in this series, The Clockwork Angel, in my local library and I fell in love immediately. Will Herondale… Oh, how I wish you were real! Anyway, Shadowhunters with awesome powers makes these a must read. I’ll be honest, I actually cried myself to sleep after book 3, so make sure you’re mentally prepared!

1: Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore.

I can’t even remember how I stumbled upon these books, but I am so glad I did! Every time the next book in the series comes out, I think it’s the last one, but no, there’s another cliff hanger ending. Two alien races, the people from Lorien and the Mogadorians, bring their battle to Earth with some serious consequences. 9 children from Lorien were smuggled to Earth in the hope that they could end this war once and for all. While they are apart, they can only be killed in number order. Numbers 1, and 3 have been killed already. We follow Number 4, John, as he learns about his special abilities and the fact that he may be the last hope to save the legacy of his people. I love these books, it’s that simple.

If you have read any of these books, I’d love to know what you think! If you haven’t – get reading!


New Year Resolutions

Pile of Books

Written by
Jeffrey Collyer

Okay. So it’s the New Year, and everyone is making resolutions, right? Goals for the year ahead.

Well, not me!

That’s always been me, anyway: the scrooge of New Year. Why make a resolution I’m only going to break in a few weeks? Two weeks, that’s how long most people make it before they’ve given up on their resolutions. Ever heard of Blue Monday? It’s officially the most depressing day of the year, and it’s about two weeks into January. The failure of our resolutions is a contributing factor.

Bah, humbug. So there.

The trouble is, most of the goals we set ourselves are things we don’t really like doing. Or, at least, there are other things we like doing more. That’s why we have to set them as specific goals, right? To try and force ourselves to do something we don’t really want to do.

But what if you could make a resolution for something you do enjoy? Only, your goal only really requires you to think about it, because once you think about it, it’s easy to do. And it’s not something you have to do every day, although you can if you want to.

What am I talking about? Books.

Not so much reading books (although that’s a great resolution, too).

No. I’m talking about… well, talking about books.

It’s not a topic I find myself often discussing outside of Facebook and internet chat-rooms. Which is odd, considering I’m a writer.

But, I love reading (you probably do, too, or else you wouldn’t be here), and I love telling people about my favourite books. On the internet is okay, of course, but it’s much better in person. To watch someone else as they explain what book had a real impact on them, and why… Well, you get to know someone in a way you can’t any other way.

It happened to me the other week. I was talking to a friend of many years. He wasn’t a close friend, but I really respect him. Anyway, we’d never actually talked about our reading preferences before, but he asked me if I’d ever read the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. Well, that series is honestly my favourite EVER, so I got all animated and we had a great discussion. I’d never picked him as someone who would like that type of book, and it was great getting to know him a bit better. We had found a new connection to add to our friendship – through a book.

So, on a Monday morning when you get back to work, or school, and someone says, “What did you do this weekend?” Why not reply, “I finished this awesome book.”

You might find someone else jumps into the conversation, “Oh, I’ve read that, too. I loved it.” And someone else will say, “You know what’s a bit like that?” And then they’ll give you a great book recommendation.

And before you know it you’re having a really fun discussion, and getting to know someone else better at the same time.

So, I’m giving up on my resolution to never make New Year resolutions. In 2016, I resolve to talk to more people about books.

January – New Releases

by Patrick Hodges

Several great books to tell you about this month!


1/7 – Through His Eyes (An Institute Series Novella) by Kayla Howarth

Through His EyesIn a fraction of a second, his life ended. Death was merely a consequence the Resistance often faced. And Chad was ready, willing to accept his fate. But he didn’t expect to be rejected by the afterlife.

Chad finds himself in a state of limbo, standing on the sidelines as his loved ones try to move on with their lives. This cruel twist of fate has Chad questioning his earthly purgatory. There stands a reason, he just has to find it.

Filling in the lost months between Resistance and Defective in The Institute Series, Through His Eyes follows Chad and his search for final peace.

Genre: YA/Dystopian

Visit Kayla.’s Amazon Author Page HERE


1/7 – Seirsha of Errinton (Book 3 in the Eldentimber Series) by Shari L. Tapscott


SeirshaPrincess Seirsha’s lived her life in the shadow of her father, keeping herself distant and aloof. But after her involvement in the death of the male heir to the Errintonian throne, Seirsha’s defenses begin to crumble. The search for another successor begins, and the one man with the power to strip away the princess’s walls steps back into her life.

She knows she should keep her distance from Lord Rigel—the only man in Errinton with a legitimate claim to her father’s throne—but when the king orders her to keep the dark lord close so she may spy on him, the princess must make a choice. With another Dragon War looming and Errinton’s oppressed rising against their leaders, will Seirsha betray her blood or turn her back on Rigel—the man she’s loved her entire life?

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Visit Shari’s blog HERE


1/25 – Choices by Michelle Lynn

ChoicesHappiness is something you have to choose again and again, each day.

Michaela Matthews wants that more than anything. Standing in her way is a family pushing her down a specific path and the man she loves preventing her from choosing anything different. When she moves to the city for the next step in her parent’s plan, she starts to figure out what she wants – or more importantly, what she doesn’t want.

Jason Marks has had the kind of life where things have seemed to just happen to him, no choice involved at all. He is a business owner, surrounded by people that love him. But, he isn’t in love. He’s not even sure he believes in it. Not anymore. At least, not until a heartbroken girl falls apart in his arms. It’s enough to make him a believer. Make him a dreamer. Enough to force him to answer that question. Do you give all of yourself to someone who might not choose you in return?

Yes. Yes, you do.  

Genre: Romance/Contemporary

Visit Michelle’s Amazon Author Page HERE


1/28 – Fall of the Dreamer (Dreamer Trilogy, Book 2) by L.J. Higgins 

Fall of the DreamerEnjoying her new life in Sandhaven after the events of the year before, Amelia feels like she has it all – great friends, a home by the beach, a job that she loves, and a handsome boyfriend.

But a new threat is brewing in the city; the Cambiar Virus is spreading fast and people are dying. Amelia does not want to give up her peaceful life, but someone must fight for those who are unaware of the danger they’re in.

With Cameron acting strange, her friendship with Sarah strained, and her relationship with Jonah growing more complicated, the last thing Amelia wants is to put her personal life aside and get involved in another life threatening situation.

But she doesn’t have a choice.

Genre: YA/Science Fiction

Visit L.J.’s website HERE


1/28 – Catchpenny by Sarah Wathen

CatchpennyMeg Shannon was rarely surprised. She was an independent, self-confident, intelligent young woman, and she’d stopped caring about the labels people born on the “right” side of the tracks in Shirley County slapped on her.

So when quarterback Tristan Jameson walked up to her at lunch and flat out asked her to Homecoming, she refused to be surprised then either.  But he seemed nervous, as if he truly cared what her answer would be. Maybe, just maybe…he actually liked her.

But to believe that would be dangerous. Raise the stakes. Sure, Meg was brave, but was she willing to risk everything?

Sarah Wathen’s edgy, fast-paced serial novel is finally released in its complete form, with a new epilogue never before published!

Genre: YA/Romance

Visit Sarah’s website HERE


1/29 – Into Light by T.D. Shields


Into LightPoppy escaped the assassins who killed her father and found friendship, love, and a new family in the ruins of Denver, a harsh wilderness home to carnivorous plants, mutant animals, and dangerous people.

But simply building a new life for herself is not enough. With the help of her friends and allies, Poppy must return to Goodland and confront the man who shattered her perfect life. She will do whatever it takes to stop him before he can destroy the peace and the people she has vowed to protect.


Genre: YA/Dystopian

Visit T.D.’s Amazon Author Page HERE

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