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YA Author Rendezvous

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

An Interview in Pictures with Lauren Mayhew

An Interview in Pictures with Lauren Mayhew

By Michelle Lynn

You can learn a lot about a person through the things they see, the things they find important. Sometimes it is a bigger insight into their life than their words. 

So let’s look inside the mind, inside the life, of an author. I’ve asked them to answer each question with a single picture. No caption. Just an image. 

  1. A picture that you think represents who you are.

    lauren 1

    2. A real-life picture that could have been taken in the world of one of your books.

    lauren 2

  2. Do you have a writing companion (pet or child)?

    lauren 3

    4. Your favorite book of all time.

    lauren 4

  1. Your bookshelf.

    lauren 5

  2. A picture that represents something you love to do (outside of writing or reading).

    lauren 6

  1. Favorite place (Beach, mountains, city, etc.)

    lauren 7

  1. Something that makes you smile.

    lauren 8

  2. Something that inspires you.

    lauren 9

 

From Lauren: I’m a twenty-four year old dreamer from England, with a passion for the written word – I hope you enjoy the worlds that I have created for your enjoyment.


Lauren is a talented Young Adult author and can be found in many places:

Amazon
Facebook
Website

YA Author Rendezvous

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Character Inspiration: People You Know

Character Inpiration: People You Know by Author Lauren Mayhew

Character Inspiration People You Know - Lauren Mayhew Author - YA Author RendezvousThis one may seem obvious, but I think it’s worth writing about. You don’t have to copy someone that you know completely, as that may be a bit too obvious if they ever pick your book up, but you can take certain traits from them.

For example, my first book ‘Reality is in a Dream’ has two characters that are exaggerated forms of two of my old school friends. Certain events that take place in the book involving the main character, Liliana, actually took place during my time at school. It’s quite funny, because I once had a reviewer tell me that she thought these character’s actions were not believable, and yet it actually happened to me.

Obviously, you don’t need to take their names, you don’t want anyone to be offended, especially if the character is one of the villains, but certain things that they may have said, or small mannerisms are a great way to begin the development of a character.

“Write what you know.” – Mark Twain. In the case of characters, I feel this to be true. It’s much easier to write about someone that you know, rather than starting a character from scratch. If you’ve been bullied in the past, use that bully to write a character with an unsavoury nature. If someone has said something that made you feel happy, use it. It’s as simple as that.

Many authors take reference from people that they’ve encountered in real life, and use them to create some of the best characters ever written. For example, Hermione Granger is based on J.K. Rowling. Rowling herself admitted that she was so like Hermione in school, and so she put a little of herself into the Harry Potter world.

You’ll be surprised how quickly a character can blossom into something you didn’t expect, taking your story places you never thought it could go. You may start off being inspired by somebody that you know, or at least knew a long time ago, but they’ll usually end up being completely different by the last page.


Want more from Lauren? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted on the YAAR website with the express permission of Lauren Mayhew.

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May-July New Releases

So many great new books from our group this summer!!

 

transcendent5/29 – Transcendent (The Descendant Series Book 3)
by L.J. Amodeo

In the anticipated final book of the Descendant Series, tyranny, betrayal and chaos erupt across the realms.

To trust those you believe would never deceive you would be a grave mistake.

In the belly of the beast, Dante will stop at nothing to wield dominant power of all the realms, while the Trinity summons the Circle of Seven to unleash an attack on the beastly Abigarian and Hellion armies. Will Elizabeth allow the forces of the Dark Realm and coven witches to inflict their wrath, or will she find a way to bring to light the Prophecy of the Three, ending Dante’s pursuit of becoming the supreme lord?

Elizabeth, the transcendent child and the legion of angels must fight against the lies, destruction, and chaos of the Dark Realm in an attempt to stop Dante once and for all..

Purchase Transcendent HERE

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tenuous

5/30 – Tenuous (The Astralis Series Book 2)
by K.J. McPike

After the tumultuous months following her sixteenth birthday, Lali Yavari just wants life to go back to the way it was before—before her mother left, before she discovered she could astral project, and most of all, before she met Kai. But the boy she would prefer to avoid pops up in her life again, and this time it’s a matter of life and death. When the unthinkable happens, Lali is determined to use her brothers’ time traveling abilities to make things right. Unfortunately, no one warned her that trying to change the past could result in getting stuck there…

Return to the captivating, unpredictable world of the Astralis series in this breathtaking follow-up to the award-winning XODUS.

Purchase Tenuous HERE

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torn by blood

5/31 – Torn By Blood (The Iron Series Book 4)
by J.N. Colon

She’s not safe from the darkness. She’s not safe from him.

Kory is now a full time student at Amarose Academy and a whole new set of dangers surround her. Her parents’ secrets are beginning to unravel, revealing a web of lies so thick and twisted she’s not sure who the real enemy is. And to make matters worse, her broken heart is leaving her vulnerable to Kye’s darkness lurking around every corner. Taunting her. Tempting her.

As Kory struggles with her conflicting emotions and Rex tries to prove he’s worthy of her trust again, chaos erupts in the ferrum world, threatening their very existence. She must decide where her loyalties lie even if she doesn’t have all the answers.

Nothing is as it seems and when Kye’s ultimate goal is revealed, will Kory’s connection with Rex be enough to save her? Or will she let the darkness win, dooming not only Rex but the entire world?

Purchase Torn By Blood HERE

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phantom light

6/12 – Phantom Light: A Phantoms Novella
by Jessica Hawke

“If you hold onto this world hard enough, you’ll get a grasp on it. But it will get a grasp on you, too, and you won’t be able to decide anymore that you’re ready to go.”

When Valerie Young wakes up from a horrific accident to a world gone gray and cold, she wants to believe anything but the truth of what happened. But as she struggles to accept the dreaded d-word, time is slipping away for her to move on to the afterlife. When she realizes her younger sister has been irreparably altered by the accident, Valerie must choose between a chance at peace and the cold reality of existence as a restless spirit.

 

Purchase Phantom Light HERE

 

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summertime

6/30 – The Adventures of Charlie Chameleon: Summertime
by Ellen Buikema

The Chameleons’ vacation is off to a bumpy start. Frankie, the family fish, causes trouble on the plane. Papa gets lost driving in the mountains trying to find Mystery Lake, where Frankie is sure mermaids lurk.
When the family returns home Charlie’s old friend, Tamika, visits him and meets his new friends. At a summer soccer game, Boris sees Tamika and is smitten.

These multicultural stories are intended for second and third grade students as well as advanced first graders to read independently. Children ages three through nine will enjoy the antics of the characters in the Charlie books. To the author’s surprise, these books are being enjoyed by a wider audience than expected.

Reading the series helps children develop empathy and cultivate insight into their lives. The stories cover situations children typically encounter like getting lost, moving, starting a new school, making friends, family vacations, working in a team, and dealing with bullies using a positive method.

The animals possess human characteristics. Charlie Chameleon takes Frankie the fish wherever he goes. If the fish in Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat represents the Superego, Frankie, one of the feistier characters in the series, is all Id. Frankie wants everything, and he wants it right now.

Each chapter ends with one or more activities for children and parents or teachers to do together, related to the actions in the stories.

 

Purchase Summertime HERE

 

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beyond the sanctified

7/14 – Beyond the Sanctified (The Sevens Prophecy Book 3)
by Amalie Jahn

The Sevens Prophecy
(With Regard to the End of Days)

“There will come a day when seven psychic children of the light and seven psychic children of the dark will be born. From the moment of their birth, strong powers will be in place to bring the seven light together and the seven dark together to form two separate but equally powerful groups. The first seven to gather all in one place will seal the fate of the world – dark for hell, light for heaven. At that point the seven deadly sins will take over the world or cease to exist.”

Although Mia and Thomas have successfully unified six of the seven light psychics foretold of in the ancient Sevens Prophecy, it’s not enough to seal the fate of the world for the light. Now the only way to conquer evil is to prevent the dark psychics from gathering. But tracking them down is proving more difficult than they first anticipated and time is running out, especially now that the dark psychics are coming after them.

As both sides of the prophecy gather, which group will ultimately decide the fate of the world?

Pre-order Beyond the Sanctified HERE

 

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revolt

7/18 – Revolt: Book Four of the Resistance Series
by Tracy Lawson

To Deny Freedom is to Deny the Human Spirit.

Fugitive Resistance fighter Tommy Bailey has come out of hiding to help rescue Careen Catecher from the clutches of the Office of Civilian Safety and Defense, where she’s been held and interrogated for information about the rebel group. The OCSD is poised to launch the Cerberean Link, a security device that will put all minors under constant surveillance under the guise of protecting them.

Fearful that OCSD director Madalyn Davies’s bid for control won’t stop there, the Resistance puts its own plan in motion to sabotage the Link and oust Madalyn from the directorship. Just when everything seems leveraged in the Resistance’s favor, treachery, lies, and long-held secrets threaten to derail it all.

Will even a life together on the run be impossible for Tommy and Careen? Or will the Resistance’s efforts convince the public to put their fears aside and demand freedom?

Pre-order Revolt HERE

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the conclave

7/21 – The Conclave (The Converters Trilogy Book 3)
by Tenille Berezay

Having escaped the dangers of The Keep, Desiree is determined to free Blake. But when a government-enhanced converter goes rogue, the ensuing battle for power, control, and lives makes Blake’s rescue a secondary mission. As Desiree struggles to overcome past demons and new, stifling expectations, she faces converters more powerful, dangerous, and desperate than ever. To protect those she loves, redeem the convergence, overtake The Keep, and honor the Conclave, Desiree will have to redefine her future.

THE CONCLAVE is the intense, action-packed final book in the Converters trilogy; the conclusion of Desiree’s journey.

 

Pre-order The Conclave HERE

 

Author Spotlight – Amalie Jahn

An Interview with author Amalie Jahn

By Michelle Lynn

amalie

Amalie Jahn is a brilliant young adult author. She writes multiple series including some of the best time-travel books I have read. Her stories deserve some recognition and I am happy to introduce her to the readers of the Young Adult Author Rendezvous.

 

  1. What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

The Clay Lion Series includes three YA time travel books which are each stand-alones in their own right – The Clay Lion, Tin Men, and A Straw Man. Each book follows a different main character on a trip back in time to save someone they love. In The Clay Lion, Brooke travels back in time in an attempt to save her brother Branson’s life. In Tin Men, Charlie searches for his birth parents. And in A Straw Man, Melody tries to save her boyfriend, Nate, from the throws of addiction. I’ve also written an NA trilogy called the Sevens Prophecy Series about a group of psychic strangers who are destined to save the world.

  1. Who’s your favorite character from your books?

When you spend hundreds of hours with your characters day in and day out, crafting their personalities and sharing in their triumphs as well as their defeats, they become part of your family. So, choosing the one you love best is a bit like picking your favorite child. Diplomatically, I enjoy them all for different reasons, but if you’re making me choose just one, I supposed Brooke would be my favorite. There’s a lot of me inside of her, from her dogged perseverance to her desire to control the uncontrollable. Sharing her journey was a way for me to sort out some of my own issues, and I’ll always be grateful to her for that.

  1. Time travel – probably one of the coolest, but also most difficult ideas to write about. What were some of the challenges you faced in dealing with it?

The idea for the story about time travel came to me in a dream. I woke up and jotted clay liondown a few notes so I wouldn’t forget them. When I revisited my ideas at the start of the manuscript I began to realize that a lot of what was plausible in my subconscious imagination would not work realistically in the world I wanted to create for my characters. I struggled a lot with the fundamentals of how time travel was going to work in my world, and those struggles manifest themselves in many middle-of-the-night rewriting sessions, when I would wake up in a cold sweat realizing entire chapters would have to change because theoretically the timelines just wouldn’t sync. For example, in an early draft Brooke’s parents remembered Branson’s initial death after her first trip back in time, but of course that would be quite impossible because by going back in time, Brooke started along a new timeline in which she was the only one with any memory of that first death. There was also the issue of Brooke traveling inside her own conscious to avoid the possibility of running into her past or future self during her trips. I made rules for myself and then immediately break them. It nearly drove me mad. And although I’d like to say writing about time travel got easier as I made my way through the series, the struggle continued with the second and third books. I did the best I could with the challenges time travel presented, but at the end of the day I just had to trust that readers would read past the small plot holes and focus more on the storyline. I’m happy to report this seems to be the case.

  1. I’m a huuuuge fan of your books and one of the things that always amazes me is that even though time travel plays a big role, they don’t seem like science fiction books. The storylines seem more about relationships than the details of actually traveling back in time. Was this on purpose?

Absolutely. I’m not really a big sci-fi girl. I enjoy a good Star Trek episode as much as the next person, but what has always been the most important thing to me as a reader is my connection with the characters. I have to be invested. I have to feel what they’re feeling in a way that immerses me in their world. I wanted The Clay Lion to be Brooke’s story, her journey out of a dark place and into the light. Time travel was simply the means to propel her forward on that path of discovery. With that being said, as readers move through the series, the characters begin to delve more deeply into the more specific ramifications of time travel. Melody’s experience in A Straw Man is a deeply disturbing with regard to the significant damage it can cause.

  1. The Clay Lion is probably one of the most heart-wrenching books I’ve read. It’s a love story, but I found it also to be about family and learning some hard life lessons. How do you balance a desire to write about romance with a story filled with grief and so much pain?

Isn’t that the balance of life – taking the good with the bad and making room for them both? I knew what was eventually going to pull Brooke out of her depression in the midst of her grief was love, in all its forms. She starts out so broken, but when she allows the love back in, the healing process begins. I believe this is true in life, that love helps us overcome, and I wanted the simplicity of a blossoming romance to help Brooke find her way. As an author, I couldn’t keep taking from her without eventually giving something in return.

  1. What authors have inspired you to write?

Oh jeez, so many. From my childhood: Judy Blume, V.C. Andrews, Jerry Spinelli. The first book that taught me about the emotional power of the written word was Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson. I read a ton of Dean Koontz in my twenties and still revere him for his prolific body of work. The author that made me want to become a writer, however, was Christina Schwarz. I distinctly remember reading Drowning Ruth and thinking “I want to write like this someday.” I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.

  1. What age were you when you started writing?

I remember writing fiction as early as second grade. I wrote short stories in little steno notebooks I kept hidden under my bed. My spelling was atrocious (still is!), but I learned at a very young age how writing could be used as an escape and a way to sort out problems one story at a time. It’s always been a form of catharsis for me.

  1. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Yes and no. Sometimes when I sit down to the computer I’m not sure how a particular scene is going to play out or (more rarely) what comes next. At those times, I either let my characters take over or work on something else for a day or two until the perfect solution presents itself. Most times, if I’m stuck, I force myself to write through it, knowing I can always come back and revise if necessary.

  1. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

among tsYes to both. I always have some sort of rough idea of where the story is headed, but it’s never very detailed. I liken it to knowing that I want to drive across the United States from New York to California, and I know I want to see Cincinnati and Las Vegas along the way, I just don’t know exactly how I’m going to get there. The characters make those more specific decisions for me. Which roads to take. Which detours to make. I love it when they surprise me along the way with ideas of places to stop I hadn’t even imagined.

  1. Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

Wait. They aren’t?

  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?

Oh, yes. When it came to publishing I basically did everything wrong because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. If I had to go back again I would be more patient. I would have spent more time learning about the industry before diving in head first. With that being said, my publishing journey has been an amazing learning experience as well as one of the greatest joys of my life, missteps and all.

  1. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Absolutely. The final book in the Sevens Prophecy Series is due out this summer, and I’m patiently waiting for a release date for a YA contemporary I’ve written about a farm girl from Iowa named Tess Goodwin who moves to North Carolina when her father reenlists in the Army after September 11th. It’s a friendship story (and a love story) about Tess finding acceptance in the last place she’s expecting.

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

tinWell, I believe you can’t actually call yourself and author until someone tells you your book is “garbage.” Thankfully I’ve only encountered a few comments as painful as that. I know most publishers encourage their authors not to read reviews, but can’t help myself. The truth is, as much as the good ones brighten my days, the critical ones often shed light on areas I need to focus on improving. I think the trick is not falling under the delusion that just because your body of work is successful as a whole that you don’t need to continue growing in your craft. Learn how to tighten the plot, be more descriptive, or improve the flow of dialogue. I know that I can always do better and that my readers deserve the best work I can produce. And as for the best compliment I’ve gotten? Nothing makes me happier that when I hear I’ve made a reader cry. Knowing someone has connected with my characters at such a deeply emotional level makes reading the handful of “garbage” comments worth it.

  1. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Don’t give up.

Keep pushing yourself to try new techniques.

Write the story inside you, not the story you think will sell a million copies.

Read a lot. Then read some more.

Find a good editor.

Believe in yourself.

  1. Do you have any strange writing habits?

It has to be quiet when I write. No music. No television. No kids playing in an adjoining room. I have a desk set up on my treadmill, and I walk while I write so I’m not sitting on my butt all day. I go pretty slow, though, because I’ve found if I walk too fast my brain doesn’t get enough oxygen and my writing gets pretty mushy. About 3.5 mph is my max before I’m spouting nothing but gibberish.

What others are saying about Amalie Jahn:

“There’s a very profound message hidden in these pages. You get glimpses of it throughout but you don’t truly understand it until the very end of the story.”

“It will tear your heart out of your chest and piece it back together again, stronger than it was before. You will experience every emotion from A to Z and back again, and you will have grown as a person for having read it.”


You can find Amalie Jahn on Facebook HERE!

Check out Amalie Jahn’s website to learn more HERE!

See Amalie Jahn’s page at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE!

Check out more of our blog posts HERE!

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Flash Fiction: Scrambled

Flash Fiction: Scrambled by Author Debbie Manber Kupfer

“Mrs. Dumpty is just as klutzy as her husband. Why they can’t just stay off that wall it beats me.” The King sighed. He’d tried sending in his men and the horses again. Didn’t work though. One of these days he’d give up and just make a huge pan of scrambled egg.

But today wasn’t the day for that. Today was Valentine’s Day. So he’d call in Cupid.

“Can’t do it,” said Cupid. “Not my area.”

“Don’t care,” countered the King. “You owe me a favor. Remember that stray arrow last year?”

“Yeah, I remember. You’re never going to let me forget that, are you? I’ll see what I can do.”

“Cheers mate. If anyone can get the Dumptys back together I know it’s you.”

Cupid flew down the wall. The Dumptys lay on the floor groaning. It looked bad, real bad. He worked for three hours straight but in the end had to call the King back.

“I’m sorry your majesty.” He sighed. “Even I couldn’t bring them back together.”


Want more from Debbie? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Lauren Mayhew with the express permission of Debbie Manber Kupfer.

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Author Spotlight – Susan Faw

An Interview with author Susan Faw

By Michelle Lynn

susan

 

Susan Faw is a Young Adult author who writes intriguing and award winning fantasy books. Her stories can be enjoyed by readers of all ages from young adult on into old age, you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

  1. 1. What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

My titles, in order, are:

Soul Survivor
Seer of Souls
Soul Sanctuary
Soul Sacrifice

These titles make up The Spirit Shield Saga. It is now a complete series.

The books follow the struggles of a fractured family of godlings, struggling to control the souls of the world. When sibling rivalry is elevated to the level of the gods, survival is highly over rated!

  1. Who’s your favorite character from your books?

I seem to do evil antagonist really well. I think I have had a lot of experience with the evil side of mankind so it lends to limitless fodder to feed on, when creating my evil characters. So my vote goes to Helga.

  1. Alright, I have to do this one. You just won the overall at the Chanticleer book awards. That’s a big deal! How do you feel?

seerOMG how do I feel? Shocked. Amazed. I keep checking the awards on my wall (I put them in a shadow box to protect them) to make sure they are still there, like they might vanish or something. I think all authors are introverts at heart, so I keep looking for the other author with the same name. There must be a mistake, right?

It just goes to show that you can have a crap load of bad reviews (I have plenty, and those early troll-baited “DNF 36%” reviews hurt. Badly. I actually had Seer of Souls scheduled for a new round of edits I thought it was that bad. I was supposed to start them in January. I postponed them because making the first cut. And then the second cut. I mean you can’t mess with a manuscript that is in the running, right?

I always thought I could write. The biggest thing, for me, about this win is the sense of VALIDATION. It’s not just me saying this. Someone else says it, and not because I begged, not because I traded favours. The impartiality of it means so much!

  1. So, fantasy, huh? I’m a massive fan of the world you’ve created in Seer of Souls. What is the biggest challenge to writing in a genre where everything has to be made from your own mind?

Well, I live in a world of my own making every day. So do my characters. I think we both live in the same world, so it’s more like we visit back and forth. I like to live in their world more than mine, so I do! And if I really get stuck I go find some wacky element to bring into play and watch how my characters react to it, such as the flutes or the soul fetches. Adding an unusual element always gets the creative juices flowing!

  1. Gods living among humans has been done before many times, yet you still manage to pull something unique out of it. What’s your secret? – promise we won’t tell <;

I think most other series have left them as gods. I liked the idea of the gods sacrificing themselves to save the world. It’s a very common religious theme, right? But forgetting that they did so makes it fun, as the quest to discover who they are becomes a race to their own doom. (I am trying to not give away too much here, so I will say no more!)

  1. What authors have inspired you to write?

Hands down, JK Rowling, and Robert Jordan, for the uniqueness of their series and their seer 2skill at their craft. I also credit Brandon Sanderson, more so for his podcast, Writing Excuses. It was the first podcast I listened to, to learn the craft of writing a book, especially fantasy. His podcast was pivotal in my growth and eventual decision to become an author.

  1. What age were you when you started writing?

If you consider writing to be story-telling, then I have been writing since before I could write. When my sister and I were about four or five, we would play this game where we would pick a picture at random from the National Geographic and we would have to create, on the spot, a story to explain the picture. We would play this for hours and I can remember laughing at the silly stories we came up with.

  1. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

I would call it more writer’s slow down. Most writer’s block is, simply not understanding where your story is going. For me, I am pantster through and through. I never know where it’s going. So what I do is throw in one of those random elements again, and figure it out from there. For example, I dropped a meteor on Ryder’s band in Seer of Souls, where it wiped out half of a village. I left it completely unexplained because I didn’t know where it came from either. But then in Soul Sanctuary, I figured it out. It was an explosion from the mountain during one of Helga’s experiments. She was responsible for it :-p. Whew. That was a close one…

  1. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

Pantser baby, all the way! I find outlines kill my creativity. I have an over-arching idea of where the story is going, but it’s more like A,B,C, you know, the three act structure, than an outline.

  1. Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

Yes, and not just my characters but other people’s characters too. I really wish I could meet Harry Potter. Just once.

  1. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

seer 3When I finished writing Seer of Souls, I really had no idea what to do with it next. Those podcasts from Brandon Sanderson were craft related, and he is a traditionally published author, so he really didn’t address the indie world. I knew people were indie publishing but I had no idea what to do or where to start. I had a friend who was an editor (she is retired now) and she pointed me towards some people I should be following (Kristen Lamb was one of the first, and Rachel Thompson) and it was through the connection with Rachel Thompson that I heard about Booktrope. I queried twice before being accepted in. Booktrope was a hybrid small press, and I got my start there, for they took my book and helped me find my editor and my cover designer, who are still with me to this day. They helped me get Seer of Souls published, in February of 2016 before they closed their doors on May 1st, 2016.  It was the start I needed and after that closure, I had learned enough to take it to the next phase as a fully independent author.

  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?

Not really. I needed the help to figure everything out. I will be forever grateful to Booktrope for giving me the foot up. Their model was unique, a blend of indie and traditional. I was sad to see it go down.

  1. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

As The Spirit Shield Saga is now complete, I am working on a brand new series entitled “The Heart Of The Citadel”. It will be a series combining dragons and djinn (genies)…or if you wish (say it aloud with me) Djinn and Dragons! Hahaha

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

The toughest criticism has been that my characters lack development. Patently false, but it still stings.  My best compliment? From a reader, that they couldn’t put the book down and stayed up all night just to finish it.

From a reviewer, came this email, from the Book Pipeline Competiton, just after my Chanticleer win.

Dear Susan,
With regards to your submission for the 2016 Book Pipeline Competition, below is the internal feedback from our judges, commenting primarily on the entry’s film or TV potential. Although the notes are relatively brief, we trust this will help give you a bit of insight into our process.

Seer of Souls

This piece is incredibly well-written. The vivid exposition and intrigue, engaging plot design and heightened stakes all exposed in the opening chapter acted as clear evidence to the writer’s skillful abilities in the fantasy genre. This narrative felt as though it had the potential to reach the heights of an epic fantasy series like LORD OF THE RINGS while at the same time adding something new and fresh in the midst of familiar tones and fantasy elements. Immortals being born as human beings and a magic system that finds its roots in established fantasy works added with the maturity of a well-established voice all came together with the potential of creating an excellent fantasy-adventure. There is no doubt that the writing employs the use of large cinematic descriptions that would translate very well to screen and if this narrative’s execution proves as provoking as the writing style, it could very well attract producers and studios interested in finding the next epic fantasy film.”

  1. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Write what you love. Write with passion. Write the best you can, being conscious of quality and heart. Do this, rinse, repeat. We write because we love to tell stories. So tell them!

  1. Do you have any strange writing habits?

I listen to a CD of Lord Of The Rings music over and over and over, by Peter Hollens. It becomes mood music.

I also write on the deck under my patio umbrella. I will spend all day there in the summertime. I love to write outside.

What others are saying about Susan:

“I love fantasy if it’s well-written. The world-building has to be competent, the characters engaging and the plot well-realized and significantly short on holes. Susan Faw’s Seer of Souls checked all three boxes.”

“A great edition to an over saturated genre, and the author has real talent holding the reader’s attention through the complex storyline.”


Susan can be found on Facebook HERE!

Check out Susan’s book page at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE!

You can see some of our other posts HERE!

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Character Inspiration: People Watching

Character Inpiration: People Watching by Author Lauren Mayhew

Character Inspiration People Watching - Lauren Mayhew Author - YA Author RendezvousI love to people watch. I could literally watch people all day. Some of them are just so fascinating.

Have you ever been sat somewhere, and watched a person run through a town centre? Did a part of you ever wonder what they were up to? Did you then find yourself creating a scenario in your head about what it is they’re doing? If you did, then you’ve essentially created a character. If you’ve never done this, you’re seriously missing out!

Nobody is the same, and I’m not talking about skin colour, ethnicity, or accents. Nobody walks in the same way. Some people have limps, others drag their feet, and you’ll get the occasional person who seems to bob up and down with each step taken. What gave them their limp? Why do they drag their feet? Are they bobbing because they have an anti-gravity power that makes it difficult for them to keep their feet on the ground? Too far… Maybe, but you see what I mean, don’t you?

You only have to watch someone for a minute or two, and a character will emerge from them. 99% of the time, you’ll get everything wrong about them, but they don’t need to know what you’re thinking. As long as you’ve got that one character, the spark will ignite into a story line.

Only the other day, I was out walking with my mum and my sister, and a car sped past us down the road. It had to brake quite suddenly to avoid smashing into the car in front. All of us thought the same thing, ‘What a [insert expletive here]!’ He then sped off once the car in front had turned into another road, and my mum said, ‘He must be late for his dinner.’

To which I replied, ‘Or he’s been having an affair at work, and didn’t realise what the time was. He doesn’t want his wife to get suspicious, so he needs to get home on time.”

And suddenly I have a character, and the beginnings of a story. It’s not the sort of story I would write myself, I’m more of a Paranormal Fantasy writer, but it would work for someone.

It’s so simple to spend ten minutes every day observing those around us. Some people can do some fascinating things when they think no-one’s looking!


Want more from Lauren? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Lauren on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted on the YAAR website with the express permission of Lauren Mayhew.

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Author Spotlight: T.L. McDonald

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An Interview with T.L. McDonald

By: Michelle Lynn

What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

I have three books out right now in a completed trilogy, The Marked Series. The first book is titled Marked, followed by Fated, and Redemption. My series is a young adult urban fantasy about a 17-year-old girl who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and inadvertently gets caught up in a prophesy foretelling the start of the apocalypse at the hands of a chosen one with dual fates. He’ll either become the world’s savior, or it’s destroyer, but which path he takes will be directly influenced by the choices she makes.

Who’s your favorite character from your books?

Of course I love my main three characters Hanna, Jared, and Will, but I have to admit—and maybe this is bad—but Blondie, the villain of the story just might be my favorite. He was just so much fun to write.

Your debut series is a paranormal of epic proportions with all of the markedexciting staples of the genre. What was the most difficult aspect of writing in a genre that is so incredibly popular right now?

Being unique. There’s a lot of things the paranormal genre has in common, a formula so to speak, and I wanted to try my hand at being a little different, which I hope I accomplished. Instead of dreamy fallen angels the main character falls in love with, mine are malicious and sinister. Instead of my main character discovering she has supernatural abilities and that she’s been different all along without knowing it, her abilities come from a transference of power when she’s marked with a mystical symbol by a dying boy in a side alley outside a club.

Cliff Hangers. We love to hate them, but YA fiction has embraced them completely. Did you worry about how readers would react when your first book ended this way? Was there a strategy to the madness?

I did, but I had hope and crossed my fingers that it would be a good reaction, lol. Personally, I love a good cliffhanger because it makes me excited to read the next book in the series and that was my goal for my readers. I wanted the book to stick with them. I wanted them to shout out, “Oh my, I have got to find out what happens next.”

In Marked, it seems like secrets are the name of the game. Everyone has them and they drive the story, but you managed to reveal them slowly as the book progressed so as not to overload the reader. Can you tell us something about untangling such a web? How do you make a complicated story simple for the reader?

Raw talent. Ha ha. Just kidding. An outline or a general sense of your beginning and ending is the most important thing. Though I’m usually not one to have a detailed outline because I like the story to progress naturally, I did keep notes—mostly in the form of sticky notes plastered all over my work area—to help keep track of things. I wanted the book to feel organic and grow so to speak, so it was important to reveal things slowly just like how it would be revealed in real life because if everything is laid out all up front, it would make for a very boring book. I wanted the reader to become just as invested as the main character was in figuring out what was going on.

What authors have inspired you to write?

R.L. Stine was the first author that inspired me. I’ve always loved the horror genre and I used to gobble up his Fear Street books like they were candy. I used to read them and think Someday I’m going to do this. Tahereh Mafi also inspired me. I read her Shatter Me series and completely fell in love with the style, so much so that I completely rewrote Marked, changing it from 3rd person past tense to 1st person present tense.

What age were you when you started writing?

I was young, like somewhere between 6 and 8 years old. Of course back then my stories were barely legible and made no sense, and were always of the horror genre. I’ve still got them tucked away in a box somewhere. It’s fun to go back and look at them every now and then. After that, it’s all I ever wanted to do and I’d write every chance I got, whether it was for my friends or to fill out a journal in English class, which I did by the way in high school. We were supposed to turn in two pages every week, writing about whatever we wanted, so I wrote a book. J

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Yep. I think at some point every writer does. The trick is to just push though it and write even if it’s terrible because you can always go back and fix it during the editing stage. It also helps to find things that inspire you to get the creative juices flowing again, such as listening to music and allowing yourself to daydream, reading a book from your favorite author or genre, watching an addicting TV show, and what if-ing everything. Inspiration can be found everywhere.

Marked book cover symbol

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I like to just write. It feels more natural to me to just let the ideas come as they may. I do however keep notes—on my phone, scraps of paper I find at the bottom of my purse, napkins at a restaurant, on an obscene amount of sticky notes—because I tend to come up with ideas for scenes on the fly and at all hours of the day. The books I write are constantly percolating in the back of my mind with new ideas and directions forming, so I don’t want to be restrained by the traditional sense of an outline.

Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

Actually, I kind of do. When you spend months or years writing your characters they become a part of you, so when you reach the end of the series it sort of feels like you’re moving away and leaving all your friends behind.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

My biggest challenge was pushing the submit button. Sure, I’ve wrote things before that I’ve shared with my friends and family, but this was going to be for the whole world to see. It made me nervous. Of course I ran into other challenges too because I’m a little impulsive and jumped right into the publishing lake without testing the depths of the water first. One of those challenges being the marketing side of things: covers, blurbs, graphics for ads, and so on. There’s just so much to learn, but it’s so worth it if you get to do what you love.

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?

If I could change anything it would be working on the editing portion a bit more with Marked before I submitted. Like I’d said in an earlier question, I tend to be a bit impulsive, and I was just so excited and nervous, but mostly excited to get it out there…typos and all. I’ve since re-edited and re-submitted, but my future goal from now on is to have all the I’s dotted and the t’s crossed before I submit. We all live and learn.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

I’m still in the beginning stages, but I can say it will be a young adult urban fantasy with touches of horror and that the main character will be a hybrid whose blood will have some very unique qualities to it.

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

 

The toughest criticism would probably have to do with my grammar skills…or lack thereof. Commas and I sort of have a love / hate relationship with one another. But as I said before, we live and we learn, and I’d like to thing that commas and I are becoming fast friends. Some of the best compliments I’ve gotten has to be when a reader said my books were just as good as Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments books—which happens to be one of my favorite series—and another said they loved them just as much as Stephanie Myers Twilight series—which I also love. I also had a reader love my series so much they tattooed Hanna’s symbol (from the original cover of Marked) onto their arm.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

My advice would be to have a good support team in place. The writing part is easy; it’s everything else like marketing, for example that can be daunting. Luckily, there are some fabulous Facebook groups out there where you can connect with other authors who are more than willing to help you out and give you feedback. I belong to a few of them and I have to say, I’ve learned a lot.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

I don’t know if it’s strange or not, but I have to have music playing whenever I write. Some people may find that distracting, but I find it inspiring. For me, the music adds to the atmosphere of the world I’m creating.

What others are saying about T.L. McDonald:

“The author does a great job of weaving a vivid tale filled with twists and turns and creating characters that are truly relatable.”

“MARKED is a rollercoaster ride of mystery mixed with the classic YA elements we all know and love, and it sets up perfectly for the next installment in the series.”

“I found the story entertaining and I wanted to read about the characters. I cared about them and I wanted to find out what the mystery was. The author did a good job in creating tension and keeping the mystery interesting for the reader.”


You can find T.L. McDonald at the Young Adult Author Rendezvous HERE!

You can find her on Facebook HERE!

She’s on Goodreads HERE!

Don’t forget to check out some other posts on our blog HERE!

Story Seeds by Susan Faw

Story Seeds by Author Susan Faw

Short stories for when we just need the inspiration.

“I am purity of thought. I am steel sheathed in oil. I am justice made flesh. I am a blade master.”

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The thought skidded across the vacant space where normally lodged his fears, devoid of the normal sensations that fueled it. He packaged the sensations and pushed them into a blackened box, a box that constantly burned. He fed his fears to the flame and the box swallowed the ashes.

He recited the catechism, blocking out hope and despair in equal measure. Emotion had no place in the ritual of the blade. There was only form and shape, steel and flesh. All other realities were extraneous.

His opponent was at least a hand taller, with a corresponding reach, but his advantage lay in his speed, in his ability to dance the swords as light ballerina on pointe. In actual fact he practiced the traditional dance as often with his sister as with other blade masters, as the foot work of the dance gave him a swiftness and lightness of movement missing in most who claimed the title.

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This dexterity had saved his life more than once.

He was not sure it would be enough this time.

Patel stroked the air with his blade, with practice strokes that whirled around his form and the blurring caught the sunlight in a sizzling arc that made his eyes blink bright trailers.

The crowd shifted, gasps and “ooh’s” rising in a wave and murmuring broke out.

Maybe I shouldn’t have challenged the king’s steward. Perhaps that was unwise… he shoved the thought into the box as his concentration wavered. He had no room for doubt. To win this battle would take every ounce of skill he possessed.

He squared with the towering bulk that was Patel, and touched his blade to forehead, then bowed.

Whatever the outcome, he would show himself true. His sister would be avenged. Raw pain lanced across his peace, but this time he stoked it, stroked it. This challenge was for her. Images of her broken body, tossed into a ditch along the roadside flashed into his mind. He held the image of her ravaged body in his vision, feeding his passion and his sense of justice to be served, but the anger, the fear, the grief of loss he fed to the box.

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He would avenge his sister. He would attack swiftly, with all the force he could bring to bear. Full tilt, unto the death. Life was not worth living without her.

“I am purity of thought. I am steel sheathed in oil. I am justice made flesh. I am a blade master.”

He launched himself at Patel, sword a matching blur to Patel’s. A whirlwind of dancing death descended on the unsuspecting steward.

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English Idiom: “Full Tilt”- As fast or forcefully as possible…Originally referring to the combatants’ thrust of a sword or lance this term has been used figurative since about 1700.”

Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.


Want more from Susan? You can check out her books on Goodreads HERE.

Find Susan on the YA Author Rendezvous site HERE.

This was posted by Michelle Lynn with the express permission of Susan Faw.

Author Spotlight: Rebecca Jaycox

rebeccaAn Interview with Rebecca Jaycox

By: Michelle Lynn

What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

I’ve written the first two books of my planned trilogy, “The Inheritance Series.” The first book is “The Other Inheritance,” and the second book is “The Other Queen.” The books are about seventeen-year-old Reggie Lange, who longs to be a normal girl but discovers she has extraordinary powers. The awesome book description says it better than I could.

otherOne girl. Two worlds. Hunted in both.

Seventeen-year-old Reggie Lang is used to dealing with her alcoholic mother and fighting school bullies, but fate has thrown her a curve ball.
A biker dude shows up in her dreams, babbling about magic and a world called the Other. As the incidents keep piling up—like bringing a frog back to life in class—Reggie has to confront the mounting evidence that she’s not the normal girl she craves to be.
Reggie’s life is changing, and she has no idea why. Or whether she should believe the man in her dreams, who claims she’s in danger and that only he can keep her safe. But if there’s one thing Reggie will learn, nowhere is safe.

Who’s your favorite character from your books?

Brwyn, my Elf Changeling. He’s fun, powerful, and sexy. He wasn’t created until the third draft, but I’m so glad I went with my gut.

Fantasy is an exciting, but incredibly challenging genre to write in. What made you choose it to start your writing career?

It chose me. I discovered Star Wars at age 10 and never looked back. I might try contemporary fiction one day, but right now I’m sold on fantasy.

In The Other Inheritance, you’ve created an entirely new world full of magic and also a lot of danger. Can you tell us a little about your world building process?

When I start to write, I sketch out a rough outline of my world and then when I dig into the chapters I start filling in the details. Since my world is magicpunk, I like to look at steampunk images for inspiration.

What was your biggest challenge in writing a story that takes place in a world entirely of your own making?

Keeping track of the details! To make a complete world, you have to have rules and then keep track of those rules.

What authors have inspired you to write?

Some of my favorite genre authors are Ilona Andrews, Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, and Maggie Stiefvater. They write such exciting urban fantasy and fantasy fiction, and I try to measure up to their talents. I haven’t quite gotten there, but they are definitely writers I aspire to be.

What age were you when you started writing?

Ten.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Yes! It’s the worst. I can’t write and then I feel guilty about it. Talk about a vicious cycle.

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

I usually have a rough outline to start with that gives me the freedom to be a pantser a little during the process.

Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

Sure. I’d love to get a drink with Brywn.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

“The Other Queen” just came out on April 1. It’s the second book in my “Inheritance” the other queenseries, and I’m very excited about it.

One world. Two girls. An evil determined to destroy them both.
Reggie has escaped the dark mage, Andrius, and finally made it to her guardian, Rhys. But if she thought things would be easier, fate has other plans.
Her father’s situation is more dire than she first thought, and she learns her mother and best friend are being held hostage by Andrius.
Her dreams are being haunted by the Black Queen, a bizarre, terrified girl begging for Reggie to save her. With her loved ones’ lives hanging in the balance, Reggie and her friends race to devise a plan to defeat Andrius. And the Black Queen could provide the key to breaking the dark mage’s hold on the Other.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Never give up. It will happen. And always try to improve your craft. Find a writing group and listen.

Do you have any strange writing habits?

Um, I can no longer write on my computer. I wrote my latest release “The Other Queen” by hand.

What others are saying about Rebecca Jaycox:

“The excitement and the danger at every turn. It doesn’t let up. I love these kinds of stories- full of magic and adventure. Ms. Jaycox does a brilliant job of including the mystical element without making the book too fantastical and unreal.”

“This book is amazing. It is great to see a female like Reggie who is strong and brave and doesn’t need a man. The character and world building are just amazing.”

“Jaycox’s writing flows effortlessly and draws you completely into the story. Her descriptive passages make you feel as if you are actually in this ‘Other’ world. There was never a dull moment. Chase scenes, magic battles, and hateful evil villains. What more could you ask for?”


You can find more about Rebecca Jaycox at her YAAR page HERE.

Find her on Goodreads HERE.

Find her on Facebook HERE.

Don’t forget to check out more of the blog posts and interviews from YAAR HERE.

Walking the Line – Sex in YA

c118acd3c2a99fb465af4dff36bbc17dWritten by K. R. Conway

If you have ever kicked around on YA blogs,

inevitably you come across posts about sex in Young Adult novels. Nine times out of ten, the post will say something about how books portray these moments, whether accurate or inaccurate, fade to black or way too much details.

I’m going to address the top three myths I see about nookie and YA, because quite frankly, there is a whole variety of what can be deemed as accurate in portraying sex.

Argument 1: Too many YA books paint first time sex as a beautiful experience, when it really is kind of . . . awkward.

My thoughts: True, but this seems more likely if both characters are inexperienced. tumblr_n0jrngdlbv1rizz8go1_1280It doesn’t have to always be portrayed as messy, or clumsy. Sex between characters should be a reflection of who they are as people and as partners. What they do between the sheets (IF they do anything between the sheets, because sex should only appear if it is accurate for the characters), should mirror their lives with one another. I’ve seen it done really well in YA books, and other times I wanted to scream (and not in a good way). Should it be an accurate reflection of real life? Absolutely, but such truths should be echoed in who the characters are without sex, and whether or not one is inexperienced or not. Sex between YA characters can be beautifully drawn, but should be honest. The Gossip Girl do-it-on-the-staircase-stuff I’d avoid. I mean come on . . . those wooden treads would suck!

Argument 2: Fade to black is a cop-out in YA. If your gonna write it, write it!

My thoughts: While some writers give a real play-by-play of sex scenes, I find myself far more impressed by those who show alot without showing alot. Plus – I have a teenaged daughter, and while she is fully aware of “stuff” (and heaven knows the stuff that is shown on TV and film now-a-days) I would rather she not read some graphic scene (not yet anyway). An intimate scene between characters can be portrayed vividly, while maintaining a PG / PG-13 rating.

2120642dcf55ac09bd2160fa5551f531Argument 3: All the girl characters become mindless idiots once kissed, and all the boys are dying to peel their love interest’s clothes off like a tangerine.

My thoughts: Bullcrap. You’re just not reading a wide enough variety of YA to realize that some writers deliberately put their female characters in the driver’s seat when it comes to sex. They are also careful to write both the bad boys that don’t give a damn about consent, along with the ones who make sure their girl / guy are in total control of the situation. Both these issues (girl power in the sack and males who boost the control of their love interests) are a critical part of the Undertow series. I wrote the contrast because I wanted the girls who DID read the series to see and understand what true love looks like (and what it doesn’t, in the case of Ana Lane’s father), and what strong females sound and act like. I’m not the only author who is a “girl power” writer – there are many of us (Sarah Maas, Eva Darrows, Jennifer Armentrout, Mary Pearson, and Holly Black to name but a few). So don’t buy the BS that sex in YA is all “boy he-man, girl fair princess.” Some of us write the warrior chick, right down to the marrow of her bones (and her hormones).

Argument 4: Sex in YA is inappropriate.

My thoughts: Maybe – it depends on the story. It depends on the characters and what the author, editor, and about nine other people who are involved in the book’s evolution believe. At the end of the day, however, the choice between characters on whether to do the deed or not reflects entirely on who they are at that moment in time in their lives and whether or not that moment actually occurs in the time span of the book. Like all choices characters make within the story, sex must be a reflection of who they are, as people (or, uh, monsters), where they came from, and how they see and trust one another.

And sometimes, when we view sex in YA, we simply need to remember what it was to be in love for the first time.

You can read more of K.R. Conway’s blogs here.

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Author Spotlight

An interview with author Paul Mosier

By: Michelle Lynn

  1. What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?

Completed novels begin with Breakfast At Tuli’s, which I self-published in I think 2013. paulIt’s for grown-ups, and about a young woman with a compulsion to have relations with men she finds pathetic or repulsive. It’s narrated by her pet fish, who is in love with her and who is grappling with the hopelessness of his own situation while waiting for Tuli to find happiness. It’s very sweet when you get past the premise. My second novel is called Genre, but I haven’t done anything with it. It examines the origin of characters and the author’s ability to control them while poking fun at writers, writer’s groups, agents and genre fiction. The third is the first I wrote for a younger audience, and is called Story Girl. It is in some ways a young person’s version of Genre, but they are two different stories for sure. In fact 25 year old Shawnee encounters 13 year old Shawnee in a scene that appears in both books. It was right for those stories. Though Tuli and 25 year old Shawnee appear in each others stories in a scene that appears in both Genre and BAT. That was fun. I self-published Story Girl and had the first proof copy delivered to our hotel in Santa Monica for my older daughter’s 11th birthday. The next novel, Train I Ride, is also for younger readers, middle-grade specifically. It’s about a girl who turns 13 while riding a train from Los Angeles to Chicago, and who has nobody in the world but the strangers she meets on the train. Then since this book found me an agent and my agent found me a book deal, I am continuing to write middle grade, which I am happy to do! My next book should be out May 2018, and the one I am wrapping up now May of 2019.

2. Who’s your favorite character from your books?

I feel so much love for the characters in my stories. But since I also believe that happy is the writer whose favorite story is the one he is working on today, I’ll say Summer from Summer and July, the novel which will hopefully be an executed option for a third book from HarperCollins. Summer is a prototypical California Girl who is adventurous and apparently carefree, and who is viewed through the adoring eyes of a girl named Juillet, a gothic girl filled with fake phobias who is visiting Summer’s neighborhood in Santa Monica for the month of July. It’s hard for me not to adore Summer when I’m seeing her as Juillet sees her.

3. In each of your books, your protagonist is a middle-school girl. Can you tell us about the reasons behind that?

storyThe protags of my first two books were women in their 20’s, which is an age that I have some distance and perspective of. I first wrote a novel for younger readers specifically so my older daughter could read me before she aged into the first two I wrote, and I found it really satisfying. It was the novel Junonia by Kevin Henkes that made me feel I could write for 10, 11, or 12 year old kids with an emotional depth that would be satisfying. I should have known before then but I didn’t read much as a kid. Having girls who are now 8 and 13 puts me into their perspectives, and girls have always been more interesting to me than boys. Now that I have a contract that is specifically middle grade, the age is a must, and though I tumble boy characters in my mind, my protagonists always seem to end up as girls.

4. You’re a writer and a father of two girls. How does each of those aspects of your life affect the other?

Being able to share my work with my daughters is really satisfying. My older daughter Eleri in part inspired Maggie from Story Girl. They are big readers, and I think they think it’s pretty cool that I write. Making most of my livelihood as a writer gives me a lot of flexibility, which is a wonderful thing when you love your children and want to be around them. They enrich my life and give me a greater understanding of childhood, though I also remember it awfully well.

5. Were there alternate endings to Train I Ride that you considered?

My editor wanted to see what happened when the train arrives in Chicago. I felt like the ending I wrote was among the best things I could ever write, so I gave her what she wanted by having Rydr’s chaperone rehearse with her what she will be doing, so we see it without ever having to get there. But more to the point, I think, is that I knew that if she was met at the station by a rich uncle it would make the story meaningless and be a great disservice to the many, many children who have lives that resemble Rydr’s. I asked friends who are social workers what happens to a girl in Rydr’s circumstances, and the answers were heartbreaking. Where does she go? The answer is, does anyone want her? Is there a friend whose parents will take her in? Yet I think it ends on an up note. Not because of what she gets, but because of who she has become.

6. What authors have inspired you to write?

I feel like I am more directly inspired by poets and lyricists. In the case of Train I Ride, Elvis Presley and Allen Ginsberg. I didn’t read a lot as a kid. I write more than I read today. I try to read really well when I do read. In the last year that has been Douglas Adams, Harper Lee, Miranda July, George Orwell, and of course my writer friends! But I don’t write because of a love of books or admiration of writers, but because the muse keeps knocking me up.

7. What age were you when you started writing?

I remember writing when I was very young. I asked my dad what I should write a story about when I was about 6, and he said “write about a boy who runs away to join the circus.” I thought that was a terrible idea and asked for a better one. But I paid homage to that moment in Story Girl, decades later. By fifth grade I was ignoring schoolwork during class to write stories to entertain my classmates. I wrote through high school, though my writing was derailed by my being a practicing alcoholic until I was nearly 25. I never write a novel until NaNoWriMo 2011, in the month I turned 47.

8. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Happily I haven’t experienced writer’s block much if ever. Maybe because I believe I paul 2don’t have to see past the hood ornament of the story I’m writing. The day I began Train I Ride I had been writing a memoir-ish thing, and I asked myself when I would have my next novel idea. That afternoon the lyric train I ride, sixteen coaches long entered my head. I thought it sounded like a good first line for a novel, but I didn’t know who said it, boy or girl, man or woman, why they were on the train and where they were going. But I wrote it down, and the rest followed. I think my own head has very little capacity, especially for vast stories. It’s preoccupied with bills and healthcare and that kind of thing. But the muse has a gigantic hard drive, and she knows I believe in her, so she believes in me.

9. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

Mainly I just write, like Dory. Or maybe its swimming that she just does. I end up outlining after I’m well into it, but I believe that if I outline a story before I am deeply involved with it, it can only deprive me of the surprises, the opportunities that may come without one. Outlines make the muse feel sketchy and unwanted.

10. Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?

They aren’t? I guess I don’t really believe that they aren’t real. I do however feel such strong affection for them that I have felt sad at writing the last words, and a sense of duty to them– their entire life is the one that comes through my fingertips, and I want it to be as beautiful as possible. Or stand out of the way of their expressing their beauty. I feel like they’re just characters that the universe presents to me. I don’t create characters, I meet them. If I tried to create a character I think it would be a cliche.

11. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

Breakfast at Tuli’s was a screenplay a few years before I tried to reverse adapt it for NaNoWriMo, which is kind of cheating versus those writing brand new ideas. At least it was my own screenplay, and it was substantially different in that I had to choose who tells the story, and decided upon Tuli’s pet fish, Fish, who is inert in the screenplay. It was a good choice. Then it’s all a challenge, Writing is difficult. Editing it at writer’s group. Having 110 agents say no to it– I think it’s a lovely book but it’s a bit strange. Making the physical book when I finally decided to was comparatively easy. I formerly made my living as a painter so I did the cover. Createspace has tools such that if one’s book looks terrible, there’s nobody but the author to blame. Maybe 200 people have read the book, but I’m very proud of it. Nobody forgets Tuli or Fish.

12. Most of the authors we interview on this blog are self-published or with small publishers, but you’re with HarperCollins. Can you tell us what it’s like to have such a big publishing house behind you?

Having self published I can tell you that it’s SO GREAT TO BE WITH HARPERCOLLINS. I feel very fortunate. The distribution is great– there’s like 20 copies at the library in Singapore. I went to the Powell’s in downtown Portland, where it was a staff pick, and signed the 14 or so copies they had. And then at their airport store in Portland. Having strangers throw back favorite lines to you on Goodreads. But the people at HarperCollins also make it a better book than what I could have done myself. My editorial group edits authors like Neil Gaiman. They’re very good at what they do. From my editor, to the line editor, and the typographer, who is responsible for the whole look of the book, under the jacket and on every page from front to back, and the cover artist, and the marketing people and publicity people, the school visits coordinator– they spend an average of 2000 hours on every book they do, which is considerably more than I did. And it’s everywhere. Because of who they are, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly and everyone else reviews it. Happily all of the six most important reviewers gave it a positive review, three of them starred reviews. And money. An advance that made me consider quitting my job on the spot. So to summarize, IT FEELS AMAZING. I haven’t come down since my wonderful agent called me the morning of July 15, 2015. (takes sip of water.) I feel very lucky. Don’t wake me up.

13.  Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

The second book of my contract is another middle grade novel called Echo’s Sister. It’s paul2different for me in that it bears a strong resemblance to my actual life– it’s about a 12 year old girl whose little sister has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. This is what my family has been going through for the past year and the next year. It’s not our story, but it’s very much informed by it. I don’t think I would have ever been interested in writing about cancer because it sucks and because I’d be superstitious. I initially resisted when it played in my head like a novel, but I think it’s a mistake to refuse the muse. I knew I’d write a happy ending before I began. I finished it about 9 months ago but am wrapping up the edit this week. It’s been difficult for a lot of reasons, but I think it’s gonna be damn good.

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

I don’t take criticism very badly. I usually think I’m right and the critic is wrong. I do take a lot of suggestions at writer’s group. But working with a Big 5 editor is a new experience. If you pay someone to edit your book you can fire them or ignore them, but when they pay you a ton of money to edit the book and try to make it the best book it can be, it’s different. As they say, you’re the writer, it’s your book, but it’s their money and their name on the jacket, too. And the editor will one day say “I published that book.” They don’t say “I edited it and HarperCollins published it.” A publishing house is filled with editors who publish books. The last thing I’ll say about criticism is that if you put a book out there, before you read reviews on Goodreads, look at the 1 and 2 star reviews of your favorite book ever. Look at the 20,000 people panning Catcher In The Rye. Then you can look at your first 2 star review and say another 19,999 and I’ll be as terrible as Salinger.

15. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

I won’t say read, read read, which I don’t think is valid advice. I’d say write, write, write. Show the scene playing in your head. Don’t think you need to see the whole thing before you begin. Trust the muse. Keep a journal. Carry it with you.

16. Do you have any strange writing habits?

Not really. I find that certain locations are better suited to it. My couch late at night. Certain coffeehouses and cafes but not others. I still use my journal to write about what I’m writing, but I can only write the prose on my MacBook Air. Every novel demands a novel approach to tackle the problems it presents. But generally it gets easier and I get better at it. Oh, I do find that I can only write successfully when the laptop is open, the power in on, and I am sitting at it. That is a bit odd I suppose.

What people are saying about Paul Mosier:

“Not afraid to delve into difficult subjects but also capable of showing optimism.”

“Mosier is quite respectful of his young audience. Sad. Funny. Moving. Complex.”

“Heartbreaking, funny, poetic, smart, and tough.”

Paul can be found on Facebook HERE!


Check out the YA Author Rendezvous new releases HERE. We have some great ones!

See our five steps to getting published HERE!

Check out the YA Author Rendezvous’ talented authors HERE!

Why the Agony of Writing for Teens is Worth It

Girl reading a book on the floor.Written by K. R. Conway

Writers can become burned out.

I don’t mean the hyperventilating, “OMG I have no story ideas!” type of burn out. I mean the grind of the words, the constant push to out-write your last book, the stiff necks, the time crunches, and the piecemealing of a life outside of your characters’ worlds.

You try to balance the requests from bookstores, the demands to meet deadlines, the desperate need to spend time with your family and your children, and (for many of us), the 9 to 5 of a day job as well.

Novel-writing is the ultimate act of endurance, with a finish line that seems to never fully reveal itself. And once you have finished one story, polished and in print, you immediately are looking to churn out the next book.

I started to feel the burn out when I was finishing up CRUEL SUMMER.  In the past 2 years, I had churned out close to 300,000 words related to the UNDERTOW series. Let me tell ya – that’s a lot of freakin’ words!

I’ve worked as a writer since 1999, and in all those years, I never got burned out as a journalist. But in all those years, I didn’t have the fans I have now. And they are like – HARDCORE FANS. They burn through those 300k words in just a couple of days, because they can’t put the book down. Because they must keep going, or they will obsess about Eila and her crew all day long, which is great and all, but I start to panic and think, “I need to get another book done for them, like, YESTERDAY!”

And my fans are voracious readers. I often get messaged that this kid or that kid has read STORMFRONT in a day (112k words) or that they are re-reading UNDERTOW for the 5th TIME! I don’t even think I’ve read Undertow cover to cover more than twice, and that was when it was in its editing phase! Some fans buy EVERY cover version, because they must have them all (0_0)

So, when I start to feel the burn out lurking in my life, I remember those fans. Those that flip out so entirely over the characters, that their Christmas lists are loaded with Undertow stuff.

I don’t get to usually see fans outside of book events, but the other day I saw one reading my book, and what I saw filled me with determination to work even harder.

You see, I drive a school bus during the day, filled with my target audience. While I can only really see the tops of kids’ heads when I drive, I do have to walk to the back of the bus when I pull up to the middle school to unload. The other day, while I walked to the back of the bus to disengage a warning button, I saw one girl sitting and reading, oblivious to the fact that we were at the school. At first I didn’t pay much attention, but then I did a double-take.

I knew that font.

I knew that line.

She was reading STORMFRONT. I didn’t bother her, but kept going and unloaded the bus, but she hung back, sliding into the seat behind my driver’s one. “This is so unbelievably awesome,” she says to me. “I was up from, like, 8 to 11 last night reading. And I reread Undertow over the weekend, but OMG. I love this!”

I thanked her and blushed a tad, thrilled she was enjoying it.

At the end of the day, I drove her home with a bus full of half-crazed teens. I was focused on getting the kids home safely and not losing my mind, so I wasn’t really paying close attention to what she was holding as I unloaded at her stop. But as I saw her walk away, I realized she had gotten off with the book tucked under her arm. I watched, floored, as she walked towards her home, Stormfront in her hands as she read.

She wasn’t on her phone. She wasn’t hanging with the other kids and talking. She was lost inside my book, living alongside my fictional characters, reading as she walked. Suddenly that lurking burn-out vanished and I remembered why I write.

I do it for teens like her, who want to fall so entirely in love with a story that their own reality tumbles away.

I write for the fans, and in turn, they are my creative jolt.

They power me past the burn out.

They are my army and my saving grace . . . and I pledge my undying loyalty to their awesomeness

March-May New Releases

So many great new books from our group this spring!!

 

into-shadow

3/1 (RE-RELEASE) – Into Shadow (Shadow and Light Book 1)
by T.D. Shields

She’s nineteen. The President’s daughter. They want her dead.

Poppy’s father may be the President of the North American Alliance, but that just makes her a target for those wishing to topple the regime.

Barely escaping with her life, she must travel across a country ravaged by war and climate change to seek safety amongst a people who only recently opposed her. There she must use every skill learned from her military upbringing to survive terrifying beasts, deadly plant life, and lawless gangs before finally finding a group willing to accept her.

But her peace soon proves to be illusory. It’s not only the government that wants her dead now.

Into Shadow is the first book in the young adult dystopian Shadow and Light series. Fast-paced with great world-building and a strong female protagonist, T.D. Shields has created a book all lovers of young adults dystopian novels will enjoy.

Purchase Into Shadow HERE

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moose-in-the-shower3/2 – A Moose in the Shower
by Elysabeth Eldering

If you were a moose, where would you hide? Where could you hide? Could you hide at all? A moose is in our shower. That’s what Mama said. Now, I have to find it. I’ll look everywhere, even under the bed. What I’ll do when I find it, I don’t know, but I’m going to search and search until I can’t search any more.

Genre: Kids/Picture

Purchase A Moose in the Shower HERE

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umbrae3/1 – Umbrae (The P.A.W.S. Saga Book 3)
by Debbie Manber Kupfer

Step into the Shadows of Umbrae …

Miri’s world at P.A.W.S. in St. Louis is falling apart. First, Danny is accused of stealing her opapa’s charm. But before he can defend himself, he mysteriously disappears. Miri seeks Josh for help and advice, but he too has gone missing.

Then Lilith has a vision – Miri dragged away by wolves. Miri needs answers, answers that she feels sure are hidden in the blank pages of the book of Argentum.

With the help of Lilith, she travels to the ancient city of Safed. There, with the aid of a mystical rabbi and an outspoken werecat, her omama’s story is slowly revealed. And Miri uncovers something else, a world hidden deep beneath our own – the labyrinth of shadows also known as Umbrae.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Purchase Umbrae HERE

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paranormal painless3/8 – Paranormal Painless: A Supernatural World of Stranger Things (A Young Adult Ghost Story)
by Shannon Rieger

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Join Christian Moore in his paranormal world of stranger things. Bewildered by an unexpected, peculiar package and disturbed by its accompanying antagonistic spirits, English teacher Christian Moore is shaken from his carefully crafted, cocooned existence and catapulted into the shocking reality of an unpredictable, haunted and sometimes evil world.

With his own safety and sanity at stake, he must learn to embrace the paranormal when he is confronted by the serial killer of innocent children. To survive, Christian forms unlikely alliances with once feared intruders from the supernatural realm, as well as, a mysterious man with unique insight and abilities.  Just when he thinks he has solved the mystery of his chilling visions, he is propelled into a tomb of water where he is forced to unravel the heartbreaking history buried for years within the confines of those same walls.

While helping the unfortunate, trapped souls, he is compelled to examine his own traumatic past and to risk everything he knows for a life truly worth living.

Will Christian Moore learn why the children haunting his home were murdered? Will he survive the visit from the serial killer? Will he make peace with his past and learn to love better, and therefore, live better?

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Genre: YA/Paranormal
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Purchase Paranormal Painless HERE
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angel factor3/14 – The Angel Factor (The Cure Series Book 2)
by Tania Hagan

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Genesis Weatherby has been living the life of a fugitive for over three years. Genny, Nat, and their two children have found some comfort in the remote mountain village of Fieldmont, Oregon, where Chosen members, as well as their sympathizers, live inside a forgotten government bunker.

The Genetic Operations Division (GOD) has just named Genny and Nat as their primary targets in the organization’s war against Original births. More importantly, they’ve blamed the couple for the alarming number of cancer cases in recent years.

When the GOD-created deadly Angel virus strikes close to home, Genny devises a dangerous plan to stomp out GOD once and for all.

But, will Nat and their friends go along with her idea? Will Genny be able to live long enough to carry out her dangerous mission? Where can she run when everyone in the world thinks she’s their enemy? In the end, will she really know who’s on her side?

With the fate of the entire planet resting on her shoulders, Genny has to make some life-altering decisions that might lead to the destruction of her entire family. Or, is it already too late for everyone?

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Genre: YA/Dystopian
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Purchase The Angel Factor HERE
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skipping-forward3/14 – Skipping Forward
by Bethany Wicker

What if you could skip forward in time, but never back?

Molly Jacobs has always wished for more time in life. But for Molly, time doesn’t work the same as it does for others because she suffers from time skipping. At least, that’s what she calls it.

From the age of seven, Molly discovers her ability to jump into the future. But it doesn’t come without a price. With each time skip, memories of those seconds, minutes, or hours of her life are lost.

Molly never cared until Rhett enters her life. Now, time has meaning, and as they grow closer together, pieces of their time together disappears. Molly needs to learn discipline and control, before she loses the essence of her life.

Genre: YA/Sci-Fi/Time Travel

Purchase Skipping Forward HERE

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knew it all3/31 – We Thought We Knew It All
by Michelle Lynn

Much can happen in ten years. People change. Life occurs; death ensues. Secrets are kept; truth prevails.

A decade has passed since Callie and Jamie exchanged goodbyes. At the time, they didn’t realize it might be their final exchange, and they’d disappear from each other’s lives. But that’s exactly what happened. Now, Callie finds herself at a crossroads. Caught between her current life and the longing for her past, she must decide what is best for her.

Jamie has worked hard to make something of himself — to prove his father wrong. Life as an Army Ranger isn’t easy, but it’s who he is down to his core. When everything starts to crumble, he receives news from home that makes him think about his life. Earlier, he vowed never to set foot in Gulf City again. Now, there’s no reason he can’t go home.

Except there is… And her name is California McCoy.

Genre: YA/Contemporary/Romance

Purchase We Thoughts We Knew It All HERE

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moss forest orchid3/31 – Moss Forest Orchid (Silver and Orchids Book 1)
by Shari Tapscott

What happens when a feisty adventuress, a lord looking to make his own way in the world, and a handsome sea captain set out to find Kalae’s rarest and most valuable flower?

Trouble — and lots of it.

Lucia needs a job, and she needs one fast. Looting dragon caves hasn’t proven profitable lately, and she’s tired of waiting tables. Her business partner usually finds the work, but Sebastian isn’t speaking with her, and Lucia’s getting desperate.

Luckily, Lucia finds a simple request posted on a community board. All the man wants is an orchid. Nothing to it.

Except the flower only grows in a montane cloud forest in Grenalda… And Lucia must take a ship through sea serpent-infested waters to get there… And her new helpful friend—the one and only, dashing Captain Avery Greybrow—just might be a pirate.

At this rate, Lucia’s not sure if she’ll ever reach the orchid. But she’s determined to try.

Genre: NA/Adventure/Romance

Purchase Moss Forest Orchid HERE

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angels &amp; arrows3/31 – Arrows & Angels (Enlighten Series Book 0)
by Kristin Van Risseghem

OBSERVE. LEARN. BUT DON’T INTERVENE.

Kieran’s job of being a guardian angel is straightforward: observe and learn—and don’t intervene in their lives. But then he watches as his first charge dies at the hands of evil while he does nothing to help.

Overcome with grief and doubt, Kieran flees back to the safety of heaven. With guidance from his mentor, he learns all he can about the Battle of the Fallen and the creation of evil itself. With renewed determination, he vows he will save the Ordinaries in his care.

The rules of being a guardian angel have not changed, but Kieran has. Returning to earth, only Kieran knows how essential it is to find and protect one 17-year-old girl. The girl who can thwart the Devil’s escape from his prison and the start of Armageddon.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Purchase Angels & Arrows HERE

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the other queen4/1 – The Other Queen (The Inheritance Series Book 2)
by Rebecca Jaycox

One world. Two girls. An evil determined to destroy them both.

Reggie has escaped the dark mage, Andrius, and finally made it to her guardian, Rhys. But if she thought things would be easier, fate has other plans.

Her father’s situation is more dire than she first thought, and she learns her mother and best friend are being held hostage by Andrius.

Her dreams are being haunted by the Black Queen, a bizarre, terrified girl begging for Reggie to save her. With her loved ones’ lives hanging in the balance, Reggie and her friends race to devise a plan to defeat Andrius. And the Black Queen could provide the key to breaking the dark mage’s hold on the Other.

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Steampunk

Purchase The Other Queen HERE

 

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my lame life4/17 – My Lame Life: Queen of the Misfits
by Jen Mann

My name is Plum Parrish, I’m fourteen, and I’m pretty sure I’m invisible. Not like super power invisible, more like loser invisible. There’s a big difference. I live with my dad who doesn’t realize that a job transfer to Kansas is not a promotion; my s’mother who thinks journaling, cheesy inspo slogans, and mani-pedis can solve my problems; and my twin brother Pax who is so perfect I’m convinced we share absolutely no DNA. Unfortunately, I’m not invisible to them. I love them, but they embarrass me on the daily. Honestly, they would probably say the same about me, because I’m weird, sarcastic, and just a lot. My best friend is ghosting me, and my other best friend is a teacher. The move to Kansas is my opportunity to reinvent myself and embrace my a lot-ness (yes, that is too a word). Sure, I will literally have to battle a live bat, a Queen Bee, and my unruly hair, but I will find my tribe and own who I am.

Genre: YA/Contemporary

Purchase My Lame Life HERE

 

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pawns4/20 – Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha Book 1)
by Patrick Hodges

Seven hundred years in the future, the Jegg – a powerful alien race – invade Earth, wiping out half of the Terran Confederation.

In a hidden base under the Sahara Desert, a team of scientists works to mount a resistance against the invaders. Their plan is to fit an Earth ship with Jegg folding-space technology, and travel to the other side of the galaxy to find a mysterious energy source… one that could help them defeat the Jegg.

But just before departure, catastrophe strikes. Only two of the crew survive and make it to their destination: the team leader’s wife Maeve, and her teenage son Davin. What they find on the distant planet will forever change both the future of their family and their planet, as they enter a race against time… and against impossible odds.

Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Purchase Pawns HERE

 

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magic bound4/30 – Magic Bound: The Hybrid Trilogy
by G.K. De Rosa

Dying isn’t the worst thing that could happen at seventeen, right?

Growing up on the streets of New York City, I imagined my death probably about a thousand times. Getting hit by a stray bullet, ticking off an angry drunk, or even stepping off the sidewalk too quickly and getting run over by a yellow cab. But this… this was something I would never have imagined, not in a million years.

I’m Aria Negrescu, and my name is pretty much the only thing in my life that turned out to be true. I was the poor little orphan girl who grew up bouncing around from foster home to foster home, each worse than the one before.

But all of that changed one night when I met him.

Now an unstoppable hunter wants to kill me, and if I’m going to survive I have to discover who I really am. And that means trusting a mysterious stranger I know nothing about. A whole supernatural world exists right under my nose, and I’m about to become a part of it. Whether I like it or not.

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Purchase Magic Bound HERE

 

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stark5/2 – Stark (Aluna Series Novella)
by Bethany Wicker

After being turned into a hybrid werewolf, Stark became bonded to Lena. Always connected, Stark struggles to contain his emotions, especially considering he’s mated to Kayla.

Being linked to two girls is exhausting, even more so when he has feelings for both. Kayla is his mate, but Stark can’t shake Lena from his mind. Can he manage to come to terms with his emotions before he loses Kayla forever?

Stark follows a fan-favorite character, Stark, through the third installment of the Aluna Series: Hybrid.

 

Genre: YA/Paranormal

Pre-Order Stark HERE

 

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utopia5/6 – Utopia (Secrets of Aurora Book 1)
by LJ Higgins

In a single moment, Aurora’s life is forever changed…

The floating city Utopia, is all sixteen-year-old Aurora has ever known. Along with three other cities, it is home to the only survivors of the cataclysmic events that ended life on Earth sixteen years ago.

After witnessing her mother’s gruesome murder, Aurora finds herself on the run from the very people who are meant to protect her. With the help of her best friend, Fletcher, Aurora must find the truth behind her mother’s execution and why she is being hunted.

Someone wants the facts to remain hidden, but Aurora won’t stop until each hurtful truth is revealed. When her search takes an unexpected turn, nothing can prepare her for the answers that prove her entire existence has been built on a lie.

The floating city Utopia, is all sixteen-year-old Aurora has ever known. After witnessing her mother’s murder, Aurora finds herself on the run from the very people who are meant to protect her. Someone wants the facts to remain hidden, and nothing can prepare Aurora for the answers that prove her entire existence has been built on a lie.

Genre: YA/Dystopian

Pre-Order Utopia HERE

Know Thy Audience. ALWAYS.

Know Thy Audience Always - Young Adult Author RendezvousWritten by K. R. Conway

If there is ever a phrase that sends chills through my body, it is: “Well, I’m not really sure if my COMPLETED manuscript is exactly aimed for teens. Maybe it is more middle grade? But then again, I guess it could be adult.”

Oh, dear lord.

There is nothing, NOTHING more important than knowing WHO you are writing for before you even put pen to paper. You need to know EXACTLY who your audience is – from how they live, talk, socially function, what would make your book appeal to them, WHY they would buy it in the first place, blah, blah, BLAH. How do you sell something if you have no clue who would want to buy it? That’s like designing a hot air balloon that can’t fly and saying, “I know this will appeal to SOMEBODY.” Well, heck – you would be 112 years old before you figured out WHO would buy an unfloating air balloon (FYI – this would sell to those funky, futuristic tent designers who want some killer fabric and who would upcycle the basket parts. SEE??? I know my audience!!!)

As cool as your story may be, it NEEDS a set audience to S-E-L-L. So . . . let’s take, uh . . . OH! The Shadow and Bone series by Bardugo. Dark fantasy set in a brutal remake of a Russian-like empire. Totally awesome. Love it. Go read it. Well . . . go read it IF YOU LIKE THAT TYPE OF THING. See???? Audience. I like dark and creepy with a few well placed bodies here and there. I can do fantasy as long as the fairies are the type to murder you in your sleep while acquiring your tooth.

So Bardugo’s audience is the type that:

A. Likes dark fantasy. This would include those who enjoyed the last few books in the Harry Potter series best, and those who liked Lord of the Rings and (if you’re ancient like me) The Dark Crystal.

61sIOGA4rqLB. They are 14 + (maybe a few, high-level 13-y-o readers too). She appeals to those who like vivid world building over smooching scenes. People who are willing to see a character fail and have mixed feelings about the “bad” guy (who happens to be a hottie).

C. Her readers tend to be thinkers. People who like puzzles, especially the ones that require you to out-manuver an opponent. They are the people who tend to be the quiet ones, but their imagination is always running and it isn’t playing Cinderella scenes over and over, if you get my gist.

D. They are bold, but not for the sake of others. They will pierce their tongue not to fit in nor stand out, but because doing so speaks to who they are as a person. They don’t follow the crowd.

E. They like twists and unseen complications. They like to see the characters fail as well as conquer. Romance is okay by them, but it is not the only reason they read the story. In fact, the romance aspect is low on their list of must-haves and they like that the main characters are a bit tortured in their love for one another.

You may say, “Holy heck, Conway – that is a TON of detail. How are we supposed to know that much about our audience?!” Well . . . that’s part of being a writer, and I was a journalist before I was a novelist. As a journalist I had to always, ALWAYS sell my story – not only to my editor, but to my potential readers. I needed to pitch every story to my editor and tell them WHY it was timely. WHY people would read it and WHO would read it. I needed to tell them how I would learn about the topic I was pitching and LEARN ABOUT WHO IS INTERESTED in such a topic.

I basically became my audience, every time, for every story. To become my audience for UNDERTOW, I began reading any and all YA books that were a bit similar. I started watching every teen movie I could find, plus those that were not aimed for teens but had young main characters. I shifted my playlist in the direction of pure Alternative music, hard rock, and a bit of metal.

I was willing to be a teenager – jump on beds (okay – my daughter’s bed at least), leap from the Town Neck bridge, argue over t-shirts at Abercrombie, and generally act like I was 16 rather than . . . well, older. I began to look at the world as a high schooler again – to understand fully what they loved, what tormented them, what mattered to them. Now-a-days it is easy for me to shift from the “run for your lives, MOM IS PISSED!” mode into a full on, nag-worthy, “Can we please, PLEASE, PLLLLLEEEAAASEEE go to the movies???? Can we go dye our hair??? Can we go hang out at the beach with our kites??”

If you have any doubt in my ability to be a teenager, just ask my daughter and her friends. They will tell you I am full-on nuts, but 100% wildly fun. Well . . . until you pick on your little brother or dare to sass me.

Then it’s GAME-ON-EVIL-MOTHER MODE.

And yes – I will totally write my Mean Mom character into a novel at some point . . . as long as it fits with the audience I am writing for. As for now, I work exclusively for the teens I strive to please, and always, always for my fans.

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