What I Learned Posts, Part 3!


Here’s the final piece of the What I Learned posts from the Fearless Fifteeners. Happy New Year!

Ronni Arno Blaisdell, author of RUBY REINVENTED:

“First of all, congratulations! You’re going to have a book published! And now, stop whatever it is you’re doing. Take a deep breath. Go to a bookstore and stare at your book. Enjoy this moment. You will never be a debut author again. I know you’re probably worrying about sales and your next book deal and finding time to write, but put that off for a minute. There will be plenty of time to worry about those things (and you will!), but now is not that time. Right now, focus on the things that you can do to help your debut. Rock your launch party. Book school visits. Introduce yourself to local bookstores. And smile. You’re a published author! “

Meredith Moore, author of I AM HER REVENGE:

“I always knew publishing my first book—sending it out into the world after years of careful writing and revising and stress and worry—would be a strange mixture of thrilling and terrifying. Okay, mostly terrifying. What I didn’t know was how wonderful it would be to not have to do it alone. The YA writing community, especially groups like this one, have made my debut year so much less frightening. Finding writer friends to chat with, celebrate with, and freak out with has made all the difference, and I will never stop being grateful for that.”

Lance Rubin, author of DENTON’S LITTLE DEATHDATE:

“2015 has been so exciting and fulfilling and magical, but it’s also had its fair share of anxiety and humbling moments. In October, six months after my book came out, I wrote about what I learned, which ultimately came down to this: “Block out the noise and make the thing.” To go hand in hand with that, an author I recently met said, “Writing is a career, not an event.” Wise words. One of the pitfalls of putting weight on this idea of “the debut year” is it narrows your focus, so you almost feel like, by the end of the year, your status as a writer will be decided: you’re either a successful writer, or you’re an unsuccessful writer. Well, let me tell you, friends: the debut year ain’t no sorting hat. It’s just the beginning of a new chapter of your creative journey. So my advice would be to savor and enjoy all of the debut year’s trappings—panels, events, new friends, signings, reviews, tweets/blog-entries/shouts about your book-baby, and, of course, celebrating each of your debut peers’ books as they release week by week—but save most of your focus for the thing that got you there in the first place: the process of writing. The painful, uncomfortable, exhilarating, revelatory, highly rewarding process of creating something from nothing. Because, inevitably, 2015’s highs and lows will fade, and when they do, your old friend The Blank Page will be there for you, ready to bring you along on the next phase of your journey. “







Some things I learned in 2015:

-Not having a multi book deal can give you more time to write your second novel which you will then squander.

-Let it go. Promote it, but let it go. I think all the debut authors agree that measuring and comparing and searching for feedback is a sure path to obsession and grief. Okay, there might be the occasional awesome surprise, but let someone else bring those to your attention.

-You may command a little more respect but you’re still one of hundreds of thousands of published authors.

-If your book comes out later in the calendar year, you may find yourself supporting the first half of the year release authors, only to have most of them get very busy and disappear when your book comes out. But you will get busy, too.  C’est la vie. We formed a Fall-Fifteener group (thanks, Sarah Schmitt) and that was really helpful. Dividing the year into two parts is worth considering.

-Writers are awesome.

-Librarians are awesome.

-Life goes on.


Susan Adrian, author of TUNNEL VISION:

Ah, I learned so many things. The most important, and lasting, is that your release year will NOT be what you expect…but that’s totally okay. I had all sorts of ideas in my head about what release day would be like, what events would be like, how sales would go…and not one was exactly how I pictured. However, once I learned to go with the flow and enjoy all the moments I could, I had a fantastic year. I discovered that I loved doing events, and connecting with other authors and readers. There is nothing like the rush of seeing your book in a library or a bookstore! Or even more, watching your own kid read and enjoy your book. I discovered that I had so much support from my family, my real-life friends, and my fellow authors. Thank you to all the Fearless Fifteeners for launching on this ride with me!


What I Learned Posts: Part 2


Whoops, got a little involved in my deadline. 🙂 Here is part 2 of the Fifteeners What I Learned Posts! Part 3 will be up December 31…hope you had as exciting a year as we did!

Fonda Lee, author of ZEROBOXER:

“Let’s be frank: your debut year will not live up to your expectations. It simply won’t. This is because you’ve spent years working toward a dream you’ve wanted for longer than you can remember. You can tell yourself that you’ve talked to other authors, you’ve suffered rejection, you know it will be difficult and you’re prepared—but you are lying to yourself. In the back of your mind, you still hope for the achievement of the dream to be as shiny and wonderful as you’ve imagined it could be. Don’t get me wrong: it will be exhilarating in many ways—but it will also be harder than you think. Accept that now. When the trials and disappointments come—and they will—lean on other authors, hold tight to the joy of writing, be kind to yourself, and remember: you’re a professional now.”

Miriam Spitzer Franklin, author of EXTRAORDINARY:

“Expect the unexpected! Be prepared for the emotional ups and downs. Once you’ve written the best book you can write, the rest of it is out of your control. Worrying about sales numbers, Amazon rankings, and reviews is a complete waste of time. It will zap your energy and keep the writing from flowing. Celebrate the positives: seeing your book on the shelf, receiving a note from a young reader who loved your book, having friends and family who realize what a huge personal accomplishment this is for you and are genuinely happy for you. I’ve learned that if you can write one book and get it published you can do it a second time, no matter how hard it seems. Sharing experiences with other writers like the Fifteeners has made the hard days easier and the great days even more amazing!”

Romina Russell, author of ZODIAC:

“What I learned in my debut year is how amazing the YA community is! Everyone I’ve had the fortune of meeting and interacting with about ZODIAC—readers, bloggers, authors, publishing professionals—has been so warm and welcoming and wonderful that I never want to leave this place. I feel like I’m finally home—and I’m so excited to now be embarking on my second adventure with Wandering Star! <3”


“I learned this year that the kidlit community really is the greatest. Supporting and being supported by my fellow Fearless Fifteeners made the debut experience so much less daunting and overwhelming than it could have been, and I hope that I’ve made friendships that will last for years (and books) to come. I also met so many welcoming and generous already-published authors, and I hope I can pass their kindness toward me on to the next batch of aspiring and debut authors. My advice to the next debut classes: use your new network in a real and meaningful—rather than purely promotional—way. Give to your peers as much as or even more than you receive. Read each other’s books and talk them up online. Take and post pictures of each others’ books once they hit the shelves. Get to know each other beyond the book world, as well. I promise, you won’t regret it.”

Rachel Marks, author of DARKNESS BRUTAL:

“I think the main thing I’ve learned from finally reaching this amazing year when I could call myself a debut author, was to keep looking forward. To never feel like I’ve “reached it”. One book should never the goal of a writer. It’s what we do, it’s in our blood. And as anyone who’s ever been on submission to an agent or an editor knows, you have to celebrate every leg of the journey. The small victories need to be cherished. The tiny moments of encouragement and inspiration held tight. None of that changes after the contract is signed. In fact, in a lot of ways, it still feels like I’m always aiming to reach that next level, that next vote of confidence. There will always be someone in the wings—agent, editor, reader, reviewer, awards board—who is needing to be impressed. The pressure never lets up. You don’t walk through the “gateway” and breathe a sigh of relief. You walk through and then keep walking. And, really, that’s how it should be. We should keep aiming higher, always looking and striving to take our work to that next level. We should never be content with where we are in our craft or our ability. I don’t feel very different today than I did three days before I got my first agent, three days before I got my first editor. I am still me, and I’m still wanting to keep focused on the road ahead, the next project, the next adventure I can take through story. I’m still just a writer who loves to write. And I never want to lose that.”

Heather Petty, author of LOCK & MORI:

“I learned (again) that no matter where you go and no matter what you’re doing, the people you meet will always be the best part of any adventure. The authors, librarians, and booksellers; my editor, agent, publicist, and publishing team; and of course all of the readers and bloggers and reviewers…the people were definitely the best part of mine. I feel overwhelmingly lucky to be the tiniest part of the brilliant group of artists who put their work out into the world this year for the first time. They all work incredibly hard and with inspiring amounts of passion. Some have risen to incredible popularity and others are hidden gems waiting for you to find them. But beyond their talent, they are all quality people who I feel very lucky to know.”

What We Learned this Debut Year: Part 1


Hi all!! Whew, it’s been quite a year, for each and every one of the Fearless Fifteeners. I asked Fifteeners to write a paragraph about what they learned in their debut year…and I will be posting these throughout the month. Here is the first set. Valuable stuff! See if you can spot the themes…

Cam Baity & Benny Zelkowicz, co-authors of THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE:

“Writing and releasing THE FIRST BOOK OF ORE: THE FOUNDRY’S EDGE was one of the most gratifying creative experiences of our careers. We’re not gonna lie––it was a road of potholes and dangers and despair, but there were also moments of staggering exuberance. Opening that first box of finished books is a tear-jerking sensation like no other. But we digress. The good stuff is obvious, so we’ll focus on more practical insights that have made us better writers and better at the business of being authors. Hopefully these tips will help those preparing to make this jump. First, don’t quit your day job. Startlingly few authors manage to make a real living from their writing, so don’t go into it expecting that you will be the next (enter famous author name here.) Second, hire an outside publicist because the reality is that most debut authors get minimal attention from the publisher’s in-house team. Ask for recommendations to find your publicist and hire someone with experience in your particular genre or demographic – don’t be swayed by empty promises. Bear in mind, of course, that even with an in-house publicist AND a hired publicist, you will still be doing most of the legwork yourself. Third (and this is a less significant thing but still relevant), when signing a book for a reader, it’s a good thing to include the date to help make the signing a fond memory. However, when signing stock at a bookstore, don’t write the date you signed. If the book doesn’t move quickly, it will look old and stale and will likely get returned to the publisher. Last and probably least, don’t dink around too much with Goodreads or most blogs and reviews. It will likely lead to frustration and pent-up resentment that will leave you feeling powerless. That’s the short list – happy authoring!”

Jen Brooks, author of IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT:

“In my debut year, I’ve learned how to deal with success and disappointment, reviews and requests, jealousy and earnest happiness for others. I’ve learned exactly how many consecutive days I can sit in a chair for fourteen hours straight (hello book 2) and how hard it is to be separated for multiple nights/weekends from my family. I have learned what I’m willing to do to promote my work and what I’m not. I have learned who my audience is and how grateful I am for readers who really “get” my work. I cannot emphasize this enough: readers who, for whatever reason, find my work resonates with them are the only thing that has kept me going when I had my darkest doubts. (If you have ever read a book and truly enjoyed it, please let the author know–by Tweet, email, whatever.) I have learned, above all–as a shy sort of person scared to death of the imperative to “network!”–that YA writers are the most generous, kind, supportive, kindred souls I could ever have hoped to encounter in my lifetime. Thank you to all of you who have shared this remarkable journey. I love to write. I love to be part of a collective of fellow writers. It takes a village to raise a writer–so they say!”

Melody Maysonet, author of A WORK OF ART:

“The time leading up to publication is way more exciting than the time after publication, so enjoy it and try not to sweat the small stuff. After my book was out in the world, I became a little obsessed with tracking book reviews, which was exciting, but like I said, it can become obsessive if you let it. I also spent way too much time trying to track how my book was selling via Amazon Author Central (a tool I think every author should ignore–but try getting me to stop looking!) Most of all, I learned not to compare my own success with that of other authors. It’s hard not to feel jealous when you see a fellow debuter getting tons of accolades. I got my fair share too, but somehow I keep wanting more. I have to remember that getting published in the first place is a dream come true, and there’s no sense in letting envy tarnish the experience. “

N.K. Traver, author of DUPLICITY:

“My biggest debut lesson was learning to let go. As many debuters did, I spent the first few weeks obsessively checking my Goodreads and Amazon rankings, applying those rankings to my worth as a human, and fretting over sales numbers even though I had no actual idea what said sales numbers were. The best thing I ever did was to stop checking. “What will be will be,” as they say, and once your book is in the world, you’ve done all you can as an author – you put the words on the page, and the rest is out of your control. Realizing that helped me get back to worrying about what I was writing instead of how many reviews had gone up in the last hour. Er, I mean week. No one checks every hour, that would be crazy…”

More to come!!


End-of-Year Debut Author Events (aka Signed Books Make Great Holiday Gifts!)


The Fearless Fifteeners’ debut year is coming to an end, and we plan to send it out with a bang. Come celebrate with us at author events from coast to coast. Special thanks to all the amazing bookstores and libraries (and haunted castle) hosting us in the final weeks of 2015.

rulesTuesday, November 24
BOOK LAUNCH Cambridge, Mass.
Celebrate the release of Kate McGovern’s debut novel, Rules for 50/50 Chances (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), 7 p.m. at Porter Square Books (25 White Street). Kate promises cupcakes with hearts and skulls.

Saturday, November 28
Visit an independent bookstore near you to celebrate this “Shop Small” answer to Black Friday! If you happen to be in Delaware, Sharon Huss Roat, author of Between the Notes (HarperTeen), will sign books and serve as guest bookseller at the Hockessin Book Shelf (1729 Lancaster Pike) from 1:30-2:30 p.m.

The FixWednesday, December 2
Natasha Sinel will read from her debut novel, The Fix (Sky Pony Press). Event takes place 6:00-7:30 p.m. at New York Public Library-Jefferson Market Library, 425 Avenue of the Americas, New York.


Rosemary cover

Friday, December 4
BOOK LAUNCH Lewisburg, Pa.
Join YA author Virginia Zimmerman to celebrate the release of her novel, The Rosemary Spell (Clarion Books), 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble (400 Market St.). Virginia will talk a little, read a little, answer some questions, and sign books. All are welcome, including and especially kids.

Saturday, December 5
Chevalier’s Books (126 N. Larchmont Blvd.) will host a 2015 debut panel from 3-5 p.m. Featured authors include Michelle Levy (Not After Everything), E. Katherine Kottaras (How to be Brave), Charlotte Huang (For the Record), Jen Klein (Jillian Cade: Fake Paranormal Investigator) and Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything) conversing about their beautiful edgy stories with seasoned YA novelist Gretchen McNeil (Ten, 3:45, Get Dirty and Get Even).

allweleftbehind-ingridsundbergSaturday, December 5
BOOK LAUNCH Pasadena, Calif.
All are “gleefully” invited to celebrate the release of Ingrid Sunberg’s debut, All We Left Behind, 3 p.m. at Vroman’s Bookstore (695 E. Colorado Blvd.). In addition to book talk and signing, Ingrid promises homemade baked goods, prizes, free books, swag and photo booth bookmarks.

Villain KeeperSaturday, December 5
Laurie McKay will be on hand at 11 a.m. to sign copies of her novel, Villian Keeper (The Last Dragon Charmer series, book 1, HarperCollins), as part of this spectacular event at Malaprops.


9781595147431_WanderingStar_BOM_6p.inddWednesday, December 9
BOOK LAUNCH Pasadena, Calif.
Join Romina Russell to celebrate the release of her novel, Wandering Star (book 2 in the Zodiac series), 7 p.m. at Vroman’s Bookstore (695 E. Colorado Blvd.). She’ll be talking about and signing copies of her gorgeous new book!


Lock & MoriSaturday, December 12
Heather Petty, author of Lock & Mori (Simon & Schuster), will be signing at 1 p.m. along with authors Ellen Hopkins, Terri Farley, and Craig Lew, 1 p.m. at Barnes & Noble (5555 S. Virginia St.)


Saturday, December 12
BOOK SIGNING Danbury, Conn.
Natasha Sinel (The Fix) will appear at Barnes & Noble (15 Backus Ave.) to sign and personalize books for the holidays!


Dec12PromoGraphic1Saturday, December 12
YA AUTHOR PANEL Doylestown, Pa.
Authors Cordelia Jensen (Skyscraping), I.W. Gregorio (None of the Above), Marcy Beller Paul (Underneath Everything), Randy Ribay (An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes) and Sharon Huss Roat (Between the Notes), will talk about writing realistic fiction, 1:30 p.m. at the Doylestown Bookshop (16 S. Main St.).


crowSat.-Sun., December 12 & 13
Angelica Jackson, author of Crow’s Rest (Spencer Hill Press), will appear with authors Christine Mercer and Linda Joy Singleton at the Preston Castle Old Tyme Christmas Holiday Bazaar (900 Palm Drive).


Tuesday, December 29
Natasha Sinel, author of The Fix, will be reading and signing at Explore Booksellers (221 Main St.), at 4 p.m.

Come see us!

Middle grade Q&A with Virginia Zimmerman


Today on MG Wednesday, mystery and magic abound in THE ROSEMARY SPELL. Before we get to the book, though, there be ogres here. What will debut author and fearless 15er Virginia Zimmerman do?

Virginia, you wake up and find a massive ogre in your bedroom. If you had to choose one MG character to fight him off who would you choose and why?

I would choose Jonas from The Giver because he would soothe the ogre by giving him carefully chosen memories. I’m always interested in how the past helps us in the present, and it would be fascinating to see what memories Jonas would choose and what effect they would have on the ogre. Plus, I also think villains are always more interesting (and more dangerous) when they are complex characters: seeing the ogre softened by memory would make his character much more compelling.

Having defeated the ogre, you find that your car doesn’t start. Bummer. Would you rather ride a dragon or a unicorn to work? Why?

I would definitely rather ride a dragon. If I’m honest, I think the reason is that I believe in dragons, and I don’t think I believe in unicorns. Lots of great writers—J.K. Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien, not to mention Peter Yarrow who gave us “Puff, the Magic Dragon”—have worked hard to make dragons real. Since I teach some of these dragons in my job as a professor of literature, it would be quite appropriate to show up for class with wings flapping and scales glinting, proving once and for all that these great authors really wrote dragons into the world.

Arriving at work late, your boss asks you what your most embarrassing childhood memory was. You have to tell him.

When I was in fourth grade, we had cubbies for our backpacks and lunches and coats. The cubbies were very deep. At one point, a foul odor started coming from the cubbies, so the teacher made us all clean out our stuff, tidying what really needed to be stored inside and getting rid of anything else. At the back of my cubby, smushed and oozing, was an old lunch. It had once been a Lebanon bologna sandwich, but the meat had softened and melded to the brown paper bag. It was vile. It was the source of the odor. What I remember most vividly is the weight of the decomposing food in my hand, as if rot and stench were heavy things that added to the density of my former sandwich. To my teacher’s credit, she didn’t say anything as I scurried to the trashcan with my incriminating garbage. I knew I’d been the one responsible for the odor and for making everyone clean their cubbies. That was punishment enough.

You’re pretty fed up now, so when a time machine appears offering to take you to any historical event, you agree. Where do you go and why?

Well, I’ve written about Spain in the 1930s and prehistoric Orkney, so I could take the chance to check out those places, but in writing about those times, I sort of feel I’ve already traveled there. My next thought is that it would be cool to go to England in 1865. This is when Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published, and it was the first book written for the sole purpose of entertaining children. It would be amazing to be there at the beginning of children’s literature and to see that first generation of kids discover how books open doors to magical worlds and, at the same time, make the real world magical.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. As a Fearless Fifteener, your debut is out this year. Tell us about your book in 15 words or less.

Books are magic. Magic is real. Magic is dangerous. Books save the day.


Rosemary cover

Part mystery, part literary puzzle, part life-and-death quest, and chillingly magical, The Rosemary Spell has plenty of suspense for adventure fans and is a treat for readers who love books, words, and clues. Best friends Rosie and Adam find an old book with blank pages that fill with handwriting before their eyes. Something about this magical book has the power to make people vanish, even from memory. The power lies in a poem—a spell. When Adam’s older sister, Shelby, disappears, they struggle to retain their memories of her as they race against time to bring her back from the void, risking their own lives in the process.

Author Bio: Virginia Zimmerman

VZ 2014 head shot

Virginia Zimmerman grew up in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., though she was named for a great aunt, not for her state. When she was young, she enjoyed writing and talking to friends about books, so she decided to grow up into a person who could do those things all the time. She was an English major at Carleton College, and she went to graduate school in English at the University of Virginia. Altogether, she enjoyed twenty years of formal education, much of it focused on reading. When she finished school, she wasn’t done reading, writing and talking to friends about books, so she became an English professor at Bucknell University. This means—and she still pinches herself to make sure this is real—she gets to read and write and talk about books for a living.

Virginia lives in a two-hundred-year-old house in a small town on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania, where she gets to read and write and talk about books with dear friends, inspiring students and beloved family. She lives with her husband, three children and little white dog.

Follow her at her Website, Facebook, and on twitter @VZAuthor.  You can find her book at GoodreadsIndiebound, Amazon, HMH.

THE ROSEMARY SPELL received a starred PW Review!

Laurie McKay is an author and biology instructor who lives in Durham, NC. When she’s not working, she spends time with her family and her two elderly dogs. You can find out more and see pictures of her dogs at lauriemckay.net or by following her on twitter. Her debut MG fantasy novel, VILLAIN KEEPER, is available from HarperCollins now. The sequel, QUEST MAKER, will be available on Feb 2, 2016.

The 15ers Happenings: November News


Launch Days


3rd: RUBY REINVENTED by Ronni Arno
3rd: THE SISTER PACT by Stacie Ramey
3rd: BLOOD AND SALT by Kim Liggett
10th: FOR THE RECORD by Charlotte Huang
15th: THE YEARBOOK by Carol Masciola


24th: RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES by Kate McGovernan


Professional reviews
Several 15ers will be at Main Point Books Young Adult Extravaganza in Bryn Mawr, PA, on Sunday, Nov. 15th from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Authors include: Cordelia Jensen, Skyscraping; I.W. Gregorio, None of the Above; Marcy Beller Paul, Underneath Everything; Randy Ribay, An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes; and Sharon Huss Roat, Between the Notes.

Young Adult Book Signing_0

These same awesome fifteeners will also take front and center at The Doylestown Bookshop’s YA Author Panel in Doylestown, PA, on Saturday, Dec. 12th at 1:30pm.

Tessa Elwood with be on a fantasy panel at the ALAN workshop, on Monday, Nov 23rd from 2-2:30pm.

UNUSUAL CHICKENS FOR THE EXCEPTIONAL POULTRY FARMER by Kelly Jones was chosen for the 2016-2017 Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List and for Amazon’s Best Books of the Year 2015: Ages 9-12!

THE FIX by Natasha Sinel won a FINALIST award in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards for the YA Fiction category!

INHERIT THE STARS by Tessa Elwood made the Indie Next List for teens for Winter 15/16.


tessaelwoodTessa Elwood designs sites, breathes da:i, & haunts highways in her dusty baby. Her YA, INHERIT THE STARS, arrives 12/2015 from Running Press.

Middle Grade Q&A with Ronni Arno


Today is fabulous, fantastic, MG Q&A Wednesday, and we have Ronni Arno, author of RUBY REINVENTED to chat about her book. Before we get to the book, though, we have to deal with some orges…

You wake up to find a massive ogre in your bedroom. If you had to choose one MG character to fight him off who would you choose and why?

Hermione Granger, of course. First of all, she has experience fighting all sorts of fantastic beasts and magical creatures (including ogres). And secondly, even if she didn’t know how to fight an ogre right off the bat, she would find out real quick because she’s a genius and a total Type A. I’d cheer her on from my bed.

Having defeated the ogre, you find that your car doesn’t start. Bummer. Would you rather ride a dragon or a unicorn to work? Why?

I’m generally a very nice person. Really. Except when I drive. Traffic makes me crazy and that’s when my evil side comes out. So I’d prefer to ride a dragon to work, since there’s a good chance all that fiery breath would force those other cars out of my way. Plus, my coffee would stay hot!

After arriving at work late, your boss asks you what your most embarrassing childhood memory was. You have to tell him. 

Can’t I just have my dragon eat my boss? No? Okay, then. My Dorothy Hamill haircut in fourth grade was pretty humiliating. Even more so because my mother (who is a psychologist and not a hairdresser) cut my hair.

You’re pretty fed up now so when a time machine appears offering to take you to any historical event, you agree. Where do you go and why?

Ancient Greece so I could wear a toga. They look very comfortable.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. As a Fearless Fifteener, your debut is out this year. Tell us about your book in 15 words or less.

Ruby escapes Hollywood for Maine and finds best friends, a first crush, and her own spotlight.​ (That might be 16 words!)


When Ruby flees Hollywood to escape the fame of her parents, she tells a lie that could ruin the life she loves at her new boarding school in this M!X novel about courage, families, and finding your own spotlight.

Ruby Miller has it made. As the only child of model-turned-TV-host Celestine Cruz and pro-baseball star Zack Miller, she has everything a twelve-year-old girl could want. Well, except for real friends.

After a disastrous birthday party where she discovers her supposed BFFs are only friends with her because her parents are uber-famous, she finds a place as far from fake and phony Hollywood as she can get: a boarding school in Camden, Maine. In her desperation to distance herself from her star-studded parents and the paparazzi who trail them, Ruby tells her new friends that she’s an orphan. She feels awful about lying, but once she starts, it’s hard to come clean. Plus, now that nobody’s comparing her to her perfect parents, Ruby can finally let her own talents as a dress designer take center stage.

When Ruby finds herself connecting with a cute boy who really did lose his parents, she’s torn between who she is and who she’s pretending to be. And with Parents’ Weekend approaching, she must find a way to keep her secret—without losing her new best friend, the trust of her first crush, and the chance to shine as the designer of her very own fashion show.

Author Bio: Ronni Arno

Ronni Arno Blaisdell has written for several magazines, blogs, and websites. In a previous life she worked as a publicist in Hollywood, and eventually built a home in Maine. She is a keen SCBWI member and contributor to the KidLiterati.com blog. Follow her at her Website and on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.  RUBY REINVENTED is available as of Nov. 3rd, 2015.

Laurie McKay is an author and biology instructor who lives in Durham, NC. When she’s not working, she spends time with her family and her two elderly dogs. You can find out more and see pictures of her dogs at lauriemckay.net or by following her on twitter. Her debut MG fantasy novel, VILLAIN KEEPER, is available from HarperCollins now. The sequel, QUEST MAKER, will be available on Feb 2, 2016.

Fearless Friday…now with wings: Anna-Marie McLemore


AMfairyandtreetrunkHola, everyone!

Anna-Marie McLemore here, author of THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, flitting in for a winged edition of Fearless Friday.

So THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS is a book about mermaid performers and tree-dancers who wear wings. I’ve already documented my exploits in a mermaid tail.

Mermaid Anna-Marie McLemore

Mermaid Anna-Marie

Water, swimming, wearing a mermaid tail. No problem for me. But, um, the tree-climbing thing. Never happened. I am afraid enough of heights that I managed to get through my childhood without ever having climbed a tree. Sure I’d hopped up on a low branch. But, like, climbing a tree high enough that I could actually fall out of? Forget it.

Knowing this, for TWOF, I enlisted a tree-climbing consultant. Yes, you read that right. A tree-climbing consultant. He’s about as comfortable in trees as Cluck Corbeau is, so I knew he’d be able to help with the details. What I didn’t know is that he was not going to let me get away with this never-having-climbed-a-tree business.

So he found a tree of both decent height and relatively easy climbing mechanics, and he took me up.

AMfairyandboughAll he told me was to wear comfortable shoes. The wings and fairy makeup were my idea. If I was going to plummet to my death, I thought I might as well do it in style.

I’m not going to say I wasn’t shaking or clinging to the branches, but once I was up there, I was glad I did it.

Until I realized I had to get down. This of course did not involve me clinging to a branch, telling my tree-climbing consultant, “No, I’m good, thanks, I’ll just stay here” while he tried to give me instructions on lowering myself onto the branch underneath me. Because no self-respecting, AMfairy1professional author would ever admit to something like that.

But as you probably guessed, I’m not typing this from up in the tree, so the tree-climbing consultant successfully half-talked me down, half-caught me when I made my less than graceful descent.

There you have it, friends.


I have vanquished my fear!

I have climbed a tree!

I have decided I am probably never doing it again!

*slips into mermaid tail and swims away*


Anna-Marie McLemore writes from her Mexican-American heritage and the love for stories she learned from her family. She lives in California’s Central Valley with a boy from the other side of the Rockies. Her debut novel THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, a YA contemporary love story with a magical twist, is out now from Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. You can find her on Twitter @laannamarie.

The 15ers Happenings: October News


Launch Days

wonderfuldeath romancingdark Infinite Number BGcvr.indd

6th: IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH by Sarah J. Schmitt


Of Interest
Watch the book trailer for AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES by Randy Ribay.

Also catch Randy Ribay on B&N’s YA Open Mic

Virginia Zimmerman has an ARC of THE ROSEMARY SPELL to giveaway on Goodreads.


Professional reviews
Ann Jacobus will be at the YALSA Young Adult Services Symposium Author Blitz in Portland on Saturday, Nov 7th.

Ronald Smith will present at the Louisiana Book Festival on Saturday, October 31st. Ronald also had a lovely interview with Baltimore’s NPR station.

Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus has lovely reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist. From PW:

In her debut novel, Jacobus explores difficult topics including depression, alcoholism, death, and the reckless behavior that can accompany them. As Summer struggles with alcohol dependency and contemplates suicide, readers will grit their teeth in the hope that Moony will win the romantic tug-of-war with Kurt in time to help Summer see the light at the end of the tunnel.

AN INFINITE NUMBER OF PARALLEL UNIVERSES by Randy Ribay, and Mary Beller Paul’s UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING made Barnes & Noble Teen’s top 20 October YA releases list!

Natasha Sinel’s THE FIX was featured in VerveGirl Canada’s Books We Love section of their Back to School Fall Issue: “If you loved Looking For Alaska, check out…The Fix.” It also made Paste Magazine’s 21 of the Best New YA Books in September!

Virginia Zimmerman’s THE ROSEMARY SPELL has great reviews from Publishers Weekly (starred!), Kirkus, and Boolist. Says Kirkus:

Zimmerman invites readers into a layered and magical mystery across generations of literature. She deftly weaves the difficulty of loss into a tale of triumph, Rosemary’s strength of character keeping her buoyed through the emotional tumult she must navigate to save her friend.

Laurie McKay’s second book in her Last Dragon Charmer series, QUEST MAKER, has a lovely Kirkus review:

Zimmerman invites readers into a layered and magical mystery across generations of literature. She deftly weaves the difficulty of loss into a tale of triumph, Rosemary’s strength of character keeping her buoyed through the emotional tumult she must navigate to save her friend.


tessaelwoodTessa Elwood designs sites, breathes da:i, & haunts highways in her dusty baby. Her YA, INHERIT THE STARS, arrives 12/2015 from Running Press.

YA Q&A with Randy Ribay, author of An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes


BW: You wake up one morning and, OMG, you’re a narwhal. What’s the first thing you do with your new ability?

RR: I knock over the lamp on my nightstand with my narwhal tusk as I try to return to the ocean.

BW: Dude. I knock stuff over when I don’t have my glasses on, so you’re really not starting off too badly. You’re parents, however, are less than excited about having an aquatic mammal living in their extra bedroom. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

Jason-Momoa-AquamanRR: Aquaman. Except not the lame blonde one, but the badass Jason Momoa Aquaman. (BW: *coughs* Yes, please). He reassures me that everything will be all right and carries me to the sea. He then invites me to an underwater ice cream social where I make new friends with fellow sea creatures while enjoying a tasty treat. But eventually, I morph back into human form and Badass Aquaman takes me back to shore before I drown.

BW: The next time you go anywhere with Jason Momoa Aquaman, you call me. Got that, Randy? Mmkay, good. So, back to normal, you arrive at school and literally crash into your crush. He/she asks you why you’re shaken up. What do you tell him/her?

RR: There was no hot water in the shower.

BW: That’s totes believable. He/she suggests going somewhere to talk about it more and maybe warm up. *wink* Where’s this dream date taking place?

RR: The aquarium. But having enjoyed ice cream with similar creatures not too long ago, it breaks my heart to see them imprisoned so. Shaking with rage, my narwhal powers reemerge in the form of an immense sword-like tusk sticking out of my forehead. I use it to attack the aquarium employees. Surrounded by their lifeless bodies, I call Badass Aquaman and we set the sea creatures free. But then Badass Aquaman totally steals my crush.

BW: I mean, can you really blame your crush? This is HOT Aquaman we’re talking about. Don’t worry! There’s still a Happily Ever After in your near future. As a Fearless Fifteener, your debut is out this year. Tell us about your book in 140 characters or less.

RR: Geeky & diverse teens avoid their life problems by taking a road trip. Not enough narwhals.

BW: I’m sort of depressed about the lack of narwhals, but the book totally sounds fabulous. Here’s a longer summary for the rest of you.


Infinite Number BGcvr.inddAs their senior year approaches, four diverse friends united by their weekly Dungeons & Dragons game struggle to figure out real life. Archie tries to cope with the lingering effects of his parents’ divorce, Mari considers an opportunity to contact her biological mother, Dante works up the courage to come out to his friends, and Sam clings to a failing relationship. When the four eventually embark on a cross-country road trip in an attempt to solve one of their problems–and to avoid the others–the journey tests their friendship and they quickly realize that real life is no game.


RandyR-1(1)About Randy Ribay

Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in Michigan and Colorado. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he specialized in language and literacy. He is the English Department Chair at an all-boys high school in Philadelphia and a nerd-of-all-trades. Randy lives in Camden, New Jersey with his wife and two dog-children.


Add it on Goodreads

Or visit Randy’s website at: www.randyribay.com

Becky headshots-Becky headshots-0007Becky Wallace is the author of THE STORYSPINNER and its sequel, THE SKYLIGHTER (available March 22, 2016 from Simon & Schuster). She lives in a happy little village in Texas with her own real-life Prince Charming and their four munchkins.