Introducing: Lauren Gibaldi

Standard

Hi! I’m Lauren, author of THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, which is scheduled for a summer 2015 release with HaperTeen / HarperCollins. To say i’m excited is an understatement. I guess I’ve always wanted to be a writer, ever since documenting my third grade day-to-day activities in my tiny, pink and white, locked notebook. (Obviously what I was writing was highly confidential, thus the lock).

I got more serious about it in college when I majored in English and started writing for local newspapers and magazines. After a few careers (high school English teacher, marketing copywriter, magazine editor), I jumped ship and became a librarian. I guess it’s then that everything kind of came together. I wasn’t writing for a living, so I was able to focus on my own creative ideas. Plus, I worked at a library – what better place for inspiration, right? (I still do work there, and I still love it. A lot.)

THE NIGHT WE SAID YES came from a simple idea – can one night change everything? I always loved the thought that anything was possible after the sun went down. When my friends and I went out in high school (to the mall, to each others houses, to visit friends at work…), we never knew what would happen. Would that guy finally notice me? Would there be an epic fight? Would we do something crazy? Would things change? Even today I find myself getting excited as soon as the sky starts to turn orange, red, purple, blue.

TNWSY is a product of NaNoWriMo and many months of editing (because, really, that first draft was not good). I found a wonderful agent who helped me shape the book to what it is today. And she found me a terrific editor, who is helping me make the book even better. And somehow those dreams written in a third grader’s locked journal started to come true.

And so, THE NIGHT WE SAID YES.

Then and Now chapters chronicle the giddy, magical night two people first meet and spark to one another, and the night they reunite one year after their break-up, questioning if second chances are possible.

It’s about living in the moment. It’s about four friends saying yes to crazy ideas they have. It’s about friendship and love and pop punk bands. And, mostly, it’s about trusting yourself to make the right decision, despite the challenges and fears.

And I can’t wait for you all to read it.

lauren gibaldi squaredLauren Gibaldi is an author and public librarian who lives in Orlando, FL with her husband and overflowing collection of books. She likes dinosaurs, musicals, and the circus (two of which she’s participated in. Hint: It’s not being a dinosaur). Her debut YA novel, THE NIGHT WE SAID YES, will be released summer 2015 with HarperTeen/HarperCollins.

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview with Rachel Searles, author of THE LOST PLANET

Standard

Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Rachel Searles, whose middle-grade adventure THE LOST PLANET comes out today!

The Lost Planet book cover

SA: Congratulations on your debut, Rachel! Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to write THE LOST PLANET? What was your inspiration?

I wanted to write something for kids that was big and exciting and action-based, and space seemed like it could be a fun setting to play around in. Once I had some characters in mind, it took some brainstorming to find my premise of a lost boy on a foreign planet, and I ran with it from there.

SA: Openings are so critical to grabbing the reader. I loved how THE LOST PLANET opened, with Chase having no idea of who he is or how he got there, not even his name. It’s not really possible to stop reading once you start. Was that your original opening?

It actually was my original opening, with a few semantic tweaks. I tried changing it at one point to more of a “lost in the desert” opening, but that didn’t feel right and so I went back to the original.

SA: Who was your favorite character to write? (confession: I’m fascinated with Mina…I think there’s more there)

Mina was a hoot to write, but I think my favorite was Parker. He’s so snarky and has such a superior attitude, but at his core he’s really caring and vulnerable. And snark is just so much fun to write.

SA: THE LOST PLANET was really fun to read, adventure after adventure. Was it fun to write?

It was! I confess that I hit a lot of dead ends trying to weave this complex mystery, and ended up pretty much rewriting the whole thing during my revisions, but finishing it was incredibly satisfying.

SA: What drew you to write for the middle-grade audience?

That was the age where I really fell in love with both reading and writing. When I started writing again as an adult, I tried a few different genres/age categories, but it quickly became apparent to me that middle grade was my sweet spot.

SA: How has the debut process been for you so far? Anything you didn’t expect?

It’s been a fantastic ride! Everyone at Macmillan and New Leaf has been so wonderful and supportive, I couldn’t ask for a better experience. Something I didn’t expect, even though I’d read about it, is how incredibly challenging writing a book under contract is. It’s just such a different beast from writing that first book in your free time without a deadline or people watching you.

SA: Finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

Afraid of: spiders. It’s so cliché, but there’s some deep part in my lizard brain that just PANICS when I see one. And even after it’s gone, I can’t stop rubbing my skin and my hair to make sure it didn’t somehow sneak onto me. Not afraid of: making a fool of myself if it’s for a good cause. Embarrassment is only temporary, forgetfulness conquers all.

Rachel Searles
More information about Rachel and THE LOST PLANET can be found at
www.rachelsearles.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/RachelSearlesAuthor, or on Twitter at twitter.com/RachelSearles.

Susanadrian-smallSusan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. In the past she danced in a ballet company and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not with her family, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, eating chocolate, and writing more books, both YA and MG. Her debut YA novel TUNNEL VISION will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2015. You can visit her website at susanadrian.blogspot.com.

Introducing: Sarah J. Schmitt

Standard

Hello everyone! I’m Sarah J. Schmitt and I’m a Fearless Fifteeners premie. My YA Ghost story, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out from Strange Chemistry (Fall, 2014).

When I was in fourth grade, I proclaimed to my mother that I was going to be a writer. Many decades later, that dream is finally coming true. I even came in second in a county wide writing contest when I was a freshman in high school. (I lost to my English teacher’s son… I wanted to cry fix, but they showed me the shiny trophy and I was distracted.) When I got to college, I decided I needed to get serious and got a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Psychology, but I kept writing a few pages of fiction here and there. When I graduated, I was pretty directionless. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so when someone commented that I would be a good college administrator, I thought, “Sure, what the heck.”

Best and worst decision of my life. Worst decision because midway through my first semester of graduate school, I realized I was tired of school and just wanted to be a writer. Best decision because I finally figured out what I wanted to do with my life and I met so many amazing people who encouraged me to follow my dreams. They continue to be the greatest cheerleaders of all time. I graduated with my Masters, came home, wrote seventeen chapters of a horrible novel, had two babies and thought this is as good as it’s going to get.

Then one day, when I was folding clothes and watching The Ellen Show. Ellen was interviewing Stephanie Meyer about Twilight and I remember Stephanie saying she had three small kids at home and had never wanted to write a book before but she had to know how the dream ended. I thought to myself, “Hey. I only have two kids and I’ve always wanted to write a book. If she can do it, why can’t I?” That week I started writing and within 6 months had a first draft. It was that moment, on October 3, 2009, that I knew this is what I was supposed to do with my life.

Three years and two completed manuscripts later, I decided that I was FINALLY going to “win” NaNoWriMo, but instead of saving the world like my other books, I just wanted to save the cheerleader… a snarky, self-centered, barely redeemable cheerleader. I finished in 23 days and then revised for six months before sending out my first batch of query letters. A week later I signed with my agent, Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency and five months later received my offer from Strange Chemistry.

I’m looking forward to the year to come and celebrating the successes of my Fearless Fifteeners! This is a crazy wicked talented group of writers!

Here’s the summary of IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH.

Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an over-zealous arch angel, who has grown tired of the white wings and harps, and the Hawaiian-shirt wearing Death Himself.

While she waits for the decision of the Tribunal charged with determining whether her life is worth rewinding the hands of time, RJ wanders through the afterlife where she meets several colorful characters including the Cornhole-playing St. Peter and Al, the handler for the 3-headed Hound that guards the gates to Hell. Finally, the Tribunal present her with two options: she can remain in the Lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires or replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will produce a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no brainer. She’ll take the walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?
But with each moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel until this self-proclaimed Queen Bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast.
SarahJSchmitt_color_lowresSarah J. Schmitt is a K-8 school librarian and Youth Service Professional for Teens at a public library. She lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, two kidlets and a cat who might actually be a secret agent. Her debut novel, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH, comes out Fall 2014 from Strange Chemistry. Check out her antics on Twitter.

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview with Sharon Biggs Waller, author of A Mad Wicked Folly

Standard

Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Sharon Biggs Waller, whose debut novel A MAD WICKED FOLLY comes out today!

Here’s the official summary for A MAD WICKED FOLLY:

A Mad Wicked FollyWelcome to the world of the fabulously wealthy in London, 1909, where dresses and houses are overwhelmingly opulent, social class means everything, and women are taught to be nothing more than wives and mothers. Into this world comes seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling, who wants only to be an artist—a nearly impossible dream for a girl.

After Vicky poses nude for her illicit art class, she is expelled from her French finishing school. Shamed and scandalized, her parents try to marry her off to the wealthy Edmund Carrick-Humphrey. But Vicky has other things on her mind: her clandestine application to the Royal College of Art; her participation in the suffragette movement; and her growing attraction to a working-class boy who may be her muse—or may be the love of her life. As the world of debutante balls, corsets, and high society obligations closes in around her, Vicky must figure out: just how much is she willing to sacrifice to pursue her dreams?

I feel so lucky that I got to read A MAD WICKED FOLLY early. I fell in love with it pretty much from the first page, and stayed up until 4am because I simply had to finish it. It’s lush and thought-provoking and emotional and addictive, and I can’t wait for everyone else to discover how fabulous this book is too!

RT: A Mad, Wicked Folly is a novel about a young artist attempting to find her place in restrictive Edwardian England against the backdrop of the Suffragette movement. What was your initial inspiration for the book? An idea, a character, a song, a painting?

SBW: My first inspiration for the story was the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst in Victoria Tower Gardens in London.  When I lived in England I used to walk by it and I’d think about what life was like for women and teenage girls during the suffrage movement. What if you wanted to be something other than a wife and mother and then be told you couldn’t do it because you were a girl? I couldn’t get this idea out of my head but I was told that historical fiction wasn’t selling, so I didn’t pursue the story.  When I moved back to the US, I decided to write what I wanted to write, regardless of the market, and Vicky’s story started to take shape.

RT: In A Mad, Wicked Folly, Vicky’s favorite painting is A Mermaid by John William Waterhouse. What was it about this painting that made you connect it to Vicky?

SBW: The theme of mermaids kept popping up while I was writing the story. I really think mermaids and the women’s movement had a lot in common.  Mermaids are independent and carefree beings, living their lives as they want to.  Yet, they are looked at with suspicious and cast as these wanton creatures out to destroy men.  When I thought about what Vicky’s favorite painter would be I knew it would be Waterhouse because he was around during the Edwardian era and was considered a modern Pre-Raphaelite.  I knew that Vicky would have to find inspiration through works hung in the RA because it was a place she could get to on her own.  I’ve always loved the painting A Mermaid but I didn’t know that it’s housed in the Royal Academy of Arts.  When I discovered that it had hung there during my book’s time period I knew it had to be Vicky’s favorite.  It fit perfectly into the story for so many reasons. Sadly, the painting isn’t out on display at the RA anymore.  At least it wasn’t when I was there a couple of years ago, so I’ve never seen it in real life.

RT: Do you have a favorite painting? Is it the same as Vicky’s?

SBW: It is!  It’s A Mermaid.

RT: The novel features a few real people, such as the Pankhurst sisters. How did you go about researching their personalities and their lives? And were any of the other characters inspired by real people or stories from the time?

SBW: I started by interviewing a curator at the Museum of London.  She was very helpful and she answered so many questions for me.  I looked through the museum archives and read a lot of letters and looked at photos. It was there that I learned about Sylvia and how she was the WSPU’s main artist.  I bought several books about the Pankhursts in the museum, including one called Sylvia Pankhurst, A Maverick Life by Shirley Harrison, which is where I got a lot of information about her life and how she felt about her art and women’s rights.  I also had the good fortune to talk with her granddaughter, Dr. Helen Pankhurst.

The character of Lucy Hawkins is modeled on two American suffragettes: Alice Paul and Lucy Burns.  Both women were living in England during my story’s timeframe and were part of the WSPU.  Alice Paul was said to be very brusque with women who weren’t taking part in the movement, and so I gave Lucy Hawkins that same type of personality.  By the way, Iron Jawed Angels is a great film about Paul, Burns, and the American suffrage movement.  I highly recommend it.

RT: You’re American, but you spent a few years living in the UK. What inspired you to write about the English Suffragettes, rather than the American movement?

SBW: The English movement was much more militant than the American movement.  Although Alice Paul was force-fed and women were arrested, it was nothing like what the Brits went through, so there was a lot of drama built in already.  The Brits had the added tension of class structure, as well, but ultimately the story was set in the UK because Vicky is British!  : )

RT: If Vicky were at Hogwarts, what house would she be sorted into? And what house would she think she should be sorted into?

SBW: Oh, I love this question! I think Vicky would be sorted into Slytherin, simply because the house is all about ambition and resourcefulness.  And Slytherins will do anything to get what they want.  That’s certainly Vicky! But she would probably assume she’d be sorted into Ravenclaw because of the creativity and wit required of that house.

RT: As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of, and something you’re not afraid of.

I’m terrified of clowns.  Absolutely terrified of them!  I won’t even look at pictures of them.  I’m not afraid of snakes.  I used to be a park ranger and I ran programs about them, and I even had a live milk snake as a visual aid.

Thanks so much, Sharon! Congratulations again on a fabulous debut!

About Sharon:

IMG_3011

Sharon Biggs Waller grew up around artists and developed a passion for Edwardian history and the Pre-Raphaelites when she moved to England in 2000. She did extensive research on the British suffragettes for her novel, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY when she wasn’t working as a riding instructor at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace and as a freelance magazine writer. She also writes non-fiction books about horses under her maiden name, Sharon Biggs. She is a dressage rider and trainer and lives on a 10-acre sustainable farm in Northwest Indiana with her British husband, Mark.

WEBSITE | TWITTER | GOODREADS | FACEBOOK

SBS130424-RHIANNONTHOMAS-023Rhiannon Thomas grew up in the north of England, but moved to the US in 2007 to study English Literature at Princeton University. She now lives in York, England, where she is attempting to master the art of making her own bubble tea. When she isn’t lost in YA fantasy, she writes about feminism in the media at her blog, FeministFiction.com. Her debut novel, A WICKED THING, will be released from HarperTeen in Winter 2015.

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview With Christine Kohler, Author of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER

Standard

Today, we welcome OneFour KidLit author Christine Kohler to the blog to discuss her debut novel, NO SURRENDER SOLDIER. Here’s the book’s official blurb:

NSS cover jpg330pixelsA young man, an old soldier , and a terrible injustice. Should the punishment be death?

Growing up on Guam in 1972, fifteen-year-old Kiko is beset by worries: He’s never kissed a girl, and he thinks it’s possible he never will. The popular guys get all the attention, but the worst part is that Kiko has serious problems at home. His older brother is missing in Vietnam; his grandfather is losing it to dementia; he just learned that his mother was raped in World War II by a Japanese soldier. It all comes together when he discovers an old man, a Japanese soldier, hiding in the jungle behind his house. It’s not the same man who raped his mother, but, in his rage, Kiko cares only about protecting his family and avenging his mom – no matter what it takes. And so, a shy, peaceable boy begins to plan a murder. But how far will Kiko go to prove to himself that he’s a man ? Based on a historical incident, No Surrender Soldier is the story of a boy grappling with ancient questions of courage and manhood before he can move on.

Congratulations on your debut, Christine! What inspired you to write NO SURRENDER SOLDIER?

I graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Hawaii, then moved to Japan. Later I lived on Guam and worked as a political reporter and foreign correspondent for the Pacific Daily News, a Gannett paper covering the West Pacific. So I had a wonderful opportunity to study WWII history in the Pacific Theatre. One Japanese soldier, Shoichi Yokoi, in particular, did something mind-boggling. Rather than fight the U.S. Marines who liberated Guam toward the end of WWII, or commit hara-kiri, he hid in the jungle for 28, living the last eight years underground. When I moved back to the United States I never quit thinking about this soldier and what would cause him to live in such deprivation. This was the seed from which NO SURRENDER SOLDIER sprang.

What was the most difficult part of your journey as an author, from writing to publication?

The publishing end of writing has been the most difficult, and not because I didn’t know how to do the business end of writing. I had an agent at a top agency who left agenting. I’ve had editors who were laid off and I was paid a kill fee. I did pre-contract revisions for two years with one contemporary YA novel and when it was in acquisitions awaiting a contract the parent company sold the YA imprint. Even with this novel, Christy Octtaviano at Henry Holt had sent me a revision letter and was considering publishing NO SURRENDER SOLDIER when she became pregnant with her second child and cut back on her list, so had to decline it. (Christy since has her own imprint with a sizable list.) So you can see how no matter how much or how well you write, landing a publishing contract can be the longest and most difficult part of the writer’s journey.

What kind of research did you do? Did you come across anything that surprised or challenged you?

I have a reputation as a NF writer with solid research. As I already mentioned, I lived on Guam, where NO SURRENDER SOLDIER is set. My husband was a USAF officer so I’m very familiar with military. The Micronesian-Asian Center (MARC) at the University of Guam and the Pacific Daily News sent me copies of articles in their archives. I read accounts of Japanese stragglers in the Philippines. The most challenging thing was getting English translations of Japanese news articles, and I was fortunate to find a Canadian indie bookstore to get me that book.

What is it about Young Adult fiction that appeals to you?

In my opinion most children’s literature is superior in writing to nearly all adult pulp (mass market) fiction. In YA I love how the viewpoint is such a limited omniscient or first person. I could go on and on about this, but you can read about the craft of writing children’s lit on my blog READ LIKE A WRITER.

Can you tell us a bit about the characters of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER? How did you get into their heads?

NO SURRENDER SOLDIER is told in two points of view—Kiko, a 15-year-old Chamorro boy, and Isamu Seto, a WWII Japanese soldier—in alternating chapters. I wrote each character in distinctly different voices and dialects. Any character I write I try to empathize and imagine how he or she would feel in that situation. I think about what sensory details he or she would be experiencing. As for Seto’s chapters, because he is so isolated, I wanted an eerie tone to his chapters, and needed to keep this consistent while he was hidden, so I read and re-read Herman Melville’s TYPEE, Joseph Conrad’s HEART OF DARKNESS, one poem by Jane Yolen, and gothic poems by Akinari. I also re-read LORD OF THE FLIES by William Golding, but to get the tone right for Kiko’s pig slaughter chapter.

CKpublicity_e crop330 pix

As this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you are afraid of and something you are not afraid of.

I am not afraid of death, but I am afraid of a long-term painful death. Otherwise I’m not afraid of much; I’ve always been an adventurous fearless person.

Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Christine. Best of luck with NO SURRENDER SOLDIER!

Christine Kohler is the author of NO SURRENDER SOLDIER, published by Merit Press in January of 2104. She is a former journalist and teacher. To learn more, visit her website, blog, Goodreads, and Twitter.

Melissa Grey penned her first short story at the age of twelve and hasn’t stopped writing since. As an undergrad at Yale, she learned how ride a horse and shoot a bow and arrow at the same time, but hasn’t had much use for that skill since graduating in 2008. Her debut novel, THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT, will be published by Delacorte Press in spring 2015. To learn more about Melissa, visit melissa-grey.com and follow her on Twitter @meligrey.

Introducing: Kim Savage

Standard

I’ve scared away the sweet old man again.

Explaining why nice people flee me seems like a good way to introduce myself. I’m Kim Savage, and I write psychological thrillers for young adults. My novel AFTER THE WOODS will be released by Farrar, Straus & Giroux/MacMillan in 2015, and a second, stand-alone thriller, CELLOPHANE SISTERS (working title) will be released in 2016.

You see, when I write, especially first-draft stuff, I look like a keening witch doctor. I sway as I type, and whisper, looking for lyricism. Working my way into a trance, I tap with grand, oversized strokes, closing my eyes to envision scenes. I read dialogue in character, making sure it sounds authentic. Sometimes, I model my characters’ actions. What does Deborah look like when Shane shows up in Liv’s hospital room? Does she draw in her chin? If so, would her waddle flatten and spread? Wait, I can check this on my mirror app! Oh yeah: major spread. It all adds up to one freaky scene, made worse by the fact that I write in my public library. Choose another table, sweet old man who scans the Globe every morning. Vodoun priestess is in da house!

The magic started when I stalked my dream agent, Sara Crowe, at a Society of Children’s Books Writers & Illustrators retreat and signed with her a month later. She sold my book in a pre-empt to Janine O’Malley at FSG, which I’m pretty sure is entered through pearly white gates inlaid with gold. Next time I’m in NYC, I’m checking that out.

I live with my husband and youngish kids just north of Boston. I’ve spent most of my life as an introvert in disguise, because extroverts have more fun. Though I’ve had careers in journalism and development, writing fiction is the only thing I’ve truly wanted to do. So I shake my head over the fact that I get to write, tics in full force, every single day.

I’m starting to suspect all this conjuration has sparked some supernatural mischief. Because during the last few weeks, my novel has been haunting me.

By way of background: in AFTER THE WOODS, a man tries to abduct Julia and her best friend, Liv. One year later, everything is turned upside down. Liv freezes out Julia, whose terrifying flashbacks of the attack make reassimilating to high school life impossible. When Liv’s risqué new habits include Shane Cuthbert, a violent addict whose temper Liv cultivates, Julia realizes she must remember what really happened that day in the woods before she loses Liv forever.

Back to the magic. Recently, while watching the news, I saw my opportunistic reporter, Paula Papademetriou—not all of her, just her man-hands—attached to a local newscaster.

Last month, I was eased off the road by Shane Cuthbert’s matte black muscle car.

On the same road, I pulled over to send a text and saw the house my predator, Donald Jessup, lives in with his mother. The brown vinyl siding, the yellow mail exploding from the mailbox, the frayed lawn chairs were all there.

Shiver.

I think I know what’s up. I’ve been going hard at Novel Two, and my first baby will not be ignored. The doppelganger body parts and suspiciously similar settings are just Novel One’s way of reminding me it’s there. After all, you can’t summon magic and expect it to stay dormant (see “Frozen”).

AFTER THE WOODS began with flipping a question. Would you sacrifice yourself to save your best friend? Then: would you sacrifice your best friend to save yourself? What follows isn’t easy. Neither are my characters. I’m with Clare Messud when she asks, “The relevant question isn’t ‘is this a potential friend for me?’ but ‘is this character alive?’ ”

I want readers to care as deeply about Julia and Liv as I do. About them, if not for them. Understand their hard choices, then agree, or disagree. Ultimately, I hope my characters come alive for readers, which would, in fact, be a little bit of magic.

I’d love to hear from you, especially about your favorite “tough” YA characters. Tweet me @khsavage

 

Kim Savage is the author of AFTER THE WOODS, a debut psychological thriller for young adults coming in 2015 with Farrar, Straus and Giroux/MacMillan. She is working on CELLOPHANE SISTERS (working title), also with FSG/MacMillan, her second thriller for young adults. Before writing fiction, she worked as business journalist, pitching stories along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You get the idea.

On This Fifteenth Day, We Have Prize Winners!

Standard

Thank you to everyone who entered our Mega Launch Giveaway! We had a total of 181 entries for 18 prizes for writers and 26 prizes for everyone.

Here are the winners for the prizes “For Writers.” We will contact the winners and match the prize with the writer, so that a middle grade writer gets a middle grade critique, for example.

  • Whitney Sandin
  • Leona Retan
  • Keri Schneider
  • Nicole Zoltack
  • Lauren H.
  • Jessi
  • Megan Hutchins
  • Alex
  • Beth Pond
  • Renee Aprice
  • Sara Erickson
  • Lisa Rose
  • Cristin Bruggeman
  • V.T.
  • Jenny Fisher Clark
  • Bethany
  • Shelina Kurwa
  • Terry Lynn Johnson

Here is the list of the prizes “For Everyone” and the winners:

  • Nicole Zoltack: Copies of THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH and THE NAME OF THE STAR from Susan Adrian, plus Maureen Johnson STARE tattoos
  • JC: Copy of DEATH, DICKINSON, AND THE DEMENTED LIFE OF FRENCHIE GARCIA from Lauren Gibaldi
  • Jennifer Prickrell: Copy of ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE from Cindy L. Rodriguez
  • Anna M.: Copy of ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME from Cordelia Jensen
  • Jessamyn: Copy of THE LOST GIRL from Marcy Beller Paul
  • Abby Cooper: Copy of THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST or CRACKED (signed) from I.W. Gregorio
  • Lisa Rose: Copies of ALTERED and the sequel ERASED from Virginia Boecker
  • Myriam Bén Ncir: Signed copy of FAKING NORMAL from David Arnold
  • Heather: Signed copies of NIL and DEFY from Becky Wallace
  • Rebecca Waddell: Signed copy of UNREMEMBERED from Michelle Levy
  • Ghita Bardaoui: Copy of THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING from Moriah McStay
  • Jayne: Copy of TWO BOYS KISSING from Mary McCoy
  • Pamela Harris: Copy of DREAMWOOD from Kim Liggett
  • Jessi: Copy of TIDES from Rhiannon Thomas
  • Alicia: Copy of SPLINTERED by A.G. Howard
  • Ashley MacKenzie: Copy of THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE from Kathryn Holmes
  • Sara McGraw: Signed copy of THE CHANCE YOU WILL RETURN from Kim Savage
  • Whitney Sandin: 2014 preorder from Francesca Zappia
  • Baillie Puckett: 2014 preorder of VITRO from Lori Goldstein
  • Cordelia Fitzgerald: Signed copy of OTHERSPHERE from Jen Klein (+ 3 bookmarks, one from each book in the series)
  • Anita Nolan: Homemade greeting card pack from Cordelia Jensen
  • Lauren H.: Paul Frank laptop bag (with monkey) from Stacey Lee
  • Lisa B.: Homemade earrings from Alison DeCamp
  • Jessica Noreault: Free downloads of David Arnold’s music
  • V.T.: $20 book gift card from Shannon Grogan
  • Ashley Maker $20 Barnes and Noble gift card from Sarah McGuire

Last but not least, a few links to get you through the month:

Melissa Grey reveals the three books she wishes she wrote.

Jennifer Bertman explains how to set writing resolutions you can actually keep.

Introducing: Rhiannon Thomas

Standard

Hi, everybody! *waves* I’m Rhiannon Thomas, author of A WICKED THING, an after-the-end retelling of Sleeping Beauty to be released in Winter 2015.

I’m originally from Yorkshire in England, but when I was 18, I moved to Princeton, NJ for college. In the process, I picked up an American accent, a taste for pumpkin pie, and a tendency to spell words without the letter “u.” I now split my time between New York and medieval old York, where I get constantly lost in the narrow streets.

The idea for A WICKED THING came to me while I was still in college and going through a nerdy lit student phase of analyzing and tearing apart the “happily ever after” endings of Jane Austen novels. Halfway through a semester dedicated to this research, I sat down with a friend to watch Sleeping Beauty. “But it’s so weird,” I said to her after the movie finished. “She doesn’t even know the prince.” But at least, in the Disney version, the princess has spoken to him before their happy ending. In most versions of the story, the prince is a complete stranger. How creepy, I thought, to be kissed by a stranger while you slept, and then told this random weirdo is actually your true love. Wouldn’t that be awkward at best? Even if that person would have been your “true love” under other circumstances, being presented with a complete stranger and being told “fate says you must be together!!” would definitely put some pressure on the relationship. Perhaps I’m just a contrary person, but I think it would put me off the whole thing, just on principle.

The more I thought about the end of the Sleeping Beauty story, the more weirdness I saw. In a lot of versions of the tale, the whole castle sleeps along with the princess, but what if they didn’t? The princess would wake up in an entirely different world for her “happily ever after.” And what about the years before she fell asleep? Whatever extreme measures her parents took to keep her safe from the curse would have to have had some effect on her. And how would people react to a princess magically waking up from true love’s kiss after a hundred years? Would they believe in the romance of the whole thing? Would she be hyped up to be something she wasn’t? Or would people be suspicious? I couldn’t get the after of this “happily ever after” out of my head.

But I didn’t start writing it in earnest until I graduated college, moved back to England, and looked around at my suddenly planless life, thinking, “What next?” I knew I really wanted to be a writer, but the idea seemed pretty crazy… yet I had no other big plans while I applied to grad school, so I dove into the novel. It turned out to be the perfect time to write it. Aurora in A WICKED THING is a pretty lost protagonist. She doesn’t know what she’s supposed to do, or even what she wants to do. Her whole world has just changed, and she has no idea how she fits into it. Perhaps it seems melodramatic to compare that to the confusion of being a brand new college graduate, but my own stress and confusion at the time played a huge part in shaping Aurora’s story.

So for that first year out of college, I worked at a bookstore, struggled over my applications to study a PhD in English, and wrote like a maniac. Turns out, I didn’t want to go to grad school. I was just kind of in denial that ‘writer’ was the reckless and unstable way I wanted to go. A year after I graduated, shortly after my 24th birthday, I signed with the amazing Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency. A few months and a bit of revision after that, A WICKED THING went on submission to publishers, and found a home with the lovely Sarah Landis at HarperTeen a couple of weeks later. I was writing in Starbucks when I first got the news that HarperTeen were interested, and I think my squeals of delight must have scared everyone within a five mile radius. All in all, a pretty magical ending to the whole “omg I’m 23, what do I do after graduation??” debacle, although one I never would have thought might actually happen in those first few post-college months.

Here’s the full summary of A WICKED THING:

A spinning wheel. A prick of a finger. A terrible curse. 

One hundred years after falling asleep, Princess Aurora wakes up to the kiss of a handsome prince and a broken kingdom that has been dreaming of her return. All the books say that she should be living happily ever after. But as Aurora understands all too well, the truth is nothing like the fairytale.

Her family is long dead. Her “true love” is a kind stranger. And her whole life has been planned out by political foes while she slept. Everyone expects Aurora to marry her betrothed and restore magic and peace to the kingdom before revolution tears it apart. But after a lifetime spent locked in a tower for her own safety, Aurora longs for the freedom to make her own choices. When she meets a handsome rebel, he tempts her to abandon everything for a different kind of life.

As Aurora struggles to make sense of her new world, she begins to fear that the curse has left its mark on her, a fiery and dangerous thing that might be as wicked as the witch who once ensnared her.

With her wedding day drawing near, Aurora must make the ultimate decision on how to save her kingdom: marry the prince or run.

I can’t wait to see what 2014 will bring!

SBS130424-RHIANNONTHOMAS-023Rhiannon Thomas grew up in the north of England, but moved to the US in 2007 to study English Literature at Princeton University. She now lives in York, England, where she is attempting to master the art of making her own bubble tea. When she isn’t lost in YA fantasy, she writes about feminism in the media at her blog, FeministFiction.com. Her debut novel, A WICKED THING, will be released from HarperTeen in Winter 2015.

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview With Michelle Schusterman, Author of I HEART BAND! and FRIENDS, FUGUES, AND FORTUNE COOKIES

Standard

Today we’re interviewing OneFourKidLit author Michelle Schusterman, whose debut MG novels I HEART BAND! and FRIENDS, FUGUES, AND FORTUNE COOKIES hit the shelves today. Welcome, Michelle!

Here’s the blurb for I HEART BAND!

I Heart Band coverHolly Mead’s first day of seventh grade isn’t going as planned. Her brother ruins her carefully chosen outfit, she’s almost late, and her new band director has some surprisingly strict rules. Worst of all, it seems like her best friend, Julia, has replaced her with Natasha, the pretty, smart, new French horn player! Holly is determined to get first chair, but Natasha is turning out to be some pretty stiff competition—and not just in band. Band might be a competition, but friendship isn’t—and Holly needs to figure it out before she loses Julia for good.

I HEART BAND! is charming, fun, heartfelt, and filled to the brim with characters every kid can relate to (and how cute is that cover?). I had a blast reading it, and am so excited to help introduce Holly and her friends to the world. And so, without further ado:

KH: Where did the idea for the I HEART BAND! series come from? Can you tell us about your personal experience in the band world—middle school or otherwise?

MS: I was actually commissioned to write this series by my editor, Jordan Hamessley! She contacted my agent asking if she had any clients with “band geek” cred. We had a phone call in which we discovered we both went to middle and high school in Texas—and, of course, we were both in band. (I have to add here that talking to an editor in New York about who won the Texas State Marching Band Competition a decade ago was extremely surreal!) She wanted a story about a competitive French horn player (like herself!) who starts seventh grade with a new rival—a talented horn player who’s moving in on both her chances at first chair and her best friend. I loved it, we brainstormed a few ideas, and I hung up thinking I had a decent shot at getting asked to submit sample chapters. Instead, my agent called half an hour later and said they’d made an offer!

I’m a percussionist, so my high school experience also included lots of drumline competitions, as well as marching band. I got my bachelor’s in music education from the University of North Texas, which qualified me to teach music K-12, including band, choir, and orchestra (although believe me—you do NOT want me teaching a choir!). I was a band director in the Dallas area for four years, where I split my time teaching middle school in the morning (beginner classes and symphonic band) and high school in the afternoon (drumline and concert band).

KH: Which of the kids in I HEART BAND! was the most fun to write? Is there one you relate to the most? (Confession time: I definitely empathized with Holly and her type-A tendency to over-think and over-plan—and her love of color-coding!—but sci-fi geek Owen stole my heart…)

MS: I adore writing Holly, although I, sadly, am not nearly as organized. But yeah…Owen’s kind of my favorite. His series character arc was one of the most fun to work on, just because he’s a talented kid but has kind of low self-confidence. Holly plays a huge role in helping him realize his full potential, just as he does a good job of helping her understand being the best isn’t always so important.

KH: Do you have a favorite scene in the book?

MS: Absolutely—when candy-addicted Gabby discovers ants crawling out of her saxophone during rehearsal. That was a horror story we’d tell kids on the first day of sixth grade: “If you don’t clean your instrument every day, you’ll get bugs and maggots in your mouthpiece!”

KH: What drew you to write for the middle-grade audience?

MS: While I read a mix of middle grade, young adult, and adult books, I’ve found that my voice just naturally lies with middle grade. And honestly, the books I read as a child are the ones that really stuck with me and made me want to write—particularly anything by Roald Dahl.

Friends, Fugues, and Fortune Cookies coverKH: Since FRIENDS, FUGUES, AND FORTUNE COOKIES also comes out today, can you give us any hints of what to expect from that book? When does the rest of the series release? 

MS: Hmm…a competitive bake sale gone awry thanks to a rogue volleyball, an embarrassing case of mistaken identity involving a crush, and a cyborg-ninja Santa!

Book three is called SLEEPOVERS, SOLOS, AND SHEET MUSIC, and it’s out May 15th, 2014. Book four, CRUSHES, CODAS, AND CORSAGES, will be out in the fall!

KH: And finally, as this community is fearless, we’d like to know something you’re afraid of and something you’re not afraid of.

MS: I’m afraid of really confined spaces, especially for long periods of time. I’m not afraid of insects or spiders—they kind of fascinate me. (Cockroaches do gross me the heck out, though!)

Thanks for stopping by, Michelle, and congratulations again on your debut! 

About Michelle: 

Michelle SchustermanMichelle Schusterman is a former band director and forever band geek, dating back to when she first picked up a pair of drumsticks in the sixth grade. Now Michelle writes books, screenplays, and music. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and their chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist).

Find Michelle online: WEBSITE | TWITTER | TUMBLR

Kathryn Holmes grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, where she was an avid reader and an aspiring writer from an early age. She now lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and piles upon piles of books. A graduate of The New School’s MFA in Creative Writing program, Kathryn works as a freelance dance journalist, among other writing gigs. Her debut YA novel, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND, comes out in early 2015 from HarperTeen. You can find Kathryn online at www.kathrynholmes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Kathryn_Holmes.

Introducing: Susan Adrian

Standard

This is the first in a series of introductory posts, to…you guessed it…introduce you to all the fabulous Fearless Fifteeners, so we’re not just pretty faces with book titles and blurbs.

*****

I’m Susan Adrian, and my book, TUNNEL VISION, is going to be published in 2015.

That still doesn’t feel real at all, but it seems to be true.

My writing story, like many of yours, is long and twisty, sometimes painful and sometimes exhilarating. I started writing a medieval historical fiction book in the late ’90s, after I had a remarkably hyperreal dream so vivid that I just had to record the scene. Being a total newbie, I wrote the scene and immediately posted it on the internet, on the Compuserve Books & Writers Forum, for comment. Diana Gabaldon, one of my writing heroes, was one of the first to respond, encouraging me.

She created a monster. From there I only stopped writing for a brief period, when I had my daughter, and an even briefer period, when I quit.

But that comes later.

I took many years to write the historical novel and came close to getting an agent with it, but no cigar. I wrote another book, a young adult novel about a girl whose epilepsy carries her between worlds, and signed with an agent, but it didn’t sell. Didn’t even come close, really. Then I wrote another, and my agent rejected it. Another first draft, rejected. I spent 2 years banging at another, writing revision after revision after revision, but my agent never quite liked it, and I ended up hating it passionately. Hated writing, hated the pressure I was putting on myself. Hated dragging myself to the keyboard to work on this book that never sang.

So I quit. I decided that I didn’t have to put myself through this, and it was making me a miserable person. The relief was immediate, and immense. I lounged and read and watched TV, including a show called CHUCK about a normal guy pushed into spy life that touched all my buttons. But I also got bored, and restless at night, so I started telling myself a story to go to sleep. It was vaguely Chuck-ish, but had a boy named Jake who already had a power, a dangerous one, who had his secret found out.

I loved this story. I couldn’t stop. I ran it in my head every night like a movie, in order, discovering Jake’s family, his friends, exciting scenes bursting with suspense that took my breath away, the story I most wanted to hear. It made me stay up until 4 am figuring out What Happened Next. And then I realized one day that this was dumb, and I should just write the darn thing down.

I wrote it all, with revisions, in 10 weeks.  When it was done, I left my agent, signed with another one, Kate Schafer Testerman (whom I adore), and went on submission. It didn’t sell right away—it was almost a year from initial submission to offer—but we found the right editor, Brendan Deneen at Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Press, who loved Jake and all his adventures as much as Kate and I did.

That book, TUNNEL VISION, is going to be on the shelves in 2015, and you can read it too. I wonder if by then it will feel real?

Here’s the full summary of TUNNEL VISION:

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He’s decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he’s also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there’s a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom.

 His secret is blown.

 When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to “tunnel” into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It’s an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

 Jake promised his dad never to tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn’t agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

 Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he’s doing—finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists—is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel’s help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.

My dream is that someday Jake’s story will keep someone up until 4 am, finding out What Happens Next, just like it did with me.

Susanadrian-smallSusan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. In the past she danced in a ballet company and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not with her family, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, eating chocolate, and writing more books, both YA and MG. Her debut YA novel TUNNEL VISION will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2015. You can visit her website at susanadrian.blogspot.com.