FEARLESS FRIDAYS – LEE KELLY LOOKS BOOK TWO IN THE EYE

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I’m going to be honest: my knee-jerk answer to my greatest fear is public speaking (Michelle Falkoff, I feel you!) My book launch party is next Friday at The Strand Bookstore in Manhattan, and I am absolutely terrified of not only getting up in front of an entire room of friends, family and strangers and reading from my book, but *GASP* talking unscripted about it. I’m SO much better with a script. I will be confronting this fear in exactly one week . . .

But in the interest of mixing things up, I’ll confront another fear today: the fear of the dreaded Book Two. The contracted book, the book that wasn’t purchased as anything but a line item in a contract that generously described the project as “AN UNTITLED BOOK TWO,” the book that I wrote furiously under a four-month deadline. The book that I worry won’t measure up to my first book (if people even like my first book *nervous mumblings*). The book I worry will lose any readers I gain, the book I secretly love as much as I hate. The book that will absolutely, positively suffer from second child syndrome. The book that brings up the dreaded thought of one…trick…pony.

But here’s the thing: I know I need to get over it. Writers write. They don’t hold tight to what’s already finished and lament that they can’t replicate it, because it’s been done already. They try new things; they send those new things out to the world (or at least to their agents or editors), and they hope those new things resonate. Then they work on it, make it better, try their damnedest until the new thing is right.

So for the sake of confronting these Book Two fears, I’m just going for broke and putting this Second Child out there. Here’s the first page from my work-in-progress Book Two:

CRIMINAL MAGIC

September 1926

BLACK WOODS
JOAN

Magic can achieve a lot of things, but it can’t undo the past. I’ve sworn off sorcery, buried my magic with earth, blood and tears below the ground, but I’d gladly sell my soul to use it just once more, if sorcery could find a way to bring me back in time. If it could bring me right to the edge of where I stood and shattered my world into tiny shards, and make me walk away instead.
I’ve managed to trick myself from time to time. Even after all these months, I’ll sometimes wake up and forget for those first few hazy minutes between dreams and morning, and the world will feel different. Like all of the color hasn’t been stolen out of it, like she might be in her spell room mixing lavender and poppy, whispering her words of power, sneaking in some work before breakfast as dawn creeps into the windows behind her. It’s such a warm and comfortable feeling, like burrowing into a blanket, and I want to hug in tight, burrow a little deeper, even as my mind’s coming into focus, even as my heart’s catching onto being duped and starts beating faster, faster, then double time.
And then it hits me like an avalanche of bricks.
She’s gone.
But that’s the problem with tricks. The world can feel even emptier, once their hold on you is over.

Okay, so I kind of sort of feel a little bit better ☺ Thank you!!

Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and son in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she can’t help but still call herself a New Yorker. CITY OF SAVAGES is her first novel.

Q&A with YA Author Lee Kelly

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In this week’s Q&A YA Wednesday, we’ve got, Lee Kelly, whose CITY OF SAVAGES is out February, 2015. You can see the blurb and Lee’s bio at the end of the post—but first, check out her clever answers to our quirky questions.

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

I find that I’m a superhero with (a long coveted ability) to teleport. Before the rest of the family wakes up, I teleport myself to this little chocolate croissant stand in Paris that my husband and I were in love with, pick up some pastries, teleport to New York for our favorite cappuccinos from Joe, and I’m back to set the table in minutes.

2. Turns out your parents aren’t happy with your change. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

I’m not sure what my parents are so upset about, seeing as I’ll be able to spend more quality time with them with less of a commute, but I respect their feelings and dial up my sole option in this situation: the Star Trek team.  We debate the pros and cons of using a transporter versus good old-fashioned superhero abilities, and I decide to retain my power in secret.  No way I am giving this up (pizza in Italy, hot chocolate in Switzerland… am I talking about food too much?)

3. 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?

Perhaps it’s kind of creepy that both me and my husband are both still walking around high school searching for each other, but I ignore this nagging thought and tell Jeff how I’ve discovered a potential key to all of our time management problems and needless to say, he’s thoroughly intrigued.

4. He/she isn’t convinced you’re telling the truth — after all, it’s a pretty far fetched story. He/she suggests going somewhere to talk about it more. Where’s this dream date taking place?

I manage to teleport me AND him to this little church-converted-into-restaurant in Florence, Italy called La Giostra.  After a lovely dinner, we teleport to Big Sur and watch the sunset over the cliffs.

5. It might not be true love yet, but there is a Happily Ever After in your near future. As a Fearless Fifteener, your book is out this year. Tell us about it in 140 characters or less.

Two sisters and their mother attempt to escape a war-torn Manhattan, after the discovery of certain secrets throws their whole world into question.

 

CITY OF SAVAGES

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After the Red Allies turn New York City into a POW camp, two sisters must decipher the past in order to protect the future in this action-packed thriller with a dual narrative.It’s been nearly two decades since the Red Allies first attacked New York, and Manhattan is now a prisoner-of-war camp, ruled by Rolladin and her brutal, impulsive warlords. For Skyler Miller, Manhattan is a cage that keeps her from the world beyond the city’s borders. But for Sky’s younger sister, Phee, the POW camp is a dangerous playground of possibility, and the only home she’d ever want.When Sky and Phee discover their mom’s hidden journal from the war’s outbreak, they both realize there’s more to Manhattan—and their mother—than either of them had ever imagined. And after a group of strangers arrives at the annual POW census, the girls begin to uncover the island’s long-kept secrets. The strangers hail from England, a country supposedly destroyed by the Red Allies, and Rolladin’s lies about Manhattan’s captivity begin to unravel.Hungry for the truth, the sisters set a series of events in motion that end in the death of one of Rolladin’s guards. Now they’re outlaws, forced to join the strange Englishmen on an escape mission through Manhattan. Their flight takes them into subways haunted by cannibals, into the arms of a sadistic cult in the city’s Meatpacking District and, through the pages of their mom’s old journal, into the island’s dark and shocking past.

Lee Kelly has wanted to write since she was old enough to hold a pencil, but it wasn’t until she began studying for the California Bar Exam that she conveniently started putting pen to paper. An entertainment lawyer by trade, Lee has practiced law in Los Angeles and New York. She lives with her husband and son in Millburn, New Jersey, though after a decade in Manhattan, she can’t help but still call herself a New Yorker. CITY OF SAVAGES is her first novel.

FEARLESS FRIDAYS–MICHELLE FALKOFF PREPARES TO FACE THE CROWD

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I loved Mike’s opening post about getting over a fear of heights by going to the top of the Sears Tower. I had the opposite experience—I’d never been afraid of heights until I went skydiving. Oops.

I’m afraid of all sorts of random things that will never happen (remember those old scary TV shows that had people being buried alive?) and some things that will happen that I’ll just have to suck up (not everyone’s going to love this book, for example, and that’s just how it is). And I’m not afraid of some of the things that came up most often on people’s intro posts (like snakes—I had a pet snake in college, RIP). But the fear that feels the most pressing to me right now is one I have to deal with all the time: public speaking.

Whenever I tell people this, they laugh. Which is, in many ways, understandable. I’m a professor, which means I speak in front of my classroom all the time. I can also be kind of a loudmouth, especially when I’m around my friends, and I tend to say what I think, with minimal filters. I can generally hide the quivering mess I am when I have to get in front of a room and have all the eyes focused on me.

With this book, however, comes new opportunities to have to face this fear. I’m going to be attending some conferences where I have to speak to enormous rooms of people, far bigger than I’ve ever been in front of before. Sometimes the people won’t have chosen to be there, which makes it even harder (though I should be used to that by now—right, law students?).

So the fear I’m acknowledging today is one I haven’t yet had to face, but which is coming: I’ve agreed to speak at an event that could have anywhere from 250-500 people in it, many of whom may not be there of their own volition. That means it could be five times the number of people I’ve ever spoken in front of, and that happened precisely once.

Those who’ve come before me on Fearless Fridays have been brave enough to post video; I’m not quite there yet. Even just signing up for this feels like a pretty big deal to me, but once I’ve said I’ll do something I tend to do it, which means this is really going to happen. I’m hoping that saying yes ends up being the scariest part, but I’ll have to check back in later on that one. In the meantime, I’m just going to rely on Rosie the Riveter, always a source of inspiration:

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Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Q&A with MG author A.L. Sonnichsen

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Next up on Fearless Fifteeners’ Wednesday Q&As is MG author, A.L. Sonnichsen, whose debut, RED BUTTERFLY, is out on February 3rd. We’ve got a bio and book blurb at the end of the post but right now we’re skipping straight to ogres. Fearless or what?!

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1. 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?
I’d choose Peter Pevensie from the Narnia books, because he learns to be brave and he has a big enough sword to kill an ogre.

 

2. 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?
Definitely a unicorn. It would feel like riding a horse, but better. I love riding horses when I get the chance. A dragon might be faster, but dragons also increase the risk of burn injury. Not worth it, in my opinion.

 

3. After arriving at work late, your boss asks you what your most embarrassing childhood memory was. You have to tell him. 
I grew up in Hong Kong and we took public transport everywhere. We didn’t have a car. One Sunday coming home from church, I really had to go to the bathroom. I ran into a McDonalds, but their bathroom was out of order and there was nowhere else to go. Our apartment was still half an hour away by bus. While waiting for the bus, I became so desperate I peed my pants right there on the street … and cried all the way home! It was awful. My sister wouldn’t even sit next to me on the bus (though I can’t really blame her).

 

4. 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?
It’s not exactly an event, but I’m researching 1920s southern China (for a new book!) and I’d love to explore the streets of old Canton for a few days. That would be fascinating.

 

5. 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.
Kara is left alone in China when her American foster mother is forced to leave.

 

RED BUTTERFLY

Front Cover - Red Butterfly

A young orphaned girl in modern-day China discovers the meaning of family in this inspiring story told in verse, in the tradition of Inside Out and Back Again and Sold. Kara never met her birth mother. Abandoned as an infant, she was taken in by an American woman living in China. Now eleven, Kara spends most of her time in their apartment, wondering why she and Mama cannot leave the city of Tianjin and go live with Daddy in Montana. Mama tells Kara to be content with what she has…but what if Kara secretly wants more? Told in lyrical, moving verse, Red Butterfly is the story of a girl learning to trust her own voice, discovering that love and family are limitless, and finding the wings she needs to reach new heights.

 

AUTHOR BIO

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Raised in Hong Kong, A.L. Sonnichsen grew up attending British school and riding double decker buses. As an adult, she spent eight years in Mainland China where she learned that not all baozi is created equal. She also learned some Mandarin, which doesn’t do her much good in the small Eastern Washington town where she now lives with her rather large family. Find out more at http://alsonnichsen.blogspot.com. Twitter: @alsonnichsen. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorALSonnichsen

 

Release Day: TUNNEL VISION in 3 gifs!

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IT’S FINALLY HERE.

My book is out in the world, in real bookstores and libraries and real people’s hands. It’s been a long road–15 years and I’m now working on book number 8–but it’s really happened.

TUNNEL VISION was originally inspired by a TV show about a nerdy spy called CHUCK. In celebration of the launch of TUNNEL VISION into the world, here are 3 CHUCK gifs!

Like CHUCK, Jake Lukin is also kind of an adorable nerd:

ChuckSmileWho finds himself in a situation WAY out of his control. It’s not quite the same thing when someone points a gun at you in real life compared to a video game.

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However, both Jake and Chuck come into their own and figure out a way to deal with their abilities:

ChuckI highly recommend watching CHUCK on Netflix, if you get a chance. But you know what I recommend even MORE? Buying a copy of TUNNEL VISION, on shelves today!!

Jake Lukin has an incredible power he’s been hiding his whole life…but one (big) mess-up later, and the U.S. government knows all about it. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards. When his family is threatened, Jake has to make a terrible choice. TUNNEL VISION is a young adult sf thriller with psychic spies, graveyard chases, Call of Duty, Buffy and Veronica Mars references, and a stubborn little sister you’ll wish you had, even if you are an 18-year-old boy.

Order on:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound

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.

FEARLESS FRIDAYS – Becky Wallace faces a first draft

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We all have fears. Some are logical:

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It’s venomous! Be afraid!

 

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I mean honestly. These things are nasty.

 

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That is a thing of nightmares.

 

And some are slightly less logical:

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The holes! Ugh. They totally make my skin crawl!

But there is one fear that every writer faces: the fear of their old, crappy drafts.

Today I’m pulling out the very first draft of my very first book, and let me warn you, those first couple of paragraphs are painful!  It was a paranormal (as was the thing to write four years ago) about a boy who could see the future, but got really sick when he tried to do it.

Speaking of sick, don’t mind the sniffles in this vlog I’m battling one of those deadline-and-debut colds, so my voice is more terrifying than usual!

Come back and visit us next week on Fearless Fridays when the lovely Michelle Falkoff will try to face one of her greatest fears!

Becky headshots-Becky headshots-0007Becky Wallace is the author of THE KEEPERS’ CHRONICLES: THE STORYSPINNER, a magical adventure in which a case of mistaken identity exposes a young performer to a danger she could have never imagined and a secret her father died to protect. It will be available from Simon & Schuster in March 2015. When Becky’s not writing, she’s baking cupcakes and teaching her kids ’90s dance moves.

INTRODUCING NATASHA SINEL

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Here’s how to become a published author in five steps. (Notice I didn’t say five easy steps. Nor did I say they’d all be forward-moving steps.)

1. Live Your Childhood Inside Books

I was a reader. When I finished one book, I’d start the next. Books dictated the ups and downs of my moods (This probably confused the hell out of my parents—well, what is she crying about now?) I wrote stories too. People would say, “She’ll be a writer someday.” But people aren’t books, so I didn’t listen.

2. Go to Business School by Default

Having grown up in Washington, D.C., I assumed I’d be a lawyer, a lobbyist, or a politician. But…eh. A doctor was out of the question—I was one of those faint-at-the-sight-of-blood types. So, I went to business school. Maybe I’d be some sort of business-type person.

3. Do Something That Makes You Feel Horrible About Yourself

During business school, I miserably failed my internship at one of the big investment banks. (Why did I even try it? Because someone—I won’t mention names, but it starts with a D and ends with a D—always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. Investment banking, however? Not in my “anything” category.) Turns out, I wasn’t interested in any of the MBA-type jobs at banks, consulting firms, and product marketing companies. I had no job-worthy interests, period. Then, after listening to me whine long enough, my dad asked one simple question:

“When you pick up the New York Times, which section do you read first?”

The Book Review, duh. Also TV and movies. So something clicked there, and I set my mind to a more appropriate “anything.” After a grueling independent job search, I landed a job at Showtime Networks. I was on the business side, but I was working in TV. I loved watching TV! One of my interests plus job equals happy/successful.

4. Spend $$ on Gas and Parking

Many years later, I put work on hold to start a family. I had an idea for a story, so I signed up for a YA novel workshop. Driving an hour to SoHo every week would give me a kick in the pants to write, and that would make me feel creative, productive, and good. What I hadn’t expected was for my instructor (fabulous author/yoga instructor Kristen Kemp) to say, “Girl, you can write. There is no reason why you can’t get published, if that’s what you want to do.”*

Whoa. That was an option? Sure, I’d fantasized about being an author. Who doesn’t? But, that was just fantasy, right? But something clicked, and I set my mind to another “anything”—being a writer.

5. Fail and Fail and Fail Some More

After ten years, two and a half manuscripts, and numerous heartbreaking but necessary failures, the fantasy is a reality. And it feels like the right “anything.”

*My fellow Fearless Fifteener, Sona Charaipotra (PRETTY LITTLE THINGS) was in that class with me, and I’m so glad to reconnect with her here during our debut year!

Here’s a description of my debut YA contemporary THE FIX, which comes out this September:

One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

“First shot out of the gate, Sinel bravely addresses tough topics, demonstrating that the weight of secrets can pull us under—and their release can save us from drowning.” —Holly Schindler, critically acclaimed author of A Blue So Dark and Feral

“A bewitching, beautiful, and brave debut. Readers will marvel at Macy’s resilience. Natasha Sinel’s writing devastates and uplifts, by turns. An important story of one girl’s journey to rewrite the blueprint of her own life by facing the truth inside herself.” —Carrie Mesrobian, award-winning author of Sex & Violence and Perfectly Good White Boy

Natasha Sinel writes YA fiction from her home on a dirt road in Northern Westchester, NY. She drives her kids around all afternoon, but in her head, she’s still in high school, and hopes no one near her can read minds. Find her on Twitter and on YA Outside The Lines. Natasha’s debut YA novel THE FIX will be out from Sky Pony Press in September 2015.