Fearless Fridays: Susan faces teenagers


For this post, I was originally planning to face my fear of doing new things in public by filming me ICE-SKATING for the first time. However, Weather has not cooperated–it’s been way too warm here in Montana, and the outdoor ice skating rink has been melted and closed for the season for 3 weeks.

I am both disappointed and relieved about this, on several levels.

However, it wasn’t hard to come up with a back-up idea for being fearless. My best and strongest example of fearlessness occurred the week before my book came out, January 20-23rd.

Without any prior experience, I spent 3 full days presenting to teenagers. Over and over and over, a 45-50 min talk about myself and my book. 19 times, in three days.


I mean, I like teenagers! I have one now. But facing their skeptical…faces? Sometimes a hundred of them at a time? EEEEP. I definitely didn’t sleep the night before the first one. Or…the second one. I was petrified. That first morning I think I was shaking, and I quite literally had to force myself to get into the car and go. I don’t know what I thought was the worst-case scenario. Maybe this?

Nobody-likes-you-GIFBut I did it. I walked into that highschool (fake it till you make it!) and set up my Powerpoint, and when the kids came in and looked at me, I talked. And talked and talked. (That first day? the Powerpoint wasn’t long enough, so I talked to fill…)

But you know what? It WASN’T BAD. Better than that, it was kind of FUN.Photo Jan 13, 2 07 17 PMPhoto Jan 13, 1 16 44 PM

The kids were really enthusiastic, asked fantastic questions about my book and the publishing process, and wore their Chucks for me!

The next schools were bigger, and I had my presentation down a lot better (after the poor 1st period, who had to deal with the screen not working), and I started to get into it.

Photo Jan 14, 1 49 01 PMPhoto Jan 16, 1 16 46 PMBy the last day I really enjoyed it, even if I was WIPED. And since then I have: recorded a radio show, held my launch party (and spoke there), done panel events in Houston, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego, and did another school event in Santee, CA. I have six more events planned already, and more coming.

I was petrified, but I proved to myself that I can do it–and that it can be fun to face your fears.

Thanks, Fearless Fifteeners! You helped.

(And today’s my birthday! That kind of attention I love.) 🙂



Gulp. 26th February 2015 is finally here. Time to be fearless because my debut MG book, THE DREAMSNATCHER, is out in the wild!

*grins like a maniac*
*does a happy bum wiggle dance*

I’ve got to hand it to Agnes from Despicable Me though for summing up the book in three GIFs…

12-year-old gypsy girl Moll: ‘Come and get me you big fat scary Dreamsnatcher.’
Come and get me


12-year-old gypsy girl Moll: ‘Yeah, I’m talking to you, Skull!’ Pause. ‘Eeeeeeeek you’re mean and scary.’
Agnes fear


12-year-old gypsy girl Moll: ‘Ha! But I’ve got a wildcat and I love him so much! He’s so fluffy!’ Turns to Gryff, the wildcat. ‘You better stay and help me against the Dreamsnatcher, okay?’
I love my unicorn


THE DREAMSNATCHER by Abi Elphinstone
Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows…The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Michelle Harrison and Eva Ibbotson.

Order on:

When she’s not zooming around Burma on a motorbike or hang-gliding over Rio de Janeiro, Abi Elphinstone can be found in London, in her writing hut at the bottom of the garden. Her debut MG children’s book, THE DREAMSNATCHER, has been described as ‘Pullman-esque’ and follows gypsy girl, Moll, and her wildcat as they fight back against a witchdoctor’s dark magic. It will be published by Simon & Schuster on 26th February 2015.

YA Q&A with Becky Wallace


In this week’s Q&A YA Wednesday, we’ve got, Becky Wallace, whose debut THE STORYSPINNER is out March 3, 2015. You can see the book blurb (and gorgeous cover), along with Becky’s bio at the end of the post—but first, you’ll want to see how she answers these quirky questions.

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

Teleport into Captain America’s arms.

2. Turns out your parents aren’t happy with your change. (But whhhhy?? Captain America is a nice guy! she says) What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

Gandalf, for sure. If he can defeat the Balrog, he can certainly make Becky powerless again.

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?

*nervous laugh*

Captain America and I made out—that was the good part, by the way—but my parents caught us and were so angry they sent me Gandalf who is apparently some sort of family friend. My punishment was to complete an arduous quest and maybe defeat a burning Balrog.

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?

My crush is equal parts nerdy and charming, so he’d totally understand the Avengers and LOTR references.  He’d give me a half hug and say, “That was an incredible dream, and I know a perfect place to finish it.” And would then escort me to the school’s back field where the student government had long ago planted a lovely weeping willow (because in my imaginary world, there are always romantic shady places near the school that no one else has ever discovered.) We’d spend the rest of the lunch period (remember, we’re good students) talking about our favorite fantastical literature, anime, and upcoming movies.

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.

The Storyspinner: A case of mistaken identity exposes a young Performer to a danger she could never imagine and a secret her father died to protect.


unnamed-1 In second grade, Becky Wallace had to sit in the corner because she refused to write anything except princess stories and fairy tales (and because she talked too much). Her time in isolation gave her plenty of opportunities to dream up the fantasy worlds she’s been dabbling with ever since. She was lucky enough to find her own real-life Prince Charming. They have four munchkins and live in happy little town near Houston, Texas.

THE STORYSPINNER (The Keeper’s Chronicles #1)


Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.

In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.

The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.

With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.

A Wicked Thing in 3 GIFs!


Guys. Guys, guys, guys. Guess what?



Happy birthday to it!

A WICKED THING is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, starting with the kiss that wakes her…


But Aurora is less *swoon* to find herself kissed by a strange prince and more…


Which is unfortunate, since everyone is kind of expecting them to be in love and get married and save the kingdom and live happily ever after. But it’s difficult for Aurora to say no to this whole true love marriage thing, especially when everyone around her starts being all…

tumblr_m2358aixbn1rp2zn0o1_r1_250And how can Aurora win when the whole world has changed while she slept?

About the Book


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 fairy tale.

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.

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.

A WICKED THING is available now!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million | Chapters | IndieBound

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, is available now.



With most bugs, I have a live and let live policy. They leave me alone. I leave them alone. The only exceptions are cockroaches and centipedes. Those I suck up with the vacuum cleaner from a safe distance. And that’s only if they’re in the house. If they stay outside, they are free to do whatever bugs do.

I’m a writer, but in my other life, I taught biology. I’ve talked to my students about using insects (like crickets) as a potential food sources. I’ve encouraged them not to dismiss things without trying them. Deep down, though, I know I’m never eating any crickets. Because ewww.

But then my five-year-old nephew invites me to Bugfest – a scientific and culinary bug thing – because in his words ‘it’s cool’ and the bugs are ‘tasty’. It’s difficult to say no to a cute five-year-old. And I’d read something online about ground cricket protein. Chocolate covered ants? Those aren’t supposed to be that bad either, right? I figured I could stomach some ground cricket bars or chocolate something. As long as it didn’t look like bugs. I would just pretend it was something else.

Bugfest, by the way, is pretty awesome. I encourage everyone to attend!

The bug food part, though…well…there was no hiding the bugs. There were no ground crickets or chocolate covered ant clusters. At least, not that I saw.  Here’s the food:

bugfest 1 Bugfest1

My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew tried everything. As for me? No, I didn’t eat any of it. That deal was sealed when my sister told me she didn’t really like the crickets because she got cricket legs stuck in her teeth. Cricket. Legs.

Here’s the thing. I’d agreed to go to bugfest, not eat there. I was a little ashamed. But only a little. Mostly, I was happy because there were no cricket legs stuck in my teeth.

But in honor of Fearless Fridays, and to support Bugfest and the brave chefs that work so hard to make good food from insects and not hide those insects, I’ve decided to make a pledge. I told my nephew I’d try one of the dishes at the next Bugfest. I’ll have to do it that way.

And since I’m facing my fear of having my book out in the world, certainly I can face my fear of creepy crawlies. Although, Bugfest is still a few months away.  Maybe my nephew will forget by then?!  There’s always hope and, as they say, hope springs eternal…

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, will be available from HarperCollins on Feb 3rd, 2015.

Q&A with MG author Abi Elphinstone


Next up on Fearless Fifteeners’ Wednesday Q&As is MG author, Abi Elphinstone, whose debut, THE DREAMSNATCHER, is out on February 26th. 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?!


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?
Lyra Silvertongue – because she comes with a daemon and that means extra ogre-fighting power. Aaaaaaaaand she’s mates with an armoured polar bear and a bunch of fiercely protective Gyptians so basically, I don’t think the ogre would stand a chance.


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?
Tricky one. Although I have a teddy called Jim The Unicorn – who comes complete with magical unicorn farts – I’d opt for riding a dragon. One of my favourite things in the world is watching Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon fly. I would love to race a dragon through the clouds.


3. After arriving at work late, your boss asks you what your most embarrassing childhood memory was. You have to tell him. 
My haircuts. So many dreadful haircuts. This pudding bowl extravaganza lasted far too long but probably the most embarrassing was when I used Sun-In to dye my hair the day before senior school. It went very wrong and I was known as ‘the girl with the pink hair’ for ages.
Abi as Moll


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?
I’d love to have been with the two young cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, in 1917, when they claimed to have taken photographs of real fairies. I’ve always wondered what really went on with the Cottingley Fairies…


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.
Super evil witchdoctor versus gypsy girl and wildcat. Plus catapults, tree ghouls and oracle bones.



Dreamsnatcher Final High Res Cover

Twelve-year-old Molly Pecksniff wakes one night in the middle of the forest, lured there by a recurring nightmare – the one with the drums and the rattles and the masks. The Dreamsnatcher is waiting. He has already taken her dreams and now he wants her life. Because Moll is more important than she knows…The Oracle Bones foretold that she and Gryff, a wildcat that has always been by her side, are the only ones who can fight back against the Dreamsnatcher’s dark magic. Suddenly everything is at stake, and Moll is drawn into a world full of secrets, magic and adventure. Perfect for fans of J.K. Rowling, Michelle Harrison and Eva Ibbotson. You can watch the magical trailer for Abi’s book on her website: www.abielphinstone.com



Abi Elphinstone

Abi Elphinstone grew up in Scotland where she spent most of her childhood building dens, hiding in tree houses and running wild across highland glens. After being coaxed out of her tree house, she studied English at Bristol University and then worked as a teacher in Africa, Berkshire and London. THE DREAMSNATCHER is her debut novel and when she’s not writing about Moll and Gryff, she volunteers for Kidsco, does star jumps on the top of very high mountains, messes about on www.abielphinstone.com and runs her children’s books blog www.moontrug.com.

Author website: http://www.abielphinstone.com
Twitter: @moontrug
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/abi.elphinstone
Instagram: @moontrugger





I can’t believe it’s today!

I started writing THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND in 2012, sold it in 2013, and now—February 17, 2015—it is officially on the shelves. While I continue to remind myself to breathe, why don’t you gather around the fire with me?

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND is about two journeys. There’s a physical one, when Hallelujah “Hallie” Calhoun, her former friend Jonah, and new girl Rachel get lost in the Smoky Mountains and have to find their way back to civilization. But there’s also Hallie’s emotional journey—arguably the tougher of the two—wherein she has to figure out how to bounce back and redefine herself after an incident with the preacher’s son turned her into a social outcast. I hope the book will take you on a journey as well, whether you’re an avid hiker/climber/camper/nature lover…


…or you’re allergic to the Great Outdoors.

I’m doing a mini-blog-tour this week to celebrate the book’s release, and you can learn more about that HERE. In the meantime, here’s what you need to know about THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND!

distancebetween_final cover_4_1.indd

Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her…silent.

Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.

With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back?


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 February 17, 2015 from HarperTeen. You can find Kathryn online at www.kathrynholmes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Kathryn_Holmes.