Release Day: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND … in 3 Gifs!

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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…

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…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!

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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?

AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE | INDIEBOUND

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.

ALL FOUR KIDS: An Interview With Kate Bassett, Author of WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS

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Today in our OneFourKidLit interview series, we welcome Kate Bassett, author of the new YA Contemporary Words and Their Meanings. Thanks for stopping by, Kate, and congratulations on your debut!

Here’s what you need to know about Words and Their Meanings:

Words and Their Meanings (5)Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries–in the form of origami cranes–force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth, she discovers that while every story, every human being, has a last line, it might still be possible to find the words for a new beginning.

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Indiebound | Goodreads

KH: Words and Their Meanings is a novel about dealing with grief—and it handles the subject with brutal, heart-wrenching honesty. What made you want to tackle this difficult topic? 

KB: Believe me, there were times when I would call my critique partner (Fearless Fifteener Alison DeCamp!) and say, “Why didn’t I write about something funny?”

The thing is, grief can hit us at any stage in life, and it takes on many, many different forms. I knew I wanted to try and write a raw, close-to-the-bone kind of story. I’m in my mid-30s now, and I’ve seen enough (and felt enough) loss to understand how paralyzing it can feel. And not just grieving loved ones. There’s a grief that comes naturally with growing up and beginning to understand more about the world and the people we know and care for deeply. There’s grief in that floundering search for identity we all go through at some point. There’s grief attached with the creative process. I wanted to tell a story that could be honest about this, but also show some hope on the other side.

KH: Did you know from the beginning that Anna would be a writer? Why did you decide to have her express herself in this way?

KB: Anna, as a character, hung out in my head a long time before ever coming to life on the page. I always knew she’d be a writer. I think in a lot of ways, Anna’s relationship with her words mirrors some of the struggles I went through as a writer who earned a lot of recognition in high school. I won some pretty big awards before graduating, and while there was no external pressure put on me, I still had a huge amount of anxiety about being “good enough.” I actually stopped really writing for a time in college because reading other students’ work that was fantastic didn’t inspire me, it made me feel like a failure. I forgot why I loved writing in the first place. It took a long time and some amazing college professors to pull me out of my own head.

I wanted to revisit some of these feelings with Anna because I think that’s a very real emotional state for a lot of teenagers who discover a passion or “talent” early in life. Exploring what that can manifest as, and how to let go of the need for validation, felt like a good fit with what else was going on in Anna’s world.

KH: Where did Anna’s Patti Smith obsession come from? Do you share it—or do you have another musician/artist/writer you’re obsessed with?

KB: I read Just Kids, Patti Smith’s memoir, while writing Words and Their Meanings, and remember being really struck by Patti’s eternal optimism in the face of so much loss. Her perspective on life, creativity, art… It all felt connected to Anna. It wasn’t until I was at my parents’ house one morning, half-watching the television, that a match struck. Patti was being interviewed in the Chelsea Hotel. It was the first time she’d been back in the room she once shared with Robert Mapplethorpe. The tenderness and loss, and how each relationship shaped who she is today—it just became really clear that she’s a person Anna would cling to in her darkest hours.

I love Patti’s music, and love her poetry and photography as well. I would say as a teen I was much (much, much) more obsessed with Janis Joplin. I worshipped every note. I played those songs until my parents’ ears were ready to bleed (and she was “their” generation’s voice, not mine). Still, there was something alive and broken about her voice that I clung to in my darkest hours.

KH: I really loved the way you used origami cranes in the book. It’s such a unique and memorable element. How did you come up with it? And have you folded 1,000 of them yourself?

KB: Art, in various forms, is woven throughout the book. When I thought about Anna’s grandfather, origami immediately came to mind. His character is more linear and mechanical. He’s a literal and metaphorical fixer with a heavy dose of left-brain thinking. Origami is beautiful, but also precise. It’s delicate but strong. It’s the sort of art form I thought he’d use to connect to all his artistic loved ones.

Also, origami is folded. There’s something that feels secret about the way it’s constructed. Unfolding something like, say, an origami crane, reveals creases that are lovely and interesting in their own right.  And of course, there are such beautiful stories and myths that surround the creation of 1,000 cranes.

Truth time: I can’t fold a crane to save my soul. I’ve tried. The wings are never even, the neck turns out all wrong, and I end up making a paper airplane instead.

KH: You surrounded Anna with such an amazing and varied cast of characters, all of whom enhanced the story. Who’s your favorite supporting character in the book, and why?

KB: Ah, good question! My first instinct would be to say Mateo, because I love him for so many reasons (the food alone!).

But if I had to choose, I would say Bea. She’s quirky but still holds on to the most important bits of childhood. And she manages to bring out glimpses of the better parts of her big sister. I think without Bea, Anna would have folded into herself completely.

KH: And finally, as our community is fearless, what’s one thing you’re afraid of and one thing you don’t fear?

KB: I am terrified of spitballs. I gag and shudder even typing that word. Also totally afraid of driving near cliffs or over high bridges. I’ve called one of your fearless crew (Alison, again) more times than I care to admit to just talk, talk, talk to me so I didn’t hyperventilate and pass out on the Mackinac Bridge.

I don’t fear coyotes. In my neck of the woods, that’s actually quite useful.

About Kate:

headshotbasset_kate (5 of 5) copyKate Bassett is the Michigan Press Association award-winning editor of her small town’s newspaper, Harbor Light News, and a contributing writer for Traverse Magazine. She has covered Mount Everest climbers and pet pig obituaries with the same philosophy for 13 years: voice matters. She lives in Harbor Springs with her husband, three children, and one crazy young mutt.

Website | Twitter

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.

All Four Kids: An Interview With Lisa Ann O’Kane, Author of Essence

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Kathryn Holmes here, excited to share my interview with Lisa Ann O’Kane, whose debut ESSENCE came out on Tuesday! I got to read the first few chapters, and I was definitely hooked. Here’s what you need to know about the book:

Essence-144dpiAutumn escaped a cult, but now she realizes she’s fallen into another. 
 
Growing up in San Francisco’s Centrist Movement, sixteen year-old Autumn Grace has always believed emotions—adrenaline, endorphins, even happiness—drain your Essence and lead to an early death. But her younger brother’s passing and a run-in with a group of Outsiders casts her faith into question. 
 
Ryder Stone, the sexy, rebellious leader of the Outsiders, claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic—and he can prove it.
 
Autumn follows Ryder to his Community of adrenaline junkies and free spirits in Yosemite National Park, and they introduce her to a life of adventure, romance, sex, drugs and freedom. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community’s perfect exterior, she realizes the more she risks in search of the perfect rush, the further she has to fall.
ESSENCE_Tour_Banner

KH: In your bio, you mention that this book was inspired by a summer camping out in Yosemite National Park. How did you get from that initial setting inspiration to the finished story?

LAO: Simply put, Yosemite National Park is one of the most awe-inspiring and gorgeous places I have ever been in my life. I also like how isolated it is. I rarely left the park the entire summer I lived there, and when I did, I often found the outside world jarring and a little too stressful for my liking.

Yosemite’s landscape certainly inspired my story, but the other park employees who also lived there were even more inspiring to me. Some were there because they loved the place, others were there for the money, and still others were there because they felt like they had to run away from something.

I always knew I wanted to write a novel about Yosemite and the people that inhabit it, so when I came up with the initial idea for Essence, it was easy to plug the story into the setting. All the other pieces: the cult in San Francisco, the radon gas, the Mammoth Mountain volcanic threat… All those pieces just kinda naturally fell into place.

KH: What interested you in writing a near-future setting, rather than a contemporary setting or a more distant future? 

LAO: I have always been a huge fan of YA contemporaries, but I knew a contemporary setting wouldn’t work for Essence, because I needed the country to be slightly different than it is now in order for San Francisco’s Centrist Movement to exist. I also needed Yosemite to be abandoned, so I figured a near-future earthquake was a good way to ‘shake up’ California’s social climate. (Haha, wow. That was a pretty terrible pun. ☺)

I chose the near-future over the distant future because I believe the strength of Essence lies in the interpersonal relationships between the characters. I didn’t want to distract readers from these relationships by introducing too much technology or futuristic world-building.

KH: I’m fascinated by the cult you’ve created. How did you develop the Centrists’ beliefs and behaviors?

LAO: Why, thank you! I have always been intrigued by the psychology of cults, particularly by idea that people who are raised in these cultures generally grow up very susceptible to manipulation and control. How tragic—yet logical—for someone to finally stand up for themselves and leave their cult only to accidentally fall into another cult.

I did a lot of research to get ideas for the Centrist Movement’s treatment of its followers. I also researched Theravada Buddhism and Taoism to formulate the foundation for the Movement’s beliefs.

The Essence theory itself—and its belief that your emotions can tick down your lifespan like a gas tank—was modified from the Taoist concept of yin and yang. I have always liked the idea that every dark must have a light, and every good must have an evil. Therefore, the Centrists believe positive emotions are just as dangerous as negative ones, and they try their best to repress everything.

I tried to imagine how scary it would be to grow up believing you might run out of Essence and drop dead at any moment. I also wondered how liberated you would feel when you finally broke free from that fear. That’s what my main character Autumn faces when she finally decides to forsake her Centrist upbringing and join the free spirited, commune-like Community in Yosemite.

KH: What made you want to be a writer, and why do you write for this age group?

LAO: I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, and I have always been drawn to the teen and young adult experience, because I love writing about all the personal growth, uncertainty and insecurities that come along with it. As a teen, I certainly didn’t know who I was yet, so I sought validation from pretty much everywhere. I also felt things with a passion and recklessness I could never (and would never) hope to recreate in my life today. It’s nice to be able to revisit the intensity of those feelings in my novels.

KH: What’s your writing process like? 

LAO: I am definitely the hare, not the tortoise, so I have to accept the reality that some days, I will write 2,500-3,500 words, while other days, I won’t be able to squeak out a single one. That being said, I find I am my most effective when I’m not trying too hard, so my writer’s block cures are typically bubble baths or long walks with my dog Lexi. As soon as I start focusing on something else, the ideas usually begin presenting themselves again.

KH: What are you working on next? 

LAO: I am always scheming for something new. Right now, I am particularly excited about potentially shifting into the New Adult genre for a little while. I have been drawn to college-aged characters for years, and I am so excited New Adult is finally beginning to gain momentum and credibility in the marketplace.

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

LAO: I am terrified of Ferris wheels. This sounds strange, because I have skydived and bungee-jumped. I also love rollercoasters, but Ferris wheels creep me out like nothing else. I think I’m skeptical of the fact that you aren’t usually strapped in on those things, and I always picture that little bucket either tipping upside down or straight-up falling from the sky. *Shivers* I don’t even like thinking about them.

I am NOT terrified of going on solo paddleboarding trips. When I first bought my board, I planned to only take it out when I had a friend or two with me. Recently, though, I have realized life is too short to constantly live in fear of the unknown. I’m not stupid about my trips—I try not to stay out after dark, and I always let someone know where I’m going—but I have had many of my best days all alone in the middle of a mangrove swamp or a Tampa Bay estuary.

KH: Thanks for stopping by our blog, and congrats on your debut! 

LisaAnnOKaneLisa Ann O’Kane is a young adult author and former vagabond who once camped out in Yosemite National Park for an entire summer, an experience that inspired her debut novel ESSENCE. Her background is in zookeeping and environmental education, and she has been kicked, cornered, bitten and chased by nearly every animal she has ever loved. She currently resides in Florida, and she is now a huge fan of shooting stars, indoor plumbing and keeping both her feet planted firmly on the trail.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest

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: Kathryn Holmes

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Hi, everyone! I’m Kathryn Holmes, and my debut novel THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND comes out from HarperTeen in early 2015. I’m a writer and dancer originally from east Tennessee and now happily settled in Brooklyn. I’ve been a writer (and an obsessive reader) for as long as I can remember, but it wasn’t until 2008, when I started at The New School’s MFA in Creative Writing program, that I started to really push toward writing books as a career. (Before grad school, I spent several years as a magazine editor, and I still write for an array of dance publications, including Dance Spirit.) These days I’m a full-time freelancer, dividing my time between writing my next book, writing dance articles, and a few other writing/editing gigs—plus weekly dance and yoga classes, of course.

So what’s my book about? Here’s the flap copy:

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?

IMG_0879In grad school, I’d been working on a book set in my adopted home of New York City. When I put that book in the drawer, I knew I wanted to go back to my roots and set my next book where I grew up. My parents’ house is not far from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While I wouldn’t say I was particularly outdoorsy as a kid or teen, I enjoyed visiting the mountains for day hikes and picnics. When I go home these days, it’s always nice to squeeze in a quick trip to the GSMNP.

IMG_0868And so when the character of Hallelujah appeared in my head and I was starting to figure out her story, I knew I wanted to put her in those mountains. The plot—Hallelujah, Jonah, and Rachel getting lost and struggling to survive, as well as Hallelujah finding her way back from everything that happened with Luke—grew from there. I couldn’t be prouder of the finished product.

I wrote THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND wanting to explore not only survival in a physical sense, but also how a single screwed-up incident can put someone in social “survival mode” for months afterward. I also wanted to explore trust and faith—in oneself, in other people, and yes, even in a higher power. Learning to trust again might be Hallelujah’s only way out of the woods—and I hope you’ll enjoy taking that journey with her.

In the meantime, I am so thrilled to be a Fearless Fifteener. I know my book will be in excellent company on the shelves in a year!

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.

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

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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.