Middle grade Q&A with Virginia Zimmerman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About THE ROSEMARY SPELL

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

Author Bio: Virginia Zimmerman

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

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

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

THE ROSEMARY SPELL received a starred PW Review!

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

Middle Grade Q&A with Ronni Arno

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author Bio: Ronni Arno

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

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

YA Q&A with Shannon Grogan

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Next up on Fearless Fifteeners’ YA Q&A is author, Shannon Grogan, whose creepy awesome debut, FROM WHERE I WATCH YOU, is out on August 4th! We’ve got a bio and book blurb at the end of the post but first, crazy questions!

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

SG: I go mess with the people I don’t like, naturally. Nothing dangerous, just enough to make them think they are losing it.

BW: Yes! Love the way you think. *high five* Sadly though, your parents aren’t too happy with your change. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

SG: Maybe one of the Ghostbusters. Venkman? Or maybe Ray (Dan Akroyd)

BW: 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?

SG: I think I might have died this morning so he better make a move while he still has a chance.

BW:  Good plan! Nothing like a near-death experience to get the ‘ole hormones pumping. BUT, he isn’t convinced you’re telling the truth — after all, it’s a pretty far fetched story. He suggests going somewhere to talk about it more. Where’s this dream date taking place?

SG: Definitely on a beach somewhere. Or maybe Starbucks.

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

SG: 16 yo Kara thinks winning a national baking contest will help her escape her holy roller mom, her sister’s ghost, and her stalker.

BW: Awww, yeah!  Lots of intriguing elements there! And here’s the full scoop:

From Where I Watch You Comp_Final (1)Sixteen-year-old Kara McKinley is about to realize her dream of becoming a professional baker. Beautifully designed and piped, her cookies are masterpieces, but also her ticket out of rainy Seattle—if she wins the upcoming national baking competition and its scholarship prize to culinary school in California. Kara can no longer stand the home where her family lived, laughed, and ultimately imploded after her mean-spirited big sister Kellen died in a drowning accident. Kara’s dad has since fled, and her mom has turned from a high-powered attorney into a nutty holy-rolling Christian fundamentalist peddling “Soul Soup” in the family café. All Kara has left are memories of better times.

But the past holds many secrets, and they come to light as Kara faces a secret terror. Someone is leaving her handwritten notes. Someone who knows exactly where she is and what’s she’s doing. As they lead her to piece together the events that preceded Kellen’s terrible, life-changing betrayal years before, she starts to catch glimpses of her dead sister: an unwelcome ghost in filthy Ugg boots. If Kara doesn’t figure out who her stalker is, and soon, she could lose everything. Her chance of escape. The boy she’s beginning to love and trust. Even her life.

_bea0359About Shannon:

Shannon Grogan is a second grade teacher who writes at night (and while her kids are at ballet and baseball) in a small logging town east of Seattle. When she isn’t writing, she’s baking, reading, watching scary movies, and wishing she were at the beach. You can find out more about her online at www.shannongrogan.com

More details about FROM WHERE I WATCH YOU:

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.

Q&A with MG author, Jen White

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Next up on Fearless Fifteeners’ Wednesday Q&As is MG author, Jen White, whose debut, SURVIVAL STRATEGIES OF THE ALMOST BRAVE, is out on June 9th. 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 would choose India Opal Buloni.  Because she would give my ogre a perfect name like Ogre Dixie, feed him a fine meal of Littmus Lozenges, and take him to listen to her father, The Preacher.

 

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?
I would ride a dragon, because I am still a huge fan of, THE NEVER ENDING STORY, and hope that someday Falkor will come and take me on an adventure.

 

3. After arriving at work late, your boss asks you what your most embarrassing childhood memory was. You have to tell him. 
My most embarrassing moment? When I was dressed as our high school mascot (a wolf) and tripped and fell down the high school stadium stairs during a football game.

 

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?
September 15, 1835, to board the HMS Beagle.  I’d assist Charles Darwin and study everything natural on the Galapagos Islands.  All of those animals to get to know. 😊  Yippee!!

 

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.
How to be brave, even when you don’t think you can.

 

SURVIVAL STRATEGIES OF THE ALMOST BRAVE

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After their mother’s recent death, twelve-year-old Liberty and her eight-year-old sister, Billie, are sent to live with their father, who they haven’t seen since they were very young. Things are great at first; the girls are so excited to get to know their father – a photographer who, for the summer, is travelling around in an RV. But soon, the pressure of parenthood becomes too much for him, and he abandons the girls at the Jiffy Company Gas Station. Instead of waiting for someone to come to their rescue, Liberty takes matters into her own hands. On the sisters’ journey to get home, they encounter a menacing gas station attendant, a heavily tattooed trucker, a kid obsessed with Star Wars, a woman who lives with many very usual pets, and a host of other characters. When all seems lost, they get some help from an unlikely source, and end up learning that sometimes you have to get a little bit lost to be found.

AUTHOR BIO

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Jen White (jenwhitebooks.com) holds an M.F.A. in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She lives in San Clemente, California, with her family. When Jen was twelve years old, she and her sister were accidentally left at a gas station in the desert. Her parents returned, but wondering what would have happened if they had not inspired Jen to write Survival Strategies of the Almost Brave. This is her debut novel. twitter: @jenwhite_

 

Q&A with MG author, Sarah McGuire

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Next up on Fearless Fifteeners’ Wednesday Q&As is MG author,Sarah McGuire, whose debut, VALIANT, is out now. 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?
Hermione. Granted, the whole troll in the girls’ bathroom incident didn’t go too well, but you know she could handle it now.

 

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?
Dragon. (Especially if it had Bennedict Cumberbatch’s voice.) How amazing would that be to fly to work? And if we could torch a few things along the way, so much the better.

 

3. After arriving at work late, your boss asks you what your most embarrassing childhood memory was. You have to tell him. 
I was eleven years old and my family was visiting the family of a boy I had the hugest crush on. Later that afternoon, we were roasting marshmallows around a bonfire. I wasn’t wasn’t a girl to slowly roast her marshmallow over the coals– I held the marshmallow right above the flames, and it caught on fire almost immediately.
So, of course, I began waving the marshmallow around. What could be more attractive to your crush than dancing around with a flaming marshmallow? (This story would be so different if I’d taken the time to truly consider that question!) In my enthusiasm, the marshmallow flew off the stick, and . . . stuck to my forehead. Fortunately, I’d been swinging it hard enough that the flame went out before it smacked me in the face. I spent the next few minutes picking melted marshmallow out of my hair and putting aloe on my burned forehead.
You will not be shocked to discover that the relationship did NOT work out.

 

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?
Can I be a total geek and just say a meeting of the Inklings? The Chronicles of Narnia were the first books I read as I kid, and when I was older, I tore through the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When I learned that Lewis and Tolkien used to get together and talk writing, I almost died. For me, that WAS a historical event.

 

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.
Smart girl dresses as tailor. Giants with heart. Villain without one. Can she prevent war?

 

VALIANT
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Reggen still sings about the champion, the brave tailor. This is the story that is true.

Saville despises the velvets and silks that her father prizes more than he’s ever loved her. Yet when he’s struck ill she’ll do anything to survive–even dressing as a boy and begging a commission to sew for the king.
But piecing together a fine coat is far simpler than unknotting court gossip about an army of giants, led by a man who cannot be defeated, marching toward Reggen to seize the throne. Saville knows giants are just stories, and no man is immortal.
Then she meets them, two scouts as tall as trees. After she tricks them into leaving, tales of the daring tailor’s triumph quickly spin into impossible feats of giant-slaying. And stories won’t deter the Duke and his larger-than-life army.
Now only a courageous and clever tailor girl can see beyond the rumors to save the kingdom again.

AUTHOR BIO

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Sarah McGuire loves fairy tales and considers them the best way to step outside of everyday life. They’re the easiest way, at least: her attempt at seven to reach Narnia through her parents’ closet failed. She lives within sight of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches high school creative writing and math classes with very interesting word problems. Valiant is her first novel.

 

YA Q&A with Holly Bodger

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In this week’s Q&A YA Wednesday, we’ve got, Holly Bodger, whose debut 5 to 1 is out May 12, 2015 (next week!) You can read the blurb and check out the cover, along with Holly’s bio and super cool pic at the end of the post—but first, check out her answers to these fearless questions.

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

Go back to bed. Well, maybe I’ll whine for some food first. Then I’ll swat at someone and knock something breakable off the counter. After that, I’m definitely going back to bed.

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 would contact Professor McGonagall. If she can turn into a cat, surely, she can help me stop being one. But I wouldn’t do this yet. Not until I have a nice, long nap.


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?

I’d say everything is fine. In fact, I’m feeling puuuurfect.

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?

Well, I’m probably still sad that I’m no longer a cat, so I’m going to say a laundromat. There’s nothing better than a nice basket of fresh laundry (preferably something in a dark color so my fur will be really obvious!)

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.

5 TO 1 is about the future effects of gender selection in India.

ABOUT HOLLY BODGER

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A long-time resident of Ottawa, Canada, Holly has been working in publishing since she graduated with an English degree from the University of Ottawa. 5 TO 1 is Holly’s debut novel.

5 TO 1

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In the year 2054, after decades of gender selection, Koyanagar–a country severed from India–now has a ratio of five boys for every girl, and women are an incredibly valuable commodity. Tired of wedding their daughters to the highest bidder and determined to finally make marriage fair, the women of Koyanagar have instituted a series of tests so that every boy has the chance to win a wife. But after fighting so hard for freedom against the old ways of gender selection, these women have become just as deluded as their male predecessors. Sudasa Singh doesn’t want to be a wife and Kiran, a boy competing to be her husband, has other plans as well. Sudasa’s family wants nothing more than for their daughter to do the right thing and pick a husband who will keep her comfortable—and caged. Kiran’s family wants him to escape by failing the tests. As the tests advance, each thwarts the other until they slowly realize that they might want the same thing.

YA Q&A with Marci Lyn Curtis

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In this week’s Q&A YA Wednesday, we’ve got, Marci Lyn Curtis, whose debut THE ONE THING is out Sept. 8, 2015. You can see the book blurb (and super cool cover), along with Marci’s bio at the end of the post—but first, check out her answers to our fearless questions.

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

Pretty sure I’d dig out my wand and eradicate the song “Chandelier” by Sia. Because if I hear it one more time I’ll go out of my nut. 

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?

My neighbor, Mr.—
 
Wait. I actually don’t know his real name. In the 5 years since he moved across the street from me, I’ve only called him Gru (from Despicable Me). Not to his face, mind you, so he isn’t aware of this nickname. Ahem. Till now, anyway.
 
*Waves at Gru*
 
Moving on…
 
My neighbor—whose true name I do not know—the guy who looks, sounds, and walks exactly like Gru, stuffs me into an anti-Luna chamber and I’m ME once 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?

The truth, naturally: that I’ve just cured the world of a raging, infectious case of “Chandelier.” 

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?

The very top of Mauna Kea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, where there are more stars than sky.
 
Most beautiful place ever. 

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 One Thing is the story of a blind juvenile delinquent who discovers the tragic truth about a cherished friend.

 

ABOUT MARCI LYN CURTIS

Marci Lyn Curtis

Marci Lyn Curtis grew up in Northern California, where she went to college and met an amazing guy in a military uniform. Two college-aged kids and one dachshund later, she lives in Maryland, where she laughs too loudly and eats peanut butter off spoons. Her YA contemporary debut, The One Thing, comes out September 8th, 2015 via Disney-Hyperion. Learn more about her at Marcilyncurtis.com.

THE ONE THING

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Maggie Sanders might be blind, but she won’t invite anyone to her pity party. Ever since losing her sight six months ago, Maggie’s rebellious streak has taken on a life of its own, culminating with an elaborate school prank. Maggie called it genius. The judge called it illegal.

Now Maggie has a probation officer. But she isn’t interested in rehabilitation, not when she’s still mourning the loss of her professional-soccer dreams, and furious at her so-called friends, who lost interest in her as soon as she could no longer lead the team to victory.

Then Maggie’s whole world is turned upside down. Somehow, incredibly, she can see again. But only one person: Ben, a precocious ten-year-old unlike anyone she’s ever met. Ben’s life isn’t easy, but he doesn’t see limits, only possibilities. After awhile, Maggie starts to realize that losing her sight doesn’t have to mean losing everything she dreamed of. Even if what she’s currently dreaming of is Mason Milton, the infuriatingly attractive lead singer of Maggie’s new favorite band, who just happens to be Ben’s brother.

But when she learns the real reason she can see Ben, Maggie must find the courage to face a once-unimaginable future…before she loses everything she has grown to love.