YA Q&A with Randy Ribay, author of An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes


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

RR: I knock over the lamp on my nightstand with my narwhal tusk as I try to return to the ocean.

BW: Dude. I knock stuff over when I don’t have my glasses on, so you’re really not starting off too badly. You’re parents, however, are less than excited about having an aquatic mammal living in their extra bedroom. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

Jason-Momoa-AquamanRR: Aquaman. Except not the lame blonde one, but the badass Jason Momoa Aquaman. (BW: *coughs* Yes, please). He reassures me that everything will be all right and carries me to the sea. He then invites me to an underwater ice cream social where I make new friends with fellow sea creatures while enjoying a tasty treat. But eventually, I morph back into human form and Badass Aquaman takes me back to shore before I drown.

BW: The next time you go anywhere with Jason Momoa Aquaman, you call me. Got that, Randy? Mmkay, good. So, 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?

RR: There was no hot water in the shower.

BW: That’s totes believable. He/she suggests going somewhere to talk about it more and maybe warm up. *wink* Where’s this dream date taking place?

RR: The aquarium. But having enjoyed ice cream with similar creatures not too long ago, it breaks my heart to see them imprisoned so. Shaking with rage, my narwhal powers reemerge in the form of an immense sword-like tusk sticking out of my forehead. I use it to attack the aquarium employees. Surrounded by their lifeless bodies, I call Badass Aquaman and we set the sea creatures free. But then Badass Aquaman totally steals my crush.

BW: I mean, can you really blame your crush? This is HOT Aquaman we’re talking about. Don’t worry! There’s still 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.

RR: Geeky & diverse teens avoid their life problems by taking a road trip. Not enough narwhals.

BW: I’m sort of depressed about the lack of narwhals, but the book totally sounds fabulous. Here’s a longer summary for the rest of you.


Infinite Number BGcvr.inddAs their senior year approaches, four diverse friends united by their weekly Dungeons & Dragons game struggle to figure out real life. Archie tries to cope with the lingering effects of his parents’ divorce, Mari considers an opportunity to contact her biological mother, Dante works up the courage to come out to his friends, and Sam clings to a failing relationship. When the four eventually embark on a cross-country road trip in an attempt to solve one of their problems–and to avoid the others–the journey tests their friendship and they quickly realize that real life is no game.


RandyR-1(1)About Randy Ribay

Randy Ribay was born in the Philippines and raised in Michigan and Colorado. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he specialized in language and literacy. He is the English Department Chair at an all-boys high school in Philadelphia and a nerd-of-all-trades. Randy lives in Camden, New Jersey with his wife and two dog-children.


Add it on Goodreads

Or visit Randy’s website at: www.randyribay.com

Becky headshots-Becky headshots-0007Becky Wallace is the author of THE STORYSPINNER and its sequel, THE SKYLIGHTER (available March 22, 2016 from Simon & Schuster). She lives in a happy little village in Texas with her own real-life Prince Charming and their four munchkins.

YA Q&A with Rachel A. Marks, author of Darkness Brutal


Hello, and welcome back to another enthralling edition of YA Q&A. Today we’ve put the lovely Rachel A. Marks, debut author of DARKNESS BRUTAL, on the spot to answer some burning (or slightly ridiculous) questions. Let’s turn the time over to our host and get this show on the road.

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

Rachel Marks: Oh, I’d be so excited!! So, first I’d of course have a faeire tea party. And then I’d grow a whole forest in my back yard and sleep in the trees.

BW: Is there a hammock? I would so be on board with naptime in the forest if I’m promised a cozy hammock. Your parents, however, 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?

RM: I present my trouble to Hermione and she chats with my mom about how efficient this change in me will be, especially as it pertains to gardening. 😉

BW: Efficiencies and Hermione aside, your parent still prefer Normal Rachel (But I don’t want to be normal!) to fae Rachel. 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?

RM: I tell him about my magicalness (but in a “help me, I’m so lost, what should I do, I’m such a freak” kind of way) and then he will fall madly in love with me, but I still play hard-to-get and so when I finally admit I may have had a crush on him, our love will have reached epic levels of awesomeness.

BW: 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?

RM: I would probably suggest we go to the forest so that I can give examples of my amazing talents that I now will always have forever. And since trees are my friends it will be very romantic and the birdies and squirrels will chat with us and be our hosts.

BW: If he’s not completely weirded out, there may be a Happily Ever After for Fae Rachel. But, there is definitely one for Normal Rachel! Your book is out! Dream come true. Give us a summary in 140 characters or less.

RM: DARKNESS BRUTAL is a Paranormal YA that is like Oliver Twist meets TV’s Supernatural in modern day LA.

BW: And if that wasn’t enough to satisfy your interest, here’s the full summary:

51ErApwJ8XL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.

In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. In their company, Aidan believes he’s finally found a haven for Ava. But when he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, he awakens powers he didn’t know he had―and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.

With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness at bay and accept his brilliant, terrifying destiny

me_signing_3Here’s a little bit more about Normal Rachel: Rachel A. Marks is the author of The Dark Cycle series, beginning with DARKNESS BRUTAL. You can read more about her weird hobbies and see some of her artwork on her webpage: www.RachelAnneMarks.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Becky headshots-Becky headshots-0007Becky Wallace is the author of THE STORYSPINNER and its sequel, THE SKYLIGHTER (available March 22, 2016 from Simon & Schuster). She lives in a happy little village in Texas with her own real-life Prince Charming and their four munchkins.

YA Q&A with Natasha Sinel


Yay! Yay! YAY!!!  Did you know that Natasha Sinel’s debut novel, THE FIX, came out yesterday?  Well, it did and I’m super lucky to get to host her for YA Q&A.  If you want to know more about her favorite super powers and about her new book, then read on!


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

NS: Well, I want to take a test-fly immediately because…I can fly!? So I zoom around my bedroom and realize a minute too late that I have no idea how to steer or stop. I slam sideways into my dresser and everything on it falls to the floor with a loud crash. Well, at least now I know one way to stop.

BW: Turns out your parents aren’t too happy with the dent you put in the wall. What fictional character do you ask to help you get out of the bind, and how do they “fix” you?

NS: On my way to school, I run into the Green Hornet, and even though he doesn’t fly, he explains wind patterns and aerodynamics to me. He also tells me that my new power is tip-top secret, and if I tell anyone that I can fly, I will lose my ability.

BW: Green hornet, huh? He is sort of pretty to look at. Back to normal, you arrive at school and literally crash into your crush. He asks you why you’re shaken up. What do you tell him?

NS: “I can fly!” I say. He looks at me funny.

BW: 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?

NS: I take him to the roof to prove I can fly. I stand on the edge and just as I’m about to take off, I remember the Green Hornet’s words: “If you tell anyone, you’ll lose your ability. Poof!” Suddenly, I feel kind of wobbly, like I’m going to fall. “I fear I can no longer fly!” I shout as I jump back onto the roof. My crush gives me that funny look again. “Maybe I’ll see you around sometime,” he says and heads back into the school building.

BW:  Aww! Sad. 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.

NS: When Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that revealing her shameful past could ruin her family but keeping silent could destroy her.

BW: And if that isn’t enough info, here’s the full synopsis for THE FIX.

Fix-cover-finalOne 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.

2014_Natasha_Sinel_249-hi_resAbout Natasha:


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. THE FIX is her first novel.

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.



I’ll be honest, as I approach the long-anticipated release date of my debut YA novel, THE FIX, I have two major fears:

  1. No one will read my book
  2. Lots of people will read my book

Now that that’s out of the way, I decided to just show you a few things that make my heart beat a bit faster and the hair raise on the back of my neck.

1. A blank word document with cursor blinking (some people love this. Not me. I find it scary.)


2. Rejection (I’ve learned to get past this fear, because…practice. Writers get rejected on a daily basis. If you want to be a writer, you must know this.)


3. Stepping on a LEGO (If you haven’t, take my word for it…it smarts.)


4. A traffic jam when I have to pee

5. Apocalypse survival-type scenario–I have no contact lenses and my glasses are broken beyond repair

broken glasses

6. And finally, my number one fear…tidal waves (I don’t know why I put a picture here–now I can never look at this post again.)


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 on September 1, 2015.

Release Day: Where I Watch You and Not After Everything in 3 Gifs


Here it is! Happy release day for From Where I Watch You, summed up in 3 Gifs!









From Where I Watch You is available NOW! Thank you for reading!

IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Soho Teen

Add to your Goodreads!


And Happy Book Birthday to Not After Everything!



giphy 2

About the book: Tyler has a football scholarship to Stanford, a hot girlfriend, and a reliable army of friends to party with. Then his mom kills herself. And Tyler lets it all go. Now he needs to dodge what his dad is offering (verbal tirades and abuse) and earn what his dad isn’t (money). Tyler finds a job that crashes him into Jordyn, his former childhood friend turned angry- loner goth-girl. She brings Tyler an unexpected reprieve from the never-ending pity party his life has become. How could he not fall for her?But with his dad more brutally unpredictable than ever, Tyler knows he can’t risk bringing Jordyn too deeply into the chaos. So when violence rocks his world again, will it be Jordyn who shows him the way to a hopeful future? Or after everything, will Tyler have to find it in himself?

Not After Everything is available now! Happy reading!



Shannon writer photo crop 2Shannon Grogan teaches 2nd grade by day, and writes at Starbucks while her kids are at ballet and baseball. If she can stay off Twitter and stay awake, she writes at night, in a tiny logging town near Seattle, Washington. Her debut, FROM WHERE I WATCH YOU, will be published by Soho Teen, August 2015.

Michelle Levy squaredMichelle Levy grew up in Littleton, Colorado, but moved to Los Angeles as soon as she was legally allowed because she hates driving in the snow. When she’s not writing, she’s likely working at her other job as a casting director for film and television or skulking about (and occasionally posting—she’s working on that) on Twitter. Her debut, NOT AFTER EVERYTHING, will be released on August 4, 2015 from Dial.



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.



So pleased to share with you an interview with the insightful and brave Courtney C. Stevens, author of the YA debut Faking Normal.

Faking Normal HC-official cover

Here’s a description of the book:

Alexi Littrell hasn’t told anyone what happened to her over the summer. Ashamed and embarrassed, she hides in her closet and compulsively scratches the back of her neck, trying to make the outside hurt more than the inside does.

When Bodee Lennox, the quiet and awkward boy next door, comes to live with the Littrells, Alexi discovers an unlikely friend in “the Kool-Aid Kid,” who has secrets of his own. As they lean on each other for support, Alexi gives him the strength to deal with his past, and Bodee helps her find the courage to finally face the truth.


CourtneyStevens0036CJ: This is a book that takes on quite a few serious topics. Did you go into the writing thinking you wanted to tackle these specific issues or did the problems come from the characters?

CS: The original concept of the book was born out of several things, among them the question, “Why can’t I say no?” I wanted a character who deals with boundary issues as that’s something very personal to me. That question led to issues of sexual abuse and recovering trust. I decided it would take a special boy to see through the walls of this girl; that he would have to be someone who truly understood abuse, which is what added the layers of Bodee’s background. From the inside, it didn’t feel like an issue-driven book. I was trying to find the puzzle piece character that fit perfectly beside Alexi.

CJ: The book also has a few mysteries in it. Was this part of the book hard to figure out how to write properly? To have the reader wondering but not quite knowing the answers?

CS: The hardest aspect of writing the mysteries was a question of when to reveal the truths. In the original plot, Alexi didn’t reveal who hurt her until Act III. I had a long conversation with my critique partner one day and she encouraged me to move that particular reveal up to the end of Act II and let the characters have time to deal with the truth. She’s a wise woman.

As for the mystery of Captain Lyric, that storyline emerged in the effort to create juxtaposition between a negative mystery and a positive one. It’s the lighthearted part of the book, (which desperately needed a light side) but I also believe music is a language Alexi could understand from her position of pain.

CJ: Do you have other books in the works? Are they similar to your debut in theme or tone or not?

CS: Yes. I have a novella that releases the Tuesday following Faking Normal (3/5/14) called The Blue-Haired Boy. It is a prequel to Faking Normal, written from Bodee’s point of view.

I also have a second book that is scheduled to be released in fall of 2015. I won’t say too much about it right now except it deals with the power of truth in friendships.

All of my projects are realistic contemporary in genre, and I believe that whether they are “big issue” books or not, they will be tonally similar and feel like the same person crafted them.

CJ: Did you ever consider telling the book in a dual narration structure? Since the character of Bodee is almost as present as Lexi? Did you do any freewriting from his perspective?

CS: No. I never considered two POVs, and I never free-wrote from Bodee’s POV until a year and half after I wrote FAKING NORMAL. Bodee presence has to do with the way Alexi sees him. Is he perfect? No, but he’s perfect to Alexi. Keeping that aspect sacred was very important to me. It is Alexi’s view of Bodee that makes him accessible to the reader. If we were in his head too, I think that accessibility would have decreased.

Alexi, by nature, is harder to relate to because she can’t clearly see herself. While that’s realistic for someone who has been through her circumstances, I wanted to craft someone very transparent to sit opposite her. Bodee fit the bill.

CJ: As someone in the throes of a revising process myself, I’d love to hear a bit about yours. How much drafting did you do for this novel? Did it change much from the selling point to the final version?

CS: I’ve said in the past, some books come out of the author like old, dead syrup and some like Niagara Falls. FAKING NORMAL was my Niagara Falls. Concept to completion occurred between August 8th and October 18th and the story sold by the following June. The biggest revision was to remove the first four pages of the novel. My agent suggested that those four pages belonged to me instead of the world, and I agreed. We removed them, and from there I partnered with my editor to make the language and characters stronger. For those who read an early version of “23” as it was then called, they wouldn’t see many noticeable changes.

That said, everything else I’ve worked on has been old, dead syrup and revision has actually been re-writing and re-visioning. The Blue-Haired Boy took me five complete drafts; tossing 200 pages of writing in January alone. My second book has also had four complete re-writes, (1200 plus pages of circular file material), and it hasn’t made it to my editor yet … so I’m preparing for more.

Someone asked me for a quote on revision recently and this is what I said:

“Revising is like getting a washing machine for Christmas. It sucks as a gift, but it’s a necessary evil if you want things clean.” – Courtney Stevens

CJ: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you or about Faking Normal?

CS: I’d love for them to watch the youtube video if they have three minutes. Here’s the link:

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

CS: I’m terribly afraid of being afraid. Truly. i.e. I don’t pass out over needles or pain (I have tattoos), but I recently passed out at the doctor before he ever hit me with the needle because I was scared it might hurt. It didn’t, but I still passed out.

I am not afraid of revising.

CJ: Thanks Courtney!

CordeliaJensenAuthorPhotoCordelia Allen Jensen graduated with a MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2012. Cordelia’s YA Novel in Verse, SKYSCRAPING, is forthcoming from Philomel/Penguin in early 2015. Cordelia was Poet Laureate of Perry County in 2006 & 2007. She’s a Writer in Residence at The Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia where she teaches creative writing classes for kids & teens and does author interviews for their blog. Cordelia is represented by Sara Crowe of Harvey Klinger, Inc. You can find her at www.cordeliajensen.com and on Twitter @cordeliajensen