CTP Fall Book Sale & Giveaway

We’re one week away from Fall and CTP wants to celebrate with their Bring On Fall Free Book Sale and an Author Sponsored $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway! For one weekend only, they have selected a handful of titles throughout their different imprints that will be listed as free on Amazon from 9/14 to 9/16. This is a limited time promotion as the price will go back up to $4.99 on Monday. Take advantage of this exciting sale this weekend and Fall in love with some new books to cozy up with while you drink your Pumpkin Spice Latte, or tea, or wine, or whatever you love to sip on while reading. Enjoy!

FREE BOOKS AVAILABLE 9/14-9/16:

From YA to steamy romance, witches, queens and everything in between, there is sure to be something for everyone!

This group promo runs from 09/14/2018 to 09/16/2018 ONLY.

Some of the authors listed below are also offering Kindle Countdown Deals on their sequels, which means you can snag sequels or even a few series for the low, low price of $.99 each during this sale!

Get your Kindles ready, or download the Kindle App on your tablet or phone and prepare for an amazing FREE reading extravaganza!

HAPPY READING! LET’S BRING ON THE FALL Y’ALL!!!

Unspeakable - Michelle Pickett Vampires Rule - K.C. Blake The Woodlands - Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Skin And Bones - Susan HarrisResurgence - Sharonlee HolderThe Second Window - Erica Kiefer

Never Forgotten - Kelly RisserPrelude - Nely Cab

Queen of Someday - Sherry Ficklin

Minutes Before Sunset - Shannon A Thompson

Milayna - Michelle Pickett

Lady of Sherwood - Molly Bilinski

Dating An Alien Pop Star - Kendra L. Saunders

Dreamthief - Tamara Grantham

Extracted - Tyler H. Jolley & Sherry D. Ficklin

Crushed - Kasi Blake

Catalyst - Kristin Smith

Broken Fate - Jennifer Derrick

Bait - K.C. Blake

Aftermath - Sandy Goldsworthy

Bad Bloods - Shannon A Thompson

A Shine That Defies The Dark - Jodi Gallegos

 

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card sponsored by our amazing authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t see the Rafflecopter form? Click HERE to go straight to the form. Best of luck!

Bloodthorn - Tamara GranthamSpellweaver - Tamara GranthamRiven - Sherry Ficklin

Smoke And Mirrors - Susan HarrisCollateral Damage - Susan HarrisSilverwitch -Tamara Grantham

Afterlife - Sandy GoldsworthyNever Back Down - Susan HarrisNight Of The Hunter - Susan Harris

Aftershock - Sandy Goldsworthy

CoverThumb

Milayna's Angel - Michelle Pickett

The Innocent - Michelle PickettCreatura - Nely CabFinding Willow - Michelle Pickett

A Message For My Spammers

I’ve just devoted way too many minutes to cleaning up my comments and deleting spam. It’s a bit out of control.

I know, Spammers, you spend a lot of time trolling the interwebbie thing, and you hate for your work to be in vain. I thought I might offer you some tips so that your efforts can be better targeted and all the silly, mundane spam can quit being such a burden to both of us.

  • “Assess far on minuscule the flabbergast” doesn’t mean anything to me. Please consult your American translation dictionary and try again.
  • I do not read Russian.
  • Or any of the Asian languages.
  • Nor the Middle Eastern ones.
  • I’m neither located in Melbourne, nor do I own a car there, so I have no need for a car removal service in Melbourne.
  • Opening with “Howdy” doesn’t make the rest of your super-shady comment any less suspect!
  • I am not following that link.
  • There are far more educated people than I, who can make recommendations about plug-ins, web servers, etc
  • If you found duplicate information on my blog, it’s because I’m human, and forgetful, and probably have no idea what I blogged about a week ago.
  • I will not call you daddy.
  • Also, I will not spank you.
  • I am definitely not following that link
  • However miraculous that pill may be, it will not give me guaranteed penile growth. Mother Nature determined that in advance.
  • Posting the exact same comment to each and every one of my posts is just lazy, lacking in creativity and is the mark of a spammer who isn’t truly invested in his/her future with the spamming company
  • What can an online casino tell me about the topics I blog about (books, writing & parenting)?
  • I am by no means “truly a webmaster” and the “sheer velocity of the loading time” has more to do with your internet provider than anything I’ve done.
  • I don’t believe, based on your generic comment, that you really do think I made “good points”, that you’ve bookmarked my blog, or will be coming back frequently. (Nobody is that interested in a post about pink eye!).
  • And for the rookie spammer: You were supposed to copy & paste ONE of the spam comments. I don’t think you were intended to post all the possible variations of spam comments! I hope you’ve been fired for your lack of attention to this deplorable career path you’ve chosen.

And finally, why are you trying so hard to invade my pitiful web page? Don’t you have a country or multi-million-dollar corporation to topple? There’s much more glory there! Dream big, my Spammer friends.

Blog Tour: I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

 

Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, authors of Sanctuary Bay and the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong, are back with a story that features their signature plot twists and uneasy ever-changing alliances. I DO NOT TRUST YOU (Wednesday Books; September 11, 2018) is a thrilling journey at every turn that asks – what would you do to save the
ones you love?
Memphis “M” Engel is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome.
Ashwin “Ash” Sood is a little too posh for M’s tastes, a little too good looking, and has way too many secrets. He desperately wants the ancient map M inherited from her archeologist father, believing it will lead him to a relic with the power to destroy the world. M obviously can’t trust
him.
Equally desperate to find the relic for reasons of her own, M forms an uneasy partnership with Ash. From the catacombs of Paris, to a sacred forest in Norway, to the ruins of a submerged temple in Egypt, together they crisscross the globe in their search. But through it all, M can never be sure: Is she
traveling with a friend or enemy?

In their latest collaboration, Burns and Metz prove once again the magic that happens when two talented mystery authors work together. Going on M’s journey will have readers’ hearts race with every page. With its dangerous secrets and dark mythology, I DO NOT TRUST YOU is irresistible to any fan of YA thrillers.

Excerpt from I Do Not Trust You:

“You should’ve seen Miss Memphis here get into it with Nick last period,” Brianna said, squeezing in between M and Inez at their usual spot in the cafeteria. “She shut him down with her crazy ancient cultures voodoo.”

“He’s an ass. He’s lucky he’s hot,” their friend Ayana commented, waving her spork in Nick’s direction.

M shrugged. “I wouldn’t try to debate him in Physics. I just know more about Rome than he does.”

“What about AP Chem? Would you debate him in that?” Inez asked in a fake-serious voice. “Would you debate him in German class?”

“She’d debate him in German, in German,” Brianna joked. “And if he tried to fight back, she’d switch to Greek.”

M threw a French fry at her. “I can’t help it. I grew up speaking different languages.”

“And learning about pharaohs. And becoming well versed in the history of the Etruscan people,” Ayana said, putting on a fake accent that was probably supposed to be British. “Oh, and setting broken bones in the bush.”

“That only happened once,” M muttered. Her friends laughed.

“Anyway, it was epic. Thanks,” Brianna said. “I can’t stand fighting with people, and Nick always goes after me.”

“He knows you hate it,” M pointed out. “That’s why he does it.”

“An ass, like I said.” Ayana shrugged.

“You think he’s coming to the party tonight?” Brianna asked.

“Probably. Everyone else is,” Inez replied. “Even Memphis.” M made a face. “Anything to get out of the house. Bob and Liza would expect me to play board games with them otherwise.” Her friends exchanged a glance. M winced. “No offense.”

“Oh, were you offending someone?” Nick piped up from behind her. “Good girl.”

Immediately Bri looked down, while Ayana rolled her eyes. Inez just smirked, glancing back and forth between M and Nick.

“I was not offending anyone. I only meant I don’t like parties,” M said. She didn’t bother to turn toward him. It didn’t matter; he inserted himself onto the bench next to her anyway. A little tingle ran up her spine as the scent of his co- logne hit her nostrils, spicy and warm.

“Mmm, they’re boring. Everyone talking about the prom or the senior trip or whatever. I’m over it,” Nick said.

Me too, thought M, wishing she didn’t agree with him. She loved her friends, but even they were all about high school. M just didn’t care. High school was nothing more than what she had to get through before she could leave. After the crash, after the shock of Bob and Liza becoming her guardians, she’d asked if she could go off to college early, either Boston University or the University of Sheffield in England. Both had the kind of archeology program she wanted and would’ve let her in with no questions. They knew her father. They knew high school was a waste of time for someone like her.

But her guardians said no. They said she needed stabil- ity and normalcy after losing her dad. Never mind that traveling the world and taking care of herself was normal for her. While she and Dad technically lived in Boston, she’d never spent more than a few months there during the school year. They traveled. Half the year spent on digs. She missed it.

“What’s with this thing, anyway? Is it to fight off bad guys?” Nick teased, finding an excuse to touch her. He reached for M’s collapsible bo staff, tucked in the inside pocket of her jacket like always. But before he touched it, be- fore his flirty smile registered in her mind, M had already grabbed his hand, twisted it back to the breaking point, and used the pain to push him off the cafeteria bench and onto the floor. With her other hand, she whipped out the stick and shoved it up against his throat.

M froze. Hes just hitting on you. Her friends were aghast, and everyone nearby watched, openmouthed. Nick’s eyes were wide with panic.

“Sorry.” M stood up, leaving Nick on the floor. “I’m really sorry.”

“Freak,” he muttered, climbing to his feet. He glanced around, noticing the barely concealed laughter from onlook- ers. “Jeez, I just wanted a fry,” he joked, as if he hadn’t been humiliated, then hurried out of the cafeteria.

“What. The. Hell?” Inez asked. “He was flirting with you and you beat him up!”

“I know.” M groaned, shoving her staff back into her pocket. “I didn’t mean to. It was just reflex.”

Her friends were silent. She’d freaked them out. Should she explain the years of self-defense and martial arts training? That she and Dad ended up in some rough places? Her friends lived in a city, they understood danger. Sort of. In a nice, upscale Boston kind of way.

M sighed. There was no point in trying to explain. No- body understood her life.

“You kinda push all the guys away,” Brianna pointed out quietly. “Maybe not like that, but still . . .”

“I don’t do romance,” M replied. She was done with love, period. She’d loved her parents, and they were both gone. Love hurt too much. It was better to steer clear of it.

They all ate in silence for a minute.

“I mean, he is an ass,” Ayana said finally. And everybody laughed.

M: You up?

MIKE: It’s a 12 hr time difference. Of course I’m up.

M: Like you never sleep in on weekends.

MIKE: Fine, your text woke me.

M: I don’t think that glyph is a lotus. It’s bending the wrong way.

MIKE: It has to be a lotus. If it’s not, the whole phrase is wrong.

M: The rest of the phrase never sat well with Nefertum anyway.

MIKE: Your dad said it was a lotus.

 

About the Authors
LAURA J. BURNS and MELINDA METZ have written many books for teens and middle-grade readers, including Sanctuary
Bay, Crave, and Sacrifice, as well as the Edgar-nominated mystery series Wright and Wong. They have also written for
the TV shows ROSWELL, 1-800-MISSING, and THE DEAD ZONE. Laura lives in New York and Melinda lives in North
Carolina, but really they mostly live on email, where they do most of their work together.

Author Spotlight: Wendi Silvano

Name: Wendi Silvano

Author of: Turkey Trouble; Turkey Claus; Turkey Trick-or-Treat; Just One More; What Does The Wind Say?; Hey Diddle Riddle; Counting Coconuts. (Upcoming book: Turkey’s Eggstra-Special Easter, Two Lions Press, January, 2019)

From: I was born in Salt Lake City and grew up there. I lived for two years on the coast of Oregon at ages 7-8, and I lived in Peru for 18 months at 21-22. I have now lived in Grand Junction, CO for 19 years.

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I don’t remember for sure if it was the very first “story” I wrote once I decided to try and write a children’s picture book, but Just One More, was certainly one of the first. When I lived in Peru I was fascinated by the crazy bus rides I took (since drivers cram their buses as full as they can get them, and people bring animals of all sorts aboard). I knew that multicultural stories were something publishers were looking for and I thought I could make a funny book telling the tale of a young boy who is so crammed in he can’t get off the bus. Just One More ended up being my first published picture book (after 7 years of submitting and after 24 rejections).

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I was an elementary school teacher for 11 years, until my 3rd child was born. I quit teaching to stay at home with my kids. I didn’t really like so many of the domestic things stay-at-home mom’s often do (cooking, gardening, sewing, crafting, etc.). I started looking into how to write teacher resource books, as I thought that might be something I could do to earn a little money. The more I looked into that the more I realized that I really wanted to write fiction picture books. They were something I had always had a passion for reading… so why not help create what I loved to read most?

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

When I first began writing, I pretty much began on my own. As there was no internet to use, I checked books out of the library on “how to get published” and purchased a copy of the Children’s Writers and Illustrator’s Market Guide. I joined SCBWI, and began sending away to publishers for the author’s guidelines. Since I had three tiny children, I wasn’t really able to attend conferences often (I only went to one during the first five years of my writing career. I didn’t have a critique group or anything at that point, so SCBWI was probably my best source for help. However, once I moved to Grand Junction, I found a group of three other writers who became my critique group and their help was absolutely critical to improving my writing and helping me get published. Cherie Winner, Linda Armstrong and Penny Stine hold a very dear place in my heart. We laughed a lot, and learned a lot and I credit their help for my success. Years later, Diane Hower moved to town and revitalized the local SCBWI members (and we formed another critique group here in town which was amazing). There’s nothing more helpful than having a good critique group!

Do you exclusively write  picture books or have you written in other genres?

I write everything from ages 0 to about 8. (I think my brain quit growing after 3rd grade!). I have written board books, early readers, picture books and young chapter books. I have also had numerous stories in children’s magazines. (I have absolutely NO ideas for middle grade or YA novels). I have done considerable writing for the educational market, which has included writing reading passages that are used for standardized tests from Kindergarten to Grade 12 levels, and a number of teacher resource books for middle grades. I did the puzzles for the puzzle spreads in OWL Magazine for two years, and have done a variety of work-for-hire assignments of all sorts. I will try almost anything.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I will admit that I go through cycles in my writing. There are times when I can write every day and be productive, and other times when my family has greater needs and I am lucky to get in any writing time for weeks. There are also times when I have a few hours to work on my writing and nothing comes out right. Those are the most frustrating days because my available time is so limited I hate to not be productive. I have learned that is just the nature of the process and I have to live with that. I do try to do something writing-related EVERY day. If I can’t write or revise something I try to research or send out queries, etc. I read, on average, 25-30 picture books per week. I request so many picture books from the library (that are shipped in from all over the area), that they have given me my own reserve shelf. I think there is nothing that helps more with my writing than reading the wonderful writing of others. It gives me a feel for what works and why. It generates new ideas and shows me new ways to structure or approach a story.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions

Once I figure out what it is that I want my story to be, and know how I want to approach it the first draft usually doesn’t take long (maybe a few hours to a day or two). But, it can take me many tries at starting a story to figure out what execution might work. Once a draft is done and I start revisions it will usually be many, many months (or even years) of getting feedback, revising, putting it away for a while and getting it back out to take a fresh look, then revising again, over and over, before I feel a book is ready to go on submission. It’s crazy, but most of my books that have sold have taken at least a year to get “right”.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I have numerous notebooks full of possible ideas for picture books. When I choose one to start working on I might look for other picture books on similar topics/themes to see what is already out there. I brainstorm every idea, word or notion that comes to mind on the theme and try to think of a unique approach. If a book has science elements or some character that is an animal, I will, of course, get as many books from the library as I can find on the topic to learn more. I love reading other children’s books about a topic (i.e. the states of matter, hedgehogs, etc.) because they explain things so simply. It’s the easiest way to learn about something.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

I don’t know if it is quirky, but I find that every time I am sitting at the computer writing, I get a craving for gumdrops. I try to resist the temptation, but often cave and eat a few… just for inspiration!

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I haven’t gone on a trip specifically to do research for a story (although that sounds delightful!), but when our family went to Peru to visit relatives in 2008 I was taking good notes for future story ideas. We visited the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu (where a current story is set) and the Amazon Rain Forest (where several older stories have been set). Anywhere I go I am watching for inspiration for stories.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

Not so much an exact moment… more like a general time frame. As I said before, I have notebooks full of possible ideas. I might think of a title or character or plot idea and write it down, and then later work on it over time to see if a whole story comes of it. For example, I saw a facebook video or a person in a tyrannosaurus costume wearing a tutu and visiting some office somewhere. It gave me the idea for a character who is a tyrannosaurus who desperately wants to dance ballet, but struggles because she has those itty bitty arms that can’t reach the barre and clunky legs and a long tail that gets in the way. But it took some time after seeing the video before the story idea came around.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Of course I read picture books by the hundreds (as that is my preferred genre, and there are SO many wonderful ones being published lately I could never choose a favorite. When I read adult stuff I find I tend to lean towards thrillers because they keep me from falling asleep as I read (or drive if I am listening).

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I haven’t done that yet… but what an intriguing idea!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Sometimes. In fact, my Turkey character was inspired by a “pet” turkey that a family had that I lived with for a time in Peru. This turkey acted just like one of the family dogs. He would come running when leftovers were scraped into the feeding trough, and would follow people around, wanting attention. I never knew turkeys had so much personality!

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

There is a wordless picture book called The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang. It has to be one of my all-time favorite picture books. It was published in 1996, and was actually a Caldecott Honor book, with truly incredible illustrations (the grandmother in the story is depicted in negative space… so clever and fun). However, I hardly ever hear anything about this book, or see it on recommended reading lists, or anywhere. Every child deserves to know about this book. My five children and I have received such delight in reading it.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Once in a while. It’s sort of scary to see what comes up!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A Llama or alpaca. I fell in love with them in Peru, and have a fascination for them now.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Yes. I struggle with critiquing the work of other writers. I can tell you if a manuscript is working and if I like it, or if I feel like there’s something amiss, but I struggle to be able to put my finger on exactly what is right or wrong sometimes.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Be patient and persistent. Even great work can take a long time to get published. You have to hit the right editor or agent with the right thing at the right time. Keep learning how to better the craft and don’t give up!

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Do what you can to market your own work. Publishers often don’t do that much, and it is up to you to create a buzz.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I love talking to aspiring writers. They are so enthusiastic and anxious to learn. I am the local area coordinator for the Western Slope Area of the Rocky Mountain Region of SCBWI. I help organize and coordinate writing “Connects” in our local area so writers have a chance to get together and learn from each other.

Want to know more about Wendi?

 

Turkey Trouble 

Turkey is in trouble. Bad trouble. The kind of trouble where it’s almost Thanksgiving… and you’re the main course. But Turkey has an idea- what if he doesn’t look like a turkey? What if he looks like another animal instead? After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise to make this Thanksgiving the best ever! This delightful book is a Children’s Choice Award winner!

Get Turkey Trouble from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

    Turkey Claus

Turkey is in trouble…again. He made it through Thanksgiving without becoming a turkey dinner, but now it’s almost Christmas, and guess what’s on the menu? Turkey decides the only thing to do is to ask Santa for help. He sets off for the North Pole, but getting in to see Santa on Christmas Eve isn’t as easy as Turkey expected. It’s going to take all his ideas- and his clever disguises- to find a way into Santa’s house. After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise, and Santa has the perfect solution!

Get Turkey Claus from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Turkey Trick Or Treat

Everyone loves Halloween candy—even Turkey. But how can he and his barnyard friends get any when the farmers give it out only to children? With a costume, of course! As his pals look on, Turkey comes up with one clever costume after the next. Each trick gets better and better…but will Turkey and his friends end up with any treats? This hilarious companion to Turkey Trouble and Turkey Claus is filled to the brim with holiday fun.

Get Turkey Trick or Treat from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Just One More

Hector doesn’t know what he’s in for when he climbs aboard a bus high up in the Andes Mountains. He watches in disbelief as the driver lets MORE people and MORE animals on the already swaying and bouncing bus until it’s ready to burst. “There’s no more room. This bus is packed.” said Hector. This bus is piled and stacked up to the roof and out the door!” But the bus driver hollered, “Just one more!” Come along with Hector as he learns a valuable lesson. There’s always room for just one more.

Get Just One More from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

What Does the Wind Say?

A rhyming picture book for 3-5 year-olds that poses playful questions about some of children’s favorite things, like the moon, clouds, frogs and raindrops. From whish-a-woo to peek-a-boo! the answers to the questions make for lively poetry. Warm, charming illustrations depict familiar scenes for little ones.

Get What Does the Wind Say? from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

 

Hey Diddle Riddle

Enhanced with gatefold flaps and bold illustrations, a silly book will challenge kids to guess the answers to simple riddles featuring the dish and the spoon, the three kittens, and other classic nursery rhyme characters.

Get Hey Diddle Riddle on Amazon

Counting Coconuts

Help! Monkey is hungry. But before he can eat his coconuts, he must find the fastest way to count them. A trio of tapirs, a slithering boa, an oh-so-slow sloth, and a wickedly wise jaguar are among the rainforest animals that suggest various counting methods. Learn to count by sets and help Monkey complete his comical, ever-changing, arithmetic task.

Get Counting Coconuts from Amazon

                                      

Book Blitz: Hiro Loves Kite by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

 

Hiro Loves Kite
Lauren Nicolle Taylor
(Paper Stars #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: August 27th 2018
Genres: Historical, Young Adult

We offer our wounds and scars. Understanding that’s part of what makes us beautiful.

Nora finally has her beloved sister Frankie back but that’s just the beginning of their struggles. She must now become Kite. A stronger, more independent version of herself. A King. A guardian.

And Kettle has Kite’s heart. She gives it freely. But as he holds it, dear and close like a lost treasure, something holds him back: A feeling that he doesn’t deserve good things. A looming shadow that threatens to separate them. Kettle must accept that he is also Hiro: A Japanese American with every right to happiness and freedom.

Because Hiro loves Kite. And Kite won’t wait forever for him to tell her.

But they’re standing on icy ground. As the leverage they had on Kite’s abusive father wavers and life on the street affects Frankie’s health, the challenges threaten to break their bond.

Snow is gathering at the station doors and doubts are piling high. They must rely on each other. Believe in the magic that got them this far. If they don’t, it’s not just their future in jeopardy but the fates of all the street kids in their care. All the Kings.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Frankie Comes Home…

Paying for a hot dog in pennies and dimes is embarrassing. Being two pennies short and having the hot dog stand guy take pity on us was completely humiliating. We’re skinny. I just hope the Kings haven’t eaten everything we had stored away.

Without Kin and Keeps, there’s been a little more to go around. My shoulders sag. Now there are more mouths to feed. My fingers scrape the insides of my pockets, searching for a coin that maybe got snagged in the seams. If I turn them inside out, I really will look like a street urchin. I’m the pirate who opens the treasure chest, finds he’s been beat, and opens it again just to rub it in. I snort.

We wait for a large crowd to head for the subway and melt in. Frankie’s eyes are as wide as a sliced moon as we weave and duck. Eyes on each other, hands gripped tightly.

Kite pushes Frankie’s head under the turnstile as I pay with our last coin. She presses her back into me. The smell of faint perfume, the last of her old life, and salt, the new, coming from her hair. As I reach around her to push the stile, a two for one, her breath catches. I let my hand rest on her waist for a second. Let myself imagine we’re a couple on our way home from a shopping trip, and then it falls like so many un-granted wishes into a fountain.

Leaning close to her ear so she can hear me, I hold my breath, thinking inhaling any more of her sweetness may actually kill me. “Ready?”

She nods. Her cheek brushing my lips.

We take our route to the secret door. To the home we now share like kids playing house, only far too real.

Frankie, to her credit, rolls with the punches. Punch one: Hot dogs instead of roast beef and gravy for dinner. Punch Two: Cheating our way through the subway. Punch Three… I knock on the King’s door, and Krow answers. He looks us up and down, slick and distrustful for a moment, then breaks into a grin. “Kettle! Kite!” he shouts. “Kettle and Kite are home.” He stares at my hands. When he sees there’s no food—only a suitcase—he quickly looks away. But there’s no hiding his disappointment.

Frankie squeezes her way through the doorway into the vast, abandoned subway tunnel. My home. My refuge. And now hers. Blinking, she stands on her tiptoes. Lip in teeth. “Holy hell!” she shouts, and several Kings look her way.

Kite flushes pink, then taps her sister’s shoulder. “Frankie!” she chastises. “Language.”

We step inside, and Frankie swings her head from side to side. “I mean tank you, holy hell.”

We both chuckle, eyes connecting over the top of her head.

Punch three: “This is where we’re going to be staying for a while,” Kite’s voice chases after a galloping Frankie as she jumps from bed to bed. She is the spokes of a traveling star. She is the light you can’t catch.

Frankie doesn’t hear her, and Kite runs to catch her sister. I drag the case inside, plonk it on Kin’s bed. Now Kite’s to share with her sister.

Finally, Frankie stops running and presses a palm to her chest as she wheezes. Kite rushes to her, and she puts both hands on her sister’s shoulders. “Are you okay?”

Punch four is for me, and I feel it sock me right in the guts. As I watch them, I know. Like really know that I would do anything to help them. They are instantly and permanently part of this family. And it scares me.

Author Bio:

Lauren is the bestselling author of THE WOODLANDS SERIES and the award-winning YA novel NORA & KETTLE (Gold medal Winner for Multicultural fiction, Independent Publishers Book Awards 2017).

She has a Health Science degree and an honors degree in Obstetrics and Gynecology. A full time writer, hapa and artist, Lauren lives in the tucked away, Adelaide hills with her husband and three children.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Author Spotlight: Rebecca Carpenter

Name: Rebecca Carpenter  

Author of: The Metamorphosis Series: Butterfly Bones (Book 1), Butterfly Blood (Book 2, Available 8/28/18, Lakewater Press)

From: Fruita, Colorado

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

I began writing as soon as I could form a sentence on paper. But the first piece that brought attention to my writing was a poem I wrote in the third grade entitled, “Love Is…” My poem won a contest, and I was placed in a creative writing course with other winners. That’s when I knew my words had power.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I think I have always wanted to pursue writing as a profession, but until my kids were raised, I just didn’t have the time. But I didn’t begin with novels. After watching one-too-many poorly written movies, I told my husband I could write a better script than that, and so I did. I bought the software needed for screenwriting and went to town. My first two screenplays won Honorable Mention in the Colorado Screenplay Awards. But after realizing how hard it is to break into screenwriting, I decided to switch to novels.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

My SCBWI critique group was amazing. And after I used a professional editor, she hooked me up with a local writer to help me learn the “craft” of writing. We have been weekly critique partners ever since, and she has taught me a wealth of writing tips.

Do you exclusively write young adult or have you written in other genres?

I write screenplays, drama and Rom-coms, and I also dabble in picture books and middle grade.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I write any chance I can: at work during rest time for the children in my prekindergarten class; in the evenings after supper; early mornings on weekends, and sometimes all day in my pajamas on weekends.  It is quite difficult to balance my writing and family time. My husband complains often of my lack on involvement with him. So I try to shut off the computer and give him quality time as much as possible. This is a challenge when I work sixty hours a week, copyedit part time, and copyedit for Lakewater Press as well.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

A first draft can take me anywhere from six months to a year, depending on how much time I have to devote to writing and how much research I have to perform.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I use a general plotline, as well as write my premise and goals for my point-of-view characters. I use characterization sheets in the beginning to make sure I stay true to facts and personality traits unique to each character. I typically research as it comes up in the script. This way I can be writing and putting my ideas onto paper as they come to me instead of finding myself bogged down in research.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Not that I know of. I do have to be surrounded with noise, so I write in the front room with the television on. And if I talk to my hubby on occasion, I can usually get away with it.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I wouldn’t call it a pilgrimage since I only traveled a few miles. But I visited our local butterfly house and asked lots of questions about raising butterflies and the laws surrounding that. Interesting to find out butterflies are categorized by the government as a pest, and special permits must be obtained to keep and breed them.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

Inspiration comes in spurts for me. Either feast or famine. So I’ll be flooded with fifty ideas, and I write them all down, or I can go months with nothing. But Butterfly Bones came from a song by The Cure, called “Caterpillar Girl.” It started as a horror, but ended up being a soft science fiction. Darn characters think they know the story better than the writer. J

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I love to read thrillers, but I also will read anything that’s well-written. Don’t care the genre. Since I work with children, I also love picture books.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? I use family names as well lots of foreshadowing, but nothing all “cloak and daggery.”

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Sometimes, but not always. I try to give each one a distinct personality by drawing off people I know, but sometimes they are purely made up from my imagination.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

I loved Defending Jacob by William Landay. The twists and turns in that book and then the climax were so unexpected that I still think about them, even after years of reading the story. I hope to see it made into a major motion picture someday.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight series.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Nope. But my hubby does.

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

A butterfly, of course.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Promotion. Promotion. Promotion.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Never. Give. Up. Keep reading. Keep writing. Join a critique group.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? It takes time to write the story, and it takes time to build your audience. Keep at it. Keep at it. Keep at it.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I offer free critiques, Beta reading, and give as much advice as I can on my blog. I am always open for questions or general writing advice.

Do you want more information on Rebecca and her books?

 

 Butterfly Bones (Metamorphosis, Book 1)

HER BONES. HER FUTURE. HER SACRIFICE.

“I wish I was a normal fifteen-year-old. I have dreams that I am.”

Fifteen-year-old Bethany Keatley’s life is anything but perfect. Yet despite a rare bone disorder cursing her with the body of a ten year old, a dead mom, and being a target for the school bullies, things could be worse.

She owes her life to her scientist father and the butterfly hormone racing through her blood.

But the discovery of unexpected and horrifying side effects means her dreams of leaving the small-minded town of Springs, Georgia to become a scientist have all but shattered.

Her world becomes a prison and her existence a life sentence.

The only thing keeping Bethany fighting is her true love, football star Jeremiah Wright—if only he felt the same way. And now, with the clock ticking and her future uncertain, courage and the determination to survive must drive her decisions.

But nature has other plans, a sacrifice for Bethany’s life.

In this award-winning incredible debut, Rebecca Carpenter brings to life the “haunting and twisted story” of one girl and an ending that will blow your mind.

 

Get Butterfly Bones on Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

 

 

 Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2)

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

 

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

Book Review: Sadie by Courtney Summers

My first thought about Sadie was “DAMN!” That’s it. That is, quite literally, the only word I could find that effectively describe what I felt when I finished the book.

This book quickly shot to the top of my favorite reads list!

Sadie, by Courtney Summers, is an intense novel about love and vengeance.

“And it begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.”

Sadie lived a hard life. At the age of six, when she held her baby sister Mattie in her arms, Sadie felt her purpose in life: to love and protect Mattie. Sadie survived her hard-partying, emotionally manipulative mom and the succession of men that she brought home. She also endured verbal and sexual abuse at the hands of some of those men. But, as long as Mattie was happy and safe, Sadie felt a sense of accomplishment, pride in a purpose higher than herself. When their mom left town without a word Sadie assumed responsibility for raising Mattie

Then, a passerby found thirteen-year-old Mattie’s lifeless body in a field. The police have failed to find her killer and now, Sadie has gone missing.

Sadie is determined to avenge her sister. Armed with few clues, she follows a series of isolated roads through anonymous towns looking for the man who killed Mattie.

West McCray is a podcaster working on a series about the decline of small-towns in America. He was filming a segment for his show when he heard about Mattie’s death. A year later he receives a call that the girl’s sister Sadie has also disappeared. The only clues are a missing photo and the girl’s abandoned car. West, initially hesitant, begins an urgent search for Sadie in the hopes of finding her before it’s too late.

Sadie is told in alternating viewpoints. Sadie’s experience is raw as she journeys through a series of small towns, and is off set with a professional, detached reporting style in the transcripts of West McCray’s episodic podcast, The Girls.

Courtney Summers’s writing propelled me through the pages. Even as my heart splintered, and my stomach sickened at what has happened to this girl, I kept turning the pages to see what other revelations awaited me. Be forewarned, this book deals with some deep, dark issues (for those who prefer trigger warnings, the topics are sexual assault, rape, pedophilia, abuse, and assault). However, I was completely submersed in this book, and my mind is just blown!! Highly recommended.

*I received an ARC of Sadie from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Get SADIE from Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Author Spotlight: Tiffany Brownlee

Name: Tiffany Brownlee  

Novel: Wrong in All The Right Ways (Macmillan)

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? 

The first story I ever remember writing was when I was in the second grade. It was something about a taco pocket (a common food that we ate in the cafeteria) and how it didn’t want to be eaten so it ran away from the table. Much of my writing from when I was a child had to do with food, which I find hilarious.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was in grade school, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I began to think about writing professionally. My good friend, Brad, and I would daydream about becoming professional writers and we’d trade off stories. But then, senior year happened, and I realized that I needed to get serious about college. So, I put my dreams away until after I graduated college, and when I picked writing back up, the first novel I wrote, which landed me an agent and ultimately a book deal, was Wrong in All the Right Ways.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

Yes! Once I got my book deal, I joined a group called the Electric Eighteens. It’s a group of debut authors who have novels coming out in the year 2018. This group, collectively, has been so helpful on my journey to publication. Anytime I had a question about something—be it book swag, author events, the struggle of writing book 2, etc.—they’ve been there to advise me. My agent and editor have been really helpful and supportive as well, and without either of them, I’d be so lost. So, I’ve kind of gotten advice and support from a number of people during my journey; I can’t say give all the credit to one person.

Do you exclusively write contemporary YA (young adult) or have you written in other genres?

So far, I’ve only written in the YA romance genre. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a good romance—or “kissing books” as I sometimes call them. However, I have written pieces of novels in other genres, but I have yet to figure out how to write a good action scene. Maybe one of these days, I’ll figure it out and pick up one of the half-written novels I’ve started and work on finishing it.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I’m an English teacher, so for most of the year, my focus is on making sure I can deliver high-quality lessons to my students, and unfortunately for me, that makes it difficult for me to get an adequate amount of writing done. However, whenever I’m on vacation from school (especially summer vacation) and I get the opportunity to I write for extended periods of time, I crank out

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

When I wrote Wrong in All the Right Ways, it only took my twenty days to write the first draft of that novel, and maybe three months on revisions before I began to query for an agent. I’m not sure how I did it, and I wish I could go back in time and write down my exact process because now that I have one novel out already, I feel so much pressure to repeat, and because of that it’s become more and more difficult to finish the first draft of my next novel. It’s getting there, though.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

When it comes to preparation for writing a novel, I’m definitely a plotter. I love making outlines for the entire project before I begin writing. This helps me reveal every possible twist and turn, so I can write with those things in mind. For the most part, I try to stick to my outlines, but occasionally, I’ll get an idea in my head that throws the outline off a little bit, but I always know that it won’t be long until I’m back on track with the way I’ve planned the novel to go.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

 I’m kind of an open book, so I don’t have anything I wouldn’t want anyone to know, but one of my habits is that I listen to Disney songs while I write. And I’m talking all kinds of Disney music—from the animated films, DCOM soundtracks (High School Musical is my personal favorite), and even from albums that past and present Disney stars have put out (Hilary Duff, Bridget Mendler, Miley Cyrus, etc.). I don’t know, there’s just something about Disney songs that put me in the mood to write.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

I wouldn’t say that I do any interesting research to write a novel because a lot of what I write is pulled from my own life experiences. When I do research something, it’ll be to fact-check something medical-related or get a little more information about the setting that I’ve chosen for the novel. Surprisingly, what I spend most of my research time on are names of characters. I will scour through baby name websites for days until I find the perfect one.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

My inspiration for Wrong in All the Right Ways came when I reread Wuthering Heights a few months after I graduated college. But today, most of my inspiration comes from interacting with my students at school. They’re middle schoolers so they have plenty of daily drama for me to draw inspiration from.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I love anything in the YA contemporary or YA romance categories. Reading those books remind me of when I was a teenager and was experiencing love and meaningful friendships for the first time. Some of my favorite novels are Jenny Hans To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series and anything by John Green. Occasionally I’ll try a YA fantasy, but it’s not really my style so it takes a very interesting premise for me to pick up a YA fantasy novel.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Yes, there are some secrets that only a few people will know about, such as my first kiss, that made it into the novel. There are two instances where I wrote about first kisses in the novel, and I’ve told readers that my first kiss is written in there, so readers will have to guess which one is from my life. But unless I or the guy it happened with spills the beans, no one will ever know which one is the real one.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Some of the characters are inspired by people in my real life, but one in particular is a mash-up of people I’ve met across my lifetime, and that character is Karmin Ortega. Karmin is Emma’s best friend in the novel, and she was inspired from every best friend I’ve ever had in my life. When I was younger, my dad was in the military and we moved around more than I would have liked to. Because we moved so frequently, I was never able to keep a best friend for very long. 

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

I have two, actually. One is the book Holes by Louis Sachar, and the other is the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver. Holes is a book that made me fall in love with reading at a young age, and the Delirium series was one of the first book series I read when I just started getting into the YA dystopian genre. I will never get tired of reading those books.

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

I used to Google myself a lot more prior to publication, just to see what people are saying, but I’ve tried to stay away from that because it gives me anxiety. I don’t want to know what people are saying about me or about my book, so I’ve stopped. Maybe one day, I’ll resume Googling myself, but today is not that day (haha).

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

My patronus is some kind of rodent (a possum or a ferret or something along those lines), and I don’t think that fits me very well, so I like to think that my mascot would be a dolphin or something fun like that. They’re so playful, which is SO me.

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I feel like I should be better at writing authentic dialogue, but I find it difficult to do sometimes, especially when I’m attempting to write dialogue for a male character. I’m always second-guessing myself, like “is this what a guy would say?” Usually, I seek advice from my boyfriend or brother when I start to feel self-conscious about the authenticity of my male characters’ dialogue.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

1) Don’t give up! And 2) do your research before deciding to get into the publishing business. There are a number of different routes that aspiring writers can take to publish their novel—self-publishing/traditional publishing, small press/large press, etc.—so be sure to do your research and choose the path that works best for you.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Here’s the greatest advice I can give any newly published author: Whatever you do, do not check your book reviews on Goodreads. I wish someone had told me this earlier, but I fell in the Goodreads trap early on my journey to publication. I think ignorance is bliss when it comes to reviews. I don’t want to know how many people are reading it, and I don’t want to know what they think about it. The second you realize you have a one- or two-start review, you’re going to start doubting yourself, and enough self-doubt can really hurt your future. So, one more time for the people in the back row: DO NOT CHECK YOUR BOOK REVIEWS ON GOODREADS! You’ll thank me later 🙂

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I try to help other aspiring authors by giving them as much advice as possible about what I learned from my journey to publication. Aspiring writers are always looking for advice on querying/publication do’s and don’t’s from an experienced author, and I try to help them out any chance I get. I’ve gotten messages from writers asking about my process and what they should do, and I don’t mind answering questions or telling them how I did it, but I always give them the disclaimer that just because I did things a certain way doesn’t mean that they have to do the same. Every author has a different publishing experience and they should choose the route that works best for them.

Would you like to know more about Tiffany?

  • Visit her website
  • See what she’s posting about on Facebook
  • Follow her on Twitter
  • Check out what she’s sharing on Instagram
  • See what Tiffany is reading—and writing—on Goodreads

 

Wrong In All The Right Ways

An attraction between foster siblings sets fire to forbidden love in this contemporary reimagining of Wuthering Heights.

Emma’s life has always gone according to her very careful plans. But things take a turn toward the unexpected when she falls in love for the first time with the one person in the world who’s off-limits: her new foster brother, the gorgeous and tormented Dylan McAndrews.

Meanwhile, Emma’s AP English class is reading Wuthering Heights, and she’s been assigned to echo Emily Bronte’s style in an epistolary format. With irrepressible feelings and no one to confide in, she’s got a lot to write about. Distraught by the escalating intensity of their mutual attraction, Emma and Dylan try to constrain their romance to the page―for fear of threatening Dylan’s chances at being adopted into a loving home. But the strength of first love is all-consuming, and they soon get enveloped in a passionate, secretive relationship with a very uncertain outcome.

Tiffany Brownlee’s Wrong in All the Right Ways marks the exciting debut of a fresh voice in contemporary teen fiction.

 

Get Wrong In All The Right Ways from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

 

 

Book Review: Butterfly Blood by Rebecca Carpenter

“Nature demands payment. And nature demands balance.”

With the events of Butterfly Bones barely behind her, Bethany Keatley has just begun to settle into her new life when mother nature rears her ugly head again.

Cured of her bone disease and still reeling from her father’s last act, Bethany is now living with her aunt Denise in Florida and trying to adjust to a “normal” life. But the secrets from her past are threatening to rise up and destroy her chance for a new life.

First Bethany discovers a dark truth about her father. And then her miraculous cure, provided by the butterfly DNA that now courses through her veins, may actually prove fatal. But is the danger in the cure, or in the doctors who seem far too invested in studying her further?

In a parallel story line, Jeremiah is also dealing with the events of that last night at the Keatley house. He is not only grieving Bethany, but with losing everything he knows about himself. And there’s also that dark monster in the corner of his mind that’s demanding to be set free.

Butterfly Blood (book 2 in the Metamorphosis series) is an intense, action and emotion packed follow up to a truly unique novel and I couldn’t out it down.

 

*I received a copy of Butterfly Blood from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Butterfly Blood (Metamorphosis, Book 2) 

HER BLOOD. HER LOVE. HER FREEDOM.

“How many of my sins will have to be paid for in blood?”

Sixteen-year-old Bethany Keatley finally has the healthy body and looks she’s always desired. But the price she’s had to pay has left her traumatized.

The only thing making her battle on is the memory of that kiss with Jeremiah.

Now miles from him and living in Florida with an aunt she’s never met, shocking revelations about her parents are too much to bear. After collapsing from exhaustion and shock, Bethany wakes in a hospital bed awaiting test results—results that might lead to the discovery of her unusual butterfly blood.

But that’s the least of Bethany’s concerns when the doctor informs her she’s infected with a parasite and without immediate treatment she’ll die.

Too young to refuse and too weak to fight back, Bethany’s life once again hangs in the balance. Yet her scientific knowledge and suspicious nature lead her to unravel a horrifying web of lies.

Will nature intervene again, demanding another payment?

In this stunning sequel to the award-winning BUTTERFLY BONES, Rebecca Carpenter raises the stakes and offers up an intense and heartbreaking ride that will leave you shocked to the core.

Get Butterfly Blood from Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

 

About Rebecca Carpenter

Rebecca Carpenter is a native of western Colorado. She is married with two grown children and has been blessed with five amazing grandchildren. She owns and directs a large childcare center where she shares her love for books. She also works as a part time freelance copy editor and interns as an assistant to the editor for a small press, helping others attain their writing dreams.

 

Author Spotlight: Annie Sullivan

Name:   Annie Sullivan  

Author of:   A Touch of Gold (HarperCollins Publishing, Available August 14, 2018)

 

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? 

I started out writing short poems in grade school, and one even got published in a local poetry book. But the first short story I wrote definitely had a princess in it, so I haven’t strayed far from that! But looking back, I don’t think that story quite holds

up today. I’ve definitely come a long way.  

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

When I was trying to decide what I wanted to major in in college, I remembered how much I enjoyed writing, so I got a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. I’ve always loved reading stories, so it only seemed natural that I start telling them.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

I had some great advisors at Butler University, where I got my master’s degree in creative writing. I also had a lot of support from everyone at the Midwest Writers Workshop, and it was there I met a lot of my critique partners, who have helped me in more ways than I can count. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with some great authors like John Green and Brenda Drake, who have both given me great advice over the years. And I definitely couldn’t have done it without my family too!

 Do you exclusively write young adult fantasy or have you written in other genres?

I pretty much write YA fantasy. I would love to do some sci-fi or something set in the old west. I also want to start dabbling in picture books, but my heart will always belong to YA fantasy. I just love everything I can do in that space—like inventing new worlds and creatures.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I strive to write a minimum of 500 words a day. Some days I can write 3,000, and some days those 500 can be a struggle. Usually when I’m writing, I try to take the weekends off so I can have some work life balance. When I’m on a deadline, like when I’m revising, then it becomes a little harder to maintain a balance. 

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

It takes about 3 months to write a first draft if I’m keeping to my writing goals. I like to then do revisions with a few different critique partners. Then, I revise after my agent has read it. Finally, I revise again after I get an editor. So I feel like I spend countless hours revising. But the better you know your story, the easier it is to revise. So I’ve gotten better at it over the years.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I’m pantser, so I don’t plot out my stories ahead of time; I fly by the seat of my pants. I basically get an idea and just start writing. Granted, I end up doing a lot of rewriting later because I slowly discover how I want the story to go, which sometimes means reworking the beginning over and over again.

I basically consider all the stories and fairytales I’ve read over the years as research, and I do some research as I go along depending on the topic.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Well, I know it would drive some people crazy, but I like to listen to the same song over and over again when I’m writing. I change the song after a few days, but I’ve probably listened to some of them a few hundred times in a row.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

 I wouldn’t say I’ve done a literary pilgrimage, but I love to travel. I’ve traveled to every single continent—yes, including Antarctica—and to over 50 countries. As a writer, I think I have to take advantage of every opportunity to travel that I can. Seeing the world can inspire new settings, and I’ve even based some characters on people I’ve met during my travels.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For some of my projects I can, but not for all of them. For A Touch of Gold, I came up with the idea after watching Pirates of the Caribbean. I was thinking about all that cursed gold the pirates had to track down, and that got me thinking about gold and having golden powers. That led me to thinking about King Midas, but I typically write about strong female characters. So I got to thinking about his daughter and whatever happened to her after she was turned to gold. And that was that! A story idea was born.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Just as I love to write YA fantasy, I love to read it too. Some of the books I’m loving right now are Frostblood by Elly Blake and Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Some of my other favorite authors include Meg Cabot, Jane Austen, and Madeline L’Engle.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Haha! Yes, I actually do. I hide family stories, family names, and fun little Easter eggs. I enjoy hiding these little details even if I’m the only one knows they’re there.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

All of my characters have some small part of me in there, and some have characteristics of people I might know. But I wouldn’t say they ever hold too much a resemblance to real people.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I know this book published a long time ago, but it has stayed with my since I read it as a kid. And I hope it will affect others the way it did me.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot. It was just such a fun short read that reminded me of Pride & Prejudice, so of course I knew I was going to love it. Swoon!

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Ha! I have before, but honestly, if I do it now, it’s mostly to find my blog or my book on Amazon so I can share the link with people. Although, I do have to note that since I share a name with Helen Keller’s teacher who is named Annie Sullivan that I’m just glad I can find myself at all because for years I couldn’t!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

I would choose a goat! I love goats because they have really cool rectangular pupils (Google a picture!). Also, I’ve been told goats are social creatures that like to eat, which pretty much describes me. Desserts are my weakness!!!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I love coming up with plots. My characters are always secondary, so I always have to spend extra time making the characters feel real and unique. Luckily, I have an agent who is amazing at characters, so she always keeps me on track!

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Don’t give up. Seriously. I started this book in 2010. I finished it in 2012. It’s coming out in 2018. That’s 8 years from start to finish. There were so many times I wanted to give up during those eight years—times when I was getting rejection after rejection. But I stuck with it. I wrote multiple books while I was waiting. And because I didn’t give up, I ended up where I am today.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Enjoy it. Being a debut author is a crazy, thrilling, confusing time. It’s like everything is happening at once, but the day your book comes out, nothing truly changes. Yes, you have a book out in the world, but it’s not the earth-shattering event you think it’ll be. So just enjoy what you can and then get back to writing the next book.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I try to help aspiring writers any way I can. I judge writing contests, help out in mentoring contests, and guide as many authors as I can through the tricky path to publication. I had to figure out how to write query letters and pitch agents all on my own, and I know how difficult that process was. So anything I can do to make it easier on others I’ll do gladly!

Looking for more information on Annie?

A Touch of Gold

Gold is wealth. Wealth is power. Power is a curse.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

From author Annie Sullivan comes A Touch of Gold, the untold story of the daughter King Midas turned to gold, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Wrath and the Dawn.

 

Order A Touch of Gold from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound