Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Guest Post: Author Sarah Zettel

A warning to all young ladies of delicate breeding who wish to embark upon lives of adventure: Don't.
Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand, until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she's impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love . . . History and mystery spark in this effervescent series debut.
People love to ask where authors get their ideas from. Authors, on the other hand, hate that question. It’s not that we’re being coy, or snobby. It’s just that it’s almost impossible to answer, because ideas can come from anywhere, and nowhere. 
Palace of Spies is a perfect example. I never planned to write this series, and if the Borders book chain hadn’t gone out of business, I probably wouldn’t have. 
The adventures of Peggy Fitzroy, counterfeit maid of honor, are set in the court of King George I of England, a place and time about which I knew next to nothing, and the inspiration came to me during
a busy time. I was writing a mystery combining vampires and fine dining in New York City, and I had just started on my first ever YA series which brought fairies to the Dust Bowl, and I was also committed to write a set of paranormal romances. So mentally, I was a very long way from eighteenth century England, and was really short on time.
But then, as I say, Borders Book & Music shut down.
I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan which is (was) Borders’s home town. When the end came, we had three Borders to close down, and all of them had one of those Going Out of Business sales where the
books get progressively cheaper as time goes on. I told myself I wasn’t going to go. I don’t like that
kind of shopping. Yes, you get bargains, but it feels ghoulish. I’d loved Borders for a long time. I
remember when it was a single high-end store where you had to be able to pass a literature test to get a job and walk two blocks away to find a coffee. I wasn’t going to go pick over its bones.
That resolution lasted probably five minutes. The lure of cheap books was too strong. I did go, and not just to one of the sales — I went to all of them as they cascaded across town, and I bought a lot
of books.
One of those books was Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace by Lucy Worsely. I grabbed it because I’m interested in English history in general and it was a pretty book. It went onto my TBR pile, and sat there until impulse took hold again, and I cracked it open to see just what it was I’d bought.
Yes, I am that kind of person. I buy books I don’t have time to read, about which I know nothing, and I do it simply because they look kinda cool. It’s a problem. I admit it.
It turned out what I’d bought was a history of Kensington Palace, and the court of George I. Usually, the Georges we hear about are George III (because of the Revolution) and George IV (because of Jane Austen and the Regency). George V, father of the current Queen Elizabeth, has been in the spotlight a little lately because of the Colin Firth movie. But Georges I and II? They didn’t do anything interesting.
Except, they did. This was a story of infidelity, intrigue, spying, debt, indiscretion, personal foibles, and a quarrel between royal father and son that resulted in the Prince of Wales getting chucked out into the street and his children being held hostage by their royal grandfather. George I, by the way, also had his wife locked up because of her infidelity, and then proceeded to live openly with his mistress and their 3 daughters for the rest of his life. There were assassination attempts, a kidnapping plot by royal minsters, and that’s not to mention the fact that there was a rival royal family over in France who spent three generations scheming to try to take back the British Throne.
By the time I closed that book, I had a new story. All I had to do was get the words on paper and in the right order.
So, where do I get my ideas from? Dead bookstores and dead kings. Where do you get yours?
About the Author:
Sarah Zettel is the critically acclaimed author of more than twenty novels, spanning the full range of genre fiction. Her debut novel, Reclamation, won the Locus Award for Best First Novel. Her second release, Fool’s War, was a 1997 New York Times Notable Book, and the American Library Association named Playing God one of the Best Books for Young Adults of 1999. Her novel Bitter Angels won the Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction paperback in 2009. Her latest novel, Dust Girl, was named as one of the best young adult books of the year by both Kirkus Reviews and the American Library Association. Zettel lives in Michigan with her husband, her rapidly growing son, and her cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Scariest Cover Images

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they're particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish (and who isn't?). They're all about creating new lists including a little bit of everything and I've been meaning to participate for so long but always seemed to get behind. So here we are and hopefully you'll head over to their page and check out what everyone else put up for this week's Top Ten.

I wasn't sure how this week's top ten list would come together, because to be perfectly honest, if I see a cover that scares me, most likely it's a book that I won't have the courage to pick up and read.  But I went looking through my shelves and managed to find and put together a list for this week, that had me worried I wouldn't be able to sleep after staring at these covers for too long.

Scary Cover #1:  The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Mackie Doyle is not one of us. Though he lives in the small town of Gentry, he comes from a world of tunnels and black murky water, a world of living dead girls ruled by a little tattooed princess. He is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now, because of fatal allergies to iron, blood, and consecrated ground, Mackie is fighting to survive in the human world.

Mackie would give anything to live among us, to practice on his bass or spend time with his crush, Tate. But when Tate's baby sister goes missing, Mackie is drawn irrevocably into the underworld of Gentry, known as Mayhem. He must face the dark creatures of the Slag Heaps and find his rightful place, in our world, or theirs.


The third novel in the bone-chilling Possessions series by New York Times bestselling author Nancy Holder.

The gutsy heroine of Possessions and The Evil Within returns for another year of boarding school at the haunted Marlwood Academy. Lindsay wakes to find herself strapped down in the infirmary. She had a breakdown and might have tried to kill her nemesis Mandy or Mandy's boyfriend, Troy—or both. The details are hazy, but one thing is certain: she is possessed by a spirit she cannot trust.
Lindsay soon realizes that nowhere on campus is safe. Then, she finds a surprising ally in her former rival. Together, Lindsay and Mandy must figure out who can be trusted—and who wants them dead. But when Lindsay's ex-boyfriend shows up at Marlwood, she is given a chance to get away and be free of the curse. Will she take Riley's hand and run, or team up with a new love to save Marlwood from the evil spirits forever?

Scary Cover #3:  Revived by Cat Patrick

It started with a bus crash.
Daisy Appleby was a little girl when it happened, and she barely remembers the accident or being brought back to life. At that moment, though, she became one of the first subjects in a covert government program that tests a drug called Revive.
Now fifteen, Daisy has died and been Revived five times. Each death means a new name, a new city, a new identity. The only constant in Daisy's life is constant change.
Then Daisy meets Matt and Audrey McKean, charismatic siblings who quickly become her first real friends. But if she's ever to have a normal life, Daisy must escape from an experiment that's much larger--and more sinister--than she ever imagined.
From its striking first chapter to its emotionally charged ending, Cat Patrick's Revived is a riveting story about what happens when life and death collide.


Connor, Risa, and Lev are running for their lives.

The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.


To survive in a ruined world, she must embrace the darkness…

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for… again.

Enter Julie Kagawa's dark and twisted world as an unforgettable journey begins.


Young Tabby Aykroyd has been brought to the dusty mansion of Seldom House to be nursemaid to a foundling boy. He is a savage little creature, but the Yorkshire moors harbor far worse, as Tabby soon discovers. The ghost of the last maid will not leave Tabby in peace, yet this spirit is only one of many. Why do scores of dead maids and masters haunt Seldom House with a jealous devotion that extends beyond the grave?

As Tabby struggles to escape the evil forces rising out of the land, she watches her young charge choose a different path. He is determined to keep Seldom House as his own. Though Tabby tries to befriend the uncouth urchin, her kindness cannot alter his fate. Long before he reaches the old farmhouse of Wuthering Heights, the boy who will become Heathcliff has doomed himself and any who try to befriend him.


“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.


Twenty years ago, the robots designed to fight our wars abandoned the battlefields. Then they turned their weapons on us.

Only a few escaped the robot revolution of 2071. Kevin, Nick, and Cass are lucky —they live with their parents in a secret human community in the woods. Then their village is detected and wiped out. Hopeful that other survivors have been captured by bots, the teens risk everything to save the only people they have left in the world—by infiltrating a city controlled by their greatest enemies.

Revolution 19 is a cinematic thriller unlike anything else. With a dynamic cast of characters, this surefire blockbuster has everything teen readers want—action, drama, mystery, and romance. Written by debut novelist Gregg Rosenblum, this gripping story shouldn’t be missed.


Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.


Demons don't die without a fight...

After destroying the demon Lucien, Braden—son of Belle Dam’s most powerful warlock, Jason Thorpe—doesn’t need the power of his witch eyes to see that everything in his life is turning against him: friends, family, and even his visions. When disturbing nightmares of Lucien’s return haunt him, Braden discovers that the simmering feud between the city’s two witch dynasties is fast approaching its explosive boiling point.

While struggling to come to terms with his attraction to Trey, Catherine Lansing’s son who should be his mortal enemy, a diabolical plan starts to unveil before Braden’s eyes. Young women are disappearing from Belle Dam, and as he investigates, Braden is forced to explore the dangerous unknown power within himself. But when the truth about his family is revealed, Braden must pay a terrible price.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Guest Post: Freelance Writer Sandra Miller

Today I would like to welcome freelance writer, Sandra Miller.
Sandra Miller is a freelance writer at editing service Help.Plagtracker. She is extremely passionate about latest trends in education technology. Keeps developing her writing style and exploring the different types of fiction. Currently takes her first steps toward writing her first YA novel.
The Ultimate Guide to Self-Editing
Plenty of new authors are complaining about the high costs of self-publishing. This seems a little strange, because although there are many ways to spend money on publishing when you’re starting up, there is no real need to do that.
Editing is one of the aspects that many new authors spend a lot of money on. Hiring a professional editor will be inevitable at some point during your growth as an author, but if this is your first book and you want to keep the costs as low as possible – you should focus on self-editing and send a clean copy of your manuscript to your editor. That is the best way to keep the costs as low as possible, so you should pay attention to the tips provided in this article and make sure you learn how to edit your own writing.
1. Avoid repetitiveness
It is important not to use the same descriptive word more than two times in a paragraph. This happens too frequently with new authors – they have a word in their heads and tend to use it whenever possible. Repetitive words are tiresome for the readers, and they can be easily fixed with synonyms.
2. Pay attention to mitigating adjectives/adverbs
Words like mildly or slightly have the tendency to take away from the power of your story, so you should use them as sparingly as possible. Your heroes shouldn’t be ‘mildly’ intriguing, so you should go all the way when you are creating their characters and make them as powerful as possible. Your heroine cannot be ‘slightly’ afraid, so get rid of those dilutive descriptions and don’t make your characters anything less than they should be.
Just by taking the mitigating adjectives/adverbs out of your manuscript, you will achieve a much cleaner and more powerful impression with your writing.
3. Don’t get in tense trouble!
One thing many authors make mistake with is the use of past or past perfect tense with verbs. The rule is simple: if you are using past tense to describe the scene, anything that occurred before the point where the scene picks up should be written in past perfect tense. This may require some practice, but you are a writer after all, so it’s your job to pay attention to perfecting your language.
4. First comes the action, then the reaction!
Your character’s reaction should be described after the action that provoked it. If your character reacts before the reader is acquainted with the action, the reader will be pulled out of the story, trying to figure out what is happening. You may want to create a captivating and mysterious atmosphere this way, but that’s not that great if the reader can’t get the point of the scene.
All you need to do in order to fix this issue is to switch few sentences around, and the scenes will become much clearer and easier to be visualized.
5. Telling/Showing
If you want to lose your reader to boredom, telling is the best way of doing that. Instead of telling your audience what happened, you need to show that through clever dialogue, action, and powerful emotions. That will engage your readers, because they will be able to relate to the emotions and make a deeper connection with your characters.
Grammar tips
1. Improper use of literally
Literally is a word that is commonly abused by writers. I don’t know the reason for this, but it happens all the time; not only by writers, but by actors, newscasters, and politicians as well. Writers often misuse literally instead of ‘a lot’ or ‘really’. This word won’t give any more meaning to the scenes you are trying to describe, so use it very carefully and don’t be among the majority of writers who don’t know what it means.
2. The comma dilemma
Using commas in compound sentences is where many writers make mistakes. There is one basic rule about compound sentences: you must add a comma along with a conjunction to combine two independent clauses in a sentence. If there one dependent clause and one independent clause, you don’t need to add a comma.
3. Farther or Further?
Writers often use these two words interchangeably, when they have different meanings in actuality. Further relates to a metaphysical degree or depth, while farther refers to a physical distance. Think of further as another way of saying additional.
If you become aware of the mistakes you commonly make in your writing, self-editing will become much easier.  That will not only save you a significant amount of money on self-publishing, but it will also make you a better writer, which is what you are always striving for.
**Thanks so much Sandra for stopping by, and for all the great tips and advice!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

In My Mailbox (116)

This is a meme that I first heard about from Kristi over at The Story Siren and immediately wanted to jump on board. I'm always picking up new books, because I never tire of reading, but the other thing I like about this meme is that it gives everyone an opportunity to check out what other book fanatics, bloggers, etc... got for themselves. I've gotten great recommendations from this meme and hope that keeps up in the future.

Here's what I got, what did you guys get this week?

For Review:

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.

After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.

But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on?

And will they even be together?

Just One Year (Just One Day, #2) by Gayle Forman

Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.

Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began....

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.

Allegiant (Divergent, #3) by Veronica Roth

One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Share the <3

It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month and today I am helping Author Kristie Cook "Share the <3" by spreading awareness. Did you know...?

More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.


The statistics are astounding. If you want to know more, visit And while you're there, Kristie and I hope you'll help by making a donation. Even just $5 can ensure one more call gets answered at The Hotline - an answer that could save a life.

Then, email your receipt to publisher (at) angdora (dot) com for entries into Kristie's giveaway and you could win some cool prizes. Get more entries in the Rafflecopter below. For more details, head on over to Kristie's Share the <3 Giveaway.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Author Interview: C.J. Lyons

 New York Times bestselling author CJ Lyons makes her YA debut with a fast-paced thriller sure to keep readers guessing to the very last page

The only thing fifteen-year-old Scarlet Killian has ever wanted is a chance at a normal life. Diagnosed with a rare and untreatable heart condition, she has never taken the school bus. Or giggled with friends during lunch. Or spied on a crush out of the corner of her eye. So when her parents offer her three days to prove she can survive high school, Scarlet knows her time is now... or never. Scarlet can feel her heart beating out of control with every slammed locker and every sideways glance in the hallway. But this high school is far from normal. And finding out the truth might just kill Scarlet before her heart does.
Your YA debut novel, Broken is coming out soon. How does it feel? Are you nervous about entering the YA world? What's been your favorite part of the process so far?

I’ve always loved reading YA and everyone kept telling me that as a pediatrician, I should write it. But honestly, I never found a story that I thought was worthy of my kids—my patients—until BROKEN. Writing for kids is tons tougher than writing for adults. Most grownups read for entertainment, but kids read for so much more. They want to vicariously experience the world and the choices they’ll be expected to make as adults as well as learn who they are and how they can fit into that larger universe once they’re the ones in charge.

Funny thing is, once I began BROKEN and found my YA voice (very different than my adult thrillers’ narrative voice), I realized I could be much more emotionally honest than with my adult work—which also meant I could tell edgier stories. After finishing BROKEN, I now have ideas for more YA thrillers and can’t wait to write them!
You're both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author! So many people dream of reaching that kind of status, does it still feel surreal? When you hit the list for the first time what was it like? Was there a celebratory dance?
It was surreal. I was at a conference but a friend's husband went out and bought a lot of copies of the NYT and brought them back to the conference for me to sign. I honestly didn't believe it was real until I saw it there in print!
What's your best advice for someone that wants to be a writer?
Never surrender, never give up (not sure if that's Churchill or Tim Allen, lol!) And follow a simple rule my agent created: write 2K, read 2K…every day. Read everything, even books you don't like, and ask yourself what makes them work and what doesn't. And just keep writing, never give up.
You have experienced and survived a lot as a pediatric ER doctor, but TWO "hard landings" in a helicopter?! I'd say no more rides after just one, but not you. What were those experiences like?
They went by so fast and I was so focused on my patients that I never had time to feel frightened. Plus I had total trust in my pilots, they were so calm and confident that I knew we'd be fine.
Name three things you loved about writing Broken?
The main character in Broken, Scarlet, was so different than my usual tough, capable strong female leads from my adult thrillers. It was really cool to tap into memories of my own adolescent insecurities and watch Scarlet grow from a vulnerable, naive, sheltered girl to someone with the courage to step up and challenge everything in her life. It was also a lot of fun to use real life diseases that I've dealt with during my career as a pediatrician. And being able to go darker and more emotional than I can with my adult thrillers was very fulfilling.
What's in your reading pile right now? Any favorites you'd recommend or steer us clear of?
I just finished Jessica Shirvington's Endless (can't wait for the finale of the series) and am re-reading Dennis Lehane's Angie and Patrick books, with a non-fiction book for research up next called The Spy Who Loved about the adventures of a female civilian spy during WWII.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why? And if you could only bring three things with you what would they be and why?

I love to travel, so that's a tough question. I've been to Ireland several times and am always up for a trip back, but there are so many other places I haven't been to like Italy and New Zealand that I want to get to as well. As for travel essentials, I always bring my MacBook Air, my phone loaded with camera, music, and white noise to help me sleep, and my secret weapon: my purple fuzzy travel blanket.
You started the Buy a Book, Make a Difference program. Can you tell us more about that and what inspired you to get involved and start a program like this?
I began the program as a way to give back to all the many law enforcement officers who have been so patient and helpful to me over the years. There are literally places in this country where killers can get away with murder because police lack the CSI training that they need due to lack of funding, so in partnership with Sirchie, a forensic training institute, I created the scholarships. In fifteen months, we've raised money to send thirty police officers for training and next year will be sending another twenty-four.
People can learn more at including links you can forward to your own local law enforcement to help them out.
About the Author:
Pediatric ER doctor turned New York Times bestselling thriller writer CJ Lyons has been a storyteller all her life—something that landed her in many time-outs as a kid. She writes her Thrillers with Heart for the same reason that she became a doctor: because she believes we all have the power to change our world.
In the ER CJ witnessed many acts of courage by her patients and their families, learning that heroes truly are born every day. When not writing, she can be found walking the beaches near her South Carolina Lowcountry home, listening to the voices in her head and plotting new and devious ways to create mayhem for her characters.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Blog Tour: Evade (Ever, #2) by Jessa Russo

Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Book 2 of The Ever Trilogy
Releasing October 1, 2013
In this thrilling sequel, Ever Van Ruysdael's race to beat the odds—and the clock—begins with the introduction of an integral part of her past. As secrets are revealed, and truths uncovered, she learns her imminent death is the least of her problems: Ariadne did more than just put an expiration date on her life; she marked Ever's soul by upping its value for greedy collectors looking to buy their freedom.

Condemned by the countdown on her life, and hunted by hired Seekers, Ever’s journey leads her to question everything she’s known and everyone she’s trusted, while growing closer to the one person from her past she was determined to avoid—and the one guy she never could—Toby James.

With her ex-boyfriend by her side, and the countdown clock rapidly ticking away, Ever tries thwarting fate’s plans. But as her nineteenth birthday approaches, and desperate Seekers follow her every move, she may be too late.

A marked soul is hard to come by … and even harder to escape.
Available on Amazon
Available on Barnes & Nobles
“A Young Adult Author on Writing New Adult”
(Or, Why I Decided I Hate Labeling Myself)
By Jessa Russo
The first story I began working on when I decided I was supposed to be a writer (back in 2009, for those of you meeting me for the first time) was a thriller set in my favorite place—New Orleans, Louisiana. My main character was in her mid-twenties, unmarried, but in a serious relationship. Not in college but not settled into a lifelong career, either. She just . . . was. I had no idea that her age, as well as her state of transitioning to adulthood, would make this a new adult book. At the time, I was just writing characters, telling their stories, and letting the words carry me along.
See, I didn’t know I needed to choose a category, select a genre, or label myself or my writing. I didn’t know I needed to decide what kind of writer I wanted to be.
I just wanted to write.
As I wrote my way through the first 40,000 words of that manuscript, I realized I found it difficult to write proper “adult” characters. Did this mean I wasn’t a good writer? Did this mean I wasn’t a good adult? (The jury is out on both questions, but both are also beside the point.) As I flip-flopped around, trying to figure out why her voice didn’t match her age, or why the more mature moments between the characters didn’t feel right to me, I eventually gave up on my New Orleans thriller. I chalked it up to not knowing what I was doing. I mean, why was my seemingly adult character making such poor decisions? Why was she leading with her heart, or actingbefore thinking? Who was this woman, and why was she behaving so . . . un-adult-like?
As I worked on trying to flesh out the why’s and how’s of that story and those characters, another protagonist began forming in my mind until it got to the point where she couldn’t be ignored. That MC was Eleanor Van Ruysdael—or Ever, for short—and her story became the first story I managed to finish, as well as my first published manuscript. Ever was relentless. She wanted her story told, and for some reason, whether lack of maturity in the writer or something else altogether, found EVER so easy to write. Ever’s voice was my voice, her story was my story, her mistakes and quirks were mine, mine, mine.
Then, it hit me. I realized I was a young adult writer. My voice was painfully young adult. Gah! Why hadn’t I figured this out before!?
From that day forward, I knew I would be Jessa Russo: Young Adult Author. I relished the security of knowing who I was, what I was meant to write. I went on to start many young adult stories, forming beloved teenaged main characters: Cadence, whose story began during Spring Break and faded to black after the first few chapters, thank God (no offense, Cadence); Lizzie Reins, who was stuck in the foster home from hell and falling for her best friend and her substitute teacher all at the same time (a fantasy I have yet to finish); and Desi, a main character whose story is based on my own life experiences with an abusive boyfriend (which may or may not ever be told, to be honest). All along, though, with each teenager I wrote, I felt at home, comfortable. I knew these characters—their likes, dislikes, quirks—I’d been a teenager once myself, after all, right?
Easy peasy. Comfort. Safety. Home.
And then DIVIDE came along, and Holland was in high school but nearing the end of that academic journey. She was still technically a young adult, but something was changing . . . in me. I wanted to write more, wanted more for Holland, more from Holland. So, though DIVIDE is a young adult fantasy, it tried very hard to break out of that mold, to leave adolescence behind . . . much like any teenager would do.
After DIVIDE was with my agent, I wrote EVADE (the second book of the Ever Trilogy), and I thought I was settling back into my young adult niche. Except that now Ever is eighteen, and technically that means the book should be new adult. And she’s had sex, so she should behave a bit differently with boys, have a bit more sexual confidence. Right? As I tried to keep EVADE in the young adult zone, I found myself asking what Ever would really do in certain situations, and I started to wonder if sticking to the young adult label was fair to my characters. I wrote EVADE, sticking to its category as much as I could, but that question remained in my mind.
As characters grow, does the category change?
When ARK OF DREAMS came along, my main characters (dual POV) were both twenty years old. I struggled with this discovery, feeling like I was failing my chosen category, my self-proclaimed label. I was a young adult writer, darnit, and I needed to stick with it! I even tried to change Marco and Ana, tried to force them back into that young adult box I’d put myself in.
Young adult was what I knew.
Wasn’t it?
ARK is the best thing I’ve written to date. I say that in as humble a voice as possible, but I am really proud of this manuscript. Like, really proud. From concept to character building, my past four years of writing has helped hone my ever-evolving craft, and ARK is proof that I’ve been paying attention (at least some of the time). That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, by any means, but for me, it’s something I can really be proud of.
And you know what?
It’s new adult.
There are adult situations.
There are sex scenes.
Though the book by no means focuses on sexuality, the romance factor is heavy (which seems to be a trend in what I write—and read!), and there are a few steamy scenes that go way past innocent kissing or even heated make-out sessions. The sex is right there in front of your face, though this isn’t erotica. My main characters are alone, acting as adults and taking charge of their lives. They’re college students, artists, professional athletes. They’re the masters of their own destinies, and though they may stumble, they’ve clearly left adolescence far behind.
They are new adults, finding their way, making mistakes, and diving face first into adulthood, whether by choice or by environment.
But . . . I write young adult fiction. If ARK OF DREAMS isn’t young adult, then I’m not a young adult author, right?
So who am I?
Am I a new adult author?
I write young adult books as well.
So who am I?
And this is where I decided to stop labeling myself.
I am a writer. Period.
I write young adult, but I am not strictly a young adult writer. I write new adult, but I am not strictly a new adult writer. I write fantasy. I write paranormal. I write contemporary with a dystopian edge. I write romance. I write biblical retellings. I redux fairytales. I write ghosts.
Witches. Love triangles. Suicides. Fairies. First kisses, first loves, first times.
I write.
Because I am a writer.
Tour Schedule:
October 1st - Katie Teller's Stories
October 2nd - Krystal Wade
October 7th - Bookworm for Kids
October 8th - Stacey Nash
October 9th - Amazing Books
October 15th - Eliza Tilton
October 17th - Kelley Harvey Writes
October 18th - Ryan Hill Writes
October 21st - Sharon Bayliss
October 23rd - Jamie Ayres
October 29th - YArush
October 31st - Tamara Mataya
November 4th - Tonya Kuper
November 5th - Love & Life & Learning
November 7th - A Different Drum Beat
November 9th - YA Stands
About the Author:

An unashamed super fan of all things paranormal romance, Jessa Russo reads, writes and breathes paranormal YA, rarely straying from her comfort zone. When not writing or reading--or raising the coolest kid ever--Jessa enjoys making memories with her amazingly supportive family and friends, while secretly planning her next trip to New Orleans. She will always call Southern California home, where she lives with her husband and daughter, and a Great Dane who thinks he's the same size as his cranky sister, the Chihuahua.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Guest Post: Author Kelley York

When eighteen-year-old Hunter Jackson and his half sister, Ashlin, return to their dad’s for the first winter in years, they expect everything to be just like the warmer months they’d spent there as kids. And it is—at first. But Chance, the charismatic and adventurous boy who made their summers epic, is harboring deep secrets. Secrets that are quickly spiraling into something else entirely.

The reason they've never met Chance’s parents or seen his home is becoming clearer. And what the siblings used to think of as Chance's quirks—the outrageous stories, his clinginess, his dangerous impulsiveness—are now warning signs that something is seriously off.

Then Chance's mom turns up with a bullet to the head, and all eyes shift to Chance and his dad. Hunter and Ashlin know Chance is innocent...they just have to prove it. But how can they protect the boy they both love when they can’t trust a word Chance says?
Writing, as a general rule, is an isolated profession/hobby/passion, one that requires concentration and quiet. For me, anyway. When I'm in the writing groove, I don't want to be social or interact. I want to focus.
...Well, okay, I'm never social. But that's beside the point.
Not to mention I'm horrible when it comes to talking to people about my writing! Online is easier, but
in person I'm sort of a staring, stuttering mess because I never know what to say. It gets easier over
time...and this is in part due to the fact I often get the same questions over and over. They're all legit
questions (uh, I guess) but some of them never fail to amuse me.
What kind of books do you write?
Most readers—unless they read young adult or new adult—don't know the term, so I often say, "I write dark books, sometimes mysteries or thrillers, for teens." Easy enough.
So, like Twilight?
I've seen many writers get this, oh my goodness. "No. Not like Twilight at all."
If you've been published, aren't you rich?
Yes. I've been asked this. To which I want to sink to the ground and sob because oh, friend, I wish that were the case. "Unless you're a big-name author like Stephen King, writing doesn't bring in as much money as you would think."
What do you think about those books like 50 Shades of Grey?
This is where I smile, very strained, and keep my mouth shut so I don't offend anyone.
Why don't you write stuff with vampires or witches or something, like Harry Potter? Make a big series and get the big bucks!
These are questions that are hard to explain to people. The market, trends, how things work. Especially since replying with, "It's not that simple," gets me a response of, "Why not?" Sometimes I forget how foreign the publishing industry is to your average, everyday person, even someone who actively reads a lot. Unless you work in the industry, it's hard to pay attention to the inner workings of it.
Don't get me wrong. These are never "dumb" questions, because—like I mentioned above—people
simply don't know. And frankly, I find it endearing when anyone cares enough to question me about my books, even if they're questions I've heard a lot.
Maybe someday, I'll even stop being nervous and feeling unworthy when someone asks.
If you're a writer, what questions do you get asked a lot? If you're a reader, what questions do you
always want to ask, but are afraid to?
About the Author:
Once upon a time, Kelley York was born in central California. And it's there she she still resides with her wife, step-daughter, and way too many pets. Kelley is a sucker for dark fiction. She loves writing twisted characters, tragic happenings, and bittersweet endings that leave you wondering and crying. Character development takes center stage in her books because the bounds of a person's character and the workings of their mind are limitless.


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