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Happy 14th Day!

It’s that time again! This month, we have some magic. And there may be a new movie out. Have you heard of this alien guy who wears red undies?

(.gif source)

First we have the news:

Natalie C. Parker, author of the upcoming Beware the Wild, is offering a highly-acclaimed Critique Camp. If you are a writer of any level, I suggest you look into it because Natalie is wise. Very wise.

Lauren Magaziner‘s debut has a new title: The Only Thing Worse than Witches.

Tara Dairman‘s debut has a new title: All Four Stars.

We also have some upcoming cover reveals–and these are being hosted at some pretty ritzy blogs!

On June 19th, Rosamund Hodge‘s book Cruel Beauty will have a cover reveal at Epic Reads, so be sure to check it out next Wednesday.

On June 20th, there are three cover reveals!

Robin Constantine‘s book, The Promise of Amazing, at her rockin’ blog.

Elle Cosimano‘s book, Nearly Goneat YABC (Young Adult Books Central).

and, last but not least,

Julie Murphy is having a string of hints leading up to the reveal of Side Effects May Vary! Check out the list on her tumblr page, and be sure to follow along. I promise you–this cover is so perfect. (Also, prizes!)

And now….

TWO covers!!!!!!

First, we have Erica Cameron‘s Sing, Sweet Nightingale:

SSN Cover

Isn’t it dreamy?  It even has its own website. There’s also an interview with her cover designer which you can watch here: youtu.be/lb3dB5hzBNA Erica also has a short story titled “Whatever it Takes,” set in the world of the Dream War Saga. It is coming out in an anthology called Doorways to Extra Time, and is available for order all over the place!

And next, we have Michelle Schusterman‘s I ❤ Band:

final-coverAdorbs!!!!

Come visit us next month, when we shall reveal more covers, more news, and possibly reveal the secret to everlasting life!

Amber Lough lives in Syracuse, NY with an astrophysicist and their two kids. She spent half her childhood in Japan and the Middle East, but majored in Russian because she likes a challenge. She quit her job in the Air Force to write her Middle Eastern fantasy, THE FIRE WISH, which is due from Random House Children’s in Fall 2014.
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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Eve Silver, Author of RUSH

Today I’m thrilled to present Eve Silver, author of RUSH (book one in the sci fi trilogy known as THE GAME).

I was lucky enough to get my hands on an ARC and I could not put RUSH down. It’s a thrilling, fast-paced adventure about a girl who finds herself in a game where the stakes are life and death.

Rush CoverSo what’s the game now? This, or the life I used to know?
Sixteen-year-old Miki Jones’s carefully controlled life spirals into chaos after she’s run down in the street, left broken and bloody. She wakes up fully healed in a place called the lobby—pulled from her life, pulled through time and space into some kind of game in which she and a team of other teens are sent on missions to eliminate the Drau, terrifying and beautiful alien creatures.
There are no practice runs, no training, and no way out. Miki has only the guidance of secretive but maddeningly attractive team leader Jackson Tate, who says that the game is more than that, and that what Miki and her new teammates do now determines their survival and the survival of every other person on this planet. She laughs. He doesn’t. And then the game takes a deadly and terrifying turn.
I have to ask the obvious question first. The concept of RUSH plays heavily into gamer culture/terms. Are you a gamer?

I remember my first system—a Super Nintendo—and the games I fell in love with—Donkey Kong Country, versions 1, 2 and 3. The mineshaft and the treetops and the saw blades were a blast. But, no, I’m not a gamer. I consider myself a game spectator. My husband and sons are gamers (Call of Duty, Gears of War, Bioshock, Mass Effect, Skyrim, Starcraft, Halo, Oblivion, to name a few), but my role is more observer than player. Some of these games have truly incredible story lines and I like to just sit back and watch them unfold.

Miki is a great heroine. I love the balance of ordinary problems mixed in with fantastical elements. On the one hand, she’s worried about her father’s drinking – and on the other, she has to deal with the fact she’s now a teenage soldier.  How did you develop her?

I aimed for keeping it real. Even though Miki faces fantastical challenges and issues, I wanted her grounded as a real person, someone you might know from English class, someone with genuine problems, likes and dislikes, interests and opinions. I hoped Miki would be an ordinary person faced with a situation that’s far outside ordinary, and that would allow readers to feel what she feels even though they aren’t likely to ever face a Drau.

In the world of RUSH, teens are given weapons and no training, then told to fight for their lives. Confession time: if you were put in this situation, how well would you do?

The whole fighting thing might be a problem for me. I have no training in martial arts or weaponry except for the one time I went to The Gun Store in Las Vegas and got to fire a Beretta M9, M4, and M249SAW. Given that I was terrified the whole time and that the power of the recoil on each one sent me flying, I suspect that handling an unfamiliar weapon would be a challenge. On the other hand, I’ve been known to stay cool in fairly adverse situations, so keeping a level head would probably count for something, right? (That wasn’t rhetorical…please say yes…)

Following up with that last question, who would you want on your hypothetical team? (Fictional or otherwise.)

Hmmm…in no particular order: Jason Statham, RDJ (as Ironman), Thor, Uma Thurman’s character from Kill Bill, Sigourney Weaver’s character from Aliens, Goku from DragonballZ, Ichigo Kurosaki from Bleach, Claire Bennet from Heroes, Hit Girl from Kick-Ass, Master Chief from Halo, Sheppard and Garrus from Mass Effect. That should do it.

The whole concept behind the game is both really cool and really creepy. You managed to evoke the sense that there’s a conflict much bigger than any of the individual characters. How did you go about developing this world and its rules?

Usually, I’m a pantser—that means I just sit down and write the book by the seat of my pants without planning or plotting. I’ve written 18 published books that way (and a whole bunch more that are buried in the back yard where they belong). But in a book like RUSH, pantsing wouldn’t work because I needed rules for the game. So I started out by researching a number of video games and the systems of scoring. From there, I created a small manual that outlined the rules of the game in RUSH, the scores, the bonus points. I had that all planned out, but not the story itself. I just can’t write that way. So I pantsed the story, and paused to add rules to my little manual as I went and the plot became clear to me.

You started out writing for adults and then made the leap into writing for teens. What was the hardest challenge writing for a younger audience? How did your past writing experiences shape this novel?

Before I started the story, I was concerned about the shift to a younger viewpoint character, writing the book in first person present tense, and capturing a teen voice. It’s funny, but the things I was most afraid of ended up not being problematic at all. Once I started typing, Miki flowed. The story flowed. I had a ton of fun writing RUSH.

My past writing experiences shape every story I start. I constantly strive to make the story I’m working on the best it can be, better than the last, deeper, stronger, more resonant for the reader. I’ve learned a great deal since my very first book about pacing and action and how to weave emotion onto the page. And I hope that everything I learned from writing RUSH will help strengthen the next book and the next.

I won’t give any spoilers, but eeeek – that ending! Are there any juicy tidbits you can share about the sequel?

Hmm… I can tell you there will be action, aliens and adventure. The expected becomes unexpected. The truth becomes lie. Answers are shredded until they become questions. Romance. Kissing. And an ending that just might have you saying, “eeek—that ending!”

That didn’t help much, did it?

Definitely! And for the final question: as this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

As a little kid:
• Bread and Jam for Frances by Russel Hoban
• the entire set of Dover Children’s Classics fairy books (The Red Fairy Book, The Green Fairy Book, The Blue Fairy Book, etc. by Andrew Lang)
• The Ghost of Dibble Hollow by May Nickerson Wallace

and as a teen:

• Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
• The Wolf and the Dove by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
• anything and everything by V. C. Andrews

Thanks so much for inviting me to be interviewed!

Thanks for stopping by!

Eve Silver HeadshotEve Silver lives with her gamer husband and sons, sometimes in Canada, but often in worlds she dreams up. She loves kayaking and sunshine, dogs and desserts, and books, lots and lots of books. Watch for the first book in Eve’s new teen series, THE GAME: RUSH, coming from Katherine Tegen Books, June 11, 2013. She also writes books for adults. Visit Eve at http://www.evesilver.net and follow her http://www.twitter.com/Eve_Silver

Here’s where you can buy RUSH:

Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Books A Million – Indiebound – The Book Depository

Emily Lloyd-Jones lives on the western edge of California, where she works in a bookstore by day and writes YA novels by night. She’s addicted to coffee, the internet, and snarky humor. When not writing, she’s usually online or playing with her neurotic cat. She wastes a lot of time on Twitter. Her debut, ILLUSIVE, will be released by Little, Brown in the spring of 2014.
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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Steph Kuehn, Author of CHARM & STRANGE

We’re excited to interview Lucky13 author Steph Kuehn, whose incredible young adult debut novel CHARM & STRANGE hits the shelves today. Here’s a bit about the book:

When you’ve been kept caged in the dark, it’s impossible to see the forest for the trees. It’s impossible to see anything, really. Not without bars . . . 

charm-and-strangeAndrew Winston Winters is at war with himself.

He’s part Win, the lonely teenager exiled to a remote Vermont boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts all his classmates out, no matter the cost.

He’s part Drew, the angry young boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who spent a fateful, long-ago summer with his brother and teenage cousins, only to endure a secret so monstrous it led three children to do the unthinkable.

Over the course of one night, while stuck at a party deep in the New England woods, Andrew battles both the pain of his past and the isolation of his present.

Before the sun rises, he’ll either surrender his sanity to the wild darkness inside his mind or make peace with the most elemental of truths—that choosing to live can mean so much more than not dying.

1. Tell us a little bit about your path to publication. Was Charm & Strange your first novel?

Charm & Strange was not my first novel. Or my second novel. Or my third novel. It was actually the fifth complete novel that I wrote, and my path to publication is one that has been filled with as much rejection as it has wonderful kismet moments. I wrote Charm & Strange early in 2011 and I began querying agents that summer. I know it’s been said over and over again that querying is about finding the right agent for your book, and I truly believe this, especially with a story like Charm & Strange, which is dark and odd and deals with some uncomfortable things. I received many rejections over the next couple months, but I also found that one perfect agent–the one who loved and got my book, every bit of it. For that I feel very fortunate and thankful.

Being on submission to editors was its own roller coaster. I was on sub at the exact same time that I was applying to pre-doctoral internships for my graduate school program, which is a process far more stressful and agonizing than anything publishing-related. However, having both processes occurring at the same time in my life was overwhelming. There was rejection of all kinds coming at me, and at some points, everything felt very bleak and dreary. But then…lots of good things happened, all at the same time! I remember traveling around the state, trying to squeeze in editor phone calls in between internship interviews. It was frantic and strange and exciting and nerve-wracking. In the end everything worked out well (for the book and my internship placement), but in the immediate aftermath, I was exhausted physically and emotionally.

2. Wow, that sounds seriously intense – but it’s amazing how both things worked out at the same time! So now you’re a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology, and CHARM & STRANGE is very psychologically driven. How did your background in this area help shape this story?

I think that my background in psychology helped shape this story in ways that are difficult to quantify. I did do a great deal of research before and during the writing of the book, and I also brought into the writing my own theoretical perspective of how I understand change and healing (and under what circumstances change and healing can occur).

3. Was sparked your initial idea for CHARM? Do you typically start with a character or plot?

I think most of my stories are character driven, so I usually start with a character and a conflict. But more than anything, I need to know the character’s voice before I can start writing. I think there are probably many, many things that sparked my desire to write Charm & Strange, however the main premise of the story and the character’s voice came to me pretty full-formed. My only hesitation in writing it was whether I could pull off the structure or not.

4. The structure is one of my favorite elements of the story. Did you write the first draft in that order, alternating between Win and Drew? Or was that something that came more into play during revisions?

Yes, I wrote it exactly as it is in the book (switching from past to present). It was easy to draft that way, because it’s how I envisioned the story from the start, although at some point I did put the two timelines in order and read them separately for continuity. I actually found that confused me more than anything because it ruined the gestalt of the whole thing.

5. What are you working on next?

I have another YA novel coming out in 2014 titled COMPLICIT. It’s about a teenage boy whose life gets turned upside down when his older sister gets out of jail.

Since our community is “All For One and One For Kidlit,” we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you most as a kid.

As a kid, I loved, loved, loved all the Albert Payson Terhune books (the Sunnybank collies), as well as Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series. Horses and dogs!

Thanks for stopping by, Steph, and congratulations on your debut!

Steph KuehnABOUT THE AUTHOR:
STEPHANIE KUEHN holds degrees in linguistics and sport psychology, and is currently working toward a doctorate in clinical psychology. She lives in Northern California with her husband, their three children, and a joyful abundance of pets. When she’s not writing, she’s running. Or reading. Or dreaming.
This interview was conducted by OneFour member Michelle Schusterman, and is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Lucky13s —- YA, MG, and children’s books authors debuting in 2013.
Michelle Schusterman writes books for kids, screenplays for a tv/film production company, and music for anyone who’d buy a “groove matters” bumper sticker. She lives in New York City with her husband (and band mate) and chocolate lab (who is more of a vocalist). Her debut MG series, I HEART BAND, will be released by Penguin/Grosset in January 2014.
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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Laura Golden, author of EVERY DAY AFTER

Today we’re interviewing Lucky13 author Laura Golden, whose middle-grade debut novel EVERY DAY AFTER hits the shelves today. Here’s a little about the book:

Trouble has rained down on Lizzie Hawkins. Her daddy has deserted the family, her mama is silent EveryDayAfter cvr copywith sadness, and the bank is after their house.

Daddy always said Lizzie was born to succeed, but right now she can’t even hold on to her top grades or her best friend, Ben. Bratty newcomer Erin Sawyer has weaseled both away from Lizzie, but Erin won’t be satisfied until Lizzie is out of her hair for good, packed off straight to the nearest orphanage.

Still, Lizzie refuses to lose what’s left of her family. With the bank deadline fast approaching, Erin causing strife at every turn, and Mama and Ben slipping away from her, Lizzie finds comfort writing in her journal and looking at Daddy’s face in the heirloom locket he left her. She’s keeping her head high and holding onto hope that Daddy returns on her twelfth birthday. Still, she can’t help wondering: Why did Daddy have to leave? And can I save us if he doesn’t come home?

Times may be tough in Bittersweet, Alabama, but the unsinkable Lizzie Hawkins will inspire readers with her resilience and determination.

What piece of this story first inspired you? Was it an image, a character, or an idea? 

The inspiration to write this story came from family stories told by my paternal grandparents. I grew up hearing bits and pieces of tales of growing up through hard times, particularly the Great Depression. My grandfather was born in 1925 and had not yet made it through the eighth grade when he left school to work in a local mine. He never returned to school. Of course, children leaving school to help earn money for the family was prevalent in those days. It’s heartbreaking to think about.

My great-grandmother died when my grandmother was only twelve. Her father was quite stern and expected her to take care of her younger siblings as well as the house. My grandmother told of my great-grandfather coming in from working the fields and expecting a hot lunch waiting on the table. No sandwiches for him. I often wondered how that type of pressure would affect kids at that age, and so I wrote EVERY DAY AFTER to explore that.

How–and when–did you decide on the title for your book? 

I have my wonderful editor to thank for the book’s title. When I submitted it to her, it was titled BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON. Aside from being rather long, it was also the title of a Dean Koontz novel, so she thought we should change it. She suggested EVERY DAY AFTER since the story tells of Lizzie’s struggle to keep her life in order every day after her father leaves. I thought it a brilliant suggestion. Brilliant.

You created the setting of EVERY DAY AFTER–Bittersweet, Alabama, during the Great Depression–so well that I really felt like I could kick off my shoes and go fishing for One-Eye the catfish. Is Bittersweet based on a real place?

Thank you, Rebecca! When I was in revisions with my editor, I asked if she thought the setting needed to be more deeply drawn. I honestly thought setting was my weak spot, but most reviews have complimented just that. Proof, I suppose, that we authors aren’t always the best at spotting our own weaknesses and strengths.

Bittersweet is based on the real-life town of Leeds, AL. It is the town my parents and their parents lived in for most of their lives, and I’ve always felt a deep connection to it. It is located just off Old 78 (Lizzie refers to it as the Bankhead Highway which it was indeed known as during the 1930s), and buses did take rest stops at the local Power’s Café (referred to in EVERY DAY AFTER as Powell’s Café). Elvis Presley once stopped there and requested that the café owner’s daughter sit with him while he ate. She did, and their picture appeared in The Leeds News. I have a copy of that clipping. Beyond cool!

Most of the people inhabiting the town are purely fictional. As I took real-life inspiration from Leeds and began to create Bittersweet, the townsfolk in the book began to appear on their own. Mr. Reed, the Hinkles, the Sheriff, etc., each popped into the story of their own accord. With each revision, their stories and personalities grew and developed. I hope all goes this way with the next book. *crosses fingers*

You mention a real book of proverbs and a particular poem in the story. Did you come across those while writing EVERY DAY AFTER, or did they inspire you before you began?

The book of proverbs came in during earlier revisions. I wanted each chapter to have a title relevant to the happenings and theme of that chapter. I’ve always had a penchant for wise sayings and proverbs, so I started digging around for appropriate ones to use. But…they still didn’t feel integrated enough into the story. Since Mama is practically catatonic in the book, and the only times the readers get to see her personality are through Lizzie’s journal entries, I thought letting her be the bearer of wise words before she fell into deep depression might add some depth to her. And, once I made that change, the chapter titles almost read as Lizzie hearing Mama’s wise words as a sort of forewarning. But, as you can guess, Lizzie still chooses to plow ahead in spite of them. Don’t we all on most days?

Each of the chapter titles is a proverb from the book that Lizzie’s mom treasures. Which proverb/title is your favorite, and why?(Mine is “Luck follows the hopeful, ill luck the fearful.”)

I love “Life is like the moon; now full, now dark.”  Gorgeous, and true.

“Trouble rains down” upon Lizzie Hawkins in this book, which was common for kids during the Great Depression. Was it hard for you to put your character in some tough situations?

Not at all. I figured if real-life kids like my grandparents could make it through terrible circumstances and come out stronger people on the other side, then Lizzie could too. She didn’t disappoint.

Despite her hardships, Lizzie remains “unsinkable”–which is such a powerful message. What do you hope modern MG readers will take away from reading EVERY DAY AFTER?

Two things specifically. First, that it’s extremely important for them to discover their own unique path in life. Lizzie tries so hard to imitate Daddy, her idol. She can’t see her own strengths for failing to see his weaknesses. Does that make any sense? What I’m trying to say is that people often aren’t as perfect as we make them out to be, so we should stop trying to be like so-and-so and start searching out who we are and what we are meant to accomplish as individuals. We are often stronger and capable of far more than we believe.

Second, don’t try to do everything all alone. It’s okay to ask for help. It doesn’t make you weak; it makes you smart. Lizzie’s life would’ve taken a turn for the better much sooner had she taken the time to notice all the people around her who would’ve done anything in their power to help her.

And as this community is “All for One and OneFour KidLit,” we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid:   

Sure!

  1. CHARLOTTE’S WEB
  2. THE ORDINARY PRINCESS
  3. THE SECRET GARDEN

Thank you for interviewing me for the OneFour KidLit blog, Rebecca. It was such fun, and I cannot wait till I get to read WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE and all the other fantabulous debut books of 2014! Exciting times indeed!

Thanks for stopping by, Laura, and congrats on your debut! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Laura photo

LAURA GOLDEN loved listening to older generations spin tales about “the good ol’ days.” She was inspired to write this story based in part on her family history. Laura lives outside Birmingham, Alabama. She never dreamed she’d one day become an author, but there is no doubt that she has always been a reader. According to her mother, she taught herself to read at an early age by poring over the words on cereal boxes at breakfast.

This interview was conducted by OneFour member Rebecca Behrens, and is part of an ongoing series of interviews with The Lucky13s —- YA, MG, and children’s books authors debuting in 2013.

Rebecca Behrens lives in New York, where she works as a production editor. Her favorite things are em-dashes, Central Park, running, and doughnuts. Her MG debut, WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE (Sourcebooks, Winter ’14), tells what happens when a lonely first daughter finds Alice Roosevelt’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of a White House closet.
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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Imogen Howson, author of LINKED

LinkedToday’s Lucky13 interview is with Imogen Howson, author of the YA space thriller LINKED, which releases tomorrow! Imogen was kind enough to send me an ARC all the way from England, and I have to tell you that behind that gorgeous cover is a beautifully-written, twist-filled page-turner you DO NOT want to miss!

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere.

Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes.

Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed.

Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.

Can you tell us a bit about how LINKED came to be published?

I wrote LINKED for NaNoWriMo 2009. As anyone who’s done NaNo can imagine, at the end of that month I had a great mad mess of a story! I finished writing it and edited it over the next year, then began querying agents.

In early 2011, one agent, Mandy Hubbard at the D4EO Agency, came back to me offering the chance to work with her exclusively on some pretty extensive revisions. I knew this didn’t guarantee me anything, but her revision suggestions were so good that by the time I’d started to work through them I knew I was going to keep this version of the book even if she didn’t like what I’d done!

Fortunately, she did like it, and offered representation. I reworked the rest of the book according to her suggestions and sent it to her on June 8th 2011. She’d already been talking to publishers about it, and it was out on submission by June 9th. And by June 14th it had sold to Simon & Schuster. I was still in shock two weeks later!

One of the things that really blew me away was your very descriptive worldbuilding—the galaxy had a rich history, and the futuristic setting on Sekoia was well fleshed out. How did you approach this part of your writing?

I love writing descriptions, and it’s about the only bit of writing that comes easily to me so I think I indulge myself in creating worlds that need describing. I also get a bit bored by the real world, I’m afraid, so I often look at things slantwise, trying to turn them into something more interesting than they really are. There’s a stretch of road in between my house and the nearest city that I always imagine as an alien planetscape—and it eventually made its way into LINKED as the plateau around the spaceport.

I owe much of the depth of the worldbuilding to my editor, Navah Wolfe, though. She made me improve the original worldbuilding a lot, particularly all the bits I’d tried to handwavium over!

The details of the spaceship, The Phoenix, were so realistic! Have you always been into space-based sci-fi, or did this require some extra research?

I love space-based sci-fi, and I read as much as I could find while I was growing up, but I’m really horribly unscientific so I could never write proper “hard” science fiction. I think I’ve collected some of the “rules” of science fiction just by reading so much. But mostly I approached the details of the spaceship the same way I would approach describing a car or a train…or my super-clever Macbook! I don’t know what’s going on inside any of these things, but I do know what they look like and feel like to use or travel in.

I’m not normally a swoony type, but the romantic interest in this book was such a great, layered character that I totally fell for him! Did you base his character on anyone in particular?

He is honestly one of those characters who just took on a life of his own. In the first draft of the book he was completely different—and a lot less interesting. Then Mandy made a small suggestion about his relationship with Elissa, and when I started to rewrite him he just got more and more interesting—and attractive. I said to my daughter that I work hard on all the heroes I write, and I like them all, but this one is the first I’ve ever actually had a crush on!

You have a sequel, UNRAVEL, coming out next year. Did you plan to write two books from the beginning, or did the idea come to you as you were writing LINKED?

That was something else that sort of grew by itself as I was rewriting LINKED. I always planned for LINKED to stand alone, but as I grew closer to the end I realized there were lots of interesting possibilities for a sequel.

The long wait from book deal to publication day can be excruciating–do you have plans to celebrate now that it’s finally here?

Do I ever! I’m having a book release celebration/ birthday party the weekend after LINKED releases. I’ve just been ordering a delicious buffet, and I plan to eat and drink and dance with a whole bunch of friends and family. There may be champagne opened on release day as well.

Finally, as this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid!

Only two or three? All Diana Wynne Jones’s books, but, seeing as I’m in a sci-fi mood right now, I’ll specify A Tale of Time City (lots of fun futuristic gadgets in that book!). For its treatment of identical twins, End of Term by Antonia Forest. And for its tough, vulnerable, totally endearing teenage heroine, Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey.

Thanks for stopping by, Imogen, and best wishes for your debut!

About the author:

Imogen HowsonImogen Howson writes science fiction and fantasy for adults and young adults, and is the winner of the 2008 Elizabeth Goudge Award for her romantic fiction. She works as an occasional editor for Samhain Publishing. She lives with her partner and their two teenage daughters near Sherwood Forest in England, where she reads, writes, and drinks too much coffee.

Imogen can be found at her website, blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Readers, you can add LINKED on Goodreads, but I recommend you pick up a copy as fast as you can! Available at:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Books-A-Million | The Book Depository

Rachel Searles once thought she’d be a journalist but found she vastly prefers writing about made-up things. A Midwesterner at heart, she lives in Los Angeles with her rocket scientist husband and their two feline overlords. Her debut novel, THE LOST PLANET, is a rip-roaring space adventure coming from Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan in January 2014.
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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with Melanie Crowder, Author of PARCHED

Today’s Lucky13 interview is with Melanie Crowder, whose debut middle-grade novel PARCHED hit the shelves on June 4. Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Melanie Crowder PARCHED book coverA mesmerizing debut about a girl, a boy, and a dog struggling to survive in a parched and barren land.

Sarel is a girl with secrets. She knows which tree roots reach down deep to pools of precious water. But now she must learn how to keep herself and her dogs alive. Nandi is the leader of those dogs. She knows they can’t last long without water—and she knows, too, that a boy is coming; a boy with the water song inside him.

Musa is that boy. His talent for finding water got him kidnapped by brutal men, yet he’s escaped, running away across the thirsty land that nearly claims his life. And so Sarel, Musa, and the dogs come together in what might be their last hope of survival.

Congratulations on your debut, Melanie!

Thanks Tara! And congratulations to all you OneFours on your debuts as well!

The setting of PARCHED—a world with almost no fresh water left—is both frightening and frighteningly believable. Can you tell us how you first came up with it?

The story started for me as an image: an aerial shot, as if I were in a plane flying low over the savanna. On the ground below, a skinny girl and her pack of dogs walked along a narrow path. I wanted to know who she was, and how she had come to be all alone in such a harsh place.

As I began to research the setting, I discovered that I only had to nudge the real life situation in order for potable water in the region to run out, allowing for fear and desperation to turn the city over to gangs. Right now, in the place where my book is set, mine tailings threaten to poison underground aquifers and drought comes with regularity. All I added to the situation was rising sea water, something that, unfortunately, is coming all too soon.

The narration of PARCHED dances between the perspectives of Sarel, a young girl, Musa, a young boy, and Nandi, a Rhodesian ridgeback (and probably my favorite character). Did you have any trouble finding the voice to write from a dog’s perspective?

Nandi’s voice came very easily to me. Of course a dog’s voice would be in present tense. It would be sensory: bursts of images, smells and actions. Complete sentences would be absolutely wrong!

The difficult part was honing that voice to make it accessible for the reader. It’s almost like I was acting as translator, not a writer, for her chapters—trimming and clarifying so the reader could find her way into Nandi’s mind.

PARCHED is a slender book, clocking in at 144 pages—but it packs the punch of a much longer novel. Are you generally a less-is-more kind of writer?

Yes. Absolutely, yes!

And those 144 pages are so much more fleshed out than my original … it’s almost as if my editor was acting as a translator between me and my future readers!

I know that the story behind your first book deal is a little unconventional, since you didn’t have an agent or “go out on submission” to lots of editors. Would you mind sharing how you ended up at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt?

Sure!

I wrote PARCHED when I was supposed to be working on other things during the third semester of my MFA in Writing program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Little by little, in between drafts of my critical thesis, the story began to take shape. By the end of the semester, I had 20 pages ready. I crossed my fingers and sent them in to be considered for the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt prize for Middle Grade Literature. When I won (!), I received a request for the full manuscript. Months went by, I graduated, finished the story and sent it in, revised, and then scurried to find an agent just in time for the sale! It was about a year from the time my editor got the first 20 pages to the time when the book sold, and another year and a half until release day. It has been a long and eventful few years—and I can’t wait to do it all over again!

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid.

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA

When I met Katherine Paterson a few years ago, I only got halfway through a sentence about how much her stories meant to me as a kid before I started crying. How embarrassing! For both of us!

RAMONA QUIMBY, AGE 8

I was Ramona Quimby as a kid. A well-intentioned but disastrous force of nature.

FREEDOM TRAIN

This was the first book to come along and nudge me out of the bubble of my own experience. Harriet became my childhood hero.

Thanks, Melanie!

Melanie Crowder Author PhotoABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Melanie Crowder graduated in 2011 with an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the middle-grade novel PARCHED (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).

A West Coast girl at heart, Melanie now lives and writes in the beautiful (if dry) state of Colorado.

WEBSITE   GOODREADS   TWITTER   FACEBOOK

Here’s where you can buy PARCHED:

IndieBound   Barnes & Noble   Amazon  Books-A-Million   Indigo Books   Powell’s Books

Tara Dairman is a novelist, playwright, and recovering round-the-world honeymooner (two years, 74 countries!) who now lives in Colorado. Her debut middle-grade novel, THE DELICIOUS DOUBLE LIFE OF GLADYS GATSBY (Putnam/Penguin, Summer ’14), tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who secretly becomes a restaurant critic for New York’s biggest newspaper.
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GETTIN’ LUCKY: An Interview with J.R. Johansson, Author of INSOMNIA

ImageToday’s Lucky13 interview is with J.R. Johansson, author of the YA thriller INSOMNIA.  I had the opportunity to read an eARC and could NOT put it down.  Totally creeptastic!!  Here’s a blurb to get us started:

-Her eyes saved his life. Her dreams released his darkness.-

After four years of sleeplessness, high school junior Parker Chipp can’t take much more. Every night, instead of sleeping, he enters the dreams of the last person he’s made eye contact with. If he doesn’t sleep soon, Parker will die.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that’s utterly addictive. But what starts out as a chance meeting turns into an obsession; Parker’s furious desire for what he needs pushes him to extremes he never thought he’d go. And when someone begins terrorizing Mia with twisted death threats, Parker’s memory blackouts leave him doubting his own innocence.

What inspired you to write INSOMNIA? Were there any special challenges writing from a male point of view?

I’d been complimented a lot on my writing in super tense, action-packed scenes and I have always been obsessed with abnormal psychology, so I thought I’d put the two together and see how it worked. Turns out…it’s kind of freaky.

There were definitely special challenges to writing in a male PoV. I called on some male beta readers just to help me be authentic to the voice, and they were extremely helpful. I made quite a few alterations based on their suggestions and I’m really happy with the results.

The first line of the novel—It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.— drew me in immediately!!  Was this always your first line?  Or did it take some tweaking?

No, it originally started with,

Most people don’t know it, but they always make an appearance in their own dreams. They can’t always see themselves and sometimes feel like they’re only watching.  But it doesn’t matter, they’re always there.

And I can always see them.

Which I still really like, but I like the sentence I ended up changing it to better.

I think dreams are extraordinarily hard to pull off in a novel — so many come across as contrived — but you do it so seamlessly!   Like, how did you do that?  

Haha… I’m not entirely sure. I think it works really well in this scenario because dreams are extraordinarily real to Parker. He knows how dark, dangerous and truth-filled they can be. It brings the dreams to life in a different way, on a different level.

Parker goes through some really harsh physical issues due to lack of sleep – did you do any special research for that aspect of the book?

Absolutely! Obviously, because of the fact that he is a Watcher (a purely fictional problem) I was able to take some creative license with how it would take 4 years instead of a much shorter length of time to die of sleep deprivation. I also got to play with how the addiction to sleep would interact with the sleep deprivation and speed up the effects. Other than those two things all the physical ramifications of sleep deprivation that happen to Parker in the book is absolute truth. Tremors, lack of focus, poor decision making, hallucinations and everything that comes with them would happen to any of us if we pushed ourselves for several days without sleep. It was fascinating (and kind of terrifying) to research.

One of my favorite characters was Parker’s best friend Finn!  (I loved his t-shirt collection!!)  If the teenage you had to spend the day at the mall with one of your characters – who would it be and why?

Haha, yeah, Finn is definitely a highlight for me as well. Hmm…I’d say Finn except I’m afraid he’d drag me to some old Kung Fu movie. So I’ll pick Addie. Neither of us are huge on shopping and we’d probably just grab something to eat, chat and then see a movie we’d actually both like. 🙂

INSOMNIA is a series.  Did you have that in mind when you began to write the novel?  How many books are planned?  Any teasers you want to share?  Any new projects you are working on? (this could be a separate question if you’d like.)

I didn’t know if it would be a series when I started, but by the time I wrote the end I realized it needed to be. There will be two books, so it’s a duology. As far as teasers…let’s just say that book 2 will bring in more characters, more psychological thriller elements (with more than just Parker), and more of Finn’s shirts.

As this community is All for One and OneFour KidLit, we’d like to know what two or three books inspired you as a kid?

Hmm…good question! As a kid, I loved Pride and Prejudice, before that A Wrinkle in Time, and before that it was anything by Dr. Seuss. I still consider him an absolute genius.

Great interview! It was so much fun! Thank you for having me! 🙂

Thanks for stopping by Jenn!  And Happy Book Birthday!!

IMG_8183_CROPPED_WEBJ.R. JOHANSSON is a young adult thriller author published with Flux & FSG/Macmillan. Her debut, INSOMNIA is coming June 2013. She has a B.S. degree in public relations and a background in marketing. She credits her abnormal psychology minor with inspiring many of her characters. When she’s not writing, she loves reading, playing board games, and sitting in her hot tub. Her dream is that someday she can do all three at the same time. She has two young sons and a wonderful husband. In fact, other than her cat, Cleo, she’s nearly drowning in testosterone.

You can find Jenn here:

Twitter  / Blog  /  Website / Tumblr / Facebook / Goodreads Author page / Goodreads INSOMNIA page

Here’s where you can buy INSOMNIA:

The Book Depository /  Indiebound  / Books A Million / Barnes & Noble / Amazon

Robin Constantine is a born and bred Jersey girl who moved down South so she could wear flip-flops year round. She spends her days dreaming up stories where love conquers all, well, eventually but not without a lot of peril, angst and the occasional kissing scene. Her YA debut, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, will be released in 2014 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.