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Looking Back, Looking Forward

Somehow it’s almost the end of 2014! We OneFours have had such an incredible year, and we’ve been so glad to share our experiences with all of you. As we make our final farewells as debut authors, we want to share…

A fun/unexpected/meaningful moment/experience of your debut year:

My mother’s enthusiasm. She is a one woman sales-excitement machine, sharing with all of her friends from everywhere and forever about “my daughter’s book.” It’s pretty much the sweetest thing ever.–Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

All the amazing people who’ve come into my life and who I can now call friends. Definitely an unexpected and meaningful perk during this debut year.–Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

I had two show steers at my launch party, and just as the first was brought up to “show,” he pooped. Which is how STEERING TOWARD NORMAL opens. Nature gave me a perfect book birthday gift!–Rebecca Petruck, STEERING TOWARD NORMAL

A twelve-year-old girl came up to me at Vegas Valley Book Festival with her copy of CAMELOT BURNING, which she’d just bought, and asked me to sign it for her as she went on about how much she loves BBC’s MERLIN. We fangirled together for about five minutes. It was AWESOME.–Kathryn Rose, CAMELOT BURNING

Definitely the letters I’ve received from readers has been the best thing ever. Even now, thinking that I wrote something that might help someone through a hard time, makes me tear up.–Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

The support has been so amazing: from friends, family, acquaintances, old high school friends, random strangers, and of course, all of the wonderful writers I’ve met this year. I expected this to be a more solitary journey than it has been, and that’s been an incredible surprise.–AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

The best moments of being an author aren’t when you’re at a conference or on a panel. They’re when you check your PO box or author email account to find a message from a young reader who connected with your book. Being able to share our words and stories with readers is a gift and an honor–and it makes everything else in this crazy career worthwhile.–Rebecca Behrens, WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE

Standing behind the podium at Powell’s and talking about my very own book was the first time I felt even a little bit like a real author. It was a wonderful feeling.–Heidi Schulz, HOOK’S REVENGE

I loved getting to be a part of the Boston Teen Author Festival this year. I’ve gone to a bunch of events like these, but being on panels with authors I admired was mind-boggling.–Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

After co-writing DREAM BOY with my friend Madelyn Rosenberg, I thought we were about as close as we possibly could be. As she helped shepherd me through my first year as a published novelist, however, new aspects of our relationship came to light and we grew even closer. Without a doubt, getting to know her different sides has been the best part of a wonderful debut year.–Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

One of my best memories of this year: I walked into a classroom on one my first school visits and a boy ran up to me yelling, “This book is AWESOME!” Meeting readers and inspiring young writers has been so rewarding.–Louise Galveston, BY THE GRACE OF GOD

My favorite debut moment was seeing my book in a store for the first time. It was early, so I wasn’t in “published author” mode yet, and it was just so impossible to internalize. So I made myself stare at it until it penetrated that I had done this, and then I cried like a baby on the floor of B&N.–Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

One of my favorite memories this year was at a library event. A student walked into the room and after seeing my Gilded and Silvern banners, he raced across the room saying, “That is my favorite book! And look, there’s a sequel!”–Christy Farley, GILDED

One of my favorite moments of this year was after a school event. Several of the students wrote me letters to tell me that, after hearing me talk about how my multiple failures led to my success in publishing, they had made the jump and tried the things that scared them. One tried out for the basketball team (and made it). One decided to write the story she’d always wanted to write (even though people told her she wasn’t good enough). I will cherish these letters forever!–Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

I didn’t think debut day would be surprising. I mean, I had approximately 2 years to prepare for it, but the morning my book official came out, my social media streams, cell phone, and email all drowned in love and support from my community. It was shocking. And amazing. And I’ll remember that feeling of being buoyed up for years to come.–Natalie C. Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

There are so many great moments in this debut year, but the best is probably the solid wall of support and love — from new friends in the writing community, from family who has watched me pursue this for years, from readers who discover and love the book — that I’ve found to lean against through the ups and downs.–Dana Alison Levy, THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER

There have been a lot of these moments, but standing in front of a group of students while they asked me questions about my book – that was one of the best. Reading meant so much to me when I was in high school. It was extremely humbling to know that students were reading and enjoying something I had written.–Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

Unexpected: all of the support and love from the small town I grew up in!–Kate Boorman, WINTERKILL

Unexpected: how emotional it would be to see my book on a bookstore shelf. I knew it would be awesome but the feeling was overwhelming. I cried. Amazing.–Maria Andreu, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY

I will never forget the first time a teen reader emailed me about how she’d read and enjoyed my book. I felt like dancing all day long (but I didn’t because I can’t dance so trust me, this was a good thing for the sake of my family).–Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

And a piece of advice for future debut writers:

My advice to future debuts is not to sweat the small stuff – so many things aren’t nearly as important as they seem. No one is gonna boycott your book because the cover was revealed early on Goodreads. No one needs you to be a blogger on top of being an author. Just do what you love, be kind, and write good books.–Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Connect with other writers as much as possible. Writing can be solitary and publishing even more so, having others around you who “get it” can make the insanity of the publishing process so much easier.–Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

Celebrate EVERY milestone! Even if it’s something as simple as, “I totally finished editing that crazy impossible chapter, and now it shines,” acknowledge it and celebrate!–Kathryn Rose, CAMELOT BURNING

Reach out. Don’t feel like you have to go it alone. Have a stupid question? Ask it! Probably everyone else is wondering the same thing — and somebody out there might even have some answers to share!–Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

To all soon-to-be published writers, my only advice is to ground yourself. Ground yourself with friends, family, ideals that you hold close, and memories of why you wanted this in the first place. Because this is a wild ride and it’s easy to lose yourself to it. But as long as you have a great support system, you’ll be fine.—-Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

Breathe. A lot. And when things get really crazy, it helps to remember why you started in the first place. It all comes back to the writing!–Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

Writing is one thing. Publishing is another thing. Keep writing! A lot of the publishing stuff is out of your control and trying to control it will make you crazy. But the writing is always there and completely yours.–Rebecca Petruck, STEERING TOWARD NORMAL

Remember how life is a thing that happens? Remember how you love doing things other than writing and figuring out how to promote yourself online and in person without feeling like you’ve transformed into a repeating sound-byte? Good. Now remember when you didn’t feel guilty about going to the movies or hanging with your friends? Good. Hold on to that because you deserve to enjoy life in addition to writing.–Natalie C. Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

Plan a launch party. Introvert me was horrified at the thought, but my special person pushed me into it and I’m so glad I did. It was simple (cupcakes, readings, music, at a book store) but people from every moment of my life showed up. It was this big ball of awe and gratitude and I won’t ever forget the support and love I felt that night.–Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

Remember to enjoy yourself! You’re following your dream, and yet it’s easy to get so caught up in the stress of it all that you forget the initial giddiness over the fact that you’re (going to be) published. Have fun with it!–AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

Always bring a couple of author copies to a signing, in case you mess up when personalizing a book. It happens. (Also: bring postcards or another piece of signable swag for readers who can’t purchase a book!)–Rebecca Behrens, WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE

Pick and choose what you do for promotion. It’s tempting to do it all but in my debut year I discovered that my energy is finite. (Who knew?). Best thing I ever learned was to do events with other writers instead of doing them solo. A fraction of the work, a multiple of the fun.–Maria Andreu, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY

The last few weeks leading up to your launch may leave you feeling like a quivery ball of tearful stress and anxiety. You may also feel guilty because publishing a book is a dream come true and why, oh why, aren’t you feeling happier about it??? EVERYTHING IS RUINED. All of this is perfectly normal. Feel whatever you feel and know that it will get better.–Heidi Schulz, HOOK’S REVENGE

Remember when reviews start rolling in that you have a small army of people, including industry pros, who think your writing rocks. Don’t let stars and rankings sideswipe your confidence or choke your creativity.–Louise Galveston, BY THE GRACE OF GOD

Never, never give up. If you keep going, even in the face of failure, good things will happen for you. It’s totally cliche, but it’s absolutely true. I can trace every single one of my most successful moments directly back to a moment where I’d failed so miserably it looked like giving up was the only option. But I kept going, and good things were always just around the corner.–Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

You don’t have to do this alone. Even if there isn’t an organized group of debuts like the OneFours, basically all debut authors (and authors in general) share the same fears and uncertainties. Find your people. We are here <3–Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

The thing all newly published authors need to remember is that the story that was once theirs no longer exists. It is now a book, something that exists in the public domain, for anyone and everyone to read and discuss. Find a tribe of other writers to vent, cry, complain and talk to, because having your story out in the world can be a wild ride.–Dana Alison Levy, THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER

There’s no one way to be a writer. It’s easy to compare yourself to others whose books are getting starred reviews or flying off the shelves or getting awards, but we’re all on different journeys and connecting with different readers in different ways. Cheer for your fellow writers, but don’t forget to cheer for yourself, too.–Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

My advice for future debut writers is to focus on why you are writing. It’s because you love it. Don’t ever lose that love you have for writing.–Christy Farley, GILDED

Work hard, write from the heart, celebrate yourself and others, and smash those narratives of self-doubt and impostor syndrome with a GIANT SMASHY HAMMER.–Kate Boorman, WINTERKILL

Thanks so much to everyone who’s been a part of our 2014 debut experience! Here’s to even more adventures in 2015 and beyond!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is now available from Candlewick Press. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
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Next Book News! This Month with Even More OneFour Book News!

IT’S A ONEFOUR SUMMER GOOD NEWS EXTRAVAGANZA! This month we’re combining the Next Book News with our updates about how our debuts are doing for a big ol’ festival of book goodness.

We’ve debuted, we’re debuting and we’re selling more stuff! Check back on the 28th of each month to find out all the awesome Next Book News!

excited-anna (1)

Skila Brown sold another book!

From the Publisher’s Marketplace announcement:
From the author of CAMINAR, Skila Brown’s WITH THE END IN SIGHT, told from a 19-year old’s point of view, one of the survivors from the ill-fated Donner party, about her family’s wagon train journey from Lacon, IL to the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1846, to Liz Bicknell at Candlewick, by Tina Wexler at ICM (World English).

Skylar Dorset has an official title!

The sequel to THE GIRL WHO NEVER WAS has been titled THE BOY WITH THE HIDDEN NAME and will be released on December 2, 2014! (Yes, that’s six months from now!)

Erica Cameron has a sequel cover!

I now have a cover for the sequel to SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE! I present to you book 2 in The Dream War Saga, DEADLY SWEET LIES:

Nadette Lawson knows when you’re lying.

Every night for the past two years, the Balasura have visited her dreams, enticing her to enter their world. And every night she’s seen through their lies. Now, they’re tired of playing in the shadows and they begin to stalk her in the waking world. It’s no longer just an invitation; if Nadette doesn’t join them, they’ll take her family. Forever. She needs help, and the haven she’s seeking may be just out of reach.

Julian Teagan is a master of deception.

To survive, he has to convince the world his mother isn’t useless, that everything’s fine, otherwise he’ll lose what little he has left in this life. He knows the lying won’t be enough to keep him and his mother in the shadows, but it’s all he knows. The only light of truth is Orane, a Balasura who sees past Julian’s facade and challenges him to face the darkness.

Then Orane is killed, and Julian learns his mentor was far from innocent. The Balasura have hunted children like him for centuries, and their next target, Nadette is his one chance at finally being a part of something real. If Julian can just convince her to trust him…

See more information at thedreamwarsaga.com or byericacameron.com

Deadly Sweet Lies

More sequel news from Stephanie Diaz!

REBELLION, the sequel to EXTRACTION, will be released February 10, 2015.

Add it on Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/18625184-rebellion
Pre-order on Amazon: www.amazon.com/Rebellion-Stephanie-Diaz/dp/1250041252/ref=la_B00FI7SQ4M_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402525743&sr=1-2

Jen Malone sold more books!

From PM:
Jen Malone’s YA debut WANDERLOST, in which a teen girl agrees to impersonate her older sister and fill in for her as a summer tour guide for a senior citizen bus trip through Europe; when their carefully constructed plan derails before she even makes it out of the airport and the tour owner’s cute son joins as a surprise guest, she’ll put her acting skills to the test, to Annie Berger at Harper Teen, in a two-book deal, by Holly Root at Waxman Leavell Literary Agency (World).

Rebecca Behrens sold another book!

From PW:
Jordan Hamessley at Egmont USA has bought North American rights to The Summer of Lost and Found, a middle-grade novel by Rebecca Behrens. In it, a girl’s father mysteriously disappears and her botanist mother drags her to Roanoke Island for a research trip, where she decides to solve the mystery of the Lost Colony. It will publish in spring 2016; Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary & Media brokered the deal.

Nicole Maggi has a cover!

HEARTLINES is a standalone thriller coming February 2015 from SourceBooks Fire.

An exciting new thriller from Nicole Maggi about a girl whose memories are slowly being taken over after a heart transplant from a murder victim.

Georgie Kendrick wakes up after a heart transplant, but the organ beating in her chest doesn’t seem to be in tune with the rest of her body. Why does she have a sudden urge for strawberries when she’s been allergic for years? Why can’t she remember last Christmas? Driven to find her donor, Georgie discovers her heart belonged to a girl her own age who fell out of the foster care system and into a rough life on the streets. Everyone thinks she committed suicide, but Georgie is compelled to find the truth—before she loses herself completely.

heartlines

 

 

IN DEBUT BOOK NEWS:

 

FOUR STARRED REVIEWS for OTHERBOUND by Corinne Duyvis! School Library Journal gave OTHERBOUND by Corinne Duyvis its third starred review! “While Duyvis’s debut is an exciting take on the fantasy genre, as it alternates between our world and that of the Dunelands, the true strength of the novel is in its positive portrayal of LGBT issues. This becomes most important in establishing the character of Nolan, an adolescent who has experienced most of his adolescence from the perspective of a girl, and in the nuanced portrayal of Amara’s relationships.” In its FOURTH STARRED REVIEW, The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books praises OTHERBOUND’s “subtle, nuanced examinations of power dynamics and privilege” and calls it “a brilliantly paced edge-of-your seat adventure.” The review concludes, “Authors should take note—this is how you do fantasy in a global world.”

 

Joshua David Bellin‘s SURVIVAL COLONY 9 garnered two great blurbs in June:
“Joshua David Bellin brings serious game in a post-apocalyptic thriller that collides breathless action with devious world building and genuine heart. A terrific novel!” — Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Rot & Ruin and V-Wars

“Set in a gritty post-apocalyptic world, SURVIVAL COLONY 9 is both an adventure and an exploration of what it means to be human.” –Margaret Peterson Haddix, New York Times Bestselling author of the Missing Series

 

Publishers Weekly says that AdriAnne Strickland “raises questions of identity and belonging” in her “fast-paced debut,” WORDLESS! Read the full review here.

 

Tara Dairman‘s ALL FOUR STARS got a rave review from Booklist: “Gladys is a lovable character with plenty of spunk and desire, and readers will happily cheer her on, while the fresh plot adds a delicious dimension to the host of stories set in sixth grade.”

Congratulations to the following OneFour authors recently nominated for YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list: BREAKFAST SERVED ANYTIME by Sarah Combs, CAMINAR by Skila Brown, FAKE ID by Lamar Giles, SEKRET by Lindsay Smith, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY by Sharon Biggs Waller, and THE VIGILANTE POETS OF SELWYN ACADEMY by Kate Hattemer.

 

Dana Alison Levy‘s THE MISADVENTURES OF THE FAMILY FLETCHER got a starred review from Kirkus, who said, “The Fletcher family rules!” It was also a Summer 2014 Kids’ Indie Next Pick and received a starred review from School Library Journal, who praised its “laugh-out-loud humor, and mix of zaniness and love. Fans of Beverly Cleary’s Quimbys, Judy Blume’s Hatchers, and, more recently, Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks will fervently hope that more Fletcher misadventures are yet to come.”

 

THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES by Lauren Magaziner got a starred review from Kirkus: “Magaziner’s youthful narrative voice is distinctly aural: Her characters swish and swoop, clomp and screech. Her storytelling cauldron mixes the right balance of bizarre and banal, and she turns up the heat as the witch exam approaches. Readers will banish themselves from the ordinary world to finish this book in a flash.” THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES also got a wonderful review from Publishers Weekly: “The same goofy charm that Magaziner brings to the names of characters and settings (Mrs. Gummyum, Yammerstop Way) carries through to the details of witch life and logic in the town of Gliverstoll, resulting in a fun, frothy story that will, well, charm its readers.”

 

GILDED by Christina Farley was nominated for the Morning Calm Award in Korea in the high school division.

 

PUSH GIRL by Jessica Love and Chelsie Hill is out now, and Booklist says, “Authors Hill and Love write a moving novel…This is an emotional story with elements any teen reader can relate to, primarily the search for one’s own identity. Readers will be inspired and moved by Kara’s amazing journey.”

 

THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY by Maria Andreu won a National Indie Excellence® Book Award. School Library Journal says of THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY, “captivating,” and “Andreu deftly captures the protagonist’s desires, despair, and determination in this peek at a side of American life not often seen in YA literature”. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says, “This story is perfectly timed.”

 

Booklist says of Tracy Holczer‘s, THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY, “Readers who appreciate the quiet confidence and maturity of Cynthia Rylant’s, Patricia MacLachlan’s, and Katherine Paterson’s protagonists will find a new author to enjoy.” It’s also an Indie Next Pick for summer, and was recently featured in the San Francisco Chronicle.

 

Lori M. Lee‘s GATES OF THREAD AND STONE sold World French rights to AdA.

 

The Indonesia publisher Fantasious has purchased the Bahasa translation rights to Danielle L. Jensen‘s STOLEN SONGBIRD and HIDDEN HUNTRESS!

 

Jaye Robin Brown, or JRo to most everyone but her mama, lives and writes in the Appalachian mountains north of Asheville, NC. She’s fond of dogs, horses, laughter, the absurd and the ironic. When not crafting stories she hangs out with teenagers in the high school art room where she teaches. Her debut novel, NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, December ’14), is a love song to small town girls and mountain music.
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THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN Release Day!

Holy cow, guys, today’s the release day for THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN! I am so freaking excited to see this book out in the world, and so freaking grateful to everyone who’s worked with me and helped me along the way–from the amazing people at Candlewick Press to my wonderful family and friends to the fantastic community of children’s and young adult writers and readers like the OneFours. You are all incredible and I’m so lucky to have you in my life.

A little about the book:

When your mom thinks she’s Amelia Earhart, navigating high school, first love, and family secrets is like flying solo without a map.

Driver’s ed and a first crush should be what Alex Winchester is stressed out about in high school – and she is. But what’s really on her mind is her mother. When did she stop being Mom and start being Amelia Earhart? Alex is increasingly worried that Amelia is planning her final flight – the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her?

But you know what they say–a picture is worth a thousand words, and a gif must be worth a thousand more. So what better way to celebrate the launch of THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN than with a few good gifs. If you’re looking for a book about:

The awfulness of driver’s ed:

The awesomeness of new crushes:

The intensity of family secrets:

The courage and mystery of Amelia Earhart:

And a good game of  Never-Have-I-Ever:

Check out THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, now available at your local favorite bookstore!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press on April 22 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
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Release Day-Louise Galveston, By The Grace Of Todd

Today we’re talking with Louise Galveston, author of the middle grade humorous adventure, By The Grace of Todd.

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

Todd’s room borders on Hoarders-level messy. We’re talking Roomageddon here. When his mom gives him the ultimatum to clean it or miss his best friend’s birthday bash, Todd makes an amazing discovery: he has created an entire civilization of ant-sized people from the sheer grossness on his filthy sock. The “Toddlians” put their faith in their all-powerful creator, but can the kid who can’t even keep a hermit crab alive save them from Max Loving, the biggest bully at Wakefield Middle School?

I think one of the coolest things about this book are how many pieces of “me” went into it. For instance, I was a science geek as a kid (although not as smart as Todd’s brainy neighbor, Lucy), I had poodles growing up (though none as evil as Todd’s mom’s demon dog, Princess VanderPuff), I had hermit crabs (which met with better fates than Leonardo DaPinchy), and I have kids that were Todd’s and Daisy’s ages when I wrote the book. And Persephone, the cowgirl Toddlian? She’s my alter-ego. I grew up on John Wayne and Louis L’Amour. Yee-haw!

What do you do in your daily life outside of writing?

I’m a stay-at-home mom and I also direct children’s and community theater. My husband also directs–our entire family does theater together, which is really fun! I also love to sketch and watercolor. It’s just a hobby for now, but I have dreams of going to art school and one day illustrating my own stories.

What are some little known facts about you that might surprise our readers.

I was a music theater major in college and wanted to pursue a career on Broadway. Instead, I married my high school sweetheart and became a minister. I have eleven children and one grandson. We have a parrot named BB, because apparently our house isn’t noisy enough.

What excites you the most about debuting?

Meeting readers has been my favorite experience so far. I love doing school visits and connecting with kids! Next, I would have to say getting to know my fabulous fellow debut authors, who have made this journey even more wonderful. And finally, the opportunity to travel excites me; I really enjoy seeing new places. Who knows, I might even get to travel to NYC and take in a little Broadway at last!

Today’s the big day! How are you celebrating the release of By The Grace Of Todd? Any special plans?

I have a local school visit this morning, and a date with my husband at our favorite Mediterranean restaurant tonight. (Tiramisu, baby!) We’ll probably hit the local bookstores. That’s what we usually do on dates, but this time we’ll be looking for MY book! 😀

Here’s where you can buy By The Grace Of Todd:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

IndieBound

BAM!

Louise Galveston is the author of BY THE GRACE OF TODD (Penguin/Razorbill Feb. 27, 2014). She and her husband live in the Midwest with their eleven kids and a parrot. When Louise isn’t writing or folding laundry, she directs her local children’s theater, where she’s playwright in residence.
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When We Say YA: Books We Loved as Teens

Welcome to When We Say YA! Every month, the OneFour YA authors get together to talk about everything related to young adult lit. February is all about love, so this month’s question is:

What were your most loved books from your own teen years?

Harry Potter, for sure. I fall into that beautiful age category where I discovered the first book at nine or ten, and so basically grew up along with the series.
Corinne Duyvis, OTHERBOUND

As a teen, I was crazy about old poetry. Wallace Stevens, e.e. cummings, Gerard Manly Hopkins, John Donne, Langston Hughes. All the dead (mostly white) guys.
I didn’t necessarily understand their poems in the normal way of “understanding” something, but I don’t think the normal way of understanding is what poetry is about. It’s definitely not what love is about–and I was out-of-my-gourd in love.
I still have my dad’s old paperback copy of Wallace Steven’s The Palm at the End of the Mind. The spine is busted and it’s held together with a rubber band, but that book is one of my absolute favorite things. There are little pencil-mark stars beside the poems I kept going back to. And they’re the poems I return to, even now.
Mary Crockett, DREAM BOY

High School Jess went through a bit of a Jane Austen phase after the release of Clueless and the Sense and Sensibility movie starring Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. I must have read Emma and Sense and Sensibility a zillion times.
I was also desperately in love with The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I don’t think I fully understood it, but it still spoke to me in a way no other book had managed to.
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

I was a big Christopher Pike fan. I loved how messy his characters were. None of them were 100% angelic, nor two-dimensionally evil. I think I read almost every single one. I still have a stained, yellowing paperback of Remember Me on my shelf. But I also read a ton of scifi and fantasy. Andre Norton, Ray Bradbury, David Eddings, Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, Anne McCaffrey. In fact, the first series of books that launched me into my obsession of reading was The Secret of the Unicorn Queen series. I freaking loved those books.
Mary Elizabeth Summer, TRUST ME, I’M LYING

Harry Potter all the way. Also His Dark Materials and the Farsala trilogy by Hilari Bell.
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

Soooo much Sweet Valley – High, Senior Year, University…all of it. Of all the books I had to read for school, I’d say SONG OF SOLOMON by Toni Morrison was my favorite. So good.
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

I’m with you, Dahlia. I devoured every Sweet Valley High book I could get my hands on. I also really enjoyed my older sister’s Nancy Drew books.
Michelle Krys, HEXED

I don’t remember reading much that was specifically YA, though there was this one called AS THE WALTZ WAS ENDING about a girl living through Nazi Germany as a member of the German Ballet. I read a lot of thrillers, especially by David Morrell and Dean Koontz. And then when I took AP English, I was in love with THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, anything by Toni Morrison, and CATCH-22.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

I was really into Isabel Allende and John Steinbeck in high school and into college -not sure what the connection is there. Going back a little further I loved Narnia, The Alanna series by Tamora Pierce and The Bridge to Terabithia!
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

The book that stands out for me as my true love during high school was Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume. I remember being amazed at finding a character that was allowed to be with her pain and anger, even when she didn’t fully understand it. It spoke to me in a powerful way. I also loved Forever… we all knew the page of the sex scene by heart.
Kinda jealous of those of you young enough to have enjoyed Harry Potter as kids. I actually avoided it until book 7 was about to be released (I avoid “the pack”). Finally, my high school English teacher (with whom is stayed friends), convinced me to give it a chance. Wow. Inhaled them all during a blissful two-week period. Fully immersed in that world. Heaven. Or, better. Hogwarts.
Maria Andreu, THE SECRET SIDE OF EMPTY

For me it was Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books and Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear. They were slightly racy, filled with animals, intrigue, and romance! I also loved the southern classics like Gone With the Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird.
Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

I was on team Harry Potter as well. One of my favorite reading memories was diving into the first three books over the course of about four days in early November of my sophomore year. (Fall leaves, cloudy skies, cozy reading.) I was also really into Francesca Lia Block, Tamora Pierce, Cyrano de Bergerac, and stories from Seventeen Magazine.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

As a fantasy geek, I was deeply, obsessively in love with Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle, and I also grew up with Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series–which only recently ended! (The latter was a very lengthy love affair.)
AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

The Hobbit was a book that I still continue to draw inspiration from. Also The Giver, which was the beginning of my love for dystopian (or utopian, I suppose). The Dragonriders of Pern series was a beloved favorite as well, and I devoured every Fear Street book I could find from R.L. Stine.
–Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I read and reread the Belgariad, Mallorean, Elenium and Tamuli sagas by David and Leah Eddings constantly during my teens – it’s what started my love for the fantasy series. This was also around the time I discovered Shirley Jackson and Mervyn Peake (the Gormenghast series was nothing like I’d ever read before then).
Rin Chupeco, THE GIRL FROM THE WELL

If Mercedes Lackey wrote it, I read it. I fancied myself one of her Heralds of Valdemar in another life. If Ursula K. Le Guin wrote it, I read it. I suppose I also fancied myself an explorer of worlds and societies. Neither of these has changed very much.
Natalie C. Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

CARRIE, FIRESTARTER, IT, THE STAND: Stephen King was my favorite author when I was a teen (and also a pre-teen, and also an adult). I also loved all the V.C. Andrews books (don’t judge). THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton was another favorite. Stay gold, Ponyboy.
Clara Kensie, RUN TO YOU

I’m going to second THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, especially the story THE SWEETHEART OF THE SONG TRA BONG which I re-read almost every year. I also remember reading THE BLUEST EYE by Toni Morrison in school and just being blown away by how gorgeous and raw it was.
Also, a lot of romance novels. So many romance novels.
Elissa Sussman, STRAY

As a Jersey girl, I loved, loved LOVED Judy Blume. (Although I know she has a much wider audience than New Jersey, I still like to claim her!) Her stories were so relatable to me and I definitely credit her books with inspiring me to write stories that readers connect to. I was forbidden to read FOREVER, so that only made it that much more appealing (sorry, Mom!). For me, that book was a safe place to live out the highs and lows of first love without experiencing collateral damage!
Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

The classics! Jane Eyre, all of the Jane Austen books, the Scarlet Pimpernel, C.S. Lewis and of course all of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.
Christy Farley, GILDED

I loved J. D. Salinger, particularly Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey, and anything Hemingway. My parents passed the super sentimental poetry of Edgar Guest back and forth when my father was stationed overseas and that was my doorway into the love of poetry. W. H. Auden, e.e. cummings and Ogden Nash were a few of my early favorites but the list is long.
Linda Phillips, CRAZY

Roots by Alex Haley was a book I decided to read for my freshman English class because I had to prove to my friend that I could read a longer book than she could in the allocated three weeks. But that book stayed with me. Still does. It was a very personal journey into mistreatment and injustice; I could not get over the harsh living conditions the characters in the book had to endure.
Chris Struyk-Bonn, WHISPER

What books are/were your favorites as a teen? Share them in the comments!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press on April 22 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
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How to Survive Your First Author Event

I hate public speaking. Loathe it. Loathe it like Jacob loathes Edward. Loathe it like my cat loathes me when I try to give him his deworming medicine.

The problem is, I wrote this book called Lies We Tell Ourselves. And it’s coming out this fall. And when you write a book you are supposed to go out and promote it and stuff. And promoting a book tends to involve appearing public and ― gulp ― talking about it. Otherwise known as public speaking.

Two weeks ago, I did my first such event. To say I was kind of nervous going in would be to say the YA community is kind of excited to see the Fault in Our Stars movie.

And yet. It actually wasn’t that terrible.

In fact it was kind of awesome.

Okay, it was actually, genuinely, no-holds-barred fabulous.

I had fun. In all my anticipation for what my first event might be like, it never occurred to me that I would actually have fun.

But fun was had! In fact, it was such a positive experience that I felt compelled to list out some tips for other debut authors who are biting their nails with dread awaiting their first official appearances.

Here’s my quick list:

  1. Have something to talk about. My first panel was about diversity in young adult fiction. A fascinating topic ― and having a specific agenda meant I didn’t have to spend the whole time just talking about my book. Sure, I talked some about Lies We Tell Ourselves, but mainly we talked about the broader topic of diversity and how it affects the YA field as a whole. It’s much easier to get pumped to discuss a meaty topic like this one than to feel self-conscious for plugging your book the whole time.
  2. Know what you’re getting into. The event I spoke at was the third in a series of panels for writers called “Shut Up and Write” moderated by kick-ass author Jon Skovron at the Arlington Central Library in Virginia. So, I made sure I went to the first two panels in the series prior to my own event. Knowing what to expect made me way more comfortable when it was my turn to be on the panel. Granted, not every author event is part of a series, but if you can go to other events similar to the one you’ll be appearing at ― for example, signings held at the same location, or launch parties for other authors in your genre ― it can give you an idea of what your appearance will be like. (I’ll go to the future panels in “Shut Up and Write” series too, by the way, because these panels are freaking awesome.)
  3. Start small. I’ve been to author events that had ten attendees and to events that had hundreds. The crowd at our panel was about 30 or 35 people, which was perfect, in my view. It was small enough that it felt intimate, and everyone was excited to be there. The crowd was really engaged in the topic and asked great questions. It felt more like we were all hanging out having a conversation than what I usually think of as Public Speaking.
  4. Have an excellent moderator and outstanding co-panelists. The aforementioned Jon Skovron is the perfect panel moderator. He asked thought-provoking questions that were easy to answer and got us started on a fascinating dialogue. The other two ladies on my panel, Lucky 13 author Ellen Oh and author/cover designer Shirin Dubbin, were brilliant, and had so many insights to share that I kept wanting to raise my hand and ask them questions too. If I could have my way, they would be my co-panelists for every event I ever do!

Granted, I was still nervous. And granted, it was still bizarre to be talking about my book in front of a crowd who actually appeared to be interested in hearing what I say about it.

But now that I’ve got an appearance under my belt ― and an awesome one ― I’m not quite so scared about doing it again.

I know I won’t always have such a supportive crowd, and I won’t always have such an interesting discussion topic. But I’ll never be a first-timer again.

Next time I’ll be that much less nervous. And the time after that, I’m sure I’ll feel like an old pro.

Or, at the very least, I’ll be less nervous approaching an upcoming appearance than I am when approaching my cat with a medicated syringe. At least author panels rarely involve bloodshed!

Robin Talley lives in Washington, D.C., with an ornery cat, a goofy hound dog and a lovely fiancée. Robin’s debut novel, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES (Harlequin Teen, 9/30/2014), follows a black girl in 1959 Virginia who’s the first to desegregate an all-white high school, and winds up falling in love with a white girl in the process. Robin tweets at @robin_talley.
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Friday Q&A

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers! On Fridays, the OneFours answer questions about their books, writing processes, life, favorite flavors of ice cream, and more. This week’s question:

Which book by another author would you love to claim as your own and why?

I’d love to pass off MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness as my own. His whole Chaos Walking Trilogy, really. It contains such an interesting sci-fi concept, and Ness isn’t afraid to put his characters into the kind of horrible situations that make you want to simultaneously punch him in the face and sob for a million years. My goal as a writer is to make people feel the way I feel when I read his books.
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

Maggie Stiefvater’s book always make me feel like I have no business writing, but I’ve learned that a lot of newer authors feel that way. So, I’m going to say Amber Dermont’s THE STARBOARD SEA, which is a coming-of-age story (classified as adult, but I’d readily recommend to teens who appreciate beautiful words). It’s the kind of book that deepens with repeated reading and a protagonist who really got under my skin and made my cry (which is the benchmark of a good book for me).
Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

I’m gonna cheat and go with a whole series here, but they’re short! The Ruby Oliver series (THE BOY BOOK, etc.) by E. Lockhart is, in my opinion, the most dead-on insight into the teen female mind. The writing is great, and Ruby’s a really fun character, but what really gets me about it is the way four strong books are crafted out of the kind of real, true dramas I remember experiencing that age, which no crazy, unrelatable plot points thrown in for sympathy points or dramatic effect or to scream “High concept!” It’s really just a girl learning to prioritize her life and embrace herself, while understanding what makes some relationships stronger and more worthwhile than others. To pull off that kind of thing while also being quirky and entertaining and unique isn’t easy, and it’s the kind of thing I’d love to contribute to the YA canon!
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Would anyone notice if I replaced Ellen Raskin’s name with my own? Even now, The Westing Game has everything I love in a book. A central mystery. The reading of a will. Cryptic clues. A race to solve them. An ensemble cast of interesting, complex characters. A flawed but funny mini-heroine with a great name (Turtle). And at no point does the book talk down to kids: the plot includes bombs, bookies, religious extremism, and degenerative disease. I read this book over and over as a kid, and I still pick it up and re-read it! I think that’s the dream of any author–to write a book that has something to say to every reader.
Laura Marx Fitzgerald, UNDER THE EGG

Oh, Libba Bray’s BEAUTY QUEENS, without a doubt. It’s smart and funny. A brilliant work of satire! I had writer-envy right from page one.
Skila Brown, CAMINAR

I’m a sucker for a good romance, and it doesn’t get more perfect than ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins. I don’t know anyone who isn’t in love with both Etienne and Anna, and the perfect Parisian setting is just the icing on this delicious cake. I would love to be able to craft such a perfect romance.
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

I’d be thrilled to be able to slap my name onto WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead. Fantastic characters and setting, and a plot that fits together like a perfect puzzle? Something to aspire to, for sure.
Tara Dairman, ALL FOUR STARS

I was so endlessly captivated by the world building in DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE, by Laini Taylor. Her ability to create a world that is so vivid and lush, while also creating real, relatable characters blew me away. I wish I wrote in that genre because every word on her pages would be such an incredible study in craft.
Kelsey Macke, DAMSEL DISTRESSED

Another vote for DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE. Laini Taylor’s prose is breathtakingly gorgeous, and her world-building is some of the best I’ve ever come across. I read that book twice—once in complete awe of its craft and once more just for fun.
Meredith McCardle, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. From the very first sentence, I knew it was going to be a bad idea to read it, because it ‘s so good, with such completely compelling prose, I felt like a total hack in comparison. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to be a better writer.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

If I’d written BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu, I could die happy. I love the way she combines the real world with fantasy and brings alive the hurt of losing a friend. She manages to make being human seem hyper real through fantasy, and her writing makes me so immersed. Breadcrumbs is also super dark and scary, and I love that!
Edith Cohn, SPIRIT’S KEY

One day I would love to write a book like The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I love it for its scope and the incredible characters she creates and follows through out their lives.
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

This is a hard one! I’m so tempted to say Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, but I’m going to have to go with God-Shaped Hole by Tiffanie DeBartolo. It was the first book I had to re-read immediately after finishing it.
Julie Murphy, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY

I’m tempted to say The Hunger Games, because, helloooo, BANK. But I’m going to say Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. Beautiful prose, quirky characters, gorgeous setting, poetry. It’s basically like the best date ever in a book.
–Jaye Robin Brown, NO PLACE TO FALL

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor because HOLY GORGEOUS WRITING, BATMAN. She could write about knitting and I’d be captivated.
Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I’d love to claim MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY (the whole series) by Rachel Harris. The characters are so real, the romance makes me swoon, and I love the time travel elements. (I’ve always wanted to write a time travel book, but I’m so afraid I’d mess it all up!) Or if I can’t have that series, I’d claim the CAMP BOYFRIEND series by J.K. Rock for the same reason: characters that feel like real people and romance that makes my heart flutter. :)
Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEP

I’m going to say CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare. There’s something about her writing that makes me care so freaking much about the characters, and the romance between Will and Tessa is one of my all time favourites. The scene where they first kiss is a masterpiece of an example of how to create an incredible amount of romantic tension with the simple act of removing a glove.
Danielle L. Jensen, STOLEN SONGBIRD

My choice would go to JELLICOE ROAD by Melina Marchetta. I read it last year and was so struck by the beautiful writing and the stunning plot craftsmanship. And all of the characters felt so real and genuine to me; I didn’t want to leave them behind when I got to the last page. I didn’t at all expect it to affect me like it did, and I only wish I could write something so complex and touching.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

I’d love to be able to claim SAVVY by Ingrid Law. I am so intrigued by the idea of turning 13 and having a special power! I was captivated from the first page of her wonderful book.
Kate Hannigan, CUPCAKE COUSINS

Jaye stole my idea of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. You know what they say about great minds… Beyond the heartfelt way Jandy weaves a tale of both grief and love, loss and new beginnings, the use of Lenny’s discarded poetry is genius. I had ALL the feels after readings that book. In fact, I think I need to reread it right now!
Bethany Neal, MY LAST KISS

The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper. I don’t recall how old I was when I read it, but those are the books that made me look for the small crevices and sheltered places in my own world where magic might hide. Which is another way of saying they turned me into a bizarre little child writer. I’d like to do that for some other unsuspecting creature.
Natalie Parker, BEWARE THE WILD

What book do you wish you could claim as your own? Share in the comments!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press on April 22 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
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When We Say YA

Welcome to When We Say YA! Every month, the OneFour YA authors get together to talk about everything related to young adult lit. This is our very first When We Say YA post, so this month’s topic is:

Did you always know you wanted to write YA?

I did! When I started writing, I wasn’t even a young adult yet. I was about eight, and obsessed with my big sister’s Sweet Valley Highs, and I just wanted to create gorgeous and popular California girls of my very own. So I started writing what we’d now call YA, and never stopped.
Dahlia Adler, BEHIND THE SCENES

Yes, I did. I began writing seriously as a teenager, so it made sense to me to write for people in my age group. I love YA so much, I’m not sure I’ll ever write anything else!
Stephanie Diaz, EXTRACTION

I didn’t! I always thought I would write for adults until I received feedback that various stories of mine might work better as YA. I tried it, and then I was hooked. No going back now!
AdriAnne Strickland, WORDLESS

I never considered writing fiction! But when I got hooked on reading YA, stories just started collecting in my head and I gave it a try. I can’t imagine writing in another age-range now.
Helene Dunbar, THESE GENTLE WOUNDS

No–my first few novels were adult SFF (even though I was a teenager at the time). When one of my adult novels wasn’t clicking I re-envisioned the characters as teenagers, and the book fell into place straightaway. All my ideas since have been YA, with a sprinkling of MG. Given that in my time in fandom, I’d spent a lot of time writing characters in that same age range, I wonder why I didn’t make the switch sooner!
Corinne Duyvis, OTHERBOUND

I am a Janie-come-lately to YA novels. I began my career writing and publishing a children’s picture story book series, ages 5-9, and NF articles for adult market magazines. Then I went back and got another degree in jounalism and wrote for newspapers. So prior to selling NO SURRENDER SOLDIER to Jacqueline Mitchard, editor of Merit Press (Adams Media/F+W Media) I was published in poetry (in English and French), picture story books, ESL/EFL fiction, HI/LO-ESL NF, NF middle-high school library books, plus articles in newspapers, magazines and journalis. My first choice in writing novels was middle grade. But along this path editors kept telling me over and over that I’m an abstract thinker who writes complex concepts in an understandable manner and I write best for YA.
Christine Kohler, NO SURRENDER SOLDIER

All of my first literary loves were YA or middle-grade. I grew up living in those imaginary worlds, and I never wanted to leave. So I didn’t.
Also, I think it helps that I’m perpetually a teenager at heart. Or at least I retain my teenager sleeping habits. (Mornings? What are mornings?)
Emily Lloyd-Jones, ILLUSIVE

A friend once suggested to me that we write to the ages at which we most needed stories, the ages when things happened that shaped us in some fundamental way, and I subscribe to that. For me, there are several big signposts starting around age ten and carrying into young adulthood. Since I felt like an adolescent well into my twenties, I have plenty of life experience to tap into in the YA realm, and so far that’s where my story brain has wanted to live.
Rachel M. Wilson, DON’T TOUCH

When I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing fiction, the first idea I had was what would now be considered New Adult. But at the time, NA wasn’t a thing at all, so I abandoned the idea because I couldn’t find any comp titles to read for genre guidance. Soon after that was when I really got into reading YA and I realized that was where my passion was. I may try to write something else some day, but right now YA is where my heart is!
Jessica Love, PUSH GIRL

Not at all! I was working on an adult novel that had some kid characters. I kept getting such great feedback on the kid characters. Everyone was most interested in them and wanted more of them, not the grown ups. That was when I realized I should follow that strength.
Sashi Kaufman, THE OTHER WAY AROUND

I thought I was going to try my hand at romance, but then I had an idea for this book and I knew the character wasn’t an adult. And then the more YA I read, the more I loved it. I’m actually writing a middle grade right now, and it feels strangely right.
Lisa Maxwell, SWEET UNREST

When I joined SCBWI I wrote picture books, but then I had this idea…I thought it was going to be a short story, but it kept growing and then it sort of stalked me. I think I was afraid of writing something longer – that I couldn’t sustain it, but I adore young adult – it’s where my voice naturally settles. Such a volatile time of so many changes – how can it be anything but exciting?
Robin Constantine, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING

I read “The Catcher in the Rye” when I was nineteen and thought it was the best, most powerful book I’d ever read. I wanted to create characters like Holden, with unique voices that critiqued society and carefully examined the world around them. I didn’t start seriously writing for a number of years after reading “Catcher”, but that voice has always been an inspiration and guide. Sometimes I wonder if “Catcher” is really YA – it came about before the YA category did, so the book could probably lean in either direction (YA or adult or maybe NA) and I think that’s the direction I typically lean as well.
Chris Struyk-Bonn, WHISPER

I didn’t think I’d be a writer of anything until I was thirty, but it was a YA novel that inspired me to try. And I wanted to write something my high school (math) students would identify with and want to read. Since then, it’s been YA all the way!
R.C. Lewis, STITCHING SNOW

No. I read a lot of adult SF/F as a teen (and a lot of it from decades ago, when the YA barely existed as a separate category), so I always figured that I would be a general fantasy author–winning the Hugo and the Nebula, of course! But slowly it dawned on me that I kept writing about teenaged protagonists, and that the current YA genre was a really good fit for me. So here I am, and it’s awesome! Though I still think I would like to write adult as well someday…
Rosamund Hodge, CRUEL BEAUTY

I always read YA, and was really disappointed when I graduated high school and felt pressured to move to adult fiction (which, in my mind, was all about middle-aged white men feeling angsty and having sex). But taking fiction classes in college and grad school, I wrote more standard literary fiction, even though I was mostly interested in YA. Then, in my Shakespeare class, I did a project on Shakespearean imagery in YA and realized I was working way harder on that project than on any of my other standard fiction stuff. I threw myself into the genre after that and haven’t looked back.
Annie Cardi, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN

YA is definitely where I feel the most comfortable, although I have written a few picture book manuscripts and a MG contemporary that I absolutely adore. But when I decided to really get serious about my writing a few years ago, YA was my default category. YA contemporary books are my favorite things to read, so naturally that’s where my mind goes when I create. (My 13-year-old daughter recently took a “how old are you mentally?” quiz, and when she finished, she told me that I didn’t need to take it, because she already knew my results. “It would tell you you’re 13-18 years old, because you think just like a teenager. Good thing that’s the kind of books you write.” High praise from a girl firmly in the middle of her “my parents are so embarrassing!” years.)
Veronica Bartles, TWELVE STEPS

I’ve been all over the place as a writer before finding my home in YA. I wrote academic prose, literary fiction, adult fantasy and sci-fi…. And then I had kids. Reading to and with them made me fall in love again with the genre I’d loved when I was a YA myself, and I’m so glad I found my way back. Now I’m re-imagining all my old, unfinished non-YA projects as YA!
Joshua David Bellin, SURVIVAL COLONY NINE

YA wasn’t such a big thing when I was a teen, and I more or less stopped reading it in my last year of high school in favour of adult fantasy novels. I didn’t start writing until I was 26, and the first couple novels that I completed were adult epic fantasy. I didn’t actually start reading YA again until I picked up a copy of Twilight to see what all the fuss was about, which got me started reading more and more of it. I found I really enjoyed the pacing and character focus in stuff written for teens, so I decided to give it a go. And I never looked back 🙂
Danielle L. Jensen, STOLEN SONGBIRD

Yes! It’s 90 percent of what I read, so it only makes sense.
Livia Blackburne, MIDNIGHT THIEF

I never thought of myself as a writer because I never thought I’d be good enough. But soon the desire to put the stories in my head onto paper overcame that fear. And since my natural voice is definitely YA rather than adult, YA became a natural niche for me.
Christy Farley, GILDED

Even as an 10-year-old scribbling stories in a notebook, I wrote about characters in their teens. At the time, it was probably just me wishing I was a teenager because, for some reason, that seemed like the ideal age. But as I got older, those sorts of books were the ones that stayed with me and left the strongest impressions. So of course, that was what I wanted to write as well.
Lori M. Lee, GATES OF THREAD AND STONE

I started out trying to write adult chick lit. Whoops! I randomly stumbled upon YA when I saw an online YA writing course offered and figured I had nothing to lose. Since then I’ve never looked back. Writing for teenagers comes so naturally, I wish I’d thought of it sooner!
Robin Talley, LIES WE TELL OURSELVES

Was YA always for you, or did you try other categories/genres first? Share your answer in the comments!

Annie Cardi lives outside Boston, MA, where she spends her time baking, creating alternate lyrics for tv show theme songs, and writing YA fiction. Her debut novel, THE CHANCE YOU WON’T RETURN, is forthcoming from Candlewick Press on April 22 2014. Her writing is fueled by copious amounts of coffee and chocolate.
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Happy Book Release to our fellow OneFour, Robin Constantine!

Hey, everyone! Emery Lord here. I recently got to ask Robin Constantine some questions about her contemporary young adult book, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, which was released on December 31st! The story follows two teens, Wren and Grayson, in an opposites-attract love story that begins with the Heimlich manuever. Thanks for talking to us, Robin!

THE PROMISE OF AMAZING is told in dual-POV, which I thought was a really interesting creative choice. Why did you go that route? Was it planned or is that how the narrative unfolded naturally for you?

When I first set out to write TPofA, I wasn’t planning on two POVs.  I was a bit terrified to write from a boy’s perspective but when I hit chapter two from Wren’s perspective, I froze.  Then I realized at that point in the story, Grayson had the more dramatic moment.  When I started fooling around with the male POV, I thought it might turn out to be an elaborate character sketch.  As I delved deeper into Grayson’s side of the story – he had a lot to say, so I just went with it.

Wren is pegged as the quiet, rule-following type, where Grayson is outgoing and a bit of a troublemaker. In writing both perspectives, is there one you identified with more or one that came more easily to you?

I was/am a rule-follower extraordinaire.   There was once a piece on 20/20 about people in a (simulated situation) burning restaurant and how there were some patrons who wouldn’t leave – even though there was imminent danger – because they didn’t pay the check.  Yeah, that would be me.  Troublemakers fascinate me and I tended to pal around with them and lived vicariously.  So, I identified with Wren much more but also understood her pull to someone who ‘lives out loud’ like Grayson. 

The Arthurian-themed catering hall is such an great setting/high school job that I have to ask: how did you come up with it?   

Thanks!  Originally I was going to set the story in a coffee shop, but I realized early on that that was going to be limiting in what could happen.  So that’s when I switched the setting to a catering hall, and I definitely had some experience to draw on there.   

I worked at a catering hall during college. The hours were so long and the work was fairly grueling (seriously, there is a science to piling plates on a tray) but most of the time I worked weddings and that was pretty fun.   And while the weddings could be full of drama – that was nothing compared to the behind the scenes dramas.   The place was full of such characters and I definitely drew a lot of my inspiration from some of the things that went on, but The Camelot is a work of my imagination.  There was no love shack where I worked (at least not to my knowledge!) and while a guest did in fact ask me what I was serving when I offered up a plate of cocktail franks, the hot dog name game is something I came up with for the novel. 

As for the Arthurian theme, I wanted something that would add a kitsch factor – something that may have been popular at one time, but has faded a bit.  And the Arthurian legend was really perfect for that.  It was also slightly symbolic for me as well, since Camelot is associated with sort of a timeless golden age and I felt like having it close and yet be reimagined was a nod to not letting your past define you. 

In many MG and YA books, the parents are conveniently out of the picture for one reason or another. In The Promise of Amazing, we see both Wren and Grayson’s families. What went into your decision to put the families “on-screen?”

I’m not sure if this was conscious, or just how I saw the characters. You always hear “kill the parents” because it’s more exciting for your main character to figure things out for themselves.  Wren and Gray figure out things for themselves but to portray them without a family life would have felt unrealistic for me.  And people who come from supportive and loving families can screw things up too.  

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.

The book that always comes to mind for me is Are You There God It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume.  It was the first book that spoke to me, and made Judy Blume an auto-buy author for me.  I liked it because it spoke directly to my experience and was so relatable.  I also loved The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and could hardly believe that was required reading!

Thanks Robin, and congratulations!! Visit Robin on her website or Twitter for more! The Promise of Amazing is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.

About the author:

robinconstantine

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, is available from Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Emery Lord lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with one husband, two rescue dogs, and three packed-full bookshelves. She spends her time impulse shopping, laughing so loudly that other people in the restaurant shoot dirty looks at her and her friends, and reading everything. Her debut novel, OPEN ROAD SUMMER is out with Walker/Bloomsbury on April 15, 2014.
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Veronica Bartles: TWELVE STEPS

We have a lot of fantastic authors at OneFour KidLit and are excited to introduce them all to you. One author, four questions.  Today we’re talking to Veronica Bartles, author of TWELVE STEPS.  Here we go!

Hey, you’re getting published!  How’d that happen?

I wrote my first novel in 2008, when a speaker at a women’s conference gave me the courage to let go of the paralyzing fear of failure and pursue my lifelong dream. After a year of revision and polishing, I started querying that manuscript… and discovered that I still had a long way to go before it was really ready. I put it aside and wrote something else. And then another something else. And another. But I couldn’t get that first story out of my mind, so I pulled it out of the drawer and totally rewrote the entire thing, keeping only a line or two from the original manuscript. And I got really close with my queries this time around, but after a handful of encouraging rejections, I convinced myself that this manuscript would always be the one that was almost good enough, but not quite there.

Since I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters yet, I decided to let go the same way I started. I devoted NaNoWriMo to writing a separate story, from the perspective of the little sister in my first novel. This was supposed to be something just for my own kicks and giggles, and I told myself that when November was over, I’d put both stories away and say goodbye to these characters forever. But instead, I fell in love all over again. And when I revised and polished this manuscript, and entered a few online pitch contests with it, the requests started pouring in. In July, I accepted an offer of publication with Swoon Romance.

What’s your debut book about?  Can you share any cool details with us?

TWELVE STEPS by Veronica Bartles

Sixteen-year-old Andi is tired of being a second-class sibling to perfect sister Laina. The only thing Andi’s sure she has going for her is her awesome hair. And even that is eclipsed by Laina’s perfect everything else.

When Andi’s crush asks her to fix him up with Laina, Andi decides enough is enough, and devises a twelve-step program to wrangle the spotlight away from Laina and get the guy. But when a stolen kiss from her crush ends in disaster, Andi realizes that her twelve-step program isn’t working. Her prince isn’t as charming as she’d hoped, and the spotlight she’s been trying to steal isn’t the one she wants.

As Laina’s flawless façade begins to crumble, the sisters work together to find a spotlight big enough for both to shine.

One very “cool” detail is that Andi and Jarod (her crush) go out for ice cream in the middle of the winter. In Wyoming. So that’s more than just cool, it’s downright freezing.

Oh, that’s not what you meant? Hmmm…

Andi is a secret history nerd. She models her life on her favorite quote by Thomas Jefferson: Nothing gives a person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.

What do you do in your daily life outside of writing?

I’m a full-time mom with four amazing kiddos (ages 9, 11, 13 and 15), who keep me running around like crazy. Luckily, they also fully support my writing and send me to my desk to work if I procrastinate too much.

When I’m not writing, reading or shuttling kids around, I’m usually found in the kitchen, creating new and fabulous recipes for my crock pot, as well as delectable desserts. I also enjoy knitting with recycled materials, like plastic bags, old t-shirts and discarded video tapes. I’ve knitted (and written my own patterns for) pretty purses and tote bags, jewelry, toys and even hats!

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

1. I write all of my rough drafts by hand, with the special pencils I’ve been collecting since I was in third grade for the express purpose of writing “my first published book.” The first draft for TWELVE STEPS took four full pencils (one of which came all the way from France) to write.

2. Although I’m outgoing and friendly, I’m secretly terrified of people, and I have a mini panic attack every time I have to start a conversation – even if it’s with one of my closest friends. However, writing confident, brave characters has helped me to find some hidden bravery in myself. And sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly nervous in a social situation, I’ll adopt Andi’s confidence to get me through.

3. I’m the second oldest of eight children, and like Andi, I always felt like I was stuck in my sisters’ shadows. (Ironically, my sisters admitted to me after we were all grown up that they often felt like they had to compete with me!)

Veronica Bartles lives in New Mexico with her husband and four children. When she’s not writing or lost in the pages of her newest favorite book, she enjoys creating delicious desserts, exploring new places, and recycle knitting. Her debut novel, TWELVE STEPS (Swoon Romance) will be released in March 2014.