Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser (Author Interview + Giveaway)

I’m super excited to welcome new author Karina Yan Glaser on the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Karina answered few questions for me about her upcoming debut middle-grade contemporary novel, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. I have read the book few weeks ago and I really love it. It has a classic-old-vibe feel to it, which makes me missed my younger days where my dad used to tell me stories during bedtime. This is a perfect read-out-loud book for kids, and also a perfect holiday read since the story is set around Christmas.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street releases on October 3rd, so there’s plenty of time to pre-order a copy from your favorite book stores and receive it on release day. And if you’d like to know more what I thought about this book, stop by  again a week before the book release for my review.

Following the author interview is Karina Yan Glasers’ author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to pre-order copies of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street.

And if you would like the chance to win a signed advance readers copy of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, buttons and stickers, Karina is giving away below. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post. I hope you all enjoy the interview.

Interview with Karina Yan Glaser

Please tell us a bit about your journey with your book, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. When did you first come up with the idea and what were the timescales involved between the first draft and the novel being accepted for publication?
I began writing The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street in November of 2013. My youngest daughter had just started preschool, and since she only went there for three mornings a week, I would walk over to the local Coffee Bean and park myself at a table and write. I drafted the entire book during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was a terrible draft, but it gave me something to work with! I took some writing classes, got feedback, and wrote revision after revision in the next year and a half. When I finally felt like the manuscript was ready, I began querying for agents and the wonderful Ginger Clark at Curtis Brown offered representation in the summer of 2015. We went on submission in the fall of that year, and it got picked up by Ann Rider (best editor ever!) at HMH within a couple of weeks.

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street have a strong focus on family and community. How much does this reflect on your own life?
I live in Harlem with my husband and two kids, and like a lot of people I know that live in New York City, we don’t have a lot of family that live nearby. There’s no support network, which was really hard especially when our kids were young. As a result, we developed family relationships with friends and neighbors that really influenced the setting where the Vanderbeekers lived.

I love your characters, they are diverse and charming (even the bunny, Paganini). Which of them is the most fun to write?
Oh, that is a hard one! Hmm, I loved each character, but it was particularly fun getting into Laney’s head. I love the uncomplicated way she sees the world.

What scene in The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street are you most proud of, and why?
I really loved writing the climax of the book. I won’t give anything away, but it was a scene that played itself out over and over in my head before I actually wrote it.

What is the best part of writing for middle grade readers?
Middle grade readers are the best! It’s such a beautiful age for discovery. Kids that age are full of questions about the world and their place in it. Middle grade books were the ones that made me fall in love with reading, and they are still my favorite books to read now as an adult. I count myself as very lucky to be able to write for these kids.

Where do you see your work going after the release of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street? Do you think you’ll stick with middle or branch out into something else? What are your writing career ambitions?
I plan to stick with middle grade, but I might want to try writing early chaper books. I have three more middle grade books with my Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, so that will keep me busy for awhile!

Thanks for having me on your blog!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Originally from California, Karina came to New York City for college and has stuck around for nearly twenty years. She has had a varied career teaching and implementing literacy programs in family homeless shelters and recruiting healthcare professionals to volunteer in under resourced areas around the world. Now as a mother, one of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can’t go anywhere without a book. She lives in Harlem with her husband, two daughters, dog, cat, and house rabbit.

Find Karina

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

The Vanderbeekers of 141st StreetTitle: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
Author: Karina Yan Glaser
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 03, 2017
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover, eBook

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.

A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take.

Book Links

Amazon | BAM | Book Depository | Goodreads | IndieBound

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • signed ARC of The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
  • Buttons and Stickers

  The Rules:

  • Open to US only
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 22nd, 2017
  • Prizes will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

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Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski (Author Interview + Giveaway)

I’m thrilled to welcome new author Heather Kaczynski on the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Heather answered few questions for me about her upcoming debut YA novel, Dare Mighty Things.

Dare Mighty Thingwill release in October but you can pre-order your copies now.

Following the author interview is Heather Kaczynski’s author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to pre-order copies of Dare Mighty Thing. And if you would like the chance to win a signed advance readers copy of Dare Mighty Thing, Heather is giving away one below. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post. I hope you guys enjoy the interview.

Interview with Heather Kaczynski

What’s your journey so far to writerhood been like? What inspired your debut science-fiction novel, Dare Mighty Things?
Like most writers, I’ve been writing stories since childhood. I never finished a story until I graduated college. Before then, I’d started numerous original stories and fanfiction but always petered out once I got past the beginning. This time, I really sat down and made myself finish something I’d worked on and off for years. I told myself: “You’re finally out of school, you have a regular work schedule and nothing much else to occupy your time – no more excuses. If you’re going to be a writer you actually need to finish something.” So I finished it. And the next book I worked on became Dare Mighty Things.

DMT was inspired mainly by where I live – the home of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Space Camp – and my love of space and sci-fi adventure stories. I’m very passionate about science and encouraging girls to pursue STEM education, as well as all the exciting things the space program is doing and where we’ll be in the next few years. I tried to be as realistic as possible about the science of what’s currently possible or may be possible in the near future, but this book focuses on a girl with a dream and how she works hard to achieve it.

What kind of research went into crafting Dare Mighty Things? Did you read a lot of books about space or other science related materials?
I definitely did! My educational background is in biology, not space science, so I was really starting from square one. I read a lot of astronaut biographies and books about physics. My two favorites were MY DREAM OF STARS by Anousheh Ansari and PACKING FOR MARS by Mary Roach. Also tried to read a lot of Neil deGrasse Tyson to get a good baseline for the laws of physics (so I’d better know how to break them, ha!)

I also went on a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and interviewed an astronaut about what it’s like to leave Earth.

Dare Mighty Things is the first book in a planned duology. Did you know it was going to be a two books when you first write the story? Do you already have longer story arcs outlined?
When I first wrote Dare Mighty Things, I knew I had too much story for one book. For a time I thought it needed to be three, but then realized selling a trilogy would be quite difficult, and luckily I found ways to distill everything the story to only two books – which I think made it much stronger. I didn’t have book two entirely plotted, but I did already have the main conflicts and even the plot twists in my head from the beginning. It was a bit of a cliffhanger ending, so I was hopeful that we’d be able to sell the sequel also, and luckily it worked out that way.

What was the biggest change you made to the story before it reached an agent/editor/publisher?
Deciding where to end it. Since I’d always planned to have two books, my main issue was figuring out where to cut my one story into two pieces. It was originally much longer and ended almost in the middle of what is now book 2. Then I cut it too short, making for a very sudden and surprising cliffhanger – this was softened and slowed by my editor so that it’s not so jarring. I think we found a good happy medium.

Many writers tells how their characters take on a life of their own. As you wrote and developed Cassie, is their anything about her that surprised you?
Strangely, Cassie didn’t change much from her first draft. I was initially reluctant to include much of a romance, but kind of forced one because I thought it would be expected of by readers. I came late to the realization that it wasn’t working because Cassie was on the asexual spectrum and I was trying to make her something that didn’t go with her nature. I think I’d always kind of known that, but I had to let her be who she was.

Aside from being a half-Indian, what makes Cassie special for you to tell her story?
I don’t share the same background as Cassie, but there’s a lot of myself in her personality. I was very competitive when I was younger, and dare I say, maybe a little arrogant too. In the book, Cassie follows a similar path that I did as I matured in humbling herself, albeit in a shorter period of time. Cassie also comes to realize she may be demisexual (she begins the book identifying as ace.) And though I don’t currently ID myself the same way Cassie does, a lot of her experiences and feelings are modeled after my own. She’s also very brave, boldly going after what she wants in life – in this way she’s my opposite, as I was always very anxious as a child and afraid of doing the most basic things. Writing her that way was very cathartic and freeing for me, as I’d always wished to be able to go through life the way she does – without fear.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I just want to keep telling exciting stories about adventures in space – and hopefully inspire and entertain people along the way.

And lastly before we end this interview, can you please share to us your favorite scene or line from Dare Mighty Things to intrigue and tantalize us before the book hit the shelves in October.

Here’s a quick line where Cassie reflects on her genetic engineering and her ambition:

“My genes were expensive. I was an investment….My parents didn’t just expect perfect; they had paid for it. It used to bug me, their level of expectation. But not anymore. I wanted the same thing they did: to be the best.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather writes books for teenagers and other people who like books about teenagers. They’re usually about teenagers saving the world, because she really believes they can.

Heather never got to go to Space Camp, so she had to settle for writing about it. After graduating cum laude with a degree in biology, she returned to her first love of books, and now works in a library near NASA. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and way too many books. She’s not nearly brave enough to go into space, but she did twirl a fire baton in high school.

She’s represented by Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency.

Find Heather

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: Dare Mighty Things
Author: Heather Kaczynski
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

THE RULES ARE SIMPLE: You must be gifted. You must be younger than twenty-five. You must be willing to accept the dangers that you will face if you win.Seventeen-year-old Cassandra Gupta’s entire life has been leading up to this—the opportunity to travel to space. But to secure a spot on this classified mission, she must first compete against the best and brightest people on the planet. People who are as determined as she to win a place on a journey to the farthest reaches of the universe.

Cassie is ready for the toll that the competition will take; the rigorous mental and physical tests designed to push her to the brink of her endurance. But nothing could have prepared her for the bonds she would form with the very people she hopes to beat. Or that with each passing day it would be more and more difficult to ignore the feeling that the true objective of the mission is being kept from her.

As the days until the launch tick down and the stakes rise higher than ever before, only one thing is clear to Cassie: she’ll never back down . . . even if it costs her everything.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Chapters | Goodreads | IndieBound

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Pre-order copy of Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

The Rules:

  • Open International where Book Depository Ships
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 16th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli (Author Interview + Giveaway)

Today I’m super thrilled to welcome new author Kristen Ciccarelli on the blog as part of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 blog event. Kristen answered few questions for me about her upcoming debut fantasy novel, The Last Namsara. The book is the first installment of the planned series, Iskari, which features a strong heroine, dragons, dragons slayers and a lot more.

The Last Namsara will release in October but you can pre-order your copies now. There are signed copies available from Words Worth Books. So placed your order before copies runs out!

Following the author interview is Kristen Ciccarelli’s author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to pre-order copies of The Last Namsara. And if you would like the chance to win a signed advance readers copy of The Last Namsara, Kristen is giving away one below. Just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post. I hope you guys enjoy the interview.

Interview with Kristen Ciccarelli

What’s your journey to writerhood been like?
I’ve been writing stories since I could first string sentences together. It was my favourite thing to do as a kid/teen, but then I stopped was when I went away to school. I had this idea that my stories were childish and silly and worthless, and therefore I needed to leave them behind in order to “grow up”. I stopped writing for 5 years … and was completely miserable. It was only when I found myself crying at my desk everyday that I realized something was really wrong and let myself start to write again.

That was eight years ago now and since then I’ve definitely seen my share of publishing failure (I had an agent previously, got really close to selling a different book, went back to the query trenches when my former agent left publishing, etc). I rewrote my debut fantasy, The Last Namsara, three times from scratch over the course of a decade and I actually almost gave up on it just 5 months before it sold to HarperCollins in a 3-book deal. (Moral of the story: don’t give up!)

What was the biggest change you made to the book before it reached an agent/editor/publisher?
I rewrote this book several times, and each time it changed pretty drastically. But the biggest change I made just before I started getting offers on it was probably fleshing out the old stories and pulling them out of the narrative, making them stand on their own in between chapters. Also, a significant character who died off the page previously now dies on the page (my editor sobbed when she read it). So consider yourself warned!

What inspired The Last Namsara?
A lot of things! 1. My love of dragons, badass girls, and romance. 2. My belief in the power and complexity of stories. 3. A desire to write a book that, at its heart, is about reclaiming yourself.

Please give us an insight into your main character, Asha. Aside from being a dragon slayer, what makes her special for you to tell her story?
I gave a lot of my own wounds to Asha. In particular, my shame. Asha is deeply ashamed of the old stories–which are the things she uses to lure dragons to her–because she told one as a child and it summoned a dragon named Kozu, who nearly destroyed her city and left her with a scar. So she hunts dragons to make amends for what she did, but she’s deeply ashamed of how she hunts them (telling these forbidden, deadly stories).

The Last Namsara is the first book in a planned series. Did you know this was going to be a series when you first wrote the story? Do you already have longer story arcs outlined?
I knew I wanted The Last Namsara to stand alone, but I also knew I wasn’t finished with the characters or the world. So when my agent offered, I told her I would really, really love to sell it as a 3-book series, with all three books being told from the perspective of different characters (Asha, Roa, and Safire). I had pitches for the 2nd and 3rd books ready to go when The Last Namsara went out on submission and, because my agent is fierce and amazing, that’s exactly how she sold it.

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
It would be a dream to be able to keep writing the books I love and have those books find readers who love them too. That’s all I want.

If you could pick one fantasy world to live in, which would it be and why?
Either the world of Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials (because hello daemons! And armoured bears! And Dust!) or the world of Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom (I want to use charter magic and fly in a paper wing and be one of the many girls carrying weapons like it’s totally no big deal).

And lastly before we end this interview, can you please share a snippet/teaser from The Last Namsara to intrigue and tantalize us before the book hit the shelves in few weeks.
Of course! Here’s an excerpt from the scene where Asha comes face to face with the dragon who burned her eight years previous:

A shadow fell across her. She looked up to see a dragon circling. Black as ink. Black as a still pool on a moonless night. Black as Asha’s eyes.
She drew the axe at her hip.
Kozu landed with a thud. The earth trembled beneath him. His shadow shot over her, cloaking her in darkness. His scales gleamed and his slitted yellow eye drank her in. Asha’s eyes did the same, fixing on his scar. A mirror image of hers, it ran down his serpentine face, cutting through his eye, marring those inky scales. Two horns twisted out of his head, perfect for goring prey; and on each foot were five talons, sharp as knives. As wide as a courtyard, his wings remained outspread—a show of just how large he was, how easily he could crush her.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristen Ciccarelli hails from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula where she grew up on her grandfather’s grape farm. She’s made her living as a baker, a bookseller, and a potter, but now writes books about bloodthirsty dragons, girls wielding really cool weapons, and the transformative power of stories. You can learn more at http://www.kristenciccarelli.com.

Find Kristen

Website | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Last Namsara
Series: Iskari
Author: Kristen Ciccarelli
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: October 03, 2017
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

Kristen Ciccarelli’s debut fantasy explores an intricately woven world of deception, inner darkness, and dragons that fantasy fans won’t be able to resist.

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be dark—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up hearing in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Book Depository | Goodreads | Indigo |  IndieBound | Publisher | Waterstones| Words Worth Books (signed preorders)

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed ARC of The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

The Rules:

  • Open International
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends September 12th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the rafflecopter form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Thing with Feathers by McCall Hoyle (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Today I’m featuring new author McCall Hoyle and her contemporary novel, The Thing with Feathers. This wonderful diverse book is not only heart-warming but also full of hope.

To know more about the author and The Thing with Feathers. Check the McCall’s bio and book’s description that follows after the interview. There are also links where you can catch up with the author or where to pre-order copies of the book. And if you’d like to own a signed advance readers’ copy of the book and swags, there’s a giveaway at the end of this post. Just enter the rafflecopter form for a chance to win.

Interview with McCall Hoyle

How was the experience writing your debut novel, The Thing with Feathers and going through the publication process?

The Thing with Feathers is my first book, but I truly believe it will always be the book of my heart. Although, I am in no way Emilie, the main character in the book, I have felt all the emotions she experiences—grief, hope, feelings of inadequacy.

I’m not going to lie, the road to publication is long and arduous. But every step along the way was worth it when I first held an advance copy of the book in my hands and especially when I read the acknowledgements and realized yet again how lucky I am to have had so much help along the way from family, critique partners, professional organizations like Romance Writers of America.

I love the title and cover art of The Thing with Feathers. If I’m not mistaken the title comes from Emily Dickinson’s poem. Did you have any say in choosing the title and cover art? How important do you think they are?

Yes, the title is a line from a well-known Emily Dickinson poem. She writes: “’Hope’ is the thing with feathers; that perches in the soul; “ When the title came to me, I knew it was perfect. Everything about this book and about Emilie, the main character, is about learning to find hope even in the most difficult circumstances. And reading poetry and studying Emily Dickinson have a major impact on Emilie’s emotional arc in this story. Thankfully, my agent, editor, and publisher also agreed the title was perfect. I don’t personally think a title is going to make or break a book, but I love a nice title—especially one that’s somehow connected to the theme of the book and that readers have to uncover the meaning of for themselves.

Mental health themes in YA novels are not only widening but also getting lots of buzz especially with how they are portrayed. What can you say about this? What message do you want readers to take away from your book?

I’m too new to the business of publishing to address trends or speak for other books. But I can speak for Emilie. I want readers to relate to Emilie on an emotional level. Epilepsy is not a mental illness, but living with an invisible and stressful disorder like can greatly impact a person’s mental health. As a teacher, a mom, and a human, I believe we all struggle with complex issues at varying levels whether it’s epilepsy, anxiety, depression, body-image issues, grief or something entirely different. I want readers to read Emilie’s story and realize that we all struggle, but that struggling is not a reason to give up hope. No matter how flawed we feel, no matter how awful the adversity, we can always find a reason to hope. I want teenage girls to have the courage to believe in their own happily-ever-afters.

As a writer, was it difficult to combine romantic elements with the exploration of Emilie’s condition?

That is an excellent question. First, I wanted this to be Emilie’s story. I wanted it to be a story of strength and resilience and hope. I did not want the romance to overshadow Emilie’s emotional growth. But in my experience, relationships are a central part of who we are. We’re constantly starting, developing, and ending relationships. Emilie’s story is about opening up, taking risks, and learning to hope. Taking a risk on friendship and first love were a natural part of her growth as a human being. I feel like it worked. Epilepsy is a big part of Emilie’s life, but it’s not her entire life. She’s a perfectly average teenage girl. Yes, she has epilepsy, but she’s also dealing with all the things teenage girls deal with including boys. 🙂

What was one of the most surprising things you’ve learned in writing  Emilie’s story? Any interesting things you found out during your research?

Of course, I did lots and lots of research on epilepsy, different types of seizures, the effects of epilepsy on mental health and day-to-day living, as well as various treatment options. I also read several stories about the benefits of therapy dogs, seizure response dogs, and dogs in general and became fascinated by the touching and almost magical relationships between dogs and humans. Emilie has a seizure response dog named Hitch, inspired by a real life golden retriever and by many of the stories I read. Several early readers seem to love Hitch as much as they do Emilie. I encourage readers to do some research of their own if they fall in love with Hitch.

How did you go about putting yourself in Emilie’s mindset? How did you manage your emotions while writing?

I’ve taught middle school and high school for several years. I’ve raised a teenage daughter, and I was a teenage girl. On an average day, I spend more time with teenagers than with adults. Also, I experienced some of the greatest trials of my life during my teenage years. It’s actually frighteningly easy for me to put myself in the mindset of teenage girls. Emilie struggles with managing the challenges of her epilepsy and her seizures, but in my experience, all teenage girls are struggling with something. When I write, whether it’s about a girl with epilepsy, or a girl struggling with grief, or a girl struggling with body image issues, I just try to tap into the emotions I’ve experienced in similar situations. And above all, I aim for honesty. I want teenage girls to know that no matter how flawed they feel, there is always room to hope.

And I did cry as I wrote several scenes in the book, but I tried very hard not to “manage” my emotions. I tried to embrace them. I think readers want to feel something. So when my own writing rips me apart emotionally, I generally think I’m writing some of my best words.

Do you think you’ll stick writing YA contemporary or branch out into something else? Any future works we should watch out?

I will ALWAYS write YA contemporary. My heart and soul reside in the emotions there. But I do have an adventurous side and would love to experiment with something gruesome and terrifying and maybe women’s fiction as well. I love writing about sisters and moms and daughters.

Fingers crossed on the YA contemporary that I’m currently revising for my editor. I think it would pair nicely with Emilie’s story and would love to have a 2018 release as well.

Thanks for having me!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

McCall Hoyle writes honest YA novels about friendship, first love, and girls finding the strength to overcome great challenges. She is a high school English teacher. Her own less-than-perfect teenage experiences and those of the girls she teaches inspire many of the struggles in her books. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s spending time with her family and their odd assortment of pets—a food-obsessed beagle, a grumpy rescue cat, and a three-and-a-half-legged kitten. She has an English degree from Columbia College and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. She lives in a cottage in the woods in North Georgia where she reads and writes every day. 

Find McCall

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Thing with Feathers
Author: McCall Hoyle
Publisher: Blink
Publication Date: September 05, 2017
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover, eBook, Audio

Emilie Day believes in playing it safe: she’s homeschooled, her best friend is her seizure dog, and she’s probably the only girl on the Outer Banks of North Carolina who can’t swim.

Then Emilie’s mom enrolls her in public school, and Emilie goes from studying at home in her pj’s to halls full of strangers. To make matters worse, Emilie is paired with starting point guard Chatham York for a major research project on Emily Dickinson. She should be ecstatic when Chatham shows interest, but she has a problem. She hasn’t told anyone about her epilepsy.

Emilie lives in fear her recently adjusted meds will fail and she’ll seize at school. Eventually, the worst happens, and she must decide whether to withdraw to safety or follow a dead poet’s advice and “dwell in possibility.”

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Goodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • signed advance readers copy of The Thing with Feathers
  • bookmark, and postcard

The Rules:

  • Open to International
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends August 29th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent via book depository

To enter fill out the form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Today I’m featuring new author Tiffany Pitcock and her contemporary novel, Just Friends. The book releases tomorrow, August 1st, 2017, so don’t forget to grab your copies.

But before that, Tiffany answers few questions for me about the book and writing. Then following the interview is Tiffany’s bio, along with places where to find her online, as well as the book‘s description and where to get copies of Just Friends. And if you are in the US or Canada and you’d like the chance to win a copy of the book and other fab items, just enter in the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

Interview with Tiffany Pitcock

What was your first introduction to YA literature, the one that made you choose the genre to write? What inspired your debut novel Just Friends?

My first introduction to YA was Meg Cabot’s All-American Girl which led to my first love, her Princess Diaries series. It was the first time I encountered a heroine who reminded me so much of myself. Not the secret-princess part, obviously, but a heroine who overthinks and stresses. Who wears her emotions on her sleeve, and shamelessly loves pop culture. Her books made me so happy, and I wanted to do that for other people. I wanted to write something and have someone see themselves in it. I wanted to give back the gift those books had given me.

I came up with the idea of Just Friends when I was sixteen, after a disastrous relationship with my “best friend”. I wanted to explore and subvert the friends-to-lovers trope I found in teen movies. I wanted to explore the dangers of crossing that line. What if the friendship it was built on wasn’t real? What if it was all a lie? Could something still blossom there?

Just Friends is out tomorrow and I’m sure you are more than excited. How was the experience writing the novel and going to publication process?

I started JF when I was sixteen, wrote three chapters, then dropped it for three years. The original concept was not a romance. Like, I’m talking Jenny and Chance sleep together once and don’t speak for ten years and Chance has a kid. Like what even? It never saw the light of day. I finished the first draft for my Sophomore creative writing final, and it was still a completely different book than the one coming out tomorrow. I stayed up all night and finished it in a month. It was such an emotional thing for me. I got to the halfway point of my draft and just stopped to cry because I never thought I’d get that far. It was a year later when Swoon Reads contacted me.

I had to rewrite the entire novel for them, and honestly? That was a really good call. The rewrite of JF was the easiest thing I’ve ever written, it flowed so naturally. Also, no tears this time! It took about a year to transform Just Friends into what it is today, and it was worth it.

Jenny and Chance relationship basically started with a lie. What’s the one question you always answer with a lie?

When people come up and ask me if I went to high school with them I always lie and say I went somewhere else.

Okay, I don’t do that, but sometimes I really want to.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?

I met Kevin Bacon at Comic-Con a few years back. So, my gift to everyone I meet is that they’re now one degree from Kevin Bacon.

If Jenny and Chance could say one thing to you about the direction of their story, what would they say?

Probably “Why can’t we just talk to each other?”. Or, maybe, “Thank you for letting us develop a friendship first.”

What’s next for you after the release of Just Friends? Are you working or planning to work on any project right now?

I can’t talk much about it (mostly because I don’t want to jinx anything), but I’m working on a few new projects that I’m super excited about.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tiffany Pitcock is a young writer from Benton, Ar. She studied English at Henderson State University, but has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. Besides reading, she is a fan of cats, staying indoors, and tv dramas.

Find Tiffany

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram|Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

 

Book Details:

Title: Just Friends
Author: Tiffany Pitcock
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Publication Date: August 01, 2017
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback, eBook

A new spin on the classic smart-girl-and-bad-boy setup, this witty contemporary romance shows how easily a friendship – even one built on an elaborate lie – can become so much more.

Jenny meets Chance for the very first time when she is assigned as his partner in their Junior Oral Communications class. But after they rescue a doomed assignment with one clever lie, the whole school is suddenly convinced that Little-Miss-Really-Likes-Having-A’s and the most scandalous heartbreaker in school have been best friends forever. It’s amazing how quickly a lie can grow―especially when you really, really want it to be the truth.

With Jenny, Chance can live the normal life he’s always kind of wanted. And with Chance, Jenny can have the exciting teen experiences that TV shows and movies have always promised. Through it all, they hold on to the fact that they are “just friends.” But that might be the biggest lie of all.

Debut author Tiffany Pitcock delivers a spot-on depiction of first love and the high school rumor mill in Just Friends, chosen by readers like you for Macmillan’s young adult imprint Swoon Reads.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | Book DepositoryGoodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • signed finished copy of Just Friends By Tiffany Pitcock
  • bookmark, sticker, and various other goodies

The Rules:

  • Open to US/CA
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends August 21st, 2017
  • Prize will be sent via book depository

To enter fill out the form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Welcome to another feature of Celebrating Debutantes 2017 event. Today I’m thrilled to feature new author Chelsea Bobulski and her debut fantasy/mystery novel, The Wood. The book will hit the shelves in three (3) days, and I can’t wait for everyone to get the chance to read this riveting book.  If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy yet you still have time to place your order from your favorite book store.

If you’d like to know more about the book, check out the book’s description. If you’d like to catch up with Author Chelsea Bobulski online, her social links and author bio follow the interview. And if you would like the chance to win a copy of the book, just enter the rafflecopter form a bit further down in this post to be enter on the giveaway which is open international.

A huge thank you to Chelsea for taking the time to answer all my questions, I hope you guys enjoy!

Interview with Chelsea Bobulski

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey as a new author?

My journey has honestly been a dream come true. It took me five years and five books to get my first book deal after deciding I wanted to pursue traditional publishing (before that, I only wrote for my own amusement, never daring to dream that I could someday walk into a bookstore and see one of my books on the shelves). My full publishing journey up until getting that first book deal was a very long process, with a lot of twists and turns that would take waaaay too long to detail here, but if you would like to read more about it, you can check out my blog post, My Journey to Publication. Post-book deal, my journey has been everything I could have ever hoped it would be. My editor and my entire publishing team have been so supportive. THE WOOD would not be the book it is now, the book I intended for it to be all along, if it weren’t for their expert guidance.

The Wood has an intriguing premise – enchanted woods, time travel, portals, and guardians. Where did you get the inspiration for the story?

I would definitely say the main inspiration came from two of my favorite things (the history nerd in me that hopes for the possibility of time-travel, and a lifelong connection to the woods that I can only describe as a primordial and ancient urge to return to nature whenever I can—Side Note: I’m a big hiker, but not a big camper, to which my husband will attest. I enjoy the woods so much more if I can go home, or to a nice hotel with a shower, at the end of the day). Both of these pieces of me must have come together subconsciously in my brain, crafting this story and my main character, Winter, while I was off doing and writing other things. I have no other way to explain how Winter’s voice came to me fully-formed one day while I was free-writing for fun. It was like she’d been there all along, waiting for me to tell her story. I free-wrote the first fifty pages of THE WOOD just listening to Winter’s voice, letting her guide the story (pages that have not changed much at all from first draft to final product, other than the inclusion of a new scene). It was at fifty pages that I stopped and realized I should probably plot out the story my main character was trying to tell me before I totally lost track of it. But at its heart, THE WOOD is a mixture of all my favorite things, blended with a very deep and urgent need to escape to the woods from time to time and bask in its beauty.

How did you maintain the atmosphere of mystery throughout the story?

Maintaining the atmosphere of mystery throughout the story was very easy for me because I didn’t even know what was going on half the time. It was as if Winter and I were discovering the mystery together. Of course, I knew the most important things, but there was a lot I didn’t know. Both of my main characters, Winter and Henry, were very sneaky, only showing me their secrets on a need-to-know basis. I remember getting really frustrated one time and shouting at my computer, “Just tell me what you’re hiding!!” (Really glad no one was around to see that). There were plenty of times when they would reveal something important to me mid-drafting that I didn’t see coming, as if they were throwing a bone to the poor writer trying to tell their story. This isn’t typical of how I write—usually I plot out quite a bit of the story, leaving just enough wiggle room for unexpected surprises (because if I plot out the entire book point by point beforehand, there’s no more discovery inherent in the process and I lose all of the excitement and passion for writing it)—but THE WOOD was not a typical book for me from the moment I wrote the first page. It definitely took on a life of its own, which may also be why there is such an atmosphere of mystery surrounding it!

Do you have a method for creating your characters, and what do you think makes them believable?

Character is the most important part of a book to me, both as a reader and as a writer. As a reader, I need to connect with the main character on a deeply personal level in order to enjoy their story. It’s the same for me while writing. I have plenty of plot ideas for future books swimming around in my head, but until their characters step forward and really show me why their story is important, I can’t begin to write them. I need to be able to get under the skin of my characters. I need to analyze them and figure out their deepest desires and fears, their goals, their motivations, the past hurts that define their internal conflict, the situation they find themselves in that defines their external conflict—I think it’s just so important to know your character inside and out as much as possible before you start writing, because it’s amazing how discovering things about your character can really affect the plot, and vice versa. If you’re like me, there are things you will continue to discover about your character as you’re drafting, but it’s so important to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and how they feel about it. I tend to find that it’s only when you understand your characters on this deeper level that they reveal even more of themselves to you. This is also what makes a character believable, what makes them feel fully-formed in the reader’s mind. The other extremely important thing that makes a character believable is giving them flaws. No one wants to read about a perfect person doing perfect things, never failing, never growing, never changing. It just doesn’t make for an interesting story. Even if a character is a perfectionist obsessed with doing everything perfect, digging deeper may reveal the dark past that has inspired these tendencies, the stains that continue to bleed into her current life—that’s where the story is. Not the perfect things the character tries to do, but why she’s doing them, and why she won’t be able to keep up the façade for much longer.

Love the cover art of The Wood. It looks dark and sinister. Did you have any say in the cover and title of your book? How important do you think they are?

As much as we try to not judge a book by its cover, I do think it’s very important that a cover convey everything the reader will find in your book in an eye-catching way—that is, after all, what’s going to make a reader curious enough to read the description of your book and/or the first page. I was so, so fortunate to get the cover of my dreams right off the bat. My editor sent me the concept, and the second I saw my cover, it took my breath away. Rich Deas, Feiwel and Friends’ creative director, came up with the perfect cover to convey the tone and atmosphere of THE WOOD in that single leaf, and I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Seeing this story become an actual book and flourish under such an amazing team has just been a total dream come true.

If you could go back in time and tell young Chelsea one thing, what would it be?

“I know things aren’t easy right now, little one. I know there are days when you feel like your whole world is crashing down around you. Like you’re alone in a limitless ocean, barely treading water. Hold on, keep breathing, because all of those dreams you’re praying for, the life you someday hope to live, it’s all going to come true. You are going to be blessed beyond your wildest dreams. You are going to be a published author, and you are going to be blessed with an amazing husband and a beautiful daughter. You are going to be living your best life, and it is going to be amazing.”

And this is definitely what I would tell anyone going through difficulties, especially as a teen or as an adolescent, since that can be such a hard time when you don’t have any control over your situation, whatever it may be, and when you can feel very lost or alone, especially as you are trying to discover who you are vs. who other people expect you to be. Just know that it does get better, and that if you work hard for it, you will be living your best, most amazing life. So keep your chin up, chase your dreams, and don’t look back. You’ve got this.

Where do you see your work going after the release of The Wood? Any other project we should look forward to?

I have a few secret projects I’m working on right now. One is a YA in a similar vein as THE WOOD, and the others are fun, new age groups and genres for me that I’m really excited to be working on. No news I can share yet, but I hope to be able to soon! 🙂

Thanks for having me!!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, Broadway musicals, and Buckeye pride. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, and promptly married her high school sweetheart. As a writer, she has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and obstacles they must overcome for a brighter future. She now lives in Northwest Ohio with her husband, her daughter, and one very emotive German Shepherd/Lab mix. Her debut young adult novel, THE WOOD, will be published by Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan on August 1, 2017.

Find Chelsea

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Wood
Author: Chelsea Bobulski
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: August 01, 2017
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

After her father goes missing in the woods that they protect, Winter tries to seek the truth in what happened, why the wood is changing, and what it all has to do with the arrival of a mysterious stranger in this thrilling YA debut.

When Winter’s dad goes missing during his nightly patrol of the wood, it falls to her to patrol the time portals and protect the travelers who slip through them. Winter can’t help but think there’s more to her dad’s disappearance than she’s being told.

She soon finds a young man traveling in the wood named Henry who knows more than he should. He believes if they can work together to find his missing parents, they could discover the truth about Winter’s dad.

The wood is poisoned, changing into something sinister—torturing travelers lost in it. Winter must put her trust in Henry in order to find the truth and those they’ve lost.

Bobulski’s eerie debut is filled with friendship, family, and the responsibilities we choose and those we do not.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Book DepositoryIndieBound | Goodreads | Publisher

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Copy of The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski

The Rules:

  • Open to International where Book Depository Ships
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be chosen and announced by rafflecopter
  • Winner will be contacted thru email & should response within 48 hours
  • Ends August 19th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.

Celebrating Debutantes · FEATURES · Giveaways · Interviews

Celebrating Debutantes 2017: The Secrets of Islayne by Kari Lynn West (Author Interview and Giveaway)

Happy Friday to all!

Welcome to another stop for Celebrating Debuntantes 2017 blog event. Today I’m featuring new author Kari Lynn West and her debut ya fantasy novel, The Secrets of Islayne. This novel offers fresh concepts, that introduced readers to Luminators – people with an inborn ability to bring back the faded memories of a person in a much more clearer, fresh and vivid way. Isn’t that interesting?

Following the interview with Kari is her author bio along with places where to find her online. Then there’s also the book description and where to buy copies of The Secrets of Islayne. And if you are in the US and would like the chance to win a copy of the book, Kari is giving away a signed copy below. Just enter the form a bit further down in this post. But before that here’s the interview with Kari. I hope you enjoy.

Interview with Kari Lynn West

Please tell us a bit about your journey with The Secrets of Islayne. Did you know right away that this was your story, or did you discover it as you write? And how was the publication process goes for you?

It’s been quite a long journey! Though the central idea behind the novel has stayed the same, almost everything else has changed between when I started writing it three years ago and now. I’ve changed the main character and ensemble, the setting, and the vast majority of the plot. I wrote the first draft, salvaged about a thousand words of it, and threw the rest away. It wasn’t until the third draft that I felt like I got the heart of the novel right, and even since that draft, there have been quite a few revisions and rewrites—and an embarrassing amount of time spent banging my head against a wall, crying that I would never get the story right. But finally, I now have a novel worth sharing.

The publishing process has also been entirely new to me. I spent months doing research on the different options, but even though I felt like I was making an informed decision going the indie route, it was still more work than I’d anticipated. But I love making connections with new readers and seeing people experience the story for the first time, so it’s been very rewarding!

Did you learn any deep, shocking/interesting truths while working on The Secrets of Islayne, about writing in general, or about yourself?

I learned that every single part of the writing process is difficult and every part is satisfying. I learned that, vocationally speaking, nothing makes me feel more fulfilled than creating stories.

Tell us about the cover of The Secrets of Islayne. How it came about? Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process of any novel?

I used an awesome cover design company called Ebook Launch to design the cover of The Secrets of Islayne. They were fantastic to work—very artistically gifted, responsive to my wishes, and quick to make requested edits. All of that was great because I am very picky about book covers in general, and I had a lot of specific requests for the cover of my novel. I think a book’s cover is vital to the book-buying process. Though it goes against the adage, people can’t help but judge a book based on its cover. I do it all the time. But even more important than impacting a book’s sales, I wanted this cover to reflect the adventure, beauty, and magic inherent in the story itself. I think the cover of The Secrets of Islayne does just that.

Do you have a favorite scene to write in The Secrets of Islayne? What scene are you most proud of, and why?

I really enjoyed writing the first scene where the main character, Ronan, and his three friends are all going on their first “summer adventure”. I love the character dynamics between the four of them, so it was very fun to write the first scene where you see all them interact with each other.

I’m also proud of scene where the luminators’ power is explained and demonstrated. That was a very challenging scene to write in trying to explain the ability in a way that both made sense and was exciting to the reader. I was very happy when I could finally get it right on paper and it was no longer just an idea rumbling around in my head J.

If you can revive someone’s memory, who’s mind would you pick and why?

I know this is going to make me sound incredibly self-focused, but if it were possible I would revive my own! One of the reasons why this power was so fascinating to me was because I have a terrible memory, and I think it would be very cool to have so many of my own memories come back as clearly as those of the luminators’ clients.

If one of your characters could turn the tables on you and write a story based on your teenage years, what would the title of that book be? What would be the first line?

She reads a lot…the end. That could be the title, the first line, and the ending J. I was a pretty boring teenager and would not have made for a good protagonist. I liked to make good grades, read a lot of books, and go to bed early.

If you had to pick one sentence, and one sentence only, to entice someone to read your book, The Secrets of Islayne what would it be?

Why would he want to use his hands to shelve books when he could use his mind to give someone back a restored piece of the forgotten past?

Thanks so much Kari!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kari Lynn West writes contemporary YA fantasy—normally while drinking far too much coffee. She likes to create character-driven stories that are set in the real world with a twist, weaving fantastical elements into everyday life. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two daughters.

Find Kari

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


ABOUT THE BOOK

Book Details:

Title: The Secrets of Islayne
Author: Kari Lynn West
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: June 09, 2017
Pages: 220
Format: Paperback, eBook, Audio

A powerful island. A dangerous mystery. An impossible choice.

For centuries, the island of Islayne has given certain residents the ability to revive other people’s memories. These gifted individuals are known as luminators, and sixteen-year-old Ronan Saunders desperately desires to join their illustrious ranks. As he struggles against the prejudice of the old, powerful families who have an iron grip on the trade, Ronan falls under the tutelage of a reclusive luminator, rumored to be insane.

Just when his long-desired future is within reach, Ronan and his three friends discover a deadly secret on the island. As they delve deeper into the mystery, what they find forces them to question their loyalties, doubt long-held beliefs, and wrestle with the dire consequences of revealing the truth. Ronan finds himself torn between everything he loves and the only future he’s ever wanted. The entire fate of the lumination trade hangs in the balance of his decision.

Book Links

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Goodreads | iTunes

Giveaway:

What’s up for Grab?

  • Signed copy of The Secrets of Islayne by Kari Lynn West

The Rules:

  • Open to US residents
  • There will be one (1) winner
  • Winner will be drawn via Kingsumo by the author
  • Ends August 11th, 2017
  • Prize will be sent by the author

To enter fill out the form

Good Luck!!!

Treat yourself to a complete #CelebratingDebutantes2017 experience. Click the image below for the full list of schedule and links to each feature post or check out twitter and facebook using #CelebratingDebutantes2017.