WARCROSS Blog Tour: Event Recap & Dream Cast

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I’m so excited to be a part of the Warcross blog tour! I was so excited to find out Marie Lu was coming to Wellesley Books this month that I thought I’d do a recap of the book event I attended last night and a little dream casting.

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The one time I wish I owned Snapchat

I was thrilled to find out local author, Malinda Lo would be joining Marie Lu at Wellesley Books last night.  It was probably the first time I’d ever got to attend a book event where both authors were Chinese and I think that is what made it extra special.

Both Marie and Malinda’s latest books are so vastly different than their previous titles, it was fascinating to learn why they chose tell that particular story.  Marie stated amid writing The Rose Societ, which happens to be her darkest story written, she began to feel the effects of her story and wanted to write something happier.  Warcross was her “Happy Story”, which Malinda immediately questioned.  We learn right from the beginning Emika is still coping with a big loss in her life.

Malinda Lo decided to write A Line in the Dark after a conversation with her editor about reading The Secret Place (?) by Tana French.  It was then she thought about writing a mystery. Marie and Malinda came up with the comp “Gone Girl meets Mean Girls”.

When asked about setting the book in Tokyo, Marie explained she did visit Tokoyo last year to do some “research” and eat her way through Japan with fellow author Amie Kaufman. Originally Marie wrote Warcross from the perspective of a girl who was from Tokyo, but felt she wasn’t qualified to write it that way.  Instead Marie chose to write Emika’s experience going from New York to Tokoyo as a tourist, just like she had.

Both ladies have different approaches to drafting a new book.  For Malinda, she often starts off not knowing what she’s doing, but after working with the idea, she eventually figures it out.  Marie on the other hand is a pantser and wants to be an outliner, so she tries to write an outline for every book. However she always gets off track, but not so much because she still follows the major plot points.

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For Marie and Malinda, Warcross and A Line in the Dark is the first time either of them feature a Chinese American main character.  Throughout their careers both women have been inching forward to put Asian characters in their books.  Though why did it take so long to write a Chinese American character?

They began to explain that many years ago, in the industry publishers would could only pick 1 story featuring a POC and 1 LGBTQ story.  So at the beginning Marie felt that she had to make a choice between getting her career off the ground with no POCs or risk not getting a book deal if she had an Asian MC.  At the time when she made this decision not to feature a POC, it was a way of protecting herself. She did wish she were a little braver and took the risk.

As for Malinda, she wrote all of her books for herself, so all of her characters were queer women. However she also chose not to feature a POC because she felt like she couldn’t add more her queer characters. Although she didn’t want to narrow her audience by making Ash queer and Asian, in Malinda’s mind Ash was Asian it just wasn’t on the page. As for Huntress, with the story inspired by Asian culture, Malinda wove in details that hinted to the characters being Asian, but doesn’t explicitly say it.

 

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I am so glad I was able to attended the amazing event at Wellesley books!! Both Marie and Malinda are so inspirational! I need more events like theirs honestly.


Dreamcast

Switching gears for a little dream casting! The only reason why I started to agonize for HOURS deciding who would portray Emika and Hideo was the fact I had an actor in mind as I read about Emika’s father… OF ALL PEOPLE!  I also came up with an actor for Asher and then I realized it’s super late and I need to go to bed.

 

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Ellen Wong as Emika
Lucas Till as Asher
Jun Matsumoto as Hideo
Godfrey Gao as Emika’s Dad


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Warcross by Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 12, 2017

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu—when a game called Warcross takes the world by storm, one girl hacks her way into its dangerous depths.

For the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down Warcross players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty-hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. To make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Goodreads | Book Depository | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


223095_lu_marie(1)About Marie Lu

Marie Lu is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Young Elites, as well as the blockbuster bestselling Legend series. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry as an artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing games, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California, with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and one Pembroke Welsh corgi.


Giveaway

Thanks to Penguin Random House, you can enter for a chance to be one (1) of three (3) grand prize winners of a WARCROSS prize set (including hardcover of Warcross, shirt, keychain, and postcard). (ARV: $18.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on September 4, 2017 and 12:00 AM on September 29, 2017. Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about October 2, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

ENTER HERE!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour!

September 4 – The Reading Nook Reviews – Review
September 5 – Bookiemoji – Book Photography
September 6 – Fiction Fare – Review
September 7 – BookCrushin – Review
September 8 – The Fandom – Author Q&A
September 11 – Lost in Lit – Book Photography
September 12 – Alexa Loves Books – Author Guest Post | Marie’s Favorite Video Games
September 13 – Little Lillie Reads – Review
September 14 – YA Wednesdays
September 15 – Live Love Read
September 18 – Adventures of a Book Junkie – 5 Reasons to Read Warcross
September 19 – The Young Folks – Review
September 20 – Once Upon a Twilight – Guess the Story in GIFs
September 21 – Arctic Books – Warcross Mood Board
September 22 – Book Nerd Addicts – Author Q&A
September 25 – Tales of the Ravenous Reader – Author Q&A + Event Recap
September 26 –Mundie Moms – Favorite Quotes
September 27 – YA Bibliophile – Review
September 28 – Icey Books – Warcross Quote Candy
September 29 – Super Space Chick – Review & Favorite Video Games

 

MelissaSig

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Zodiac Books: Black Moon

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Only TWO more weeks until Thirteen Rising is released!! Has everyone been following along with the #ZodiacBooks ReReadathon?  Today I’ll be doing a fun post for the third book in the series Black Moon!

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One final secret stands between Rho and the enemy. But will the devastating truth destroy her first?

Rho, the courageous visionary from House Cancer, lost nearly everything when she exposed and fought against the Marad, a mysterious terrorist group bent on destroying balance in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now the Marad has disappeared without a trace, and an uneasy peace has been declared.

But Rho is suspicious. She believes the Master is still out there in some other form. And looming over all are the eerie visions of her mother, who died many years ago but is now appearing to Rho in the stars.

When news of a stylish new political party supported by her best friend, Nishi, sends Rho on another journey across the Galaxy, she uses it as an opportunity to hunt the hidden master and seek out information about her mother. And what she uncovers sheds light on the truth—but casts darkness upon the entire Zodiac world.


I was planning to do a cover outfit, but I could not decide on a dress. There are so many fantastic choices I thought I’d let readers decide for me.  We’ll be have a “dress off”!

Zuhair Murad – Fall 2015 Couture Collection

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First up we have this stunning galaxy dress by Zuhair Murad. I love how the sequins make waves along the skirt reminiscent of House Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

 

Marchesa 2011

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Next up is this gorgeous black ball gown with gold sequence worn by Olivia Wilde at the Golden Globes. It kinda looks like a has star exploded.

 

Elie Saab Fall 2015

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Here we have a more subtle navy gown by Elie Saab that has POCKETS! All hail Elie Saab!

 

So now do you guys see how this is so freaking hard to choose? I’d like you to cast your votes on the dress you think works for the cover. Feel free to link to some other choices in the comments below!

 

BONUS

Dresses for the Zodiac signs shown on the cover of Black Moon!

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This Zuhair Murad Fall 2015 was made for House Pisces! The bodice reminds me of fish scales or fish nets and there’s a lot of silver sequence which is the house color.

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This gown designed by Fausto Sarli for his Spring/Summer 2011 collection is definitely  House Aquarius who’s color is aqua. Though an air element, I chose this oceanic dress because Aquarius is the water carrier.


GIVEAWAY LEGAL COPY: 


Enter for a chance to win either one (1) grand prize set of Romina Russell’s Zodiac Series in paperback, including Zodiac, Wandering Star, and Black Moon (32.97) or to be one (1) of five (5) second place winners to receive a copy of Zodiac by Romina Russell (ARV: $10.99 each).
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on August 7, 2017 and 12:00 AM on August 28, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about September 1, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

ENTER GIVEAWAY

ARC Review: Miles Morales

32793053 Title: Miles Morales
Author: Jason Reynolds
Publisher: Marvel Press
Pages: 272
Release Date: 8/1/2017
Rating: 5 Stars

Summary: “Everyone gets mad at hustlers, especially if you’re on the victim side of the hustle. And Miles knew hustling was in his veins.”

Miles Morales is just your average teenager. Dinner every Sunday with his parents, chilling out playing old-school video games with his best friend, Ganke, crushing on brainy, beautiful poet Alicia. He’s even got a scholarship spot at the prestigious Brooklyn Visions Academy. Oh yeah, and he’s Spider Man.

But lately, Miles’s spidey-sense has been on the fritz. When a misunderstanding leads to his suspension from school, Miles begins to question his abilities. After all, his dad and uncle were Brooklyn jack-boys with criminal records. Maybe kids like Miles aren’t meant to be superheroes. Maybe Miles should take his dad’s advice and focus on saving himself.

As Miles tries to get his school life back on track, he can’t shake the vivid nightmares that continue to haunt him. Nor can he avoid the relentless buzz of his spidey-sense every day in history class, amidst his teacher’s lectures on the historical “benefits” of slavery and the importance of the modern-day prison system. But after his scholarship is threatened, Miles uncovers a chilling plot, one that puts his friends, his neighborhood, and himself at risk.

It’s time for Miles to suit up.


I will be honest, when they announced a novelization about Black Widow, I didn’t jump on the bandwagon and read it.  Not that I don’t love Black Widow, but I just didn’t see the appeal.  We already had great films from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, why do we need books?  Apparently this is a thing that’s been happening for years. Anyway it wasn’t until publishers announced Wonder Woman did I become interested because it was going to be written by favorite author. I hadn’t even heard about Spider-Man becoming a book until Mashable revealed the cover and holy cow! What a cover! My immediate thought was, “Who the hell is Miles Morales?”

I am not into comics whatsoever, so my only exposure is through the films, and then I go look it up like most non-comic people.  So of course I looked up how Miles took over as Spider-Man. Let’s just say I was very very happy.

I was lucky enough to snag an early copy at BookExpo from Disney. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I never read a book by Jason Reynolds, but I know of his books, especially Ghost, since I gifted it one year to a family friend who loves sports novels.  All I let myself know about Miles was that he is a half black, half Puerto Rican high school kid living in New York, and why he took over for Peter Parker. I didn’t read too much about Miles because I didn’t want to ruin the first time experience.

It’s so refreshing to learn about another Spider-Man!!! I really got fed up with Hollywood “rebooting” Spider-Man three times.  I haven’t seen Spider-Man Homecoming, I wasn’t a fan of the character in Captain American Civil War.

What I liked about this book was how Miles portrayed as a “regular” kid. He’s trying to discover who he is, balance school and come to grips with his newly found powers. I also loved seeing the relationship between Miles and his best friend Ganke, who is Asian. HI. YES! POCs front and center! I also appreciated reading about the relationship between Miles and his parents. [Yay YA parents who are Alive!]  One thing that surprised me was Miles’ web shooters. Since I don’t know a ton about him, I’ll probably have to look it up. Not gonna lie, I feel like it’s a better origin story than Peter Parker.  Sorry guys!

The one thing that didn’t click with me was the villain of the story. Not so much what it represented and the significance of it, but more the white cat part of it. I can’t explain why the white cat bothers me without spoilers. Maybe I am just weird or I need to re-read it again. Or I could find Jason at the Boston Teen Author Festival and ask…. Anyway the other thing I disliked was IT NEEDED TO BE LONGER!!!!! I feel like Jason barely scratched the surface and I hope there will be a sequel or two.

Anyway if you haven’t read Miles Morales, you need to add it to your ever growing TBR pile NOW!

5-stars

MelissaSig

#PlayWarcross + GIVEAWAY

9780399547966.jpgFor the millions who log in every day, Warcross isn’t just a game—it’s a way of life. The obsession started ten years ago and its fan base now spans the globe, some eager to escape from reality and others hoping to make a profit. Struggling to make ends meet, teenage hacker Emika Chen works as a bounty hunter, tracking down players who bet on the game illegally. But the bounty hunting world is a competitive one, and survival has not been easy. Needing to make some quick cash, Emika takes a risk and hacks into the opening game of the international Warcross Championships—only to accidentally glitch herself into the action and become an overnight sensation.

Convinced she’s going to be arrested, Emika is shocked when instead she gets a call from the game’s creator, the elusive young billionaire Hideo Tanaka, with an irresistible offer. He needs a spy on the inside of this year’s tournament in order to uncover a security problem . . . and he wants Emika for the job. With no time to lose, Emika’s whisked off to Tokyo and thrust into a world of fame and fortune that she’s only dreamed of. But soon her investigation uncovers a sinister plot, with major consequences for the entire Warcross empire.

In this sci-fi thriller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu conjures an immersive, exhilarating world where choosing who to trust may be the biggest gamble of all.

Play Warcross | Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | Book Depository


Want a chance to play?

You can by building your own WARCROSS team.
WARCROSS teams are made up of five members:
  • Team Captain
  • The Architect
  • The Thief
  • The Shield
  • The Fighter
Build your own teams from your favorite YA characters or other fictional characters and then Tag 5 friends to play along too! Be sure to use #PlayWarcross when you share your post!!

Team Captain

I think Nikolai Lanstov from the Grisha trilogy would make for a good team captain. He does play well with others.

The Architect

Without a doubt this job is for Annabeth Chase from the Percy Jackson series. Though I think Nikolai will bug Annabeth, since he can be so much like Percy. Maybe worse.

The Thief

I feel like everyone is going to pick this character but for thief I am going with my girl Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows.

The Shield

I am picking Vida from The Darkest Minds who uses telekinesis. She would be able to deflect things coming toward her.


(Art by Taratjah)

The Fighter

There are so many good fighters to choose from, but I am going to have to go with Aeduan from Truthwitch series! Nikolai would probably also piss Aeduan off from time to time.

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(Artwork by Victoria Quezada)

 

TAGGING: MC @ Blame it on the Books | Karina @ A Reader Under the Sea | Jen @ Library of a Book Witch| Dana @ DanaSquare | Kelly @ See Kelly Tse


The Game Begins:

September 12, 2017

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Don’t miss your chance to receive this exclusive short story!!

How to Enter

1. Pre-order your copy of WARCROSS from any store
2. Snap a photo or screenshot of your receipt
3. Fill out the form and upload your receipt

223095_lu_marie(1)About Marie Lu

Marie Lu is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Legend trilogy and The Young Elites trilogy. She graduated from the University of Southern California and jumped into the video game industry, working for Disney Interactive Studios as a Flash artist. Now a full-time writer, she spends her spare time reading, drawing, playing Assassin’s Creed, and getting stuck in traffic. She lives in Los Angeles, California (see above: traffic), with one husband, one Chihuahua mix, and two Pembroke Welsh corgis.

GIVEAWAY

GIVEAWAY LEGAL:
Enter for a chance to be one (1) of five (5) grand prize winners of a WARCROSS Galley set (including galley, shirt, keychain, and postcard) or to be one (1) of ten (10) second place prize winners of a WARCROSS Galley (ARV: $0.00 each).
 
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:00 AM Eastern Time on July 31th, 2017 and 12:00 AM on August 28, 2017.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about August 5, 2017. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

 

Thanks to Chelsea Fought and Penguin Young Readers for putting this together!!

MelissaSig

Musings of Nic Stone

eternaldreamers

Get Out Of The Way
By Nic Stone

I didn’t think I could write fiction.

“I’m not creative or imaginative enough,” I said. “To come up with a whole story? What would I even write about? There’s just no way.”

The truth is I was scared. People who looked like me didn’t populate bestseller or required reading lists. They weren’t even in the books I read. Not in a way I could identify with at least. I wasn’t an escaped slave or a person deemed stupid because I spoke broken English or a guy falsely accused of a horrible crime (and then killed for it).

I was a book-loving black girl with a thirst for adventure who loved to tromp through the woods. That girl didn’t exist in books. So I didn’t think she could.

And since the story I knew best was my own, but my own clearly wasn’t what anyone wanted to read, I didn’t think I could write fiction. I couldn’t imagine being a little white kid slaying a dragon and saving the world–so I wasn’t imaginative enough. I couldn’t create a world where people like me didn’t actually exist–so I wasn’t creative enough.

But then something happened: the more I read, the emptier I felt. I could no longer ignore the lack of people who looked and lived like ME in the stuff I was reading.

And there WAS a story building in my bones, itching to get out. About a brown girl saving the day. I tried to ignore it, but the plot points and dialogue kept coming and coming. The story wouldn’t leave me alone.

So I decided to give it a shot. Put words, ideas, mental images to paper. Turns out I’d been wrong about myself. I COULD write fiction. I WAS– AM–imaginative enough, creative enough.

I just needed to get out of my own way.

Maybe you do, too.


13525503About Nic Stone

Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work.

You can find her goofing off and/or fangirling over her husband and sons on most social media platforms

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram


24974996.jpgDear Martin

Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for.

Struggling to cope with it all, Justyce starts a journal to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But do Dr. King’s teachings hold up in the modern world? Justyce isn’t so sure.

Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up. Way up. Much to the fury of the white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. And Justyce and Manny get caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack. The truth of what happened that night—some would kill to know. Justyce is dying to forget.

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


Huge THANK YOU to Nic for getting this post in to us while on deadline! Your experience and encouragement to other writers is inspiring. We have all felt like we could not do something, when in actuality we can if we have more faith in ourselves.

As always, thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature! Your words and advice are always appreciated and we love you all for helping us.

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Musings of Maggie Ann Martin

eternaldreamers

5 Easy Ways to Build Your Author Platform
By Maggie Ann Martin

So. You’ve been told that building your author platform is important. But you have no idea where to start. I’m here to tell you that it’s not as daunting or scary as it might seem! Here are five easy ways to build a community around you and your book.

1. Create a book blog

I actually can’t stress this one enough. Sparking conversations about books within the genre you are writing is an amazing way to understand what your potential readers enjoy, and connect with them over mutually favorite books.

2. Join Twitter chats. Frequently.

There seems to be a new literary Twitter chat going on every day now. Find one that is relevant to readers or writers in your genre, and make your voice heard. Keep up with the connections that you’ve made during the Twitter chat by following them and adding them to Lists.

3. Curate Twitter Lists

I firmly stand behind the idea that Twitter Lists are the most beautiful and glorious feature that Twitter has to offer. Lists allow you to monitor conversations happening by a certain group of people. So, you could create a Twitter List of people who participated in a chat you were a part of, or you could start a list of potential agents that you’re interested in submitting to. Carve out a specific amount of time a week that you would go on and interact with people on these lists to keep up with these connections.

My Lists right now are: Bloggers, BookTubers, Bookstagramers, Agents, 2017 Debuts, Authors, and then various pitch competition lists. Some of these lists are public, but most of them are private lists that only I can see.  

4. Participate in a pitch competition

There are so many incredible authors being matched with agents every day through Twitter pitch competitions. Not only are they an awesome opportunity to get in front of reputable agents, but you’ll make loads of connections with other authors submitting their work for consideration. Some of my favorite pitch competitions that I’ve participated in are #PitchWars, #PitMad, and Sun vs. Snow (and there are SO MANY MORE).

5. Give something back to the community

If you’re really wanting to get engrained in a community, the best way to get to know fellow bloggers and authors is to host an event. This could be your own Twitter chat, a blog series (i.e. I hosted a blog series called Book Madness, which is basically March Madness for book characters), or buddy read with a group of people. So much of your support comes from online writing friends that you’ve met through any of the above ways.

And you don’t have to do all of these things at once! You won’t be able to build your entire author platform in one night. Gradually build up your participation within your writing community as you see fit, and as you have the time for.


MaggieAnnMartin2About Maggie Ann

Maggie Ann Martin hails from Iowa City, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She has a shiny new BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa, the most welcoming literary community in the world. When she is not writing, you can find her binge watching TV shows or passionately fangirling over fictional characters on the Internet. The Big F is her debut novel.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads Facebook


TheBigFColorAbout THE BIG F

Danielle effed up. Big time.
Danielle’s plans for the future were pretty easy to figure out… until she failed senior English and her single college application was denied. Suddenly she’s in hot water with very few options, because honestly who applies to a safety school when their mom is a semi-famous “college psychic”?!

Determined to get her life back on track, Danielle enrolls in her hometown community college with a plan: pass her English class and get back into Ohio State and her mother’s good graces. Romance isn’t on her radar… until she reconnects with her childhood crush and golden-boy-next-door, Luke.

Between family drama, first love and finding her own way, Danielle can’t help but feel a little overwhelmed. Thankfully she has her friendship with the snarky and frustratingly attractive Porter, her coworker at the campus bookstore, to push her to experience new things and help keep her afloat.One thing’s for sure: This time, failure’s not an option.

AmazonBarnes & Noble | Book DepositoryIndie Bound


Thank you Maggie for compiling a quick list of suggestions for new authors! It can get overwhelming when you’re first starting out. We know our readers appreciate the time you took to share your experiences!

As always, thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature! Your words and advice are always happily devoured, and we love you all for helping us.

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Musings of Melissa Bashardoust

eternaldreamers

Face Your Fears, Find Your Flaws
by Melissa Bashardoust

How do you design a character’s flaws? The answer, like most things, lies in Star Wars.

As Yoda tells us, the root of the dark side is fear. Fear is what makes us lash out. Fear can motivate us or hold us back. Fear can bring out the best and worst in your characters. If you want to find out a characters flaws, figure out what your character wants, what motivates them, what’s important to them. Their family? Their status in the social hierarchy? Freedom and justice?

Great—now threaten to take that thing away from them.

Put your character in a position where they’re about to lose the thing they’re most afraid of losing, and imagine their reaction. Would they become ruthless and destructive? Would they retreat and give in to despair? Push a character hard enough, and eventually they’ll show you their worst impulses. Force a character to confront their worst fear, and you’ll find out what demon they need to overcome, what’s holding them back and what’s driving them forward.

Okay, but what if a character’s response is a mature and healthy one? You can work with that, too, because there’s a flip side to every coin, after all. Every good quality can become a flaw if it’s too extreme. A cheerful attitude can become an unwillingness to confront the heavier parts of life. A calm sense of detachment can become an inability to connect with others. Anakin Skywalker would never have fallen to the dark side if he didn’t have the admirable quality of caring so much about the people he loves…and if he weren’t so afraid of losing them. (It always comes back to Star Wars, I’m telling you.)

Even just knowing what a character is afraid of can lead you to their flaws. To take an example from…let’s say…Star Wars, we have a scene from The Force Awakens where the antagonist (Kylo Ren) very conveniently tells us what the protagonist (Rey) is afraid of. “You’re so lonely, so afraid to leave,” he tells her (and us). On the surface, Rey’s afraid to leave the planet where she was abandoned as a child, because she’s worried her family won’t be able to find her if they ever come back for her. But really, she’s afraid to leave because that would mean admitting that her family isn’t coming back for her. From this core fear come her flaws: stubbornness, self-imposed isolation, a refusal to move forward. Her fear of abandonment causes her to initially choose stagnation and isolation when given opportunities to expand her horizons and make new connections.

If you’ll allow me a more self-indulgent example: In Girls Made of Snow and Glass, one of my main characters, Mina, is afraid that she’s unlovable, that anyone who truly knows her will reject her. By working from the inside out, I can take that fear and translate it into flaws. Mina can be guarded and distrustful, ruthless and manipulative, because she believes

that she has no one to count on but herself, and that if anyone sees the real her, she’ll never be loved. Desperation—that mixture of fear and desire—makes her flaws manifest.

Knowing my character’s fears and flaws helps me know how she would react to both positive and negative events in the plot. The worse the event, the more likely she is to retreat into herself, to reject others before they can reject her. She doesn’t have to have any of those flaws. There’s no one set path from fear to flaw—but tracing out of one of those many paths will make the flaws feel organic and will help readers empathize with the character even when they’re not at their best. We may not all relate to each individual flaw, but we all understand fear, and the influence that fear can have over our actions.

You don’t have to know your characters’ flaws from the start. One of the most satisfying parts of writing is seeing your characters develop on the page, watching them go from vague skeletons in your head to fleshed-out people. Flaws are the thorns, not the roots. The roots are the characters’ hopes and dreams, their upbringings—and yes, their fears. Water those roots and the thorns will grow on their own.


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About Melissa

Melissa Bashardoust received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is her first novel.

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Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Girls Made of Snow and Glass

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale

At sixteen, Mina’s mother is dead, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone—has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do—and who to be—to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything—unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

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Thank you so much to Melissa for writing this wonderful post and sharing it with us. I know from experience that sometimes character flaws and growth are the most difficult parts of writing and what really divides a good book from a great book!

As always, thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature! Your words and advice are always happily devoured, and we love you all for helping us.

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

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Musings of Candace Ganger

eternaldreamers

The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash Inspiration
by Candace Ganger

The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash is loosely based on a tragedy that occurred in my family circa 1979. Though I wasn’t born yet, my mom kept newspaper clippings that I kept going back to. I couldn’t imagine going through anything like this and felt a tug in my heart to fix it (whatever that meant). The whole incident, and images used in those papers, haunted me for many years. Knowing what I know now, and seeing how strong my family managed to be in the wake of something so horrific, I couldn’t ignore that pull to do something. I just wasn’t sure what that something was, until these characters sort-of popped into my mind one day. I tinkered with storylines (so not to be exact with the facts), landing on a skeleton of a different version of Birdie & Bash—one way more depressing—that I decided could be cathartic, if done right.

With trusted readers and thoughtful notes, I transformed B&B into vaguely what it is now—one with a through line of hope. Sensitivity to my family’s wounds have always been at the forefront of my mind, but I knew no matter what, I’d give them the ending I felt they deserved.

In pulling from this event (while fictionalizing; I can’t stress this enough), as the connecting thread between Birdie & Bash, it’s definitely helped me work through my own pain and losses, while also rewriting a history that never was, but should’ve been.


About Candace

Candace Ganger is a mother, blogger, contributing writer for sites like Teen VogueTWLOHABustleRomperXO Jane & Hello GigglesShe’s also an obsessive marathoner and continual worrier (yay!). Her debut YA novel, THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH, will be out via St. Martin’s Griffin July 25th, 2017. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst* vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. Candace—aka—Candyland—has a severe** Milky Way latte addiction + eats way too many*** donuts/doughnuts but all things in excess, amiright?

FYI: She’s TOTALLY awkward in person (#sorrynotsorry).

*she was okay, at best.
**what counts as severe?
***don’t judge me

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The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash

The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash

Birdie never meant to be at the party. Bash should have been long gone. But when they meet, a collision course is set off they may never recover from.

Sebastian Alvaréz is just trying to hold the pieces together: to not flunk out, to keep his sort-of-best friend Wild Kyle from doing something really bad, and to see his beloved Ma through chemo. But when he meets Birdie Paxton, a near-Valedictorian who doesn’t realize she’s smoking hot in her science pun T-shirt, at a party, an undeniable attraction sparks. And suddenly he’s not worried about anything. But before they are able to exchange numbers, they are pulled apart. A horrifying tragedy soon links Birdie and Bash together—but neither knows it. When they finally reconnect, and are starting to fall—hard—the events of the tragedy unfold, changing both their lives in ways they can never undo. Told in alternating perspectives, The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash by Candace Ganger is a beautiful, complex, and ultimately hopeful teen novel that will move you to the very last page.

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Thank you so much to Candace for sharing her story with us. Sometimes we all find inspiration in the oddest of places, and it only takes opening ourselves up to the possibilities in order for it to hit us.

As always, thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your words of advice and stories never fall upon unappreciative writers.

We hope you all have a wonderful rest of your week!

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ZODIAC BOOKS Readathon!

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Have you heard the news!? Today we kick off the #ZodiacBooks Readathon hosted by Penguin Teen and Romina Russell!

If you haven’t gotten the chance to read the books, this is THE opportunity to do so now! The fourth and final book is finally releasing AUGUST 29th!! You can binge read them all now without waiting a year for the next book to come out!

Throughout the readathon, participating blogs will share their creative posts and thoughts on the book. There will also be a Twitter Chat at the end featuring a Q&A with Romina Russell!  If you are participating be sure to tweet your thoughts using #ZodiacBooks so Penguin Teen and Romina can follow your progress and reactions!

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Musings of Leah Henderson

eternaldreamers

Advice for Young Writers
by Leah Henderson

There is so much writing advice out there about what to do or what not to do. A lot of it is very helpful but to be honest, most of it is overwhelming. So the first thing I will say is focus on what speaks to you and what you need at certain moments in your writing journey. Everyone’s experience with writing is different, but there are definitely some universal themes that resonant with all of us at any given point: doubt, frustration, excitement, confusion, fear, fatigue, hopelessness, hopefulness, love, hate, envy, relief, elation. The list can go on and on. But the one thing that every writer should remember whether they are a beginner writing their first sentences, or a pro with shelves of published books, we each need to believe in the power and wonder of revision!

No story has ever been perfect on a first draft. Yes, there can be nuggets of brilliance, and gems to marvel, but I’d arch an eyebrow if a writer told me they’d never written a crappy first draft or at least one that needed a little extra love and attention.

Stories are built on layers.

There is nothing better than diving back into a beloved book only to find new elements and clues to explore. Many of these added details come through revision.

For me, I try to settle into the story in the first few drafts—figuring out characters, scenes, and the overall arc. Then I start focusing on specifics whether it’s about a character’s mannerisms, subplots, or adding a bit more texture to a place. I attempt to color in the lines of what I sketched in my early versions. And I keep smearing color, intensifying shadows and deepening contours with each read. This might sound like a lot of rewriting and adding, and frankly sometimes it is, but I don’t worry about that while I’m knee deep in my mess. I focus on getting every thought out of my head and onto the page. Some of my ideas work, though many of them don’t, but I won’t know unless I’ve tried. I might attempt to say something ten different ways before deciding which is the strongest. And I’m okay with putting in that effort because I know:

Revision is magical.

When I come to the final drafts of a project I’m always a bit amazed at how much certain moments and characters change, grow, and develop. In early drafts a lot of these aspects couldn’t even have been envisioned because I was too focused on other details. And it wasn’t until I got those details just right that I could free my mind for other possibilities to take shape.

So trust in the power and wonder of revision and trust in your imagination to get you through. Don’t rush either because with patience and thoughtfulness you will see the true pearls of your story shining brighter and brighter with each attempt to get it just right.

Wishing you all the best with your writing & your revision!


About Leah

Leah has always loved getting lost in stories. When she is not scribbling down her characters’ adventures, she is off on her own, exploring new spaces and places around the world. One Shadow on the Wall (Antheneum/Simon & Schuster) is her debut middle grade novel. Leah received her MFA at Spalding University and currently calls Washington D.C. home.

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One Shadow on the Wall

One Shadow on the Wall

An orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father.

Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined.

With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom in all their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own?

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Thank you so much, Leah, for sharing your advice about layering and revisions with all of us. You’re so right, that the best stories are built upon revision after revision, adding layers, characters, growth, and everything else you can imagine to your story. The best stories are the ones we revise a thousand times because sometimes those first fifty tries just aren’t enough. =)

As always, thank you to everyone who has participated in this feature. Your words are invaluable to all of the writers who are trying to get their feet on the ground. We are always so appreciative of you.

We hope you have a wonderful rest of your week, and remember to keep writing and revising!

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