Musings of Megan O’Russell


Just Write
by Megan O’Russell

Writing is hard. Anyone who tells you that it isn’t has never had a book published. That’s not to say that the endless hours of writing and the terrible slog of editing aren’t worth it. To me they definitely are. But writing isn’t skipping through a meadow and picking up words like wildflowers. It’s more chopping through a jungle with a machete. And there are leeches, venomous snakes, and mosquitoes. And if you survive your trek through the dark and dangerous expanse of writing a book, your reward is editing, which is like having a root canal while listening to Barney songs on repeat.

Even still, I think it’s worth it. And thousands of people doing NaNoWriMo think it’s worth it, too. My advice to anyone who wants to write a book, whether it’s within a month’s time or over the span of years, is do it.

Just write. If you have a story inside of you, write it down. Don’t play the same amazing scene in your head over and over again. Write it down. And then the next amazing conversation that your characters have to have. Then write out that crazy plot twist that changes everything.

When you come to the end of your tale and everyone is where they should be, whether it’s dead alive or on the edge of a cliff be it real or imaginary, you get to make a choice. Is this worth editing?

And I don’t mean is it good enough. First drafts aren’t supposed to be perfect. I mean is getting the book revised and edited a commitment you really want to make to yourself, your stories, or your characters.

If the answer is no, that’s okay. You wrote a story. You let your imagination run wild and had the discipline to record the journey. That is an amazingly huge accomplishment, and it’s fine to stop there.

But if you dream of being published, or if your characters are whispering in your ear that the world should get the chance to hear their story, it’s time to revise and edit.

For me this is always the most painful part. Not only because it takes a lot of time and in my case a lot of making sure I left all the furniture in the book in the right place, but also because you have to be willing to cut a character or a scene. A line that you thought was brilliant might not work in your character’s voice now that you know them better than when you were writing the book. Editing is a time to gain more intimate details, to ensure that a character’s voice and logic are maintained throughout their story. Or if it changes, to be sure you and your readers know why.

But you don’t have to erase that brilliant line forever. For me the easiest thing to do is to keep a separate file of the darlings I’ve had to kill. Then I’m not really killing them. Just moving them to a new home. Whether or not I ever open that file after I’m done editing is a question for another time.

Editing is a dark tunnel filled with the endless cycle of perceived brilliance and despair at the certainty that you are a hack. But in those moments when your finger is hovering above the delete button, remember why you started writing the story.

Remember that scene that called to you, that character that haunted you, and push forward. You wrote for them. You made the choice to edit so their story could be told. Take a breath, or a day, or even a month. Write it in your planner, or set a reminder in your phone. You have a date with your book. You have to edit and polish it.

And when you can think straight and you’ve decided that you shouldn’t throw your computer out a window, start back at it.

And one day you’ll be done. And then you give your book to a beta reader and wait in fear.

Then you edit… again.

And then submissions come.

If the stars align, you get a contract. Then you have the joy of editing again. But this time there is help! A trained professional to guide you.

Your treat for surviving is getting a book cover with your name on it you can show all your friends.

And then you get to hold your book in your hands. It’s been months, more likely years since you first decided that you had a brilliant idea that had to be written. You’ve probably cried, and more than likely hated yourself for ever writing the damn thing in the first place.

But you now have a book. And you are the author. And I promise you, it was worth it.

Inline image 1 About the Author:

Megan’s published works include Young Adult fantasy series The Tethering books one and two of which are currently available with book three out in spring 2016. Megan’s Christmas novella Nuttycracker Sweet will be release by Fiery SeasPublishing this holiday season. Megan is also a featured author in the Athena’s Daughters 2 anthology of women in speculative fiction.

Megan is a professional performer who travels the country living out a thousand lives on stage. Her wonderful husband and frequent dance partner is always by her side.

For more information on Megan’s books, you can visit her website at

Website ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

The Tethering (The Tethering #1)

All sixteen-year-old Jacob Evans wants is to win the heart of Emilia Gray, but with order in the magical world crumbling, war threatening, and Emilia’s boyfriend living across the hall, he may never have the chance.

Jacob Evans loses everything he has ever known and is tossed into a world of magic. The Dragons, a group of rebel wizards, are threatening to expose the existence of magic to humans. Jacob is determined to find a way to fit into Emilia’s family, but as his powers grow, so does the danger. With the death toll mounting, Jacob is accused of acts of rebel terrorism and must fight to stay in a world he’s only just beginning to discover.

When Emilia’s life is threatened, Jacob must risk everything to save her. Does he have the power to rescue her in time? And what could their survival cost?

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

The Siren's Realm (The Tethering, #2)

The Siren’s Realm (The Tethering #2)

Jacob loves Emilia Gray, but things aren’t always that simple in the world of Magickind…

The war has begun.

The Dragons are gaining power, and the Gray Clan stands alone. Desperate to find a way to stop the Pendragon, Emilia is forced to seek answers from someone who hasn’t been seen in seventeen years . . . Her mother. Embarking on a magical journey filled with witches, wizards, centaurs and a dangerous and powerful Siren, Jacob and Emilia must take a leap of faith to a land neither could have ever imagined . . . and hope they can then find their way home.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

A huge thank you to Megan for once again writing an amazing post and dedicating her time to helping all of us struggling writers. Just writing it all out, good or bad, is so important, and I’m extremely thankful that Megan touched on this topic today. I’m positive that it will help many of us as we go into the new year with determination and brand new writing resolutions.

As always, THANK YOU to every author who has contributed, and will contribute to this feature. Your advice is priceless and your time is appreciated.


Top Ten Most Anticipated Books of 2016


It is pretty crazy that 2016 is just a few days away!! 2015 has been a crazy year for us all, but we are so thrilled to blogging together.  For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday we’re talking about our Most Anticipated Books of 2016 for the first half of the year.

Since it’s hard for us to agree on 10 books together we each chose 10 books. There’s several overlaps so I broke it down for you. As always Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Group Picks:

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Tor

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Kelly & Lauren

The Crown by Kiera Cass

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

Lauren & Melissa

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Bloomsbury

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Lauren’s Picks

The Prophecy of Shadows by Michelle Madow

Release Date: January 26, 2016
Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Earth’s End by Elise Kova

Release Date: February 11, 2016
Publisher: Silver Wing Press

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Kohury

Release Date: February 26, 2016
Publisher: Razorbill

The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye

Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Balzar + Bray

Kelly’s Picks

Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan

Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

The Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

Release Date: February 9, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

Release Date: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Release Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins

Ruined by Amy Tintera

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen

And I Darken by Kiersten White

Release Date: June 28, 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Melissa’s Picks

Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: Balzar + Bray

Dove Exiled by Karen Bao

Release Date: February 23, 2016
Publisher: Viking Books

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

Release Date: May 3, 2016
Publisher: Flatiron Books

Out Run the Moon by Stacey Lee

Release Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books

What books are you look forward to most the first half of 2016?  Let us know in the comments below!


Musings of Beth Barany


Finding Inspiration for World Building
by Beth Barany

I write young adult fantasy in a world I created—a mix of the European Middle Ages and of landscapes I know and love or am fascinated by.

My two books (so far) in the Five Kingdom series take place in varied terrain, weather, and cultures. I feature five kingdoms, as the name of the series states, and have people from all kingdoms interacting with each other, not always easily.

I’ve always been fascinated with the French and English Middle Ages, specifically the art, stories, architecture, and technology of that era. Then after living in Paris, France and visiting lots of cathedrals in the northern half of the country, I soaked up atmosphere of that era. I was especially inspired by the cathedral-fortress of Mont. St. Michel. In Paris, I visited many sites to feel the history and actually touch the old stone.

My inspiration for my Five Kingdoms world stems from my interest in world cultures, specifically their folklore and legends, but also religion, food, music, and customs. I was almost an anthropology major in college because I loved the notion of studying different cultures, but it was too narrow of a focus. I ended up getting a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with an emphasis in Education. I guess I just love learning. That interdisciplinary approach informs the research for my fiction, where I roam through world cultures and history to get inspired.

For example, for one of the kingdoms in my story, the Oro Islands, I set it up as a cross between three islands cultures that I find fascinating: Hong Kong, Polynesia, and Venice. My city is colorful like Venice, warm like Polynesia, and Asiatic in much food and customs like Hong Kong. I also pull from my interesting European experiences and name an alcoholic drink, jenever, after a similar drink in the Netherlands I tasted when I visited there.

What inspires me to keep creating the depth of my world is actually the characters themselves, specifically my main character, Henrietta the Dragon Slayer.

The more Henrietta travels into adulthood and toward her destiny of leadership the more she gets a chance to see her world through new eyes. In her backstory, she pursued fame and fortune and took much for granted in her world. In Book 1, Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, all that starts to change. In this story, she travels through the woods and up the mountains with her new companions—environment she’s familiar with—but now these places take on a new meaning as Henrietta discovers the beginnings of friendships.

In Book 2, Henrietta and the Dragon Stone, Henrietta has to confront the king who gave her the title of legendary Dragon Slayer and travel back into the capital city. She sees it with new eyes, with a new goal, and a new identity.

In Book 3, Henrietta and the Horse Mesa (coming soon), Henrietta must travel into a new kingdom, an unknown dangerous territory, the so-called Horse Kingdom, for a mission. Her interaction with the new culture, people, and new high-desert environment pushes her to limits about what she think she can accomplish.

Into every new territory Henrietta travels, she faces the opportunity to stretch, grow, and make new connections.

I am deeply inspired by travel, so I love creating opportunities for Henrietta to become more of the leader she’s meant to be as she expands her knowledge of her own world.

Beth-Barany_MG_6971_900x900About Beth:

Award-winning author, Beth Barany writes in two genres: young adult fantasy and contemporary fantasy romance.

Inspired by living abroad in France twice and Quebec once, she loves creating magical tales of romance and adventure to enchant readers into new worlds where magic conspires to bring more love into the world.

In her off hours, Beth enjoys walking, reading and watching movies, and traveling, with her husband, author and singer/song writer Ezra Barany.

Beth Barany lives in Oakland, California with her husband, a cat named Leo, and over 1,000 books.

When not writing or playing, Beth runs her own company helping novelists as a book midwife and teacher to help them write, market, and publish their books. She holds authors’ hands while they push their book out into the world.

Beth also writes contemporary fantasy romance. More about those books here:

Connect with Beth:

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Goodreads ~ Instagram ~ Pinterest



Henrietta the Dragon Slayer (The Five Kingdoms, #1)

Henrietta The Dragon Slayer
(Young Adult Epic Fantasy Adventure)
(The Five Kingdoms Book 1)

Henrietta, the legendary Dragon Slayer of the Kingdom of Bleuve, can’t stomach the thought of one more kill. Yet, in order to save her dying mentor, she must go on one last quest. But will misfit companions, seasickness, and an ego maniacal king derail the quest for the healing stone? And will she be able to cut past her conscience and kill the dragon?


**2012 Grand prize winner at the California Fiction Writers Book Contest!**
**2011 Finalist at the Hollywood Book Festival!**

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt!

Kelly’s review here!

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks

Henrietta and The Dragon Stone (The Five Kingdoms #2)

Henrietta and the Dragon Stone
(Young Adult Epic Adventure Fantasy)
(The Five Kingdoms Book 2)

What if all those you loved were threatened by a force you couldn’t see or fight?

Henrietta the legendary ass kicking dragon slayer wants to return to her village for a heroes’ welcome. But an unknown sorcerer rides after her and her Dragon Stone, and aims to destroy everyone she cares about. Can she claim her newfound powers sparked by the Dragon Stone and keep her loved ones safe, especially her more-than-friend, and her stalwart bodyguard, before the sorcerer destroys her and everything in his path?

CLICK HERE to read an excerpt!

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks

A Cupcake Christmas (A Christmas Elf story) A Magical Tale of Romance and Adventure (Touchstone, #5)

A Cupcake Christmas
(A Christmas Elf Romance)
Now on sale for $0.99!

What if you risked losing your baking legacy by cooking up a love truly special?

Florian MacMillian needs a final job to complete his baking resume—preferably a job where he’s unlikely to blow things up with his unruly magic—before returning to the North Pole and taking his rightful place as Master Baker to all the elves.

Kate Delore desperately needs help in her fast-growing cupcake business. Florian is a perfect fit, so she brings him on as baker. Florian is happily up to his elbows in batter, and Kate’s business is booming.

But when things heat up between them, Florian wonders if he should risk his legacy to cook up something truly special.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ iBooks

It’s been such a pleasure to interact and work with Beth over the last few months, so I’m extremely thrilled to finally have her guest post on the blog. Not only is she a writer, but she also teaches writing techniques for a living! She even has books out about getting past writers’ block and writing romance novels, so if you’re struggling, you may just want to check out some of her other books! =)

As always, a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has been, currently is, or will be a part of this wonderful feature. Know that every post is another step closer to helping new writers achieve their dreams.

Have a wonderful holiday season!


Waiting on Wednesday: Truthwitch


We are super excited for this week’s Waiting on Wednesday as the release date is only 13 days away!! As always, the wonderful Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine. 



Title: Truthwitch
Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Page Count: 416
Publication Date: January 5th, 2016


On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.


About the Author:


Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.

You can learn more about Susan on her website, blog, newsletter, Twitter, or Pinterest.


Why We Are Waiting:

Lauren: Truthwitch is going to be one of my first buys of 2016! The cover is stunning and the story sounds amazing! This sounds like the kind of book I would love: you have a magic system, characters with strong friendships, and a war that will help add a bit of conflict to the story. I can’t wait to read this one! So far I have only heard good things from the people lucky enough to get the ARC for this. The best part? IT’S ALMOST HERE!

Kelly: Truthwitch, Truthwitch, Truthwitch. I’d be completely lying if I told you my life practically didn’t revolve around the release of this book. Between a BA heroine that curses like an angry sailor, some steamy (and cocky) male characters, and a whole lot of adventure, I know that I will be enraptured with this novel. The problem is getting it. I seriously need to clear my TBR so that I can be prepared to read this as soon as it gets into my hands!

Melissa: As soon as I heard about Truthwitch was inspired by Avatar the Last Air Bender at BEA, I quickly jumped on the chance to get an ARC. I still need to read it… It sounds amazing! I’m especially excited for the friendship in this story between Safiya & Iseult. I’m also excited for the hot men everyone keeps talking about.  I can’t wait to start reading it!



Are you also waiting impatiently for the release of Truthwitch? Let us know!


Ten Books We Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under Our Tree This Year


With Christmas only a couple days away what better way to kick off the holidays with our Top Ten Books We Wouldn’t Mind Santa Leaving Under Our Tree This Year. Top Ten Tuesdays is a weekly feature hosted by the girls of The Broke and the Bookish.

Melissa’s Picks



Kelly’s Picks



Lauren’s Picks



What would you guys like Santa to bring you for Christmas this year? Let us know in the comments down below!  We love hearing from you!


Don’t forget we have a Holiday Giveaway going on! Enter HERE



Musings of Dahlia Adler


Experiences and opinions on self-publishing and traditional publishing

by Dahlia Adler

I think it’s a really common misconception that you have to be Team Self-Pub or Team Trad-Pub. The fact is, I do both (which makes me referred to as a “hybrid author”), and I think that was absolutely the right decision for me, and is for many authors. The key, in my opinion, is knowing what to self-pub and what to traditionally publish, and why.

(At this point, I’m going to do the obligatory “These are my personal opinions, your mileage may vary, etc. etc. etc.” This can be a very fraught topic, and everyone’s entitled to their own opinions; I’m only speaking to mine.)

Like in any other commercial business, supply and demand matters. The way I determine what I think should be trad vs. self-pubbed comes down to what the market is offering. As you’ve probably noticed if you follow the self-pub market, far and away the most successful across the board has been contemporary college-set romance. Why? Because that was exactly the gap in the traditional market—with very few exceptions, neither YA nor adult would touch them.

On the flip side, when you look at what is (or was) consistently published by the industry—for example, pretty much every genre of YA—that’s stuff I would always aim to publish traditionally, because, frankly, why would anyone choose a non-gatekept version, for which they can’t ensure quality, when there are a million options they know for sure have been through editors and have multiple professional seals of approval?

(In case you don’t know, or haven’t figured it out, I self-publish NA and traditionally publish YA.)

The other big differentiation is how people shop for what you’re selling. NA? Primarily sells digitally, which is great for self-publishing. YA? Primarily sells in hard copy. Even though the ebook of my debut was $2.99 for about the first six months it was available, paperback still sold it under the table.

And with hardcopy sales dominating a category, that means store placement is key as well. Traditionally publishing YA not only got it on store shelves (another NA issue that makes it less useful for traditional publishing is that 99% of stores don’t have a designated section for it, so it’s hard to seek it out specifically), but also allowed me to do events through bookstores and participate in festivals—something that, again, seems to be considerably more important in YA than in NA.

Nowadays, the contemporary NA market is pretty massively oversaturated, so unless you’re gonna be very on-trend or have a decent platform/following going on, it’s a bigger challenge to get noticed than may be worth it for many. And while I know people are very gung-ho to try to take NA beyond Contemporary, I think enough time has passed that we can see that’s not its fate. Which makes sense—it’s not like spec fic with protags that age haven’t been selling this entire time. It goes back to the YA gatekeeper theory, but in this case, it’s adult.

So, for me personally, this division works. As the NA market cools, I’m not sure what I think my future in it is. Mostly likely I’ll keep self-publishing whatever I want to see out there that I don’t think is viable as YA, or that I do think is viable as YA that the industry isn’t doing enough with, e.g. light contemporary f/f. I love it for the same reason a lot of other authors do: control. It’s a hard thing to give up, getting to make all the decisions, having all the errors in your hands to fix.

I’m a fan of hybrid life, and I think it’s a pretty great option for authors who are comfortable doing a lot of their own work, want to see what it’s like to take the reins, and may have something to offer that traditional publishing doesn’t. If you think that might be you, give it a shot!

About Dahlia

Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a blogger for B&N Teens by night, and writes Contemporary YA and NA at every spare moment in between. She’s the author of the Daylight Falls duology, the upcoming Just Visiting, and Last Will and Testament, as well as over five billion tweets as @MissDahlELama. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves.

Website | Goodreads | Blog | Twitter

Last Will and Testament

Lizzie Brandt was valedictorian of her high school class, but at Radleigh University, all she’s acing are partying and hooking up with the wrong guys. But all that changes when her parents are killed in a tragic accident, making her guardian to her two younger brothers. To keep them out of foster care, she’ll have to fix up her image, her life, and her GPA—fast. Too bad the only person on campus she can go to for help is her humorless, pedantic Byzantine History TA, Connor Lawson, who isn’t exactly Lizzie’s biggest fan.

But Connor surprises her. Not only is he a great tutor, but he’s also a pretty great babysitter. And chauffeur. And listener. And he understands exactly what it’s like to be on your own before you’re ready. Before long, Lizzie realizes having a responsible-adult type around has its perks… and that she’d like to do some rather irresponsible (but considerably adult) things with him as well. Good thing he’s not the kind of guy who’d ever reciprocate.

Until he does.

Until they turn into far more than teacher and student.

Until the relationship that helped put their lives back together threatens everything they both have left.

Goodreads | Amazon

Behind the Scenes

High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

Goodreads | Amazon

Under the Lights

Josh Chester loves being a Hollywood bad boy, coasting on his good looks, his parties, his parents’ wealth, and the occasional modeling gig. But his laid-back lifestyle is about to change. To help out his best friend, Liam, he joins his hit teen TV show, Daylight Falls … opposite Vanessa Park, the one actor immune to his charms. (Not that he’s trying to charm her, of course.) Meanwhile, his drama-queen mother blackmails him into a new family reality TV show, with Josh in the starring role. Now that he’s in the spotlight—on everyone’s terms but his own—Josh has to decide whether a life as a superstar is the one he really wants.

Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actor, despite her parents’ disapproval. But with all her relationships currently in upheaval, she’s painfully uncertain about everything else. When she meets her new career handler, Brianna, Van is relieved to have found someone she can rely on, now that her BFF, Ally, is at college across the country. But as feelings unexpectedly evolve beyond friendship, Van’s life reaches a whole new level of confusing. And she’ll have to choose between the one thing she’s always loved … and the person she never imagined she could.

Goodreads | Amazon

Just Visiting

Reagan Forrester wants out—out of her trailer park, out of reach of her freeloading mother, and out of the shadow of the relationship that made her the pariah of Charytan, Kansas.

Victoria Reyes wants in—in to a fashion design program, in to the arms of a cute guy who doesn’t go to Charytan High, and in to a city where she won’t stand out for being Mexican.

One thing the polar-opposite best friends do agree on is that wherever they go, they’re staying together. But when they set off on a series of college visits at the start of their senior year, they quickly see that the future doesn’t look quite like they expected. After two years of near-solitude following the betrayal of the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart, Reagan falls hard and fast for a Battlestar Galactica-loving, brilliant smile-sporting pre-med prospective… only to learn she’s set herself up for heartbreak all over again. Meanwhile, Victoria runs full-speed toward all the things she thinks she wants… only to realize everything she’s looking for might be in the very place they’ve sworn to leave.

As both Reagan and Victoria struggle to learn who they are and what they want in the present, they discover just how much they don’t know about each other’s pasts. And when each learns what the other’s been hiding, they’ll have to decide whether their friendship has a future.

Goodreads | Amazon

That’s it for this week! Thank you Dahlia for being so wonderful providing this insightful post.

Another huge thank you, as always, to everyone who has participated or will participate in this feature. We appreciate all of your time spent giving new writers advice and sharing your stories and love of writing with people who need it. Your kindness doesn’t go without gratitude!



Top Ten Books Released in 2015


For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday we’re looking back at what we’ve read this past year.  Here’s our list of Top Ten Books we love that were released in 2015. As always Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the girls of  The Broke and Bookish.

Melissa & Kelly’s Pick

Queen of Shadows

Kelly’s Picks

The Night We Said Yes

An Ember in the Ashes

The Orphan Queen

Lauren’s Picks

Air Awakens

Heart of Betrayal

A Court of Thorns and Roses

Melissa’s Picks

Six of Crows

Ice Like Fire

P.S. I Still Love You

What made your Top Ten list of 2015? Do you see any we have in common? Let us know in the comments below!


Musings of Becky Albertalli



Incorporating pop culture references into your writing

by Becky Albertalli

Recently, I had one of those soul-baring conversations with two of my best friends about our careers and our goals and the things that matter to us as authors. And one of my friends said something that stuck with me.

I want my book to still exist and be relevant a few decades from now.

That’s it. Not money or prestige or awards or fame. All my friend wanted was for the story to transcend the time and place in which it was written. So simple and so lovely.

And, of course, it sent me into this anxious spiral of confusion and self-doubt, because if there’s one criticism I get all the time for SIMON, it’s this: too many pop culture references. Will date itself quickly. Tries too hard to be “of the moment.” Will quickly become irrelevant.

Maybe they’re right.

But I want to talk a little bit about pop culture references in contemporary YA books, and I’m going to use the term broadly here. When I say pop culture, I’m referring to real-life media, celebrities, internet communities, fandoms, real-world events, slang, technology, and basically all the things that people discuss and engage with in the actual world.

Here’s the thing about pop culture references in books: a lot of people hate them. They can be hard to get right – and when they miss the mark, they’re jarring. Sometimes we adults get teen culture wrong. We just do. And sometimes, it’s an issue of timing. The song that was so popular when you drafted the book? If you’re pursuing traditional publishing, it’s going to be at least three years old by the time your book launches. Pop culture, by its very nature, is a moving target.

But for SIMON, I chose to aim for that target. And honestly? I had to.

There are tons of contemporary YA books that flawlessly sidestep the issue of pop culture – or they downplay it, or they invent fake popular media that feels perfectly real. But when I wrote SIMON, I made the decision to jump into my real world setting with both feet.

Not because I wanted the book to feel “of the moment.” Not because I think it’s the only way to connect with teen readers. But because, from the minute I met him, I knew Simon would be deeply connected to pop culture. He just is. He’s evangelical about his music, and he’s obsessed with Harry Potter. He watches reality TV with his family. He has a laptop and an iPhone. (And, of course, he has a lot of privilege – something for another blog post.) And taken separately, maybe these feel like tangential aspects of his character, but I think they all come together to form something essential about him. Simon is wholly, inextricably a high school junior of 2014-2015. Context matters. It always matters.

And then you have the internet, which is the biggest deal of all.

Here’s something I think is important: SIMON doesn’t exist without the internet. It is a book about an anonymous online friendship, disrupted by an online invasion of privacy. My characters are hooked into social media, and these communities play important roles in their lives. Many of the biggest moments in this book occur over email or Tumblr.

And that’s the thing: this is real life for a lot of actual teens – especially LGBTQIAP+ teens. Especially when they’re navigating the Coming Out Thing. The internet is a gamechanger. It provides anonymous connection for kids who desperately need that. It breaks down geographical barriers. And it’s literally the only place some kids are able to find their communities. I could never have written this particular story without it

And so, the book is out there, with all its messiness – and it’s true: every day, Simon’s pop culture passions will become less and less relevant to new readers. Every shifting online trend threatens my book’s longevity. To be honest, I don’t expect my book to be on shelves forever.

But that’s something I’m okay with. Some books are meant to be timeless. And some are meant to be of their time. And, honestly? I hope my book becomes dated. Because if the culture shifts for LGBTQIAP+ kids in the way it needs to, Simon’s story will become quaint and old-fashioned, and I will fucking celebrate that.

And in the meantime, I’ll stick in another reference to Tumblr. Because Simon is now. And Simon would want me to.



About Becky

Becky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, DC. These days, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons, and writes very nerdy contemporary young adult fiction. Her debut novel, SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins is out NOW!

You can visit Becky at !

Goodreads | Twitter | Tumblr | Amazon


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.


With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Goodreads | Amazon

A huge thank you to Becky for being an amazing author and an amazing person! I had the pleasure of meeting Becky twice this year, and I’m so happy I did! She’s super sweet!

As always, THANK YOU to all of the wonderful authors who will participate and have participated in this feature. your advice, stories, and experiences are invaluable to new writers. We appreciate everything you do for us!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



Top Ten New to Me in 2015 + GIVEAWAY!


This weeks Top Ten Tuesday we’re looking back at what we’ve read this past year.  We’ve all have been lucky enough to discover new authors this year whether they’re a debut author or well known.  As always Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Kelly’s Picks:


Lauren’s Picks:


Melissa’s Picks


Who are some authors you never read until this year?

As a “Thank You” to all of our followers during the holiday season, we are giving one lucky winner a chance to win a book of their choice under $20 USD.

It can be ANY book within the price range! Hardcover, Contemporary, Sci-Fi, New Adult, Fantasy, whatever floats your boat! And the best part, this giveaway is open to EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of our followers! So, get those entries in quickly and best of luck to all of you! Link below!


  • Open INTERNATIONALLY. (U.S winner will have theirs shipped from Amazon. Int’l winner will have theirs shipped from The Book Depository if it ships to your country)
  • We reserve the right to disqualify any entry that does not seem valid.
  • Giveaway ends at 12:00AM EST December 24th.






Waiting on Wednesday: Wandering Star


As always, Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine.


Title: Wandering Star (Zodiac #2)

Author: Romina Russell

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Page Count: 352

Publication Date: December 8th, 2015


Orphaned, disgraced, and stripped of her title, Rho is ready to live life quietly, as an aid worker in the Cancrian refugee camp on House Capricorn.

But news has spread that the Marad–an unbalanced terrorist group determined to overturn harmony in the Galaxy–could strike any House at any moment.

Then, unwelcome nightmare that he is, Ochus appears to Rho, bearing a cryptic message that leaves her with no choice but to fight.

Now Rho must embark on a high-stakes journey through an all-new set of Houses, where she discovers that there’s much more to her Galaxy–and to herself–than she could have ever imagined.


About the Author:


Romina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.


Why We Are Waiting:

Lauren: I’m always looking for new stories to read, so Melissa told me about the Zodiac series. I have not read the first one yet, but hearing Melissa talk about it has me looking forward to it! At least after book 2 comes out I can binge read them!

Melissa: Basically been waiting for this been since I finished Zodiac last year right around this time last year. Okay I technically started my ARC already, but I want my finished copy!! I’m so excited to explore the other Zodiac solar systems. Also the ending of Zodiac was hard to read through because everything was very intense. I must know what happens next!!

Kelly: I grew up with my mom’s hobby of astrology. I’ve always been fascinated by it and how accurately it can portray the people around me. I now use it as a tool to understand mannerisms, thoughts, actions, etc., of friends, family, and others who cross my path. I love it, and seeing that there’s a book out that uses astrology to further the plot line and create this unique world… well, you know where I’m headed! I need to get my hands on the first book!