Wednesday, July 31, 2013

IN THE AFTER Epic Bookplate Giveaway!

Want a signed copy of IN THE AFTER, but can't make it out to one of my events in Chicago? Enter to win one of fifty signed bookplates!

Contest runs Wednesday 7/31/13 to Wednesday 8/7/13.
U.S. only. (Sorry rest of the world!)
One entry per person please!

And if you want to check out IN THE AFTER before you enter, here are some links:

IN THE AFTER Book Trailer
Browse inside on Epic Reads
My FB Page

Okay, I'm going camping (not really a camping girl, so we'll see how that goes) and I'll be back next Wednesday!

Monday, July 29, 2013

In Defense of Love Triangles

I am not a romance writer; the amount of romance in IN THE AFTER is very little, and the small amount that can be found is very subtle. But I have a confession…I love love triangles, especially in YA lit, which I read almost exclusively. I know some people feel very strongly (and very negatively) about them, but before you unfollow, unlike, block, and write me off completely, let me explain my affection for the much maligned YA love triangle.

Choices, Choices – Choice in YA lit is not a bad thing. Teens may not feel like they have a lot of say over their daily life, but most teens can decide who they date (or if their parents are strict, at least who they want to date.) Portraying teens as in charge of their own life, and as having choices when it comes to something so important, is a positive trend.  

Having a character choose between two or more love interests can also be a great plot device. It can keep the reader interested in a love subplot or rooting for one character over another…but it goes beyond plot progression. Why is heartthrob A better than heartthrob B? How do their traits differ? What makes one a better choice than the other? A character reveals a lot about themselves through the choices they make, and choosing between love interests can round out an MC. Of course, this can be done poorly. Two supermodel-esq teens fight over an MC who isn’t very interesting or dynamic. I’m not saying simply having a love triangle will make a story, but it can definitely enhance it when done right.

Love (Un)Interest - When you have an MC that is kick-ass, smart, hot, and interesting, who wouldn’t want to date them? If the MC were dull, they probably wouldn’t be the MC…they’d be the best friend or the tertiary character stuck in the background. When there’s an awesome MC, I think it’s completely realistic that there would be multiple guys (or girls) chasing them and perhaps these suitors are less than ideal. It would be equally realistic that they would try to avoid the attention of the shallow/jerk/meathead/overbearing character.

I personally have never had to choose between two equally wonderfully perfect guys who each pursued me with a passionate fury…but I’ve had plenty of unwanted weirdo creep attention. It’s just part of being human. Someone you wouldn’t give the time of day to will like you, while you like someone else who doesn’t know you exist. Yes, it’s harsh, but it’s also high school.

Crushed - The definition of a crush is: a temporary romantic attraction, especially in teenagers and young people. Though they are not always lumped in with the love triangle, crushes are a huge part of YA lit…and with that comes crushes on multiple characters. I think this is great.

Not every attraction ends in meeting your soul mate and results in a lifelong relationship. It's normal for teens to crush on someone one week and lose interest the next, that's why it's called a crush and not love eternal. It's also normal for teens to have multiple crushes at once. My high school guy friends always had at least three or four girls they were interested in at any given time. That many crushes in a novel may be unwieldy, so I can see why some stories stick to the two crush scenario, which gets them put squarely into the love triangle category. (Ha! Squarely into the triangle...never mind.)

And yes, sometimes along the course of a novel a crush develops into love and can result in breaking an MC’s heart (See love (un)interests above) but that’s just another part of growing up. And when the crush character doesn’t break the MC's heart? The progression from crush to relationship can really drive a story. And let’s be honest, an MC’s early crush on the "wrong" character also makes it all the more satisfying if they do wind up with the "right" character at the end.

That’s my take on love triangles. I love any YA lit that realistically portrays teen emotions and all the depth (and sometimes the shallowness) that comes along with finding yourself and growing into adulthood.

What's your take on the love triangle in YA lit? Love them? Hate them? Feel free to rant…I love a good rant!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Book Spotlight - MAID OF SECRETS by Jennifer McGowan

Maid of Secrets (Maids of Honor, #1)

Seventeen-year-old Meg Fellowes is a wry, resourceful thief forced to join an elite group of female spies in Queen Elizabeth’s Court. There she must solve a murder, save the Crown, and resist the one thing that will become her greatest freedom–and her deadliest peril.

For Meg and her fellow spies are not alone in their pursuit of the murderer who stalks Windsor Castle.

A young, mysterious Spanish courtier, Count Rafe de Martine, appears at every turn in the dark and scandal-filled corridors of the Queen’s summer palace. And though secrets and danger are Meg’s stock-in-trade, she’s never bargained on falling in love…

Recommended for fans of: YA Historical Fiction, Elizabethan Fiction

 Though I’m a Sci-fi girl, I love me a good Historical Fiction (you can read a post on my not so secret love here) and MAID OF SECRETS does not disappoint. It has a wonderful MC, royal intrigue, female spies, and just the right amount of romance. I also love how McGowan weaves history through her book, it’s not overwhelming but gives you just enough for historical context.

The story itself is also a page-turner, you find yourself unable to stop reading as several mysteries unfold.  It’s also quite the ride to see Meg’s character develop from a resourceful thief to a skillful spy, and her struggle with all that entails. The characters are all wonderfully fleshed out, and you feel like you’re smack dap in the middle of Elizabethan England. Definitely recommend to anyone with a love of Historical Fiction.

MAID OF SECRETS is available now!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SCBWI New Authors Panel in Chicago

Tomorrow I'll be on another panel, here in Chicago. Here are the details:

July 25th - (Thursday) - SCBWI New Authors Panel Discussion‏ - It's a Summer Cavalcade of Debut Children's Authors! 

Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators
When: Thursday, July 25th
Time: 6:30-8 p.m.
Where: 57th Street Books, 1301 East 57th Street in Chicago
Cost: Free
Join us at 57th Street Books in Hyde Park for the next SCBWI South Side Chicago Network panel discussion. We're featuring four debut children's authors who will share their journey to publication, how they broke through and won over an editor, whether they used an agent or didn't, the role of revision, what it's like selling and marketing, and much more.
The lineup!
Demitria Lunetta whose dystopian YA "In the After" (HarperTeen) hits shelves in late June
Tom Watson whose middle-grade "Stick Dog" (HarperCollins) came out in January and is already a four-book series
Liesl Shurtliff whose middle-grade novel "Rump" (Knopf) is garnering critics' praise
Eileen Meyer whose non-fiction picture book "Who's Faster?" (Mountain Press) is just the first of many new titles from this author
Hope to see you there!

Monday, July 22, 2013

ARC Spotlight – STARGLASS by Phoebe North


Terra has never known anything but life aboard the Asherah, a city-within-a-spaceship that left Earth five hundred years ago in search of refuge. At sixteen, working a job that doesn't interest her, and living with a grieving father who only notices her when he's yelling, Terra is sure that there has to be more to life than what she's got.

But when she inadvertently witnesses the captain's guard murdering an innocent man, Terra is suddenly thrust into the dark world beneath her ship's idyllic surface. As she's drawn into a secret rebellion determined to restore power to the people, Terra discovers that her choices may determine life or death for the people she cares most about. With mere months to go before landing on the long-promised planet, Terra has to make the decision of a lifetime--one that will determine the fate of her people.

Recommended for fans of: YA Sci-fi, Dystopian

I loved STARGLASS for so many reasons, so let me try to break them down here. J Firstly I love the feel of the book, that classic Sci-fi spaceship journey feel. I also love the dystopian aspect…you know something’s not quite right on the Starglass, and you can’t help but turn the pages to find out what that something is. You may think it’s just another ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, but it’s actually a fresh spin on the idea. North weaves action, familial issues, and social intrigue together to form an amazing book. I also love how North uses Jewish culture as her basis for the ships society, and her characters deal with tough issues, including coming to terms with their sexuality, as well as uncovering the truth aboard the Starglass. There’s also a bang up twist at the end, which will have you wishing for the sequel. I highly recommend this book for any YA sci-fi fans out there!

STARGLASS releases tomorrow, July 23rd!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Book Spotlight – THE NEPTUNE PROJECT by Polly Holyoke

The Neptune Project


With her weak eyes and useless lungs that often leave her gasping for air, Nere feels more at home swimming with the dolphins her mother studies than she does hanging out with her classmates. Nere has never understood why she is so much more comfortable and confident in the water than on land until the day she learns the shocking truth—she is one of a group of kids who have been genetically altered to survive in the ocean. These products of the "Neptune Project" are supposed to build a better future under the waves, safe from the terrible famines and wars and that rock the surface world.

But there are some big challenges ahead of her: no one ever asked Nere if she wanted to be part of a science experiment; the other Neptune kids aren't exactly the friendliest bunch, and in order to reach the safe haven of the new Neptune colony, Nere and her fellow mutates must swim across hundreds of miles of dangerous ocean, relying on their wits, their loyal dolphins and one another to evade terrifying undersea creatures and a government that will stop at nothing to capture the Neptune kids ... dead or alive.

Fierce battle and daring escapes abound as Nere and her friend race to safety in this action-packed marine adventure.

Recommended for fans of: MG or YA Dystopian/Action Adventure.

This MG dystopian is packed with action, an exciting plot, and loveable characters. I was really drawn to the MC, Nere, and her plight; finding out that she is part of a genetics experiment that created humans who could live in the ocean. Within the first few chapters, Nere’s life is changed forever and the reader empathizes with her fear and resentment. But Nere is also strong and courageous and really drives the story forward. Although this book is MG, I think a lot of older teens would like it too. Definite rec to any pre-teen/teen interested in marine biology or who is looking for a fun spin on the dystopian genre.

THE NEPTUNE PROJECT is available now!

Monday, July 15, 2013

IN THE AFTER on the Apocalypse Blog Hop

Check out my interview on the very cool Apocalypse Blog Hop here at Christy's Love of Books. I answer some pretty great questions...including If you had to be stuck with one celebrity in the post-apocalypse world, who would you want it to be? Visit Christy's blog to find out what I said and enter to win a signed copy of IN THE AFTER (or if you already have a copy, a t-shirt!)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Signing at Barbara's Bookstore in Burr Ridge, IL

Tomorrow (Saturday, July 13th)  I'll be at Barbara's Bookstore in Burr Ridge, IL at 3pm. If you're in the area stop by and pick up a personalized copy of IN THE AFTER! Here's the address and phone number:

Barbara's Bookstore
810 Village Center Dr.
Burr Ridge, IL 60527

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

ARC Spotlight - 45 Pounds (More or Less) by K.A. Barson

I originally posted this review in January, but with this amazing book releasing tomorrow I wanted to repost!

45 Pounds (More or Less)

Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi’s life:

She is 16.

And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 10 weeks, and wants Ann to be her bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less) in 2 1/2 months.

Welcome to the world of informercial diet plans, wedding dance lessons, embarrassing run-ins with the cutest guy Ann’s ever seen—-and some surprises about her NOT-so-perfect mother.

And there’s one more thing. It’s all about feeling comfortable in your own skin-—no matter how you add it up!

Recommended for fans of: YA Contemporary

This book really hit home. It’s not just for teens that have struggled with their weight, but for anyone who has ever had a problem in life they felt they had no control over. Ann’s just happens to be her weight. She thinks that all of her troubles will be solved if she can just lose 45 pounds. Even with the low self esteem, she’s a very likeable MC, easy to relate to. She’s also a bit clueless. I love how Ann’s character develops throughout the book, as she learns more about herself, her friends, and her family. She discovers that she’s not as alone in her struggles as she thought. A very satisfying read!

45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS) releases tomorrow, July  11th  and is one of Amazon's best teen books for July!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Edits Are In!

I just hit send on my edits for book 2, IN THE END and I am so happy with how it's turned out. I also got a recent glimpse of the cover, and though I can't share right now, I can tell you that I love it. It goes perfectly with the IN THE AFTER cover.

I'm going to take a few days to recover, but I'll be back Wednesday!


Friday, July 5, 2013

The Blog Chain - Guilty Pleasure Reading

The Blog Chain question this week is:
What are your guilty pleasure books/genres?
My guilty pleasure reading is historical fiction...which I admit doesn't sound like it should be a guilty pleasure. It's far from dull, though. I once described historical fiction as a retelling of "really old gossip" and the juicier the better. Especially anything to do with royal intrigue. There's always murder, adultery, international espionage, and of course pampered royalty who have more power than sense.
I love love love anything by Philippa Gregory.
The Other Boleyn Girl (The Tudor Court, #2)The Constant Princess (The Tudor Court, #1)

And I also love any historical fiction that is also a ghost' a recent one I read that was fantastic:
In the Shadow of Blackbirds

 Keep following this topic on the chain and check out Michelle’s blog on Monday, or look back at Katrina's post from yesterday.

What are your guilty pleasure books/genres?

Monday, July 1, 2013

IN THE AFTER Launch Party Pics!

My launch party was sooooo much fun! Here's some pics:

Class Five was there to help out :)


A lot of wonderful people popped in and out throughout!

Want to see more pics? There are more on FB here:
HAVE A GREAT 4th EVERYONE! I'll be back Friday!