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Author Chat with Maureen Johnson (NINE LIARS), Plus Excerpt & Giveaway – US Only

December 2nd, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Maureen Johnson (NINE LIARS)!

Read on to learn more about her, her book, and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Maureen Johnson

Maureen Johnson is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen young adult novels, including the Truly Devious series, the Shades of London series, Suite Scarlett, and 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Her collaborative books include Ghosts of the Shadow Market (with Cassandra Clare), as well as Let It Snow (with John Green and Lauren Myracle), which was also a hit feature film on Netflix.

Her books have sold more than three million copies worldwide and have been published in more than thirty countries.

The bestselling author is also active in social justice issues and politics both online and IRL. She initiated and organized an open letter in support of trans and nonbinary communities that was signed by more than 2000 North American writers, including Margaret Atwood, Stephen King, Roxane Gay, and Neil Gaiman, as well as publishers and other members of the literary world. She co-hosts the podcast, Says Who? with Punk Planet creator Dan Sinker and edited the collection How I Resist, the entire advance of which was donated to the ACLU.

She has written for publications such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Guardian and CrimeReads. Her CrimeReads essay, “Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village” has garnered upwards of 450,000 views since its publication.

Maureen Johnson grew up in Philadelphia, graduated from the University of Delaware and has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University.  She lives in New York City with her husband and dog.

Website * Twitter * Instagram * Facebook

 

 

 

About the Book: Nine Liars

Stevie Bell solved the case of Truly Devious, and now she’s taking her detecting skills abroad when she becomes embroiled in a mystery from 1990s England. Another pulse-pounding and laugh-out-loud stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

Senior year at Ellingham Academy for Stevie Bell isn’t going well. Her boyfriend, David, is studying in London. Her friends are obsessed with college applications. With the cold case of the century solved, Stevie is adrift. There is nothing to distract her from the questions pinging around her brain—questions about college, love, and life in general.

Relief comes when David invites Stevie and her friends to join him for study abroad, and his new friend Izzy introduces her to a double-murder cold case. In 1995, nine friends from Cambridge University went to a country house and played a drunken game of hide-and-seek. Two were found in the woodshed the next day, murdered with an ax.

The case was assumed to be a burglary gone wrong, but one of the remaining seven saw something she can’t explain. This was no break-in. Someone’s lying about what happened in the woodshed.

Seven suspects. Two murders. One killer still playing a deadly game.

 

 

 

~Excerpt~

Dear Miss Bell,

I have been reading about your recent success in solving cold cases, like the ones at Ellingham Academy and at Camp Sunny Pines. There is something going on in my town and I need your help getting to the bottom of it. My neighbor has been killing people in an industrial dryer and putting their remains in our community garden. I have tried to dig up the garden myself but I am not permitted inside due to a legal matter, and it is very hard to do with a small shovel. Can you come here and help me to…

Stevie Bell stopped reading.

It was a quiet October night in Minerva House. At the farmhouse table in its cozy common room, she sat with her friends. Janelle Franklin and Vi Harper-Tomo were side by side working on their laptops.

“You finished your Stanford essay, right?” Janelle asked Vi.

“Almost,” Vi replied.

“Are you using that same one for Tufts?

Vi looked up. They had gotten a new pair of white glasses over the summer and had cropped their hair and bleached it to almost the same shade, with a fade of blue down the back of their head. They were wearing a massive blue-and-silver fuzzy sweater that sort of matched their hair. Janelle had embraced the fall palate in an orange sweater and a vibrant kente cloth head wrap in gold, red, and green.

“No,” Vi said. “I’m writing one in Japanese for Tufts, and I’m not done with that one either.”

“Let me know when you’re finished so I can input it into the spreadsheet.”

Janelle and Vi had become a couple from the moment they’d met at the start of last year. They had decided that they didn’t want to go to the same school, probably, but they wanted to go to schools that were close to each other. In true crime talk, they had done a geographical profile of the unsub—worked out exactly what they wanted from their schools, and targeted the regions, then the programs. Every night, Janelle updated the spreadsheet that tracked where they were in their mutual application process.

Next to this, Nate Fisher was also typing away furiously, his face a scowl of concentration. Nate was one of Stevie’s closest friends—lanky, the kind of pale the Victorians would have classified as consumptive, with his never cool T-shirts and his wrong-sized pants hiding an athletic build. A fringe of overgrown brown hair half-shaded his eyes as he bent over his computer. He was usually her companion in avoiding things, but tonight he was letting her down. His fingers hadn’t stopped moving all night.

Stevie was supposed to be working. She had six articles to read tonight for Modern American Political History.  When your class only had five people in it, you couldn’t get away with not doing the reading. You can only vamp so long about the media in general until your teacher raises a practiced eyebrow and puts the imaginary cone of shame on your head.

She looked at the article on her screen: “Defining Bias: How We Interpret What We Read.”

The sound of Nate’s typing echoed in her ears. He had headphones on and his fingers were flying. She had never seen him work this hard. Nate was a writer—he had gotten into Ellingham on the strength of a novel he wrote and published in his early teens. Since that time, he had been running from deadlines and the concept of writing in general like it was an angry bear on an electric bike. Where had he found all this focus?

Maybe from the fact that it was October. Senior year. How had she gotten here?

Well, time does that. The clock ticks steadily on.

Time was ticking right now. She had to read. This was the shortest of the six articles. She knew that because for the last hour, she had scrolled through all six, looking at how long they were and figuring out what to read first. Then she would go to the little kitchen off to the side of the common room and get some more water, or a hot chocolate, or she went to pee, or she walked to her room to get a hoodie, or she walked to her room to get her slippers, or she just stared at the moose head with the holiday lights on it that was mounted above the fireplace.

The rest of her time she looked at her phone, which was how she’d found this new message about the shovel and the industrial dryer.

Time to work. Okay. She would do it this time. She would read. Her sightless gaze dribbled down the first paragraph….

She tapped Nate under the table with her foot.

“What?” Nate said, pulling off his headphones.

“Do you want to go for a walk?” Stevie said. “Go over to the dining hall and get some cake?”

Nate glanced at his screen, looked back at his friend, and sighed.

“Fine,” he said. “But only because I love cake.”

Stevie sagged with relief when he agreed. She had been dangerously close to almost reading three entire sentences.

© 2022 Maureen Johnson

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

As a kid, I was a lover of detective mysteries. When I say lover, I mean an obsessive fan. I set out to make a detective—one that could then appear in various mysteries, working on different cases. I have dreamed of fictional detectives all my life! That’s how Stevie Bell was born. In Nine Liars, I’m taking her to England, to solve a murder in an English manor house.

The manor house murder is a classic puzzle from the golden age of mystery for a reason—you have a set cast of suspects and a contained staging area for the puzzle to play out. Country houses are small enough in the grand scope of things to give the problem limits, but big enough and weird enough to have lots of hidey-holes and passages and things like that. There’s also an air of unreality to them. It feels like a backdrop, not a place people would really live. That’s part of the appeal of this kind of mystery novel; it’s not meant to feel like a real crime, like people are being hurt. It’s Clue. It’s a revolving cast of professors and butlers and strange relatives who want to know about the will. In Nine Liars, I wanted to play with that a little—it’s a group of actors, it’s a game, it’s a murder in the woodshed. But then the story continues to the present. The clues are still scattered around. The events in the woodshed had a real impact. And to solve it, Stevie must go back to the stage where this all went down.

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love them all. And there are two casts of friends in this book—the present day cast with Stevie, and the group of friends from Cambridge in 1995. This is a full-on murder mystery, but so much of this book is about friendship, about being in a group.

 

YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?

The novel, but the title is organic. The story is about a theater group of nine people who called themselves The Nine. It also signifies the closed cast, the suspects. And they’re all faking, putting on a front in some way—they’re acting, they’re covering up secrets. They’re all lying. But why? And what about? That’s for you to find out!

 

YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I worked very hard to get everything that happened at Merryweather right. I plotted out the house and the grounds—I spent a week or so sketching out the floorplan of the house, right down to the location of every door—and laid out the grounds carefully. This meant I did a lot of research into manors and gardens. So much work on gardens. So all of those scenes in 1995—I did a lot of fine embroidery to build the place, present a group of people, and build a puzzle.

 

 YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I think the design is amazing. I’ve loved all of the Stevie Bell covers, but this one is particularly gorgeous. It has a lot of details. The more you look at it, the more you can see the twisted banister in the falling leaves.

YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?

Without spoiling anything—there is a character who comes out in this book. It’s been a long time coming, with the seeds planted in all the other Stevie books. I spent a lot of time thinking about when and how they wanted to do that.

 

YABC:    Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?

David is always a bit hard to handle.

 

YABC:   What do you do when you procrastinate?

Cook. Or clean. If I suddenly make four types of soup and a cake and I’ve decided to bleach a ceiling, it means I need to write.

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

Right now, I am working on a separate mystery called Death at Morning House. But I am also working on Stevie Bell mysteries six and seven!

 

Title: NINE LIARS

Author: MAUREEN JOHNSON

Release Date: December 27, 2022

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Genre: Young Adult

Age Range: 14-17; grades 9-12

 

 

 

~ Giveaway Details ~

One (1) winner will receive a copy of Nine Liars (Maureen Johnson) ~US ONLY

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Author Chat With Ryan Calejo (Charlie Hernández & the Golden Dooms), Plus Giveaway! ~ US Only!

November 30th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Ryan Calejo (Charlie Hernández & the Golden Dooms)!

Read on to learn more about him, his book, and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Ryan Calejo

Ryan Calejo is the award-winning author of the Charlie Hernández series and the ChupaCarter series, which he co-authored with George Lopez. His books have been featured in half a dozen state reading lists and he is a two-time gold medal winner of the Florida Book Awards. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @RyanCalejo.

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

 

About the Book: Charlie Hernández & the Golden Dooms

Inspired by Hispanic folklore, legends, and myths from the Iberian Peninsula and Central and South America, this third book in the Charlie Hernández series follows Charlie as he fights against an army of the dead.

After hitchhiking across Central and South America to rescue the Witch Queen and face off against La Mano Peluda, Charlie Hernández is pretty much grounded for life. But after all he’s been through, some quiet time at home with his parents might be nice. Though it would be better if he didn’t have to share his room with his obnoxiously perfect cousin Raúl, who’s staying with them.

But quiet is hard to come by when you’re the fifth and final morphling, and it’s not long before death walks back into Charlie’s life. Or at least, the dead do, starting with a mysterious young calaca who corners him at school, dropping cryptic hints about trouble brewing in the 305. With the League of Shadows focused on repairing fractured alliances and tracking gathering armies, this one’s up to Charlie to solve.

Following the clues only leads to more questions, and not even teenage investigative journalist extraordinaire Violet Rey can figure out how a sudden rooster infestation, earthquakes, missing persons, and a pet-napping gang of lizard-men—whom Charlie doesn’t recognize from any legend—are all connected. Most concerning of all is when they learn a map has been stolen that reveals the locations of the Golden Dooms, the twelve ancient calaca watchmen who form the magical barrier between the realms.

To stop the impending invasion, Charlie and Violet must outwit an ancient evil and unravel the most sinister of schemes. That is, unless they’d rather watch the Land of the Living get overrun by the dead.

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

My inspiration came from my grandmothers. See, growing up, I wasn’t exactly the best-behaved kid on the planet (I’m being generous here). So in order to keep me from running around everywhere and jumping off things, my abuelitas would entertain me by telling me stories—the same folktales and legends they’d heard growing up, and the ones I ended up writing about in the books. If it wasn’t for my abuelitas this series wouldn’t exist, and I’m very thankful to them for all the inspiration they’ve given me over the years.

 

YABC: How do you know when a book is finished?

The truth is I never do. My editors usually have to pry it from my fingers!

 

YABC: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Probably all the way back in elementary school. In 5th grade one of my teachers gave me my all-time favorite homework assignment. She told the class that we could write about anything we wanted; the only rule was that it had to be exactly one page long. Something about that level of creative freedom really appealed to me, and I’ve been writing ever since!

 

YABC: What type of scene do you love to write the most?

Action scenes! Those were always my favorite to read growing up, and I still love the feeling of getting swept up in a thrilling action sequence!

 

YABC: What word do you have trouble overusing?

Probably the word probably. I probably use it a lot more than I probably should. (See what I mean?) Thankfully my editors cut most of them before the final copy.

 

YABC: What is your favorite writing space?

I love writing at the beach! I just feel so relaxed when I’m around the ocean. I love the sound of it, the smell. Plus, I love building sandcastles!

 

YABC: What hobbies do you enjoy?

Oh, there are so many! But if I had to pick my top five, I’d say swimming, chess, basketball, dancing, and mango tastings. Though, now that I think about it, mango tastings are probably my favorite.

 

YABC: How do you plan to celebrate the launch of your book?

With a mango tasting, of course! Did I mention how much I love mangos?

 

YABC: What do you do when you procrastinate?

I tell one of my editors about it and she’ll usually remind me of my deadline and that’s always enough to panic me into writing. Works every time!

 

YABC: What’s up next for you? 

Thanks for asking! I’m currently working on the fourth book of the Charlie Hernández series, which I’m super duper excited about! I’m also working on the second book of a heartfelt and hilarious series that I’m co-authoring with the one and only George Lopez. The first book is titled ChupaCarter and it follows the adventures of a spunky 12-year-old boy named Jorge who discovers a chupacabra living on his grandparent’s farm. For sneak peeks, cover reveals, and all that kind of fun stuff you can follow me on Twitter or Instagram @RyanCalejo.

 

 

Title: Charlie Hernández & the Golden Dooms

Author: Ryan Calejo

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher: Aladdin (Simon & Schuster)

ISBN-10: 1534484213

ISBN-13: 978-1534484214

Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: 10 – 14

 

 

 

~ Giveaway Details ~

Two (2) winners will receive a copy of the first three books in the Charlie Hernández series (Ryan Calejo) ~US ONLY

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Interview With Kiera Cass (A Thousand Heartbeats)

November 29th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Kiera Cass  (A Thousand Heartbeats)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Kiera Cass

Kiera Cass is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series and The Siren. She is a wife and mom and too many other things to list. If she could make a crown out of anything, it would be the unending tears of her readers.

Website Twitter * Instagram 

 

 

 

About the Book: A Thousand Heartbeats

#1 New York Times bestselling author of The Selection series Kiera Cass is back with her most epic novel yet—a sweeping enemies-to-lovers standalone romance.

“Love has a sound. It sounds like a thousand heartbeats happening at the same time.” 

Princess Annika has lived a life of comfort—but no amount of luxuries can change the fact that her life isn’t her own to control. The king, once her loving father, has gone cold, and Annika will soon be forced into a loveless marriage for political gain.

Miles away, small comforts are few and far between for Lennox. He has devoted his life to the Dahrainian army, hoping to one day help them reclaim the throne that was stolen from them. For Lennox, the idea of love is merely a distraction—nothing will stand in the way of fighting for his people.

But when love, against all odds, finds them both, they are bound by its call. They can’t possibly be together—but the irresistible thrum of a thousand heartbeats won’t let them stay apart. 

Kiera Cass brings her signature sparkling romance to this beautiful story of star-crossed lovers and long-held secrets.

Amazon 

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I got a very quick snapshot in my head of a boy and a girl in a cave… and they absolutely hated each other. I had the distinct feeling that one of them wasn’t going to make it out alive, so I started writing to see what happened in the cave… And then I had to figure out how we got there in the first place… And then I had to figure out what happened after. It took a long time, but it’s all written down and ready to be shared.

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

Ohhhh… maybe Escalus? He’s Annika’s brother, and I just have a soft spot for him. He loves his sister, is very much a gentleman, and has a great sense of humor. It’s funny because he’s so much like his sister, but just different enough to be what she needs. And vice versa.

 

YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?

The novel. The title came much later, and sometimes that can be a problem! But after it clicked, this couldn’t have been called anything else! It suits the story so well.

 

YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I know I mentioned the cave already, but literally every second of them in the cave is just *chef’s kiss*. The way everything unravels and then comes back together… I love it!

 

YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I like that my covers are consistent. I love having my lovely heroines there for everyone to see. But! This story is half Annika’s and half Lennox’s, so I’m SO HAPPY he’s on the back being represented as well.

 

YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2022?

Seoulmates by Susan Lee! My k-drama loving heart is excited for that read.

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

Probably a nap! But then shortly after getting to work in a different way. I’m working on my certification in Biblical Counseling, and that requires a ton of writing in a different form. I’m much more suited to fiction!

 

YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate? 

Honestly, there were several scenes that made me stop and tear up a little, even though I knew they were coming. So to my readers, who have no idea what to expect… sorry. Kinda.

 

YABC:    Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?

Lennox for sure. I’m not used to having two narrators, and I don’t typically hang out in boys’ brains for very long! But his part of the story was so crucial that I couldn’t have Annika tell it alone, and I couldn’t diminish him by giving him less time to tell his side. I hope that pays off for the reader in the end. Fun fact: I wrote him better when I was wearing dark nail polish.

 

YABC:    What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?

I never go into a story trying to teach something. More often than not, it’s the readers who come back to me to tell me about the themes or messages that they found in my books! I think that speaks beautifully to how clever young readers are, and we need to give them more credit. That said, I think A Thousand Heartbeats dives deeply into both the power of regret and the power of forgiveness. Personally, that’s something I’ve been realizing myself, and I wish I had the time to get into some big examples in my life! But I’m interested to see what the readers find and hold onto themselves.

 

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

I joke about having ordinary magic. I can think of a song, and it’ll play on the radio. Or I can have a scene from a TV show in my head, and that episode will play. I don’t know if that’s what you mean, but it happens all the time, and it’s pretty helpful! 🙂

 

YABC:   Is there anything that you would like to add?

Simply a big hug and thank you to my readers! I’ve been telling stories for a decade now, and I’m so thankful for you coming along with me!

 

 

Title: A Thousand Heartbeats

Author: Kiera Cass

Release Date: 11/29/2022

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: Fantasy Romance

Age Range: YA

Interview With Deeba Zargarpur (House of Yesterday)

November 29th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Deeba Zargarpur  (House of Yesterday)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Deeba Zargarpur

Profile image of the YA author Deeba Zargarpur. Discover more at: www.deebazargarpur.com

Deeba Zargarpur is an Afghan-Uzbek American. She credits her love of literature across various languages to her immigrant parents, whose eerie tales haunted her well into the night. If given the choice, Deeba would spend her days getting lost in spooky towns with nothing but a notebook and eye for adventure to guide her. House of Yesterday is her debut novel.

Website Twitter * Instagram

 

 

 

About the Book: House of Yesterday

Taking inspiration from the author’s own Afghan-Uzbek heritage, this contemporary YA debut is a breathtaking journey into the grief that lingers through generations of immigrant families, and what it means to confront the ghosts of your past.


Struggling to deal with the pain of her parents’ impending divorce, fifteen-year-old Sara is facing a world of unknowns and uncertainties. Unfortunately, the one person she could always lean on when things got hard, her beloved Bibi Jan, has become a mere echo of the grandmother she once was. And so Sara retreats into the family business, hoping a summer working on her mom’s latest home renovation project will provide a distraction from her fracturing world.

But the house holds more than plaster and stone. It holds secrets that have her clinging desperately to the memories of her old life. Secrets that only her Bibi Jan could have untangled. Secrets Sara is powerless to ignore as the dark truths of her family’s history rise in ghostly apparitions — and with it, the realization that as much as she wants to hold onto her old life, nothing will ever be the same.

Told in lush, sweeping prose, this story of secrets, summer, and family sacrifice will chill you to the bone as the house that wraps Sara in warmth of her past becomes the one thing she cannot escape…

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

Can you tell us about your experience as a first generation Afghan-Uzbek American and how that influenced “House of Yesterday”?

Growing up, I was an anomaly to many of my peers. As a multi-hyphenate, explaining my identity was like jumping through hoops. It was difficult to grow into young adulthood in a post 9/11 world. If I said I was Afghan, my identity was immediately politicalized. If I said I was Uzbek, I was met with what is that? So, as a survival mechanism, I kept my identity a secret–not because I was ashamed, but because all I wanted was to be seen as me, and not a news headline. I wanted to be seen as a girl who was struggling through high school and friendships and first loves, with parents who were navigating a difficult divorce and unstable home life–a normal girl with normal young adult trials. It took me a long time to be brave enough to put my identity on the page after being invisible for so long, but I’m glad I did. Writing this story was the healing I didn’t know fifteen year old me needed.   

You recently founded a group called Writers of Afghan Heritage. What does this initiative do? 

Writers of Afghan Heritage is an initiative that aims to support, mentor, and inspire Afghan voices in traditional publishing. Traditional publishing is an opaque industry with many barriers to entry. Because of this, there aren’t many Afghan stories written by Afghan authors. The Afghan diaspora has many stories to tell. It’s WOAH’s mission to help get Afghan stories the visibility and support they deserve. We are still in the early stages, but I am hopeful for the coming year to start unrolling some of our plans! 

You also have experience as an editor with Salaam Reads, how has that shaped your journey as an author? 

Joining Salaam Reads was a huge milestone in my editorial career for many reasons. For one, it was proof that my Muslim identity was important in this industry. As a young person, I learned to hide so many facets of myself, including my religious identity. As an adult, working at this imprint and independently writing my own stories is allowing me to unlearn so much about how I view myself and my identity. Muslim voices deserve to be seen, to be celebrated, to be the heroes of their own stories. We are incredibly diverse, with so much incredible talent just waiting to make an impact on the literary landscape, not only in Children’s, but Adult as well. Seeing the industry’s continued support of Muslim authors has only encouraged me to fight harder, advocate more for Muslim creators. This is only the beginning for the imprint and I am very excited to see what the future holds for our stories.

What inspired you to add the supernatural elements to your novel? How do they drive the plot of your story? 

House of Yesterday first came to me in the voice of a little girl. I was inspecting an old home at the time, and as I was walking through the abandoned halls, a voice whispered in my ear. From that moment, I became obsessed with knowing who she was, and what stories lurked in these forgotten halls and how, unexpectedly, the past of my imagination collided with the past of my own family history. I don’t think this story could exist without Yesterday coming to life. These ghosts, memories, are the driving heart of Sara’s story. There wouldn’t be a story without them. 

What do you want young readers to take away from “House of Yesterday”? 

Coming of age stories bring so much change. As a young person moves through young adulthood, there is so much of the past that we cannot get back. But in House of Yesterday, the question is posed: what if we could? What if we could access all versions of ourselves, of our loved ones, in items they’ve touched? Would you go back? It’s tempting, no? But with all things supernatural, there is always risk, give and take, danger in looking back. What I’d like young readers (and adults!) to take away from Sara’s story in these pages is that no matter how dark your world gets, there is always, always a future worth fighting for. 

You have a new novel coming out in 2024, can you tell us more about this project and what’s next for you as a writer? 

My next novel, Farrah Noorzad and the Ring of Fate, is the story I wished I had as an eleven year old. It is a middle grade series, releasing from Labyrinth Road, a brand new imprint dedicated to showcasing epic journeys–both fantastical and emotional–that give readers a way to find themselves. The book follows twelve year old Farrah Noorzad, who discovers her distant father is a jinn king after she accidentally traps him inside a magical ring with a birthday wish gone wrong. This is a story about wishes and magic and big feelings that lead to epic adventures. Writing this book opened up my heart to the little girl I used to be. The little girl who, once upon a time ago, wished to be someone different. This is the story that made me say hello to that little girl, and together, we found the courage to be the hero of our next adventure. 

 

Title: House of Yesterday

Author: Deeba Zargarpur

Release Date: 11/29/2022

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Genre: YA Paranormal, Family

Age Range: 14 – 18 years

Author Chat With Linda Sarsour (We’re In This Together), Plus Giveaway! – US Only (No P.O. Boxes)!

November 28th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Linda Sarsour (We’re In This Together)!

Read on to learn more about her, her book, and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Linda Sarsour

Linda Sarsour is a Brooklyn-born Palestinian Muslim American community organizer and mother of three. Recognized for her award-winning intersectional work, she served as national cochair of the Women’s March, helping to organize the largest single-day protest in US history. She is the former executive director of the Arab American Association of New York and cofounder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change, as well as Until Freedom, a national racial justice organization working with Black and Brown communities across the country.

Website * Twitter * Instagram * Facebook * Tiktok

 

 

 

About the Book: We’re Still In This Together

An inspiring and empowering young readers edition of We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders, the memoir by Women’s March coorganizer and activist Linda Sarsour.

You can count on me, your Palestinian Muslim sister, to keep her voice loud, keep her feet on the streets, and keep my head held high because I am not afraid.

On January 17, 2017, Linda Sarsour stood in the National Mall to deliver a speech that would go down in history. A crowd of over 470,000 people gathered in Washington, DC, to advocate for legislation, policy, and the protection of women’s rights—with Linda, a Muslim American activist from Brooklyn, leading the charge, unapologetic and unafraid.

In this middle grade edition of We Are Not Here to be Bystanders, Linda shares the memories that shaped her into the activist she is today, and how these pivotal moments in her life led her to being an organizer in one of the largest single-day protests in US history. From the Brooklyn bodega her father owned to the streets of Washington, DC, Linda’s story as a daughter of Palestinian immigrants is a moving portrayal of what it means to find your voice in your youth and use it for the good of others as an adult.

Purchase Now

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER?

I was inspired to write We’re In This Together because I believe that our world is in danger and it can only be saved by our young people. My book is a necessary and timely opportunity to challenge and inspire youth to be the change they want to see. I believe that the stories in my book will resonate, educate and provide practical information and skills.

 

YABC: Which came first, the title or the book?

The title came first. I thought a lot about how I wanted to write a serious book about issues impacting Black and Brown communities but also be hopeful. The title reaffirms hope and solidarity. It inspired the way I framed the stories I shared so that even through injustice, young people were introduced to solutions, love across differences and moments of hope.

 

YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

I am most proud of the campaign I helped lead in New York City to incorporate Muslim holidays in to the public school calendar. The description of how we brought people together, our consistency, resiliency even through many obstacles leaves me inspired and motivated. I hope that it will do the same for the young people who read this book.

 

YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now

I have learned that anyone can be a writer and storyteller and that we each deserve to share our experiences, triumphs and losses. Over the years, I gained more courage to tell my story, even in a world that often marginalized and demonized my voice. Writing forces you to set aside time, reflect and share some of your most sacred moments. You learn that your story may inspire others and so that becomes your biggest motivation.

 

YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

I love the cover of We’re In This Together so much because to me it shows power, courage and faith. I love how bold the colors are! It makes me feel like a superhero and I hope that little Muslim girls and girls of color get excited and encouraged when they see it. I hope the message they take from the cover is that they are powerful too.

 

YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

The most recent book I read is State of Emergency by Tamika D. Mallory. This book is powerful and resonates with me as it goes into depth on the current issues impacting Black communities today and connecting them to American history. Tamika is a bold and brave Black woman activist from New York and this book is written through her eyes. It is enraging yet also inspiring and gives us a vision of equity and justice for the future.


YABC: What’s up next for you?

In addition to We Are Not Here To Be Bystanders, my adult memoir, We’re In This Together, my young reader edition, I also have a picture book coming later next year. I am excited to continue expanding on the generations I am reaching through my stories. I also have my own radio show every Wednesday morning on WBAI.

 

YABC: Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate in WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER? 

Losing my mentor and friend, Basemah Atweh in a devastating car crash was very difficult for me. I knew that this story about death and dying would be hard for young readers but I felt it was necessary. This story shaped who I am and helped define my path forward as a full time activist and organizer. This story demonstrated love, loyalty and legacy. I hope that it inspires youth who may have lost someone they love, that they can move on without ever forgetting the one they lost, that they could do good for the world in their memory and honor.

YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER?

My main message in We’re In This Together is solidarity. I want young readers to walk away believing that we are all intertwined and that when one of us is not free, none of us are free. I hope they are inspired to help others regardless of race, ethnicity, national origin, etc.

 

YABC: What would you say is your superpower?

My superpower is courage. I am not afraid. I am brave and can stand up against very powerful people and forces who choose to oppress marginalized people.

 

 

Title: We’re In This Together

Author: Linda Sarsour

ISBN-13: 9781534439290

ISBN-10: 1534439293

Release Date: November 29, 2022

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Imprint: Salaam Reads

Ages: 8-12, Grades 3-7

 

 

 

~ Giveaway Details ~

 

Three (3) winners will receive a copy of We’re In This Together (Linda Sarsour)! ~US ONLY (No P.O Boxes)

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Author Chat With Michelle Kadarusman (Berani), Plus Giveaway! ~US/CAN ONLY

November 28th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Michelle Kadarusman, author of Berani!

Read on for more about her, the book, and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet Michelle Kadarusman:

Michelle Kadarusman grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and also lived many years throughout her father’s homeland of Indonesia before moving to Canada in 2000. Her books have earned numerous nominations, including the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Awards, and the

Green Earth Book Award. Her novels include The Theory of Hummingbirds, Girl of the Southern Sea, and Music for Tigers. Her first picture book, Room for More, published in 2022. Michelle now lives in Toronto, Canada and Byron Bay, Australia.

Website * Twitter * Instagram * Facebook

 

 

 

About the Book: Berani

Malia has had a privileged upbringing in Indonesia, but since her Indonesian father died, her Canadian mother wants to return to her own family on the other side of the world. Malia is determined to stay. Indonesia is her home, and she loves it. Besides, if she leaves, how can she continue to fight for her country’s precious rainforests? Ari knows he is lucky to be going to school and competing on the chess team, even if it means an endless round of chores at his uncle’s restaurant. Back in his home village, he and his cousin Suni dreamed about getting a chance like this. But now he is here without her, and the guilt is

crushing him. As if that weren’t enough, he’s horribly worried about Ginger Juice, his uncle’s orangutan. The too-small cage where she lives is clearly hurting her body and her mind, but where else can she go? The rainforest where she was born is a palm oil plantation now. In Berani, Governor General’s Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman spins together three perspectives: Malia, who is prepared to risk anything for her activism, Ari, who knows the right path but fears what it will cost, and Ginger Juice, the caged orangutan who still remembers the forest and her mother. The choices the young people make will have consequences for themselves, for Ginger Juice, and for others, if they are brave enough–or reckless enough–to choose.

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book? 

Berani was inspired by an experience I had when I was living in Surabaya, Indonesia, many years ago. My brother was also living in Indonesia at the time and traveling to remote areas of East Java for his work. He called me one day, distressed, to tell me he had been to a small restaurant in the village of Malang where he saw an orangutan in a cage. We managed to find an organization who liberated her and just like in the story, the cage had to be cut open to release her because she had outgrown the opening. The experience stayed with me all these years and then recently I read about some brave young activists in the region. Bringing the two elements together brought the story to life.

 

YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?  

By far the most emotionally difficult passages to write were the scenes where Ginger Juice loses her rainforest home, her mother, and of her captivity. My research pointed to the incredibly strong bond shared between mother and baby orangutans, also that we are so similar in DNA that an orangutan kept in long term captivity would display the same kind of mental, physical and emotion deterioration that you would find in humans. This is a disturbing fact considering our habit of keeping apes in captivity and something I wanted to try and communicate by having Ginger Juice’s voice heard from her cage. As difficult as those chapters were to write, I hope the passages will allow readers to build empathy for her plight.

 

YABC:    What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book? 

To all the young activists, I hope to impart the simple fact that you can make a difference.

 

YABC:     Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart? 

I’m very grateful for the many organizations who work towards protecting orangutans and other endangered species. The work of Leif Cocks, the founder of The Orangutan Project (TOP) was extremely helpful in my research. TOP works tirelessly on initiatives to help save the species. Their work focuses on these areas:

Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release

Securing and Protecting Natural Habitat

Educating and Supporting Local Communities

Changing the Game by Standing Up and Speaking Out

https://www.orangutan.org.au/

 

YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers?   

My top three pieces of advice are:

Don’t give up! That is the main thing to remember. I spent a decade writing and getting rejections before I was finally published. For many of us, honing the craft takes a long time, so be willing to dig in

Listen to trusted sources when it comes to critiques, but stay true to your own voice

Read, read, read! Read widely, this is how you develop good taste as a writer

YABC:  Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now? 

If I could give advice to myself as a newly published author, I’d tell her not to rush. Take the time you need to get it right.

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you? 

In fall 2023, with Pajama Press, I will release a collection of short stories for middle-grade readers. Each story has an environmental theme and is set on an island, both real and imagined.

YABC:   Is there anything that you would like to add? 

In Berani I also wanted to explore having a character who comes from different cultures. Like Malia, I have an Indonesian parent and a parent from a western culture. In middle grade years especially, I think we can struggle with self-identity. For those of us with parents from different backgrounds it can be more confusing because we perhaps feel the need to have an alliance with one culture over the other. There are no right or wrong answers of course, it’s a very personal journey. But I was interested to introduce the theme with Malia’s character and to show some of her inner struggles and ultimately her willingness to explore her personal cultural identity.

 

 

Title: Berani

Author: Michelle Kadarusman

Release Date: August 16, 2022

Publisher: Pajama Press

ISBN-10: 1772782602

ISBN-13: 9781772782608

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Age Range: 8-12

 

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

Five (5) winners will receive a copy of Berani (Michelle Kadarusman) ~US/CAN ONLY

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Interview With Dahlia Adler (At Midnight)

November 22nd, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Dahlia Adler  (At Midnight)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Dahlia Adler

Dahlia Adler (she/her) is an editor by day, a freelance writer by night, and an author and anthologist at every spare moment in between. She’s the founder of LGBTQReads.com, her novels include the Kids’ Indie Next picks Cool for the Summer and Home Field Advantage, and she is the editor of the anthologies His Hideous Heart, That Way Madness Lies, At Midnight, and, with Jennifer Iacopelli, Out of Our League (forthcoming from Feiwel & Friends). Dahlia lives in New York with her family and an obscene number of books, and can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @MissDahlELama.

Website Twitter * Instagram * Facebook

 

 

 

About the Book: At Midnight

Fairy tales have been spun for thousands of years and remain among our most treasured stories. Weaving fresh tales with unexpected reimaginings, At Midnight brings together a diverse group of celebrated YA writers to breathe new life into a storied tradition. You’ll discover . . .

Dahlia Adler reimagining “Rumplestiltskin,”
Tracy Deonn, “The Nightingale,”
H. E. Edgmon, “Snow White,”
Hafsah Faizal, “Little Red Riding Hood,”
Stacey Lee, “The Little Matchstick Girl,”
Roselle Lim, “Hansel and Gretel,”
Darcie Little Badger, “Puss in Boots,”
Malinda Lo, “Frau Trude,”
Alex London, “Cinderella,”
Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Nutcracker,”
Rebecca Podos, “The Robber Bridegroom,”
Rory Power, “Sleeping Beauty,”
Meredith Russo, “The Little Mermaid,”
Gita Trelease, “Fitcher’s Bird,”
and an all-new fairy tale by Melissa Albert.

Amazon

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to edit this book?

Actually, it was Anna-Marie McLemore’s idea! I had already edited one anthology of reimaginings of classic works and was working on the second (to which they contributed), and we were texting about something when they mentioned fairy tales and I just immediately loved the idea. They didn’t want to edit it, though, just write for it, so we agreed I’d pitch it to my wonderful editor, and if she was interested, they’d contribute a story, and voila!

 

YABC: What fairy tale were you most excited to have included in the book and why?

I love that it’s a mix of really familiar tales and some more obscure ones; I honestly had never even heard of Frau Trude before Malinda Lo wrote a wonderful historical romance reimagining for it. My personal favorite when I was a kid was The Little Matchstick Girl, so I was very happy to see someone (Stacey Lee) choose it!

 

YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book? 

I’m obsessed with the storybook-ish house, which looks so much like my own house that I immediately sent a picture to my editor upon seeing the first cover sketch from Jon Contino. That, and the way the stars I asked for look kind of like snow–I love that it could be either one, because snow is significant to multiple stories in the collection.

 

YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved? 

I’m on a massive YA mystery kick right now, so I just devoured Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson, Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson, and The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley back to back to back. They were all fantastic!

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I do have another anthology coming out in 2024 called Out of Our League, which I’m coediting with Jennifer Iacopelli and which features a great collection of stories about girls in sports, but before that is my next novel, Going Bicoastal, which is a Sliding Doors narrative about a bi Jewish girl named Natalya living two very different (and romantic) summers on different coasts with different parents, and that releases June 13, 2023.

 

YABC:    How does editing an anthology differ from writing a novel of your own? Do you prefer one process over the other? 

Oh, they’re worlds apart. Editing an anthology has so many moving parts, so many deadlines to manage, so many people’s schedules to work with, so many different voices… Writing my last novel was literally me sitting in my bed every night with my laptop, some music playing, and…that’s it. No one even read it before I handed it in. It’s hard to say I prefer one over the other because they’re so different, but I really like the balance of doing both.

 

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower? 

Finding really talented authors to write stories for me 😉

 

YABC:     Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart? 

DonorsChoose! It’s such a fantastic way to help both teachers and students in so many ways, whether it’s making sure kids from low-income families have snacks during the day or kids have warm weather gear or libraries have diverse collections… I try to share projects as often as I can, and donate a few times a month as well.

 

YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers?

Make friends. You will have so many questions, and need so much help, and want so many sanity checks… I don’t know what I’d do without people to bounce my questions off or just to cheer me on. And it doesn’t matter if you’re at different levels, as long as you’re capable of feeling joy for each other.

 

YABC:   Is there anything that you would like to add?

A fun fact about At Midnight is that it’s my very first book to sell to a UK publisher! It’ll be published on February 7, 2023 by Titan, and it has a truly gorgeous different cover designed by Natasha MacKenzie, and I’m just so excited to finally have something on shelves over there. Three of my cousins live in London, and it’s the first time they might actually spy me on a bookshelf, so I truly hope they do!

 

 

Title: AT MIDNIGHT: 15 Beloved Fairy Tales Reimagined

Author: edited by Dahlia Adler

Release Date: November 22nd, 2022

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: 12-18

Guest Post with Author Denise Kiernan (Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday)

November 21st, 2022 by

Today we are excited to share a guest post from author Denise Kiernan,

Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday!

Read on for more about Denise and Giving Thanks!

 

 

 

Meet Denise Kiernan!

Denise Kiernan (she/her) is an American journalist, producer and New York Times bestselling author. She has written several history books, including We Gather TogetherThe Last Castle, and The Girls of Atomic City. When not writing, she likes playing tennis, watching soccer, working in her garden, and cooking tasty treats at her home in North Carolina. Visit her online at denisekiernan.com. Follow her on Instagram (@iamdenisekiernan) and on Twitter (@DeniseKiernan).

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

 

About Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday:

The beautifully illustrated true story of how Thanksgiving became a national holiday in America, of Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who made the holiday happen, and of the role of gratitude the world over. Marvelously brought to life by the New York Times bestselling author Denise Kiernan.

All across the world, among hundreds of cultures and across centuries, people have come together to give thanks. But Americans didn’t have an official Thanksgiving holiday until the 1800s. The holiday Americans know today exists because of a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale, a spirited letter-writing campaign, a sympathetic president, and a civil war.

This beautifully illustrated picture book shares the true story of how Thanksgiving became a national American holiday and offers a look at the timeless and global power of gratitude.

 

 

 

~ Guest Post ~

 

She was an influencer more than 150 years before the first post appeared on Instagram…. She told people across the country how to host and entertain more than a century before Martha Stewart was born. And she accomplished all this while living in the 19th century as a widowed mother of five with no formal education.

Sarah Josepha Hale hardly had time to do much of anything, let alone write. Yet she became one of the most important magazine and book editors of her time—and changed the course of American culture along the way.

 

Giving Thanks is the true story of how Sarah Josepha Hale fought to make Thanksgiving an American tradition. It tells the story of how Abraham Lincoln help Hale’s dream become a reality. More importantly, the story is a reminder of the importance of living a life steeped in gratitude.

Sarah Josepha Hale’s magazine, Godey’s Lady’s Book, had one of the largest readerships in the United States. Her publication told readers what to wear, how to cook, whose books to read… As the magazine’s “editress”—as she called herself—Hale wielded a unique kind of power at a point in history when she didn’t even have the right to vote.

But her work was more than just a way to sell copies of her magazine. She promoted the writing of other women and shared their talents. She used her media pulpit to raise funds for libraries, military veterans, their widows, monuments to their memory, and more.

Despite the limits society placed on her because of her gender, Hale’s influence has carried through to the present day. She’s the one who encouraged young brides to wear white dresses on their wedding days. She’s the one who first encouraged Americans to decorate their homes each December with Christmas trees—a novel idea imported from Europe.

Hale had petitioned president after president before Abraham Lincoln to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for all the nation. All the earlier presidents said no. But Lincoln agreed. At the end of November 1863, Hale and Lincoln, through their combined efforts, helped establish the annual Thanksgiving tradition Americans continue to this day.

When Lincoln issued his first national Thanksgiving proclamation on October 3, 1863, his message landed in the midst of the Civil War. It was difficult for citizens to hear and absorb his message that “[t] he year that is drawing to its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies…” Despite the war, Lincoln saw that the nation teemed with bounties and gracious gifts, and advances in industry. He invited citizens “in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands,” to join him in thanksgiving the last Thursday of November. Not every one agreed, and certainly not everyone participated, but an annual tradition began to take hold.

The mind-blowing thing about this story is that neither Hale nor Lincoln were thinking about Pilgrims or the event that took place in 1621 when they invented the holiday that we feel we know so well. They were thinking instead of a way to unite a divided nation. In fact, the power of embracing gratitude during trying times—from the Civil War and World War I through the Spanish Flu—is a thread that runs often through my mind and my stories. The importance of gratitude is something that is now also supported by modern scientific research. Yes, it is true: gratitude heals.

No wonder I wanted to write about Thanksgiving, not just for adults, but for kids as well. (My adult title is called We Gather Together.) I see this as a story of thanks that matters to all. An inspirational message for both grown-ups and kids. The books are a new way to look at American history through the lens of gratitude.

That said, how could we—and how do some of us—follow Sarah Josepha Hale’s lead today?

Hale worked for decades on something that mattered to her. She didn’t live long enough to see Congress pass a law to make Thanksgiving an official holiday, but she’s the reason it happened. She had no idea that her efforts would change the course of American culture, but they did.

You never know the positive impact you can have on the world around you.

Stay true to your values, and act on what you believe in. Never give up.

 

Book’s Title: Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday

 Author: Denise Kiernan

Illustrator: Jamey Christoph

 Release Date: September 27th, 2022

Publisher: PHILOMEL BOOKS

 ISBN-10: 9780593404416

Genre: Juvenile Nonfiction – Holidays & Celebrations – Thanksgiving; Juvenile Nonfiction – History – United States; Juvenile Nonfiction – People & Places – United States

Age Range: 4-8 years

Author Chat With Jayne Pillemer (Still Mine), Plus Giveaway! – US Only!

November 17th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Jayne Pillemer (Still Mine)!

Read on to learn more about her, her book, and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Jayne Pillemer

Jayne Pillemer is a writer and former children’s book editor. Still Mine is her first book. She loves to make her Grandma Helen’s old recipes and drink hot chocolate like they used to do together on sleepovers. Jayne lives in Westchester, NY, with her husband, children, and a heart full of love for people who are still hers.

Instagram

 

 

 

About the Book: Still Mine

What will I do if I don’t have you?

Are you still mine?

Our hands around a cup of hot chocolate, sweet and warm. Our boots splashing in puddles. The song you sing to me when the sun comes up. This is how we say “I love you” every day.

But what happens when the person you love is gone? Your heart hurts and you miss them, but even though your eyes can’t see them anymore and your arms can’t hug them, they are still there, still yours to love . . . just in a different way.

Jayne Pillemer’s lyrical story and Sheryl Murray’s sweet illustrations offer gentle comfort and reassurance to anyone who has experienced loss that you still carry those you love with you in the smallest things—and in your heart—forever.

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

The seeds of STILL MINE started to sprout when my grandmother passed away, and I had to tell my young son. Being a book person, I looked to books to find the words, but I couldn’t find anything that felt quite right to me in that moment.  I wanted to explain death, but more so, I wanted him to clearly see what wasn’t going away, and that was love. I really thought about all the memories with my grandmother that so vividly stuck with me, and how I could carry on certain things. Now, by making Grandma Helen’s favorite recipes,  I am creating memories with my kids, hoping they will find the comfort and joy in them, too.

YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

My sister-in-law’s father passed away when the book was still in manuscript form, but I shared it with her in hopes it might offer some comfort.  She told me that she has such a strong olefactory sense, but until she read the line about the hot chocolate being “a memory inside my mouth, a little taste of you”, it didn’t occur to her that she could continue experiencing her father by engaging her sense of smell.  We often think of memories as living in the mind, but memories live on in all sorts of ways. Being able to reflect that is something I’m really proud of because it opens up the ways in which we can keep experiencing love. I loved knowing that my grandma always had a box of Swiss Miss in the cabinet, and the book’s hot chocolate memory has become really central to my school and library presentations, as we talk about how memories can literally and figuratively warm the heart.

YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

STILL MINE took me many years to get just right.  Death and grief are such hard topics to think about, and I had to whittle down so many emotions to get to the morsel of the book. Picture books deal with big topics, but it was important to narrow my focus so that I could achieve what I wanted to within the confines of a short text.  It was an important lesson for me to remember that the first draft may have the spark of a good idea, but it may look very, very different at the end and that’s okay.  Sticking with something you believe in and writing from the heart are essential, as is keeping an open mind when an editor comes back with lots of red ink!

YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

The cover of this book was difficult to conceptualize because the publisher and I wanted it to convey hope and peace.  We discussed whether it should be the boy and his grandmother on the cover, but I loved the idea of two children.  There are so many books about loss of a grandparent specifically, and one of the unique aspects of STILL MINE is that it reflects different losses: grandparent, but also loss of a parent and loss of a young friend. I wanted the cover to reflect that this story wasn’t just about the loss of someone old.  I still didn’t know exactly what direction to give Sheryl, and I hoped she would be able to find a way to capture that special feeling of love after loss.  This was Sheryl’s first concept, and she really hit it just right. I love the brothers finding comfort in a hug, Dad’s mug tucked in just beside them, the rainbow—a symbol of hope—overhead, and that shadow of a heart on the grass below them.  When the rainbow appeared over Buckingham Palace minutes after the Queen passed away, I immediately thought of the boys on the cover of my book, and how the rainbow really is a universal message of peace.

YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

I could not put down LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY by Bonnie Garmus!  I had to wait weeks for it to come in from the library, and it was worth the wait. It’s equal parts quirky and insightful, and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to read nonstop or slow myself down so that I didn’t finish it so quickly.

LIBRARY GIRL, a picture book which was just released, is my new favorite in children’s books. Sheryl was just finishing the illustrations while we were doing publicity for STILL MINE, and I couldn’t believe I had to wait months for it to come out.  As a child, I loved reading and going to the library, and learning about Nancy Pearl—with Sheryl’s magical illustrations—is all sorts of beauty stuffed into one book.

YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?

Death doesn’t mean gone forever, it just means living in the heart.  This is an incredibly difficult thing to process and embrace in the midst of grief, but it’s beautiful to be able to focus on what you get to keep, what will never be lost.  Love always continues.

YABC: What would you say is your superpower?

I love to be ahead of schedule, and managing to do so with three busy boys feels like a superpower! Getting close to deadlines gives me anxiety!  Being uber-organized helped me to never pull an all-nighter in college—my papers were always finished a couple of days ahead of time, and now, I like to have my holiday cards ordered and gift shopping done by Halloween! I was even interviewed by Good Morning America in November 2019 and featured in an article called Millennial Moms Have Christmas All Wrapped Up: Here Are Their Top Tips for Getting Organized!  Some of my friends think I’m crazy, but I think my editor really appreciated it when my final manuscript was ready a month ahead of the contract date!

YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?

Oh, gosh, there are so many. Sweet Grace Ministries is such a special organization. They provide comfort baskets to families enduring miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss.  They understand the unique pain that is the loss of a much-wanted and already-loved baby. I have been receiving Mother’s Day cards and notes on the anniversary of our pregnancy loss from them for four years now.  It is so nice to know your baby is not forgotten when many others seem to expect you to have moved on.

BlinkNow is a nonprofit based in Surkhet, Nepal. The dream of an American teenager on her gap year has grown into a foundation that has created a home and a school where children are educated and loved.  My sister volunteered here, and her stories opened my eyes to the incredible work that continues to be done at Kopila Valley. Founder Maggie Doyne’s memoir, BETWEEN THE MOUNTAIN AND THE SKY, details her journey of starting this amazing children’s home. The love that surrounds these children is tangible, and the way the local community has grown is so inspiring.

YABC: What advice do you have for new writers? 

There is a lot of pressure in our society to be successful.  If you spend time writing and it doesn’t get published, you feel like a failure—that the time you spent writing was a waste.  When you are a kid, it’s okay to create and imagine and play, and I love to see when adults give themselves permission to do that, too. Writing can be an outlet, and if it is important for you to do mentally, spiritually, energetically, then it’s important to make time for, no matter the outcome.  Not everything I write feels worthy of being published, but practice helps me improve and the quiet time helps me feel centered, and that’s a success in and of itself!

 

 

Title: STILL MINE

Author: Jayne Pillemer

Illustrator: Sheryl Murray

Release Date: January 18, 2022

Publisher: HarperCollins

Genre: Children’s, Picture Book

Age Range: 4-7 years

 

 

 

~ Giveaway Details ~

One (1) winner will receive a copy of Still Mine (Jayne Pillemer), plus themed stickers! ~US ONLY

 

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Interview With Author Mark H. Parsons (THE 9:09 PROJECT)

November 15th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Mark H. Parsons  (The 9:09 Project)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Mark H. Parsons

Mark H. Parsons is a writer and musician living on the Central Coast of California with his wife (also a writer and musician). They have two sons with whom they occasionally make loud music under the name Risky Whippet. Mark enjoys the three “R’s”—reading, running, and rock ‘n’ roll.

Website Twitter * Facebook 

 

 

 

About the Book: The 9:09 Project

A thoughtful exploration about finding oneself, learning to hope after loss, and recognizing the role that family, friends, and even strangers can play in the healing process if you are open and willing to share your experience with others.

Amazon * B&N * IndieBound

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book?

I’d been through a bit of a time and I had a vague idea—really, more of a vibe than anything concrete—about the healing power of art. Creativity helps many of us navigate life, so I decided to just jump in, listen to my characters, and see where they might take me.

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

Jamison. He’s just a bright, lonely guy trying to find his place in the world.

No… I think it’s Ollie. The snarky-yet-loving sister everyone needs.

No wait, Assi. Definitely Assi. She’s awesome!

On the other hand… Ms. Montinello. I would have loved having her as a teacher.

Don’t make me choose. I love them all.

 

YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?

It’s a funny story. I had a working title first—before I started the story—and it sort of guided me through the writing of the novel. Then at the end I realized ‘The 9:09 Project’ was a better title, so we went with that. So: title à novel à title.

 

YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?

The scene at the drive-through. And that’s all I’m going to say about that!  😊

 

YABC:  Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?

The value of paying attention to pacing, and how revision can be a tool to bring that into line. My editor—Beverly Horowitz—was really helpful with this.

 

YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?

That it’s simple, graphic, and striking. And that the nearly monochromatic character surrounded by swirls of color hints at the story’s exploration of synesthesia.

 

YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2022?

The new Karen McManus—NOTHING MORE TO TELL. She’s a master of the multi-POV thriller.

 

YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?

THE PEACH REBELLION, by Wendelin Van Draanen. Wow. I dare you to read that opening scene and not be fully invested in the story of these girls. (And not to cry.)

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I’m working on a YA thriller. It’s been challenging (in the best way) because along with the characters and setting and overall vibe, the mystery events have to fit together like a multi-faceted puzzle. So in a way, it feels like starting over… which is both scary and super fun!

 

YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?

The scene where Jamison’s mother dies, absolutely. That was hard to write, but I knew we had to see it to fully understand Jamison. I ended up placing it in the middle of an otherwise-uplifting chapter, not just for contrast but to give the reader—and myself, to be honest—a buoy after that scene.

 

YABC:    Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?

Kennedy. She started out as just sort of a ‘mean girl,’ but as Jamison (and I) got to know her better, she became much more complex and nuanced. Her story probably required more revision than anyone else’s, but in the end she became a fully-fleshed, three-dimensional character.

 

YABC:    What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?

I would hope the reader who approaches this book with an open heart will take something away from it, but I would be the last person to say what that is. Reading is a collaboration… the reading experience is a combination of the words on the page and what the reader brings to the table.

 

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

That’s funny… in the book, Jamison says he thinks everyone has a minor superpower. Not sure if that applies in my case. But I will say, however, that I love putting stories on the page, to the point where I would pay to write. Does that count?

 

YABC:     Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?

I think the people of Ukraine are in everyone’s heart these days, including mine.

 

YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers?

Don’t place too much importance on what people on social media are saying about writing. Instead, trust yourself, focus on YOUR story, and write!

 

 

Title: THE 9:09 PROJECT

Author: Mark H. Parsons

Release Date: Nov. 15, 2022

Publisher: Delacorte Press/Random House

Genre: Realistic/Contemporary YA

Age Range: 12 and up

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