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Author Chat with Stephanie Graegin (THE LONG RIDE HOME), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY

June 29th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Stephanie Graegin, author of THE LONG RIDE HOME

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

 

 

Meet Stephanie Graegin

Stephanie Graegin is the author and illustrator of Fern and Otto, A Story About Two Best Friends and Little Fox in the Forest which garnered four starred reviews and appeared on many Best of the Year lists. She is also the illustrator of several books for children, including You Were the First by Patricia MacLachlan; The Lost Gift by Kallie George; Water in the Park by Emily Jenkins, which received three starred reviews; and Peace Is an Offering by Annette LeBox. Stephanie lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at graegin.com.

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

About the Book: THE LONG RIDE HOME

A tender picture book that celebrates memories and friendship about a young koala and a friend who has moved away.

Little Koala has a long ride home, and every place her mother passes invokes a memory of her best friend: the ice cream shop where they giggled uncontrollably; the hill in the park where they crashed their bikes (that memory also lives on as a little scar on Koala’s knee), the library where they borrowed their favorite book again and again.

Koala’s friendship blooms beautifully on the page, seamlessly interwoven with the ride home, and soon we learn just why these memories are so important: Koala’s friend has moved away. The story ends on a lovely note of hope: Koala and her friend are still close, despite the distance.

The Long Ride Home is a universal and broadly appealing friendship story that explores the power of memory with tenderness, warmth, and heart. Stephanie Graegin expertly balances the bittersweet sensations of cherishing a moment long past with artwork that is rendered in soft, sepia hues in a way that only she can.

 

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~Author Chat~

 

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

The Long Ride Home came about at the height of the pandemic. It was at a time when we hadn’t left our neighborhood for several months. Like everybody, I was missing family and friends. The idea for the book started from thinking about how places can act like a storage for memories. Passing by places you have been to, or have a connection to, can instantly bring you back in time. Memories are a tangible connection to a previous time and place, a personal collection of all the important people and experiences in our lives. When I was a child, I had to move across the country, and I was devastated when I had to move away from my best friend. But much like our friends in the book, we kept in touch through letters; a ritual we keep to this day.

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

I love Koala’s best friend, little Cheetah. She’s quirky, creative, outgoing, and most important of all she’s a wonderful best friend who understands Koala deeply. She’s a perfect complement for Koala.

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

The story came first, but the title came to me right away as I was writing. It’s also part of the very first line. Surprisingly, it didn’t change at all in the process. With the other picture books I’ve written, the titles ended up changing multiple times by the time the book was finished.

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

The adorable Koala looking out the car window of course!

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

 

How to Write One Song by Jeff Tweedy. It’s a fun, quick read. The writing exercises were both fascinating and helpful, and even though it was written with songwriting in mind, it can be applied to writing picture books.

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I have a Christmas-themed picture book that I illustrated, The Stocking Stuffer written by Holley Merriweather, about a mouse named Tinsel and how he saves Christmas coming out in September. I’m currently illustrating a picture book titled Today, written by Gabi Synder. It’s a companion book to Listen, which Gabi wrote and I illustrated, centered around mindfulness. I’m also working on illustrating the third book in Cynthia Lord’s chapter book series about library toys, Book Buddies.

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

The scene where Koala is standing outside her best friend’s old house. In a lit-up window you can see a different family inside. Her best friend has since moved away. There’s so much emotion there. It always makes me choke up.

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

Friendships complete us. Your friends, especially those best ones who are kindred spirits, are always with you in your heart and memories. The great friendships of your life transcend time and distance.

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

Drawing cute critters!

 

 

Book’s Title: THE LONG RIDE HOME

Author/Illustrator: Stephanie Graegin

Release Date: 6/28/22

Publisher: Random House Studio

ISBN-10: 0593426029

ISBN-13: 9780593426029

Genre: fiction picture book

 Age Range: ages 4-8

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS*

 

Five winners will receive a copy of THE LONG RIDE HOME (Stephanie Graegin) ~US ONLY

 

 *Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Author Chat with Kristina Forest (ZYLA & KAI), Plus Giveaway! ~ US Only

June 17th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Kristina Forest, author of ZYLA & KAI

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

 

 

Meet Kristina Forest:

Kristina Forest is an author of romance books for young adults. Her novels include I Wanna Be Where You Are, Now That I’ve Found You and Zyla & Kai. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School, and she can often be found rearranging her bookshelf.

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

About the Book: Zyla & Kai

 

A fresh love story about the will they, won’t they—and why can’t they—of first love.

While on a school trip to the Poconos Mountains (in the middle of a storm) high school seniors, Zyla Matthews and Kai Johnson, run away together leaving their friends and family confused. As far as everyone knows, Zyla and Kai have been broken up for months. And honestly? Their break up hadn’t surprised anyone. Zyla and Kai met while working together at an amusement park the previous summer, and they couldn’t have been more different.

Zyla was a cynic about love. She’d witnessed the dissolution of her parents’ marriage early in life, and it left an indelible impression. Her only aim was graduating and going to fashion school abroad. Until she met Kai.

Kai was a serial dater and a hopeless romantic. He’d put a temporary pause on his dating life before senior year to focus on school and getting into his dream HBCU. Until he met Zyla.

Alternating between the past and present, we see the love story unfold from Zyla’s and Kai’s perspectives: how they first became the unlikeliest of friends over the summer, how they fell in love during the school year, and why they ultimately broke up… Or did they?

Romantic, heart-stirring, and a little mysterious, Zyla & Kai will keep readers guessing until the last chapter.

 

Purchase Here

 

~Author Chat~

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

It would be a tie between Zyla and Kai, but I feel like that answer is kind of obvious since they’re the titular characters. So I’ll say that my favorite side character is Zyla’s best friend, Beatrice, who is unapologetically herself. She’s confident and funny and a very good friend.

 

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

You can’t force a book. Sometimes ideas need to marinate and be put aside. Forcing a book to come together is one of the most miserable experiences lol.

 

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

I like that the illustrator, Adriana Bellet, brought Zyla and Kai to life exactly the way I pictured them. A lot of what I love is in the small details. Like Zyla’s hair style and her septum nose ring, and the way that Kai is smiling, but Zyla isn’t.

 

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

Confessions of An Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

Next is my adult romance debut, The Neighbor Favor, will publish next Spring and I’ll start working on my next YA soon.

 

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

The breakup scene (this is not a spoiler–the plot description tells you that Zyla and Kai break up at some point) because emotions are high and everyone is hurting! But honestly, those scenes are also a little fun to write too.

 

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

Kai didn’t give me any trouble but writing his scenes with his therapist took the most time because I wanted to make sure that their conversations came across as realistic.

 

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

That true love exists and the only people who really know what goes on in a relationship are the ones who are in it.

 

 

Book’s Title: ZYLA & KAI

Author: KRISTINA FOREST

Release Date: JUNE 7, 2022

Publisher: KOKILA 

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593407245

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593407240

Genre: YA Romance 

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 12 – 17 years

 

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

One winner will receive a copy of ZYLA & KAI (Kristina Forest) ~ US ONLY

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

 

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Author Chat with Jesmeen Kaur Deo (TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY

June 17th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Jesmeen Kaur Deo, author of TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE

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

 

Meet Jesmeen Kaur Deo:

Jesmeen Kaur Deo grew up in northern British Columbia, where she spent most of her childhood daydreaming. She loves books that can make her laugh and tug at her heartstrings in the same paragraph. When not wrapped up in stories, she can be found biking, playing the harmonium, or struggling to open jars. TJ Powar Has Something to Prove is her debut novel.

Website * Twitter * Tumblr

 

 

About the Book: TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE

When TJ Powar—a pretty, popular debater—and her cousin Simran become the subject of a meme: with TJ being the “expectation” of dating an Indian girl and her Sikh cousin who does not remove her body hair being the “reality”—TJ decides to take a stand.

She ditches her razors, cancels her waxing appointments, and sets a debate resolution for herself: “This House Believes That TJ Powar can be her hairy self, and still be beautiful.” Only, as she sets about proving her point, she starts to seriously doubt anyone could care about her just the way she is—even when the infuriating boy from a rival debate team seems determined to prove otherwise.

As her carefully crafted sense of self begins to crumble, TJ realizes that winning this debate may cost her far more than the space between her eyebrows. And that the hardest judge to convince of her arguments might just be herself.

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~Author Chat~

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

Growing up, I always wondered why the female protagonists in the books I read or TV shows I watched never seemed to worry about their body hair. They could be in a post apocalyptic world, but you still wouldn’t ever see even the smallest armpit hair! It made me wonder if I was the weird one. Anyway, I think that subconsciously inspired my desire to write a book that explicitly acknowledged body hair on women. And more close to when I started writing the book, a good friend of mine and I had also been talking a lot about performative beauty standards because we were frustrated with empty body positivity messaging. I wanted to write something that didn’t flinch away from the “ugliness” of our own bodies or the idea that this could co-exist with romance.

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

The novel! The title went through 2 other iterations before my editor suggested TJ Powar Has Something to Prove. I thought that was so apt! And I have learned I am not generally very good at titles myself.

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

I think I am most proud of the final debate scene in the book. It was very technically difficult. It went through a lot of different iterations and painstaking revision in my attempts to make it entertaining and relevant and thematic, while also making sense with the plot and the nature of debate structure itself.

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

Through my experiences navigating publishing, and many ups and downs, I’ve learned how important it is to maintain the joy of writing for myself. It’s hard to block out all the unsolicited advice and industry-related pressures authors often face… but ultimately I realized the only way I will have any longetivity as a writer is if I protect my love of storytelling. For me, the right path is to focus on that. To write the stories that are meaningful to me. The rest is less important.

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

I love how unapologetically hairy TJ is on the cover. She’s bold and daring and eye-catching. Fatima Baig, the artist, and Kristie Radwilowicz, the designer, did a great job. Also, I’ve had lots of people say they love the knuckle hair on the cover, and I’m especially proud of that because I specifically asked the team to add it!

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

So many! Today I will pick: A Million to One by Adiba Jaigirdar because heist on the Titanic, need I say more? The Loophole by Naz Kutub because I love genie stories! And Lioness of Punjab by Anita Jari Kharbanda since it portrays the life of a famous Sikh historical figure, Mai Bhago!

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

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir absolutely annihilated me.

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

Charlie, one of TJ’s rival debaters from another school, gave me the most trouble because he always did something I didn’t expect. There is one pivotal point in the book I distinctly remember where he made my life harder because he was too honest. It was right for his character, but I had to fix an entire plotline from that point forward because of it.

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

Generally speaking, I want readers to understand there is nothing monstrous or shameful about their bodies. But of course, I wrote this book specifically wanting hairy brown girls to feel seen. I want them to understand that they are worthy of love and respect and desire. And I want not only hairy girls but also their friends, peers, partners, and future parents to consider that eurocentric, gendered beauty norms are harmful and frankly, quite boring; reject them, and cultivate your own.

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

I am excellent at selecting the best oranges at the grocery store. It is one of my more useful skills, I have to say.

 

 

Book’s Title: TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE

Author: JESMEEN KAUR DEO

Release Date: JUNE 7, 2022

Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593403398

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593403396

Reading age ‏ : ‎ 12 – 17 years

Genre: YA Romantic Comedy

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

One winner will receive a copy of TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE (JESMEEN KAUR DEO) ~ US ONLY

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Author Chat with LAURA BROOKE ROBSON (THE SEA KNOWS MY NAME), Plus Giveaway! ~ US Only

June 17th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Laura Brooke Robson, author of The Sea Knows My Name

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

 

Meet Laura Brooke Robson:

Laura Brooke Robson grew up in Bend, Oregon and moved to California to study English at Stanford University. She currently lives in Melbourne, Australia, where she enjoys drinking too much coffee and swimming in places she’s probably not supposed to swim.

Website * Twitter

 

 

About the Book: The Sea Knows My Name:

 

In this seafaring fantasy, a soft-spoken and empathic teen must chart her own course to rescue the ruthless pirate who raised her

If there’s one thing Thea Fowler has learned from her mother, it’s that the only way for a woman to survive in a man’s world is to make herself strong, invulnerable even. Strength, after all, is how Clementine Fowler survived after her world was washed away by ash and lava and became one of the most notorious pirates the world has ever known.

Unfortunately, Thea has inherited none of her mother’s ruthlessness and grit.

After a lifetime of being told she is a disappointment, Thea longs to escape life under her mother’s thumb. And when she falls for a handsome sailor named Bauer, she thinks she’s found her chance at a new life. But it’s not long before first love leads to first betrayal, and Thea learns that there’s more than one way to be strong.

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~Author Chat~

 

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

As a kid, I was terrified of being perceived as girlish or feminine. When I consumed media, I saw three types of women: physically strong women (those who kept up with the men and weren’t “like other girls”), maternal women (those who nurtured), and sexual women (those who found some power in their conformation to the male gaze’s ideal, but who probably needed to be rescued by more powerful men in the end). All were likely to die for Plot Reasons. Still, the physically strong, emotionally invulnerable women seemed like the best role models, so that was who I tried to become. The relationship between Thea (empathetic, sensitive) and her mother, Clementine (hardened, tough), is a version of the relationship between my younger and older selves. This book was how I learned to reconcile strength with gentleness; I like to think of it as a deconstruction of “the strong female heroine.”

 

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

I don’t think we settled on the title until we absolutely had to. According to the graveyard of documents on my laptop, it has been named, in various iterations: “Thieves of Gold and Thunder” (which is utterly not in keeping with the plot or the tone of the book), “A Handful of Sea,” (what does this mean?) “Thea,” and “Whale Book.” I’m pretty sure “Whale Book” was never an actual contender.

 

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

Oh, I guess just to mean something. Writing is so hard. You create something and people don’t like it. Or you create something and people don’t care. I don’t think it would be possible to keep working if you didn’t feel like your stories had a purpose beyond entertaining yourself. That’s not to say every book should be didactic–just that every book should have theme. For the writer’s sake as much as the reader’s.

 

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

I cried when I saw the cover. I think it’s perfect. Kaitlin Yang designed it, and I think she perfectly captured the book, which isn’t easy to categorize. It’s a fantasy book, but there’s no magic; there are pirates, but there aren’t battles and warfare. Mostly, it’s a book about a girl, her memories, and the stories that shaped her. Through some special alchemy, Kaitlin’s cover manages to communicate exactly what sort of book this is.

 

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

Oh, so many! I got to read an early version of Furysong, the third book in Rosaria Munda’s Aurelian Cycle, and I’m dying to get my hands on the final version. I’m also really excited to read Ava Reid’s Juniper & Thorn, which comes out next week. Babel by R. F. Kuang; Foul Lady Fortune by Chloe Gong; Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert. It’s a good year for books.

 

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

Can I have three? Allison Saft’s A Far Wilder Magic is absolutely lovely and has some of the most immersive worldbuilding I’ve read in ages. Also, a love interest named Wes, which, if you’ve read The Sea Knows My Name, you’ll know is a thumbs up from me. I also recently read Maria Dahvana Headley’s translation of Beowulf, and it’s so brash and fun–a wonderfully reinvigorated take on the text. And M. L. Rio’s If We Were Villains. I feel like I was the last person to read that book, but I just picked it up last week and read it in a day. It’s such an engaging story of passion and obsession.

 

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

I knew I wanted to tell Thea’s story in alternating past and present timelines because I wanted it to be a story about memory. In the past tense timeline, Thea falls for and is subsequently betrayed by a boy named Bauer. Though this part of the story felt more personal, it was easier to write. The present tense timeline was what gave me trouble. I wanted both timelines to crescendo simultaneously, but matching the tone and momentum of the two took many (many) attempts.

 

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

Speak. Write. Feel how you feel.

 

 

Book’s Title: THE SEA KNOWS MY NAME

Author: LAURA BROOKE ROBSON

Release Date: JUNE 14, 2022

Publisher: DIAL BOOKS

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0525554068

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0525554066

Genre: YA Fantasy

Age Range: 14 – 17 years

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

One winner will each a copy of The Sea Knows My Name (LAURA BROOKE ROBSON) ~US Only

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

 

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Author Chat with Tolá Okogwu (Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun), Plus Giveaway ~US Only

June 16th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Tolá Okogwu, author of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun

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

 

 

Meet Tolá Okogwu:

Tolá Okogwu is a British Nigerian author, journalist, and hair care educator. Born in Nigeria but raised in London, she holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism. Having spent several years exploring the world of blogging, haircare, and freelance writing, she finally returned to her first love…fiction. She is the author of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, the self-published picture book series Daddy Do My Hair, and Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door under the name Lola Morayo. Tola lives in Kent, England, with her husband and two daughters. An avid reader and lover of music, she’s also a sucker for melted cheese. Learn more at TolaOkogwu.com

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram * Pinterest

 

 

About the Book: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun

Black Panther meets X-Men in this action-packed and empowering middle grade adventure about a British Nigerian girl who learns that her Afro hair has psychokinetic powers—perfect for fans of Amari and the Night Brothers, The Marvellers, and Rick Riordan!

Onyeka has a lot of hair­—the kind that makes strangers stop in the street and her peers whisper behind her back. At least she has Cheyenne, her best friend, who couldn’t care less what other people think. Still, Onyeka has always felt insecure about her vibrant curls…until the day Cheyenne almost drowns and Onyeka’s hair takes on a life of its own, inexplicably pulling Cheyenne from the water.

At home, Onyeka’s mother tells her the shocking truth: Onyeka’s psycho-kinetic powers make her a Solari, one of a secret group of people with super powers unique to Nigeria. Her mother quickly whisks her off to the Academy of the Sun, a school in Nigeria where Solari are trained. But Onyeka and her new friends at the academy soon have to put their powers to the test as they find themselves embroiled in a momentous battle between truth and lies…

Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

 

 

~Author Chat~

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

The idea for Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun came from a very simple idea… ‘what if a girl discovers that the very thing she considers to be her greatest flaw, turns out to be her greatest strength?’ I knew immediately that it was a book about superheroes and that her powers would come from her hair. For the longest time, Afro textured hair has been seen as something undesirable and this is a perception I constantly challenge in my writing and in my work as a hair care educator. I’ve also been a fan of superhero stories since childhood, but rarely came across any that featured people who looked like me as the hero.

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

The novel!! The final title took AGES to figure out and I went through about three truly awful options first. I was on submission to publishers with the manuscript and I had to come up with something quickly. Onyeka is such a beautiful name that it felt right that it should be in the title.

 

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

It would have to be the scene where Onyeka and Adanna work out their differences. Friendship is a really big theme in this book, as is hair and in that scene I got to combine the two into what I think is a really beautiful moment.

 

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

That it features a dark-skinned Black girl and her afro textured hair in all their glory front and centre. There’s no hiding or minimising it and that makes it glorious. The cover was illustrated by the amazing Brittany Jackson and when I first saw it, I couldn’t stop grinning. She did such a phenomenal job capturing Onyeka and her power and it makes the book stand out on any shelf.

 

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

I’m very much looking forward to the release of Umbra Tales: the Lightcasters by Janelle McCurdy. It’s such a brilliant middle grade fantasy adventure, with memorable characters and a unique world heavily influenced by Janelle’s gaming background. I got to read an advance copy and I have to say it’s phenomenal.

 

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

Another book I read recently, which blew me away is Sadé and her Shadow Beasts by Rachel Faturoti. It’s a beautiful story about grief, hope and family, written in a way many children will be able to relate to. I think it’s going to be a future classic.

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I’m currently editing book two in the Onyeka series: Onyeka and the Legacy of the Solari, which comes out early next year. I’m also looking forward to working on the film adaptation of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, which is being produced by Netflix.

 

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

Hassan, definitely. He speaks Nigerian Pidgin English, and it was important to me not to misrepresent or ‘other’ the language in the book. So finding the balance where the reader could understand him without having to use translations was definitely tricky. I just hope I pulled it off.

 

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

I hope when they read Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, they see their fears, hopes, weakness and strengths represented. I hope Black children especially see themselves reflected in a way that is positive and inspirational. Where their Blackness is front and centre but isn’t the entirety of the story. The book is about accepting what makes you different and claiming the power that gives you. Something I believe is universal no matter who you are or where you come from.

 

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

Other than writing books?? 🙂 It would have to be storing random facts. My family calls me Tikipedia because of the way I can regurgitate information. I’m absolutely the woman to take with you to the local quiz night!!

 

 

Book’s Title: Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun

Author: Tolá Okogwu

Release Date: 6/14/22

Publisher: Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books

ISBN-10: 1665912618

ISBN-13: 9781665912617

Genre: Fantasy

Age Range: 8 to 12

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

Three winners will receive a finished copy of Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun (Tolá Okogwu) ~US Only

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway!*

 

 

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Author/Illustrator Chat with Cynthia Harmony & Teresa Martinez (MI CIUDAD SING/MI CIUDAD CANTA), Plus Giveaway! ~ (US Only)

June 15th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Cynthia Harmony (Author) & Teresa Martinez (Illustrator) of MI CIUDAD SING/MI CIUDAD CANTA!

Read on for more about them, their book, and a giveaway!

 

 

Meet Cynthia Harmony:

Cynthia Harmony is an educational psychologist who has created exhibits and bilingual learning materials for children and science museums. Originally from Mexico City, Cynthia is a children’s author and translator, and this is her debut picture book.

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

 

 

Meet Teresa Martinez:

Teresa Martínez is the illustrator of numerous books for children, including The Halloween Tree, Sing with Me: The Story of Selena Quintanilla, and It’s Not a Bed, It’s a Time Machine. She lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram

 

 

About the Book: MI CIUDAD SING/MI CIUDAD CANTA

After experiencing a devastating earthquake, the spirit of a charming and vibrant Mexican neighborhood might be shaken, but it cannot be broken.

     As a little girl and her dog embark on their daily walk through the city, they skip and spin to the familiar sounds of revving cars, clanking bikes, friendly barks, and whistling camote carts. But what they aren’t expecting to hear is the terrifying sound of a rumbling earthquake…and then…silence.

With captivating text and lively, beautiful illustrations, this heartwarming story leaves readers with the message that they can choose to be strong and brave even when they are scared, and can still find joy and hope in the midst of sadness.

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~Author/ Illustrator chat~

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

 

Cynthia: I was born and grew up in Mexico City. In September 2017, a very strong earthquake took place there. I was living in Arizona at the time, but I followed the tragedy through family and friends. What was most striking about the aftermath of this event was the outpouring of generosity. I was very moved and inspired by the efforts of my community coming together and helping each other, and knew I had to share this story.

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

Cynthia: I love my main character, my little girl is brave, inspiring, generous, mighty and has a lovely relationship with her mom and neighbors. But I have to say my favorite character is Pancho, based on my real-life dog who passed away two years ago. He is the character that provides company, support, love, comfort, and a safe space throughout the emotional journey of the story.

TERESA: I love the girl, the main character, because I feel identified with the way she reacts and behaves throughout the story. Although I must confess that I love dogs and her pet is one of my favorites too.

 

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

Cynthia: The circular structure of the last spread. It provides a satisfying and hopeful ending showing the music and rhythm of the city restored. It resembles the morning before the earthquake, but with an added layer of community love.

TERESA: The scene with the military helping to organize the citizens. That was one of the strongest images in the 2017 earthquake because it symbolized the union of the people, the strength to resist and solidarity.

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

Cynthia: The power of revision. A friend once told me that when he is unsure about a life decision he “puts it on ice.” I find myself coming back to this phrase in life and writing. Time is sometimes a luxury when there are deadlines, but I find that the space that you can give yourself between drafts is so helpful to find out not only what the story is really about, but what lens you want or need to bring to it. Sometimes we need to sit with feedback and let the unconscious mind solve the puzzle to come up with new ideas, before we can get back to work.

 

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

Cynthia: The city setting with its beautiful landmarks, the sense of hope in the characters, and the floating jacaranda flowers leading the way.

TERESA: That it fully reflects the story inside the book, it has a lot of little details, I also feel that the image of the jacaranda flowers floating is lovely. Jacaranda trees are so representative of Mexico City.

 

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

 

Cynthia: The theme is timely, we’ve been navigating a global pandemic with huge challenges and opportunities to offer support to each other. More than a lesson, I hope readers can have conversations about opportunities to contribute something positive to the community. I hope we all get to experience how being proactive in joining efforts for the greater good is one of the most helpful ways to find purpose during difficult times and overcome fear and sadness. I think kids particularly, are truly amazing at finding and sharing hope.

TERESA: That we can all face difficult situations if we collaborate in community, in harmony and with love.

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

 

TERESA: Visually I think it was the scene of the earthquake, because I am aware that not all children have experienced one, so I had to make it clear how something that is felt for an instant is represented graphically.

 

YABC:    What would you say is your superpower?

Cynthia: During the last Latinx Kidlit Book Festival Margarita Engle quoted her favorite Cuban poet Dulce Maria Loynaz: “En mi verso soy libre” – “In my verse I am free.” I think this is a writers’ superpower. We can express ourselves on the page, reorganize it and polish it to make sense of the world and share it with others to feel deeply connected. Artists choose different mediums to contribute their talents to the world, but I think the page and words have been mine since I was a kid.

TERESA: Draw what I want, love to draw and make a living out of it.

YABC:   Whats up next for you?

Cynthia: My next picture book comes out in 2023, A FLICKER OF HOPE published by Viking. It’s a parallel story about a girl that waits for the monarch butterflies to bring her papá back home. The parallel and poetic structure was a challenge, but it was important to get it right because this book encapsulates so much of what I stand for. I’m so proud of this story, hoping to honor the Mazahua community that inspired it.

TERESA: I am working on diverse books with very different themes, but the common denominator is that they are all designed to teach children something useful in a funny way. I’m also working on a graphic novel written by Stephen Desberg that is going to be published in France.

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

 

 TERESA: Mexican Gothic. It is a very entertaining novel. It made me dream of old times in a dark Mexican fantasy atmosphere.

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

 

TERESA: During the 2017 earthquake I donated art to help the auxiliary forces. Besides that, science has always attracted me, so I try as much as possible to help scientific causes, a sector that suffers from limitations in my country.

YABC:   What advice do you have for new illustrators?

 

TERESA: For young artists I recommend to draw a lot every day and make sure your work is visible, you never know who might be looking.

 

Book’s Title: MI CIUDAD SINGS

                        MI CIUDAD CANTA

Author: Cynthia Harmony

Illustrator by Teresa Martinez

Release Date: June 14, 2022

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

ISBN-10: 0593226841; 0593520055

ISBN-13: 9780593226841; 0593520055

Genre: Children’s Bilingual Picture Book

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

Three winners will receive an English and Spanish copy of MI CIUDAD SINGS/ MI CIUDAD CANTA (Cynthia Harmony) ~US Only

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Author Chat with Erica George (The Edge of Summer), Plus Giveaway! ~US Only

June 14th, 2022 by

Hi, YABCers!

Today we’re super excited to celebrate the release day for The Edge of Summer (Erica George) by chatting with the author and hosting a great giveaway!

 

 

Meet Erica George:

Erica George is the author of Words Composed of Sea and Sky. She resides in northern New Jersey, but spends her summers soaking up the salty sea air on Cape Cod. She invites you to follow her at https://www.ericageorgewrites.com/ or on Twitter @theericageorge.

 

 

 

About the Book: The Edge of Summer:

Fans of Sarah Dessen and Morgan Matson will be swept away by this big-hearted novel about one girl navigating first loss and first love during her summer on Cape Cod.

Saving the whales has been Coriander Cabot and her best friend Ella’s dream since elementary school. But when tragedy strikes, Cor is left to complete the list of things they wanted to accomplish before college alone, including a marine biology internship on Cape Cod.

Cor’s summer of healing and new beginnings turns complicated when she meets Mannix, a local lifeguard who completely takes her breath away. But she knows whatever she has with Mannix might not last, and that her focus should be on rescuing the humpback whales from entanglement. As the tide changes, Cor finds herself distracted and struggling with her priorities.

Can she follow her heart and keep her promise to the whales and her best friend?

Order Here

 

 

~Author Chat~

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

I feel like the obvious answer would be to say Cor or Mannix considering they’re the main characters. And I do love them! But if I had to choose a secondary character, I would for sure choose Uncle Jack. He’s so entertaining, and such a good support system for Cor. Plus he has basically my dream Cape Cod home!

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

The novel came first! It actually went through two titles before we landed on this one. My editor and I worked together to find a title that really captured the vibe of the 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 think something that has actually taken me a while to feel comfortable with is not writing every day, giving myself permission to take a break. I think so many writers think they’re not really a writer unless they write every day, and I get that. But I also work another full time job, so occasionally, something has to be dropped for the sake of my sanity!

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

I basically love everything about the cover! The whales tail, Cor and Mannix holding hands, the ombre sunset. The designer, Karina Granda, and artist, Dion MBD, did an amazing job. But if you look closely, you can see Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown in the background, and I loved that surprise detail.

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

I have been waiting anxiously for The Final Gambit by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It’s one of those scenarios where I can’t wait for the next book, but I don’t want the series to end!

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

I just recently finished Me, Moth by Amber McBride, and it was such a beautiful novel in verse. I read it over the course of a weekend, and I couldn’t put it down.

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

I hope that people who read this book walk away with a little more knowledge about whales and the perils they face every day. Whales have to deal with hunting, entanglements, ship strikes, and deafening ocean noise, all because of humans. We have the power to help them if we just choose to live our lives a little more gently.

 

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

Yes! The Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, Massachusetts. They monitor and protect the coast of Cape Cod and save marine life from entanglements. Their work is so vital to the ecosystems and the animals in their care. A lot of the elements in the organization that Cor volunteers for in the book is based on the Center for Coastal for Studies.

 

Book’s Title: The Edge of Summer

Author: Erica George

Release Date: 6/14/22

Publisher: Poppy / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

ISBN-10: 0316496766

ISBN-13: 9780316496766

Genre: YA fiction

Age Range: 14 and up

 

*Giveaway Details*

 

Two winners will receive a copy of The Edge of Summer (Erica George) ~US Only

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway!*

 

 

 

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Author/ Illustrator chat with Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya (SLIP), Plus a Giveaway! ~US/CAN

June 13th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Marika McCoola (Author) & Aatmaja Pandya (Illustrator) of Slip!

Read on for more about them, their book, and a giveaway!

 

 

Meet Marika McCoola:

Marika McCoola is a writer, illustrator, educator, and the New York Times bestselling author of Baba Yaga’s Assistant. She has spent over a decade working to connect books with readers. She studied illustration, art history, creative writing, and ceramics at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and received her BFA in illustration in 2009.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

 

Meet Aatmaja Pandya

Aatmaja Pandya is a cartoonist and illustrator born and raised in New York. She graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2014 and has been illustrating professionally ever since. Slip is her first graphic novel.

Website * Twitter * Instagram

 

About the Book: SLIP

From Eisner-Award nominated writer Marika McCoola and debut artist Aatmaja Pandya, an emotional coming-of-age graphic novel for fans of Bloom and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me.

Right before Jade is about to leave for a summer art intensive, her best friend, Phoebe, attempts suicide. How is Jade supposed to focus on herself right now?

But at the Art Farm, Jade has artistic opportunities she’s been waiting for her whole life. And as she gets to know her classmates, she begins to fall for whimsical, upbeat, comfortable-in-her-own-skin Mary. Jade pours herself into making ceramic monsters that vent her stress and insecurities, but when she puts her creatures in the kiln, something unreal happens: they come to life. And they’re taking a stand: if Jade won’t confront her problems, her problems are going to confront her, including the scariest of them all—if Jade grows, prospers, and even falls in love this summer, is she leaving Phoebe behind?

Order Here:

 

~Author/ Illustrator Chat~

 

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

Marika: In short, my love of ceramics and the grounding effect they have on me, my experiences with change in relationships due to mental illness, and the delightful insanity of being an art student.

This book is grounded in personal experience: between my junior and senior year of college, I spent a month living on a farm-turned arts center doing a student residency (SAW or Salem Art Works). I worked on ceramics in a barn, built and fired a small kiln, cooked in the outdoor kitchen with produce and eggs from the farm, lived in my dad’s old Ford Falcon van, and ate a lot of ice cream.

I didn’t start writing this book until a handful of years later. Living in the town I grew up in, I was isolated. I was processing emotions and finding some small solace in working with clay. In so many young adult novels, relationships (both romantic and otherwise) are often framed as the relationships that will burn with intensity forever. My own experiences didn’t reflect this and I wanted to craft a book that dealt with both evolving relationships and my love of ceramics.

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

Aatmaja : Kim – Jade’s mean ceramics rival. Rude, snobby personalities are so much fun to draw. And as the story progresses, you get the sense that Kim has kind of a stressful life and just takes it out on other people. She will probably mellow out a lot in the future. Or she’ll make peace with the kind of person she is and get even worse, haha.

Mary is also up there, mostly because she has the kind of face and personality I like in another person. She was always a pleasure to draw.

 

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

Aatmaja : The novel! The working title for this book was ART FARM. It stayed in use as a placeholder nearly until I had to draw the cover. Actually, one of our editors – Sarah Alpert – is the one who came up with the title. Slip is a ceramics word that refers to goopy, watered-down clay used to seal firmer clay pieces together. Also, obviously, it can refer to hitting a snag in life, making a mistake, figuratively falling down. I like the mixed meaning.

 

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

Aatmaja : There’s a scene towards the end that takes place during a rainstorm that I just love. I think I managed to express it exactly as I was visualizing in my head, which is a rare and beautiful thing for any artist. Actually, it’s part of the emotional climax of the book, so it was really important that it turned out well. It’s sort of difficult to look at your own work and objectively find it well-done, but I still feel proud looking at those pages.

 

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

Aatmaja : When I started SLIP, I was still pretty fresh out of college and kind of naive about what it takes to tackle a project of this length. I write for myself, but had only done short zines or minicomics prior to drawing our book. I learned a lot from Marika’s process, honestly. The way she had scripted out the comic was so different from the way I write naturally. It’s good to be exposed to new perspectives in creative work, otherwise you just tend to do the same thing over and over.

If I had to pick one thing that I learned, it’s something I already felt subconsciously but now understand very strongly. It’s this – when a story is ready to be told, you will know. You can’t force it, particularly if it’s something personally important to you. Discipline and practice is what you do so that, when the lightning bolt hits you, you can take it and run with it.

 

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

Marika: Aatmaja managed to place so many important aspects on the cover while still preserving the mystery of the story. I love the very specific clay tools, the trees to set the scene, and the salmon-colored creature. Okay, it’s the creature that really made me gasp when I first saw it! It hints at the magic of the book, the sense that something is both looming over Jade and haunting her imagination. And then, on the back, you have the ghostly silhouettes of two other creatures…it’s just masterful.

 

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

Marika: So many! Prayer for the Crown-Shy, A Lady for a Duke, Moira’s Pen, Husband Material…but the book that I continually screamed about while devouring it is When Women Were Dragons. My librarian housemate and I were first on the library waitlist and pre-ordered a copy. They arrived on the same day and we needed both copies so we could disappear into them simultaneously. I’ve been reading Kelly Barnhill since I received a manuscript of The Witch’s Boy and each and every book is better than her last. It takes true skill to write acknowledgements that make readers cry and then go and read them aloud to anyone who’ll listen…and Kelly does this repeatedly. As much as I hope you’ll buy my book, I totally understand if you go buy Kelly’s instead.

 

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

Marika: Kelly Barnhill’s When Women Were Dragons (see above). I will happily rave about this for longer than you’d care for, so it’s probably better if I just respectfully throw it at you and let you start reading.

In the realm of picture books, Boobies by Nancy Vo (coming in August) is an utter delight and has a fabulous cover. It’s a great introduction to mammary glands and what animals have them told with sweetness and humor.

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

Marika: The past year has been less about writing for me and more about finding a day job that both provides stability and challenges me. I’ve also been working on building rock climbing skills and getting into nature. Katherine May (author of Wintering) might say that the past year has been a year-long wintering period for me as I try to care for my body and mental health before bursting into a season of creativity.

Last year I wrote a television pilot and pitch for a hybrid animated/live action romance which I would love the opportunity to develop further. It’s loosely based on SWIPE RIGHT, my online dating comics memoir. A couple of other things are marinating in my brain right now, all with a romance and/or outdoors bent, but nothing is at a point where I’m comfortable sharing it yet.

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

Aatmaja: I started drawing the book at around page 30, simply because I wanted to avoid drawing the beginning for a while. It’s very heavy! It depicts a pain I was feeling at the time, and it speaks to the honesty of the writing that it was genuinely kind of hard for me to sit with. I found the first scene with Asher pretty difficult to draw, too. Both because it had some tricky elements to illustrate, and because the subject matter is intense.

 

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

Marika: When I started writing Jade’s story, I didn’t want it to be a romance, I wanted to focus on platonic friendship.Then, out of the blue, Mary kissed Jade and persisted in obviously crushing on her and I had to rewrite the book. I remember reading an essay by Madeleine L’Engle in which she wrote that a character showed up in a draft and told her how things were going to go so she rewrote the book to make it so. While I don’t see Mary as a difficult character to write, her romantic interest was certainly some whimsical trouble!

 

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

Aatmaja: Personally, I don’t think there is one single moral to be taken away from SLIP. I hope that people who have felt grief or regret in regards to a relationship feel understood by it.

 

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

Aatmaja: Two things! First is picking up new skills really quickly. I’m lucky to have a very good memory, so if I’m taught something new, it will stick after a couple of repetitions. The second is just that I’m really stubborn, haha. This is also a curse because I like to do things my way, at my pace, sometimes to the detriment of my own well-being. Luckily these two superpowers usually work in tandem. If I’m mad because I’m not immediately good at something, I’ll just muscle my way through it until it suddenly, magically clicks.

 

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

Marika: I do a lot of outdoor recreation– skiing, hiking, camping, climbing, cycling, running–they’re a necessary part of caring for my mental and physical health. Increasing access to outdoor spaces and making these spaces welcoming is extremely important to me. A lot of sports have a barrier to entry that comes down to physical access (needing a car to get there), gear (depending upon the sport, it can be very expensive), skills acquisition (classes can be pricey), time (you need time off work!) and those participating/gatekeeping (often white and cishet male). I was privileged to talk with a guide this winter who also holds an MSW, and it was wonderful to reflect upon the social climate of (specifically) backcountry skiing and explore ways in which it is changing as well as where it needs to go. Listening, learning, and holding space for conversations are an ongoing part of my outdoor education.

I’m passionate about access to higher education and non-traditional educational systems. I had the opportunity to teach for Bard College Holyoke, a microcollege program at The Care Center that provides not just tuition-free education, but also the physical assistance of transportation and childcare that many college programs lack, to female-identifying students whose education has been interrupted by familial responsibilities. I am in awe of what the women in the program achieved and grateful for the opportunity to develop and teach courses for them. It’s a truly remarkable program and I hope to see the model adopted throughout the USA.

 

YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers?   

Marika: Every creative practice is different. Just as everyone learns in a slightly different way, everyone has a slightly different way of approaching the writing process. So try everything and respectfully ignore what doesn’t work for you. But, honestly, the best advice I can give you is the advice I give myself and my students: Go play!

When you play, nothing is a mistake or wrong, it’s just something you tried. So go mess about and see what happens.

 

 

Book’s Title: Slip

Author/Illustrator: Marika McCoola and Aatmaja Pandya

Release Date: June 7, 2022

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

ISBN-13: 9781616207892

Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Graphic Novel

Age Range: 13+

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

Three winners will receive a hardcopy of Slip (Marika McCoola) ~ US/CAN

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

 

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Author Chat with Hannah E. Harrison (POOPSIE GETS LOST), Plus Giveaway! ~US Only

June 9th, 2022 by

Today we are chatting with Hannah E. Harrison (POOPSIE GETS LOST)

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

 

 

Meet Hannah E. Harrison

Hannah Harrison is an award-winning illustrator whose first book, Extraordinary Jane, received three starred reviews and was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. She lives with her family in Oklahoma.

 

 

About the Book: Poopsie Gets Lost

A fluffy, nap-loving cat goes on the (fur-raising!) outing of a lifetime in this funny and gorgeously illustrated adventure about finding your inner tough kitty.

Poopsie the cat spends her days licking her paws and rubbing her ears and looking fluffy, until the pushy narrator of this story pressures her to do something a little less boring. Adventure is waiting, after all! So off Poopsie goes, out the cat door, across the lawn, and . . . through a gate covered in Danger signs. Soon Poopsie is lost in a jungle full of menace, from a vine that’s actually a snake to a crew of tigers to a river full of crocodiles! All the while the narrator keeps pushing her to keep going. Will fluffy little Poopsie make it out of the jungle in one piece?

 

Order Here * Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

 

~Author Chat~

 

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

                One morning my daughters pointed out to me that our cat, Peppercorn, was lurking behind a potted palm plant in the corner of the room. I chuckled and said “Blobby in the jungle” (“Blobby” is her nickname because she likes to loaf around the house like a blob). Anyway, the whole thing got me thinking, What would happen if a pampered housecat suddenly found herself in the middle of the jungle? and it sort of went from there.

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

                Poopsie! I can relate to her on so many levels it’s not even funny. I’ve listened to the wrong people, trusted in the wrong things, gone out of bounds, ignored my better instincts, caved to peer pressure, gotten lost, felt defeated, nearly drowned…but the one good thing about the inevitable failure is that it points you back to the truth, and once you see the truth it makes you stronger. Poopsie is one tough kitty by the end…and, hopefully, much wiser.

 

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

                I’m going to have to say the page after Poopsie goes over the waterfall. Following the narrator’s bad advice has brought Poopsie nothing but trouble, and this is the page where she decides she has finally had enough. It’s her all-time low—she’s drenched, lost, exhausted, humiliated, and fed up. I was so nervous about painting these spot illustrations. I wasn’t sure how I was going to paint the water, or how I was going to make Poopsie look soaking wet, or the waterfall look sufficiently splashy. And on top of all that, it was such an emotional turning point for Poopsie, that I had the added pressure of needing her expressions just right. Let’s just say that, all things considered, I’m relieved it came out as good as it did!

 

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

                Probably to not cling so tightly to one idea. Way back at the beginning I had a picture book that I was trying to get published. It was the first picture book manuscript I had ever really attempted. I liked the book. A smattering of family and friends liked the book. The editors? They liked it, too…they just didn’t love it; it wasn’t special enough. But I convinced myself that it was their loss, and kept sending it out. Did I write other manuscripts in the meantime? No. Did I make any significant changes or improvements to the manuscript? Nope. Instead, I thought it would be fun to dig in my heels and keep beating a mediocre dead horse…for YEARS! I wasted so much time—time that I could have spent brainstorming, trying out new ideas, and improving my craft. Thankfully, reality eventually kicked in, and I started writing other stories. It wasn’t until idea number four that I realized I was on to something truly special. Sometimes, you’ve got to just let go, take what you’ve learned, and move on!

 

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

                Poopsie’s little face! You know, I realized after the fact that Poopsie bears an uncanny resemblance to my youngest daughter when she was a baby—right down to her sweet expression and sticky-uppy hairs. It was completely unintentional, but I guess seeing that adorable little face every day rubbed off on me!

 

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

                Would it be wrong to say POOPSIE?! I mean between the pandemic, lock-downs, extensions, shipping delays, and two pushed back pub dates, it feels like this book is “The Little Engine That Could” of books! I absolutely cannot wait for POOPSIE to finally get here! She’s been lost for far too long, and I’m just dying to hold an actual book in my hands.

 

 

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

                Well, I guess I would have to say Poopsie. She was tricky because she doesn’t talk, so her entire being had to be communicated in illustration only (illustration counts as a form of writing, right?). Great care had to be taken with her expressions and body language in order for her emotions, thoughts, and personality to (hopefully) come across. Of course I suppose the narrator was equally tricky because their entire essence had to be captured in just dialogue…[pauses for reflection]…Nope. Final answer: Poopsie. Poopsie gave me the most trouble.

 

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

                In summation, this is a book about discernment. We live in a time when we are constantly bombarded with voices telling us what we should need, do, and think, and it seems to me that it’s more important than ever to encourage discernment in our kids so that they aren’t persuaded down the wrong paths. Hopefully Poopsie will remind readers that it’s good to reason for yourself and stand firm.

 

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

                When the occasion calls for it, I can talk really, really fast. Like Micro-Machine-Man fast. (And I totally just gave away my age with that cultural reference). Not really sure what this particular superpower is useful for—it rarely comes in handy and is only ever-so-slightly amusing. Maybe I could get a job reading disclaimers at the ends of pharmaceutical commercials? Nah. I should probably stick with books.

 

 

Book’s Title: POOPSIE GETS LOST

Author/Illustrator: Hannah E. Harrison

Release Date: 06/07/22

Publisher: Dial

ISBN-10: 059332417X

ISBN-13: 9780593324172

Genre: Juvenile Fiction – Animals – Cats; Juvenile Fiction – Humorous Stories

 

*GIVEAWAY DETAILS* 

 

One winner will receive a copy of Poopsie gets Lost (Hannah E. Harrison) ~ US Only

 

*Click the Rafflecopter link below to enter the giveaway*

 

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Interview with Amelia Diane Coombs (Exactly Where You Need To Be)

June 8th, 2022 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Amelia Diane Coombs (Exactly Where You Need To Be)

 

 

The Author: Amelia Diane Coombs

Amelia Diane Coombs writes books for young adults. Back in the day, she majored in English and went on to receive her MFA in creative writing. Now, she writes about unlikable female protagonists, positive mental health representation, and swoony romances with soft boys. She’s a Northern California transplant living in Seattle, Washington, with her husband and their Siberian cat. When she isn’t writing or reading, Amelia spends her time playing video and tabletop games, binging her favorite comfort TV shows, and exploring the Pacific Northwest. She’s the author of Keep My Heart in San FranciscoBetween You, Me, and the Honeybees; and Exactly Where You Need to Be.

Website * Instagram * Twitter

 

 

The Book: Exactly Where You Need to Be

Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

 

~Author Chat~

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

ADC: I’ve wanted to write a book that played into my experiences with OCD for years but struggled with how I wanted to tell the story. I’m very intentional with how I include mental illness representation and I aim to tell a story first and weave in the mental health element second. I’m a huge fan of true crime, and during my treatment for OCD, I became fascinated with the intersection the mental health community—especially the self-advocacy aspect—with podcasts like My Favorite Murder, and the concept for EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE was born!

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

ADC: While I have a soft spot for Florie, the protagonist, I really love Kacey, her best friend. Probably because Kacey was just a ton of fun to write. She’s the complete opposite of Florie (and, to a degree, the opposite of me!) and she pushes Florie out of her comfort zone while still respecting her boundaries. In terms of drafting/revisions, Kacey stayed the same from the initial draft, and she’s basically the best friend I wish I had during high school.

 

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

ADC: The novel! Usually, I have a placeholder title when I begin drafting, and I don’t come up with a title until several revision passes later, or I brainstorm with my editor and marketing team. I’m pretty sure my working title for EWYNTB was “OCD Road Trip Book” (very creative, I know) but the final title came to me early on in the drafting process. I always put together Pinterest boards for inspiration as I draft and revise, and one photo was of a road sign that said, “you are exactly where you need to be” and I fell in love with it as a title!

 

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

ADC: I’ve long admired Jeff’s cover artwork, and I was thrilled to find out that he was the artist for EWYNTB! Throughout the design process, Jeff played around with a lot of different settings, but the tree houses sketches were my absolute favorite. Atmospherically, the tree houses are just too perfect! Also, it’s based off of one of my favorite scenes in the book, which is just an added bonus.

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

ADC: I have a fourth Young Adult novel releasing in 2023 titled ALL ALONE WITH YOU, but after that, I’m not sure! I’ve been playing around with another YA, but a middle grade and an adult project as well.

 

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

ADC: EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE is a pretty personal book, and there were many difficult scenes for me to tackle as a writer. I’ll be vague to avoid spoilers, but toward the end of the book, Florie has a few different confrontations/conversations with her mother. They were difficult to write, from an emotional standpoint, but also because they were pivotal to Florie’s arc, and I returned to them with each revision pass. All I can hope is that I did those conversations justice!

 

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

ADC: Sam, Florie’s love interest, gave me the most trouble throughout the entire revision process, from beginning to end. When I began revisions with my editor, Sam underwent a page one rewrite—he got a new personality, new goals, all that jazz—and it was hard to let go of Old Sam, initially. Now I’m incredibly happy with his character, but it was a journey!

 

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

ADC: I really hope neurotypical readers can walk away with a greater understanding of the complexities of obsessive compulsive disorder, and that readers with OCD (or similar disorders) know that they can live bright, brilliant lives while coping with their mental health.

You are here: Interview with Amelia Diane Coombs (Exactly Where You Need To Be)