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Author Chat With JaNay Brown-Wood (JAM, TOO?), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY!

February 23rd, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author JaNay Brown-Wood (JAM, TOO?)

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

 

 

 

Meet the Author: JaNay Brown-Wood

JaNay Brown-Wood, PhD is an award-winning children’s author, poet, educator, and scholar. Her previous books include Imani’s Moon, winner of the NAESP Children’s Book of the Year Award, and Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story!, winner of the CELI Read Aloud Book Award. She lives in Sacramento, California.

Website

 

 

 

About the Book: Jam, Too?

Lustrous illustrations and a rhythmic text featuring a cumulative list of sounds bring to life the thrill of an impromptu jam session and the joy of making music together.
A drum circle is forming on the beach, and one fascinated child would love to join in. Soon there’s everything from a conga’s pat-a-pat-a, pat pat to some bongos’ taka taka, ta ta—and it looks like so much fun! But what do you do when you don’t have a drum? Well, when you let the music move you, you just might find other ways to jam, too!

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

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

I grew up surrounded by music! My father often blasted John Coltrane and Miles Davis on Sunday mornings. Anita Baker and Nat King Cole bounced off the walls when my mother cleaned. But I especially remember going to jazz concerts and festivals to watch my cousins, Jeanette and Michael Harris, who are actually professional musicians today. They helped inspire JAM, TOO. But the specific moment the story idea jumped into my mind was when I was on a trip, and a travel commercial kept playing on loop mentioning all the beautiful beach-side places travelers could visit. From there, I envisioned a drum circle with the rhythms and beats playing out in my head…and thus, JAM, TOO was born.

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

My favorite characters in the book are the drums. While they are not actual, living characters, by using onomatopoeia, I gave voice to each drum that is so fun to read aloud. But, I also like the main character who steps outside of their comfort zone and tries something new: dancing.

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

This is such a tough question because Jacqueline Alcántara did a phenomenal job illustrating the book. She deftly captured movement and rhythm right on the page! But if I had to pick a favorite scene or spread, it is the spreads and scenes where our protagonist dances across the pages. When I first looked at these scenes, they took my breath away! I just love them! I feel most proud of these spreads because my words helped to evoke such beautiful images that Jacqueline brought to life. Talk about a fantastic collaboration of words and pictures.

YABC:  What came first, the concept, landscape, characters, or something else?

The sounds came first. I am someone who enjoys beatboxing—not that I’m any good at it—but I love making percussive sounds with my mouth. So, it was the sounds of the drums that came first, and the rest of the story grew from that.

YABC:   What can readers expect to find in your books?

Joy. I hope readers find joy in my books as well as something educational that they may not have known before. As an author and an educator, I try to infuse something educational in each of the books I write, whether it is a new concept or new vocabulary words like the names of numerous drums found around the world. So, I hope that when children read my books, they are experiencing joyful, educational moments with loved ones.

YABC: What is your favorite snack when writing?

While some of my favorite snacks while writing include grapes and popcorn, I’d say my most favorite is tea. I love to sip on a steaming cup of tea with honey and a splash of milk. It often calms me and helps my creativity to flow.

YABC: If you were able to meet them, would you be friends with your main character?

Absolutely! My main character and I would have our own jam sessions including drums and dance—and I know we’d have a blast!

YABC:    What’s your least favorite word or expression and why?

 “I can’t.” That’s probably my least favorite expression. I am a believer that we all have more inside of us than we even realize, especially when faced with challenges. So, I like “I’ll try my best” much more than “I can’t.”

YABC:   What do you do when you procrastinate?

Procrastinate—me? Never! That’s how I’d like to answer this question. But, in all honesty, I pull out my phone and play word games when I am procrastinating. I especially like games that are similar to Bananagrams or Scrabble. Clearly, I love words. That’s probably why I am an author and a poet.


YABC:  What fandom would you write for if you had time?

I would write fandom for Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone series. I love her writing and fell head-over-heels for her characters. I am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series which is releasing this year!

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I have many exciting things happening this year! I actually have SEVEN books publishing in 2024, so I’ve been having a great time sharing my new books with the world. I also will be releasing some virtual story time starts called Jammies with JaNay (check my website soon for more information) as well as in-person events where I share my work with the community. On top of that, I am busy traveling the country doing author presentations with amazing listeners everywhere!

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

If you’d like to learn more about me or get updates about where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing, join my free newsletter. You can subscribe at the bottom of my website: www.janaybrownwood.com. I do giveaways and share lots of fun information on my newsletter. I hope you’ll join!

You can also learn more about me or contact me here: https://blinq.me/OlWtsmj8aZW6

 

 

Title: JAM, TOO?

Author: JaNay Brown-Wood

Illustrator: Jacqueline Alcántara

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Release Date: February 27, 2024

ISBN: 9780593323762

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Age Range: 3-6

 

 

 

*Giveaway Details*

 

One (1) winner will receive a copy of Jam, Too? (JaNay Brown-Wood) ~ US Only!

 

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

 

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Author Chat With Rebecca Gardyn Levington (AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO? A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY!

February 22nd, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an exclusive interview with Author Rebecca Gardyn Levington (AFIKOMAN,WHERE’D YOU GO?)!

Read on to find out more about the author, the book and a giveaway!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Rebecca Gardyn Levington

Rebecca Gardyn Levington is a Jewish children’s book author, poet, and journalist. She has a master’s degree in magazine journalism from NYU and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from UCLA. This is her third published picture book, and her poetry and articles have appeared in various anthologies, newspapers, and magazines. She lives in the suburbs of New Jersey with her husband and two boisterous boys.

Noa Kelner is a freelance illustrator living and working in Jerusalem. She graduated from the Department of Visual Communication at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design and now works with Israeli newspapers, magazines, publishers, and design firms. She has illustrated several picture books and is the co-founder and artistic director of an art festival in Jerusalem that showcases hundreds of illustrators every year.

WebsiteInstagram * X * Facebook

 

 

 

About the Book: AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO? A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure

Help the children find the afikoman during their seder! It’s a rambunctious Passover hide-and-seek story for Jewish fans of Where’s Waldo? and The Gingerbread Man.

 

This lively, funny picture book brings to life the Passover tradition of searching for the afikoman—literally. When the mischievous piece of matzoh runs and hides during the seder, all the kids in the family (and even the pet dog!) go hunting for it, through every room in the house. Readers can join the hunt and find the sneaky afikoman in each bright and busy scene while enjoying the playful rhyming text. And they’re in for a surprise ending that’s as delightful as this favorite part of Passover.

Purchase

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

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

For those who may not be familiar with Passover, I like to describe it as “Jewish Thanksgiving.” It is a holiday that typically takes place in March or April, where we gather together around a big table, eat great food, sing songs, say prayers, and express gratitude for our freedom and for all the good things we are blessed to have in our lives. This gathering is called a “seder.” One of the rituals that takes place about halfway through the seder, after the meal, is called “searching for the afikoman.” This is when a piece of broken matzah cracker – called the “afikoman” – is hidden somewhere in the home and all the kids embark upon a manic search to find it and win the coveted prize (in my house it was always a dollar, which was a lot of money in those days!).

During my own childhood seders, I have fond memories of my sister and I (and other family friends) tearing through the house, upending couch cushions, throwing open cabinets, and digging through drawers! (My guess is that my mom has less fond memories of this! Lol).

These memories were the impetus for this story, along with a longtime desire to do a fractured fairytale version of The Gingerbread Man. Once I’d written the first draft, I thought about how fun it would be if I could also find a way to involve the reader by making it a seek-and-find, much like the Where’s Waldo and Richard Scarry books I enjoyed reading with my own two boys when they were little. I’m so thrilled that Noa Kelner was chosen as the illustrator because her cleverness in hiding the Afikoman in the pages of this book is just brilliant!

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

Oh, definitely the Afikoman! When I initially wrote this book, I thought of Afikoman as more of a smarmy, snarky, dislikeable character, but I absolutely love that Noa drew him more as a silly, trickster character, which makes so much more sense and works so perfectly in this book!  I particularly love the endpapers she created, where more of Afikoman’s silly personality is revealed.

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

I’m most proud of how the ending came together. No spoilers, but I will say that my original ending included Afikoman being eaten (GASP!). I didn’t feel like there was any problem with this because: 1) If you look at most iterations of The Gingerbread Man, the main character does indeed get eaten at the end. 2) At the Passover seder, the afikoman is meant to be eaten as a symbolic “dessert” after the meal, and 3) As I mentioned earlier, I was initially envisioning Afikoman as a sort of sneaky “villain” character, so I thought kids would kind of enjoy the idea of him getting his “just desserts” (pun-intended) in the end.

My editor, however, thought cannibalism took things just a little too far, so I managed to came up with what we both felt was an even better twist (which also ended up going through a few revisions until we got it exactly right!).

If you want to find out what actually does happen to our little Afikoman friend, you’ll just have to read the book!

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

Noa so cleverly hid the Afikoman on every spread of the book by using lots of browns and beiges as camouflage and added patterns to purposefully trick the reader, so I love how she brought this onto the cover of the book as well. He’s there, on top of the treehouse, but you don’t necessarily notice him at first. It’s so great to have that little taste on the cover of all the fun to come.

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 the most important thing I’ve learned since I began writing picture books and poems in earnest in 2016 is that publishing is a business. When I first started, most of what I wrote was to amuse myself (which is absolutely essential, of course!) but I wasn’t thinking about whether or not my stories were marketable. I wasn’t thinking about who might actually want to buy these books or why they would want to buy my book over another. And I certainly never thought about hooks. I didn’t realize then that even if an editor thinks my story is “cute” or “funny” or “heartfelt,” she can’t acquire it unless she can also prove to all the financial and marketing people that it will SELL.

So, nowadays, I still first write from my heart – always. But once that messy first draft is completed, I immediately begin thinking about hooks and marketability. I write my pitch and logline. I research comp titles. I even write an Author’s Note. Then, as I continue to revise, I have a very clear idea of what the book is really about, why I’m writing it, what the hooks are, who the audience is, and how I will sell the idea to a publisher.

 

YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

I think my ability to say what I need to say while incorporating unexpected rhymes in perfect meter, humorous puns and/or emotional wordplay, and as much lyrical language as possible in my stories, is my superpower. Maybe that sounds arrogant, but I’ve worked really, really, really hard over the last 7-8 years – taking classes, reading and studying thousands of rhyming picture books and poems, swapping manuscripts with other incredible rhyming authors, getting professional critiques, etc. — to truly master the ins and outs of rhyme, meter, and lyrical language. I finally feel like I’m at a point where I am confident enough to say: I know what I’m doing! That’s not to say I don’t still have much to learn (don’t we all!) but I love what I do and I am proud to be able to say I’m good at it.

YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers? 

Put yourself and your work out into the world as much as you can! Apply for ALL the contests, join ALL the groups, go to ALL the conferences and webinars you can, and enter ALL the mentorship programs. You just never know where or when opportunity will rear its head and you need to be ready for it when it does.

I am proof that this strategy works because it’s exactly how I sold my first two picture books, on my own, without an agent.

The deal for BRAINSTORM! (my debut, which came out in 2022 with Sleeping Bear Press) was the result of me choosing to apply to the #PBChat Mentorship Program in 2019, which was a free contest in which well-established, multi-published authors selected mentees and engaged them in a 3-month mentorship. I was lucky enough to be chosen by Lori Degman and, after our mentorship was over, she very generously offered to connect me with her editors, one of whom was Sarah Rockett at Sleeping Bear Press. I sent Sarah my very favorite manuscript at the time, which she passed on. But she liked my writing and rhyme and invited me to submit more. I ended up sending two others (which she also passed on) before she finally acquired BRAINSTORM!

The deal from for I WILL ALWAYS BE… (which was my second book sold, to HarperCollins, but for scheduling reasons will be my 6th book out, in 2025) resulted from a critique I signed up for via my local SCBWI chapter. The editor I was matched with didn’t connect with the manuscript I’d given her to critique and, when I mentioned that all my other work was in rhyme, told me that “rhyming manuscripts are a hard sell.” But, even so, I went ahead and sent her I WILL ALWAYS BE… (another rhymer) because she had a 1-week submission window after the conference and I didn’t have an agent so I figured, why not? Two months later, she emailed me asking if it was still available!

That sale also helped me find my wonderful agent, Kaitlyn Sanchez, with whom I’ve sold an additional seven rhyming picture books!

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

After AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO?, I am excited to say I have another six more rhyming picture books being released within the next couple of years. Next up, on Sept. 4th, is LITTLE DREIDEL LEARNS TO SPIN, illustrated by Taryn Johnson, and published by Scholastic, is a rhyming Hanukkah picture book about Little Dreidel, who discovers that she needs persistence, patience (and a whole lot of momentum!) if she ever hopes to spin as well as her older cousins.

The previously mentioned I WILL ALWAYS BE… releases in spring 2025, illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell and published by HarperCollins. That one is an inspirational picture book that encourages kids to celebrate their passions – whether or not they ever make it to Broadway or the big leagues – because doing what you love and loving what you do is what really matters.

Readers are welcome to learn more about my upcoming books and sign up for my monthly newsletter where I offer all kinds of tips for upcoming writers, on my website: www.RebeccaGardynLevington.com.

 

 

 

Title: AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO? A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure

Author: Rebecca Gardyn Levington

Illustrator: Noa Kelner

Release Date: February 20, 2024

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books

ISBN-10: 0593617789

ISBN-13: 9780593617786

Genre: Picture Book

Age Range: 4-8

 

 

 

*Giveaway Details*

 

Three (3) winners will receive a hardcover copy of AFIKOMAN, WHERE’D YOU GO? A Passover Hide-and-Seek Adventure (Rebecca Gardyn Levington) ~ US Only!

 

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

 

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Author Chat with Sarah Branson (A Pirates’ Pact), Plus Giveaway! ~ US/CAN ONLY!

February 22nd, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with author Sarah Branson!

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

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Sarah Branson

Sarah Branson, an award-winning author and experienced midwife, weaves thrilling tales of action and adventure with airborne pirates amidst a world transformed by fires, floods, and pandemics.

Sarah first started conjuring stories of pirates when her family hopped a freighter to Australia when she was seven. She has since grown up, traveling the globe, raising a family, and teaching science and history to middle school and high school students in the U.S., Brazil, and Japan. Her diverse life journey inspires her storytelling.

A Merry Life, her debut novel and the first book in the Pirates of New Earth series, received prestigious honors. Unfurling the Sails was written to appeal to teen readers. A Pirates’ Pact is her first middle grade book.

Sarah and her husband call Connecticut home. She firmly believes the strength and resiliency of the human spirit combined with the power of strong women and men will create a better world for all.

Website * Instagram * Facebook

 

 

 

About the Book: A Pirates’ Pact

Two brothers, a hidden secret, and an adventure of a lifetime.

On the pirate island of Bosch, almost eleven-year-old twins Kik and Mac are facing a storm of changes. With a father from Edo and a Bosch mother, the brothers navigate identity, friendship, and family in their own unique ways.

Mac, daring and mischievous, finds himself in a whirlwind of trouble as he strives to impress new friends. Meanwhile, Kik, quiet and observant, grapples with his heritage and a heartfelt secret he’s not ready to share.

When a ball thrown in anger fractures a family heirloom, a hidden piece of a pirate treasure map emerges, setting them on a quest that will shake up their relationship.

A Pirates’ Pact is a tale of friendship, self-discovery, and the enduring strength of family ties. Will Kik’s and Mac’s pact withstand the challenges ahead? Embark on this middle grade adventure where bonds are forged, secrets are unveiled, and treasures go beyond gold and jewels.

Goodreads

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

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

Truly this age group are my inspiration. For me looking back and also watching my own children and grandchildren, it is a great time of life–you aren’t a little kid, you are not yet a pre-teen–you are in that perfect kid sweet-spot of eight to eleven.

Because the main characters in A Pirates’ Pact are the fraternal twin sons of Kat Wallace, the protagonist of my new adult series, I have known them since they were born, and I have always known that they would eventually have their own adventures. The island they live on is certainly a kid paradise with woods, rivers, caves, and beaches just aching to be explored. Further, middle grade is a time of getting to know self, and I have watched the children in my family do just that. As I have gotten to know Kik and Mac, I was able to hear their voices as they realize more about the world and began to understand how they fit into it as individuals and brothers.

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

I generally plan out the beginning and the ending before I really start writing, which doesn’t mean the ending doesn’t change by the time I get there. Once I have completed the first draft, my husband, who has kindly let me read the book out loud to him in chunks as I progress, then reads it to himself on a shared Google doc, making comments and suggestions.

I often have other readers who have editing skills read at this point as well, and I collect that feedback and revise before it goes to Andrea, my developmental/copy editor. Once I get it back from Andrea, I revise again and then send it to Dave, my proofreader who also reads wholistically. When it comes back from Dave and I revise, then I know the book is finished.

YABC:   How do you keep your ‘voice’ true to the age category you are writing within?

I try to find people that are in the age category and listen to them talk with their peers. Because I have five grandsons ranging in age from four to twelve, they were my research. As the cousins went on family hikes and played together during the writing of A Pirates’ Pact, I observed them and listened to their conversations they had as we all walked, and at times asked them questions to get to hear their voices.

 Besides real-life observation, I find that reading in the age category and watching shows and movies that are popular with the age group helps. Finally, I have early readers in the age category read the story and give me feedback on it.

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

I really love the scenes with lots of action in them. It is so much fun to act out what I want the character(s) to be doing so I can describe it accurately. I’m sure someone watching me would definitely question my sanity as I leap and punch and twist and then quickly sit down and tap away at my computer only to get up and perform some other physical feat a moment later. Rinse and repeat.

YABC:   What is your favorite writing space?

I have a lovely writing desk in my room that I have lovingly decorated with pirate-y items including a dagger, a compass, a sailboat as well as some dragons that were from my late mother’s collection. At times I sit there and look out the window and, on occasion, write. But my most productive writing time is after I wake up. I grab my computer, stick a couple pillows behind me, sit up in bed with a cup of coffee my husband brings me and write. It probably isn’t the best for my neck and shoulders, but– hey– that’s what massages are for!

YABC: What hobbies do you enjoy?

I love to box and kickbox as well as go for runs with my husband. I balance those hobbies with a love of baking and am currently exploring gluten-free baking which is very challenging.

YABC:   What do you do when you procrastinate?

I can clean the house, organize junk drawers, workout a bit longer, bake some cookies, go for a long walk, really almost anything! However, I have become gentler with myself and now (mostly) don’t think of it as procrastination, but as pre-writing. I find I need to spend lots of head-time getting to know my characters deeply and reaching a place where I understand why they act the way they do. All of that work has to take place for me before I put pen to paper, or nowadays, fingers to keyboard.

YABC: What other age group would you consider writing for?

I began my author career with a four-book new adult action/adventure series entitled Pirates of New Earth, starring Kat Wallace, and readers from age 15 to 65 have loved it. I then wrote a spin-off young adult book, Unfurling the Sails, that featured Kat’s daughter, Grey, as the main character. Now I have A Pirates’ Pact as a middle grade book. My fans have teased me and asked if I plan to create a children’s book and then a board book next. I think that is unlikely…I feel like the shorter a piece of writing is the more intentionality each word requires, so those forms would be very challenging for me. But I do like challenges.

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I know there will be another Grey Shima young adult book and another Kik & Mac middle grade adventure in the future. But this year I will be writing another Kat Wallace new adult book. Kat has made it clear that needs to be my priority, but I also have a couple romances that have been nudging me for attention.

 

 

 

Title: A Pirates’ Pact

Author: Sarah Branson

Illustrator: Joe Harrington

Release Date: February 22, 2024

Publisher: Sooner Started Press

ISBN-10: 978-1-957774

ISBN-13: 978-1-957774-16-9

AISN: B0CVZFJMDS

Genre: Adventure

Age Range: 8-11

 

 

 

*Giveaway Details*

 

Ten (10) winners will receive a signed paperback copy of A Pirates’ Pact (Sarah Branson) ~ US/CAN Only!

 

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

 

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Interview With Ellen O’Clover (The Someday Daughter)

February 20th, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Ellen O’ Clover (The Someday Daughter)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Ellen O’ Clover

Ellen O’ Clover writes stories about finding your people, falling in love, and figuring it all out (or trying to, anyway). She grew up in Ohio and studied creative writing at Johns Hopkins University before moving west to Colorado. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her reading fiction about big feelings, trying new recipes with mixed results, or hiking in the Rockies. She lives near Boulder with her rocket scientist husband and two perfect bulldogs.

WebsiteInstagram * X

 

 

 

About the Book: The Someday Daughter

Audrey St. Vrain has grown up in the shadow of someone who doesn’t actually exist. Before she was born, her mother, Camilla St. Vrain, wrote the bestselling book Letters to My Someday Daughter, a guide to self-love that advises treating yourself like you would your own hypothetical future daughter. The book made Audrey’s mother a household name, and she built an empire around it.

While the world considers Audrey lucky to have Camilla for a mother, the truth is that Audrey knows a different side of being the someday daughter. Shipped off to boarding school when she was eleven, she feels more like a promotional tool than a member of Camilla’s family. Audrey is determined to create her own identity aside from being Camilla’s daughter, and she’s looking forward to a prestigious summer premed program with her boyfriend before heading to college and finally breaking free from her mother’s world.

But when Camilla asks Audrey to go on tour with her to promote the book’s anniversary, Audrey can’t help but think that this is the last, best chance to figure out how they fit into each other’s lives—not as the someday daughter and someday mother but as themselves, just as they are. What Audrey doesn’t know is that spending the summer with Camilla and her tour staff—including the disarmingly honest, distressingly cute video intern, Silas—will upset everything she’s so carefully planned for her life.

Amazon * B&N

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

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

Like a lot of people, I think, I spent quite a bit of time during the pandemic walking around my neighborhood with a mask on, listening to podcasts. For obvious reasons, I was consuming a lot of wellness content — especially mental wellness. People like Brené Brown, Glennon Doyle, even Gwyneth Paltrow. And as I listened to them speak, I started to wonder: what would it be like to be the teenage daughter of someone like this? To be navigating the great mess of self-discovery that happens at that age while your parent is out in the world, a beacon of self-actualization and mental health and radical self-care?

That’s how the idea for THE SOMEDAY DAUGHTER began: what would happen if the child of a mental health icon was struggling with her own mental health, and there was a gaping disconnect between her mother’s public discourse and the way she handles mental illness privately with her daughter? The book follows eighteen-year-old Audrey as she’s forced onto a nationwide book tour with her celebrity therapist/wellness guru mom—and she has to grapple with the tension between how her mother presents mental health and her own, lived experience of anxiety and perfectionism.

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

One of the college interns that accompanies Audrey and her mom on tour, Silas, brings along his eleven-year-old pug, Puddles. She’s wrinkly and slobbery and sweet, and putting her into scenes with Audrey—who is decidedly not a dog person—was so much fun. I’ve had three bulldogs, and I put so much of my love for them into Puddles. As my dogs have done for me, Puddles teaches Audrey a lot about being present and loving people for exactly who they are.

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

On one of the tour stops, at a gorgeous hotel in Nashville, Audrey has a panic attack. It’s only the second time she’s experienced one and she doesn’t know what’s happening to her: only that it’s wrong, and she’s ashamed, and she wants to hide. Writing this scene and its fallout—with both Audrey’s mother and with Silas—took me so many tries to get right. It’s the emotional core of the book, where Audrey hits rock bottom and has to confront her true self there: a young woman with intense anxiety. She doesn’t want to be this way, or feel these things. I won’t reveal too much, I’ll just say that I’m proud of how this scene turned out, and the message that it sends to young readers: feelings don’t come with value judgments, they just are. Any way that you’re feeling—even if it’s uncomfortable—is okay. It does not make you unworthy.

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

I can never pick just one! Samantha Markum’s Love, Off the Record and Krystal Marquis’s The Davenports are top of mind.

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

Audrey! It’s always the main character that’s the hardest to crack. I think I know them when I set out in chapter one, and they never fail to surprise me halfway through. Audrey was especially tough because she’s cold, at the start: hardened by neglect from her family and years of working nonstop to prove herself. When a character is so closed off, it can be a challenge to find their voice and the squishy parts that make them vulnerable—to strike the balance that shows them for the sharp person they are, but also hints at the soft interior that makes readers want to stick with them. I did a lot of refining of Audrey’s voice in revision.

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

Audrey is convinced that her only worth is excelling academically. She’s been at boarding school since she was eleven and has made academic achievements the cornerstone of her personality; it’s where she derives her self-esteem and sense of human value. I was a lot like this as a teenager, and it’s painful. When you pin your worth as a person on something as fleeting as your GPA, it’s so easy to have it all yanked away—to be left feeling worthless. I hope that readers walk away from The Someday Daughter reminded that they’re inherently worthy and valuable exactly as they are, without any qualifiers. That they matter already, and they don’t have to earn it.

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

I spent a summer in college teaching at 826 Valencia in San Francisco, a non-profit organization that supports under-resourced children with their writing skills. 826 has chapters across the country and is the kind of warm, creative, kind organization that could make even The Grinch believe in the goodness of humanity. I loved my time there, helping young people find their creative voices, and I encourage anyone with a chapter in their community to consider getting involved as a volunteer.

YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers? 

I like to remind new writers (and myself!) that writing is the art, and publishing is the business. I think the more you can keep those buckets separate in your brain, the happier you’ll be. Nothing in publishing or marketing is going to fill you up creatively the way that having a good writing day fills you up creatively—at least, nothing has for me. And there will be challenges and disappointments and rejections that come from the business side of making books. No one gets out unscathed! Rejection and criticism are part of it. But if you write the stories you believe in, you’ll always have that to hold onto: work that you’re proud of. No book is for every reader; no piece of art is for everyone. But if you keep writing your stories, eventually they’ll find their readers. Hold onto your magic. Don’t let the business side of the equation rob you of something that fills you up.

 

 

 

Title: The Someday Daughter

Author: Ellen O’Clover

Illustrator: Vi-An Nguyen

Release Date: February 20, 2024

Publisher: HarperTeen

Genre: YA Fiction

Age Range: 13+

 

 

Interview with Erin Danielle Russell (Seoul Food)

February 20th, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author, Erin Danielle Russell (Seoul Food)!

Meet the Author: Erin Danielle Russell

Erin Danielle Russell loves writing and cooking, and especially enjoys an opportunity to write about cooking. She knew she wanted to be an author since she was 6, and spent her childhood writing stories about her imaginary friend, Melody, and anime fanfiction. She is the author of How to Trick the Tooth Fairy and will always believe in magic. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, Jacob, and her pet teddy bear, Stanley. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @ErinDRussell

Website * X * Instagram

 

About the Book: Seoul Food

A young biracial girl joyfully celebrates both her Black and Korean cultures the best way she knows how—with the irresistible power of food!

Hana is faced with a conundrum: what scrumptious dinner should she make for her four grandparents who are all coming for a visit? This dish isn’t yummy enough, that one isn’t special enough . . . What’s an aspiring chef to do? Her mother tells her to cook what makes her heart happy, so Hana thinks hard.

She remembers the savory gumbo that she made with Grandma and Grandpa Williams when she visited them in the South. Then she reminisces about the sweet and spicy stew she made with Halmoni and Harabeoji during her trip to Seoul. Feeling inspired, Hana creates a dish that brings together the best flavors of her two cultures in a mouthwatering new way, and her grandparents couldn’t be prouder!

Preorder

~Author Chat~

YABC:  What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote Seoul Food while I was on my journey to becoming a mother. I’m Black and my husband’s Korean and I wanted to write a book my future child could relate to. Now that I have a son, I’m so glad I can read my book to him.

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

After several rounds of edits, I take a break from my manuscript for a couple of days, and it helps me gain a new perspective. Then, if I can read through my work without pausing to add or change something, I know it’s done.

YABC: What research did you do to write this book?

I researched Korean food and learned how to make one of my favorite Korean dishes, kimchi jjigae. Then I tested out my idea of combining it with gumbo, a Southern American dish. A lot of cooking and eating was involved, which I enjoyed!

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

I knew I wanted to become a writer when I was around 5 or 6 years old. I’d fill a blank notebook with stories and drawings and share them with my family.

YABC:   What is your favorite writing space?

My favorite writing space is my attic office. It’s my “she-shed.” My writing desk is in front of a window with a great view of nature. Sparrows visit my windowsill daily, so I like to think of them as my writing buddies.

YABC: What hobbies do you enjoy?

I enjoy cooking, tending to my vegetable garden, and listening to audiobooks. My favorite hobby as of late is sleeping. When my infant son naps, I go down for a nap too.

YABC:   What do you do when you procrastinate?

My son keeps me busy. When I’m not playing with him, I’m binge-watching YouTube videos–mostly BookTube and video game playthroughs. Nerd stuff.

YABC:  What fandom would you write for if you had time?

I’d love to write for the Wednesday Adams fandom. I’ve been a Wednesday fan since watching the Adams Family movies as a kid. And, if it were up to my son, I’d write for Baby Shark. Lol!

YABC: What other age group would you consider writing for?

The next group I want to write for is Middle Grade. Then, I’d like to try YA and Adult Fiction. I want to do all the things! I just wish I had more hours in a day to do them.

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I’m currently working on a fantasy middle grade book. It’ll be a little spooky and full of magic!

 

Book’s Title: Seoul Food

Author: Erin Danielle Russell

Illustrator: Tamisha Anthony

Release Date: February 20, 2024

Publisher: Viking, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers

Genre: picture book

Age Range: 4- 8

Rockstar Tours: KILL CALL (Jeff Wooten), Interview & Giveaway! ~ US ONLY

February 18th, 2024 by

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the KILL CALL by Jeff Wooten Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

_

 

About The Book:

Title: KILL
CALL

Author: Jeff Wooten

Pub. Date: February
20, 2024

Publisher: CamCat
Books

Formats:  Hardcover,
Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 320

Find it: Goodreadshttps://books2read.com/KILL-CALL

 

Dreams do come true. It’s Jude’s job
to make sure they don’t.

Born with the curse of prophetic
nightmares, Jude sees violent murders through the eyes of the killer before
they happen. His father, who shares Jude’s dark gift, has trained Jude since
birth to save the innocent and to kill the killer. A life for a life―it’s the
only way.

But everything goes awry when Hanna
Smith, the young woman he was supposed to save, rescues herself instead, and
catches Jude in her home. Fate isn’t inescapable, but it demands balance. While
Hanna may be safe for now, Jude knows that the killer will strike again, only
next time there will be no warning. Jude must now find the killer on his own,
without the visions to aid him, in order to carry out the task he’s been
training for before it’s too late.

 

 

 

YABC Q&A

  1. What gave you the inspiration to write this book? It’s a very long story but basically, I wrote a short story for adults back in 2009 or 2010 that had this protagonist that dreamt of future murders like Jude in Kill Call does. However, this short story was very dark. So dark, in fact, that I never sent it out to the magazines. But that story stuck with me, and I knew there was a better story there, I just had to find it. I eventually found it and wrote Kill Call, a story that leans into humor and basic young adult struggles to soften the dark premise.

 

  1. Who is your favorite character in the book? Ha! For me, that’s kind of like asking to pick your favorite child, but the answer is Coop. One hundred percent, Coop. Ha! He and I share an odd sense of humor.

 

  1. Which came first, the title or the novel? The novel. The original title was “A Dream Within” based off Edgar Allen Poe’s poem A Dream Within a Dream. I thought it would be fun to use that poem about a man realizing he has no control to highlight Jude’s struggles in Kill Call. Then I realized that was as a bunch of pretentious nonsense, and I needed to concentrate on making a fun, fast read that kids and adults would enjoy. Also, Kill Call is a much better title, and it fits with the football theme of the book. Kill Call is a football term. I have a quote by legendary football coach Mike Ditka, and the definition of Kill Call, as it pertains to football, at the start of the novel.

 

  1. What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why? The finale. Wrapping the main conflict up and the big reveal was a lot of fun to write and hopefully satisfying for readers to read or listen to.

 

  1. Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now? Find community. Get beta readers, become a beta treader, join a writing group. Engage with other writers. Find people on the journey. Writing is often a solitary endeavor, but making friends along the way can make it less so. It’s also important for craft. Write with the door closed for a while, but eventually open that door and let others in. Offer to read for other people. I’ve become a significantly better writer by beta reading for others. There is this point where you start to see what works and what doesn’t in storytelling. You can’t do that if you aren’t reading other people’s stuff, and not just finished works, but in-progress works as well.

 

  1. What do you like most about the cover of the book? Well, it’s beautiful. We had several cover designs, and it came down to the one we picked and one other. I loved both and knew I couldn’t go wrong with either choice. The awesome people at CamCat made the final decision, but they went with the cover I picked. Great minds think alike, I suppose. I still love the second option too, so I was very lucky. I know from writer friends this isn’t always the case.

 

  1. What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2024? The Winds of Winter. I kid, I kid. But who knows, maybe. As good a writer as GRRM is, he can keep me waiting. But seriously, Sharpe’s Command by Bernard Cornwell, Missing White Woman by Kellye Garrett, Such Charming Liars by Karen M. McManus, The Revenant Games by Margie Fuston, The Trials of Empire by Richard Swan, and a ton of books by authors in my 2024 Debut Authors Slack channel (It will be years until I’ve gotten to all of them, but that’s okay).

 

  1. What was your favorite book in 2023? So many. Bladestay by Jackie Johnson, Generation Ship by Michael Mammay, The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias, and Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong.

 

  1. What’s up next for you? I’m writing the sequel to Kill Call. I’m about 50% done with the first draft, and I have a working title, so yay!

 

  1. Is there anything that you would like to add? I sold Kill Call right before I turned 49. It will be published when I’m 50. Don’t give up on your dreams.

 

  1. Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate? There is a scene with Jude’s mom that was emotional. I don’t usually tear up while writing…usually.

 

  1. Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book? Jude’s parents. I wanted to make their lives real and not just be backdrop for what Jude was going through.

 

  1. Which part of the writing process do you enjoy more: Drafting or Revising? Revising and it isn’t close. I’m not sure what kind of maniac prefers drafting over revising, but I guess they exist.

 

  1. What would you say is your superpower? Kindness, I hope. My goal is to be the Ted Lasso of publishing. Hopefully I’ll be selling books long enough to make that happen.

 

  1. Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart? St. Jude’s hospital is just down the road from me in Memphis Tennessee. The front page of their website states “Finding cures. Saving children.” And that sums up what St. Jude’s does. I’m not sure it gets any better than that. 100 % my favorite charity.

https://www.stjude.org/

 

 

 

About Jeff Wooten:

 

Jeff Wooten
lives in Arkansas with his wife, three kids, and one dog. He is a physical
therapist that works with adults and kids with orthopedic issues.

Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads | Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of KILL CALL, US Only.

Ends March 15th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

2/12/2024

Writer of Wrongs

Excerpt/IG Post

2/13/2024

A Dream
Within A Dream

Guest Post

2/14/2024

Kountry
Girl Bookaholic

Excerpt/IG Post

2/15/2024

@darkfantasyreviews

IG Post

2/16/2024

jlreadstoperpetuity

IG Post/TikTok Post

2/17/2024

Two Chicks on
Books

Guest Post/IG Post

Week Two:

2/18/2024

YA
Books Central

Interview/IG Post

2/19/2024

Little Red Reads

Excerpt/IG Post

2/20/2024

Callisto’s
calling

IG Review

2/21/2024

@dana.loves.books

IG Review/TikTok Post

2/22/2024

#BRVL Book
Review Virginia Lee Blog

Blog Spotlight/IG Spotlight

2/23/2024

GryffindorBookishnerd

IG Review

2/24/2024

@bookish_aly_cat

IG Post

Week Three:

2/25/2024

Review Thick
And Thin

Review/IG Post

2/26/2024

@books.mo.reads

Review/IG Post

2/27/2024

@thepagelady

IG Review

2/28/2024

Books and
Zebras

IG Review

2/29/2024

The Momma Spot

Review

3/1/2024

@anitralovesbooksanddogs

IG Review

3/2/2024

@evergirl200

IG Review

Week Four:

3/3/2024

@enthuse_reader

IG Review/TikTok Post

3/4/2024

Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post

3/5/2024

Rajiv’s Reviews

Review/IG Post

3/6/2024

@enjoyingbooksagain

IG Review

3/7/2024

Confessions
Of The Perfect Mom

Review/IG Post

3/8/2024

Country Mamas
With Kids

Review/IG Post

 

Author Chat With Amy Noelle Parks (Averil Offline), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY!

February 16th, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Amy Noelle Parks (Averil Offline)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Amy Noelle Parks

Amy Noelle Parks (amynoelleparks.com) also wrote the middle grade novel Summer of Brave, as well as the young adult novels Lia and Beckett’s Abracadabra and The Quantum Weirdness of the Almost-Kiss. A professor of elementary education at Michigan State University, she helps future teachers recover from the trauma inflicted on them by years of school mathematics. Social media still scares her, but she’s working on it.

WebsiteInstagram * X

 

 

 

About the Book: Averil Offline

A fun, fast-paced story about a girl determined to cut the cord with her helicopter parents.

 

Twelve-year-old coder Averil can’t do anything without her parents knowing. That’s because her mom uses the Ruby Slippers surveillance app to check where she is, who she texts, and even what she eats for lunch. Averil wonders how she’s ever going to grow up if she’s not allowed to learn from mistakes. When she learns that Ruby Slippers is about to become even more invasive, she teams up with Max, a new kid at school dealing with overbearing parents of his own. Together they figure out an almost foolproof way to ditch their parents and run away to the college campus that’s home to the quirky Ruby Slippers creator. It’s an extreme challenge just getting to meet with him—but the two kids cleverly figure out a series of puzzles and get their meeting. What they find gives them pause—and gets them thinking about the value of honesty in a new light. After all, isn’t trust at the heart of their parents’ need to know?

Purchase * Goodreads

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

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

Since I was young, I’ve loved The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, a book about two kids who run away to live in a museum for a week. I had always wanted to set a similar adventure on a college campus. (I grew up right next to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and spent a lot of time there as a child.) More recently, I started to hear young people talk about the ways that tracking apps like Life 360 were impacting their lives, and I thought those two ideas could work quite well together.

YABC: What research did you do to write this book?

I’m a math educator not a coder like Averil, so I had to read a lot for background knowledge. My favorite book was Ellen Ullman’s memoir, Life in Code, about what it was like to be a woman in the early days of computing. I also read a lot about tracking apps.

YABC:   How do you keep your ‘voice’ true to the age category you are writing within?

The editor of my first middle grade novel gave me some great advice about voice. He said middle grade voice was not so much about vocabulary—after all lots of kids, especially the smart kids I write about, have bigger vocabularies than many adults. He said it was more about the kinds of emotional understandings that tweens are able to bring (and not bring) to their sensemaking about social situations. I think about that a lot when trying to tell a story through the eyes of a 12-year-old.

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

I love the madcap—especially scenes that feel like French farce, where people are coming and going and talking at cross purposes and ending up in ridiculous situations.

YABC:   What is your favorite writing space?

So, this is super suburban of me (I don’t live in a big city), but it’s the Panera. I got addicted to iced tea living in the south and the Panera is kind of an in-between space for me, not work, not home. When I’m there, I can live fully in my imaginary worlds.

YABC:  What fandom would you write for if you had time?

Does Phineas and Ferb have a fandom? I feel like a Phineas/Isabella noir mystery has a lot of possibility.

YABC: What other age group would you consider writing for?

I’ve written middle grade and young adult. I love them both and as someone who’s spent her whole life in education, those audiences feel intuitive for me. I’d like to try an adult book someday, but I’ll never do a picture book. I don’t have the skill to tell a story in 300 words!

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I’m working on another middle grade about the challenges of growing up in an influencer family, but I’m wrapping it up in a ghost story!

 

 

 

Title: Averil Offline

Author: Amy Noelle Parks

Release Date: 2/13/24

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers

ISBN-10: 0593618645

ISBN-13: 9780593618646

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Age Range: 10 and Up

 

 

 

*Giveaway Details*

 

Three (3) winners will receive a hardcover copy of Averil Offline (Amy Noelle Parks) ~ US Only!

 

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

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Chat With Louise Finch (The Eternal Return of Clara Hart), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY!

February 16th, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Louise Finch (The Eternal Return of Clara Hart)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Louise Finch

Louise grew up in a small town in the English Midlands. After studying History of Art she worked for over a decade in the charity sector across women’s and LGBT+ rights, and youth arts.

WebsiteInstagram * X * Facebook

 

 

 

About the Book: The Eternal Return of Cara Hart

Spence hates Anthony’s sexist jokes, but he never says anything. Anthony’s his buddy, and Spence doesn’t have many. One Friday, Spence finds Anthony assaulting their classmate, Clara Hart, at a party. Clara flees from the house, is hit by a car, and dies. But the next day, it’s Friday again and Clara is alive. Caught in a time-loop, Spence finds himself living the same 24 hours on repeat. Can he change Clara’s fate? And what if it’s not that simple?

Purchase

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

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

I’ve been drawn to time-loop and time travel stories for as long as I can remember, so that’s always been something I wanted to explore through my writing. The idea of being able to relive one day and make changes is very compelling, I think, because we probably all have days we’d like to have a second go at (or third or fourth…). Equally, many of us have days we’d rather forget but keep coming back to, and that’s where Spence gets trapped in The Eternal Return of Clara Hart.

Often in time-loop stories the protagonist is struggling against the established version of events, trying to change them, working towards a certain outcome and failing. It’s a device that enables readers to closely examine how actions and behaviour shift, sometimes in quite subtle ways, or is replicated as the day repeats. And the protagonist and readers also often start with a shallower or narrow reading of events and go wider and deeper over time. For all these reasons, I thought it would be an interesting framework for exploring the issues the book deals with.

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

All my books start out with a very basic working title that often lasts until quite late in the writing process, because I’m just awful at titles!

In the beginning, this one was simply called Fault, but fortunately a writer friend came up with The Eternal Return of Clara Hart, which is a more of a mouthful, but much, much better and stuck all the way to publication.

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

It probably comes down to a couple of scenes between Spence and Clara in the second half of the book. They’re quiet scenes where the two of them are getting to understand each other better, rather than anything big or revelatory happening, but I found them particularly tricky.

For me, those scenes particularly highlight Spence’s evolution as a character, because you see it not only through his own viewpoint, but also reflected in Clara’s reactions. Clara only ever has one day’s worth of information to go on as she’s unaware of the loop, so making those reactions feel authentic was challenging and important to get right. I hope in the end I did it justice!

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

I hope readers might reflect on how seemingly small actions can be transformative, particularly when it comes to influencing those around us.

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

I’ve read some incredible books recently. Play by Luke Palmer is a phenomenal YA novel about modern masculinity told through the interlinked stories of four teenage boys, it’s unflinching but compassionate and beautifully written.

Another one I’d highly recommend is The Cats We Meet Along the Way by Nadia Mikail (the US title is At the End of the World, I believe), a haunting, lovely and deeply emotional book about a family navigating life and relationships at the end of the world.

On a lighter note, I’ve recently re-read Big Bad Me by Aislinn O’Loughlin. It’s a fun supernatural adventure about two sisters, one of whom discovers very early on that she’s a werewolf, who go to a creepy town in search of their missing mother. It’s a perfect mix of fun, quippy and heartfelt and reminded me of Buffy. Such a comfort read!

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

My second book, Iris Green, Unseen, is coming out in May in the UK. It’s about a heartbroken girl trying to put herself back together while literally fading away and I’m nervous and excited for it to go out in the world.

YABC: What advice do you have for new writers?

Find yourself some trusted writer friends and then don’t be afraid to share your work with them. It’s always hard putting your work out there and I still struggle with this – it never feels ready – but the fastest way to get better as a writer is to receive honest, supportive feedback.

Plus, writing could be a little lonely without others to share the journey and celebrate successes with!

 

 

 

Title: The Eternal Return of Clara Hart

Author: Louise Finch

Release Date: June 13, 2023

Publisher: Little Island Books

ISBN-10: 191507102X

ISBN-13: 9781915071026

Genre: Contemporary/ Science fiction

Age Range: 14+

 

 

 

*Giveaway Details*

 

Five (5) winners will receive a copy of The Eternal Return of Clara Hart (Louise Finch) ~ US Only!

 

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

 

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Interview With Sarah Mai (FRESHMAN YEAR)

February 16th, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Sarah Mai (Freshman Year)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Sarah Mai

Sarah Mai is an illustrator and writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has a degree in English Literature from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she developed a passion for graphic novels, and is the illustrator of The Cool Code and The Cool Code 2.0: The Switch Glitch written by Deirdre Langeland. Freshman Year marks her author-illustrator debut.

WebsiteInstagram

 

 

 

About the Book: Freshman Year

A stylish graphic novel about the unique angst, humor, and self-doubt that comes with going away to college—perfect for fans of Heartstopper.

Everyone gets a fresh start. Who do you want to be?  Sarah is leaving suburban Wisconsin for college n Minnesota. She has high hopes for the future: impress her professors, meet interesting new people, stay close to her best friends and boyfriend back home, flourish as an artist, and shed her lingering high school anxieties. What seems manageable at first quickly unravels into a tailspin and she is overwhelmed by the freedom, the isolation, and all the possibilities that await in this new environment. Based on the author’s personal college journal and comics, Freshman Year navigates the inner workings of an 18-year-old girl in witty and heartfelt detail.

This graduation gift pairs perfectly with OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!.  Dr. Seuss’s sentimental graduation picture book is beloved, but the one teens really need is Freshman Year. This graphic novel debut shows the places students actually do go—the home goods aisle at Target; lavish libraries; grungy parties off campus; cereal-for-dinner at the dining hall. 

Purchase

 

 

 

~Author Chat~

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

Easy, Huey!

 

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

The novel. I am not great with titles.

 

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

The goldfish named McTitty’s funeral scene. It turned out pretty much exactly how I had it in my mind, which almost never happens.

 

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

I love all the little details of the dorm room in the background.

 

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

The doctor appointment scene.

 

YABC: What advice do you have for new writers? 

Write every time you feel the impulse, and sometimes when you don’t. And carry a notebook and pen.

 

YABC: What would you say is your superpower?

Guessing what year a song or movie came out.

 

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

Sarah.

Title: FRESHMAN YEAR

Author: Sarah Mai

Illustrator: Sarah Mai

Release Date: February 13, 2024

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano Books / Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Genre: YA Graphic Novel

Age Range: 14+

Author Chat With Alex London (THE PRINCESS PROTECTION PROGRAM), Plus Giveaway! ~ US ONLY!

February 15th, 2024 by

Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Alex London (The Princess Protection Program)!

 

 

 

Meet the Author: Alex London

Alex London is the acclaimed author of more than thirty books for children and teens. His middle grade novels include The Princess Protection ProgramSearch & RescueDog Tags, and two titles in the 39 Clues series. For young adults, he’s the author of the cyberpunk duology Proxy and the epic fantasy series Black Wings Beating, which were both named to numerous best-of-the-year lists. He has been a journalist and human-rights researcher reporting from conflict zones and refugee camps, a young adult librarian with the New York Public Library, and a snorkel salesman. He lives with his husband, daughter, and hound dog in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

WebsiteInstagram

 

 

About the Book: The Princess Protection Program

Where can a princess hide if her Ever After isn’t all that Happy? Bestselling author Alex London turns classic fairy tales on their heads in this fast-paced, funny fantasy about embracing change and taking control of your own story. For fans of The School for Good and Evil and the Never Afters series.

Every fairy tale ends with its characters living happily ever after, right? A valiant prince quests long and hard to reach the castle where the sleeping princess lies. And with a kiss, he will awaken her.

But what if the princess does NOT think a kiss from a stranger is a very pleasant way to wake up? Yuck!

When Rosamund flees her prince, a Door of Opportunity opens, and she steps through to the Home Educational Academy (the HEA for short). Rosamund has found the Princess Protection Program, where fugitive fairy tale princesses escape unwanted affections, untimely ends, and all the other perils of their stories.

But as Rosamund adjusts to life in the real world and makes her first real friends (Rana, who left her story after an incident with a frog; Sirena, a former mermaid; Cindy and Charlie, who didn’t want to get married after just one dance; and others), she has more and more questions. Does anyone ever graduate from the HEA? Why doesn’t anyone seem to remember former students? Is the kindly fairy headmistress all she appears to be? Is anyone? And the most important question of all: Can Rosamund change her story?

Acclaimed and bestselling author Alex London weaves together several beloved fairy tales in this fast-paced, funny, and slyly subversive adventure about finding your place in the world and taking control of your own story. The daring escapes, sinister monsters, familiar friends, and surprise twists will keep even reluctant readers glued to the pages. The Princess Protection Program is for fans of the Never Afters and the Descendants series, The School for Good and Evil, and the Fairly True Tales series.

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~Author Chat~

 

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

My sister! She used to have a very interesting job at Disney World, where she was…ahem…very close with various Princesses in the park. She told me about a support group she was in for—let’s call them associates—of former princesses called The Princess Protection Program. I loved the name so much and the concept for this book spun out from thinking about that name.

 

YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?

Without a doubt, the Einhorn brothers. They’re basically frat boy dirtbags with hearts of gold, who are…spoiler alert…unicorns in disguise. What better disguise for unicorns in the real world than a bunch of total bros? No one would ever expect they’re wondrous creatures of magic and starlight. They’re gross and awful and funny and kind and I love them.

 

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

Each fairy tale princess (and prince) had their own challenges. These are such iconic characters, finding something both fresh and familiar to do with each of them was extremely fun, but also difficult. How do you make someone like Sleeping Beauty or Cinderella feel like their own full person, while also being recognizable to readers outside of the fairy tale they’ve escaped? The challenging parts of writing this are the things that fueled the writing of it to begin with.

 

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

In this case, the title! It has led to some confusion, as there is, apparently, a 2009 movie of the same name, but the concept is completely different, so that’s helpful…because I was not about to change the title that inspired the book!

 

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

Is “everything” a reasonable answer? Because I loved everything about it. James Firnhaber, the artist, did an amazing job. I’ve loved his work on other covers and am honored to have had him bring his talent to bear on this story. The details and the vibe perfectly make the promise of what the book is, which is the most you can ask for on a cover. It’s beautiful, it’s inviting, and it feels like the book. I’m just thrilled with it.

 

YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2024?

I’m very excited to read Adam Gidwitz’s Max in the House of Spies. I love an espionage thriller, and I love Adam’s middle grade writing, so the two combined seem just tailor-made for my tastes!

 

YABC:   What’s up next for you?

I have a lot of projects in the works! There is a sequel to the Princess Protection Program I’m at work on, and I have a picture book out next fall called Still Life illustrated by the amazing Paul O. Zelinsky about a still life painting that simply won’t hold still. After that, there’s a graphic memoir in the works for young adults, and another secret project or two…maybe even something for adults!

 
YABC:      What would you say is your superpower?

Productive procrastination. I procrastinate a lot, about everything, but I’ve found ways to turn that into something useful, putting off one task that needs to get done with another. For example, I wrote the first draft of The Princess Protection Program to avoid revising a different project I had to turn in. I was putting off doing that by writing this, and ended up getting both done, while simultaneously leaving my laundry, washed but rumpled, in the basket for weeks. It’s a gift and a curse.


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

Right now, with the eruption of book bans and censorship happening around the country, I’m grateful for the work of Pen America and their Freedom to Read Project.

 

 

 

Title: THE PRINCESS PROTECTION PROGRAM

Author: Alex London

Release Date: 2/13/24

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

ISBN-10: 0063303876

ISBN-13: 9780063303874

Genre: middle grade fiction/fantasy

Age Range: Ages 8-12

 

 

 

*Giveaway Details*

 

Three (3) winners will receive a hardcover copy of The Princess Protection Program (Alex London) ~ US Only!

 

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