Category Archives: Young Adult Literature

Enjoy an Excerpt from WHEN REASON BREAKS

A few When Reason Breaks Advance Reader Copies (ARC) are in readers’ hands, and more will be printed and distributed for promotional reasons within the next month or two. The first page of the ARC has an excerpt from the novel, and since the ARCs are out there, I figured it was fine to share this piece with all of you. If you need a brief description of the novel before you read the excerpt, click here and then come back.

Here’s a little extra info to put this into perspective: Emily and Elizabeth are not friends, but they share a mutual friend. They are at a Halloween party but are talking alone in a room in the house. Emily was there, reading a book and avoiding the crowd, and Elizabeth stumbled in looking for the bathroom. Here is a part of their conversation.

 

With wide eyes, Emily asked, “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Elizabeth smiled and sucked hard on her straw.

“You’re lying,” Emily said with a grin.

“Maybe, but this isn’t about me. It’s about you. Tell them. Get it over with, Delgado.”

Emily shook her head and hugged the book to her chest. “Tell them what?”

Elizabeth stared at Emily. They were quiet, listening to voices in the hallway and the music pounding below them, so loud the floorboards vibrated.

Elizabeth sprang forward from her sitting position and crawled the few feet that separated her from Emily. She kneeled and sat back on her heels.

“Look at me,” she whispered. Emily pushed her back into the wall and locked gazes with Elizabeth.

Elizabeth scanned Emily’s face and then framed the girl’s eyes with her fingers.

“Ah, there it is,” said Elizabeth.

“What?”

“Hold still.” Elizabeth pressed down her index finger, closed her eyes, and said, “Click.”

“What are you doing?” asked Emily.

“I’m taking a mental picture of you.” Elizabeth leaned in closer. Emily inhaled sharply.

“I see you, Emily Delgado,” she whispered. “Your problem isn’t really about your friends or Kevin or your dad. You try to hide it, but I know.” Elizabeth patted Emily’s leg. “Trust me, I know.”

 

What do you think? Want to read more? Well…..you still have a little longer to wait, but for now, you can add it to your Goodreads list or you can pre-order it if you want to get it delivered to your house the day of its release (2/10/2015). I’ll be sharing other excerpts over the next few months, so stay tuned!

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Available for pre-order:

Indiebound Barnes and Noble | Amazon Powell’s Book Depository | Books-A-Million

Fellow Fifteener: Kathryn Holmes–The Distance Between Lost and Found

18660756As a member of the Fearless Fiteeners, I was able to read an ARC of Kathryn Holmes’s young adult novel, The Distance Between Lost and Found (2/17/2015; HarperTeen). ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) are the uncorrected proofs that are sent to reviewers, librarians, and book bloggers to promote the book. My fellow fifteeners and 2k15 classmates are sending their ARCs on tour, which allows us a sneak peek at these upcoming new releases. I’ve decided to let you all know about the ARCs I’m reading to help support my 2015 debut colleagues. These are introductions, not reviews, just to let you know what’s coming out in the next year.

Here’s the description: Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her…silent.

Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.

With past betrayals and harrowing obstacles in their way, Hallie fears they’ll never reach safety. Could speaking up about the night that changed everything close the distance between being lost and found? Or has she traveled too far to come back?

What I liked about it: Kathryn Holmes does a great job of blending the adventure/survival story with contemporary YA issues. First, on the survival front: Holmes does not go easy on her characters. Hallie, Rachel, and Jonah purposely leave their group and figure it would be easy enough to find their way back. Right. The physical challenges they face include a limited amount of food and clean water, poison ivy, and a severely sprained ankle–for starters. Things get worse. Much worse. The increasing tension related to their survival make you care about the characters and their fate, as they in a life or death situation.

Next, on the social/emotional front: Being stranded in the Smoky Mountains would have been enough as far as conflicts go, but Holmes adds another layer. These teens are on a religious retreat rife with gossip and back-stabbing, stemming from an incident that happened much earlier. Hallie’s pain is real and raw. She has to dig deep into her physical and emotional reserves not only to survive this situation but also to get through it with renewed faith in herself, God, and those around her.

About the author: Kathryn Holmes says on her website that for as long as she can remember, she’s wanted to write and dance. Now, she’s lucky enough to divide most of my days between words and movement, as an author/freelance writer and a contemporary dancer. She’s a Tennessean-turned-diehard Brooklynite, an aspiring yogini, a cat person, and—of course—a voracious reader.

The Back is the New Black in Book Covers

Since my debut novel releases in February 2015, I’ve been paying attention to and celebrating cover reveals for the 2014 debuts and the 2015 titles on deck. For a while, faces and eyes dominated covers, and we’ve seen a slew of girls in frilly dresses and submerged fully or partially in water. Now, designers seem to be loving the back. Take a look at the examples below and see if you’ll back me up on this. These are not all debuts, but they will all be released in 2014 and 2015–you know, back to back years.

   18392459  I WasHere  

   13597757   18667862   16429619

18478536   18241263    22555228   13438564

 

Am I right or what? Have you got my back on this?

Well, not to be left out, my debut novel’s cover is all about the back and black.

22032788

I haven’t been this trendy since I rocked really big hair back in the day.

Anybody else have a sexy back cover?

Fellow Fifteener: Jen Brooks–In A World Just Right

18304348As a member of the Fearless Fiteeners, I was able to read an ARC of Jen Brooks’ young adult movel, In a World Just Right (4/28/2015; Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers). ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) are the uncorrected proofs that are sent to reviewers, librarians, and book bloggers to promote the book. My fellow fifteeners and 2k15 classmates are sending their ARCs on tour, which allows us a sneak peek at these upcoming new releases. I’ve decided to let you all know about the ARCs I’m reading to help support my 2015 debut colleagues. These are introductions, not reviews, just to let you know what’s coming out in the next year.

Here’s the description: Imagination takes on new meaning for a uniquely talented teen in this debut novel that is a breathtaking blend of contemporary, fantasy, and romance.

Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.

But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan…and begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.

What I liked about it: In addition to being a blend of fantasy, contemporary, and romance, Jen’s debut novel is also a bit of a mystery–at least it was for me. As I read, I definitely got the feeling that something wasn’t quite right, that Jen was holding back on a significant plot point, but I couldn’t figure it out! Sure enough, something revealed late in the story adds a whole new layer to the narrative. I’m not a book spoiler, so I won’t go there. But it surely was one of those “Ohhhhhhh, wow!” moments. I also loved how she blended Jonathan’s fantasy worlds and real world down to the end. Again, not going to go into details. At the heart of the novel, is a broken, grieving boy who needs to heal after a tragic loss, which appealed to the contemporary YA lover in me. The mixing of genres here means there’s a little something for everyone.

About the author: Jen Brooks has a habit of being deeply moved by profound ideas, and her writing reflects her interest in exploring human goodness, relationships, and the feeling of being a part of something greater than oneself. She loves the science fiction and fantasy genres because of their dazzling possibilities for portraying characters and ideas. She credits her undergraduate experience at Dartmouth College, her MFA at Seton Hill University, and her fourteen years of English teaching with shaping her writing.  She is grateful to her family, friends, and students for inspiring her to write. You can find Jen on Twitter and Goodreads.

Writing Process Blog Tour

I’ve been tagged! Writers across the blogosphere have been tossing a particular Q&A around the writing community. It’s the Writing Process Blog Tour. Lila Quintero Weaver published her responses last week and tossed it over to me. First, here’s some info on my tagger.

DarkroomI haven’t met Lila in person yet, but I consider her una amiga nonetheless. We have been collaborating on the Latin@s in Kid Lit site since July 2013. Lila has been an enthusiastic blogger for the site, posting great book talks, Q&As, and personal stories. An author and illustrator, her debut novel was Darkroom: Memoirs in Black and White. She is currently working on a middle grade novel.

 

 

Here are the questions and my responses:

What am I working on?

aesop

An image of Aesop

I am revising Aesop’s Curse, my second young adult novel. During the school year, I teach middle school reading full time and college composition part time, so my goal is to finish revising Aesop’s Curse this summer so that my agent can review it and submit it to editors. The story is about a high school freshman named Alexandre Hart who learns he is the reincarnation of Aesop, the fable writer. Aesop cursed a village before he was executed, and now Alex has to somehow fix this or things will get ugly. (I don’t want to give too much away). I am also steadily working on plans to promote my debut novel, When Reason Breaks, which will be published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books on February 10, 2015.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

Both of my novels have a literary element. Aesop’s Curse includes information about the author and some of his most famous fables. When Reason Breaks includes Emily Dickinson’s poetry, and the characters represent the poet and other people who existed in her life. For example, the two main characters, Emily Delgado and Elizabeth Davis, represent Dickinson, and the character Tommy Bowles represents two important men in Dickinson’s life: Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Samuel Bowles. While there are lots of YA books linked to famous authors and/or literary works, there are fewer about Dickinson and Aesop.

Each of my novels also has a diverse cast of characters, which is important to me personally as a Latina, mom, and teacher. I think it’s important to represent our diverse reality in children’s books, and to not consider these “minority” books, but rather books with minorities in them.

Why do I write what I do?

I write what interests me. I fell in love with Dickinson’s work during graduate school, I have first-hand experience with depression, and I have been a teacher for 13 years, which means I have known and learned from lots of interesting, complex, remarkable teens. When Reason Breaks combines these elements. When planning Aesop’s Curse, I again pulled from topics of interest. I found the story of Aesop’s execution fascinating, I have read a lot about the metaphysical and reincarnation, and I have known plenty of young men like Alex who fly under the radar and dread taking risks for fear of failure.

How does my writing process work?

My process is not methodical. I don’t use charts and graphs or color-coded note cards, and I don’t write every day, which is the #1 piece of advice given to writers. I scribble in notebooks and on post-it notes, and I think about my work in progress constantly, plotting scenes in my head. This way, when I have time to sit and write, I’m ready. I do most of my writing during child-free weekends (when my parents babysit), snow days, sick days, school vacations, and when my daughter is doing an extra curricular activity. Marathon writing sessions with days of no writing in between doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for me.

SusanAdrianMay2013_200pxI will now toss these questions to Susan Adrian, the leader of the Fearless Fifteeners, a group of middle grade and young adult authors debuting in 2015. Susan’s debut YA novel is titled Tunnel Vision and will be published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press. Here’s a brief description: A teenage boy who has a power he calls tunneling—he can decipher where anyone in the world is (and what they’re doing) by holding something they own—is brought to the attention of the U.S. government. Sounds cool, right? Susan will tell us all about her writing process next week.

My Book Is Available for Pre-Order!!

Holy wow! This is happening! I found out yesterday that my debut novel, When Reason Breaks (Bloomsbury 2/10/2015), is available for pre-order on Amazon.com. The listing isn’t complete yet because the cover art and description need to be finalized, but it’s there and you can order it! Here’s the brief description:

Elizabeth Davis and Emily Delgado seem to have little in common except for Ms. Diaz’s English class and the solace they find in the words of Emily Dickinson, but both are struggling to cope with monumental secrets and tumultuous emotions that will lead one to attempt suicide.

Click here for the longer description. And, look, here’s a screen shot of the Amazon page:

Amazon screen shot

I know I have five sales for sure: my mom and dad bought four and my sister bought one. I’m on a roll!! LOL!

Seriously, I appreciate every single sale, and if you want to wait to borrow it from a local library, that’s cool, too. I’m a big fan and supporter of libraries.

Also, if you’re anti-Amazon because of its fight with Hachette, then you can wait until its available at other outlets.

But, if you are interested in buying my book, then pre-ordering it would be great! I’ve learned that pre-sales greatly influence promotions and a writer’s future career. I’d like a future career. Just saying.

Here is a post by author Natalie Whipple I bookmarked a while ago titled: “5 Easy Things You Can Do to Support Debut Authors.” In the section about pre-orders, she writes this:

Publishers look at pre-order sales. If they are good, on track, or behind expectations. It impacts their view of the book and their likelihood to push the title. Having good pre-orders could help your favorite debut continue their career. Besides, pre-ordering often costs less than buying at a store or after debut.

So…here’s the link: When Reason Breaks on Amazon. Check it out!

 

 

My Book Has Its First Blurb!!!

Things have been a bit quiet on the book front as I await news about the final cover design, first-pass pages, and Advanced Reader Copies. In the meantime, we’ve asked a few people to read the manuscript and, if they like, provide a quote for the cover. The first one has come in and it’s from the amazing Margarita Engle, the first Latino/a to receive a Newbery Honor Award for her young adult novel The Surrender Tree. She is a prolific multiple-award-winning author who has written picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. I’m thrilled and honored that she read the novel and provided a blurb. Are you ready for it? Here it is:

When Reason Breaks is infused with a rare blend of suspense and sensitivity, despair and hope. The poetic spirit of Emily Dickinson shines through the gloom of daily struggles faced by modern teens, as they discover the possibilities where they dwell.”

Margarita Engle
Newbery Honor-winning author of The Surrender Tree

(YAY! Don’t forget to add When Reason Breaks (Bloomsbury/Winter 2015) to your to-read Goodreads list!)

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