Tag Archives: young adult books

My Favorite Books of 2019

7 Dec

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 98 books this year, and it was the year of the audiobook! My new job requires a lot of driving around to various library locations. I’m often spending 2 hours on the road, an hour there, an hour back. I’ve really embraced my time in the car by listening to audiobooks, mostly nonfiction (because I have the hardest time listening to fiction? Is that just me? I love reading fiction, but it doesn’t seem to stick when I listen to it. Anyway…)

Just like last year, I wanted to share my ultimate favorites in each category. These books didn’t necessarily release this year. I just read them this year. If you want a complete list of books I read, check out my 2019 Goodreads challenge. Also, follow me on Twitter! Every day in December I’m sharing a book I read this year and why I loved it.

I hope you find something to read!

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Favorite Picture Book

Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s The Favorite by Stacy McAnulty

What can I say? I’m a sucker for cat books, especially black cat books. But really, this is an adorable book. The artwork is clean, crisp, and fun. Plus, there’s all sorts of pets in this book, so if you have a little one who love animals, this is a great one.

Favorite Middle Grade

Tunnels of Bones by Victoria Schwab

This is book #2 in the Cassidy Blake series, so definitely check out book #1, City of Bones. It’s about a girl who can cross the veil between the living and the dead, with a plot twist. Her best friend is a ghost! And she travels with her ghost-hunting parents to various famous locations for spiritual activity. It’s spooky and fun. I cannot wait for book #3.

Favorite Book Told in Verse

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

This beautifully written book is told from the perspective of a young girl who must leave Syria. While she’s in America, she must cope with her family left behind, the new family members she lives with, and culturally differences. It’s really powerful, and I encourage everyone to read it.

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Favorite Graphic Novel

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

This is such a powerful (and important) graphic novel. It’s technically a nonfiction graphic novel, too, which is a genre on the rise, and I really enjoyed reading this. It’s a real-life account of George Takei’s childhood spent in a Japanese internment camp in the United States. What I found especially powerful about this graphic novel is how Takei decided to stay in his child’s mindset, showing how he perceived his reality and what was happening to his family. It’s very touching and absolutely disturbing at the same time. I also enjoyed the artwork and the few notes Takei included to explain what was actually going on. Both of his parents were amazing people, but I really remember his mother from the graphic novel. She was a saint.

Favorite Adult Fiction

Vigilance by Robert Jackson Bennett

I’m a huge fan of TOR, and this is one of their recent releases. It’s very, very short, so if you want a quick read, I recommend this one. It’s a future America, where everyone is pressured to carry firearms with them. (Your life is your responsibility.) To remind citizens of this, America hosts a gameshow where they randomly orchestrate mass shootings. That’s all I’m going to say. The book is absolutely politically charged and very heavy, despite its short length, and I found myself thinking about this book for months after reading it. To be 100% honest, I wouldn’t say it was one of my favorites while I was reading, but at the end of the year, when I was reflecting on everything I read, I didn’t forget this one, and I wanted to desperately to talk about it again. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is. That’s why I recommend this one.

Favorite Adult Nonfiction

In Praise of Poison Ivy by Anita Sanchez

This category was arguably the hardest one for me to pick a winner. 2019 truly was the year of adult nonfiction. I read so much of it, and I’m only starting to read more. There are a bazillion books I wanted to put here, but in the end, In Praise of Poison Ivy stayed with me the longest. Why would I read about poison ivy, you ask? I mostly picked it up because I was rewriting my botany-focused books and wanted to expand my knowledge. And I couldn’t put it down. The history of poison ivy – how it was discovered, why it was spread world-wide, which famous figures in history wrote about it – is fascinating. I honestly couldn’t believe everything I learned in this book. Plus, now I have tons of home remedies for poison ivy.

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FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT CONTEMPORARY

Doomsday by Katie Henry

This book is about a girl who believes the world will end one day, and she is ready for disaster. She doesn’t like to call herself a prepper, so I won’t either. In the end, though, I really loved this book. Honestly, it was a book I could’ve used as a teen. It has some great conversations about anxiety and mental health, and I really appreciated it. There’s also aspects of religion (particularly Mormonism) that you don’t typically see in young adult novels, as well as conversations on homelessness and generational trauma. It’s a bit long (over 400 pages), but I thought it was well worth the read.

FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION

Contagion by Erin Bowman

Technically, I wanted to nominate both Contagion and its sequel Immunity for this category, but the second one would’ve forced me to talk spoilers, so I thought I’d focus on book 1. This book is amazing. It takes place in space, but isn’t too bogged down by science, and it’s full of action, plot twists, and terror. I was legit scared while reading parts of this book, and that never happens. I loved everything about this book, but I don’t want to say too much, because I think it would spoil some of the experience. Just know that you’ll be terrified and thrilled while reading if you love science fiction and are okay with being scared in space.

FAVORITE YOUNG ADULT DEBUT

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

This book is incredibly sweet, also very honest. It follows Frank Li, a Korean-American teenager, as he navigates dating with his parents pressuring him to date a Korean girl rather than his American girlfriend. But he is navigating so much more than that. I highly recommend this book. There are so many layers, I can’t even get into all the characters. I picked it up thinking I was reading a love story, when I ended up crying over his family’s relationships. It’s a very touching book, about family, friends, loss, and culture.

Biggest Surprise

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The Kingdom by Jess Rothenburg

I love young adult fantasy and science fiction. It’s sort of my thing. So it might come as a surprise to many of you that MY biggest surprise was a YA SFF crossover, but I’ll explain. THE KINGDOM was heavily marketed as HBO’s West World for young adult readers. And I admit, I am not a fan of West World. (What?! I know. But I digress.) I LOVED this book. It takes place in a Disney-type theme park, where patrons are invited into a princess-filled world to fulfill all their dreams. Except there’s been a murder. And we’re reading the book from the potential murder’s perspective. Also one of the robot princesses. There are so many awesome plot twists in this book, subtle nuances, and conversations on AI, freedom, and dreams. I loved everything about it. I felt so immersed in the creativity, and the time shifts from after the murder to the times leading up to the murder kept me captivated until the end. So good!

MY ULTIMATE FAVORITE

American Royals by Katharine McGee

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If you’ve been following me for a while, this might not be a huge surprise for you. I’m a HUGE fan of Katharine McGee. The Thousandth Floor trilogy has a place in my heart as one of my favorite light sci-fi series. This is her newest series. It follows multiple characters just like her last series, but this time, it takes place in an alternate America, where America has a royal family. The drama is there, the tension is unbreakable, and the plot twists keep coming. I love how McGee always makes the worst possible thing happen to her characters right when you think they might get a chance at happiness. It’s such a guilty pleasure, and I didn’t put this book down once. I cannot wait for the sequel. I am DYING for the sequel. I need it now.

I hope you enjoy the reads!

What were your favorite books this year?

~SAT

My Experience Querying & Getting an Agent

6 Jul

Recently, as many of you know, I signed with a literary agent. (See announcement.) It’s a time a lot of writers dream of, a time highlighted with celebratory GIF tweets screaming, I did it! I did it! And I’m READY. It’s a lot of fun, definitely exciting, and often followed up with a “How I Got My Agent” blog post/newsletter/tweet thread. I’m a blogger, have been since 2012, so naturally I came here, wondering how I could share my experience and if sharing would help any writers out there. Theoretically, I could tell you about my use of QueryShark, QueryTracker, WritersDigest Agent Alerts, MSWL, PitMad, PitchWars, IWSG, attending conferences, joining competitions, and more. But let’s be real, isn’t that what everyone says?

There are a million articles out there about how to find the perfect agent for your book and career—and I didn’t want this to be one of them. Instead, I wanted to simply talk about my experiences. The real. The feels. The almost give-ups. The getting back up. The life lessons. Granted, if I were being completely honest, I don’t have enough room on the Internet to share every little detail. (Though, my poor roommate has had to listen to such excruciating monologues for the past couples years, but I digress.) Maybe, though, if I share what I can recall in the most sufficient and honest way possible, some querying writers out there will find some strength or hope or just get a few laughs while they march through the query trenches. Overall, though, I want to be clear about one thing that I said last week: This is my journey, and every writer’s journey is different. In a way, I don’t believe in giving advice on querying any more than I do giving writing advice in general. It can be helpful, yes, but ultimately, every writer must figure out what works for them. This is what worked for me. 

If I went all the way back to my very first query letter, I would admit I started in 2008. Maybe earlier. I can’t even remember. But I remember sending out physical letters with a SASE inside for responses. The first agent to ever respond to me was Jodi Reamer. For those of you in publishing, you’ll know this is the agent behind Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. And yes, I still have that response tucked away in a super secret place. She, obviously, didn’t offer my 14-year-old self rep, but she did encourage me. And I continued writing and querying on-and-off for the next ten years. Granted, if I were being completely honest, I didn’t take querying seriously until 2016. That’s when I made the decision to query professionally. (Don’t judge me for all those terribly embarrassing queries before, I was in high school, and helpful publishing Twitter didn’t even exist. Lots of help didn’t exist.) Excuses aside, though, I still made a lot of mistakes.

downloadThe first book I queried seriously was a YA fantasy. See stats from QueryTracker on the right. If I were being completely honest, I’d admit this isn’t completely accurate. I only started using QueryTracker toward the end. So I probably have twenty more rejections and two more requests that aren’t logged. I learned a lot while querying this book. Mostly, how to write a query letter. I sent them out in batches, received feedback, and revised. But let’s talk about revisions for a sec. The main lesson I learned with this book? Don’t revise just because someone is giving you the time of day with an R&R. (See article here: Should You Revise and Resubmit?) I butchered this book (and that’s me being kind). It’s so ugly and sad and messed up that I haven’t looked at it in over a year. Maybe two. Who knows, I try to forget. Maybe one day, I’ll open it back up and give it another shot, but for now, I’m okay with it sitting in a dark corner on my hard drive. If anything, it was probably the most vital lesson I learned while querying. Why? Because everyone talks about how to get an agent’s attention, but rarely do we discuss when to walk away, especially when someone is being kind and believes in your work.

Getting an agent, ultimately, isn’t about getting just any agent, but an agent who sees your work for what you want it to be, and they also believe in that art. They believe in you. And you have to know who you are and what you want your art to be.

With my first YA fantasy, I was trying to desperately shape myself into what agents wanted me to be—rather than trying to find an agent who loved my work and wanted to help me succeed with it.

I learned that lesson, and it was hard, but I moved on.

I wish I could tell you that I wrote a bazillion books between that first book and the one that won my current agent, but my next book is the one that worked. Keep in mind, though, that I began writing it in October of 2016. It’s been three years of writing, revising, submitting, rejection, revising, submitting, more rejection, and revising/submitting again. In fact, I had one of the most crushing blows to my writer’s heart during that time. I’ve never come that close to quitting in my life. But I obviously didn’t. I kept writing, here and there, and querying when I could.

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My Instagram posts of finishing the first draft of my YA sci-fi. I started it in October of 2016, ending in February of 2017. Connect on Insta: @authorsat

With my YA fantasy tucked away in a forgotten drawer, and my heart set on finding love for my YA sci-fi, I learned even more lessons. I learned to reach out, make friends, connect with fellow writers for fun and not just because you think it’ll help you get somewhere. This mainly happened by joining writing contests. Either I met writers by reaching out to them or mentors who had read my work connected me with writers they felt I’d get along with. Honestly, the best thing that happened to me while querying my YA sci-fi was meeting my beta readers. If I hadn’t connected with them, I can’t honestly say I would’ve continued through the hard months to come. And there were a lot of hard months. Not just from querying either. A loved one past away. I got really, really sick. I had to move. I found a new job. I changed jobs again! And recently, I changed jobs once more.

Querying isn’t this singular phase writers go through once. It’s a constant. And most don’t enjoy it, which can make juggling submissions with life craziness all the more harder. I’m a big believer in not making things harder than they have to be, though I often make that mistake. (I’m only human, K?)

One thing I would have done different is NOT spend money, especially considering how little I made at the time. While querying Immersion, I read tons of magazines and articles that got it into my head that the key to finding success was attending (expensive) conferences, paying for advice, and entering exclusive doors that, of course, cost more money. I would spend any savings I had trying to “make” it, and I think that’s kind of cruel to be honest. It’s something I don’t like about publishing. Though many claim all is fair in the slush pile, there is a helluva lot of pressure to pay to play. And I went through a bad phase where I fell for that, hard. My breaking point? I spent $350 to attend a conference (taking a day off work to do so) and paid $100 per agent to pitch for ten minutes, which honestly ended up being about seven minutes a piece, if not less, since the slots before me would go above their time limit. I spent $600 total to try to connect, received three full requests, and had all three agents more or less cancel the full without reading. (One left the business, one was fired, and one transferred.) I felt really disrespected. Worse than disrespected. I felt taken advantage of by an industry I’d loved my whole life. It felt like a trap. A lie. A sham. And it broke my heart.

After that (and a huge break in which I had an existential crisis), I called it quits on spending money. If I wanted to go to a conference for me, fine. But I was no longer going to invest in pitching when I could jump into the slush pile for free. (Spoiler alert: I got my agent through the slush pile.) In fact, I got most of my full requests through the slush pile. One thing I am eternally grateful for is the amount of agents who gave me fantastic advice after reading my full manuscript. Over time, I realized it wasn’t just advice either. I was making connections, friendships, and finding hope. That $600 conference for instance? The agents might not have worked out, but you know what I did walk away with? An invite to a local writers’ critique group I’m still in today. I look forward to it every month.

Querying is hard. There is no guarantee. And even if you sign with someone, that doesn’t mean you’re going to get a book deal. Or get along. Or anything really. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. That doesn’t mean you can’t be sad or angry or excited or crushed or hopeful or anything. I say, ride those emotions all the way through. If you can, use them to create even more art. Me, for instance? I was starting to get so angry/depressed while querying that I began writing a rage-filled monster book for myself, and now I’m 60,000 words in, and I’m in love with it. It’s also the next book my agent wants me to focus on. (Though channeling that rage again might be hard when I’m feeling pretty dandy right about now.)

So what surprised me the most?

Honestly, a small bout of depression that happened after I signed with my agent. Not because she isn’t amazing or that I’m not excited about my future or anything like that, but because of one simple fact: I had defined myself as a writer in search of an agent for so long, now that I had one, I didn’t know how to define myself anymore. Not to mention the real-reality-feels that this goal automatically means there’s more challenge in front of me. I succeeded at something, but it’s only the next step, and this step almost killed my hope a number of times. Pair that with seeing some of my close followers talking about (or even to me) about how seeing success gets them down…and I’m just a mess of guilt. I’ve been there. I remember seeing others succeed and feeling left behind—which is why hearing others say that about me brought me down too. Made me feel like I was creating that pain for someone else’s journey. Granted, I know I’m not in charge of others’ feelings. But I doubt I’m alone in having moments like this, and yet I don’t see a lot of authors discussing it. Succeeding was great—and sometimes that means people will be happy for you. Other times, they’ll be mad, jealous, elated, confused, etc. at you. Most of the time, though, it’s not about you, but their own feelings, and that’s totally valid. But as someone who tries to help others succeed all the time, I have a hard time taking a step back and celebrating something for me. Yes, even a huge accomplishment I’ve been working toward for a long time. Definitely a personality flaw I hope to get rid of in the future (or at least get better at coping with). In that quest to cope healthier, I learned overall feelings of malaise after success is apparently normal, even though it still threw me a little bit.

It’s kind of amazing, though—if you think about it. How some of the most common emotions can throw you. Like meeting a goal. Or falling in love. Or having a baby. Or getting a new job. Most of these things happen to thousands of people a day—and yet it feels altering. Exhilarating. Poetry-inducing. Knee-buckling. Confusing as all hells. But that’s all I have to say about my emotions. (I clearly have a lot of them.)

In the end, I am beyond grateful my journey has brought me to this moment, and I am super energized now! I’m ready to finish my revisions and tackle my next project. (Which reminds me: I’m super glad I didn’t stop writing other books while querying, because now I have two other almost-complete works that I can dive right into if deadlines get tight.) So, if I recommend anything, I want to emphasize not to put all your hopes and dreams in one piece.

The formula that worked for me?

Have one book you’re outlining/daydreaming about, one you’re writing/editing, and one you’re querying.

In fact, I’m still living by this formula. I’m outlining my cyberpunk, writing my rage-filled YA sci-fi, and going on submission with the book that won my agent’s heart.

Wish me luck! (I’m already sending lucky vibes back to your goals too.)

~SAT

P.S. Hey, Kansas City friends. I will be a guest speaker at Writers United on Wednesday, July 10th at 6-8 PM at the Central Resource Library in Overland Park, KS. I can tell you more about The Story Center. See you then! More info

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Life Changes: Literary Agent + New Job!

8 Jun

Hey all! In case you missed it, I’ve had a crazy past month. (Hence why I missed a blog post last week. My bad.)

Not only did I attend the LitUP Festival, where I had the utmost joy of introducing Adib Khorram, author of DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, L.L. McKinney, author of A BLADE SO BLACK, and Miranda Asebedo, author of THE DEEPEST ROOTS, but I also announced a new life change.

I am now represented by Katelyn Uplinger at D4EO Literary Agency!

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Here is me signing my contract. But of course my cats wanted to be involved.

I will write a blog post about my query trench experience soon, but here’s a quick rundown. I’ve been querying agents on and off since I was fourteen years old. (Almost fourteen years ago!) I can’t even tell you how many projects I’ve written, revised, and submitted in various formats. But I can tell you that prioritizing my querying life helped me the most. Making this decision wasn’t easy. It meant stepping back from blogging, social media time (that I had invested a lot of marketing/time/money in), and indie publishing. (I love indie publishing. Don’t get me wrong. But between my full-time day job, my part-time editing job, and life, I just did not have time to concentrate on publishing books while writing new ones for agents. At the end of the day, I knew I wanted an agent. It was the right next step for my little writer’s heart.) I even had to take a step back from writing time in order to make time to query.

According to my QueryTracker, I made this decision at the end of 2016. I started researching heavily, read blogs (QueryShark, Writers Digest, etc.), I entered query critique contests and other contests to meet writer friends, I attended conferences whenever I could afford to, I joined a local writers’ group as well as connected with online beta readers, and I kept writing. I never put all my hope in one book. (Even while I was querying the book that won my agent’s heart, I finished writing two other novels.) That being said, this is my journey, and every writer’s journey is different. In a way, I don’t believe in giving advice on querying any more than I do giving writing advice in general. It can be helpful, yes, but ultimately, every writer must figure out what works for them. This is what worked for me. And I’m totally thrilled to work with Katelyn Uplinger. I actually had the joy of speaking with three agents, but Katelyn really understood my project and my long-term career goals, so stay tuned!

I also accepted a new position at the Mid-Continent Public Library. I am now The Story Center Program Manager! For those of you unfamiliar with The Story Center, it’s an amazing home of storytelling, where storytellers and those who enjoy stories come together as a community. There are writing courses, author meet-and-greets, and so much more. Now I get to be a part of making that happen, and I cannot be more thrilled to start this new adventure.

Basically, my life has been super crazy good, but also super crazy busy.

So what are my next steps?

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Revisions!

I’m adjusting to my new job and taking on my first round of agent revisions. I’m currently working on IMMERSION! For those of you who have been following me for a while, you’ll remember that’s my botany-inspired videogame-esque sci-fi book about science and monsters! It’s my book baby, and I’ve worked on it for a very long time. In fact, according to my Instagram, I started writing it in October of 2016. It’s been three years of writing, revising, and querying various versions, and it’s incredibly exciting to get another chance to dive back in.

I promise I’ll try to keep up with everything else, including TAKE ME TOMORROW as well as one blog post a month, but please don’t be upset with me if I have to cut back on one or both for a little while. (I mean, I already missed it once. Eep.) I’ll definitely make an announcement if that is the case. Typically, those updates happen on my Twitter @AuthorSAT.

Whew! Okay, so that’s my crazy blog post this month.

To celebrate, I will be releasing a newsletter soon with an exclusive excerpt of Immersion, as well a giveaway for a signed copy of any of my books. (Open internationally!) Sign up here.

Now back to those revisions…

~SAT

My Favorite Books of 2018

15 Dec

According to Goodreads, I’ve read 160 books this year. I read more so than usual, not going to lie, mainly because it was one of the only activities I could do between my job changes and the move. I also started working in a library, which helped my ability to find new books, try more genres, and just explore overall. (This generally happened during “processing,” which is when we check all the books that patrons turn in for damages and such. I saw all kinds of books I wouldn’t have seen if it weren’t for processing.) So this year I wanted to share more of my favorites than I did last year, and in more categories. Just like last year, though, these are books I read this year, not necessarily books that released this year. If you want a complete list of books I read, check out my Goodreads challenge.

I hope you find a read to check out!

Favorite Adult Romance

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient is a diverse romance, full of plenty of fun twists and hilarious interactions between Stella (an algorithm experiment, who also has Asperger’s) and Michael, an escort. Think Pretty Woman, but gender-swapped, more diverse, and a lot more sexy. Even better? There’s a sequel releasing next year! I believe it’s also being made into a movie.

Adult Thriller

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan

Not for the faint of heart, this unique thriller connects a suicide in a book store with Lydia’s dark, twisted past, including an interaction with a serial killer. I don’t want to say much more, because this book deserves to be read without any prior knowledge. You’ll figure out many of the twists, only to realize the author wanted you to figure it out just so that he could surprise you with ones you weren’t considering. If you love thrillers full of strange puzzles and family secrets, this is well worth the read.

Choose Your Own Adventure

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran

Choose your own adventure is on the rise in publishing, even for adults, which is why I had to check out one this year. And it didn’t disappoint. Another romance, this novel allows you to choose who the main character falls in love with, and it takes you on a wild ride across countries (and gives many possibilities). It’s such a hoot to go back and change your mind, too. If you like romance, definitely check this one out.

Favorite Graphic Novel

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

This is basically the cutest graphic novel ever. Staring a dressmaker who secretly makes dresses for a prince in disguise, this graphic novel is about discovering yourself and being kind to others, not to mention following your passion. And the artwork is beautiful.

Middle Grade

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

This spooky middle grade about a girl who sees ghosts brings a unique twist to the horror genre, especially for kids. It’s refreshing, creepy, funny, and action-packed. Not to mention that it’s set in Scotland!

Favorite Picture Book

Unicorn (And Horse) by David W Miles

I read a ton of picture books this year, trying to find books for storytime at the library, and I honestly never realized how fun they can be, not to mention how beautiful the artwork is. This was my favorite, both for the artwork and the hilarious story. It’s about a preppy unicorn and a grumpy horse, total opposites, and how their lives intertwine.

YOUNG ADULT SECTION

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Sci-Fi

Wildcard by Marie Lu

This is the sequel of Warcross, my favorite novel that was published in 2017 last year. If you’re into near-futurism, definitely check out this series. The plot twists are to die for.

Fantasy

To Kill A Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Confession time: I’m not a huge fan of fairytale retellings. This one, however, is a huge exception. It’s every bit brutal and monstrous that I’ve always wanted from a dark fantasy retelling.

Historical

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen

The prose in this historical is to die for. And it covers a time period rarely explored in young adult fiction. If you like puzzles, journeys, and secret identities, I recommend this one.

Contemporary

Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

I’ve been reading Ally Carter since I was a preteen. She is one of my ultimate favs, so it comes to no surprise that her latest stole my heart, crushed it, and put it back together again. This save-the-president’s-son book takes place in Alaska, and it’s badass. Also, super clean for those parents and educators out there looking for that perfect transitional book between MG and YA.

Humor

Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky

I wish we had more humor books in general. (They’re so hard to find!) While I know everyone’s humor is different, I really loved this book. It’s about fangirls getting together, accidentally kidnapping a member of a boyband, and the following chaos. It’s absolutely ridiculous to the point that it’s believable, and I couldn’t stop giggling throughout.

Biggest Surprise

The Loneliest Girl in The Universe by Lauren James

This book is about a girl on a spaceship heading for a new earth, but everyone else is gone. She’s all by herself. And the following story is really surprising. I don’t want to say much, because it’ll ruin it, and this book deserves to be read without prior knowledge. I absolutely loved it.

Debut

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

This African-inspired fantasy is super lush and exciting! Not only is the plot adventurous, but the cast is also fresh. It’s a big book, so give yourself time to really sink your teeth into it, because it’s quite the start to a new series.

Continuing Series

Giant Days by John Allison

Okay, okay, so I’m cheating a little bit since Giant Days is a graphic novel series (and get this: it’s shelved in the Adult section in a our library, while the novelization is shelved in the Young Adult section), so I’m not sure if this is perfect category, but it deserves major recognition. I love this graphic novel series. It’s about three girls going through college, and it’s priceless.

Series Conclusion

This Towering Sky by Katharine McGee

It’s over! The Thousandth Floor trilogy has ended, and my heart just couldn’t take it. Not only is this series’ ending exciting, it’s perfect. All the characters’ conclusions make sense and give you this “of course” feeling that is so satisfying and rare.

Top Three Honorable Mentions

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland is about a girl stalked by Death, literally. (Or is it literally?) You’ll have to read and make that conclusion for yourself.

Winner Take All by Laurie Devore is about two very intelligent (and destructively competitive) teenagers who accidentally fall in love. It’s not a rosy-romance, but rather an honest portrayal of examining your strengths, weaknesses, and toxicity, even to those that you love.

S.T.A.G.S by M.A. Bennett almost won the “Biggest Surprise” for me, mainly for the last few pages. Not only is the book unsettling, it’s also exciting, and quite the examination of “tradition” in regards to high society education. And those last few pages! EEK. I wish there was a sequel. 

My Ultimate Favorite!

The Good Demon by Jimmy Cajoleas

You know those horror movies about exorcisms? Well, this is what happens afterward—except Clare never wanted her demon exorcised. She loves Her, and she will do anything to get Her back. This book is incredible. It’s one of the most atmospheric reads I’ve ever had the pleasure of stumbling across, and it sucked me in from page one. Clare’s voice is maddening, delicate, and brutally honest. I cheered her on and also became incredibly frustrated with her, but most of all, I always believed she was real, flaws and all. And I haven’t even mentioned the unique subject matter of this book. I’m normally one that avoids religious-type books altogether. (Yes, including exorcisms.) But this one felt explorative and emotional, even in its small town setting. I highly recommend this book to anyone, if not for the seductive pull of the demon’s presence, then for the plot twists, atmosphere, and prose.

YA Scavenger Hunt Fall 2018!

2 Oct

Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt! 

Hello! I’m Shannon A. Thompson—young adult author, blogger, and poet. I’m also a youth librarian, so I obviously love to talk about books.

(Fun fact: I recently cut off 8 inches of my hair, so this is the shortest my hair has ever been. I’m still not used to it.)

About Me!

  • During the day, I work as a Youth Librarian, but at night, I write stories about monsters and mayhem. I just finished my first historical, though.
  • I’m addicted to coffee, KDramas, and Sailor Moon.
  • I have three cats that I call my little gremlins: Boo Boo, Bogart, and Kiki. Boo Boo beat cancer this year!
  • Winter is my favorite season: I am so ready for snow, big sweaters, and hot cocoa.
  • According to Goodreads, I’ve read over 100 books this year. Always feel free to reach out if you’re looking for a rec.
  • I will be signing books at the 2018 Story Center Local Author Fair in Kansas City, Missouri on November 17 at 3 PM! My books will also be paired with a custom-made pastry, so it’ll be super fun (and sweet).

I’m on TEAM PURPLE this year.

Searching for my exclusive bonus content? You’ll have to keep searching.

Somewhere on this blog hop, you can watch a behind-the-scenes video of the Minutes Before Sunset audiobook. You can also enter to win a signed copy of any of my books below. Before you go looking for it, check out the amazing author I’m hosting.

But maybe you need the rules first.

Scavenger Hunt Prize Rules

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PURPLE TEAM, and then add them up. (Don’t worry, you can use a calculator!)

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 7 at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Now that we all know the rules, please welcome…

I am super excited to be hosting…

Kristy Centeno!

About the Author

Kristy Centeno is the author of the Secrets of the Moon saga and Keeper Witches series.

She has always had a passion for books and after years of being an avid reader, she decided to transform her desire to write into a reality and thus, her first novel was born. When she’s not busy taking care of her five children or holding down the fort, she finds time to sit and do what she loves the most: writing.

Website I Facebook I Twitter

About Dissension

In an age where humans dominate the world…

And supernatural creatures exist in the cover of darkness…

He must find a place among his rivals or risk losing it all.

Hayden has had his hands tied coping with life outside of the Institutes. He’s come far despite all the bumps along the way. He’s allowed himself to believe he could live a normal life…until a new threat makes its presence known.

In an instant, his entire life is flipped upside down once more. Those he cares for are not safe with or without him. There’s no escaping his past. Or permanent solution to his problems. One way or another he’ll become the target for all those looking to destroy the hybrid who endangers their way of life and challenges everything they’ve ever known.

Now he must decide between kill or be killed, and risk becoming the very monster he’s fought so hard to prove he’s not. Freedom has come with a price, but is he willing to pay the cost?

Bonus Material:

Unedited scene from Defiance (Book 3 in the Deliverance series)

Chapter One

Kristina

The loud clanking of a mechanical door somewhere in the background drags me out of a semi-conscious state and zaps me into the petrifying reality that awaits me. Everything comes flooding back the second I’m fully aware. The memories of what lead to this moment still very much fresh as if minutes had passed when in fact, I’ve been traveling in this SUV for hours, medicated yet, semi-conscious the entire time, listening, taking mental notes.

I pop my eyes open to look out the window. We have entered an underground parking lot. The sound I heard was that of the enormous steel door closing behind us. We have arrived at our destination. Thus, marking the end of my freedom.

My heart hammers inside my chest. Panic starts to kick in. How screwed am I?

I frantically scan the carpark for any familiar faces. Aside from several automobiles varying in sizes and color, there’s not much else to see. I inhale softly via my nostrils, a vain attempt to calm my growing terror. A Legion member betrayed Grandma Rose and handed me over to the Radcliffe Institute. I’m still not quite sure why. I remember vague details of the conversation just before a man held me down and plunged a syringe into my arm.

Unconsciously, I rub the area where the needle pierced my skin. It stings. The bastard imbedded it into my flesh more forcefully than necessary. Not that it matters now. The treatment I’m going to receive inside those walls will be far worse. I haven’t the slightest of idea what I’m in for, but if it’s anything like what Hayden endured, I might not make it out of here alive. Or see daylight ever again. At least not from the outside.

The SUV makes its way across the parking almost with a purpose. It stops with its front bumper no more than teen feet from a concrete staircase. A set of white doors open almost immediately to reveal five men clad in the all too familiar gear and fatigues the guards at the Institutes wear: black pants, long-sleeved tops with bulletproof vests, steel toed boots, and protectors around their wrists, forearms, and shins. They all sport rifles. A pair of small automatic handguns are strapped to their outer thighs. None have them drawn. I guess they’re not expecting much of a fight from me.

A man and a woman wearing white lab coats with badges above their left breasts push past the guards to the front. They descend five concrete stairs and wait by the landing, observing the SUV from their vantage point, staring with neutral expressions. I can’t tell if they can see me through the heavily tinted windows, but I have the hunch they’re expecting me and not someone else. This elevates my fear up another notch.

I swallow hard. There is no way out. No place to run. No one to help me. Hayden is probably unaware of where I’ve been taken. If he’s still alive, that is. Last I saw him; he was being torn into by a group of bloodthirsty vampires.

“Don’t look so scared, Kristina. You’re in good hands,” the man sitting to my left says. His tone is casual, uninterested, but to me he sounds more like he’s mocking the entire situation as if it’s nothing. In all fairness, he probably doesn’t care either way.

I look at him and glare, but I can’t find the courage to counter with something clever or badass. Fear does funny things to people and it’s sapped all the wit right out of me.

He tosses a sympathetic look in my direction. “Like I mentioned before, we have an offer for you that you simply can’t refuse.” Now he’s just being an ass. That sarcastic smirk plastered on his face confirms it.

The driver opens the front door and exits the SUV, interrupting the retort working its way out of my mouth.

“Have you got the package?” the lady asks, squinting to see through the windshield.

“Yes. She’s fully awake in the back seat.”

I blink. It doesn’t take a genius to realize she’s referring to me. I’m the only female in the SUV. Hence, I’m the package. I’m no longer a person, but a thing. That’s how the Institute works. Once you are in their possession you lose any illusion of self-worth you had.

Thank you for coming on, Kristy!

Her opening chapter was so exciting! The last time I was that blown away was 23 days ago. I suggest taking that information and entering the YASH contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me and many more. Just check out all these awesome titles on the PURPLE TEAM.

To enter, you need to write down my fav number, and find all the other numbers on the PURPLE TEAM, add them up, and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

Exclusive Giveaway!

Thank you so much for stopping by! While you’re here, don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter bonus contest I am hosting exclusively during the YA Scavenger Hunt. One lucky reader will win a signed copy of ANY of my books. They will also win signed swag from both of my series. Good luck!

Enter this Rafflecopter for your chance to win.

Ready to move on to the next link in the hunt? Then head on over to visit author MELINDA R. CORDELL’s page.

LINK TO NEXT BLOG

 

YA Scavenger Hunt Spring 2018!

3 Apr

Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt! 

Hello! I’m Shannon A. Thompson—young adult author, blogger, and poet. Every Saturday, I share writing and publishing tips right here. I also love to talk about books.

Fun fact: I recently found out I’ve been nearsighted my WHOLE life, so this is my first year seeing everything!

About Me!

  • I’m addicted to coffee, KDramas, and Sailor Moon.
  • During the day, I work as a Youth Librarian, but at night, I write stories about monsters and mayhem.
  • I have three cats that I call my little gremlins.
  • I became an aunt this year!
  • On May 12, I will be signing books, talking on panels, and teaching poetry at the LitUp Festival in Independence, Missouri for the Mid-Continent Public Library! Check it out.

I’m on TEAM BLUE this year.

Searching for my exclusive bonus content? You’ll have to keep searching.

Somewhere on this blog hop, you can read a never-before-seen preview of Bad Bloods: October Bone (#5). That’s right. You will get to see a piece of Skeleton and Ameline’s story…and I must warn you, the title has a huge hint as to how dreary their duology will be. You can also enter to win a signed copy of any of my books below. Before you go looking for it, check out the amazing author I’m hosting. (JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE HER NOVEL’S COVER.)

But maybe you need the rules first.

Scavenger Hunt Prize Rules

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the BLUE TEAM, and then add them up. (Don’t worry, you can use a calculator!)

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 8, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

Now that we all know the rules, please welcome…

I am super excited to be hosting…

LM Preston!

About LM Preston: Preston was born in Washington, DC. She loved to create poetry and short-stories as a young girl. She has an obsessive desire to write and create stories of young people who overcome unbelievable odds.

About Insatiable Darkness:

EmVee didn’t know what to think about this new town her father’s passion for boxing lured them. It was an unlikely location for her to pursue her dream of going semi-pro. Just when she started getting used to the school with gorgeous jocks and strange cheerleaders, the depth of the danger her father’s choices dangled them in front of became clear. EmVee hoped Silas and Kayson will be able to help her uncover the mystery identity of the person who is threatening her family. The question is, will she survive to expose the mystery. [Pre-quel, Vigilant Series, Caged Fire Book 1: Coming Fall 2018] Check it out on Amazon!

Exclusive Character Interview:

Q. Welcome to my blog, EmVee! That’s a strange, but catchy name. What does it mean?

A. (Laughs) I guess it is, but my middle name is Emily and my first name is Vida. My mom always calls me Emily since she picked that name for me. I never liked it, so I combined it.

Q. You are rather tall, how old are you?

A. I’m Seventeen, turning 18 this year since I’m a senior in High School.

Q. Do you have a boyfriend?

A. Well, I don’t usually have time to be in a relationship, but this year, I’m falling for a guy. He’s a singer and a football player, did I tell you he is way taller than me?

Q. Did you just move here to Rhode Island?

A. Yes, my father moved us here to open up his first full service MMA gym. My mother is his partner and one of the best trainers in the world. She is training some of the star athletes here.

Q. Have you met any new friends?

A. A few. A girl named Rachel and I are besties. There is this other girl named Megan, I guess I’d call her a frenemy. Seriously though, she’s okay, just strange.

Q. What do you like to do for fun?

A. I go to the gym to train. I was on the path to becoming a semi-pro boxer like my mother. When I’m not there, I like running.

Q. So are you an only child?

A. No, I have a brother just under me in age, and twin brother and sisters that are freshmen.

Q. Well what do you have to say about your new hometown?

A. It’s strange, but has the most beautiful people I’ve seen in my life that wasn’t on TV. I just want to fit in and enjoy my Senior year. Peace out!

Thank you for coming on, LM Preston!

Doesn’t EmVee sound great? I like running, too. The last time I ran was 23 days ago! I suggest running with that information and entering the YASH contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me and many more! Just check out all these awesome titles on the BLUE TEAM!

Need a suggestion to start? Check out Body Parts by Jessica Knapp or Submerge by Tobie Easton! I loved them.

To enter, you need to write down my fav number, and find all the other numbers on the BLUE TEAM, add them up, and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

Exclusive Giveaway!

Thank you so much for stopping by! While you’re here, don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter bonus contest I am hosting exclusively during the YA Scavenger Hunt. One lucky reader will win a signed copy of ANY of my books. They will also win signed swag from both of my series. Good luck!

Enter this Rafflecopter for your chance to win.

Ready to move on to the next link in the hunt? Then head on over to visit author Melanie Hooyenga’s page.

LINK TO NEXT BLOG

NA or YA? College-Aged Protagonists

27 Jan

If you live on Twitter like me, then you probably saw last week’s discussion on college-aged protagonists in young adult fiction. Many were calling for it. Others pushed back. Personally, I’m somewhere in the middle.

I desperately want college-aged protagonists, but I want them placed in NA, and I want NA to rise up on its own as an age category full of various genres.

Why?

Fun fact: I graduated high school in 2009. I graduated from the University of Kansas in 2013.

1. The Teens I’ve Listened To:

When I sign books at Barnes and Noble, specifically for BFest (a teen festival), I get to speak with a lot of teens. And I listen. I listen a lot.

Teens are already telling me that they feel left out of YA fiction. They ask me for sweeter, funnier, feel-good stories about friendship and finding your place in the world. Many tell me they’ve stopped buying YA altogether (opting out for fan fiction online) because YA feels too dark, too violent, too sexy for them.

Where are the sweet, just-for-fun road trips? Summer camp stories? Where are the books about friends? Not everything has to be a twisted romance filled with fighting to the death over a crown. (Not hating on those. In fact, I love them. But you know what I mean.)

By adding college-aged protagonists to YA, I fear that YA will only be aged up even more. It will get darker, with more violence and more sex. And that’s fine if teens want to read that. But there is a large portion of young teens that don’t want that, and we’re ignoring them.

Basically, I feel like we’re failing younger teens, and they need to be prioritized when it comes to YA.

2. We Need to Embrace NA

New Adult is a long-existing category. It isn’t new. But unfortunately it carries the stigma of erotica-only. Not that erotica is bad. (I work as an editor, and many of my clients are erotic authors, and I LOVE them. They SLAY.) But if a consumer base thinks that’s the only plot that exists within NA, then NA will turn those away who don’t want erotica. It will also set up those who want erotica to be disappointed if they buy a book in that age category when it’s clean. NA should be full of space pirates and sweet romances and twisty heists, with and without the X rating. But it isn’t right now. And that’s our fault. I understand that we’ve tried to expand NA before, but we need to try again. There’s no reason it should be for only romance. And now that there are more people pushing for NA, I think this is an optimal time to use our fan bases to spread the word about the age category and all the potential it holds.

3. Libraries/Families and How They Work 

Cycling back to the sweet stories in YA and non-erotic NA. They are out there, but they aren’t being prioritized on the shelves. Personally, I see younger YA and non-romance NA in the indie industry, but the indie industry is not as accessible. Libraries often chose what to carry from publishers’ catalogs, which automatically discount self-published or small press books. If they go to the edges of publishing, libraries still want books that have been reviewed by recognized editorials, and those editorials? They generally favor traditionally published novels. At my library, they carry very few indie titles, even when I put in requests. So while there are sweeter YA and non-erotic NA, libraries, schools, etc. might not have access to those, which is why I think pushing college-aged protags into YA wouldn’t be fair to young readers in particular. Also, Teen Librarian Toolbox has a fantastic thread on how families will chose reads for teens, why libraries label books the way they do, and how labeling college-aged teens as YA could negatively impact shelves. She also explains why YA was a wrong term to begin with in the first place. Definitely worth the read.

So what age category are you in if you write college-aged protagonists?

That depends on three things:

1. Voice: A lot of YA books have literary prose (Like “The Reader” by Tracy Chee), but if your book is written in the style of George R.R. Martin, you’re probably leaning more towards adult rather than young adult, even if your character is nineteen. An example: “Don’t You Cry” by Mary Kubica follows a college-aged woman dealing with her roommate acting very very strangely, but the voice isn’t YA. If NA was a thing, I would put it there, but since NA is still struggling, I personally think it leans more toward adult. Voice expectations are something you’ll pick up on by reading within your genre and age category.

2. Themes: Even the agents/publishers calling for college-aged protagonists in YA were clear on one thing: it still had to feel coming-of-age. If your book has a nineteen-year-old protagonist, but they are pretty settled into their life, then you’re probably looking elsewhere. In this case, think college-aged protags struggling to leave home, trying to find independence, a place between home and ultimate adulthood. However, this is largely going to depend on how YA and NA swing in the coming months.

3. Who you are submitting to: Always, always read submission guidelines and research agents/editors/publishers thoroughly. What works for one might not work for another, especially in this case. One agent might think a college-aged protag is YA as long as it features coming-of-age themes, while another might think you have no idea what you’re doing if you query them a YA novel with a nineteen-year-old protagonist. Adjust accordingly. Find a good, professional fit for you and your work.

In the end, everything is just a label, and labels can change overnight. In fact, this whole article is my little, humble opinion. Nothing more than that. And, honestly, my opinion could change.

Still, my best piece of advice has never changed: Read a lot. Write what you’re passionate about. Research thoroughly. Stay up-to-date on the latest news and shifts in the industry. Make friends. And you’ll be just fine.

~SAT

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