Pitch Wars Wishlist

Hello Fellow Writers!

I think it’s important to start this post off by telling you a little bit about me and my mentoring style. My name is Megan and I’ve worked as an assistant editor in NYC for almost two years. Just recently, my internship with Corvisiero Literary Agency was announced. Prior to that, I had two internships with indie fantasy publishing houses where I acted as a line and content editor. On top of that, I read way too many books for my health (jk, no such thing), talk about writing, and freelance edit YA & MG stories. My non-book related activities include: hiking, binge watching television shows on Netflix, playing with my dogs, and traveling whenever I can.

For my first time as a mentor, I am specifically looking for YOUNG ADULT stories. They’re my favorite audience category to read and have sent me weeping into my bed on several dozen occasions. Also, I just love the idea of books being written for children and teens and want to see as many of these wonderful stories as possible.

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What My Mentoring Style Is Like

I’d consider myself a cheerleader for the stories I love. I want to push writers so they can get the words on the page as close as possible to what’s in their heads. I’m a very open and communicative person so I encourage questions, ideas, and new routes you think will help your work as we go forth. Nothing makes me happier than everything clicking into place.

Before we begin edits, I’d like for you to tell me anything you’re concerned about or anything you’d specifically like me to pay attention to before diving in. I’d also like for you to tell me what you love most about your story.

Our first round of edits will be focused on the larger picture:

  • How’s your pacing?
  • Are there any obvious plot holes?
  • Do your characters and their motivations make sense?
  • Are you doing enough to convey your world to your audience?
  • Does your story have a full and completed arc?

All of these topics and more will be addressed in an edit letter after I read your manuscript. For me, this is often a few pages and consists of what I liked about your manuscript, what isn’t working, and suggestions on how to incorporate necessary changes. Once you receive this and go over it, I’d love to discuss where you stand, what’s going through your head, and of course any inquiries you may have. We will also work out a schedule to have these changes made.

The second round of edits will still include the bullet points above but will also be focused on line editing and proofreading. Here along with any big picture edits, you’ll get an annotated manuscript from me that will highlight:

  • Grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors
  • Sentences that aren’t adding to your story, are repetitive, or seem out of place.
  • Tense issues
  • Consistency of your writing style

The goal of this edit is get everything polished for the agent round. Of course you’re welcome to ask anything about publishing beforehand, but any lingering questions would be best at this time. My ultimate goal as a mentor is to make your manuscript shine while keeping in mind the message of your story and what you want readers to take away from your world.

What I’m Looking For

Onto the fun part: what manuscripts I’m interested in. As I mentioned above, I am ONLY taking YOUNG ADULT.  I will NOT take graphic novels, new adult, or memoirs. The genres I am eager to read are:

Science Fiction

  • Dystopian/Apocalyptic
  • Space Operas/Space Exploration
  • Futuristic Societies
  • Present Day but with a Twist
  • Steam Punk
  • Cyber Punk
  • Virtual Reality

Fantasy

  • Fairytale Retellings
  • Magical Realism
  • Contemporary Fantasy
  • Urban Fantasy
  • Dark or Magical Fantasies

Contemporary

  • Dark Contemporary or Contemporary with a Twist

Elements I Shout for in a Story

  • Diversity in terms of characters, setting, and culture
  • Gray Morality
  • Strong Women
  • Soft/geeky characters
  • Queer characters that have an arc larger than their sexuality
  • Anti-heroes
  • Strong friendships and sibling relationships
  • Complex family dynamics
  • Strong mental health rep
  • Slow burn relationships of any kind
  • Uncommon hobbies
  • Worlds I can sink my teeth into
  • Emotional gut punches/angst
  • Wholesome best friends, especially best friends to lovers
  • Badass group of friends who take on some role and often explore their relationships with one another

What I Don’t Want

  • Epic or High Fantasy
  • Stories that have animal abuse
  • Contemporaries centered entirely around romance
  • Paranormal, Supernatural, or Horror Stories
  • Historical Fiction (There is an exception to this – if your story takes place in a certain time period, but isn’t necessarily recreating real life events, I’ll take it. I just don’t think I’m the best fit for history retelling pieces).

Favorite Books

To give you a better sense of what I like to read and my tastes, here’s a by no means completed list of some older and newer YA books.

  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness
  • Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
  • Nyxia Triad by Scott Reintgen
  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
  • This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab
  • Proxy by Alex London
  • When the Moons Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Forest of A Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
  • How to Make a Wish by Ashley Blake
  • Timekeeper by Tara Sim
  • Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glen Marsh
  • Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
  • Warcross by Marie Lu
  • Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
  • Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova
  • Nothing Left to Burn by Heather Ezell
  • You’ll Miss me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Favorite TV Shows

  • Stranger Things
  • Fullmetal Alchemist
  • Avatar the Last Airbender
  • Breaking Bad
  • Dear White People
  • Cloak & Dagger
  • Jessica Jones
  • The Punisher
  • The 100
  • Sense8
  • This is Us
  • Shameless

I think that’s everything. Thank you so much for reading and I can’t wait to see the stories that appear in my inbox.

You should check out all of the other mentors HERE 😀

Xx

Megan

 

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Complex Friendships & Learning Instagram: Q&A with Katy Loutzenhiser

Hello Readers & Writers,

I’m so excited to be featuring another debut author, Katy Loutzenhiser, with her book If You’re Out There. You can expect to see it on shelves from Balzer + Bray in March of 2019. If you’re looking for a contemporary YA with a mysterious twist, this may be the fit for you.

Before we jump into the interview, here’s a synopsis:

coverAfter Zan’s best friend moves to California, she’s baffled and crushed when Priya suddenly ghosts. Worse, Priya’s social media has turned into a stream of ungrammatical posts chronicling a sunny, vapid new life that doesn’t sound like her at all. Everyone tells Zan not to be an idiot: Let Priya do her reinvention thing, and move on. But until Zan hears Priya say it, she won’t be able to admit that the friendship is finished.

It’s only when she meets Logan, the charming new guy in Spanish class, that Zan begins to open up about her sadness, her insecurity, her sense of total betrayal. And he’s just as willing to throw himself into the investigation when everyone else thinks her suspicions are crazy.

Then a clue hidden in Priya’s latest selfie introduces a new, deeply disturbing possibility. Maybe Priya isn’t just not answering Zan’s emails. Maybe she can’t.

Goodreads

  1. Before we get into the first question, I want to thank you so much Katy for joining me! I’m so excited to have you. How does it feel knowing your book will be out in the world in only a few months?

Katy: Well, first of all, thank YOU for having me! And to answer your question, it feels… somewhat hypothetical still. Like maybe this is all an elaborate misunderstanding? I’ll believe it when I have a hardback in my hands.

  1. From the summary of If You’re Out There, it seems like this is a contemporary novel with mystery involved. What drew you to that genre?

Katy: In this case, the story arrived, and the genre just sort of followed. I still struggle with how to categorize this book, but another author recently referred to it as a “mystery-love-story-friendship-thriller-comedy” and I thought that pretty well summed it up. I enjoy stories that genre-bend, or don’t fit into a specific mold, so I suppose it makes sense that I wrote one!

  1. Tell us a bit more about how you incorporated social media in your story as well as which social media app you use the most.

Katy: Instagram is fairly key to the story, with post captions scattered throughout. The main character, Zan, has been ghosted by her dearest friend, and watching Priya move on through these #bestlife snippets applies constant salt to the wound. This is one element of the story that readers have consistently told me they find relatable. It’s difficult to let go of someone when they’re only a few clicks away.

  1. Describe your book in three words.

Katy: Ghosted? Or worse?

  1. What are some themes that your book explores?

Katy: At its core, IF YOU’RE OUT THERE is about intense friendship and all the things that come with it: codependence, independence, history, what it means to know a person, and how to decide if it’s time to let that person go. As I was writing, I was also sort of shooting for “fun feminism,” in that the book showcases the myriad ways women can be strong and awesome and hilarious, and how guys can have their backs.

  1. If you and Zan were to meet, would you get along?

Katy: I think so, although she might hurt my feelings if she was having a bad day. I’m pretty sensitive, and she’s a bit snappy. If we met at the right moment, though, I think we’d pretty much be BFFLs.

  1. What do you want readers to take away from your book?

Katy: My hope, at the risk of sounding like that “open hearts” collection Kay Jewelers lady, is that readers reflect on the idea that it’s worth living your life in a vulnerable way—to really care about people, even if sometimes that means getting hurt.

  1. Who/What were some of your biggest inspirations for writing?

Katy: So many, from books to plays, TV to movies. Nora Ephron (You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, etc. etc. forever), Amy Poehler (Parks and Rec is perfect), Mindy Kaling (still waiting to be best friends—call me, Mindy!) Tina Fey (my not-so-original, original career goal was to *be* her), Nick Hornby (Funny Girl, About a Boy, among others), most so-bad-they’re-good romcoms—especially ones with numbers in them (10 Things I Hate About You, 13 Going on 30, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days… I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE!) Jenny Han, Rainbow Rowell, Liane Moriarty, Matthew Quick. And good old Jane Austen and Shakespeare!

  1. Do you have any fun facts or things you learned from writing this book?

Katy: Actually, yes! I forced myself to learn Instagram so that I could write about it in the story! (Am I losing coolness points by admitting that?) EPILOGUE: I now love Instagram, which is probably a sure sign that it’s on its way to becoming irrelevant.

About the Author

Katy LoutzenhiserKaty Loutzenhiser is the YA author of IF YOU’RE OUT THERE (Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins 2019). Katy grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, attended Bowdoin College, and trained in comedy at the iO and Second City theaters in Chicago. She now lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/katyloutz/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katyloutz

Website: katyloutzenhiser.com

 


I hope you’re all ready for this book because I definitely am! And if you’d like to learn more about upcoming novels and their authors, stick around.

Xx

Megan

How Submissions Work

Hello Readers & Writers,

This guest post from Kalyn Josephson will discuss submissions and what to do when your manuscript is in the hands of editors. I am beyond fortunate to feature her and have her advice as she takes us through the different steps. For more about Kalyn and her upcoming novel, read until the end!

The Secrets of Sub

Being on submission feels a lot like fight club: the first rule of sub is don’t talk about sub.

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As a result, my submission experience consisted of asking too many questions, followed by incessant refreshing of my email hoping for answers.

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Which, honestly, is half of pursuing a publishing career.

It turns out being on submission is a lot like querying, except now your agent is the one fretting over name spellings and email addresses as they prepare to pitch your book.

So WHAT is submission?

– Submission is when your agent pitches your manuscript to editors at publishing houses in the hope they will buy and publish it. Publishing houses consist of imprints, which publish different types of books.

For example, my publisher, Sourcebooks, has an imprint called SourcebooksFire, which publishes their Young Adult books, and an imprint called JabberwockyKids, which publishes their Middle Grade and Children’s books.

WHO does my agent submit to?

– Agents pitch your book to editors, who work for imprints and are responsible for finding new books to acquire. They’re the ones who read your manuscript and decide whether they want to buy it.

WHEN does my agent do this?

– Whenever! Though agents often avoid summer and holidays, as publishing slows down around these times.

The length of time you’re on submission can vary greatly, from a few days (this is SO rare!) all the way up to 1-2 years. On average, responses from editors take between 3-9 months. Fantasy books tend to take longer because of higher word counts and higher sub rates, so editors who accept fantasy are often inundated.

WHERE will my agent sub?

– Depends on your agent! You’re probably most familiar with the Big 5 publishers:

  • Simon and Schuster
  • Penguin Random House
  • Macmillan Publishers
  • HarperCollins
  • Hachette Book Group

But there are a lot of small and mid-size publishers as well, such as:

  • Bloomsbury
  • Sourcebooks
  • Entangled
  • Lee & Low

Publishing houses have multiple imprints, and some allow you to pitch to multiple imprints within their house simultaneously. Imprints focus on different genres (ie, Fantasy vs Romance) and different editors within imprints have different tastes (Dark Fantasy vs Urban Fantasy).

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Those are the basics. Now how about the actual process?

As I mentioned, sub is like querying. Your agent will create a pitch to send to editors. Maybe they’ll use your query, or maybe they’ll write their own. Once the pitch is ready, they’ll send it to a list of editors at various imprints (cue emergency chocolate).

Which editors they send to depends on the agent. Your agent may have connections at certain imprints, or they may ask if you have any “dream” editors or imprints that you want to pitch to.

Agents often pitch in rounds, on average between 5 and 15 imprints at a time. That way, if an editor passes but provides feedback, you can incorporate it and still have other editors to send your revised manuscript to.

The pitching process agents follow varies. Some send only the pitch, then wait for the editor to request the manuscript. Some send the pitch and manuscript together. Your agent may send you the list of editors they submitted to, or just the imprints. Some agents don’t share their lists with clients at all. Be sure to ask so you’re clear what to expect!

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Once you’re on submission, it’s a back to that familiar waiting game (how many times can you refresh your email in one day?).

Editors are busy people, but if you haven’t heard back from one in over 3 months, your agent may nudge for confirmation of receipt or just to gauge interest.

(Be sure to talk with your agent about what kind of updates you want! Do you want to hear about every rejection? Only positive ones? Or do you want total silence unless it’s an offer?)

Speaking of, what happens if an editor reads your manuscript and loves it (aside from lots of screaming)?

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There are several steps before an editor can offer. At some imprints, editors have to get second or third reads from colleagues. Then the manuscript goes to an acquisitions meeting. There, the editor has to convince the marketing and finance folks that this book will sell and is worth buying.

Once a book clears acquisitions, an editor can make an offer!

Receiving an editor offer is like receiving an agent offer. You can accept it straight away, or notify other editors you’re on sub with to see if they’d like time to read the manuscript and make an offer. On the rare occasion more than one editor offers on your book, it may go to what’s called an auction.

Auction rules vary by agency, but the general idea is that editors bid on the manuscript, and then you choose from the offering editors who you want to work with.

Auctions are pretty rare, but incredibly exciting!

Once you agree to sell your book to an editor, the contract negotiations begin, and that process requires an entire post of its own. Suffice to say, there’s a lot of discussion about numbers and percentages and rights that amount to your contract, which makes having an agent pretty handy for those of us who don’t speak legal.

There are a lot of nuances to the process, but hopefully this post gives you a general idea of what to expect when out on submission.

Good luck!

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About the Author
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Kalyn Josephson is the author of THE STORM CROW, a YA Fantasy novel out with SourcebooksFire July 2019. In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows tend to every aspect of life: from the Firecrows that help forge armor to the Battlecrows that keep the kingdom safe. Seventeen-year-old Princess Anthia Cerralté dreamed of leading Rhodaire as a Crow Rider—then the Illucian Empire attacked, destroying the Rider’s massive Crows. When she discovers a surviving egg, she knows hatching it is the only way to save her people.

Kalyn currently works as a Technical Writer in Silicon Valley, which leaves room for too many bad puns about technically being a writer. She grew up in San Luis Obispo, CA, but now lives in the Bay Area with four awesome friends (because it’s the Bay and she’d like to be able to retire one day) and two black cats (who are more like a tiny dragon and an even tinier owl). When not writing YA Fantasy, she loves baking, reading, playing sports, and watching too many movies.

Goodreads / Twitter / Instagram / Website 

Summer Bird Blue: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I was beyond fortunate to receive an ARC of Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman due to publish September 2018 from Simon Pulse in exchange for an honest review. As always, there will be no spoilers, but there may be a lot of screaming!

Content Warning: This book is entirely about death and how to process the loss of a loved one. Please take caution while reading. 

Summer Bird Blue follows Rumi after the tragic death of her sister Lea and a move to Hawaii to live with her aunt at the request of her mother. Having been intertwined with Lea, the loss is too much to bear for Rumi. She feels abandoned by her mother. She’s angry at the world. She can no longer play or write music without thinking she’s betraying her sister. Music to Rumi means moving on and that’s something she doesn’t want to happen. She doesn’t want to forget Lea. At the same time, Rumi also has a compulsion within her to finish the song they had started before her death. This book centers around grief, misunderstanding, and not always being a good person. It is however brutally raw and attempts to give Rumi the tools she needs to heal herself and the remainder of her family.

1
I want to start off by saying this book wrecked me because I saw so many parts of myself in Rumi. I think I cried a total of eight or nine times, all at different parts because Akemi’s writing was so strong and Rumi as a narrator was incredible. Rumi is not a typical main character. She’s made mistakes that get unraveled as she remembers Lea. She blames herself for not being a better sister and comes to terms with why she did certain things – whether they be out of jealousy, a self-serving purpose, or more. She lashes out against her mother who has her own issues dealing with the death of a daughter and her aunt who is trying to both give Rumi space and push her to leave the house.

On top of this, Rumi is coming to terms with her identity as asexual. Though she hasn’t quite settled on the label yet, it is the one that best fits. Her conflict lies in feeling she has to make a decision immediately and know herself because everyone else seems to already. Akemi’s portrayal of this is spot on and offer this message to teens: it’s okay to take time to figure out who you are and who you want to be.

Rumi’s journey through death is dark and messy. It doesn’t get wrapped up in a neat package. What stood out to me about Summer Bird Blue was who Rumi finds help in – a teenage boy next door Kai and an old man George Watanabe. Akemi presents a contrast between the two and what Rumi needs from both of them: Kai is a friend who stands by her and gives her a reason to laugh; Mr. Watanabe gives her tough love and a person to see herself in. In YA, there’s rarely an elderly figure that isn’t family involved in a main character’s life so to read this was a refreshing and welcome change. Together, Kai and Mr. Watanabe give Rumi invaluable friendships and push her to find her old self and the music she’s too long been apart from.

We also get an incredible look into a complex relationship between mother and daughter. For Rumi, this is a picture of always feeling more like a parent to Lea than a sibling and having to deal with thinking that her mother had a favorite child. For Rumi’s mother, it’s about doing what needed to be done for her family. Summer Bird Blue explores what it means to be family and what’s worth fighting for.

I can go on about this book forever. Akemi packs a powerful punch that will take readers on a painful, but unflinching journey about grief, identity, and healing from trauma you never expected to have. It’s the type of book that feels like the author put a piece of their soul into. Please put it on your TBRs immediately.

This gets 5/5 songs from me.

Xx
Megan

Flipping Tropes on Their Head: Q&A with Erin Hahn

Hello Readers & Writers,

We have another debut on the blog today and that is Erin Hahn, author of You’d Be Mine which comes out April 2nd, 2019 from Wednesday Books. This book is perfect for lovers of complicated romance and country music.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis:

36146624Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk.

Erin Hahn’s thrilling debut, You’d Be Mine, asks: can the right song and the perfect summer on the road make two broken hearts whole?

To preorder, click here!! 

1. I want to start off by saying thank you so much for joining me on my blog, Erin. I am so excited to have you and talk about your debut! From what I’ve seen, You’d Be Mine is quite influenced by country music. Has your own life been as well?

Erin: Definitely! I was raised on a steady diet of strong female country musicians. My parents married young and divorced young and I’m pretty sure my mom’s survival plan was Reba McIntire, Winona Judd, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Martina McBride. Those women taught me what being a fearless female was about.

When I got to high school, I was really embracing my grunge phase hardcore, but I vividly remember painting my bedroom and daydreaming to Trisha Yearwood and kissing a boy while listening to the Dixie Chicks.

Those ladies taught my cold heart to feel and feel hard! I’m so grateful for all of them. It was an honor to write Annie Mathers in their image.

2. From your bio, you mention having written for your campus paper. How was that process different from writing fiction or did it overlap in some way?

Erin: Bahaha! So very different from newspaper writing. I think my editor must have hated me. I couldn’t write an objective article to save my life. She would assign me something like the campus Drag Show and I’d wax poetic, describing the costumes for paragraphs and I’d open the spread on release day and it would be cut in half and so… bland. How you make a drag show sound bland, I don’t know, but she’d dial it back and manage somehow.

In the end, I appreciated the experience. The assignments forced me out of my comfy introvert shell and taught me about deadlines. I also learned nonfiction was NOT for me. I’m far too Anne Shirley.

3. Since I’ve really enjoyed this challenge on twitter, describe the plot of your book badly.

Erin: “Two American kids doing the best that they can.”

4. How was it exploring the complex relationship between Annie and Clay? Was there any part you particularly struggled with?

Erin: Would I sound cruel if I said I loved it? I have to admit their dynamic started off far less complicated, but as I got to know them more, and secrets came out, they got massively tangled. It got to the point that even I wasn’t sure they would pull through!

Personally, I struggled with whether what they had was healthy. There are certainly moments when it’s not. Much like real life, right? We all have garbage to sort out and I think the biggest disservice we can do as YA romance authors is to give the impression that “love can save the day”, or that, in this case, Annie could save Clay or vice versa. I’m reminded of that commercial when the elderly woman says, exasperated, “That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!”

We are the masters of our own universes and Clay and Annie aren’t exempt from that just because they are famous country singers.

5. What are some early forms of media (book, shows, movies etc.) that inspired you?

Erin: Most of my writing stems from documentaries I’ve seen that turn into plot bunnies. Because I am a nerd. YOU’D BE MINE came out of a doc I watched with my husband about the Carter family and their massive influence on country music. At the time, I hadn’t realized that June Carter had come from this legendary family. Towards the end of the doc, Johnny Cash was interviewed about how star struck he had been when he first encountered June. To him, SHE was the famous one. It blew my mind and changed everything I thought I knew about the couple.

It made me want to write a story like that: where the girl was the intimidating legend. I was so tired of the “famous boy falls for the plain Jane nobody girl”. I wanted a girl who not only flipped the trope, but knocked the guy on his ass. Annie does that with a smile.

6. Describe your book in three words.

Erin: What Fitz saw.

7. What do you hope readers take away from your book?

Erin: Perhaps a greater understanding of country music and also giddy little butterflies in their stomach.

8. Is there any genre or experience you’d like to explore in a future book?

Erin: Oh gosh. I don’t think I’ll ever leave music behind. My WIP is inspired by the nineties cult classic EMPIRE RECORDS. And I’d really love to dive back into country music and tell the stories of Annie’s Under the Willows band members Jason and Kacey.

9. What’s been your favorite part of the publishing process?

Erin: Honestly every part has been unreal! Probably the most fun is knowing strangers are reading and connecting with Clay and Annie. I’ve had multiple people reach out at this point about Annie’s songs (which I wrote), wanting to hear them put to music and that…. *phew* I can’t begin to express how that feels. It’s like the ultimate compliment to a girl raised on country lyrics.

10. Tell the audience a fun fact about growing up in a small town.

Erin: Oh gosh. Well. My step dad was a police sergeant while I was in high school and we had open campus which meant all the juniors and seniors could leave during lunch or study hall or whatever. I remember how all the kids would come to me after lunch complaining that my dad gave them speeding tickets. Which… wasn’t great.

Also, my front yard always smelled like cows from the farms down the road. I actually get pretty nostalgic for that smell nowadays.

About the Author

red shirt over shoulder author
Erin started writing her own books when her little sister gave her shade about a country music-themed Twilight fanfic. By day, she gets to share her favorite stories with her elementary students. By night, she writes swoons. Erin married her own YA love interest whom she met on her first day of college and has two kids who are much, much cooler than she ever was at their age. She lives in Michigan, aka the greenest place on earth and has a cat, Gus, who plays fetch.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/erinhahn_author

With all of that in store, I hope you’re ready for a wild ride of a debut. And before we wrap, another huge thank you to Erin for joining me!

Xx
Megan

How to Juggle a Debut & Writing Multiple POVS: Q&A with Lillian Clark

Hello Readers & Writers,

Joining me on the blog today is Lillian Clark, author of Immoral Code which comes out February 19th, 2019 from Knopf BFYR. If you’re interested in hacking, a huge cast of characters, and complex morality, you need to pick up this book.

Before I kick off the interview, here is a synopsis:

35717195Ocean’s 8 meets The Breakfast Club in this fast-paced, multi-perspective story about five teens determined to hack into one billionaire absentee father’s company to steal tuition money.

For Nari, aka Narioka Diane, aka hacker digital alter ego “d0l0s,” it’s college and then a career at “one of the big ones,” like Google or Apple. Keagan, her sweet, sensitive boyfriend, is happy to follow her wherever she may lead. Reese is an ace/aro visual artist with plans to travel the world. Santiago is off to Stanford on a diving scholarship, with very real Olympic hopes. And Bellamy? Physics genius Bellamy is admitted to MIT—but the funding she’d been counting on is denied when it turns out her estranged father—one Robert Foster—is loaded.

Nari isn’t about to let her friend’s dreams be squashed by a deadbeat billionaire, so she hatches a plan to steal just enough from Foster to allow Bellamy to achieve her goals. Fast-paced and banter-filled, Lillian Clark’s debut is a hilarious and thought-provoking Robin Hood story for the 21st century.

How To Preorder / Visit on Goodreads 

1. Before we begin, I want to say thank you so much for joining me on the blog, Lillian. I am so excited for your book especially after seeing the cover! What were your thoughts upon seeing the final draft of the cover for the first time?

Lillian: Thank you so much for having me, Megan! I’m so excited for Immoral Code to be out in the world! The first time I saw the cover, my jaw dropped. I even had a bit of an adrenaline rush! Seeing my cover was one of the things I was most looking forward to, and the team at Knopf BFYR, especially Angela Carlino and freelance designer Emily Osborne, did an incredible job. I love the colors! And the models fit the five main characters so well. I truly couldn’t be happier.

2. How was it writing five different perspectives? Did you find one POV that you were drawn to more or was one easier to writer than others?

Lillian: Writing the five POVs was definitely a challenge, but one I really enjoyed! Telling a single story with five voices meant I did a lot of outlining, structural planning, and working to strike a balance between each character, both with their personalities and how much space each one takes up in the narrative. But I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write an ensemble cast, and I am so delighted with how it turned out!

As far as being drawn to one POV over another, I think Nari was one of the easier voices to write? Or, if not ‘easier,’ she was definitely fun. Nari is so vibrant, and writing that was energizing! I also fell in love with Reese’s voice almost right away. One of my favorite things about writing five POVs was identifying with and enjoying different aspects of each of them at different points in my writing process. They’re my babies! Haha. I love them all!

3. What did you know about hacking prior to writing Immoral Code? How did you go about your research?

Lillian: Fun fact? I am not a computer whiz. Ha! I manage, but I had to do a lot of research for Nari’s character. I started by reading a fabulous book called Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous by Gabriella Coleman, and used that as a springboard for my research, especially about modes and terminology. I also have to credit the team at Knopf BFYR for helping me fact check! In the end, it’s fiction. But hopefully believable fiction.

4. Since I loved this trend on twitter, describe the plot of your book badly.

 Lillian: While trying to solve a problem, five best friends make it way worse.

5. Were there any scenes that were cut from Immoral Code that you really enjoyed?

Lillian: Let’s see… I’ve lucked out and didn’t have to cut anything I was absolutely in love with. A previous draft did have a scene where the characters went to a concert that didn’t make the cut, and I enjoyed writing that one because I love live music! But, in the end, the book is better without it.

6. What do you want readers to take away from your story?

Lillian: I love books that wrap big questions in entertaining packages, so that was my main goal when I started writing Immoral Code. I want readers to laugh and maybe cry and definitely swoon! I also want them to think about this messy moral question, about doing the wrong thing for the right reason. But ultimately, I want readers to leave this book feeling good. This group of friends…they are so loyal to each other, so supportive. The mistakes they make, the risks they take, through their arguments and challenges, they remain each others’ biggest fans. They love each other! And I hope readers come away feeling that love too.

7. Describe Immoral Code in three words.

Lillian: Friends and felonies.

8. Pick any one of your characters and have them tell the audience a joke.

Keagan: *taps mic, clears throat* “What do you call an inconsequential elephant? Irrelephant! Haha! Get it? Yeah, I’ll see myself out.”

9. How does it feel knowing your book will be out in the world next year?

Lillian: I’ve talked with some of my fellow debuts about this, and I can sum it up with a made-up word: Hurrayifying. Ha! It’s incredible. Publishing a book is my dream come true. But it’s also terrifying in a lot of ways! So much is out of your control as a writer, not in the least whether or not people will like this little nugget of my soul. Which is nerve-wracking! But the good definitely outweighs the scary, and in the end, I am so excited for people to meet Nari, Reese, Santiago, Keagan and Bellamy!

10. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

Lillian: Hmm… So, I grew up in a small town in Wyoming, and though I haven’t gotten to in years, I love riding horses! I was taught to ride by a neighbor, an old school cowboy who grew up in a sod house and bred beautiful Arabian-Morgan mixes, and I even owned an elderly, retired barrel-racing horse named Dexter. I am a western kid at heart!

About the Author

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Lillian Clark, a graduate of the University of Wyoming, grew up riding horses, climbing trees, and going on grand imaginary adventures in the small-town West. She’s worked as a lifeguard, a camp counselor, and a Zamboni driver, but found her eternal love working as a bookseller at an independent bookstore. She lives in Teton Valley, Idaho with her husband, son, and two giant dogs, where she spends her time reading almost anything and writing books for teens.

Well, there you have it. A book with a lot of characters to choose from and a complex journey from all of them along the way. Support a debut author by preordering or picking up Immoral Code.

And once again, a huge thank you to Lillian for joining me.

Until next time,

Megan

Blanca & Roja: A Review

Hello Readers & Writers,

I was beyond fortunate to receive an ARC of Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore due to publish October 9th, 2018 from Feiwel & Friends in exchange for an honest review. As always, there will be no spoilers!

36952596Blanca & Roja is a retelling of Snow White and Rose Red steeped in magical realism. It follows the del Cisne girls who have been cursed: every time their family has children, swans will always take a daughter. No matter how you try to avoid the curse, fate has a way of intervening. Blanca & Roja have for years been thinking of ways to break the curse, their main goal that by being similar enough, the swans will never be able to decide who to take. They think their plan is working until two boys who are involved with the magic of the woods come to their door and the del Cisne family curse grows bigger than anyone could have ever planned for.

As always, I feel like Anna-Marie’s writing takes the reader in and never lets you go. Her words become tangible and bring the story to life in a new way. If you’ve never read books by Anna-Marie, you need to in order to understand how she crafts her stories like poetry.

What I particularly enjoyed about Blanca & Roja is the complexity between the sisters. From the beginning they are pitted against each other. Their family expects one sister to make it over the other. Roja is closer to her father while Blanca is closer to her mother. Blanca is the more visually stunning sister, the one that everyone can see is as delicate as swan feathers. Roja is the more abrasive sister with stark red hair and a cut throat personality. As children, they are close, with a goal to prevent either one of them from being taken. Their love is something that grows as the curse draws nearer and fate throws a handful of challenges in their path.

I loved how honest their relationship felt – that when their lives are on the line, their childhood promises don’t hold the same weight. They both fight for life, but at the same time, they’re fighting for each other, their family, and the people they grow to love throughout the story even if they don’t always go about it the right way.  I enjoyed that there was no sugar coating or patching up Blanca and Roja’s relationship in an easy manner. They make mistakes. They deal with the consequences. Anna-Marie shows how they grow, how complex their feelings are, and ultimately, that their bond is so hard to break.

Another element I enjoy about any of Anna-Marie’s book is the sexuality component, particularly that who you love and who you are is okay. For teens, who this book is aimed at, you sometimes need to hear this and Blanca & Roja is interwoven with this message. Not only do you walk away from the book with revelations about identity, but you walk away seeing the bond between sisters, and magic that refreshes a well known fairytale.

This gets 5/5 wings from me.

Till next time,

Megan