Home Author Interviews 2014 Debut Author Intros: Episode 3

2014 Debut Author Intros: Episode 3


Hi everyone!

Welcome back to the 2014 Debut Author Intros! This December we will be showcasing 2014 debut authors on the weekends. Take a look below to see today’s authors!


6557729Elizabeth Czukas, author of Ask Again Later

Liz Czukas is a freelance writer (on sometimes sad or boring topics), and also writes books for young adults (which are rarely sad and full of kissing). Before that, she was a nurse and she still kind of misses starting IVs.

She lives outside Milwaukee, WI with her husband, son and the world’s loudest cat. She types too loud (according to her husband), spends too much time on the Internet, and can’t get enough of disaster movies. There is *always* a song stuck in her head, and she once won a hula-hoop contest.


Can you tell us about your book ASK AGAIN LATER in 10 words or less?

Dresses? One. Dates? Two. Disasters? Endless.

What was your first reaction when you learned that Ask Again Later was going to be published by HarperTeen?

I believe I laid down on the floor while I was still on the phone with my agent and laughed my head off while simultaneously crying.  Very calm, cool, and professional, obviously.

Is any of Ask Again Later based off your own life or is it completely made up?16090645

I did go to two proms, but not at the same time.  If either of my prom nights had been like Heart’s, I probably still be in therapy.  Plus, I look terrible in lavender.

Why contemporary? What strikes you about the genre?

Contemporary has been my favorite genre since I was a kid!  I love that there’s so much room in a contemporary story for humor and all that you can relate to even the small details.  Like, in Ask Again Later, Heart was originally supposed to go to prom with a group of friends and their transportation for the night was a big daycare van.  That’s just funny to me, and I love reading a story where you can stumble across all the little absurdities that make up life.

What do you want readers to take away from Ask Again Later?

I hope they laugh, and maybe find a little piece of themselves or their friends in the story.  And I also hope they never decide to leave their prom date decision up to a Magic 8 Ball or a Chuck E. Cheese token.

Can we expect a sequel or is it a standalone?

This book is a standalone, but…(dramatic pause for you to read the next question)

Are you working on anything else?

I have another book coming out in Fall of 2014 (December, I think) with HarperTeen.  It’s called Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless, and I think fans of the first book will enjoy that one as well.  And I’m working on another contemporary right now, too!

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

Oh my gosh, can I say all of them?  No, huh?  Well, I’m absolutely honored to be a part of the Class of 2k14, which is a group of YA and MG authors whose books are debuting in 2014.  I’ve been lucky enough to read some of these amazing books already and I can tell you they’re all great.  The best part about the class is that you’re almost guaranteed to find something you’ll like.  I’m also really excited for Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell, because teenage serial killer? Yes please. Also, Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy, because bucket list gone wrong? Best premise ever!

Ask Again Later Synopsis:

Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all..

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16090645-ask-again-later?ac=1

Sara_Author_Pic03(websize)Sara Raasch, author of Snow Like Ashes

Sara Raasch has known she was destined for bookish things since the age of five, when her friends had a lemonade stand and she tagged along to sell her hand-drawn picture books too. Not much has changed since then — her friends still cock concerned eyebrows when she attempts to draw things and her enthusiasm for the written word still drives her to extreme measures. Her debut YA fantasy, SNOW LIKE ASHES, the first in a trilogy, comes out Fall 2014 from Balzer + Bray. It does not feature her hand-drawn pictures.
SNOW LIKE ASHES Summary: Meira, a fierce chakram-wielding warrior from the Kingdom of Winter, must struggle to free her people from the tyranny of an opposing kingdom while also protecting her own destiny.
Can you tell us about your debut book, Snow Like Ashes, in 15 words or less?
I love these games!
15 word sentence: A Winterian refugee must help free her people from Spring by finding a lost magic.
15 random words, because: Season Kingdoms, magic artifacts, an exiled king, a sexy prince, death by chakram, badass soldier-girl.
I love that this is high fantasy! It’s already on my TBR pile just for that exact reason. High Fantasy can be difficult to write because of all of the elements. How long did it take you to write it? 
I love you for loving High Fantasy! Dude, you said it all — High Fantasy can be difficult to write. IS difficult to write. This particular story/world has been swimming around my head for twelve years now. A few of those years I wasn’t working solely on it (pesky things like college and a few other stories got in the way), but it’s always been with me, developing and changing. It’s STILL developing and changing — creating an entire world from scratch almost becomes a living, breathing creature with its own temperaments and needs, which in turn takes a long, long, llooonngggg time to get a good grip on.
When can we expect a cover reveal?
I’m hoping for early next year, maybe February/March! I cannot even DESCRIBE how excited I am to share this cover with everyone — it’s cruel, really, that they make us wait so long. Cruel and inhumane.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I adore this question! Mainly because I could go on and on about my favorite scenes, but I will *try* to be brief. My favorite scene in SNOW LIKE ASHES is pretty much the last third of the book — when everything comes together and battles ensue and chaos reigns. Also, any scene where my MC, Meira, gets to use her chakram was super fun to write — she feels the most like herself when she’s throwing it, so I always felt most connected to her in those parts.
How many books are in the Snow Like Ashes series?
It’s a trilogy, with each book coming out a year after the other — so 2014, 2015, and 2016.
What was your first reaction when you learned you were getting published by Balzer + Bray?
I hung up the phone with my agent and burst into tears. Luckily my fiancé-now-husband was there to share in my deliriously happy, snot-bubble-filled rejoicing, because this deal was, as I mentioned, about twelve years in the making — I started writing SNOW LIKE ASHES when I was 12-13. So yeah, lots of built-up angst exploded out of me when I got the news!
Can we expect you on Tea Time in the near future?
Marketing just barely started focusing on my season, so I really have no idea yet what they have planned — but I would love to be on it! I must meet that hedgehog 😀
What are you working on next?
Right now, I’m working on SLA’s sequel and trying not to panic at the thought of starting the final book in the trilogy next year.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
I’m part of a 2014 debut group called the YAValentines, and ALL of their books get me ridiculously excited! There’s fourteen of us, and the genres are all over the place — contemporary, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian. 2014 is going to be EPIC!
Snow Like Ashes Synopsis:
Meira, a fierce chakram-wielding warrior from the Kingdom of Winter, must struggle to free her people from the tyranny of an opposing kingdom while also protecting her own destiny.
7169602Helene Dunbar, author of These Gentle Wounds
Helene Dunbar usually writes features about fiddles and accordions for Irish Music Magazine, but she’s also been known to write about court cases, theater, and Native American Indian tribes. She’s amazed that she has a day job that pays her to spend time on Facebook and Twitter, and that, on a good day, gives her time to let the voices in her head out into the world to tell a story. If she had to put money on it, she’d bet that if music didn’t exist, she wouldn’t be able to write. She’s lived in two countries, six states, and is currently holed up in Nashville with her husband, two cats, and the world’s friendliest golden retriever.

Can you tell us about your debut book, These Gentle Wounds, in 15 words or less?

No. 🙂

Okay, I’ll try….

A 15-year-old boy with PTSD learns he’s braver and more resilient than he thought.

Why contemporary?

My first manuscript was urban fantasy and I realized it just wasn’t me. I wanted the type of book that I would have loved to read as a teen and that needed to be grounded in the real world. I always try to write the book that I want to read.

What was your favorite scene to write?

My favorite scene is probably the one that was also the most difficult and that’s one where my main character, Gordie’s old brother 18187029Kevin is overwhelmed by his own issues and turns on him. It was a somewhat late addition to the manuscript, but it completely brought Kevin into focus for me. Really thought I enjoyed writing all of the scenes of them together.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I have a chaotic writing style that rarely ends up with pulled scenes.

Is this a standalone or will it become a series?

Definitely a standalone.

What else are you working on?

I have two more contemporaries in the works and a magic realism in third person that I’ve started recently and am kind of in love with at the moment.

What was your first reaction when you found out that you were being published by Flux?

Thankfully, I was very medicated because I’d done something horrible to my back. That kept me oddly grounded through that whole period.

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

There are two books in particular that I’ve read at various stages and that I can’t wait to hold in my hands. Emery Lord’s OPEN ROAD SUMMER which is out in April from Walker Children’s is a book I was lucky enough to read in ARC form and I just fell head over heels for it. It reminded me a lot of Anna and the French Kiss – completely not what I usually read, so that impressed me even more. It’s filled with beautiful lines and characters you want to hang out with.

The other is SCREAMING DIVAS which is Suzanne Kamata’s first YA book. It’s a manuscript I’ve been championing for…a long time. Sue and I were college roommates and I love, love, love this book, which is about an all-girl punk band in 1980’s South Carolina. It’s gritty and edgy and captures a place and time perfectly. That will be out in April 2014 from Merit Press.

These Gentle Wounds Synopsis:

What do you do in the wake of a life-altering tragedy? Survive.

After a horrible family tragedy, Gordie moves in with his half-brother Kevin’s family. It is an ideal arrangement, because Kevin is his safe haven and the only person who can deal with Gordie’s post-traumatic stress disorder.

But just as the fifteen-year-old’s life is becoming normal—star goalie of the high school hockey team, interest from an attractive girl—Gordie’s biological father comes back into the picture, demanding a place in his life. Now there’s no hiding from the grief and guilt, nothing to stop him from falling into a horrible tailspin. The only one who can help Gordie is himself . . . if he can find the strength to confront the past and take back his future.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18187029-these-gentle-wounds?ac=1

joy-author-pics-087Joy N. Hensley, author of Rites of Passage

Joy N. Hensley lives in the mountains of Virginia with her Aussie husband and two boys. She once went to a military school on a dare. She now spends every waking moment evading push-ups at all cost.

Can you tell us about your debut, Rites of Passage,  in 15 words or less?
Samantha McKenna fights to survive the first year girls are allowed at Denmark Military Academy.


When can we expect a cover reveal?

No clue! I’ve seen some comps but it hasn’t been finalized yet. It takes my breath away, though, even in comp form!
What was your favorite scene to write?
The sweatpants scene, no questions about it. My agent, Mandy Hubbard, still swoons every time she gets to it. 🙂
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
In the first draft, writing the climax sent me into such a deep depression. I love Sam so much and putting her through that was very intense. When it sold, Jennifer Klonsky at Harper Teen, and I decided to go another route with the climax. I’d spent so long fighting to write and then get over that scene. Cutting it was almost impossible.
What authors do you look up to?
I really love Katie McGarry and Simone Elkeles for modern contemporary YA romance. I also love Emily Murdoch’s poetic writing. She’s got such beautiful lines they make me want to cry. I have major jealousy issues with her. 🙂
Is this a standalone or a series?
Right now RITES OF PASSAGE is a stand alone. I’m hoping that there will be an opportunity for more in the future. There are so many stories left to tell at the DMA and I would LOVE to be able to share them.
Are you currently working on anything else?
I’m working on my second book for Harper Teen right now, as well as something kind of secret.
Can we expect you on Tea Time with Epic Reads in the future?
I love tea and I love epic-ness, so it sounds amazing! Where do I sign up? 🙂
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
Oh, is this a trick question? There are so many that sound amazing! I guess right now I’d have to say Jaye Robin Brown’s NO PLACE TO FALL, also coming from Harper Teen in the fall.
Rites of Passage Synopsis:
Sixteen year old Sam McKenna is in way over her head. As one of the first girls to attend the revered Denmark Military Academy, she knows she’s got a target on her back. Everyone and their freaking mother expect her to fail. But she can’t.


She’s practically military royalty—her brother is the DMA’s Cadet Colonel, and her dad’s a badass, emotionally-distant Lieutenant Colonel in the US Army. If she survives the DMA, maybe he’ll even be proud of her. For once.

But when Sam becomes the target of brutal hazing– a rubber bullet to the ribs, kicks to the gut during pushups–her job gets harder. At first, she figures it’s a few upperclassmen who think she can’t hack it, that she’ll drag down the whole cadre. She’s sure they’ll back off once she proves she’s not a weak link.

As she struggles to hold on, it’s a fellow “worm”—Recruit Kelly—and Drill Sergeant Stamm who are there, time and again. Picking her up if she falls. Giving her a kind word at the exact moment she needs it. Holding her together when she’s not sure she can survive another smoke show.

Dating her peer, Recruit Kelly, is forbidden. Dating her Drill? Forget about it. That line’s drawn so thick she wouldn’t dare cross it.

But as the threats and harassment grow darker, bleeding into every corner of the hallowed, prestigious academy, she discovers a centuries-old secret society, one that flared to life the moment girls stepped foot on campus.

And they’ll stop at nothing to drive her out.

Now, she must decide who to trust, and choosing the wrong boy could have deadly consequences.

 6549299Jennifer Longo, author of Six Feet Over It
Jennifer Longo’s debut novel SIX FEET OVER IT will be in book stores, libraries, and your hands Summer 2014 courtesy of Random House Children’s Books, Edited by Chelsea Eberly and represented by the resplendent Melissa Sarver at Folio Literary. A California native, Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Acting from San Francisco State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing For Theatre from Humboldt State University. She is a two-time Irene Ryan Best Actor award recipient and a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Best Full Length Script honoree for her play, Frozen. After years of acting, playwriting, working as a literary assistant at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, then as an elementary school librarian, Jennifer told the occasional story at San Francisco’s Porch Light Storytelling Series and decided at last to face her fear of prose and actually write some. A recent San Francisco transplant, Jennifer lives with her husband and daughter near Seattle, Washington beside the water on Mercer Island and her every hour is consumed by writing, running marathons, tide pooling, walking her kid to ballet class eleven thousand times each week and reading every book she can get her hands on.

From Publisher’s Marketplace:

Jennifer Longo’s debut SIX FEET OVER IT, the darkly comic journey of a fifteen-year-old girl who works in her family’s cemetery and struggles to find a place for death in her life as she fears she is helplessly doomed to be nothing more than some kind of maudlin death-magnet, to Suzy Capozzi at Random House Children’s, by Melissa Sarver at the Elizabeth Kaplan Agency.

Can you tell us about your debut, Six Feet Over It, in 15 words or less?

Finding a place in life for death, without letting it take over.

What genre is Six Feet Over It?

Contemporary Fiction

When can we expect a cover reveal?

Some time around the first of the year (2014)

When is the release date for Six Feet Over It?

August 26th 2014

What was your favorite scene to write?

There is a scene in the graveyard on the 4th of July that is this tiny moment with the three main characters, and I can’t even tell you how much I loved writing that thing. It’s not some big plot-advancing event, it’s kind of a one page character study of these people in this time, on this day, and it’s the best of them – not them being good people, not that sort of best, but I mean, the most intriguing parts of who they are right then. Plot-wise, it is one of the first times in the story where Leigh takes a breath. Made me hope the reader can take one then, too.

What was the hardest scene to edit out?

I still lay in bed awake at night thinking about this one! But before I whine about the scene that was cut, I will admit that when the title was changed (From At Need) I cried a little. Maybe a lot. I thought the original title was so perfect. As far as scenes go – it wasn’t even a scene, but an evocation of one, a description of an event that I thought really, truly captured the mother character’s temperament and reasoning in this interesting, just perfect way that was cut, and I hated taking it out. I am determined to find a place in my new book to fit it in. It was an editorial decision which I have to let go and trust, and maybe it’s just ego making it out to be better than it was. I really feel for editors – they’re just trying to get some narrative clarity out of their writers, and all we do is sob over a few cut scenes and sentences, like there aren’t fifty million left to get the point across! But oh my gosh, I used to send that section to people when they wanted to know what the book was about! It had all the color, the narrative style and the dialogue that I thought captured the whole story. It involved a dead dog, a disinterested mother, and my editor’s estimation that is was ‘Just too much – we get it, she’s nuts, we don’t need to kill any dogs over it!’ or somesuch logic. Makes sense. But to me, it will always be the greatest passage in a book ever written in the history of words, ever!

Is this a standalone or a series?

Stand alone

What are you currently working on?

I am currently revising a novel about an aspiring ballet dancer who, upon realizing she will never have the inherent ability to be a professional ballerina, goes to winter over in Antarctica to figure out where she went wrong in her life. And the hijinx ensue! Not really, it’s more angst-y. But with the bonus of ballet. And penguins. And Antarctic explorers. And romantic letters in the frozen, dark cold. Right now it’s called Winter Over. But I’m not letting myself get attached to that one! (See above.)

Another Washington girl! That makes me so happy. I’m asking for everyone else (but mostly for my own knowledge)…where is the best place to eat up by Seattle?

I am a very newly minted Washington girl! I do love it, though honestly I could tell you more about were to eat in San Francisco. However, I did go with a friend to Dahlia Lounge in downtown Seattle, and it was lovely, dark wood and lamp light and delicious food, and the first restaurant I’ve ever been to where I was offered an ‘amuse bouche’. They have a dessert of warm mini house-made doughnuts that the wait staff shakes in a paper bag full of cinnamon sugar as they serve them. Also, I live on Mercer Island which is just ten minutes outside Seattle, and there is a restaurant here we love, Stopsky’s Delicatessen. Jewish comfort food with a west coast sensibility (OMG did I just describe food as having a ‘sensibility’? You can take the girl out of San Francisco…jeez) But honestly, this place is so, so good. Eggs Benedict on made-from-scratch latkes, and my family is vegetarian so we love their ‘Sham On Rye’ sandwich…delightful. And the extra wonderful part about this place is that it’s right next to the greatest Indie bookstore, Island Books! They’ve got a separate Kids/YA/MG room, it is beautiful. Also, we’ve been exploring the close-ish Pacific Northwest, and I tell you what, I’ve never been happier in the past few months than while eating at the restaurant in Paradise Lodge on Mt. Rainier. It’s a couple hours outside Seattle but it’s the greatest place to eat. Right at the base of the peak of Mt. Rainier, it’s a gorgeous, classic mountain lodge, all windows and vaulted log ceilings and a huge fireplace in the stunning beauty of Mt. Rainier that serves amazing food and ginormous amounts of it, and they’ve got a drink called a Nisqually Nudge that involves chocolate, coffee liquor, and you forgetting any problems you may have had in your life before or since. I like how I’m talking way more about food than my book. Figures!

What is the best book you’ve read recently?

The best book I’ve read recently, and this is not a hidden gem in any way so forgive me, but leaving the ocean to move to Seattle has me feeling really, really homesick, which I definitely understand is nothing to whine about and believe me, I feel stupid even typing that sentence but truthfully, I am. I am really lonely for the ocean, so I have been re-reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift From the Sea. I love memoir, it’s mostly what I read for pleasure, and this book makes me feel like I am beside the ocean and reminds me that it is mathematically impossible to be everything to everyone every moment that they want you to – and that goes for writing, too. Writing to a specific audience is pointless, no book can be all things to all people. Also, it translates to always ferociously guarding one’s writing time, or whatever that J.K. Rowling quote is. The ocean tide will always be there, life will go on if you tell someone, “Sorry, I can’t. I’m writing.”

What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

 I have to say, I’m really, really looking forward to Pointe by Brandy Colbert. There’s the ballet angle, which grabs me, and even though kidnaping stories scare the crap out of me, I’m still so excited about this one because, come on – ballet! Also the author is from the Missouri Ozarks, where all my extended family is from, and now she lives in L.A., where said extended family also lives now – maybe we are distantly related. Brandy, call me!

Thank you so much for this opportunity to talk about Six Feet Over It! Talking (and writing) about writing and reading and books (and food!) with fellow book lovers is maybe the best perk of this entire process, so seriously – thank you!


Six Feet Over It Synopsis:

The darkly comic journey of a fifteen-year-old girl who works in her family’s cemetery and struggles to find a place for death in her life as she fears she is helplessly doomed to be nothing more than some kind of maudlin death-magnet.


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18769271-six-feet-over-it?ac=1


4011455R.C. Lewis, author of Stitching Snow

R.C. Lewis teaches math to teenagers—sometimes in sign language, sometimes not—so whether she’s a science geek or a bookworm depends on when you look. That may explain why her characters don’t like to be pigeonholed. Coincidentally, R.C. enjoys reading about quantum physics and the identity issues of photons. Her debut novel, Stitching Snow, is coming Fall 2014 from Disney-Hyperion, and you can find her on Twitter (@RC_Lewis) and at www.rclewisbooks.com.


Can you tell us about your debut, Stitching Snow, in 15 words or less?
Snow White in space, if Snow were a cage-fighting tech-head with daddy issues.
When can we expect a cover reveal?
Probably sometime after *I* see the cover! 🙂 I hear it’s pretty close, but I’m not sure yet when the reveal will be.
Why Science Fiction?
Because I’m a geek who grew up on Star Trek.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Anything with Dimwit in it, especially the two final scenes, which I jumped ahead and wrote pretty early in the drafting process.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
I don’t think any, really. A few scenes got replaced, and a handful of scenes got added. But I felt like it all made the story stronger.
Is this a standalone or a series?
What was your favorite quote from Stitching Snow?
“I’m no one’s wife and no one’s good time.” A friend of mine who read the manuscript early on drew me some fan-art with that quote.
Are you currently working on anything else?
Something that’s separate from Stitching Snow, but in the same vein. I’m also working on some earlier manuscripts.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
There are a LOT of great books coming, but I’d probably say Far From You by Tess Sharpe.
Stitching Snow Synopsis:
Princess Snow is missing.Her home planet, once known for lush landscapes, is now filled with violence, fear, and corruption at the hands of King Matthias and his wife as they attempt to punish her captors. King Matthias will stop at nothing to get his beloved daughter back—but that’s assuming she wants to return at all.Essie has grown used to being cold. Temperatures on the planet Thanda are always sub-zero, and she fills her days with coding and repairs for the seven loyal drones that run the local mines.When a ship crash-lands near her home piloted by a mysterious young man named Dane, Essie agrees to help him repair his craft. But soon she realizes that Dane’s arrival was far from accidental, and she’s pulled into the heart of a war she’s risked everything to avoid.

In her enthralling debut, R. C. Lewis weaves the tale of a princess on the run from painful secrets—and a poisonous queen. With the galaxy’s future—and her own—in jeopardy, Essie must choose who to trust in a fiery fight for survival.

1346125162A. Lynden Rolland, author of Of Breakable Things
A. Lynden Rolland was born and raised in Annapolis, Maryland, a picturesque town obsessed with boats and blue crabs. As a child she spent much of her free time compiling dramatic stories of tragic characters in a weathered notebook which she still keeps. She is a sports fanatic, a coffee addict, and a lover of Sauvignon Blanc, thunderstorms and autumn leaves.She is a former high school English teacher and a mother of two who moonlights as a writing tutor and gymnastics instructor. When she isn’t chasing her two vivacious boys or arguing about football with her husband, she can be found hiding behind a laptop at her local bookstore. She is represented by Rachael Dugas of Talcott Notch Literary ServicesOf Breakable Things, her debut novel, will be released by Month9Books in the spring of 2014.

Can you tell us about your book, OF BREAKABLE THINGS, in 15 words or less?

A breakable girl learns about the fragility of life, love, and perspective – after her death.


(15 words! That was so hard!! I have such a difficult time condensing my thoughts about OBT into one sentence, so I actually created a book trailer a few weeks ago to depict everything I wanted to say.  I think it nails the emotions, as well. If you want to take a peek, here it is:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6fyvnZyu4I )


That cover is creeeeeeepy! Is it a horror? If not, what genre would you categorize it as?

Technically, Of Breakable Things is classified as YA paranormal. It isn’t horror, but almost every character is dead. There are scenes (particularly one that takes place in an old asylum) that will make your heart race. What might surprise many readers about OBT are the psychological aspects of the book. The main character, Alex Ash, is living without a body in the world of the mental. She can’t see many things about her new world until her mind is open to it. And a few of the scarier aspects of the story, she wishes she couldn’t see once they do appear. It’s horrifying to think what a person might become if their mind cracks in a place where it defines them, but it was fun to write about creepy lost souls.


 What was your favorite scene to write?

My favorite scenes were the flashbacks to Alex’s and Chase’s childhood. They were born on the same day in the same hospital, but Alex’s mother doesn’t survive because she suffers from the same illness she passed on to her daughter. Chase and Alex take care of one another, and they grow up as partners in crime with Chase’s three older brothers.


 What was the hardest scene to edit out?

With Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Alex bruises and breaks easily. During a snow day scene, Alex pummels another girl during a sledding race and consequently dislocates her shoulder. Chase finds her that night in his laundry room trying to put on one of his sweatshirts. She doesn’t want to tell anyone she’s hurt because she knows she’ll get into trouble for being so careless. When Chase helps her to get dressed, the scene is endearing, but it also demonstrates the shift from friendship into something more.


There just wasn’t room for the scene.


Is this a standalone or a series?

It’s a series, but the first book could stand alone if it really had to. I didn’t intend to publish OBT when I was first writing it. I just wrote and wrote until the story was finished. It was over 800 pages! So, I obviously have a lot of ideas, many of which didn’t make the final cut. They are currently pinned to the wall in my office just waiting for a chance to be shared.


Do you have anything else planned or that you’re currently working on?

I’m currently working to finish the sequel to OBT. I also have a novel on submission called Color Me Blue. It’s about a normal town2833397 secretly divided into three societies. Children are initiated to fight for territory and other bragging rights. The alumni of the societies have gone on to become some of the most powerful people in the United States: politicians, athletes, entrepreneurs, inventors. The alumni sponsor the children who stand out the most.


Fingers crossed that we find a home for it soon.


 What is the best book you’ve read recently?

This comes as no surprise: The Fault in Our Stars.


 What is currently in your TBR pile?

I’m rereading Ender’s Game, which is one of my favorite books. I haven’t seen the new movie yet, however. I love all genres, and the books currently sitting on my nightstand are Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis, Fly Away by Kristin Hannah, The Hundred: Fall of the Wents by Jennifer Prescott. And once winter hits, I typically choose a Bronte book to reread. This year’s pick is Wuthering Heights (another longtime favorite).


Of Breakable Things Synopsis:

Alex Ash was born broken. Living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is like living on death row, but she is willing to fight for her fragile life as long as it includes the boy next door. Chase has always held the pieces of her together, but when he dies tragically, Alex’s unfavorable fate becomes a blessing in disguise.
In a peculiar world where rooms can absorb emotions and secrets are buried six feet under, Alex discovers she is anything but frail. Even among limitless minds, envious spirits, and soulless banshees, the most difficult aspect of Alex’s afterlife is juggling between Chase and his reckless brother, neither of whom are willing to give up the girl they both love.

So much for resting in peace.


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16050312-of-breakable-things?ac=1


7091823Danielle L. Jensen, author of Stolen Songbird

Danielle was born and raised in Calgary, Canada. At the insistence of the left side of her brain, she graduated in 2003 from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in finance. But the right side of her brain has ever been mutinous; and in 2010, it sent her back to school to complete an entirely impractical English literature degree at Mount Royal University and to pursue publication. Much to her satisfaction, the right side shows no sign of relinquishing its domination.

Can you tell us about your debut, Stolen Songbird , in 15 words or less?

Cécile is kidnapped by trolls. Instead of escaping, she joins the revolution to overthrow their king. I know. That was 16 words. Succinctness is not my forte.


High Fantasy can be extremely difficult to write due to all of the elements. How long did it take you to write it from start to finish?

I don’t know exactly how long it took me to write Stolen Songbird, because I set it aside to work on other things several times over the space of two years. I then spent about another year working on revisions with my agent. So about three years? I’m not a fast writer, so you won’t catch me doing NaNoWriMo. I’m more of a one long novel a year sort of author.


What was your favorite scene to write?

My favourite scene to write was the one where Cécile and Tristan are alone together in a boat on an underground lake. A lot of truths come out inunnamed (1) that scene, and it’s one of the most emotionally charged moments of the novel. It was also one of the most difficult scenes to write because it needed to accomplish so much. It got revised many, many times.


What was the hardest scene to edit out?

At this point in time, I haven’t had to edit any scenes out, but that has potential to change. My edits are not yet complete.


How many books will be in this series?

It’s a trilogy.


Are you currently working on anything else?

At this exact moment, I am working on the sequel to Stolen Songbird, but I do have an epic fantasy series in the works. It’s a bit too early to say whether it will amount to anything, but I’m itching to get back to work on it.


Do you think you’ll always write high fantasy or do you intend to branch out to other genres?

Everything  I’m working on right now is fantasy, but I wouldn’t rule out writing in other genres. I’d say the next most likely would be historical fiction – I’d love to write a YA that takes place in ancient Rome, but the amount of research required is a bit daunting.


What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?

That’s a tough question! I already know 2014 is going to be an expensive book buying year because there are so many debuts I’m excited to read. But if I had to pick one, it would be M.G. Buehrlen’s novel, The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare, because I love a good time travel story. Also, it has a killer tagline.


Stolen Songbird Synopsis:

For those who have loved Seraphina and Graceling comes another truly fabulous fantasy…

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever.


Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17926775-stolen-songbird?ac=1


5610666Annie Cardi, author of The Chance You Won’t Return

Annie Cardi’s fiction has appeared in The Georgetown Review, Vestal Review, Juked, What If: Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers, and others. She holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, where she served as assistant fiction editor for the journal Redivider. In 2011 she received PEN New England’s Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for the manuscript that would become her debut novel, The Chance You Won’t Return.


Can you tell us about your debut, The Chance You Won’t Return, in 15 words or less?
Alex figures out, first love, drivers ed, and a mother who thinks she’s Amelia Earhart.
When can we expect a cover reveal?
Very soon! The cover is up in various bookseller locations, but expect an official reveal (and giveaway!) on the Fourteenery site within the next few weeks.
Why contemporary?
I love reading other genres, but I’m so drawn to writing about real life teen experiences.
What was your favorite scene to write?
I had a lot of fun writing the Christmas party scene at Alex’s boyfriend’s house. It throws Alex into a totally different social setting and creates 13438564fun tension between her and Jim. Also, “Never Have I Ever” is a shockingly useful plot tool.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Originally, I had a lot of extraneous scenes at the end. It was like the ending of the last Lord of the Rings movie, with five different scenes that could have been the ending and everything all tied up. Without giving away too much of what’s still there, one was a more extended scene with Alex’s mom. With other additions to the end (which worked much better), that scene was unnecessary. I ended up taking out the one line I really liked and inserting it elsewhere.
What is your favorite quote from The Chance You Won’t Return?
I’m a fan of the last line: “We were trying to find each other again.”
Is this a standalone?
I’m 99% sure that this is Alex’s complete, standalone story. I’ve loved being in this world, with these characters, but they’ve told me all they’re going to–for now, at least.
Are you working on anything else?
I am! It’s another contemporary novel dealing with family drama and identity, but this one is much more comic. It’s an idea I’ve been kicking around for a while, so it’s been a lot of fun to spend time in this character’s head.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to?
Oh my gosh, I don’t know how to choose–there are seriously so many amazing books coming out in 2014. A few I’m psyched to read areBeware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker (a deliciously creepy Southern gothic), Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (about two girls caught up in desegregation in 1959), and Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs (a fellow Candlewick author’s debut about teens at a camp for the gifted and talented). For the full list of stuff I’m looking forward to, check out the list of debut authors at OneFour KidLit. It’s going to be a great year for reading!


The Chance You Won’t Return Synopsis:

When your mom thinks she’s Amelia Earhart, navigating high school, first love, and family secrets is like flying solo without a map.

Driver’s ed and a first crush should be what Alex Winchester is stressed out about in high school – and she is. But what’s really on her mind is her mother. Why is she dressing in Dad’s baggy khaki pants with a silk scarf around her neck? What is she planning when she pores over maps in the middle of the night? When did she stop being Mom and start being Amelia Earhart? Alex tries to keep her budding love life apart from the growing disaster at home as her mother sinks further into her delusions. But there are those nights, when everyone else is asleep, when it’s easier to confide in Amelia than it ever was to Mom. Now, as Amelia’s flight plans become more intense, Alex is increasingly worried that Amelia is planning her final flight – the flight from which she never returns. What could possibly be driving Mom’s delusions, and how far will they take her?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13438564-the-chance-you-won-t-return?ac=1


7123138Kristin Rae author of WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN

Lover of books, music, chocolate, and crafty things. YA writer represented by Marietta Zacker of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency. WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN comes out May 6, 2014 from Bloomsbury!


Can you tell us about your book, WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, in 15 words or less? 
Pippa ditches her summer program abroad in hopes of falling in love with an Italian. 
What was your favorite scene to write?
There’s a scene where Pippa and a certain boy have to whisper so they don’t wake up the other people in the room. It also contains my favorite line in the whole book.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
Once upon a time, the story started about three chapters earlier when my character finds out she’s going to Italy by herself. I guess I was writing18042393 it for me to learn about my character all along, but it was still hard that first time I saved the Word document without it.
Is this going to be a standalone or will it be a series?
Are you currently working on anything else?
Always! I have three works in progress. A YA contemporary, a MG contemporary, and one I don’t speak of.
If you could cast anyone to play some of the characters, who would you choose?
I haven’t decided if I want to share my visual inspirations for my characters just yet, so I’m going to keep passing on this question until I get talked into it 🙂
What couple do you ship from a different book?
Lola and Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. So much awkward cuteness, I can’t stand it.
What 2014 debut are you most looking forward to? 
SO MANY. I’m involved with two debut groups (Class of 2k14 and One Four Kid Lit) and I’m so excited to support everyone there, but some that are standing out in my head right now are ALIENATED (I’ve read the ARC, SO good!), THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES, OPEN ROAD SUMMER, SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY, WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE (I’ve read that ARC as well, SO good!), and THE BREAK-UP ARTIST.
Wish You Were Italian:
Pippa is in Italy for the summer and, despite her parents’ wishes, she has no intention of just studying the local art! She has a list of things of her own to do: from swimming in the Mediterranean Sea to getting a makeover – and falling for an Italian boy! As Pippa explores the dramatic ruins of Rome and Pompeii, she is swept into her own drama with two guys: an irresistible local she knows is nothing but trouble and a cute American archaeology student . . . Will she find her true love?The perfect reckless romance to enjoy whether you are home or abroad.
5805483Lindsay Cummings, author of The Murder Complex
Lindsay Cummings is the 20-year-old author of THE MURDER COMPLEX, as well as its sequel, coming 2014 from Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins, and the MG trilogy THE BALANCE KEEPERS, coming Fall 2014 from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins.Lindsay deals with chronic fatigue, can’t get enough of her two pesky German Shepherds, wolf cub, and two horses. She’s still waiting on her letter from Hogwarts–it was probably just lost in the mail. You can follow Lindsay on twitter @lindsaycwrites

Can you tell us about your book, THE MURDER COMPLEX, in 15 words or less?
 Two teens struggle to survive in a world where hundreds of people are murdered every night. (okay, I can’t count. is that 15?)
What was your favorite scene to write?
I love writing every action scene, and murder-y scenes. I just have a creepy mind, and It’s sort of like an action movie in my head. Love getting it out there!
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
I didn’t really edit anything out…more like added a TON in!
Can we expect you on Tea Time with Epic Reads in the near future?
I was already on Tea Time last week! You can watch the video on the EpicReads site, and there’s a little snippet of my book that they read! 🙂
You also have an MG book coming out  in 2014, The Fires of Calderon, what’s that one about??
The Balance Keepers is a really fun series, about kids who go to school in the Core of the earth. It’s full of fun action, humor, and has lots of cool fantastical creatures. I love the characters!!
I have to ask…has anyone ever told you that you look a lot like Brittany from Glee?-
That’s hysterical…I have SO many people tell me that!! I don’t see it myself, lol!
You are 22….22! You’re younger than me! How on earth are you a published author at 22? Have you been writing forever?13576132
I used to write little animal stories when I was in elementary school..cheesy letters to boyfriends in high school, and finally, actual BOOKS once I graduated. I just love to write!
How many books are you planning for The Murder Complex series?
There’s 2 full books, plus a novella! But you never know!
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I last read NIL by Lynne Matson, and I LOVED IT! It’s sort of like Lost for teens!
What 2014 debut are you most anticipating?
I really don’t know…there’s so many. It’s the year of Scifi books, so basically any scifi YA that’s coming out….OH! And also Rick Riordan’s Blood of Olympus!
The Murder Complex:
An action-packed, blood-soaked, futuristic debut thriller set in a world where the murder rate is higher than the birthrate. For fans of Moira Young’s Dust Lands series, La Femme Nikita, and the movie Hanna.Meadow Woodson, a fifteen-year-old girl who has been trained by her father to fight, to kill, and to survive in any situation, lives with her family on a houseboat in Florida. The state is controlled by The Murder Complex, an organization that tracks the population with precision.

The plot starts to thicken when Meadow meets Zephyr James, who is—although he doesn’t know it—one of the MC’s programmed assassins. Is their meeting a coincidence? Destiny? Or part of a terrifying strategy? And will Zephyr keep Meadow from discovering the haunting truth about her family?

Action-packed, blood-soaked, and chilling, this is a dark and compelling debut novel by Lindsay Cummings.

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