Blog tour: Review of The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee by Erin Petti

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From the time I picked up The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee I fell in love with the characters and the story’s plot. The main character Thelma is unlike other characters and I couldn’t get enough of her endless curiosity and need to learn new things. She reminded me a bit of Harriet, the main character of Harriet the Spy. The illustrations were beautiful and I found it nearly impossible to put down this entertaining and well crafted story.


ISBN: 978-1-938063-72-5

Illustrated by Kris Aro McLeod
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Ghost-story lover and debut author Erin Petti has written a quirky story for fans of The Goonies, Goosebumps, and Coraline.

In this fantastical adventure-mystery, where science and magic intertwine, eleven-year-old Thelma Bee is never bored. In fact, she has curiosity and adventure in her blood. She spends her time running science experiments, practicing Spanish, and daydreaming about exotic landscapes. But Thelma gets more than she bargained for when a strange woman sells a jewelry box at her father’s antique shop. That night, a ghost kidnaps her father, and the only clues are the jewelry box and a word the ghost whispered in her ear: “Return.” Now it’s up to Thelma to get her dad back, and it might be harder than she thought—there’s someone wielding dark magic, and they’re coming after her next.

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“Petti steadily increases a sense of suspense and dread. The worlds she creates, especially the ones inside the box, are imaginative and fresh. It is rewarding to read about a scientifically minded female protagonist, and that should help attract an audience. VERDICT Those looking for a chilling but quick read should enjoy this one, as will reluctant readers. Recommended for most middle grade collections.”

School Library Journal

“An inventive debut ghost story starring a contemporary girl with ancient powers.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Thelma Bee is the girl I always wanted to be friends with in school: a smart, funny, chatty little scientist who’d be endlessly entertaining even if she weren’t developing supernatural powers. Likewise, The Peculiar Haunting of Thelma Bee is a smart, fun, and inventive adventure down a fantastical rabbit-hole. Thelma’s world is brimming with wit, colorful characters, and unexpected thrills. (And magic, of course.)”


Neil Reynolds, writer for The CW’s “The Vampire Diaries”


Erin Petti lives beside some very tall pine trees in Massachusetts and loves to read about magic, dinosaurs, folklore, and ghosts. She has a masters in education and a background in improvisational comedy. Erin lives with her husband, excellent toddler, and very helpful cat, Lucy.


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Cover aesthetics

It’s day two of #ArmchairBEA and the topic is cover aesthetics so I’m going to share some of my favorite covers.

Metaltown by Kristen Simmons


If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo


The Startouched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Star-Touched Queen High Res

The Star Touched Queen blog tour (excerpt)

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The archives were cut like honeycombs and golden light clung to them, dousing every tome, painting, treatise and poem the soft gold of ghee freshly skimmed from boilingThe Star-Touched Queen High Res

butter. I was only allowed to visit once a week—to meet with my weekly tutor before I inevitably scared him away. Every time I left the archival room, my arms brimmed with parchment paper. I loved the feeling of discovery, of not knowing how much I wanted something until I had discovered its absence.

The week before, I had lost myself in the folktales of Bharata. Stories of elephants who spun clouds, shaking tremors loose from ancient trunks gnarled with the rime of

 lost cyclones, whirlwinds and thunderstorms. Myths of frank-eyed naga women twisting ser- pentine, flashing smiles full of uncut gemstones. Legends of a world beneath, above, beside the one I knewwhere trees boredible gems and no one would think twice about a girl with dark skin and a darker horoscope. I wanted it to be real so badly that sometimes I thought I could see the Otherworld. Sometimes, if I closed my eyes and pressed my toes into the ground, I could almost sense them sinking into the loam of some other land, a dream demesne where the sky cleaved in two and the earth was sutured with a magic that could heal hearts, mend bones, change lives.

It was a dream I didnt want to part with, but I had to settle for what magic I could create on my own. I could read more. Learn more. Make new dreams. But the best part wasnt hoarding those wishes to myself. It was sharing everything I learned with Gauri, my halfsister. She was the only one I couldnt scare away . . . the only one I didnt want to.

Thinking of Gauri always made me smile. But as soon as I caught sight of my tutor of the week, the smile disappeared. He stood between two pillars of the archive section marking the kingdoms history. Beyond the sheer number of things to read in the archive room, what I loved most was its ceiling. It was empty, wide enough to crawl through and conveniently linked to my fathers inner sanctum.

The tutor, as luck would have it, stood directly below my hiding spot.

What/Who were your biggest inspirations for the characters in The Star-Touched Queen? Roshani Chokshi CREDIT Aman SharmaWhich character in The Star-Touched Queen did you personally relate to the most and why? For Maya and Amar, they were inspired by the Hades/Persephone. But I imagined those two mythological characters a little more differently. In Maya’s case, I knew that ambition was her defining trait, but I wasn’t sure whether that would manifest as seeking emotional or material fulfillment. Turns out, it was a bit of both. Kamala was inspired by my love of fiendish side characters like Mogget from Garth Nix’s SABRIEL and is probably the character I relate to the most. Her sense of humor can be a little abrasive. But she’s fiercely loyal to her friends. Other people in TSTQ were inspired by a collection of people whom I met/knew/heard of growing up.

Have you always been drawn to Mythology and what are some of your favorite mythological tales? What myth specifically inspired Star-Touched? Always! I was raised on mythology. It was one of the most important outlets for me to connect to my Filipino/Indian heritage. My favorite Indian myths are Shakuntula, Nala and Damayanti, and Savitri. My favorite Filipino story is the Igorot tale of the Sky Maiden. My favorite Western myth is Hades and Persephone. TSTQ was specifically inspired by Hades & Persephone.

Let’s talk inspiration. What Indian folklore inspired The Star-Touched Queen and where could someone who might be interested in reading and learning more about it and other Indian stories (cough, me, cough) learn more? The main Indian folktales/myths that inspired TSTQ or particular scenes were: Shakuntula (plays on the idea of memory and forgotten loves), Savitri & Satyavan (bargaining with Lord of Death, wily females!) and Narasimha (the fourth avatar of Lord Vishnu who defeated the demon king Hirayankashipu). Honestly, most of these were stories I heard growing up with my family. But my favorite thing to read when I was younger were the Amar Chitra Katha comics! They’re these illustrated tales from Indian mythology and I love them so so so much.

What scene in THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN was your favorite to write? Definitely the scene where Amar and Maya are working together in the constellation room. I think it’s an important scene about interpretation, which, to me, is a major theme in TSTQ.

Did you listen to any music while writing this book? If yes, what would you say was your MOST played artist or song? Sometimes I listen to music when I write. It just depends on whether the song is distracting me or fueling some weird atmospheric part of the scene. Sometimes it’s just one song on repeat. I listen to a lot of hip hop. And when I pretty much rewrote TSTQ in February 2015, I felt furious. Not with anyone. But just with the story. Like it was itching to be told right and I was failing it. I think the songs I listened to the most with TSTQ was either Kid Ink’s “Show Me” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice.”

What is your dream movie cast for STAR-TOUCHED? LOVE this question. I’ve always envisioned Lakshmi Menon (the Sri Lankan model) as Maya-esque. Amar has some definite Arjun Rampal undertones (swoons forever). Gupta is kinda cheeky and nerdy, and reminds me of Imran Khan (actor not Pakistani cricket player). Gauri is cheeky, but fierce, so definitely Preity Zinta or Deepika Padukone. Nritti: Aishwarya Rai. And Mother Dhina: Rekha.

What is the most exciting part about publishing your first novel? Interacting with readers. Talking to the YA community gives me so much life.

How did you build your world and keep everything straight for STAR-TOUCHED? Flashcards, charts, webs, etc. I know everyone has their own tricks! Flashcards, backs of receipts, corners of napkins. Which is to say, I did not keep things straight at all. This is why you have beta readers. To throw virtual tomatoes at you and point out that given the rules of your world, you cannot do the thing you just did.

What is your next project? Is it in the same world as STAR-TOUCHED?

I just finished the companion novel to TSTQ! So, I’m hoping to get started on edits soon. I can’t wait for y’all to read it. I love it so much.

What is the one thing you want readers to walk away from STAR-TOUCHED with?

I hope readers see a little of how fairytales and folklore celebrate our shared experiences across cultural spectrums. And I hope their dreams are a little star-touched and that they close the book thinking they’ve tasted fairy fruit and walked through more than one life.

Author Roshani Chokshi pairs beautiful writing with a thrilling pace and compulsive plot, using her own Filipino and Indian heritage to create a culturally diverse and vividly imagined world. Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen? Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire… But Akaran has its own secrets — thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself. From an incredibly fresh voice, Roshani Chokski’s THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is a beautifully written standalone novel that will enchant young adult and fantasy readers until the last page. About the Author ROSHANI CHOKSHI comes from a small town in Georgia where she collected a Southern accent, but does not use it unless under duress. She grew up in a blue house with a perpetually napping bear-dog. At Emory University, she dabbled with journalism, attended some classes in pajamas, forgot to buy winter boots and majored in 14th century British literature. She spent a year after graduation working and traveling and writing. After that, she started law school at the University of Georgia where she’s learning a new kind of storytelling. More information on the author can be found at THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN: A Novel By Roshani Chokshi Published by St. Martin’s Griffin **Publication Day: April 26, 2016** Hardcover | $18.99 ISBN: 9781250085474| Ebook ISBN: 9781250085481 For more information or to set up an interview with the author, contact: Brittani Hilles at or 646-307-558 PRAISE FOR THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN BY ROSHANI CHOKSHI Listed as one of 2016’s Most Anticipated Novels by: Barnes & Noble Teen Blog We Need Diverse Books Paste Magazine Goodreads Buzzfeed Popsugar BookRiot Parade “A setting drawn from ancient India, romance with feminist sensibilities, and a unique magic system reminiscent of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone make this a novel sure to appeal to fans of Renée Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn. A stunning debut filled with lush writing, smart characters, and a mysterious plot that provides as many twists as it does swoons.” —School Library Journal, STARRED Review “Chokshi’s rich, descriptive writing weaves a lush web…a swoony romance, betrayal, and a journey to power and self-affirmation, with a slightly wicked, slightly funny animal sidekick in the best tradition (think Garth Nix’s Mogget as a crimson-eyed horse), work together to create a spell that many readers will willingly succumb to. Richly imagined, deeply mythic, filled with lovely language with violet overtones: this is an author to watch.” —Kirkus Reviews “This gorgeous debut promises big things to come from Chokshi, who at barely 25 has decades ahead to dazzle us.” — on “8 Life-Changing Novels by Twentysomething Women” “Chokshi’s first novel is filled to the brim with gorgeous, scintillating writing that easily draws readers into its new take on traditional tales. A unique fantasy that is epic myth and beautiful fairy tale combined.” —Booklist “A heady blend of mythology and metaphor, THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN is sure to appeal to fans of Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo. Maya is a great character, full of promise and patience, even as the odds are stacked against her.” —Romantic Times Book Reviews “Magic is woven into every word of The Star-Touched Queen. Vibrantly imaginative and gracefully written, I was spellbound from the first line. A dazzling, sensuous feast of world-building, romance, and mythology.” —Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author of The Throne of Glass series “A richly detailed world and a story filled with twists and turns, The Star-Touched Queen had me breathless right up until the final, stunning conclusion. It is a bewitching tale with a setting so vivid and unique, I wished I could step right through the pages.” —Amy Ewing, New York Times bestselling author of The Jewel “Gorgeously poetic writing gives vibrant, sensuous life to the worlds of The Star-Touched Queen. Chokshi never shies away from forcing her characters to make hard choices, and I was captivated by Princess Maya’s cleverness and determination as she struggles against fate and betrayal.” —Kate Elliot, New York Times bestselling author of the Court of Five series “A luscious, bloodthirsty fairy tale with all the romance, magic, and gorgeous mythology I could ask for, plus the greatest flesheating, talking demon horse I never knew I wanted.” —Tessa Gratton, author of The United States of Asgard series “The Star-Touched Queen enthralls with mystery and romance. Chokshi’s storytelling glimmers like magic on every page—a novel meant to be savored.” —Cindy Pon, author of Serpentine and Silver Phoenix

Guest post by Shari Schwarz and a review of Treasure at Lure Lake

Shari Schwarz


coverCedar Fort Publishing/Sweetwater Books

MG, Action and Adventure

April 12, 2016

ISBN: #9781462117901, #1462117902

Ages 9-13

Contact Info:



Twitter: @sharischwarz

Facebook: Shari Schwarz





Treasure at Lure Lake was a fairly quick read for me. The relationship between the two brothers Bryce and Jack reminded me a bit of my own relationship with my sister. I really liked the setting of the book and all the little details made it feel more real to me as the reader. There was many moments that had me gripping the book hard enough to leave finger marks. This is a perfectly written story of loss and forgiveness that I think people of any age would enjoy.

Short Bio:
Shari Schwarz lives in Colorado with her husband and their four boys. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE is her debut middle grade adventure which reflects her love for a good adventure story and spending time hiking and camping in the Northern Colorado Rockies.

Longer Bio:

Shari Schwarz lives in Ft. Collins, Colorado near the Rocky Mountains with her husband and their four boys. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE (Cedar Fort Publishing, April 12, 2016) is her debut which reflects her love for a good survival adventure story. When she’s not reading or writing, Shari can be found freelance editing, weight-lifting, gardening or watching her boys play football, basketball, cup-stacking, or wrestling. She frequently dreams of exploring Oregon Coast beaches or plotting out her next children’s book.

About the Book


Twelve-year-old Bryce’s best-laid plans for a backpacking trip with his grandpa seem about to fall through all because his big brother, Jack, is threatening to boycott the trip. But when Bryce stumbles upon a secret treasure map in his grandpa’s barn loft, he doesn’t mean to steal it or unearth a painful

family secret that will explain the root of the brothers’ conflict. Bryce is determined to find the treasure even if it means lying to his grandpa.

As Bryce, Jack, and Grandpa hike to a remote cabin in the Rocky Mountains, sibling rivalry clouds the brothers’ judgment, and all Bryce’s plans for an epic adventure go downriver. The boys must work together to survive the dangers of the wilderness, and each other, or the treasure and their family’s secret may never see the light of day.

My Path to Publication (can be used as a blog post):

In my fifth grade diary I have a list of goals written in the back. One is to write a book. And if you know anything about me, you know I love to dream…and I love to work toward my goals.

I started writing my book, THE LEDGE (now renamed to TREASURE AT LURE LAKE), December 10, 2013 after a quick facebook chat with a good friend of mine, Jenda Nye, who is also a writer. She encouraged me to start writing and, bonus! we could be writing partners!

The idea for my story was totally inspired by my boys and Gary Paulsen’s HATCHET. But I had NO idea what I was getting myself into when I wrote ‘The End’ on my first draft in February 2014, or what would happen when I plugged into the amazing writing community on Twitter in March 2014.

At that time, my parents were the first ones to give me valuable feedback and editing suggestions on my first draft, and I will always be so grateful for their support and guidance. Then, I sent out my first queries to literary agents in March 2014. Literally a year too early, but that’s what the learning process is all about…making lots of mistakes and learning from them. I’m thankful for each mistake along the way because they all have been a part of the path I’m on to becoming a better writer and story teller.

I entered TREASURE AT LURE LAKE in various online contests like #NestPitch, #JustPitchIt, #PitMad, #PitchSlam, #PitchMas, Operation Awesome, #AgentMatch, #SecretShop, Sub it Club pitch party (and those are just the ones I received requests from agents on) and queried widely over the next six months. Early on in the query process I received two “R&R” (revise and resubmit) requests–one from an editor and one from an agent. While neither of them panned out in the end, they offered sound and generous advice that helped me shape the early drafts of TREASURE AT LURE LAKE.

In the fall of 2014, after getting feedback from at least 30 critique partners, getting numerous rejections from agents and just a couple of bites (requests for fulls), I went to the Rocky Mountain SCBWI conference with my friend, Emily Moore, who I also met on Twitter but then got to know in real life! I learned so much at the conference, and Emily really helped me brainstorm ideas for some major changes in the story that got me excited again after enduring so many rejections of my work. It’s not easy putting your heart and soul into something and having a hundred people tell you ‘no, not quite right.’

One side of wisdom might say it’s time to throw in the towel, but this is a hard business to break into, so

I kept plugging away. I had so many people encourage me to press on, not give up and try again!

In December 2014, after a couple of close calls with agents, I nearly gave up on TREASURE AT LURE LAKE. I had also finished writing the first draft of a new book and started on another. Discouraged and heartbroken, I went for a long hike where I stomped and cried and yelled at God. Why is this so hard? So frustrating? I hated getting my hopes up over and over again each time an agent seemed interested only to be let down and disappointed when they said no.

So, I decided to let go and self-publish. By that time, I knew there were problems with my book, but I just couldn’t give up on Jack and Bryce (the boys in the story). I felt free and excited and a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of self-publication!

But then, in January 2015, an amazing online friend and critique partner, Sarah Floyd, told me not to give up and took a once over of the first few chapters of my manuscript. With her feedback, I was inspired to revise again and send out a small batch of queries. Full manuscript requests started to come in. I sent out more queries. More fulls were requested. Lots of waiting ensued!

So, back to the revision board…again and again. In March, one of my original critique partners, Sally Hughes Doherty, read through TREASURE AT LURE LAKE and gave me a thorough evaluation of my book which shed bright light on some problem areas I still had. With her brilliant advice, I revised again. A couple of contests and a few more full requests later, I felt like I was on the right track.

By this time, I wasn’t as prone to discouragement; my skin had grown thick. Plus, I had started reading manuscripts for a literary agent and could now see firsthand the numerous ways in which a manuscript just doesn’t cut it even if it is good writing or an amazing story. The idea of self-publishing became more and more of a possibility to me, and I started to research it.

Then one day, I saw an #MSWL call for submissions by an editor, Ashley Gephart, at Cedar Fort Publishing and decided to send TREASURE AT LURE LAKE to her on May 11th, 2015. By the end of May, I was completely shocked to receive an email saying they had accepted my story for publication! I literally could not believe it at first. I think I read that email ten times before it sunk in that it was real–not spam or a joke or someone who was going to change their mind a few days later.

After researching Cedar Fort, asking a million questions, talking to one of their authors and going through the contract, I‘m thoroughly blessed and honored to say that I signed with Cedar Fort’s general release fiction. TREASURE AT LURE LAKE is set for release on April 12, 2016.

Review of Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean by Maris Wicks

Coral Reefs by Maris Wicks is a great book for middle graders who are interested in marine biology. It’s a very informative book with beautiful drawings in comic book form. I learned many new things from reading this book such as coral is actually an animal. Besides learning facts about coral I also learned about how coral is at risk due to garbage and pollutants being dumped into the oceans. This book was a quick read for me and I’m better for having the chance to read it because learning new things from reading is always a huge plus for me.

Summerlost by Ally Condie release day blitz

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A Spring 2016 Kids’ Indie Next List Top 10 Pick! Summerlost cover

Named one of Publishers Weekly’s Most Anticipated Children’s and YA Books of Spring 2016

“Condie (Matched) strikes a deep emotional chord with this coming-of-age story.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Multiple, seemingly random details, including a family of turkey vultures that now roost outside Cedar’s window, an absurd soap opera narrative of a woman buried alive, and Leo’s quest for a trip with his father, coalesce into metaphors that help Cedar make sense of her grief and the life she now has to look forward to. Thoughtful, poetic chapter endings guide readers new to psychological depth toward meaningful connections between plot events and thematic reflections.” – BCCB

“A moving tale of friendship and loss. I loved these characters—I wish we could have been friends when I was a kid.” –Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fablehaven and Five Kingdoms series

“Ally Condie’s first middle grade book might also be my favorite out of ALL her books to date. Summerlost is a story packed with nostalgia, heart, and gorgeous prose.” – The Novel Novice

“A nuanced portrait of grief deeply grounded in the middle-school mind-set.” – Booklist

“Honest, lovely, and sad.” – Kirkus Reviews

“A sweet, heartfelt story.” – School Library Journal

“Achingly good.” – Summer Laurie, Books Inc.

Letter from Ally:

Dear Readers,

I think most of us have had our hearts broken. Sometimes we can see it coming, and sometimes it comes down with the unexpected force of a sudden gale of wind or a rising of waters that we thought were still and safe. Loss is universal to human experience, but the way we each feel and recover is one of the most personal things we do.

In Summerlost, Cedar is dealing with the loss of her father and younger brother. And my intent was to show how hard their deaths are for her. But this is also a book about the healing power of friendship. Most of us have been broken-hearted; I hope that most of us have also discovered the miracle of friendships that were just what we needed. Cedar and Leo’s friendship is based on someone I met when I was twelve. Like Leo, my friend was fun and liked to enlist me in crazy adventures (although we never gave a secret guided tour of our town the way they do in Summerlost). And, like Leo, he thought I was wonderful and of worth at a time when I needed it most.

SUMMERLOST is my attempt to pay tribute both to the pain we feel and the friendships that save us. Thank you so much for supporting this book, and for your willingness to give Cedar’s story a try. I hope it makes you think of a wonderful friend of your own, whether that is someone you met in the pages of a favorite book or outside, in the world where it is often hard and beautiful to live.

Best wishes and happy reading always,
Ally Condie



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BASIC DETAILSunspecified-6
By Stacy Barnett Mozer SweetSpot_Cover_96dpi
Spellbound River Press
Publication Date: March 25, 2016
Paperback: 978-1-945017-00-1
EBook: 978-1-945017-01-8

When thirteen-year-old Sam Barrette’s baseball coach tells her that her attitude’s holding her back, she wants to hit him in the head with a line drive. Why shouldn’t she have an attitude? As the only girl playing in the 13U league, she’s had to listen to boys and people in the stands screaming things like “Go play softball,” all season, just because she’s a girl. Her coach barely lets her play, even though she’s one of the best hitters on the team.
All stakes now rest on Sam’s performance at baseball training camp. But the moment she arrives, miscommunication sets the week up for potential disaster. Placed at the bottom with the weaker players, she will have to work her way up to A league, not just to show Coach that she can be the best team player possible, but to prove to herself that she can hold a bat with the All-Star boys.

Visit Spellbound River Press

One of the questions I get most often about The Sweet Spot is, “Why did you decide to write a book about baseball?” Were you a sporty girl? The answer is not simple and really goes back to the question of, “Where do ideas come from?” Some books I write come from a small moments such as family
sitting in a restaurant having a strange conversation that I overhear. Other ideas come from the love of certain book genres. But most of the time it’s an experience or a love from childhood that comes out in one way or another. The idea for this book started with a need to tell the story of my strongest memories, a camping trip my family took from Long Island to Wyoming and when I was 8 years old. On the trip we rode horses, climbed mountains, almost got trampled by a herd of cows … the normal experiences of an 8 year old. But no matter how many ways I tried to tell this story, it came out dull. The problem was that I was way to close too what had really happened. In order to make my character stand out from me, I turned the story on its end and had my character wow the boys at one of the campsites by being an amazing baseball player. When beta readers read the book the scenes they loved best were the ones where my character played baseball so I added more scenes and it eventually became a completely different book. I was honestly surprised by this turn events. Where did the baseball come from? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that baseball came from my childhood too. While I never played, baseball, or more specifically, the Mets, was a big part of my childhood. My father and I would go to games and even walked on the field of Shea Stadium for Banner Day. Baseball was part of my childhood as much as camping. So I guess it only made sense that one story led to the other.

Stacy Barnett Mozer is a third grade teacher and a mom. She started writing books when a class of students told her that there was no way that a real author who wrote real books could possibly revise their work as much as she asked them to revise. She’s been revising her own work ever since. Visit Stacy online at You can follow her on twitter at @SMozer and on Facebook at

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Interview with Jilly Gagnon, author of #famous

Can you tell us about your books?
Happy to! #famous is my young adult debut. It’s a fast-paced contemporary romance told from two perspectives, Rachel’s (the girl who took a picture of a cute fast food employee that blew up the internet overnight) and Kyle’s (the boy in the picture). But Kyle’s immediate fame comes with a cost–mostly to Rachel, who quickly becomes the internet’s favorite punching bag. As Kyle’s star rises higher, Rachel’s left wondering whether she’ll be totally eclipsed…until The Laura Show calls and asks her to step onstage alongside Kyle. Will they be able to handle the glare of the spotlight? And is fame–and love–worth the price?
What are you currently writing?
I also write adult comedy, so I’m working on the second and third books in a series of grown-up choose your path novels called “Choose Your Own Misery.”
In the YA realm, I’m just starting on a book, tentatively titled Presumed Dead, that is TOTALLY different from #famous. It’s got a central character trying to simultaneously run from and cover up her dark past, a disappearance, all kinds of mystery surrounding what happened, and three perspectives (because I apparently just love making it hard for myself)! It’s really early days on that manuscript, but I’m SUPER excited about it!
How long have you been a published author?
I write freelance for a lot of comedy outlets and magazines–assuming those count, since maybe 2007 or 2008? As far as books, the first in my “Choose Your Own Misery” series, co-authored with Mike MacDonald, appeared in January 2016. #famous is slated to come out early next year!
If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?
Say yes to everything. Write for the small online publication, submit to that random contest you come across, send your pitch idea into the local paper, maintain your blog. Not only will those things help you build up clippings (which won’t get a book published necessarily, but will help your visibility, which is important!), they’ll make you a better writer!
It’s so easy to say “I’m too ___ to write today” — tired, uninspired, busy, you name it! And if you only have one “thing” that you focus on–say novels–it really can be hard to find the motivation some days. But if you try your hand at all kinds of stuff, not only will you be learning about your craft, you’ll always have something else to turn to on days when the “big” project just feels like too much.
Beyond that: just keep writing. I wrote four books that didn’t get published before one did. Writing them taught me how to write. Failing a couple times will definitely hurt, but it will make you better!
Who are your favorite authors?
Oh man, this list could go on forever!
All-time faves include P.G. Wodehouse, because he makes humor look effortless; Roald Dahl, because the darkness and wit he brings to kid’s lit is unbeatable; J.R.R. Tolkien, because LOTR (and the Silmarillion–yes, I’ve read it); and Nabokov, because he was a genius.
Favorites who are still living (HA!) would include Corey Ann Haydu, whose books are so touching and honest; Jesse Andrews, because Me & Earl made me laugh out loud and then cry ugly tears; Joe Hill, because Locke & Key completely blew my mind; and Hilary Mantel. If you haven’t read her series on Cromwell and Henry VIII, you should, it’s amazing.
What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?
Definitely the entire Hobbit/Lord of the Rings cycle–I love living in that fantasy world. Harry Potter is the same, that world is so amazingly realized that you feel like you can live inside those books. I also love Middlemarch. That book is practically perfect, if you ask me. Reading it is like comfort food.

Interview with Hannah Rae, author of Just Whistle

Can you tell us about your book(s)?
I sure can!
I write magical realism, which is essentially realistic fiction with a hint (or two) of magic. For example, in my most recent release, Just Whistle, there’s an old farmhouse with rooms that come and go. They’re not in the floor plan and the characters can’t always count on finding them… but when a certain room is needed, it generally makes an appearance.
My stuff tends to be very character-driven and I’m a big fan of recurring characters. Both of my published works, Just Whistle and Like A Flip Turn, take place in a small Pennsylvania town called Lake Caywood. Readers are basically guaranteed to see some familiar faces each time they crack open one of my books, but the main characters differ from novel to novel.
What are you currently writing?
Right now I’m working on a race-against-the-clock adventure that moves from the east coast to the west. It’s about a girl named Jane (from Lake Caywood) who’s traveling to Oregon for her cousin Piper’s wedding.
That’s one half of the equation.
The other half is Jonny, a guy from North Carolina who, on a whim, also ventures to Oregon. Unlike Jane, he isn’t attending a wedding. Jonny’s reason for the cross-country trip is a girl—one he met years ago and can’t get out of his head. I won’t tell you who she is or if he finds her… You can read the book when it’s finished.
How long have you been a published author?
I’ve been published for a little over two years. I released Like A Flip Turn as an ebook two summers ago. Last summer, I released Just Whistle as both an ebook and a paperback. Lately, I’ve actually been doing quite a bit of editing on Flip Turn (even though it’s already published) because I would like to eventually have it available as a paperback. It’s kind of tricky, though, because Jenny Johnson, who is one of the three main characters in Flip Turn,has something called synesthesia. This means that she sees words in color. This also means that in Jenny’s chapters, some of the words appear in color. And that means that black-and-white printing doesn’t provide the same effect. *sigh*
But I’m determined to make it work!
If you could give any piece of advice to unpublished writers what would it be?
Finish the book.
Don’t stop and reread what you’ve written again and again, convincing yourself that it isn’t good enough. Just write the book. Get it out. Have a starting point and an ending point and take that journey all the way from point A to point Z.
Who are your favorite authors?
I really enjoy Alice Hoffman and Stephen King. Sarah Addison Allen’s early stuff is great too. Ray Bradbury was a genius and Maeve Binchy builds a town like no other.
What are some of your favorite books to read again and again?
Definitely To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. If I had to make a list of my top ten favorite things of all time—THINGS, not books—that would be on the list. I love it!
Other titles that I never get tired of reading include The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Dandelion Wine andSomething Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. That last one… whoa. I don’t know how Atkinson managed to keep everything straight in her head while writing it! Life After Life is such an amazing accomplishment.