There’s An Epilogue In This Freaking Book


When I started writing about Serengard six years ago, I would have laughed if you told me it would lead here: to a four-book series, the last of which is 430 pages long, and the launch of an audiobook.

It started as a dare. At 22, I’d been writing for most of my life, but kept every one of those writings under lock and key. Friends and family would glimpse an abstract chapter here or there, but read a whole draft? Nope.

I blurted out Coldness of Marek during NaNoWriMo 2011 with the intention of finally letting people read something I had written. I wasn’t sure if I’d be posting it on WattPad, a blog, or letting a dog-eared printout circulate at Thanksgiving, but I decided I would be emotionally uninvested in the outcome enough to not care who on the planet got their hands on it.

What could possibly go wrong, if I didn’t care? Well…a local press-for-hire told me it was one of the most well-written manuscripts they’d ever had submitted, and it went to my head a bit. Cool, I can churn out good writing in my sleep? Okie dokie. Self-publish that thing, make it a paperback, I don’t care. Let everyone in the fam have a copy, I don’t care. Good reviews and bad didn’t dent me much, because I’d seen the whole investment as merely a fun jaunt.

But something happened. I was asked about the sequel. There definitely was a sequel just screaming to be written. Hey, I had fun with NaNoWriMo last year, let’s do it again!

Problem: I got invested. Almost as invested as I had been in my lock and key stories. Dammit. Now I owed myself something. Now I owed my readers something. Now I had to let the whole world in on the little secret that, yes, I can write passionately…I just like to hide it. Knights of Rilch wasn’t a story that I could relate to, or that anyone else could likely relate to, but it came from deep in my soul and carried themes dear to me. Loyalty. The friendship between a brother and sister. Tough love. Mentors. Things I couldn’t just shrug a shoulder at.


Darci Cole, Narrator

Then came the weird and awkward task of revising Coldness of Marek to actually work within a series — a series I cared about, with a debut that I didn’t? Fun fun. The only thing to be done was to pepper in bits of story that I did care about. Deepen the villains. Hint at the many layers of the washed-up, bitter characters. Weave the two books together so they shared a bit of a bond. Saving Coldness was tricky, and it felt like making a patchwork quilt, but this was also the point in the game where I had several amazing critique partners and beta readers giving me invaluable feedback. I also found an awesome editor who helped it flow and make a bit of sense. Its second release in 2013 garnered a positive response that rather shocked me (is still shocking me!), and eventually led to the creation of the audiobook, narrated by the incredible Darci Cole.

The release of Knights of Rilch was one of the most exhilarating events of my writer life. The year it came out, 2014, I had two kids, and two books. I was doing the two things I loved the most: hugging my babies and writing. (I was also knee-deep in the online book world, which was already felt like it was changing too fast for me to keep up.)


Knights of Rilch Review Copies

The trouble with Knights of Rilch was that it was too long. I had to split it in two, into another book. (That other book became Rise of Orion and took on a life of its own.) I poured so much effort into getting Rise out there the same year so that Knights wouldn’t be left dangling, I burned right out. I’m not sure why I pushed so hard. It wasn’t smart. I didn’t even have the morale to properly promote it.

What floored me, though, was that Rise sold even better than Knights did. (And Knights did well, for the modest expectations of the amateur self-publisher I was.) I mean, I didn’t even email my friends to tell them I had a book coming out. I forgot to inform my local bookstores that Knights had a buddy. (The day I found Rise of Orion chilling on the shelf of Bull Moose anyway made me cry. I mean…they had my author name on auto-order?) I still run into people who say, “Wait, there’s a third one?” Yeah. And…the other trouble was…I had ended the third one on a cliffhanger. There wasn’t enough space in that book, either.

At this point, I realized I’d finally dug in and created a story with characters that had long, slow arcs. I’d put a fast pace on the plot and a slow burn on the timeline. I liked it that way…maybe even loved it that way. Rise of Orion certainly didn’t contain any neat little bows. The story must go on.


(Aside: who likes neat little bows, though?)

Blood of Ashlin was gnawing gently at my consciousness for all of 2014, while I was releasing two books and chasing two toddlers and wondering if I’d ever go to the beach again. I drafted it, revised it for a couple of years, and really, really took my time. The amount of frustration that went into it is hard to even quantify. It’s a story that’s a little too complex for me to summarize. (It’s supposed to be a summary in and of itself, actually.) It doesn’t explain everything — I don’t know that there is a way to explain what Serengard is or has become — but there’s a lot more paint on that canvas than I’ve flung at my past canvas’. And there might even be a neat little bow or two. I mean, this series is done, done. There’s an actual epilogue in that freaking book.

That brings me to today. A completed project. A series under my belt. Blood of Ashlin on the shelf next to the other three, where it belongs. Coldness of Marek beginning a new life on Audible and iTunes. I don’t know what this means for my writing career going forward, but I know I loved making this art, and I enjoyed sharing it way more than that lock-and-key-writer in me would have ever imagined.

BloodOfAshlinCoverAfter the death of notorious Seren king Altrun, Izannah Orion ascends the throne in Serengard under less than traditional circumstances. Ten years younger than she should be, and with questionable parentage, she is merely a stand-in for an heir that murdered his siblings and threatened to eclipse the kingdom in dark chaos. Against bad odds, Izannah quells unrest, forges treaties, and engenders trust where it is least expected…even in the thick-skinned, deeply scarred Captain of the Guard. more

Blood of Ashlin (Serengard, Book 4) Paperback/eBook
Amazon | Barnes & Noble |Books-A-MillionKindleKobo | iBooks | Nook


Coldness of Marek Audiobook

Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries – centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that its people no longer believe in. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is dedicated to turning the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion. more

Coldness of Marek (Serengard, Book 1) Audiobook
Amazon | AudibleiTunes



Three Announcements

At last. I have things to tell you, me hearties.

I do realize this blog, my Twitter feed, and newsletter have been silent for…a long time. If you’ve left off following, I blame you not. But if you’re still reading, stay tuned, for there’s much to hear.


FIRST ANNOUNCEMENT: New shiny thing (already announced on Twitter, but in case you missed it)… Coldness of Marek is going to be an audio book!

Darci Cole has done a masterful job reading it. If you know Darci, you may know that this is her first audiobook performance ever, and PEOPLE, YOU HAVE TO HEAR THIS. She has a silky smooth voice that truly does the story more justice than my clunky words ever did. Watch Instagram and Twitter for some teaser clips in the coming month. It will release February 26, 2018, and will be available for Audible and iTunes.

Now, since I’ve been writing it for three years, I’m sure you’re a bit tired of hearing about the fourth and final book in the Serengard series, Blood of Ashlin, but since the cover reveal is really, truly happening tomorrow (January 31st) on, it’s about time I tell you there’s an actual release date!

SECOND ANNOUNCEMENT: On February 26, 2018, the last of the Serengard Series will hit shelves.

(Same day as the audiobook of Coldness of Marek. Cool, right? You really should tune in to the cover reveal tomorrow, too, because we’ll be giving away an audiobook over there.) Blood Of Ashlin will be available at bookstores, and you can totally order it in at your local indie. Also available online at Amazon, B&N, Powell’s, etc, of course.

So basically, the entire five-year chapter of my life known as Serengard will be done. [Unless I miss it too much and have to release a collection of short stories.] OKAY, it will be over, I just had to put a caveat in there in case I have to eat my words in like ten years and write some random dark chronicle of Ric’s wanderings, you know.


THIRD ANNOUNCEMENT: the Street Team will be officially closing.

I’ll be sending out a batch of Blood of Ashlin Trading Cards as soon as they’re available, and new bookmarks, and then it’s over. I have SO MUCH heartfelt thanks for you all, I don’t even know how to put it into words. I’ll try to, when I send out the last Street Team packages. Until then, do stay tuned. There will be a lot happening in February, including some audiobook giveaways.

Thank you for sticking with me! <3

A mood board, just because.

These days I have to remind myself that, once upon a time, I released two books in one year.

I do not feel like that person right now.

I have been working on Blood of Ashlin for three years now. I know, “years” can mean procrastination, or not many actual hours logged, or too much distraction, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m prone to those pitfalls. The truth is, though, I’m enjoying this process immensely. I love writing this book, maybe too much. I keep adding more and rewriting bits of it and just in general being indecisive about what I want to cut out and what I want to keep. For the first two years of writing it, I would open the document and just kind of stare at the scary complexity of this story thinking, what have I done? But this third year, I am able to simply enjoy.

I do feel a bit guilty, because I know some of you are waiting for the final installment in Serengard. You might want me to actually finish so you can actually read. There’s a thought. Oh man…I want you to read this so badly. I do. I’m just in way over my head right now, in a good way. So, I’ll mood board like nobody’s business.

That’s actually just the first half of the book.

I’m starting to realize I have been this way before. This is actually the Rachel of the Teen Years. I used to write like no one was watching, because no one was. I’m a firm believer in keeping aware of the fact that people will be reading my words (hence the muchos editing), but I also believe we have to be true to each story’s core. I almost wish I could revisit Coldness of Marek and work on it long enough to find this blissful stream of agreement with the story. I know I encountered it while working on Knights of Rilch–I know because I remember wishing I could begin the entire series with that book–but I didn’t revel in it very long. I needed to be done. I honestly was concerned I would over-edit if I didn’t finish up, and probably, with that book, it was true.

All of that said, this has been in my head and in my Scrivener doc for basically a tenth of my life now, and I’m finally not struggling against it any more. I’m moving with it, and it’s glorious.

This is the second half. Completed novel coming this October. Or November. Or December. Soon, guys. Soon.

*All pictures used are referenced on my Pinterest board. Photo credits are there, as well as links to original files if you wish to like and share them yourself.

Serengard: Book Four Title Announcement + Dream Cast

Last week I finished the first draft of the fourth Serengard novel. It was a really hard book to write (what book isn’t, right?), partially because I was exhausted from pushing so hard to launch Rise of Orion, but also because it’s the final novel in the series. There’s so much resolution that absolutely has to take place, and it’s tricky. A finished draft is still a rough and ragged thing, but while this novel definitely has a lot of evolving and wrangling and rewriting in store, I finally feel I’m to the point I can start treating it like a real book.


I’m pleased to announce that there will be one more Serengard novel, and one more only; Blood of Ashlin will release in Summer 2016, and will be the final book in the series.

I’m now going to be entirely indulgent and post my dream cast for the entire series. A lot of these actors were a toss up between two or three possibilities, and I’m still not entirely decided (what else is new, lol), but here is the best cast I could conjure and it was ridiculously fun.

P.S. Even though it’s going to be a whole year before you can read this book, I intend to make it up to you by holding some epic giveaways this summer. Because you’re awesome.

           Kierstaz  :  Alona Tal    |     Mikel  :  Tahmoh Penikett    |    Trzl  :  Amy Acker

 500fullNUP_134387_2142Amy Acker

 Malcom : Colin Ford  |  Colstadt: Manish Dayal   |   Gernan: Daniel Henney  


   Sark: Sendhil Ramamurthy      |       Aura: Erica Tazel        |       Pier: Khaled El Nabawy


Izannah: Molly C. Quinn   |   Rendl: Eric Bana  |  Andrei : Steven R. McQueen


Sunn: Jamie Chung  |  Gavriel : Djimon Hounsou  |  Hodran : Daniel Gillies


Otreya : Kevin Costner   |   Riyev/Tanya: Gemma Arterton   |   Tierrof : Chadwick Boseman


Nerri : Kat Graham   |    Ric: Timothy Olyphant  |   Natalya: Mackenzie Aladjem


Burning Out and Gratefulness

I wrote about some of my author doubts and series struggles a few days ago. I realized after the fact that some of it had sounded pretty negative. It really was just some vital feelings that I just had to get out and into the cosmos, and at the time I wrote it, I actually felt pretty resigned and almost serene about it. But after I did, the reality settled on me: I’m experiencing burnout. I can’t seem to write more than a few hundred words, and they’re flat, tired words. I’ve been feeling alone and desperate, because writing is my favorite thing to do and when I’m cut off from it, it’s like all is not right with the world.

And then I read this post by Jenny Kaczorowski and I felt so much better. Not because she was burned out as well (I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, let alone Jenny, whose book I love), but because she has a game plan to deal with it, and the way she shared it gave me the fuel to deal with it, too.

The truth is, I haven’t been at this professional writing thing for very long. I used to write only for pleasure. I wrote stories because they made me happy all the way through high school, including a 137,000 word murder mystery. I could write 4,000 words a day without a hitch, because I was doing it purely for myself. I dreamed of someday getting my words out there for the world to see, but I knew that would be a long way off… Until my early twenties, when I started doing NaNoWriMo, revising like heck, and realizing that I wanted to get some of my stories out now.

I’ve only been writing for public consumption for just over two years. I’m not that adept at being buoyant, at dealing with stubborn book distributors or even saying a word of promotion about my own books. (Sidenote: I hate self-promotion. I hate it with a fiery passion.) I’ve needed hand holding, for sure, and I’m going to need more in the future. Not all of my stories are meant for self-publishing. I knew this from the beginning. But I did know that I wanted to self-publish a few. Those few were the Serengard novels. At that point, I wasn’t sure if it would only be COLDNESS and its sequel, or a trilogy, or what. I didn’t dream of a four-book-series, and yet here I am. 65k into drafting the final installment, I’m burned out.

I’m going to get through it. I’m going to recharge my creative brain and rebuild my fortitude because I love writing, I love this series, I love being read. First, I’m going to rest my brain a little. Read for pleasure, get back to journaling and bread baking, and clean my messy house…because that will make me able to breathe better. I’ve got a series to finish. But I do want to do it right, and if that means delaying the release date until 2016, I will. This series was a big, scary step for me, and I want it wrapped up right.

In the midst of all of this self-examination I realized some things I have to be very, very grateful for, and one of them is my steady audience. I mentioned that I said barely anything on social media the day RISE OF ORION released, and I haven’t said much since. But the amazing thing? It has sold quite well, without me having to do a thing. And I have only my beautiful, dedicated readers to thank. Even while I was hiding in a figurative cardboard box in the basement—crying because my hard work was out in the world alone but not in shiny paperback or bookstores—you guys hopped on Amazon and just freaking bought it. You placed your trust in me based on KNIGHTS OF RILCH or maybe the Sugar Cookie Latte I am drinking in my Twitter pic, and dropped $5 or even $13 on my latest epic. I owe you so much just for that trust. I know it sounds ridiculous, but that’s what keeps me writing for someone besides myself. It’s wonderful and I love you for it. <3


Thoughts On the Eve of the Year – 2015

This is my annual resolution post. Sometimes I have many, sometimes only one. This year I have a half dozen.

I want to do better at exercising, getting fresh air, sunshine, H20, all that important stuff. I want to spend more time schooling my 4-year-old, as he’s in a stage where he loves every bit of learning. I want to listen and reflect more and talk less. I want to hang out with my family without stressing out about work. I want to grow more things. I want to be less distracted by the internet and more focused on people. But most of these are kind of continuing resolutions–nothing new. Last year I said I wanted to live in the moment more. To enjoy life more. I’ve done that this year. I want to do it again next year, too.


I did a lot of reforming my eating and sleeping habits in 2014. I took many weeks off of sugar, some off of carbs, purchased a lot more produce from local farmers. I gave more back, fed more people, stretched leftovers, concocted new dishes, and wasn’t such a consumer. I went out of my way to buy healthy, organic, non-GMO food for our family. I spent a lot less daylight hours staring at a computer screen and I started rising before dawn and going to bed earlier. Some of this was about being healthier, but a lot of it was about disciplining myself and not being so lazy, haha. I feel better, stronger, and more focused this winter than I have in awhile.

It was a wonderful year for our family, too. We took a road trip. I got back to journaling. We had coffee with some old friends and long visits with high school besties. My husband and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. My 2-year-old and 4-year-old are both out of diapers, adept with Legos and sand shovels, and know the letters of the alphabet. We went to the beach, went fishing, went hiking, listened to audiobooks in the car.

I’m grateful for all of the blessings we’ve shared, for the friends who keep us grounded, and the family who has our backs. I loved this year. I hope next year is just as lovely (or even lovelier), and I hope yours is too! Have a beautiful, inspired, grand 2015, my darlings. <3


The Trouble With a Series, and the Upsides to Self-Doubt

One of the crazy things I did this year was put out two novels in the space of ten months.

I know, it’s not really crazy at all for most self-published authors. Many of you release five or six a year. Honestly, I could maybe draft that many in a year–as long as none of them had to see the light of day for awhile–but I’m pretty sure two full-length fantasy novels is my limit as far as publishing goes.

I’m learning that, while I love writing, publishing can be the pits. I take awhile to recharge creatively anyway. And not just awhile…a long while. Deadlines are my friends, for sure, but since publishing is so stressful, I need to factor into each draft/revision/rewrite a couple of extra months [for writer-brain mutiny] in which I dally off to dance around with old projects or start new ones or pen short stories or songs. If I don’t give myself permission to do this, I cease to be able to write. I end up bumming around the internet or staring at the ceiling. I also need to factor in a month (or four) after the pressure of each book release in which to wallow in ice cream and try to reacquaint myself with the joys of literature. Otherwise, I’m not likely to have the wherewithal to pull that excellent plot twist or profound line out of my hat, and I end up having to extend my deadline anyway.


Rise of Orion came out on December 2nd, and I was practically radio silent about it. There were so many weird little hitches with getting it distributed, it made me cry at times. Neither of the first two books in the series gave me this many problems. I mean, the first one was difficult, for sure, mainly because I was a publishing rookie. But for reasons beyond my control, release day came and Rise of Orion was up on Amazon and iTunes only.  It was not available though some of my favorite bookstores–Barnes & Noble, for one–and I just didn’t feel like proclaiming its existence to the four winds when the buy options were still so limited. (I appreciate Amazon for sure, but I don’t like to solely distribute through them. I love indie bookstores and smaller online retailers and I want to be a part of the book culture they propagate, even if I’m only a tiny part.) There’s always a low after the amount of adrenaline expenditure preceding a book release, and although I was extra bummed, I chocked it up to the fact that I didn’t feel it was real without the paperback in bookstores (especially since bookstore appeal was a lovely new thing I experienced with Knights of Rilch).

But maybe putting out the third book in a series was sure to be a downer, since there’s really no way to pitch it, to share about it, to be excited about it, outside of the group that has already read books one and two. There’s just nowhere to go with that indelible feeling that this is my best work yet. This is the masterpiece of my life so far. I’m damned proud of it, and yet it’s weird to even breathe a word of its plot because, without context, that produces the strangest looks.

But come on. It’s not like it’s the only 110,000 word novel I’ll ever put out. The final installment in the series will probably be that long (err, yes, there’s a fourth book). And after Serengard, I’m going to move on to new things. I’m going to write in other genres for different audiences. It’s strange to think that the manuscript I’m toiling over this very moment will someday be that little book I whisper under my breath about, “I can do so much better now!”

That’s one of the things with a series. Though I busted my butt on it, my first book is truly Rookie Me. It’s humbling every time I tentatively tell a new reader that my latest release is the third in a series and they have to start with book one. Because the now Better Writer in me winces at that less-seasoned debut and knows that it will be awhile before they get to the third, if they ever do. Pfft, they’ll never read my good stuff. They’ll never know I can do better. Oh God, where is the gin.

Or if they do…if they read Coldness and Knights and Rise…and read the fourth book…and ten years from now I’m spinning out literary historicals, will I blush awkwardly when someone mentions my foray into Epic Fantasy when I was still a twenty-something with two little kids and no one to talk to bookstore owners and work with editors but myself? Will it be real embarrassment (it shouldn’t be–I work hard, I make my own destiny), or just that touch of insecurity that every writer has deep down, that deep-seated self-doubt? It’s not like I’m not proud of my stories. I am. But I wonder how natural it is to see flaws with your past as soon as you can do something greater? Is it just me?

There are some books I am in complete awestruck euphoria over. I hug them and love them and put them on my shelf and gush over them, re-read them every Christmas break, and buy copies for all of my friends. I do this with wild abandon. I feel this way over books whose authors I’ve never met, authors who are dead, and authors who have an audience of twelve. And I always wonder if somewhere, someday, someone will feel that way about one of my books. If such a thing ever happens, you can bet I will still feel insecure. I will still have all the writerly doubt that comes with putting art out in the world. Is it possible to kill that doubt? Maybe. Would that be healthy? I don’t know. At the moment, I’m apt to think there is something good about this vulnerability. It’s what’s driving me to produce something more stunning next time, to make every novel I write more powerful than the last, to write every chapter of every story tighter, cleaner, stronger.

And that is always a good thing. I don’t even know where I was going with this, I just wanted to get it out. I may still have a touch of separation blues, but I’m glad I have another manuscript to give my full 100% to. There’s always another story. I’ll write more books. I’ll find new horizons. Maybe another series, even. (Don’t say the word “series” around me for awhile, though. Seriously.)

Rise of Orion Soundtrack and Mood Board

Rise of Orion is releasing in exactly ten days, so I thought it would be a good time to share some of the emotions of the story. For those of you who have been waiting for the playlist, here it is! Along with a mood board for extra atmosphere. Scroll down for descriptions of the songs.

Listen on Spotify | Listen online via Grooveshark | Download these songs on iTunes*

 The Mood Board



The Soundtrack

I decided not to reveal much of the story with the playlist this time because not only is it chronological, any more information would provide major spoilers. I’m just going to tell you to whom each song belongs and you can draw your own conclusions. ;)

Castle of Glass – Linkin Park
This is Mikel through and through.

Set Fire to the Rain – Alex Boye, Salt Lake Pops Orchestra (not available on Grooveshark)
Kierstaz and Mikel have a bit of a fight. There’s a lot of denial involved.

Only Hope – Mandy Moore
This is Aura’s. She’s calm in a sea of uncertainty…most of the time.

Stolen – Dashboard Confessional
Someone is in a little deep…

On Fire – Switchfoot
This is The Song With All The Feels. First verse is Aura’s, second verse is Mikel’s, the bridge is both of theirs.

The Unwinding Cable Car – Anberlin
Mostly Kierstaz’s. A little bit for each of the other characters.

Riser – Dierks Bentley (not available on Grooveshark)
There’s a reason why the Captain of the Guard is always there. This is both his and Kierstaz’s.

Sea of Lovers – Christina Perri

Strawberry Swing – Coldplay
This song always makes me think of Colstadt, but really it could belong to all of the Knights.

Running Up That Hill – Placebo
Otreya’s, Trzl’s, Malcom’s. All in the family.

Carry On My Wayward Son – Quietdrive
Mikel’s, when Trzl re-enters the scene.

Between – Courrier
“The space between the gallows and the gates…” No more need be said.

It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
Malcom has things to say.

King And Lionheart – Of Monsters And Men
Kierstaz has a sidekick…

Made For You – OneRepublic
A few eerie things. And a few good things. Mostly eerie things.

Haven – Enter The Haggis
Belongs to all the Drei. Pier especially.

Devotion – Hurts
Some things that Mikel needs to work out of his system.

Love Don’t Die – The Fray
Everyone in the story would say this in one way or another. Especially Colstadt.

Dust to Dust – The Civil Wars

Learn You Inside Out – Lifehouse
A scene with Sark that involves scars and dredging up old wounds and other such things.

Pompeii – Bastille
There’s a moment here where everything is deja vu, for every character. Nothing says it better than Pompeii.

Sing It Out – Switchfoot
Some more things Mikel needs to get out of his system.

Now We Are Free – Lisa Gerrard

*I use Spotify as a tool to find new songs and to spread around those I love via playlists. As a fellow artist, I always buy the music I enjoy so that I can keep it forever, but also so that the artist can earn a real royalty and keep making good music! Please buy music! <3

 About Rise of Orion:


After the Border Wars, Mikel Orion flees Serengard and seeks haven in the Desert of Aldad. Although he and his sister, Kierstaz, must become slaves in order to set foot inside its borders, the hot sands hold a bitter kind of peace—one he hopes to keep. But he risks destroying their newfound stability when he becomes entangled with an Aldadi girl. Aura has tragic secrets of her own, but she gives Mikel a purpose beyond his birthright, and when he leaves the Desert he carries scars that run deeper than skin.

Twelve years later, trouble brews in Serengard that threatens to pull in the Aldadi and the Drei alike. Trapped in a dungeon as the prize prisoner of Trzl—an orchestrator of the rebellion that killed his parents—Mikel is out of maneuvers. Even while Kierstaz gathers a force to attempt his rescue, Trzl transforms more and more into the hypnotic ruler she claims to loathe…and Mikel becomes convinced that peace has never been within his reach at all.

Rise of Orion is the third in the Serengard Series, sequel to Coldness of Marek and Knights of Rilch.

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Interview with Joshua Bellin, author of SURVIVAL COLONY 9

Hey Tuesday, you’re here with another book I’ve been waiting for! This one is a post-apocalyptic Young Adult novel with a serious side. The author, Joshua David Bellin, is a friend of mine, and when he agreed to an interview, I dreamed up the most random questions I could just for fun. Enjoy! And be sure to check out his novel today!

About Survival Colony 9:SC9 Cover medium

Forget the past. Fight to stay alive.

Querry Genn is in trouble.

He can’t remember anything before the last six months. And Querry needs to remember. Otherwise he’s dead weight to the other members of Survival Colony 9, one of the groups formed after a brutal war ravaged the earth. And now the Skaldi have come to scavenge what is left of humanity. No one knows what the Skaldi are, or why they’re here, just that they can impersonate humans, taking their form before shedding the corpse like a skin.

Desperate to prove himself after the accident that stole his memory, Querry is both protected and tormented by the colony’s authoritarian commander, his father. The only person he can talk to is the beautiful Korah, but even with her, he can’t shake the feeling that something is desperately wrong. And that his missing memories are at the very center of it.

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Released September 23, 2014 from Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster) ISBN: 9781481403542

The Interview:

Rachel: What are some of your favorite places to write?

Joshua: For the most part I write in my home office (i.e., half of my bedroom). But depending on what I’m writing, I sometimes like to plant myself in the actual place. So, for example, I wrote the parts of one book that were set in a forest in, you guessed it, a forest. And I’m hoping to be able to reserve a room in Thoreau’s actual birth house for a project I’m planning that has to do with the New England Transcendentalists!

Rachel: Oooo, I hope to hear more about this project regarding New England Transcendentalists. Being from New England myself and fascinated by Thoreau, I’m hoping it’s fictional and thriller-ish. *bounce bounce* Okay, tell us a) something quirky about your family, b) a sad pet story, or c) your best childhood memory.

Joshua: Oh my gosh, a sad pet story! We all have them, so maybe readers will identify with mine. When I was about nine, my parents decided I was responsible enough to have my own pet, and I really wanted a lizard. At the time, anoles were super popular, so that’s what I got. Little did I know that they’re extremely difficult to keep alive in captivity. Mine refused to eat or drink, and within several days, s/he died. At which point, realizing I’d been too busy trying to save my pet to name it, I choked out to my parents, “His name is George!”
On a less pathetic note, I do think this experience taught me something about the responsibility we humans hold toward the natural world—and how we don’t and shouldn’t possess it.

Rachel: Aww, poor George! Neat that you were able to learn from it, though. :) Who are your favorite authors to read, and how do they influence your writing?

Joshua: I have so many favorites, it’s hard to name only a few. There are the classics of speculative fiction like Tolkien, Wells, and Zelazny, the college standards like Thoreau, Vonnegut, and Morrison, and the modern YA writers like Collins, Dashner, and Bacigalupi. That’s only nine names, and it doesn’t even scratch the surface—plus I discover new favorites every day! So in my case, I’ve spent a lifetime assimilating all these writers, borrowing from them, learning from them—and then, when it pours out in my own writing, it’s practically impossible for me to tell where any particular thing came from. That’s why writers need to be readers: not so you can mimic specific techniques, but so you’re immersed in language and craft all your life.

Rachel: Definitely! I see this happen with my writing a lot, too — especially because I tend to read a different genre than I’m currently writing. Speaking of genres/categories, you’re known on Twitter and Blogger as YA Guy. Can you tell me a bit about how you fell in love with Young Adult?

Joshua: I fell in love with YA years ago, when I was a pre-teen and teen. Though the genre hadn’t been named yet, many of my favorite books—Then Again, Maybe I Won’t by Judy Blume, A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle, The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened by Don Robertson—would now be recognized as YA. So writing a YA book felt like a return, a coming home. The YA Guy moniker reflects that—I’m not just a guy who writes YA, I truly am a YA Guy.

Rachel: If you were a character in your favorite TV show, who would you be, and why?

Joshua: Well, my all-time favorite shows are Northern Exposure, Scrubs, Cheers, The X-Files, and Seinfeld. Choose a geeky character from any of those shows, and it’s me. (Joel from Northern Exposure, J. D. from Scrubs, all of the scientists from The X-Files, etc.) I’ve accepted my geekitude, and I’m not ashamed of it in the least. I love cartoons and monster movies, I can’t dance, and I’m completely inept in any social situation. Accept it, and move on.

Rachel: Ha, those are all of the favorites of my most beloved Language Arts teacher! *hugs you* And as far as social ineptitude, acceptance reached, geeks rule. ;) One last question: What kinds of things inspire you? Life experiences, social issues, human interaction, beautiful prose? All of the above?

Joshua: Like most people, I’m inspired by many things, whether that be a particularly meaningful encounter or a fleeting snatch of song. But deep down, what inspires me the most is the natural world. And I’m not just talking about things like the Grand Canyon; to me, the metamorphosis of a tadpole to a frog is every bit as awe-inspiring. In almost everything I’ve written—and Survival Colony 9 is no exception—the physical world is much more than backdrop: it’s what shapes my characters, tests them, haunts them. It’s a character unto itself, every bit as important as the humans who inhabit it.

Rachel: So true (about frogs–my kids and I enjoy them in the little pond just down the road from our house), and that’s truly gorgeous and beautiful (the physical world as a character), and something I wish I was better at in my writing. Thanks so much for joining me today, Josh, and happy book release!


About Joshua David Bellin:Bellin author photo

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to writing fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, but the sequel’s already in the works! Josh is represented by the fabulous Liza Fleissig of Liza Royce Agency. Josh loves to read (mostly YA fantasy and science fiction), watch movies (again, mostly fantasy and sci-fi), and spend time in Nature (mostly catching frogs and toads). He is the self-proclaimed world’s worst singer, but plays a pretty mean air guitar. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Release Date Change for Rise of Orion + Giveaway

It is with some sadness but plenty of certainty that I bring you this solemn announcement:

Publication date for the third novel in the Serengard Series, Rise of Orion, is going to be pushed from the original release date of October, 2014.

The new release date is December 2nd, 2014.

Due to the unexpected length of the novel and the amount of time it took me to write it, the final product simply isn’t going to be here until then. I owe many people for keeping me sane and helping this book live and breathe, and I owe you for reading my novels and sending me tweets and emails to tell me you’re excited about the next book. I hope the wait is worth it!

The cover reveal is set for October 13th on If you’d like to read and review early, I’m accepting ARC requests via this form. Four new Trading Cards will be released with this novel, so if you’re a part of the Street Team, watch your mailbox!

In case you need something epic to read in the meantime, I’m giving away a lovely set of The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo this month. If you haven’t heard of these books, they’re Young Adult Epic Fantasy set in a world based on Russia and they’re beautiful. Nikolai will steal your heart, The Darkling will steal your soul, and I can’t say more because of spoilers. Giveaway ends September 15th, 2014 and is open to US entrants only (I’m sorry!).
Thank you for entering, thank you for being a reader, thank you for giving me a reason to write!

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway Here

About Rise of Orion:
After the border wars, Mikel Orion fled to the Desert of Aldad with his sister, Kierstaz, in an attempt to keep their family alive. But the peace he sought wasn’t to be found in the hot sands, and when he’s driven once again across the border of Serengard, he carries with him much more than battle scars.
Now, trapped inside the Fourth City of the new Empire, Mikel sifts through the lies told him about his birth, his family, and his duty to the Seren people. He always thought Trzl was one of the worst of them. But what if she is as much a pawn as he?
Full synopsis coming soon. Releases December 2, 2014.
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On Writing Rise of Orion

I’ve been laboring quietly on my third Serengard novel since the beginning of March, my only outlet being an occasional complaint or victory shared on Twitter, and I thought it was about time I shared some details of the throes I’ve been in. Accompanied by some cute gifs. Because, you know, cute gifs are the best.

First, there was drafting.
I’m a messy drafter. I go off on bunny trails that end up having nothing to do with my outline. Somewhere around the middle, I end up losing my way and questioning the entire story. And that often leads to a Netflix binge, which, you know, is never fun (oh but it is), but then there are beautiful epiphanies and new ideas and ZOMG finally finding a voice for the novel and loving it. Rise of Orion was one of the sloppiest drafts I’d ever written, in spite of how long it took–just ask my critique partners. It was all over the place, and not for lack of trying. In some ways, I was embarrassed by my crazy and how long it took me to produce this tangled mess, but in other ways, I think I really needed to get some of the story out in such a raw form before I could make any sense of it at all.

And second drafting.
I ended up doing the same thing I did with Knights of Rilch: drafting the first half a year in advance (November/December 2012), letting it sit, and then completely reworking it (March/April 2014) before drafting the second half in May/June. Then I actually sent that second draft to two CPs and got notes back that helped me know where to go before my inevitable rewrite. I kind of hated to do this, because the version before my rewrite was sooooo bad, but their help (Darci Cole and Brett Jonas, you are superheroes) saved me from bunny-trailing into another 50k of turkey carcass shiz.

Behold, a rewrite.
My rewrites are funny things. Sometimes they’re more of in depth revisions, but I call them rewrites because I cut so. Freaking. Much. and then they turn into a rewrite midstream. The poor manuscript is unrecognizable when I’m done slicing it. I fill in the gaps with new words, puzzle the hot mess together into a third draft. All in all, I think I must be getting a little better at curbing my bunny trails, because with Rise of Orion I only had to scrap half the scenes during that rewrite. The rest of them just needed full overhauls. The trouble was, none of it came easily. I spent hours staring at the screen, knowing what I needed to say, just unsure of how to say it. In essence, I have two months worth of writing time spent in contemplative thought–or maybe in backspacing and retyping–because that’s how many months behind schedule I am.

And then came revisions.
The next phase is when I get more notes back from CPs and betas and start making tough micro decisions (special thanks to Amanda Aszman and Jenny Perinovic for the in depth help with my beginnings and endings!). At this stage with Knights of Rilch, I was still moving scenes around and nixing lines that I really loved. It got painful and involved many a late night moaning session, too much caffeine and too little sleep. But this third draft was a thing of magic. I found myself wanting to stay in this phase for months–adding dialogue, changing emotional tone, adjusting scene openings and closings–because I didn’t want it to end. I caught myself wishing I had time to put off my final revision because I just didn’t want to be this close to done with it. That’s not to say it didn’t hurt at all…but mostly it hurt when life got in the way and I couldn’t find time to be with it.

Killing a few more darlings.
The last revision is pretty much supposed to be full of pain, but it was bittersweet for Rise and I reveled in it. Even when I had to search and destroy passages that I’d held dear since 2012, it just…it didn’t sting. I’ve rewritten the entire ending sequence about eight times already, and I’m not satisfied with it yet. But I’m not sorry, because it means I get to mess with it a little more.

Line line line line line edits!
Last time, I loved line edits, because I finally hit a huge groove in tossing and tearing. People asked me how life was and I spewed gibberish about how in love I was with this story and these characters and their heartbreak but…nobody cared. This time, I’m just crazy nervous as I realize I’m almost done. It’s almost ready for ARC production. People are going to actually read it. You would think the pit in my stomach feeling would go away once I’ve successfully released a few novels into the world, but apparently not. I don’t think I’d be holding it together at all if it weren’t for the wonderful and amazing writers and friends who’ve been holding my hair back and reading my words and telling me they don’t suck.

Final edits, copyedits, proofread, artwork, ARCs, apples and bananas.
So that’s what it’s been like. Right now my fully revised manuscript is with my two fabulously irreplaceable line editors as well as two more of my longsuffering CPs, and when I get their edits back I’ll commence a final read through before sending the finished product to my editor (I would say copyeditor, but she does more than that because she’s a super ninja warrior). After she fixes the remaining issues in my manuscript, it will be ready for ARC production, artwork, proofreading, and actual publishing. That’s when I’ll be pumped on an endless high because it will be out in the world and YOU’LL BE READING IT. It won’t matter how many tears I shed over it or how nervous I was IT WILL BE A REAL BOOK!

The end. I love you guys.


Writing Process Blog Hop

I was supposed to post this on Wednesday but am epically late because my Wi-Fi at home went out for a few days and a I live an hour from a Starbucks (truth!). I’m posting as a part of Kelley Harvey’s Writing Process Blog Hop. I was tagged the lovely Jenny Kaczorowski, a fellow speculative and contemporary fiction writer whose first novel, The Art of Falling, was one of the sweetest books I read this winter. Here goes!

1) What am I working on?

I’m doing a third revision on RISE OF ORION that includes reworking the ending and the beginning, as well as getting the whole thing ready for line edits. Being the third in a series (and Mikel’s story), it pretty much drove me crazy during drafting, so I’m pretty excited to be into the later stages where it’s all just tweaking. I’m also drafting an untitled novel as a part of CampNaNoWriMo. I have about 30k written on that project so far.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

Probably my unusual use of timelines? I don’t do it in all of my manuscripts, but if you crack open one of the Serengard novels, there are two parts, preceded a chapter at the beginning to place the reader in the present. Part One is a flashback that takes up half the book, and Part Two continues the present story. It sounds so weird when I explain it, but because each book pivots around one of the central characters, and the backstory is almost as important as the present story, each protagonist gets their own flashback to the most important timeframe in their lives. It could be more character-centric than a lot of adult epic fantasy, but I hesitate to say that for certain. I just say it has few dragons and many heartaches, because the creatures and powers are minimal while the characters’ journeys and emotions tantamount. I’ve read a few Young Adult epic fantasies that could be described that way, and I loved them.

NanoStuff BNW

3) Why do I write what I do? 

I write fantasy because I love how layered it can be, how every event and word spoken can have a deeper meaning. This is true of all fiction, for sure, but in fantasy it’s somehow more vivid for me. Some of my books are darker than others, and that’s because I am fascinated with the contrast between tragedy and hope. I don’t think every book needs to resolve happily, it just needs to have resolution in what it set out to communicate, augment and/or portray.

I also love that I can create my own world and traditions, that I can pit humans in human struggles without excluding or misrepresenting earth history or culture. But at the same time, the opposite is the reason I love historical fiction. I love the truth in it, the fact that the other place and time I’ve been taken to was once a real, living thing, y’know? I almost feel like fantasy and historical are polar opposites, yet they are both favorites of mine.

4) How does my writing process work?

Oh man. This is hard because each novel I’ve written so far has had a different process. Some of them I sketch by hand for years before I even start drafting, some of them I sit down with a deadline and just write, some of them are abstract pieces of old manuscripts that I’ve decided to glorify into their own story. Two things remain constant, though:

  1. I must write linearly. Once I start drafting, I am not allowed to skip forward to a chapter that I’m desperate to write. I can write a barebones version of every chapter if I want, leave plot holes and very little description or conversations without context, but I must. move. forward.
  2. I must have a deadline. Even if I miss it, even if it means nothing in the grand scheme of revisions and beta readers and I end up having to strikethrough everything on my dayplanner, that deadline is what makes me sit down every single day and write.

Three of my books so far required a complete rewrite (ouch), but once I have a solid draft in hand, I send it to CPs, implement their notes, revise some more, send it to betas, revise some more… and then, since I self-publish, I go through line edits with my line editor and do a few read-throughs both to myself and aloud to my husband. After that, I get to send it to my editor and she works her seriously brilliant magic to fix all of the remaining problems with my writing. After her edits are in the finished product, I get it formatted for paperback and read through a hard copy of a real book with a red pen at the same time as my proofreaders do the same. And then I’m done!

Okay. I probably got way too long-winded, as usual. (This *might* have something to do with my love for series’…)

I’m tagging three writers for you to check out next week! They might post theirs on Wednesday…if their Wi-Fi is working! #fingerscrossed

Esther MeyerEstherMeyer
Esther Meyers is just some girl who loves classic rock and reads too much history (not possible), while obsessing over Supernatural and dreaming of future travels. She is an aspiring filmmaker and journalist, possibly an artist or archeologist, and hopefully someone who will finally finish and publish that darned Urban Fantasy novel.

BrettJonasBrett Jonas
Brett Jonas is a music and book lovin’, Christian, homeschooled girl. She spends her days on her family’s farm in Southern Indiana, making and selling soap made from the milk of their 50+ Alpine Dairy Goats. Once she’s done with school and work, she spends hours writing her own books and helping other writers with their own. When she’s not doing that, you can find her chasing her seven younger siblings or hiding in a corner with a book.

Lauren Garafalolaurenicon
Lauren writes Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Paranormal for Young Adults. She has an unhealthy obsession with exclamation points and the caps lock key, thinks going to the movies should still be an Orphan Annie style event, and fangirls like it’s 1999.

Behind the Scenes Release Week Blogginess


Hey there fellow book lovers! Once again I emerge from my writing cave with excitement from the book world. This time it comes in the form of a release week blog party for a Young Adult Contemporary Romance I’ve been anticipating since forever. Why? Because Dahlia Adler is one of my favorite people in the publishing world, thus I am ridiculously excited to read her words. Not only is she extremely knowledgeable about all things involved in and related to books in general, and an excellent source for recs when you’re feeling stuck, but she’s one of the nicest, funniest, most incredible people you’ll ever meet. Seriously.

behind-the-scenes-adler-coverHigh school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Indiebound

Sounds amazing, right?! I’m still waiting for mine to arrive (hurry up, UPS!), so I have absolutely no review as of yet, but if you want to read a pile of those, check out all the stars on Goodreads, or just, you know, grab it at your local bookstore because it releases today!

As a part of Dahlia’s big bloggy celebration, I’m sharing aDierks little “Behind the Scenes” into my life. The shadiest thing I could pinpoint about myself is that my secret alter ego is a songwriter. (Don’t tell anyone, m’kay?) Novels have always been my first love. Not a means of getting my feels out, but more of a an actual extension of me. With music, I usually grab someone else’s lyrics and hold them close. “This is what I want to say right now!” But I do have a few hundred songs of my own, so when you see me freaking out on Twitter because I’m obsessed with a certain songwriter and I’m literally gushing, it’s because there’s a huge part of me that intensely connects with those music people.

Here’s a song I wrote on the road when I was seventeen and only performed in public twice (the second time was at a barbecue, so it hardly counts).

Gas Station by Rachel O’Laughlin

are all gas stations this quiet
are all walls this blank
does anybody really have a destination
or are they just filling up a tank
sunlight beats on the asphalt but it can’t change the color at all

was this corner of the world created lonely
or did the wind strip it bare
did a flood wash it clean and empty
or is it just that you’re not there

are all mirrors this dirty
are all faces this tired
does anybody really want to be here
or are they just robots rewired
I’ve got a purse on my shoulder
and some high heels to make me look sharp

was this corner of the world created lonely
or did the wind strip it bare
did a flood wash it clean and empty
or is it just that you’re not there

are all gas stations this quiet
are all faces this tired
was this corner of the world created lonely
or is it just that you’re not there

I’m going to run to the corners of the world and find you
because it’s just that you’re not here

You’ve officially seen me backstage now! Before I go, here’s a bit about Dahlia. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter, and grab BEHIND THE SCENES as soon as you can!

DahliaAdler (533x640)

About Dahlia Adler:
Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and a YA writer and blogger at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and Barnes & Noble at every spare moment in between. Her debut novel, BEHIND THE SCENES, releases from Spencer Hill Contemporary on June 24, 2014. She is represented by Lana Popovic at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.

Connect With Dahlia:
Website | Blog | Twitter



Review of The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski + Giveaway

I don’t typically write reviews, but occasionally I come across a book that I love so very dearly that I must shout about it. I also posted this review on There and Draft Again.

 Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

At the urging of many a book blogger, I pre-ordered The Winner’s Curse long before release, received the gorgeous hardcover, and somehow managed to squish in reading it. I’m typically terrible about finding the time to joy read, but HOLY COW THIS BOOK. It gripped me. I stayed up way too late and ignored friends and simply basked in this masterpiece. (Also had a happy panic attack when this happened.) I have a hundred and one things to say about it, but I’ll do my best to narrow it down to four or five. First off, the writing. I loved some of the unusual descriptions that many people wouldn’t be able to get away with. Somehow the author was able to make them totally work. Those lines that I’m always afraid are a little too ironic or a little too intense? She puts them in there, guys! And not just anywhere. They are chapter endings. THE ACTUAL ENDING, ZOMG. This is what prompted me to gush all over Twitter that I think I have a kindred spirit, to run out and buy all her other books pronto. I’m now a crazy fan, thank you very much.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten my adoration for the writing off of my chest, there’s Kestrel. I haven’t liked a main character this much in years. She’s smart and cunning, and she knows how to use her intelligence without rubbing everybody’s face in it. Her personality was realistic and deep. I loved that she didn’t go around earning respect by being as tough or attractive as others. Instead, she was very much her own person, with her own tastes and friends and qualities and weaknesses. I love a character with a passionate streak, or deeply wounded with complicated motivations, even some who are harsh and unforgiving; but I also love a character with downright sense. Kestrel is sensible while still managing to feel things deeply, and she knows how to strategize around life crap that gets thrown at her. Basically, I adore her. Arin, the Herrani slave Kestrel wins at auction at the beginning of the story (thus invoking the “Winner’s Curse”), was expertly layered in every sense. His entire race has been conquered and made slaves — and that alone is enough to justify the bitterness he shows toward his purchaser — but he’s not whiny at all, and that made me literally want to hug him. He is displeased and incensed by his circumstances, so he sets out to change them, and he does so in a smoldering cloud of awesome. The conflict between him and Kestrel was crackling, and I liked it even more than their romance. There’s nothing quite like two honorable characters, equal of mind and soul, going at each other with words [knives, swords, poison, chains…ahem].

The secondary characters do not disappoint. Kestrel’s friends, Jess and Ronan (especially Ronan); an opponent of hers, Irex; and perhaps my favorite, Kestrel’s father, a general in the Valorian army — are all interesting, complex, and real in their own right.

Oh wait, General Trajan totally deserves his own paragraph because the father/daughter relationship is so freaking flawless. Kestrel’s father sometimes seems too unemotional and commanding, yet the way his wife died gives him cause to pull away AND cause to want his daughter to be as rugged and logical as possible. Also? He treats her as an equal. So much of the Young Adult genre eloquently reflects how idiotic parents can seem to a teenager, but I LOVE that someone decided to portray a teen that is actually pretty good at putting herself in her parent’s shoes and understanding him as a person (teens can be sympathetic and observant too, y’know). Trajan, although rather emotionally challenged, does everything he can to give her equal parts privilege and responsibility. And although she finds herself disagreeing entirely with his political views, Kestrel manages to never personally betray him — which, you know, just made me <3 <3 <3 her all the more.

I love that Rutkoski doesn’t shy away from showing many sides of mortality. There are slimy characters, people we think are well-meaning who turn out to be douchy, and there are beautiful, sacrificial souls that might have seemed shallow until the surface was scratched. (I AM rather bitter that we didn’t see enough Ronan in this book. I want more Ronan.) Nothing in the story was overtly magical, and that made me love it ten times more. Kestrel’s world is layered in history and humanity instead of symbolism and supernatural powers. I’ve always been drawn toward the more realistic/historical worlds in the fantasy genre — especially when the emphasis is on the characters! — and I’ve never felt that there is enough of them. The Winner’s Curse is the first in a trilogy, so there’s more coming, YAY!

Since I want more people to read this amazing book, but I want to keep mine close to my pillow, I’m giving away a brand new hardcover, right here, right now. Be sure to follow Marie on various forms of media so you can keep track of this series. I guarantee you won’t want to miss it. Giveaway is open internationally (anywhere The Book Depository ships!). Ends 6/20/14.

Enter the Rafflecoptor Giveaway

Buy the Book

Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children’s fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner’s Curse, the first of which was published in March 2014. Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the oldest of four children. She holds a BA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from Harvard University. Marie is currently a professor at Brooklyn College, where she teaches Renaissance Drama, children’s literature and fiction writing. She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

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Cover Reveal for One, Two, Three… by Elodie Nowodazkij

ONE, TWO, THREE...banner2

Today I am uber-excited to be a part of the cover reveal for a Young Adult Contemporary novel that I’ve wanted to read for a long time. This book’s blurb and first 250 words caught my attention when she entered them in a contest a year or so ago, and I even got to know her a little on Twitter and discovered that she is incredibly sweet. So I am pretty pumped to hear that One, Two, Three… will be released on June 26th and I will get to read it!!!

One, Two, Three…
by Elodie Nowodazkij

Publication date: June 26th 2014

When seventeen-year-old Natalya’s dreams of being a ballerina are killed in a car accident along with her father, she must choose: shut down—like her mother—or open up to love.

Last year, Natalya was attending the School of Performing Arts in New York City. Last year, she was well on her way to becoming a professional ballerina. Last year, her father was still alive.

But a car crash changed all that—and Natalya can’t stop blaming herself. Now, she goes to a regular high school in New Jersey; lives with her onetime prima ballerina, now alcoholic mother; and has no hope of a dance career.

At her new school, however, sexy soccer player Antonio sees a brighter future for Natalya, or at least a more pleasant present, and his patient charms eventually draw her out of her shell.

But when upsetting secrets come to light and Tonio’s own problems draw her in, Natalya shuts down again, this time turning to alcohol herself.

Can Natalya learn to trust Antonio before she loses him—and destroys herself?

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About Elodie Nowodazkij

Elodie NowodazkijElodie was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Modern Language & Linguistics, and later earned master’s degrees in German Cultural Studies and European Studies. Unbeknownst to her professors, she sometimes drafted stories in class. Now she lives in Germany with her husband and their cat (who doesn’t seem to realize he’s not human), and use her commuting time to write the stories swirling in my head. She’s also a serial smiley user.
ONE TWO THREE is her first novel.
And now, for the cover…

Isn’t it gorgeous?! Hop on over to Elodie’s Blog for a chance to win all kinds of prizes,
Tweet @commutinggirl to let her know how beautiful it is,
and definitely check out the creators over at CreativIndie Covers.