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How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Since her sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan has basically given up. Her grades have plummeted, she’s quit her swim team, and she barely recognizes the people her parents have become.

When she returns to her aunt’s run-down coastal Victorian one year after Chloe’s death, Callie resigns herself to a summer of guilt and home renovations. She doesn’t expect to be charmed by the tiny coastal town or by Tucker Morgan, a local boy brimming with sunshine.

But even as her days begin to brighten, Callie’s nights are crowded with chilling dreams, unanswered questions, and eerie phenomenon that have her convinced she’s being haunted. Will Callie be able to figure out what her sister is trying to communicate before it’s too late?

Interview

What authors/books inspired your writing?

Judy Blume, first and foremost. I’ve been reading (and loving!) her books since I was around eight. Also, The Baby-Sitters Club books, and the Sweet Valley High books; I devoured those series growing up. And, now, many of the current contemporary YA greats: Gayle Forman, Jessi Kirby, Miranda Kenneally, Stephanie Perkins, Jandy Nelson, Jenny Han, Sara Zarr, Lisa Schroeder, Katie Cotugno, Robin Benway, Emery Lord, Sarah Dessen, and Morgan Matson.

What is your ideal writing setting (outside, at a desk, etc.)?

I have a lovely desk that I never use. I like coffee shops okay for chatting with friends, but they’re too distracting for writing. Our local library is too cold. I wish I could write outside, but the sun creates a glare on my laptop’s screen – ha! I’m such a homebody. Ideally, I like to write on my couch or in my bed. I like it to be very quiet. I like to be warm, wearing cozy clothes. I like to have a candle burning, and a hot beverage nearby. Under those conditions, I do my best work. 

Do you have any writing exercises or habits?

When I’m drafting, I always start by reading and editing what I wrote the day before. That lets me reacclimate to the story, while limiting the time I spend going backward instead of forward. I’m also a die-hard Scrivener user. It has so many amazing outlining, drafting, and organizational features; I can’t imagine going back to Word.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

When I have writer’s block, it’s almost always because I’ve made a misstep somewhere earlier in the process. When the words just won’t come, I give myself a break. I take a walk or pull weeds or play with my girls, all the while letting the story stew in the back of my mind. Some distance, not forcing it, usually allows me the space to see where I’ve gone wrong. Once I’ve identified the problem I backtrack and fix it, and then I’m free to move forward.

Do you have a special connection to any of your characters?

I have a connection with all of my main characters (Jillian from Kissing Max Holden, Elise from The Impossibility of Us, and Callie from How the Light Gets In). To write from their first-person perspective, I’ve had to learn them inside and out. I’ve given them each one of my own character traits: I share Jillian’s fierce sense of loyalty, Elise’s desire to find the best in everyone, and Callie’s empathic nature. All three are rather stubborn, so we have that in common, too. I’ve also found that sharing a common interest with my protagonists—Jillian loves to bake, Elise loves photography, and Callie loves to swim—helps me connect with them all the more.

What does literary success mean to you?

For me, literary success comes in two parts. First, I hope to find joy in the project I’m drafting/editing/promoting. Not all the time—there are always frustrating and disenchanting moments in writing and publishing—but most of the time. Second, I hope my books will make readers feel. I hope they’ll become so invested in my stories that their emotions mirror my characters’ emotions. I think that’s the most exciting part of reading.

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

It’s kind of a mystery at the moment. I have a couple of projects brewing, both contemporary YA romances that have me inspired and excited. I can’t imagine writing anything other than contemporary YA romance, so I hope to be able to publish more books that are similar to Kissing Max Holden, The Impossibility of Us, and How the Light Gets In. Also, one of my favorite writer friends and I are in the earliest stages of planning something collaborative, which has been so much fun so far!

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Read as much as you can, both in the category/genre you write, and widely. Pay attention to your strong reactions, both positive and negative. Identify what the author did to invoke that reaction in you. Was it a fantastic twist? A super satisfying character arch? A line of beautiful dialogue? Studying and absorbing the practiced, polished writing in published books will do wonders for your own writing. 

About the Author – Katy Upperman

KatyKaty Upperman is a wife, mama, author, reader, baker, and wanderer. She writes novels for teens and teens at heart. She’s a Washington State University alum (go Cougs!), a country music fanatic, and a makeup stockpiler. She loves the ocean, pedicures, sunshine, Instagram, Dirty Dancing and The Princess Bride, Jelly Bellies, true crime documentaries, and Friday Night Lights.

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Just My Luck by Jennifer Honeybourn Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Marty has terrible luck and she knows exactly why. While working as a housekeeper at the ritzy Grand Palms hotel in Maui, Marty made it a habit to steal small items from the guests. What better way to stick it to the rich snobs they have to clean up after? Marty knows how to turn her luck around — she just has to return all of the items she stole.

When Marty meets Will, a new guest who is staying for the summer, she does the one thing she always promised herself she’d never do — fall for an out-of-towner. But Will’s special, different from the other guests at the hotel. Maybe Marty’s luck is finally turning around.

After a string of misunderstandings and accidents threaten Will and Marty’s relationship, Marty has to find a way to fix her luck for good — or say goodbye to Will forever.

Interview

What authors/books inspired your writing?

So many authors have inspired me — and continue to inspire me: Susin Nielson, Stephanie Perkins, Sandy Hall, Becky Albertalli, Emma Mills, Jenn Bennett, Lily Anderson, Rebecca Stead…just to name a few.

Did you always know you wanted to write Young Adult? Do you see yourself writing New Adult or Adult sometime?

I’ve always loved young adult books, so it felt like a natural fit for me when I started writing seriously about ten years ago. Over the past year, I’ve branched into middle grade and I’m really having a lot of fun writing those stories and hope to see them on the shelves one day. I do have an adult book that’s been kicking around in my head for ages that I plan to tackle someday.

Do you have any writing exercises or habits?

Writing is now my job, so I’m at my desk around nine in the morning on weekdays and I work until about three, unless I’m on a deadline, then I’ll sometimes work evenings and weekends, too.  I used to write in coffee shops before I had a home office.  

How do you deal with writer’s block?

If I’m feeling blocked, it usually means that I’m going in the wrong direction with a scene. I’ll take a short break and let my mind work out the problem, then I’ll take on the scene from a different angle. That usually works. I’ve also used the pomodoro method — just writing whatever for 25 minutes, see what comes out — and that has helped, too.

Do you have a special connection to any of your characters?

I love all my characters, but I have to say Wesley from WESLEY JAMES RUINED MY LIFE holds a special place in my heart. I love his optimism and sense of humor. I also love writing Shelby, my main character in WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU DEMONS.

What is your ideal spot for a summer vacation?

I love to travel and I love to go to different places. This year, we’re heading down the east coast, so I’m looking forward to exploring Washington, DC and Charleston, South Carolina. But in terms of destinations I’ve already been to, I’d have to pick Maui. I love Hawaii, it’s one of my favorite places in the world, which is why I set JUST MY LUCK there.     

What can we hope to see from you in the future?

I’ve written a few middle grade novels that I’m pretty excited about, so hopefully those will be published someday soon.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Keep writing! WESLEY JAMES RUINED MY LIFE, my debut novel, wasn’t published until I was forty. I truly believe talent is only part of it — the rest is hard work and perseverance, learning as much as you can about your craft, reading as much as you can in all genres, and a little bit of luck.

About the Author – Jennifer Honeybourn

JenniferJennifer Honeybourn works in corporate communications in Vancouver, British Columbia. She’s a fan of British accents, Broadway musicals, and epic, happily-ever-after love stories. If she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, she’d have high tea with Walt Disney, JK Rowling, and her nana. She lives with her husband, daughter and cat in a house filled with books. Wesley James Ruined My Life is her first novel.

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Mini Reviews – May 2019

43831563Chosen Champion by Elise Kova

Series: Air Awakens: Vortex Visions #2

Rating: 1/5

**I received an e-ARC of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review**

DNF at 30%

I just can’t do it with this series. The original series, Air Awakens, was amazing and I would recommend it to any fantasy lover, but this spin-off sequel series just falls short in every form of the word. I did the majority of my complaining in my review of the first book, but when I started reading the first few chapters of this one I realized just how much I really couldn’t continue with this series. Maybe it isn’t fair of me to rate this without reading the full text, but I’m pretty confident that this is how I’ll feel. The integration of stereotypical fantasy aspects such as elfin and using a different language for magic (both of which were not in the original series) are such a turn-off and feels like an attempt to pander to the audience. Even the characters seem flat and like they’re attempting to be more than they really are. I don’t see myself returning to this series, which is a shame considering the first series was so great.

CoverGirl Gone Viral by Arvin Ahmadi

RATING: 4/5

**I received an Advanced Readers’ Copy of this book from the publisher (PenguinTeen) in order to participate in the blog tour and to give an honest review**

This is one of those books where I went in thinking it would go a completely different direction than it actually did. The premise is essentially that the main character, Opal Hopper, enters a contest to try and face the man that saw her father last, just before he disappeared. But when Opal ends up going viral, she ends up getting a lot more than she bargained for. This book touches on some very interesting aspects including lying, fame, and nostalgia. In this near future, there is a group of people known as “Luds” that essentially hate technology. Opal notices that, even though everyone else claims that technology is the best thing, there is still some deep set nostalgia for the little things in life. After all, cooking a steak doesn’t have the same feel and smell when it’s in VR. Girl Gone Viral basically voiced everything I’ve heard or thought about regarding the truth, people, and technology and even brought in sexual harassment to show just how different people behave when they’re online. It also shows just how obsessed we become with our image and how absorbed we as consumers can become invested in the lives of others. There were so many directions that this book could have taken and during the last hundred pages or so I was wracking by brain to figure out what was going to happen, but the ending was what fell short for me. After such a fabulous beginning and a nail-biting plot points throughout the story, I turned past the last page absolutely certain I was missing the last chapter or that this was going to end up being a series. Overall, I definitely recommend giving this a read, but I wouldn’t set high expectations for the ending.

31450752Because You Love to Hate Me edited by Ameriie

RATING: 2/5

Villains are awesome. They’re usually the type that I gravitate to no matter what the genre is, but this was such a snore. Not only do I absolutely hate the Booktuber portions (I don’t have anything against the Booktubers themselves, I just think they were weak chapters). I didn’t really like any of the stories either. They had weak concepts like Jack and the Beanstock and The Little Mermaid as a siren. A lot of them felt strained and like each author just didn’t know what to write for their given prompt. If you like retellings you might enjoy a few stories in this, but overall I was just really disappointed especially with some of the bigger name authors that wrote books I love.

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Blog Tour – Switchback excerpt + Giveaway

About the Book

Ashton Hamid knows everything about gaming. His D&D battles are epic; the video game tournaments he organizes, multi-day tests of endurance with players around the world. Real life, however, is a different matter. So when he and his best friend—outspoken “A” student (and social outcast) Vale Shumway—head out on a camping trip to Waterton Lakes National Park with their Phys. Ed. class, Ash figures it’ll be two days of bug bites, bad food, and inside jokes.

Instead, the two friends find themselves in a fight for survival.

An unexpected October snowstorm separates Ash and Vale from the rest of their class. By the time the teens realize they’ve missed the trail, they have wandered deep into the Canadian Rockies. Lost in the wilderness and hunted by deadly predators, their only hope is to work together. But with Vale’s limited supplies and Ash’s inexperience, can the best friends stay alive long enough to find their way back to civilization?

Excerpt

Vale woke, heart pounding. Her eyes opened in the darkness of the shelter as she struggled to make sense of the strange sound that had woken her. What in the world was that?! Whatever she’d heard was nearby, but groggy from sleep, she couldn’t put a finger on its origin. Maybe it was just a dream. I could have—

“Maaa-a-a-am!”

The plaintive crying appeared a second time. It was high pitched, like a baby or perhaps a child, calling for its mother. Confused, Vale pushed herself up on one elbow. It was almost pitch black inside the lean-to—the light stick having faded into a dull green—but beyond the darkness, a circle of pre-dawn gloom appeared.

“Did you hear that, Ash?” she whispered. “Something outside in the…” She turned and her words faded as she caught sight of the bare patch behind her. She sat motionless, fear filling her like the cold that had spread through her limbs last night. “Ash?!”

He was gone.

Outside the shelter, something moved through the forest. The footsteps sounded like a person walking at a distance, or perhaps a dog moving through the snow. “Maaa-a-a-am!” the voice cried again.

“What the…?” Fighting panic, Vale struggled to pull on her coat, then crawled to the open entrance of the shelter. Her breath released as she stuck her head out the door. “Oh thank God,” she muttered.

A line of footprints headed away from the shelter, into the nearby woods. Though it wasn’t light enough to see yet, Vale suspected Ash had gone to relieve himself. Her eyes widened as she took in the scene beyond the shelter. In the hours since they’d fallen asleep, the seasons had changed. Outside the narrow opening was a winter wonderland; a heavy layer of snow covered every tree, bush, and mountain peak.

“Maaa-a-a-am!”

A branch broke and Vale jerked. From the far side of the forest, a flicker of movement drew her attention. A small shadow appeared, then another… and another. They came forward, appearing by degrees.

“Maaa-a-a-am!” the smallest called.

Vale grinned. It’s just a deer.

The fawn was half-grown. A yearling, at most, the spotted marking of babyhood half-faded on its flanks. Around it, other adult deer walked wraith-like through the trees, moving nervously away from the lean-to.

“Maaa-a-a-am!” the fawn cried again.

Vale watched, breath held, as the fawn passed directly in front of the opening of the hut. The deer held one leg up, its crooked three-legged walk causing her smile to falter. It can hardly keep up with the others. Vale leaned further out the open doorway, her gaze following the herd as they moved further into the trees, and the single fawn, trailing behind. She held her breath. Vale had never been this close to a wild animal before. She wished that Ash was here to see it too.

The fawn stumbled, then glanced back over its shoulder. Its gaze paused anxiously on the shelter, then lifted.

Vale smiled.

“Maaa-a—”

Everything happened at once: The branches directly above the lean-to shifted with a suddenness that shocked Vale into silence, a scream—like a woman’s voice melded with the roar of a lion—loud and near, broke through the wooded glade. Snow pellets smacked Vale’s face. The snow a few feet beyond the shelter exploded as a large golden animal—A cougar!—dropped from the trees straight above the lean-to and pounced on the fawn.

About the Author – Danika Stone

DanikaDanika Stone is an author, artist, and educator who discovered a passion for writing fiction while in the throes of her Masters thesis. A self-declared bibliophile, Danika now writes novels for both teens: INTERNET FAMOUS (Macmillan, 2017) and ALL THE FEELS (Macmillan, 2016); and adults THE DARK DIVIDE (Stonehouse, 2018) and EDGE OF WILD (Stonehouse, 2016). 

Ms. Stone’s work has received both recognition and literary praise. In 2017, Chapters included EDGE OF WILD in “Our Favourite Canadian Fiction”, and INTERNET FAMOUS was nominated for the R. Ross Annett Award for Children’s Literature (2018) as well as selected as one of Fierce Reads’ “9 Perfect Summertime Reads” (2017). EDGE OF WILD (previously entitled TATHAGATA) was a quarter-finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award (2013), a finalist in the Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize (2015), and took second place in the Publish or Perish contest (2015). ALL THE FEELS was selected for Swoon Reads’ fourth list (2015) and was nominated for YALSA’s Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers (2016), and for CYBILS’ Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (2016). 

Ms. Stone’s books have been reviewed by VOYA, Teen Reads, and School Library Journal. Danika has also featured in the BN Teen Blog, Clash, Quillable, Fierce Reads, Lethbridge Living Magazine, CJSR’s Word, and on CBC’s Daybreak. 

When not writing, Danika can be found hiking in the Rockies, planning grand adventures, and spending far too much time online. She lives with her husband, three sons, and a houseful of imaginary characters in a windy corner of Alberta, Canada.

Ms. Stone is represented by Morty Mint of Mint Literary Agency.

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