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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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Within Ash and Stardust by Chani Lynn Feener Blog Tour – Author Interview

About the Book

Having gone from kidnapped faux princess to the legitimate heir to an intergalactic throne, an impulsive, sarcastic teen must take charge of her own destiny in this epic YA novel.

On Earth, Delaney is a normal teenager who recently graduated high school with a fantastic best friend and a loving boyfriend.

But Delaney isn’t on Earth. She’s on Xenith, a war-torn planet half a galaxy away. Originally mistaken for an alien princess, Delaney has gone from kidnapped imposter to the recognized heir to an alien throne. Oh, and she’s engaged to the prince of an enemy nation whose ruthless father is on the warpath.

Torn between two planets, two fates, and two loves, Delaney is finally ready to choose her own destiny in Within Ash and Stardust, the stunning conclusion to Chani Lynn Feener’s Xenith Trilogy.



Praise for the Xenith Trilogy:
“A thoughtful, sexy adventure with winning characters just begging for a bedtime read.” —VOYA on Amid Stars and Darkness

“Feener’s world-building is excellent, and readers will feel engulfed in the culture, politics, and technology. The romance between Delaney and Ruckus develops slowly and satisfyingly. Give to fans of Melissa Landers’s Alienated and Ally Condie’s Matched.” —School Library Journal on Amid Stars and Darkness

“This debut makes for fun, fluffy reading.” —Booklist on Amid Stars and Darkness

“[A] pulse-pounding adventure.” —Booklist on Between Frost and Fury

Interview

What authors and/or books inspired your writing?

There are a lot of authors who inspire me, and keep me interested in writing. Whenever I read a good book I feel excited about the whole process and immediately want to go write something, so really I’d say most authors make that list. A few of my favorites, that are always instant buys for me, are Maggie Stiefvater and Marissa Marr.

What is your ideal writing setting (at a desk, outside, with tea/coffee, etc)?

I like to work at my desk with coffee. Always coffee. My desk is set up so that everything I might need last minute is in reaching distance—highlighters, extra pens, notebooks filled with notes on past projects, etc.—and I collaged the walls with pictures and stuff that I like and inspires me, so it’s the best place for me to work. When I’m surrounded by things I enjoy, it’s easier for me to focus. I also get easily distracted elsewhere; like if I tried working in the school library or the local coffee shop, I’d get so distracted by all of the people and people watching.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I have two methods. The first is to take a break and let my mind wander to something else. A lot of the time this helps. Getting burned out happens to everyone, so it’s good to give yourself a break and try not to overthink it for a time. Typically I’ll watch a movie or a TV show, or maybe draw or listen to music. If it’s really bad, I’ll plan a trip to the bookstore or the aquarium to refresh and hopefully gain new inspiration. If this doesn’t work, I’ll switch to method two, which is attempting to power through it. Sometimes forcing myself to just sit and write despite not feeling inspired eventually leads to good material. I’ll almost always need to delete and rewrite the first few pages I get out, but eventually those bad pages lead to better writing and before I realize I’ve got my flow back.

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

Weirdly, I think I have a special connection with Gibus. I just…really love him? He’s always come off a bit “mad scientist” in my mind, quirky and over the top, and sometimes really annoying to have conversations with (I imagine). He’s also really loyal, and overly curious, and I’ve always loved how he lives in that gray area. I mean, he is part of the reason Delaney was in this mess in the first place—what kind of inventor doesn’t keep track of his super dangerous inventions?!—and that was after he’d already been told to scrap the project entirely. I’d love to just write a book about Gibus being Gibus. I feel like that would be a ton of fun.

How did you feel when AMID STARS AND DARKNESS was picked up by Swoon Reads?

I’m not sure elated is a strong enough word, but that’s what comes to mind first. I remember getting the email to set up the phone meeting, and not wanting to get my hopes up for what that might mean. After the conversation I literally jumped around my room like a child—it would have been super embarrassing if anyone else was home at the time. It’s a big deal, when someone comes to you and says “Hey, you know that dream you’ve had for most your life? It’s about to come true”. It was both surreal and exciting all at once.

Which book of the trilogy was the most difficult to write?

Probably the final book. There were just so many things I wanted to fit into it and wrap up, and it was difficult to do that and still keep a balance with everything. There were also a lot of major plot changes that took place between the first and final drafts, so the book was constantly morphing into something else as we worked through it—which isn’t a bad thing, it just took a lot of time. I enjoyed writing it a lot, and really like how it all ended up, but it definitely was the most difficult out of the entire trilogy.

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

So far, I have another trilogy releasing in October, this one about Unseelie Faeries. I’m still writing a lot and trying to put other projects out there, so hopefully in the years to come you’ll be seeing more of me!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

To stick with it and write. It’s really easy to put off writing because life gets busy and you’re not sure if it’ll go anywhere anyway, but don’t focus on that. You’ll never know if you don’t try. Even if the final project isn’t what you hoped for, writing a book is a big accomplishment, and if that’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you should.

 

About the Author – Chani Lynn Feener

ChaniChani Lynn Feener has wanted to be a writer since the age of ten during fifth grade story time. She majored in Creative Writing at Johnson State College in Vermont, and graduated in 2012. To pay her bills, she has worked many odd jobs, including, but not limited to, telemarketing, order picking in a warehouse, and filling ink cartridges. When she isn’t writing, she’s binging TV shows, drawing, or frequenting zoos/aquariums. Chani is also the author of teen paranormal series, the Underworld Saga, originally written under the penname Tempest C. Avery. She currently resides in Connecticut, but lives on Goodreads.com.

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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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