One of my Favorite Debut Moments + How to Win an ARC of FLASHFALL

 

My publisher is giving away 14 advanced reader copies of Flashfall over on Goodreads! If you’re interested in reading my book–weeks before its November 15 release date, then hop on over and enter the giveaway. It only shows up on computers (not phones or iPads,) and ends 9-27-16. Good luck!

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This photo captures one of my favorite moments from my debut year. These wonderful (fellow writer) friends of mine waited in line for the Fierce Reads Teen Day event at the RT Booklovers’ Convention–in order to get their hands on the first ARCs of FLASHFALL to go out into the world. I’ll never forget looking up from the table where I was signing and seeing them holding my book, grinning. I leaped up and hugged them, and nearly started crying.

Dream moments are even better when we get to share them with people who care about us. Thanks for following my publishing journey. I hope it inspires you to keep dreaming and reaching for your own happy-tears moments.

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You can find FLASHFALL at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Indiebound, or request it from your local library.

 

 

First Peek at FLASHFALL

Something exciting happened this past week. My publisher sent me first pass pages, and I got my first glimpse of how Flashfall will look in book form. For the first time, my book baby is looking . . . bookish. I paged through eagerly, taking in every font choice and chapter heading. All those words I’ve written and scrutinized over the past year, suddenly looked different–more real somehow.

The copyright page sort of took my breath away. This dream has been a long time in the works, and seeing my name there did something pretty fluttery to my heart.

copyright

Surprisingly, this wasn’t the moment I teared up. Nor was it the title page or dedication. While reading the final two sentences of my manuscript, the words blurred unexpectedly, and my breath sort of stuttered. It hit me: this is it.

My debut book is done.

In just a few months, Flashfall will be out in the world. I can’t quite wrap my mind around that. SO MANY FEELS. But for now, I’m going to celebrate this moment, this first glimpse of it in book-like form.

It feels a bit like I’ve hiked a steep path, and now I’ve got my feet propped on a ledge, taking in the view. If you are striving toward your own goals and dreams, I wish you moments like this–times you realize that all your hard work has led to something special. May you be able to enjoy the vistas along the way, buoyed by the conviction that the dedication, risks, and sacrifices have been worth it.

Here’s a peek at page one.

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Stepping Into My Debut Year

2016

                                                January 1st | Aliso Beach, CA

In the past year of publishing “rookie-dom,” I’ve grown accustomed to walking blindly into new situations. And last year, from my first edit letter, to my last round of revisions—there were a lot of them.

Now my debut year is finally here, and once again, I’ll be stepping into moments that take me several strides from my comfort zone. But that’s usually where the good stuff happens–when we reach past our usual, everyday boundaries, and stretch toward something new. Something different. Maybe even something we can’t see clearly.

steps

I believe strongly in painting a clear picture of my dreams and aspirations. I’ve filled cork boards with pictures and words torn from magazines, and have lists of goals etched in journals. They’ve served as touchstones over the years, keeping me on course, driving me past weariness and discouragement.

Reminding me to reach.

I’m currently at work on Book Two in the FLASHFALL series. It’s daunting at times. Writing a second book comes with all kinds of challenges, new sets of concerns and doubts. Expanding worlds, giving fresh arcs to old characters. I’m not even sure how to end it because a third book is just a glimmer of possibility.

But more than that, there’s the fear of simply writing. I wrote FLASHFALL differently. It was more than two years ago—I was a different writer, a different person in many ways. What if I don’t have “it” in me in the same way?

I will have to reach for something new.

pencils

                            A gift from my editor. Fortunately, she gave me options.

In the publishing world, there’s much rejection, disappointment, and disillusionment. I’ve felt them ALL, many times. But there’s also so much possibility if you don’t allow those things to have the final say.

I thought carefully about a word I’d choose as sort of a theme for 2016, one that captured my goals for this next season, these steps into debut territory. I stood on the beach on New Year’s Day, still not certain, not even when I picked up a bit of sea stone and bent toward the sand.

I suppose I shouldn’t  surprised. This one’s been calling to me for a long time.

reach

Reach . . . past failure. Learn from it. Use it to move forward.

Reach . . . for the absolute stars. How else will you get there?

Reach . . . despite other people’s doubts. Despite your own doubts.

Reach . . . inside yourself. Find the depths you didn’t know you had.

Reach . . . past fear, or you’ll never grab hold of your dreams.

As I stand on the cusp of this brand new year, I’m filled with gratitude. There’s uncertainty mixed in, but I remind myself there is freedom in embracing the unknown. Every page of this next book is a challenge, a charge into new territory, but I’m going to dive in. There will be crap writing days–times when I reach for words that won’t come, or plot lines that allude my grasp. On those days I’ll look at my little beach stone on my desk. It will remind me of what I wrote in the sand during a time when all I saw was possibility.

Maybe this will inspire your own journey. Maybe you need this word, this reminder, as much as I do. Or maybe you have your own.

Whatever you do this new year, I hope you find the courage to do it bravely.

Author to Author + Book Review: HOW WE FALL by Kate Brauning

One of the best things about being a debut author has been getting to know some of the other amazing young adult authors. I had the privilege of meeting Kate Brauning at a conference where we instantly connected. We discussed writing, her publishing journey, and some of the things that inspired her to write her debut, HOW WE FALL.

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Summary:

When Jackie’s best friend leaves town and is feared murdered, Jackie throws herself into a relationship with her cousin that neither of them can control. Neither Jackie nor Marcus can separate love from obsession.
As the long, hot summer lengthens, they grow closer, despite their best efforts to stay apart, despite knowing that their secret love could tear their families apart.

Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn’t right about this stranger, and Jackie’s suspicions about the new girl’s secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus.

When Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else’s lies, the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

How We Fall is available through:
Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound |Walmart.com |Books-A-Million |Book
Depository| Powell’s |Walmart |Target
Amazon.com| Amazon.ca Amazon.co.uk

Find HOW WE FALL on Goodreads

My Review:

HOW WE FALL is a captivating read—a thrilling page-turner with an achingly powerful love story.

It’s hard to believe this is Brauning’s debut because she is such a masterful writer—particularly in terms of character and dialogue. I knew I was in good hands from the first page. The main character, Jackie, is a strong character with a bit of an ‘old soul’, a witty voice, and moments of raw, teenage vulnerability.

Brauning peels back a curtain on a social dynamic I have never experienced, and she does it with authenticity that rings from every page. Rarely have characters felt so real to me as they did in this story. I enjoyed the banter between Jackie and Marcus so much, that I re-read entire scenes!

I enjoy stories about conflicted love and romance, and this book approaches this in a construct I’d never read before. HOW WE FALL explores the relationship of best friends and cousins, Jackie and Marcus, whose families happen to live together. This aspect of the book is fascinating. Brauning’s portrayal of the sort of ‘hippy’ parents and their unusual community style of parenting is an utterly unique setting, and the catalyst for much of the tension between Jackie and Marcus. The two are thrown together in roles of caring for their families, (they practically raise the younger siblings, as well as contribute toward the family’s income!) The bond they share is close and genuine . . . and yet inherently wrong in a social sense.

Brauning is not afraid to explore this—and push readers to really consider ideas of love and what is acceptable and true and right. The sexual tension explodes off the page at times, counterbalanced with such honest emotion, at times I was left cheering or cringing.

Though the relationship between Marcus and Jackie is the foundation of the story, it’s also a thriller that explores the mysterious disappearance of Jackie’s best friend. Both plot lines will keep readers turning pages long into the night.

In turns heartbreaking and hopeful, HOW WE FALL takes readers on a one-of-a-kind journey of poignant friendship, passion, mystery and danger. This is one of the books where I’ve dog-eared pages with dialogue that made me laugh out loud, and poignant moments—even sentences—written by a talented author. You know a book is good when you want to go back and re-live a moment with them. Brauning’s characters did more than entertain me—they leaped off the page and made me see love in a whole new light.

My review on Goodreads

 

Author to Author

(I throw a few questions at an author, and they throw one back at me.)

Jenny asked Kate:

What are you working on now?

A brand-new YA thriller! Without saying too much, it’s a survival story about 10 teenagers stranded in the Ozarks. It’s also a sister story, told from the points of view of two sisters, Tara, who was seriously bullied in middle school, and Laurel, who was involved in bullying Tara.

What has been your favorite part of the publishing process (so far)?

Discovering myself. Finding out the ways in which I’m social, and the things that make me passionate and the things I want to advocate for. Finding friends who are going through the same things and working for similar things. Discovering that I love writing enough that I’d be doing it whether or not everything works out. Finding an industry that makes me a better writer, through being supported by great author friends, working with wonderful critique partners and editors. And finally, connecting with readers– it never stops being amazing and fulfilling when someone loves a story that I put such time, sweat, sometimes years, and always passion into writing.

Describe HOW WE FALL in 5 words:

An extreme best friends romance.

What advice do you have for writers?

Read two books a week, one in the genre you want to write, and one outside the genre. Write fearlessly, without worrying about what mistakes you might be making. Learn constantly, by reading great books on craft, listening to the writers you love speak on writing, and by getting good feedback from other writers who can challenge you.

 

Kate asked Jenny:

What inspired you to write your book?

I wanted to write something that would engage readers—even teenage boys like my ‘reluctant reader’ son. I paid attention to the books (like LEGEND, GONE, and MAZE RUNNER) that held his interest. I had written other books, but none with the pacing and stakes of FLASHFALL.

Also, I was at a place in my publishing attempts where doors just kept closing. I’d get several full requests from agents, but still no offers of representation. I’m talking about years of rejection. Writing—and trying to get published—requires you to face your fears over and over again. So I wrote about that in FLASHFALL—a girl who pushes past her fears because she believes there is something better beyond what she can see in the moment.

Find FLASHFALL on Goodreads

KateBandme

                          Kate and Jenny at the 2015 Midwest Writers Workshop